Season 2, Episode 4
Date of airing: October 20, 1999 (UPN)
Nielsen ratings information: 2.8/5 in Households
This was a pretty good episode of television, which means it’s an excellent episode of SEVEN DAYS. The writers were appealing for humanity, they were pushing the emotions of the characters, and the episode had a nice message for all the bad guys in real life: Don’t fuck with children. (But if you really want to throw them into prisons and detention centers and have them rot there, just be the president of the United States!) On the other hand, there was something about this episode that annoyed me deeply. Parker resigns as chrononaut, and Talmadge had to make a decision whether it would be best for the program to let him make the backstep, or lose him entirely. He faced the same decision during “Vows,” and right now I wonder if the NSA panel was faced with the same two decisions back then, or if Talmadge actually lied to the panel to get Parker to backstep one more time to save Mike Clary’s life, like Talmadge did not tell the panel about a backstep after the secret of the base was revealed in “Last Card Up.” Something is either fishy or the writers figured they could drop one more of those narrative inconsistencies, since SEVEN DAYS is pretty known for those ones throughout the show’s entire existence.
At least one episode from the first season is “lightening up” the second season. Originally pre-empted because of the April 1999 Columbine massacre for obvious reasons (terrorism against and killing children), this episode finally made its premiere during the second season, and I’m kind of thankful it did here. It gives me the feeling that the first few hours of the second season are still part of the first season, and that SEVEN DAYS is actually still a good show, if I ever manage to forget everything about “Pinball Wizard”. The fact that the story was emotional helped as well. It was grounded in reality and it was honest, and maybe that should have been almost always the case for SEVEN DAYS, even though it’s a science-fiction show and can do anything it wants. But the writers were thinking about the story in this episode — something they were barely doing most of the time, and something that has kind of helped to shed light on the emotional impact of Parker’s missions which he felt during the season premiere, as well as this hour.
Only one thing wasn’t needed in this episode: The twist with “Roper” being one of the Army guys out for revenge of having been sent to a war that made them crazy and suicidal. I don’t really know why the terrorists needed one “undercover guy” amongst the hostages, and why he had to remain the undercover terrorists, when the bad guys were talking amongst each other. I can understand that it would be easier if “Roper” delivers the statement, instead of a real hostage, but the secrecy was generally kind of a meaningless thing. That was especially the case when the NSA defeated the terrorists and “Roper” was back in business to being a tour guide. His friends were just killed and he managed to get his emotions under control and even continue the tour with the kids? He was not distraught that a random guy took over his clothes to get down into the subway to kill his friends and put an end on their mission to make the public aware of the Gulf War syndrome? And did they really need to take hostages to do so? One of them killing his family and then himself should be as much of a big news story as a hostage situation in the Los Angeles subway system, especially since the United States are so patriotic and would love to take care of its veterans.
The internal situation in NeverNeverLand after the cancellation of the backstep was okay. Parker deciding to quit almost seemed natural, and Olga going after him was also helpful in focusing on the emotional impact of the episode’s premise, which for once focused on the aftermath on a tragic event, which normally doesn’t happen, because Parker would have backstepped already. Even Ramsey throwing a fit and Parker into solitary was sort of natural, although the fact that Ramsey decided to help out Olga and Donovan by creating a fake national emergency seemed kind of weird. Sure, Olga and Donovan appealed to Ramsey’s humanity and he can’t always be the bad guy, but all of Ramsey’s wishes were fulfilled, when he threw Parker into solitary, and the NSA panel wanted him out of the program, which could have led to Ramsey opening the champagne bottles. So why would he help get Parker back into the program and let him backstep? It can’t just be because of his conscious and dreams of the dead children. Is it because of convenience and because the writers needed Ramsey to suddenly have a conscience?