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The Mystery of 'Emergence' is Worth Investigating
September 24, 2019  | By David Hinckley  | 2 comments

It’s happened to all of us at one time or another. A mysterious kid appears out of nowhere, and you want to help, but you’re just not sure whether you’ve found E.T. or Chucky.

Allison Tolman (top) returns, which is a good thing, as the grownup who finds the undefined kid in Emergence, a supernatural mystery thriller that premieres at 10 p.m. ET Tuesday on ABC.

It’s more mystery than supernatural, which is comforting for those of us who prefer their stories grounded in things that don’t require too many special effects. 

Tolman plays Jo Evans, the police chief of a small town out on Long Island, which seems to have become fertile turf for TV writers seeking a place that harbors secrets. 

Jo has just finalized her divorce from Alex (Donald Faison), with whom she shares custody of their bright teenage daughter Bree (Ashley Aufderheide). She and Bree are joined by Jo’s father Ed (Clancy Brown), a smart and supportive ex-firefighter who is now battling cancer apparently caused by some of the stuff he breathed over the years on the job. 

One night Jo, Bree, and Ed are jolted awake by a loud noise. The power goes out, a glow like the Northern Lights fills the sky and Jo gets a call saying there has been a plane crash on the beach.

When she gets there, a large crew is swarming over the site, and it looks as if there are no survivors. 

Then, behind a dune, Jo finds a young girl (Alexa Skye Swinton, top) curled up in the sand. She seems to remember nothing, not even her name, so Jo ends up taking her home – hoping she’s just in shock and will soon be able to provide the information that can return her to her presumably worried family. 

The girl, whom Jo now calls Piper, seems otherwise plugged in. Bree befriends her. She helps Ed with some household repairs.

Soon, however, strange things start to happen. A man and woman come to claim her. Jo realizes they’re lying. Jo returns to the plane crash site to find the sand has been smoothed over as if nothing happened. 

She also finds a Reuters reporter, Benny Gallagher (Owain Yeoman), who says that not only did something happen but that the massive and highly efficient cleanup crew was comprised of unidentified imposters. 

Other subtle signs that this whole thing could be a little different from your average plane-crash-and-lost-child case include the way inanimate objects sometimes move when Piper is around. 

Eventually, both we and Jo start to think, hmmm, this is weird, at which point we are now immersed in Emergence

Trying to stay one move ahead in a chess match she’s learning on the fly, Jo enlists Alex’s help. She also reaches out to Benny, hoping he’s a good guy, too. Along with a willing cop or two, they become the core of her posse.

The mystery is well crafted, giving the viewer some information that Jo does not have, but leaving other matters intriguingly unresolved. 

Like, who is Piper, really?

Emergence has procedural elements, insofar as Jo must fend off various immediate threats and challenges. But it’s more a long-game show, as explanations will clearly roll out slowly. 

At least in the first stages, it looks to be a ride for which it’s worth grabbing a ticket.

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To Linda Donovan
On this page, after the first paragraph the font goes small. Ha: "mousefont" - learned something new.
Sep 26, 2019   |  Reply
Whoops - here's the page:
Sep 26, 2019
Sean Dougherty
Is there a reason the typeface on the site today is rendering in such mousetype?
Sep 24, 2019   |  Reply
Linda Donovan
We don't see anything different than usual, Sean. Has it righted itself yet?
Sep 26, 2019
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