After three episodes, The Messengers still doesn’t seem to know what show it wants to be. Is it a series about a found family of angels and their detective-like mission to stop the apocalypse? Is it a government conspiracy theory drama with a supernatural twist? Is it a 24-esque thriller about one undercover federal agent’s quest for vengeance? It doesn’t really matter because, right now, none of these stories are enticing. At least not in the clunky, predictable way The Messengers tells them.
Let’s start with the first option: angel detective drama. After last week’s episode finally got the six angels together and revealed their mission to stop the apocalypse by beating the devil to the four horsemen of the apocalypse, I thought Season 1, Episode 3 (“Path to Paradise”) might commit to that story. Not so much (because this show refuses to commit to any one story), but it is a partial element. In tonight’s episode, Joshua, Peter, Erin, and Rose embrace their angel identities and set about trying to decipher Joshua’s vision of how to find the horsemen of war. Frankly, the vision is extremely vague and riddled with stereotypes. Also, these angels don’t seem to be very good at their jobs, blindly wandering around Houston in the hope they might see a sign and — memorably, in Peter’s case — Googling keywords from Joshua’s vision. This entire set-up could be fun, but it’s devoid of originality, truth, or suspense. Too bad because found family detective angel drama was the formula I was pulling for.
The gang might have more luck in their mission if they weren’t two people short. Vera and Raul are off on their own shows, both of which have some of the least subtle, lazy use of flashbacks this side of Arrow Season 3. (As always, I blame Lost.) Vera and partner-in-science Alan struggle to find the truth behind the meteor crash they witnessed in the first episode. Unfortunately, they have two things working against them: 1) a shadowy organization on their tails and, perhaps more distressingly, 2) Vera’s melodramatic flashbacks to the time she found out she was pregnant, then was promptly dumped by the baby daddy because he was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease. Of course, neither Vera nor hunky also-scientist Leo actually communicate the pregnancy or diagnosis to one another. Hunky scientist makes up another woman and Vera apparently thinks baby daddy dumping her means he doesn’t want to hear about his child. Rude.
Vera and Leo meet up again in present day to emote at one another when Alan and Vera bring their chunk of the space rock to Leo’s lab. Just after figuring out it’s composed of every element known to man (plus one unidentified element), the rock is snatched by aforementioned shadowy organization and Vera learns she can “spirit walk” (The Messengers’ term, not mine). Because why not? This completes the totally nonsensical array of powers Team Angel has: spirit walking, ability to understand all language, visions, telepathy, super strength, and the ability to heal others. I’m gonna go ahead and say Vera the Spirit Walker, Peter the Hulk, and Joshua the Seer got the short end of the superpowers stick.
Elsewhere, in Raul’s True Life: I Was Forced to Go Undercover in A Drug Cartel, times are tough. We learn via flashback that, before becoming a federal agent, Raul was just a dude having an affair with his brother’s wife. When he and his brother get caught buying drugs to sell, Raul is forced to go undercover within the drug cartel in exchange for a clean record for both himself and his brother. This self-sacrificial (and probably at least a little bit motivated by guilt) move to save his bro ends up being for naught. In present day, Raul’s brother is blown up by the drug dealers because… the drug dealers really don’t like him? It’s unclear — or maybe I was just too bored by this storyline to follow character motivation.
I did notice Raul sell Team Angel out to the devil in exchange for his brother’s location. This probably could have been some compelling stuff if The Messengers had spent any time at all developing the relationships between these angel characters. As of now, they are just strangers reluctantly, sporadically, and somewhat nonsensically working together to maybe, kinda try to stop the apocalypse. Frankly, none of their hearts really seem to be in it. Even the ones who have committed to Team Angel. These people just don’t seem like they have anything better to do — which is pretty impressive given the fact that, without exception, they all have super dramatic backstories filled with abusive husbands, seven-year comas, and — in the case of Peter — murder.
That last one comes into play in the final moments of the episode, when the police arrest the teenager seemingly by using a homeless woman singing “Amazing Grace” to lure Peter outside of the bar Team Angel spends 89 percent of its time in. Peter seems nonplussed by this turn of events. It’s possible he’s as confused about the plot, theme, and tone of this show as we are and isn’t really sure how his character should react. The rest of Team Angel seems to feel similarly, blandly watching as Peter is shoved into a cop car. Maybe they’ll have figured out how they feel about this development by next week’s episode? But probably not.