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Series / Intelligence (2014)

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Starring Meghan Ory as Riley Neal and Josh Holloway as Gabriel Vaughn.
"One of our nation's most decorated soldiers. He's a hero, and now our country's most secret weapon. Gabriel possesses a rare genetic mutation that allowed us to implant a microchip in his brain. We connected his mind directly to the information grid. At U.S. Cyber Command, we created a highly specialized unit around him and assigned an agent to protect him. He's the first of his kind — The next evolution of Intelligence."
Lillian Strand, opening credits

An American spy cyber drama, airing starting January 2014, which blends elements of Police Procedurals, Spy Fiction, and 20 Minutes into the Future Science Fiction. Created by Michael Seitzman (based on John Dixon's novel Phoenix Island), it aired on CBS in America for thirteen episodes. The series finale aired March 31, 2014, and it was confirmed cancelled that May.

The series centers on Gabriel Vaughn, an ex-Delta Force commando who saw action in several missions during his time in the US Army before he was selected to undergo a black ops experiment due to a rare gene that he has. This allowed Cyber Command scientists to install a microchip into his brain, which allows him to gain access to the global information grid. Due to this, CC decides to assign an active Secret Service agent named Riley Neal in order to protect him (and the technology he has in his brain) from falling into the wrong hands.

As Gabriel and Riley work together on CC-led missions to stop criminals and terrorists from harming America at home and abroad, Gabriel uses the microchip's global information access to seek out information what happened to his wife, Amelia, who was implicated in the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks and branded as a rogue CIA agent by her superiors and to find out what forced her to disappear and go underground.

This show provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: As discussed in the pilot, Gabriel's wife Amelia was a CIA agent implicated in the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks, and was burned by the agency and went missing. This is set up as a major Story Arc, only for Amelia to turn up in episode two forced to act as a suicide bomber and dying.
  • Accidental Truth: At least one person unintentionally guesses about chips in people's heads while talking about various conspiracy theories.
  • Action Bomb: The method of attack used in the second episode, exploiting a new, non-toxic form of plastic explosive that can be swallowed, called "Red X".
  • Adam and Eve Plot: Sort of. In "Mei Chen Returns", the Chinese rogue agent tells Gabriel (he is cyber-rendering, so he cannot do anything to her) that he should consider them as the Adam and Eve of a new human race. Gabriel tells her to get out of his mind and calls her "crazy bitch".
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: In "Athens", Jin Cong's rogue MSS faction does this when he takes over Cyber Command by wearing American ACU uniforms and patches to fool Cyber Command soldiers.
  • Amusingly Awful Aim: In "Athens" the team breaks out of a Hostage Situation, during which scientist Nelson gets a hold of a gun and opens fire.
    Nelson: (shocked) I just killed people.
    Agent Jameson: No, you didn't. (gestures at the ceiling vent Nelson shot up)
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Gabriel, a guy with a microchip in his own head, still occasionally expresses incredulity at the various advanced technologies they encounter on the job. Perhaps justified: he's noted to have been completely useless at computers before the chip was implanted.
  • Artistic License – Law: Kate Anderson was a CIA operative who resigned and disappeared after a sting operation in Spain went awry. Yet the accompanying prop text describes it as a FBI operation (which wouldn't be acting in the capacity claimed by the piece anyway, what with Spain not being part of the United States).
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety:
    Gabriel: (horrified) You keep this cannon in your dresser? Loaded?
    • And then she nearly shoots him when he's brawling with an assassin.
  • Artistic License – Nuclear Physics: The plot of "The Grey Hat" requires Failsafe Failure of literally every safety system in a nuclear power plant, including manually lowering the control rods to shut down the reactor.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: The Secret Service detail in "Secrets of the Secret Service", but especially Gabriel and Riley.
  • Badass Normal: Riley Neal (vs. Gabriel's use of technology.) Riley has been shown to illustrate the idea of the human factor, correcting Gabriel's digital translation and coming to conclusions that Gabriel has missed, illustrating she's actually just as skilled as agent as he, just with a different subset (focusing on people and relationships in order to be more skilled at protecting them).
  • Bottle Episode: Except for the opening scenes, "Athens" takes place almost entirely inside CYBERCOM.
  • Buffy Speak: From "Secrets of the Secret Service" -
    Riley: Secret Service has been read-in on the extraction, but obviously they're not cleared for Clockwork.
    Gabriel: So I shouldn't do anything too... chippy?
  • Bulletproof Vest: Gabriel and Riley have so far been pretty good about putting these on when they're anticipating trouble.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Gabriel is harassed by two bar patrons in Mexico poorly because he's American. He kicks their ass easily and then pay for their beers.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue/Deadpan Snarker: Happens mostly between Gabriel and Riley.
  • Cool Old Lady: Gabriel's mom is a veteran combat nurse, and as much a Deadpan Snarker as Gabriel.
  • Cyberpunk/Post Cyber Punk: A mixture of these, but more on the latter since Cyber Command was able to create microchips that make a person into a living computer. Although this would "interest" criminals, terrorists and intelligence agencies that want to get their hands on it.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The Chinese M99 Sniper Rifle and sniper view's broadcasting function in the Pilot. First, it's used to threaten Dr. Cassidy's "sons", his biological one and Gabriel, his "Pinocchio" son. Then it's used as a blunt object to smack him with, and then Gabriel uses it and it's transmitting function to line up the doctor's shot at Jin Cong while he's holding Riley hostage. In that sense it's a literal Chekhov's Gun.
    • Riley boasting about her brand-new, expensive-looking watch. Gabriel, remembering how she made a to-do over it, realizes she purposely shifted it to her other wrist and misadjusted it to give him clues as to where she's imprisoned.
    • The quadcopter Nelson's rigged to fly with an electrode net on his head at the start of "Patient Zero". When fighting some black ops guys later in the episode, Gabriel uses his chip to fly it into his opponent's head.
  • Destroy the Evidence: A faction led by General Carter tries to apprehend Luther Vick in order to destroy all traces of their involvement in a black ops WMD project. They were even willing to kill Gabriel and Riley to protect the secret.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: "Secrets of the Secret Service" is based on several real-life cases when prominent politicians (current and former) are sent into "hostile" countries to negotiate for the release of their nationals.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Tetazoo, shot twice, manages to shoot his assailant before they can finish the job, and sends the key bit of evidence to Lillian before dying.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Amos betrays Dr. Cassidy to the Chinese. He even tries to turn Riley as a bonus.
  • Everything Is Online: The series relies pretty heavily on this. FYI: Traffic lights are not connected to the Internet, they're run locally by programmable logic controllers that do not have wireless I/O.
  • Evil Counterpart: Mei Chen to Gabriel.
  • Evil Versus Evil: The US government's approach to "containing" Mexican drug cartels. Hector seems to think this gives him licence to try and bully key people in the US into making sure he can keep his drug empire going.
  • Evolutionary Levels: Invoked in the intro credits regarding Chipping. See quote at the top.
  • Fighting Fingerprint: Gabriel does this in "Patient Zero" when he and Riley are ambushed by black-ops agents while tracking the eponymous loose bioweapon test subject.
    Gabriel: Last time I felt a hammer strike like that was at Fort Benning, Georgia.
    Riley: So we just got our ass kicked by US Special Forces.
  • Flatline:
    • Gabriel fakes one in "Patient Zero" while he and Riley investigate how an executed death row inmate could turn up as patient zero in a virus outbreak. He lies down on the death chamber gurney (no syringes) and has Riley activate the system, then chips the EKG machine to produce a flatline result (partly as a practical joke on Riley, but also to demonstrate that the machine was tampered with).
    • Invoked in "Size Matters" when Dr. Cassidy is infected with Grey Goo. They stop his heart to fool the nanites into shutting down, then give him a Shot to the Heart to bring him back.
  • Future Slang: "Chipping" is already being used in-universe to refer to Gabriel hacking things.
  • Gas Leak Cover-Up: This, and others, are the stock in trade of Cyber Command, which needs to conceal both advanced techniques that terrorists could use as well as the full extent of Gabriel's capabilities.
  • Government Agency of Fiction: U.S. Cyber Command does actually exist, in Fort Meade instead of Angel's Bluff, Virginia. The emblem is almost the same as the real CYBERCOM, but the real agency seems to be more military and armed forces related than espionage and spycraft. The Clockwork department/function of CYBERCOM is also completely fictional.
  • Government Conspiracy: Mei Chen suggests in "Event Horizon" that someone from the American government hired her to frame Gabriel for murder. The season finale reveals her client: Leland Strand, Lillian's father.
  • Grand Theft Prototype: Jin Cong intends to steal the list of children known to have the mutation, presumably to then kidnap one or more and create his own super-soldiers.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality:
    • The stock in trade among the highest echelons of the US government, which Lillian is clearly disgusted by at times.
    • Later gets played with in the episode "Patient Zero".
  • Grey Goo: Used as a murder weapon in "Size Matters", causing massive hemorrhages.
  • Human Subspecies: Chipping only works in a few individuals with a genetic mutation.
  • Idiosyncratic Wipe: Scene cuts involve a kind of Person of Interest-style zoom-out, but the scene is cut into blocks and each one then shrinks out at different times. This mimics the way reality disappears when Gabriel does a cyber-render.
  • I'll Pretend I Didn't Hear That: When Gabriel tells his boss that he's following up the lead she got him on Amelia, her response is basically that he's making it really hard for her to pretend she doesn't know what he'll be doing.
  • Latino Is Brown: The dark-skinned, black-haired Basque terrorists of the series, who were mockingly described as "Maghrebi Etarras" in at least one Basque newspaper (Basques tend to be fair-skinned, with light hair, including red, being not uncommon).
  • Like Reality, Unless Noted: Apart from the chip and the fact that Cyber Command is in a different city and has a different job description, it's still just 21st century Earth.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: "Secrets of the Secret Service" involves one for Bill Clinton. He's a former Democratic president who was in office in the late '90s and currently works as a diplomatic official negotiating to get captured American civilians freed from oppressive regimes—except instead of North Korea it's Syria, and the Americans are actually CIA agents.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Dr. Cassidy has one of these. He was arrested for public nudity and possession of a controlled substance. And he's decidedly not mentioning the circumstances.
    • A recursive example. Dr. Cassidy relates a story of kissing a girl and requires Gabriel to respond with the girl's name. Once he does, Cassidy then mentions that he had only ever told Gabriel that story, during a drunken confession.
    Nelson: That was the day you married mom! Whose name's not Lorraine!
  • Opening Narration: "Gabriel Vaughn, one of our nation's most decorated soldiers. He's a hero, and now our country's most secret weapon ... He's the first of his kind; the next evolution of intelligence.
  • Poor Communication Kills: In "Delta Force" Norris committed a series of political assassinations in Bolivia because his CIA handler misinterpreted a rather terse message from D.C. saying "Uncle Sam backs Javier Leon" (meaning that Leon winning the Bolivian presidential election is the Americans' preferred outcome) as "eliminate Javier Leon's competition".
  • Shipper on Deck: Gabriel's Mom. She all but insists, "Now kiss" to Gabriel and Riley.
  • Smarter Than You Look: Gabriel calls Riley out on her low S.A.T. scores (1030 on the old 1600 scale.) She says she doesn't test well. The fact is confirmed a little while later when she tells Gabriel to update his Mandarin, correcting his faulty translation, begins to point out the reason that safe is important (Gabriel stops her before she can finish) and unbeknownst to Gabriel, figures out that his boss actually believes the same thing Gabriel does about his missing wife, despite the fact that his boss had told Gabriel the opposite the idea his wife probably really did turn against the U.S. and died in a terrorist plot was true. Also, unbeknownst to Gabriel, she points out the fact that she's working with a person, not a machine or a thing, very subtly reminding Strand that there was a reason their agency wanted to give a person more digital intelligence instead of creating a more human computer A.I. That leads to Lillian making a deal for information about Amelia in exchange for Jin Cong's return to Chinese custody.
  • South of the Border: "Mei Chen Returns" has Riley find Gabriel drinking and fighting hostile patrons in a cantina of "Hidalgo, Mexico", which is introduced with a very yellowed shot of stock footage. Hidalgo is a whole state of Mexico, of which only a small part qualifies as arid, and even that is much greener than the location shot suggests. After that, the couple walks down a street market with red and green banners and a donkey.
  • Spexico: The newspiece detailing Kate Anderson's last assingment before disappearing mentions a "Federal Police in Spain". Mexico has a federal police, Spain does not. And the "Basque terrorists" look like taken out of a lineup of "bad hombres".
  • Synthetic Plague: "Patient Zero" centers on an attempt to find Luthor Vick, the eponymous first victim in a virus epidemic.
  • Take That!: A very subtle one to digital translation and online dictionaries like Google Translate and Babylon. Gabriel uses his digital interface to translate spoken Chinese. Riley asks where Gabriel learned Mandarin. He replies, "I didn't. I got an app for that." Riley then proceeds to correct his translation because she actually speaks Mandarin.
  • Three Laws-Compliant: A former scientist now living as a recluse a la Ted Kaczynski (and writing tome-sized manifestos, too) averts this in his speech to Gabriel and Riley, insisting that "Frankenstein's monster will walk among us".
  • Trojan Horse: in "Mei Chen Returns", the Cassidys and Gabriel work together to trick Mei Chen into leaving her mind open to them, allowing them to erase all the important information on Clockwork she has stolen.
  • Trust Password:
    • An American scientist forced to work in Syria gives one to Riley so that she can convince her daughter to come with her.
    • In "The Event Horizon" Dr. Cassidy relates a shared story and insists Gabriel fill in a name as assurance Gabriel is acting on his own behalf, and not being remotely controlled.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Hinted at between Gabriel and Riley. Refreshingly, it's not made as much of a big deal as many other shows like Castle and Bones do.
  • Wham Episode: The season finale.
    • When Gabriel tells Riley to drive him to a nondescript house. They bang on the door and an old lady answers. Gabriel: "Hi, Mom."
    • Weatherly is revealed as a deep cover Iranian mole high up in the echelons of the US government. And he knows about Clockwork.
  • Wham Shot: The last scene of the season finale reveals who's hiring Mei Chen as an assassin: Leland Strand.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds:
    • Luthor Vick after he learns that Carter's faction was responsible for injecting him with a WMD virus.
    • The Salvi brothers, who experienced the horrors of post-Chernobyl birth defects seen in children born to irradiated mothers.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness:
    • What General Carter tries to do with Vick after he learns of his escape.
    • Mei Chen was about to do it to Kate Anderson, but Gabriel saved her. She probably wishes he hadn't, given what will almost certainly happen to her.
  • You're Insane!: Gabriel to Mei Chen.