The main character is Freya McAllister, a teen of undetermined age and personality, and the opening handles her sudden and completely unexplained ability to hear other people's thoughts. Years whiz by quite unconvincingly as she spends an unclear amount of time in a mental hospital. She is then whisked to a house in the middle of nowhere to briefly receive "telepathy training", (again, years apparently pass in the process) which includes a silly montage that, being a montage in a movie, features boxing. Very few answers are given pertaining to why she is telepathic, how it happened, or whether other people share her abilities. Another character, Doctor Michael Welles, appears in this segment to "train" Freya, but is completely dropped once another male character arrives at roughly the forty-minute mark. Presumably he would have returned later in the series, but again, this is a self-contained story. Here, on these terms, his immediate disappearance makes no sense.
Agent Brandon Dean, played by Joe Flanigan, is by far the best thing in this - he's the only character with something approaching a personality - but his hasty introduction so late in the course of the "film" is a mistake from which it never recovers. He has a mild comic charm and lightens up his scenes with dreary heroine Freya (played with non-distinct vagueness by Navi Rawat), for instance by "thinking" the Scooby Doo theme, which Freya later picks up on as proof of her abilities. (One annoying and pointless conceit is that she can't tell anyone she is telepathic. She immediately breaks the rule for Dean, but no one else.) His other kooky talent, other than comic relief, is a photographic memory. So, guy with photographic memory + telepathic partner. High concept enough for you?
The rest of the plot concerns an assassination of some kind, but the details are sketchy even with a telepathic investigator on board, and ultimately very little tension or excitement builds in the course of it. The worst thing about it is the obvious limitations of having a telepathic hero: she's likely to overhear the same sort of things (someone doing something horrible, must stop them), and thanks to the stupid Cannot Tell Anyone She's Psychic goof, she's only going to be a hindrance to everyone she works with, and would have spent the duration of the TV show presumably telling people over and over again to "trust her". I'm bored just *imagining* it, so it seems a perfectly reasonable decision to abort the show in the early stages. It was clearly going nowhere.
The pace is initially too fast, meaning we learn nothing about Freya before she becomes telepathic, making it impossible to empathise with her later on. Her sister June has no emotions at all besides vague resentment over the death of their father - this issue is never dealt with - and the two characters have zero chemistry together. And again, the foolish decision to wait until halfway before introducing the best character simply smacks of bad writing.
Telepathy has been handled well in many films and TV shows before this, but it's rarely been done with such a marked lack of imagination. Freya hears only concise sentences (before she learns to do this there is only a cacophony of sounds; surely this is what a mind would sound like to someone else? Have these writers ever thought before? Who thinks in calm, enunciated, spaced-out sentences anyway?) and, in very few instances, sees visions. But it's all simplistic and obvious. There are so many ways to handle telepathy on film, and Breck Eisner's pilot simply doesn't try. For example, why is Freya only hearing things? Surely she'd be bombarded with random images as well? (Fear not: in at least one scene that is jarringly inconsistent with everything else, she does get to see somebody's thoughts. It's not explained why, of course, because nothing at all is explained.)
In regards to this film looking and feeling like a pilot, it is largely down to the editing, which favours fade-to-blacks which are clearly intended for commercial breaks, and Brian Tyler's immensely uninteresting music. It's all greatly similar to his dreary score for Bubba Ho-Tep, which (thanks to the filmmakers' failure to secure the rights to Elvis music) consisted mostly of a single guitar tune repeated endlessly. The soundtrack here is just as deflating.
It is difficult to work up enthusiasm for something so shoddily pieced together. It seems wholly to rely on the future of the show to fill its logical and emotional holes, and because of this it fails not just as a lead-in to a series that never was, but as a piece of entertainment in its own right. Lazy, derivative and supremely un-thought provoking.
Also, Joe Flanigan is so hot in this, hee :)