We’re three episodes into Minority Report, and it’s 100% settling into its crime procedural format. Which would be perfectly fine, if it weren’t so pleased with itself for being in the future. Spoilers ahead.
That little weed breath mint strip is representative of one of Minority Report’s two biggest failings. We’ll get to the second in a bit, but this? This is a show that comes up with some mildly clever future idea and then yells “LOOK HOW CLEVER WE ARE!” So instead of a rich world filled with small details, we get a close-up and hold on things like this. The other side of this is the way the show keeps saying things like “This Beyoncé song isn’t an oldie, it’s a classic” and “this isn’t the 2030s anymore.”
It’s so clunky. It feels like they’re parodying the movie Minority Report. With just 10% more self-awareness, they could make a pretty good go of satirizing the conventions of fiction set in the future.
There’s a second giant flaw. The show seems perfectly aware (and I think it’s only aware of this because the movie was) that using the predictions of the future to arrest people for crimes that haven’t occurred yet has some pretty big ethical land mines in it. Yet one of our two heroes constantly talks about how much easier it was back in the good old days when they melted the brains of people based on the say-so of precognitives who, it turned out, weren’t always right.
That means that any ethical objections to this fairly controversial crime-fighting method are restricted to criminals (in the pilot) and the requisite paranoid genius, Wally. Great choices being made here.
In this episode, “Hawk-Eye,” the crime of the week is a tech genius who Dash sees killing a dude. Except, of course, that’s not all. In a twist so obvious I cannot believe Dash owes his brother anything for the name of the bad guy, the actual culprit is a psychologist who manipulated the tech guy’s brain so he would have poor impulse control. Which would force him out of the company.
The important part of the episode is that the predictive crime technology, Hawk-Eye, is being tested. If it flags someone for possible future criminal behavior, all of that person’s civil liberties—including, insanely, doctor-patient confidentiality—are suspended for 48 hours while the cops follow him around. No one seems to bring up the obvious fact that this is the sort of action that could drive someone to drink and then fight. I almost wish that the tech guy hadn’t been manipulated by the psychologist and that he had tried to commit suicide because he’d been stalked by the cops.
Part of Hawk-Eye’s pilot program is pairing cops with civilian analysts, so Vega makes the practical-but-going-to-get-them-killed call of having Dash make her analyst, so they have cover for his visions. There are apparently no problems with forcing Dash into working in the building that held him prisoner for most of his early life or trying to hide their activities from all of the cops.
In precog world, Agatha’s seeing the future. And it has Vega standing by the old milk bath and them getting in it. Not something anyone wants. Even though Agatha won’t tell Dash, Arthur does. So, two things: 1) inevitable “can I trust her?” angst from Dash 2) everyone gets in there of their own free will to stop a giant catastrophe, proving once again that seeing the future isn’t the same as understanding it.
This show is so frustrating to watch. The future beats make me facepalm, the predictable plots make me throw my hands in the air, and the way they only hint at ethical debates makes me grind my teeth.
For example: Vega hates Hawk-Eye, but has no problem with pre-crime? She snarks about Hawk-Eye the whole time, but why? It’s not the massive privacy invasion, so what makes this worse than using fortune tellers? I’m dead serious–there’s a fascinating debate to be had about where the line on crime prevention should be, but this show is not interested in having it.
In closing, I would just like to say that giving your fake crime plot device the same name as an Avenger is really distracting. I spent the whole episode thinking about Jeremy Renner as a crime predicting algorithm that shot arrows.
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