Is Jennifer Carpenter The Enemy Within of NBC’s new midseason drama? Or is the enemy the friends we made along the way? What?
Inheriting Manifest‘s Mondays at 10/9c time slot, The Enemy Within stars Carpenter aka Dexter’s sister as Erica Shepherd, a onetime CIA bigwig whom in the cold open we see surrounded and apprehended by FBI agents during a sojourn down the National Mall. Three years later, we learn that Erica is now regarded as one of the country’s biggest traitors, having apparently thrown in with a most wanted terrorist named Mikhail Vassily Tal. That alliance cost the lives of the four agents who had thwarted a multi-pronged terror attack of Tal’s.
One of those CIA operatives was the fiancee of FBI agent Will Keaton, played by Morris Chestnut. After Tal strikes again in the present day, with an explosion and two cold-blooded executions, Keaton is tasked by the assistant director to move Shepherd (“one of the best codebreakers in the history of the CIA!”) from a Colorado supermax facility to a D.C. detention center, and then use her knowledge of Tal to help capture him.
Keaton gets a chilly reception during his first approach of Shepherd, and vice versa. But after dropping what every one of us had to be seen as a big clue — “Look for someone on the inside” — she agrees to the arrangement and is relocated. Shepherd raises everyone’s hackles during her first visit to Keaton’s FBI outpost, which is populated by Code Black’s Raza Jaffrey (minus his accent), The Brave‘s Noah Mills and Pan Am‘s Kelli Garner. Inside the bureau, Shepherd is all darting eyes, furtive looks and wringing, shackled hands. She’ll study your wristwatch for clues to your combat training, or take a cue from your coffee mug to size up your secret crush.
Left alone, she’s even cagier. After giving the feds a lead to chase (on a possible survivor of Tal’s latest bombing), Shepherd busts up her mouth good to get a date with the dentist. There, she uses a dental hook to pick her handcuffs open, before shattering and escaping out the nearby window… while still wearing her lead x-ray apron, so as to neuter the GPS tracker implanted inside her chest. Next stop, the secret headquarters of a sinister cabal? Nah, she just wants to lay eyes on her daughter, if only to get re-apprehended just as they see each other.
That daughter, Shepherd later explains to Keaton, is the reason she has kept mum about the true nature of her treasonous act from years ago. She explains that — as revealed in umpteen promos for the NBC series — one day her daughter didn’t show up for school. A short while later, she got a call from Tal, proving that he had eyes on her little girl, and unless Shepherd coughed up the named of the four agents who had been vexing him, the kid dies. Choosing family over country, Erica blurted out what he needed to know, even if it meant veritably signing her colleagues’ death certificates.
But because of those circumstances, Shepherd wants to capture Tal as much as anyone else, so that her daughter can at long last be out of harm’s way. So she affirms her commitment to helping Keaton. Is she, though, the enemy within? Or does that title belong to Anna Cruz, the mild-mannered CIA analyst who miraculously survived the latest bombing… but is actually in cahoots with Tal?
Are you all in with The Enemy Within? I don’t really watch The Blacklist, but… it’s similar, yes?