Executive producer Evan Katz stated that "everything is designed to answer questions so you're not frustrated or feeling like we're making it up as we go along" and the writers intend to keep the viewers guessing in a "fair way."Here's what we know after the first episode tonight: Bad people kidnapped Michael (Scott Patterson) and his two daughters and threatened to kill them unless he crashed a plane into the house in Miami where President Eli Martinez (Blair Underwood) was going to hold a press conference featuring an announcement by a mysterious but benign woman named Sophia (which means "wisdom" in Greek and has a Christlike connotation in the Bible). Michael is probably a retired pilot.
Just before the plane hit (since the bad people comprise the bad part of the government, jet fighters were unable to shoot it down owing to coordinated equipment failures), it disappeared into thin air, prompting Sophia (Laura Innes) to tell the mystified president in an oracular fashion, "They saved us...I haven't told you everything."
Martinez had insisted on visiting Sophia and her friends about a year before, after learning that the CIA had secretly jailed her and 96 others in Alaska. The president decided to release the prisoners, which the CIA director, Blake Sterling (Željko Ivanek), and the VP strenuously opposed. After trying one more time to talk the president out of it before the press conference, they left the Miami house in an apparent effort to avoid the plane crash.
The preview of next week's episode seems to show Sterling continuing to advise the president, which means that he must have a pretty good explanation for vamoosing. Also surviving is the show's leading man, Sean Walker (Jason Ritter), who was on a cruise with Michael's elder daughter (Sarah Roemer) and about to propose when she was kidnapped. He'd gotten onto the flight to try to stop Michael. In the preview, we see Sean in a hospital room filled with golden light, suggesting that free health care is provided after a person has been de- and rematerialized.
My guesses: The prisoners are idealistic scientists who figured out some years before how to create clean, limitless, free energy. (The stylized series title, THE EVƎNT, seems to connote electrical plugs.) Learning of the invention, the multinational energy companies told Sterling and the VP (who, fourth from the right in the photo, looks a little like Dick Cheney, which means that a Halliburton-like company will probably be introduced soon) to lock them up and give the key to Sarah Palin.
The conspirators didn't bank on the election of the idealistic young president, to whom the good guys leaked a file about the prisoners. The scientists can also use their energy source to make planes disappear, the bit Sophia hadn't disclosed to the president. (See the Jefferson Airplane song "War Movie" for more on this kind of technology.) The inventors aren't greedy or ambitious. All they wanted, before being shipped to Alaska, was to offer their discovery for the good of humankind, bringing about the abolition of fossil fuels, poverty, money, war, and the Republican Party. Only remaining mystery: Why the president was going to make an historic announcement next to a swimming pool in Miami during what appears to be his son's birthday party.
(While I was writing this post, someone posted a summary of the first episode on Wikipedia which has some details I left out.)