Seven Days (“Sleepers”)

Season 1, Episode 9
Date of airing: December 16, 1998 (UPN)
Nielsen ratings information: 2.3/4 in Households

While this was a solid offering from the writers room, it did serve us another one of those famous plot holes that made SEVEN DAYS so forgettable and useless as a TV show in hindsight. All the drama of war flashbacks, imprisonment in a foreign country while you serve your country, and losing your best friend via suicide, the actual plot of the episode didn’t have any rhyme or reason to it. If Dr. Lee knew that the would be taking a risk posing as Parker’s father in front of the chrononaut, then why wasn’t he using the image of “Donovan, your best friend” instead? It might have been part of a somewhat interesting climax, but if Lee wanted another scientist to die, and he was curious whether the daddy image would even work on Parker, wouldn’t it have been better for Lee to use Donovan’s image to get Parker to kill the scientist? Sometimes villains can be stupid, and SEVEN DAYS surely had a handful and more villains who have definitely not planned their attacks through.

It’s party time with cleavage!

Besides that, the writers kind of missed to go all in with the seriousness and darkness of the episode’s back story. While you can roll your eyes about the revelation that Parker was not captured once during his service (in Somalia, this being his major back story element), but twice, you certainly can question why the writers didn’t make more of the imprisonment in Chittagong, since it kind of looked serious and super messed up. Asphyxiation, liquid being dropped in your brain via the ear canal, other form of torture, and mind manipulation… And this didn’t just traumatize Parker, Donovan and Mark Golden, but an entire unit of soldiers, with most of them probably not even remembering what happened to them, making this even more serious. Imagine being hit with flashbacks to a time you were captured by the enemy, tortured and experimented on, being turned into the SEVEN DAYS version of the Winter Soldier, only without getting frozen in time after each mission — this should get you down to the ground immediately, and the writers could have used that premise with Donovan after the backstep, when he learned about what happened in Chittagong. Because I can’t buy that Parker was the only one of the unit getting those flashbacks from years ago.

A rose for the fallen friend.

Other than that, it was something of an enjoyable episode, thanks to the serious and dark tone of it all. The flashbacks were definitely tense, and for once SEVEN DAYS showed the audience what it can look like if it doesn’t have the silly and pulpy humor to it. Yeah, SEVEN DAYS is a show constantly changing its genre, turning from a terrorist-bashing hour to an action comedy, clone fantasy, and in this case even PTSD horror, but those elements also show that SEVEN DAYS was never supposed to be anything more than fingerpainting for writers and directors, entertainment for the hour only, never to be thought about ever again as soon as it finished airing. That makes me wonder even more how SEVEN DAYS ever became one of my all-time favorite shows.

But yeah, the writers just made it themselves too easy here. Not only did they go straight past the back story of the Chittagong torture, but they also just unpacked two random scientists working on a weapons project, and voila, Dr. Lee wakes up his sleeper agents for a little assassination project of his own. Nothing could be more convenient than that, and since it worked so beautifully in this episode, one can question if there were more “I’m your father” project versions out there and not just Dr. Lee’s. If so, then the world is truly screwed.

Parker the orphan finally meets his daddy.

Best part of the episode: I was a boy back then, and I am a single man now, but I still cannot help myself not looking at Justina Vail’s cleavage during the dinner scenes at the White House. But the producers made it super easy for me to be a creep during this hour, since the only reason Olga was in this episode to look attractive to the viewers. The sexy scientist trope is alive and kicking!
Worst part of the episode: After the backstep, the only mission Olga had was to keep an eye on Donovan. But when he excused himself (because he saw something happening upstairs), Olga wasn’t even reacting at all. He could have excused himself to murder someone…
Weirdest part of the episode: So, Donovan doesn’t attack Parker in the parking garage, when Dr. Lee was pulling his voodoo on Parker? Donovan just stood there, trying to calm Parker down instead of, I don’t know, kick the hell out of him, like he did with Golden?
Main character deaths so far: Here is an updated tally after Donovan pout a bullet in his head before the backstep. It is Donovan’s second death in the show, after dying from the Ebola virus in the second episode. He now shares the lead with Ballard and Ramsey, also having died twice. Parker, Olga, Talmadge and Mentnor all died once.
Player of the episode: Whoever edited this episode for the DVD release needs to get a smelly award. Because Visual Entertainment didn’t want to pay anything for music rights, most, if not all, of the scenes involving music was recut. This episode took the cake though, when it removed an entire scene of Mark and his children singing the “ice cream, you scream” song, apparently because the song the characters were singing cost money to include in this episode. The scene began with Mark opening up the envelope, and it then cut straight to Mark leaving the apartment. Hilarious editing made weirder, when the “flashback sounds” right before Mark’s suicide contained part of the song he and his kids were singing.

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