Season 2, Episode 22
Date of airing: May 17, 2000 (UPN)
Nielsen ratings information: 1.9/3 in Households
This was an alright-ish episode for SEVEN DAYS standards, even though the story was nothing but a lazy attempt at creating an evil politician, who seem to be a dime a dozen these days. One crazy wannabe-president who wants to use his future power to eradicate countries, and only a handful of people know about it and do nothing — which kind of explains what is going on in the circle of Donald Trump, because those people are smart enough to know that their president is a crazy autocrat and wannabe-dictator, yet they won’t do anything about it, because it would cost them the smell of power they enjoy as much as having money in their bank accounts. If Bill Stevens would have been President of the United States, he not only would have started World War Three (as predicted by Parker), the Earth would have been scorched after a few months, which means Jeri was right when she said that Parker “plunged the world into the deep end.” In addition, the fact that I cannot believe no one else knew about Stevens’ plan, and no member of the press or any other highly regarded journalist was interested looking into Stevens’ life and psyche, making this story somewhat ridiculous. Then again, I am watching this episode in 2019, where journalism has unearthed some evil men who the had to step out of the public life, and I am not sure if that kind of journalism even existed in 2000. Sure, Watergate is a prominent example of journalism in the twentieth century destroying a politician’s life, but that investigation started off with a current event (the break-in) — compared to Stevens and his presidential run, I cannot imagine that he did not do anything to prepare for his World War with Asia and that there was nothing a journalist could have unearthed. It’s pretty heavy stuff to think and plan for a world war, so there has to be evidence of it beyond his diary entries, which could essentially be titled “My Struggle: The Twenty-first Century Update”.
The episode had its nice fair share of emotional moments though, making it better than anticipated. The scene during the town hall style debate between Stevens and President Maxwell, when it came to Jeri’s nude picture in that “disgusting magazine,” I felt not only reminded once more that America has a serious problem with sex in general, but it was a scene worthy of a place among the best scenes with character depth on SEVEN DAYS, as I could see that Stevens was real when it comes to his relationship with Jeri and how he wanted to have one with his daughter, instead of fighting with the thought of never seeing her again, because she might actually be the only person in his life who could reason with him (especially when it comes to his hatred of the Asians, and Stevens may have hoped that his daughter would save him from that hate). But I felt reminded once more that you can’t reason with Americans, who think that women posing nude for a magazine are disgusting, when they have done crappy things in their life as well, which can’t be compared to posting nude in a magazine, because what they have done was even worse. I felt reminded once more that America is anything but sex-positive, and people will continue to slam and smash people posing nude for magazines (mostly women – I don’t think I have ever heard of men being disgusting, when they pose nude), because for some reason they seem to believe naked women are trash, and clothed women have to guide by the rules. I felt reminded once more that America has no problem with violence on television, yet draw the line on a few bad words and a few naked bodies — maybe there is a reason this country has a problem with gun violence and misogyny and sexism, and you can discover those reasons while watching this television episode filled with male wish fulfillment, sexed-up female characters and a fictional politician who has the deepest thoughts of violence and war in his mind and can still get elected president.
Anyway, after this paragraph of trashing America and its values, it’s time to say that I didn’t really like Parker getting into the hots with Jeri. And I especially did not like the three female campaign helpers who greeted Parker after the event and invited him into their hotel room for some after-hour action — as if campaign events is filled with attractive women who only get into this kind of business to find me to have sex with. It’s the wish-fulfillment and sexed-up female characters I was talking about, because this episode was definitely on par with what UPN wanted to have on their network. There is a reason they were targeting a male viewership between 14 and 29 and there is a reason you may have to look a little longer to find television shows that were led by female characters (BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER doesn’t count, because it wasn’t UPN’s show to begin with).
That Parker and Jeri would hook up was pretty obvious from the beginning, and not just because of UPN’s efforts to sex up female characters on their shows. It was obvious from the moment Parker looked at her nude shot in the magazine, which led to her seductively lying on his car after he saved Stevens’ life, just so the two can have a romance in-between all the madness going on right now. But as soon as that one moment happened (Parker getting beat up, and a second later they are literally eating each other with their tongues), I had to roll with my eyes, as this male-driven show sold its viewers once more that women are here for the male gaze only. I know now why the writers turned Parker into a James T. Kirk version for this show, and I may even understand now why Justina Vail left the set midway through the production of the third season, which was essentially the second of many blows that killed the show after year three. If the writers can’t even give female characters respect, then why should the female cast give respect to the show? SEVEN DAYS just came into the twenty-first century, yet it still acted like a show from the 1960s — yet another reason why it started to fail during the next season, and one of those reasons that make the show look incredibly bad and silly 20 years later.
Back to the episode at hand… I was happy that Stevens wasn’t such a stupid villain. He was a disturbed character, carried by his past and by his fear of ever becoming a prisoner again (he may have been an attempted parody at John McCain?). His final speech was actually great, because it showed that the writers were still interested in creating something like a character for the show, turning him into a sorry man who has finally understood all the mistakes he has done in his life, even if he only came to realize his mistakes with Jeri. Besides that, I wouldn’t have been able to take the story serious at all, if Stevens would have been a cold-blooded villain. Terrorists can become politicians in HOMELAND, and that show was the only show allowed to do that — the rest of television is not. SEVEN DAYS was not special enough to pull the Brody twist, but it was somewhat good enough to make a broken man out of its villain, while the actual antagonists couldn’t even kill two people and get the damn diary back without a hitch. I do have to say though, I was surprised to see that Jeri was still alive and kicking by the end — the way Parker announced to Stevens that he had her blood made it seem like Parker just told the presidential candidate that his daughter was just killed. That was of course done on purpose by Parker, but I am wondering what would have been better at the end: Jeri truly dead, or seeing her go through therapy somewhat successfully? Would the episode’s ending be different with Jeri having died for real?