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At the start of each episode of the new NBC drama The Enemy Within, the show flashes an audacious announcement: An estimated 100,000 foreign spies work within U.S. borders, it claims. These “enemies within” have infiltrated the everyday lives of average Americans—one could be sitting on a morning commuter train or managing a local storage unit. While it’s unclear whether the statistic is true, the first few episodes of The Enemy Within try hard to hook viewers by building up paranoia around this tension.
Former CIA operative Erica Shepherd (Jennifer Carpenter) is in prison after giving up the names of four colleagues to Mikhail Tal, a foreign terrorist. Now FBI agent Will Keaton (Morris Chestnut) needs Shepherd’s help to track Tal down. Keaton’s unsure whether he can trust her—after all, one of the names Shepherd gave up belonged to his fiancée, whom Tal subsequently killed. Can Shepherd and Keaton cooperate well enough to take out the terrorist?
Carpenter is superb in her role as a smart and determined agent. Sophia Gennusa, who plays Shepherd’s daughter Hannah, does a fine job portraying an emotionally distraught teenager. But with too much crammed into each episode, the series feels cluttered. Profanity and sexual content weren’t strong in the initial episodes I viewed, but families watching this TV-14 show should beware: There’s a lot of physical aggression and gun violence.
Even so, The Enemy Within raises some intriguing moral questions. What’s the right thing to do when faced with a choice that will cause the death of either your only child or four co-workers? Shepherd withholds the truth from others. Is that the same as lying? And there’s Keaton’s dilemma: How to navigate job responsibilities when motives become personal?