There is just so much information out there the average person has to keep a handle on (train timetables, maps, calendars, ‘to do’ lists, incoming calls, emails, SMS etc. etc.) that I’ve more than once suggested I’m looking forward to the day Apple starts marketing iKnow – a Wi-Fi enabled chip that gets inserted directly into your brain. And finally someone is taking me seriously, because that’s basically the premise for the television series Intelligence.
The chief character is Gabriel Vaughn played by Josh Holloway, formerly the devil-may-care conman Sawyer from Lost. Gabriel is a former Delta Force commando and Iraq / Afghanistan veteran who has had a super-computer microchip hardwired into his cerebral cortex. His character works for the United State’s Cyber Command, a real organization that exists to ensure the US retains the full power of the Internet while denying the same to its enemies. For its fictional director Lillian Strand (Marg Helgenberger), Gabriel is the most valuable piece of technology her country has ever created:
“While other agencies have been busy trying to make artificial intelligence more human, we created a man who was the first of his kind – an advanced intelligence agent.”
Such an important asset needs a minder. Enter Special Agent Riley Neal (Meghan Ory) as the reluctant recruit from the Secret Service who’s charged with keeping Gabriel alive and on-mission. The only complicating factor is that Gabriel’s wife was a CIA operative who turned terrorist five years ago and was killed in Mumbai. Not that our super-soldier believes that – shock, horror…
When it’s all boiled down Intelligence is basically a familiar ‘odd couple’ police drama with loose-cannon Gabriel and by-the-book Riley providing the main dramatic tension. Like recent newcomer The Blacklist the show’s success will depend more on how that relationship develops than the episodic missions or the special effects. But I think Intelligence has at least hit on one thing every denizen of the 21st century can appreciate: information overload.
Analysts have already suggested that the tragic events of September 2011 occurred in part because government agencies had different pieces to the terrorists’ plot, but were unable to put them together. The same might be said on a much smaller scale for our personal lives. We realise most of our problems are pretty common and the answers to everything from the best diet to the best date are out there if only we could cut through the noise. But minutes into the first episode Intelligence suggests that it’s not all about the ‘knowing’. Gabriel can access the full breadth of the world’s information grid and still be unsure what to do. His partner Riley provides that practical, real-world experience that often makes the difference. That difference is the distance between intelligence and wisdom.
Wisdom is the ability to weigh information and put it into perspective – to sort out priorities and so make the right decisions. So when the Bible wants to describe wisdom it says,
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
Even if I were able to get my imagined ‘iKnow’ chip, I’d still need some greater source of knowledge to sort out the vital from the distractions. The Bible says this ‘wisdom’ begins with acknowledging that we are not in control, that our lives aren’t in fact ours at all. The defining truth that seems to be driving Intelligence is that relationships are actually far more important than government agendas. Gabriel has already demonstrated his wife is more important to him than any mission, and is likely to do so again for Riley before too long. I can agree with this worldview, but I’m hoping that the relationship that helps me order this world mass of information will be one that is a lot more lasting and a lot less fickle.
Distributor: Seven Network
Release date: Tuesdays, 9:30 PM