In stories about people with mystical foresight, the drawbacks of divination are often more important than the benefits. Cassandra, after all, did not live happily ever after. See the future? Who wants that, really?
The world of Fox’s Minority Report is one that has apparently learned this lesson all too well. A program known as “Precrime” harnessed the power of three mentally gifted individuals—“precogs”—to stop murders before they happened. But it was discontinued sometime before our story begins in 2065. The show’s pilot doesn’t inform you of what went wrong with Precrime, but if you’ve seen Steven Spielberg’s 2002 film Minority Report, an adaptation of a Philip K. Dick short story and the prequel for this new TV show, you get it. Or if you have moral questions about the downsides of preemptive warfare, stop-and-frisk, criminal profiling, and other kinds of anticipatory uses of force by the government, you probably get it.
The main cop in Minority Report, though, does not get it. “Can you believe we used to stop this stuff before it happened?” the detective Lara Vega (Meagan Good) complains while looking over a crime scene. “All we do is mop up messes,” a partner replies. Later, she chats with a politician who previously oversaw the catch-em-before-they-kill efforts and now wants to recreate the program with algorithms instead of ESP, and we learn that it was Precrime that attracted Vega to law enforcement. Which is to say, maybe she wanted an easier gig than the one she now has (even though 2065 detectives are conveniently tricked out with computerized contact lenses, mini surveillance drones resembling Harry Potter’s Golden Snitches, nifty stun guns, and the like).