Believe, “Pilot” Review

Chris Chaisson

You may have noticed that Gravity won Oscars for categories that haven’t even been invented yet.  Alfonso Cuaron is right back at it with this hour-long drama about a death row inmate’s mission to protect a foster child with supernatural abilities.

Similar to Gravity, Believe wastes no time reaching its inciting incident.  Bo’s (newcomer Johnny Sequoyah) foster parents for all of two weeks are run off the road, with Bo in the back seat, by a fellow motorist attempting to abduct her.  Although the abductor is able to eliminate the parents, help arrives too quickly, foiling her main objective.  While Bo is taken to a nearby hospital, Winter Milton (Delroy Lindo) poses as a priest in order to break Tate (Jake McLaughlin), an innocent death row inmate, out of prison with the intention of making him Bo’s primary protector.  Once the initially reluctant Tate agrees, they free him using the sewer system, change his appearance, and infiltrate the hospital where Bo is being held to thwart the second abduction attempt.

Photo courtesy of http://www.nbc.com/believe

Photo courtesy of http://www.nbc.com/believe

As previously stated, the pilot jumps right into the action.  Tate’s hardened exterior formed from his time on death row serves as both comic relief and a solid starting point for his character.  He will no doubt grow closer to Bo with time and become less reluctant to keep her safe.  Money and his desire not to revisit the slammer are his only motivations to begin with but he will undoubtedly learn more about Bo and himself as the end-of-episode revelation suggests.

Believe does suffer some from issues that plague countless pilots.  The delivery of exposition is somewhat sloppy at times, such as when Milton visits Tate’s cell and runs down his rap sheet as if he wouldn’t already know it.  There’s also missing exposition that is essential, like to what degree are Milton and company sure of Tate’s innocence.  It could be expanded on in subsequent episodes but Tate would hardly be the first guilty inmate to declare his innocence.  If he is not, Milton will have attempted to protect a child from abductors by placing her in the care of a sociopath.

Photo courtesy of http://www.nbc.com/believe

Photo courtesy of http://www.nbc.com/believe

Bo’s character is also a conundrum to some degree.  Her main ability seems to be clairvoyance, yet she is every bit as inquisitive as any other 10 year old.  Though she is occasionally testing the adults around her, particularly Tate, some of her questions amount to no more significance than “are we there yet?”.  While this accomplishes the goal of putting her at odds with the short-tempered convict, it makes her supernatural abilities seem inconsistent.

Lastly, while Tate gets a makeover no more extensive than Dr. Richard Kimble’s in The Fugitive, no one seems to have the moment of recognition that was so common in the movie.  His face is undoubtedly plastered all over the news, which is commented on in the episode, but the hospital employees seem oblivious to his presence despite him wheeling around a recently admitted patient just a few minutes after jumping off a gurney himself.  It’s not uncommon in suspenseful shows to have unlikely hospital heists, but surely there’s a security guard awake somewhere in the building.

Photo courtesy of http://www.nbc.com/believe

Photo courtesy of http://www.nbc.com/believe

Alas, every pilot has its rough spots.  The show’s success will be determined by the next few episodes.  Believe must quickly reach the stage of more consistency within the characters and slightly more believable situations (pun possibly intended).

Believe is currently available on Hulu/IMDb and will re-air on NBC Saturday at 10:00 pm.  Its regular air date will be Sundays at 9:00 pm.

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