The Enemy Within season 1 premiere recap: Pilot


Jennifer Carpenter is the best part of The Enemy Within.

NBC’s new series is working at a disadvantage thanks to its advertising. Like others, I’ve seen the countless television promos featuring Carpenter’s Erica Shepherd explain that she betrayed her country for the sake of her daughter. The pilot, however, is working on the assumption the audience doesn’t know this fact. It’s a little odd NBC decided to spoil the ending for the opening hour of The Enemy Within in the trailer, but at least Carpenter does a good job of making you wonder if her character is trustworthy.

The Enemy Within opens up with Erica Shepherd walking along the National Mall but she quickly notices all of the federal agents just lounging about. Realizing she’s about to be detained, Shepherd drops to her knees and surrenders peacefully. The next thing she knows, Erica Shepherd is on the front page of every newspaper as a traitor to the United States. Her career as a CIA operative is completely destroyed as the public learns of her association with a major Russian criminal, Mikhail Tal. She gets sent to supermax prison and is hated by the entire country as well as her associates since her actions left four agents dead.

In the present day, three different acts of terrorism are carried out throughout the country leaving fourteen dead. However, the big news here is that three CIA operatives have also died as well as a US Treasury official. FBI Agent Will Keaton (Morris Chestnut) is picked up from his daily jog to get debriefed by Daniel Zain (Raza Jaffrey) about the current situation. The coordinated attacks are similar to the murders that Shepherd had been attached to.

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Zain and Keaton update the rest of the US Intelligence force on their findings and give viewers a quick overview of Mikhail Tal. Apparently, the guy really loves bombing people and taking innocent lives. Not to mention, he can’t stand when someone gets in his way. The attack with Shepherd had been in retaliation against the four agents who had initially stopped him. Now, this current attack killed the agents who were focusing on Tal’s financial assets.

However, Keaton’s lack of information on Tal leads to the government being disappointed in his investigation abilities. They decide it’s time to cut a deal with Shepherd with the hope of stopping Tal. However, The Enemy Within reveals that one of the agents who’s death happened because of her intel was Will’s fiancee, Lane. He has zero interest in working with the woman who had a hand in his wife’s death but he’s told there’s no choice. Either he works with Shepherd or a different agent will be assigned to the case.

THE ENEMY WITHIN — “Pilot” Episode — Pictured: (l-r) Kelli Garner as Kate Ryan, Noah Mills as Jason Bragg — (Photo by: Will Hart/NBC)

Naturally, when Keaton goes to try and cut a deal with Shepherd, things don’t go well. She’s basically treated like Hannibal Lecter since she’s locked up in an empty cell and treated like a serial killer. There’s something immediately enticing about Shepherd, the way she smirks at Keaton as he speaks since she’s already figured out his lie. He wants to make a deal to stop an upcoming attack but she quickly deduces the attack already happened. Shepherd suggests he look within the agency to see who helped Tal. Keaton is furious at the suggestion but ultimately the Shepherd takes the deal to help.

The rest of Keaton’s team is introduced as a likable bunch of agents. Kate Ryan (Kelli Garner) is the head of the cyber division, Daniel is an interrogation specialist, and Jason Bragg (Noah Mills) is a special agent. They’re horrified to be working alongside Shepherd, who puts them all on edge. From the get-go, Shepherd surveys the room and is able to learn everything she needs to know about her new team. Nevertheless, within minutes Shepherd is able to get the team a lead. She suggests Ryan check for discrepancies in phone records since Tal liked to “rip” phones which would prevent the cell from receiving an incoming call.

They catch a young hacker (Marvel’s Runaways‘ Lyrica Okano) who worked alongside Tal’s partner, Victor. Apparently, Victor had a woman with him after the attack. It’s none other than Anna Cruz (Coral Peña), an analyst who everyone thought had perished in Tal’s attack that morning. Since she’s alive, the clock is ticking to try and find her before Tal gets rid of her.

THE ENEMY WITHIN — “Pilot” Episode — Pictured: (l-r) Raza Jaffrey as Daniel Zain, Morris Chestnut as Will Keaton — (Photo by: Will Hart/NBC)

While the team heads to a nearby apartment building, Shepherd is locked up. Keaton leaves with some parting words to ultimately remind her that he hates her. She takes the opportunity to create an injury so she can be “treated” and escape. Meanwhile, Jason gets shot by Victor’s acquaintance but luckily he’s wearing a vest. Keaton shoots the man but before he dies he ominously promises “all great empires fall from within”.

Unsurprisingly, Keaton is furious to have no leads with Tal or Victor and his day gets worse with Shepherd’s escape. She’s wearing a lead apron from her doctor’s visit which is preventing the GPS inside of her from transmitting her location. No one knows where she is but Keaton finally puts the clues together. Shepherd just wants to see her daughter, which is why she took off. Unfortunately, before she can reunite with her the police show up and drag her off again. Sadly, her daughter has to tearfully watch the whole thing in front of her school.

Keaton is in Boston with Daniel and the rest of the team after a tip placed Victor there. Despite the FBI director’s doubts about Shepherd, he does heed her warning about possible IED’s on site. She thinks Tal wants to take out as many agents as possible which is why he chose to send the team to Boston. It’s a good thing he was warned because there are explosives in the shipping yard! Nonetheless, Keaton is able to apprehend Victor and recover Anna before the end of the hour. Cruz begs to join Keaton’s operation because she wants to make Tal pay for killing her friends. Keaton promises to figure things out but what he doesn’t know is that Cruz is in on Tal’s plans!

THE ENEMY WITHIN — “Pilot” Episode — Pictured: Jennifer Carpenter as Erica Shepherd — (Photo by: Will Hart/NBC)

Finally, Keaton returns to the bureau to talk with Shepherd. He knows that if she was really trying to escape than she never would have been found. Shepherd doesn’t want to reveal her true intentions but Keaton threatens to quit and send her back to prison. Ultimately, The Enemy Within chooses to reveal her true motives by the end of the hour. Tal had kidnapped her daughter and threatened to kill her if Shepherd didn’t hand over the names of the agents in charge. Keaton wants to know why she never said anything but Shepherd admits it’s for her daughter. If Hannah ever discovered her mother betrayed the country for her than she would blame herself.

The Enemy Within will have plenty of procedural type episodes to follow since Shepherd reveals there are thousands of double agents working within the US. It means the series will have plenty of bad guys to take down, and it seems inevitable that a member of Keaton’s team turns out to be evil. Considering Kate is in love with Keaton, a fact Shepherd deduces almost immediately, she doesn’t seem like a traitor. That leaves Daniel and Jason, both who could viable options to be double-crossing the FBI.

While the series is painting Shepherd as a flawed protagonist and Keaton as the moral hero, it’s definitely easier to sympathize with her. Any parent watching the show would probably make the same choice she did, consequences be damned. It would be shocking if Keaton decides to continue despising her now that he knows her true motive behind giving Tal information.

What did you think of The Enemy Within pilot? Be sure to tell us in the comment section below!