My Own Worst Enemy “Breakdown”

Zack Rosenblatt ('09)/Eastside Entertainment Editor

Synopsis:

Movie star Christian Slater tries to make the transition to the small screen in NBC’s latest new series, “My Own Worst Enemy”. Slater stars as Henry Spivey, an “average Joe” with a wife, kids and a decent job. Edward Albright is a secret agent killing machine. What do Edward and Spivey have in common? They are one in the same.

Thoughts:

This high concept thriller has a pretty confusing plot, but it still delivers some high quality action thrills for a TV show. This pilot episode was not great, but was enough to get me excited for the rest of the season. Following the demise of NBC’s “Bionic Woman”, a similar action based series, I was really hoping that “Enemy” would not crash and burn as well. Ironically, the executive producer of “Bionic Woman” holds the same role on this show. While that may seem to hinder this show’s potential, this pilot episode excited me enough to think otherwise.
After seeing Robert Downey’s return to superstardom, I think everybody is rooting for the same thing for Christian Slater. Kiefer Sutherland made the transition to TV with his iconic role in “24” as Jack Bauer, and Slater has a chance to do much of the same. From the get-go, his acting talents are in full display and I don’t know if the show could have worked without Slater leading the way.
Slater kicks off the episode as the secret agent, Edward Albright. After some brief dialogue with a female counterpart, Albright preemptively kills her as part of his mission for a secretive government agency he works for. The major portion of the first half of the show is spent attempting to explain how Albright came to have multiple personalities. While Edward is fully aware of Henry Spivey, Spivey is never supposed to know about Edward. Something malfunctions and the barrier between the personalities is broken.
In sessions with a psychiatrist (played by Saffron Burrows), Spivey implies that his dreams have become real. He wakes up to find a card from a hotel he has never been to in his life. It just so happens to be the location of Albright’s earlier mission. The glitches worsen when Henry awakens in Russia, holding a sniper rifle aimed at a man named Uzi, whom Edward was on a mission to terminate. Henry inadvertently fires the gun, drawing attention to himself and causing gun fire from all angles. After he is knocked out, he is awakened and tied up, being readied for interrogation by Uzi and his men. Slater perfectly portrays a man dumbfounded by his current status and insistent that he has no idea who Albright is or what he does. As could be expected, Albright’s agency comes to rescue him. Once he is finally rescued from interrogation, the agent sent to save him turns out to be his good friend Tom Grady (played by Yes Dear’s Mike O’Malley). Henry is confused when Grady keeps being referred to as Raymond, but as it turns out Raymond is the alter ego of Tom Grady, so basically the same situation as Henry’s.
O’Malley was interesting casting choice, as he is the last person one would expect to be a multilayered, secret agent. On “Yes Dear” and various episodes of “My Name is Earl”, O’Malley displayed an innate comedic ability and he perfectly blends his humor with a quality dramatic performance. Also in this star studded class is Alfre Woodard, of “Desperate Housewives” in the role as the leader of the government organization Edward works for. After eventually dicovering that Henry inhabits the same body as someone else, the show’s intentions for the rest of the season became clear. If Henry wants to live, then he and Edward need to work together, which is pretty confusing if you think too hard about it. In an otherwise serious episode, there is some comic relief after Edward writes on his arm “Never drive my car” (after Edward slept with Henry’s wife). Anyway, for the rest of the season look for the show to explore Edward’s background, specifically why he chose to undergo this operation and develop his new persona. I like to think of “My Own Worst Enemy” as Jeckyll and Hyde meets Jason Bourne, which is a very intriguing combination if you ask me. All in all, there were great performances all around. However, the intricate plot slightly dismissed the quality of the pilot episode. There is much more to be explained, but I expect the rest of the season to be spent doing just that. I can’t wait to see what Christian Slater does for the rest of his television debut.

Grade:B