Monday, March 4, 2019

Pilot Review: The Enemy Within

The Enemy Within (NBC)
Premiered February 25 at 10pm

It must be midseason – there are plenty of theoretically high-profile shows premiering across the broadcast networks. I had seen a preview or two for this one but didn’t know much about it, and it played out very much like other similar shows have in the past. It was obvious that events would occur to force Morris Chestnut’s Agent Keaton to work with Jennifer Carpenter’s imprisoned Erica Shepherd on a regular basis, and therefore the introductory exposition in this episode felt rather unnecessary. We’ve seen this concept many times before, and you’d think, as resourceful as Erica was in engineering a dental visit so that she could escape to go see her daughter, she would have figured out a way to make it known to those sentencing her that she wasn’t actually a traitor and was just trying to find a way to protect her child. I wouldn’t have thought of casting Carpenter, well-known for playing supporting members of law enforcement on “Dexter” and the underrated “Limitless” in the past, and it doesn’t seem like the most fitting part for her. Chestnut, last seen on “Rosewood” and in a recurring role on “Goliath,” is definitely angry enough to be believable, though I think we’ve seen more than enough cops and agents ready to smack around a suspect that it’s just old at this point. In theory, there are many more layers to this terrorist-centric onion, but I don’t have any interest in peeling them all them back since this is territory that I’ve visited frequently in the past.

How will it work as a series? The notion of this figure being so hard to catch yet having such a reach that he can easily blackmail high-ranking operatives at the CIA makes little sense, and so you can expect that narrative logic to dictate much of the plot going forward. Sure, it might still be entertaining and action-packed even if it’s relatively brainless.
How long will it last? Reviews are mixed if better than they could be for this kind of fare, not as strong as some other well-received broadcast spy thrillers but hardly as damning as others. The ratings for the pilot episode were much better, and though I think that the momentum might fade quickly, this feels like a show that could follow in the footsteps of “Blindspot” and serve as another successful hit for NBC.

Pilot grade: C

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