I think TV Tropes has a name for this

I’ve been watching Minority Report, and while I wouldn’t call myself a fan[1], there was a kind of striking moment in the seventh episode.

To summarize the basic premise, established in the pilot: Dash (one of the precogs) is the hopeful nice one who’s voluntarily (and secretly) assisting the police, and his brother Arthur is your basic languid-sleaze-in-a-suit using his powers to steal people’s identities and generally make headway as a white-collar criminal. Lieutenant Vega is the police officer who knows what Dash is and is working with him. (There are other characters who are not relevant to what I am discussing.) Spoilers follow.

Dash witnesses a murder that he and Vega aren’t able to stop. The next day, it turns out that the body disappeared rather than being logged by the EMTs. When Dash goes to the victim’s apartment, he’s kidnapped by someone posing as the victim’s wife, and Arthur and Vega spend the rest of the episode trying to rescue him. Near the end of the episode, Dash convinces one of his captors to murder the other, and Arthur is able to see enough of that murder to realize where Dash is being held.

Let me reiterate that: Dash convinces one of his captors to murder the other so that he can send a message to his brother.

This is horrible.

It is the kind of thing I would not be surprised to see in Criminal Minds, but if Criminal Minds averages less than three corpses an episode I will be shocked and it dwells on horrible things. The tone is much harsher, the grim and gritty is more pervasive, and while characters are not likely to die, it’s plausible that they will be endangered. If Hotch was kidnapped, I could believe him talking his captors into fighting so one of them ended up in the hospital or morgue and Garcia could track him down.

But Dash tries to stop people being killed. And the show is so shiny and clean and low on death–and, particularly, low on suffering that leads you to expect the possibility of death–that I don’t believe he’s in danger of dying. Not really. Not only would the show not do that, but it’s blatantly obvious that it wouldn’t do that.

So I see a guy who isn’t really in danger, and whose motivation is preventing murders, arranging for one person to kill another. And it’s not a case of asshole protagonist (Dash, whatever else you may say about him, is a consistent sweetheart), just a case of a serious out-of-tone error for the episode.

(Weirdly, this is probably the thing that I will remember best about the show.)

[1] It’s like Psych with less humour and more glassy computer screens. It has the lightness of iZombie and the formulaic nature of Criminal Minds. If it also had the humour and character engagement of iZombie, I would be a much more enthusiastic fan.

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