By John Keegan
Considering the fact that I was ready to give this show up for good, I was surprised to see that this episode might have actually delivered a legitimate game-changer. Unfortunately, this is where the reputation of the showrunner can be a distinct disadvantage: having seen Tim Kring fail utterly at long-form storytelling with “Heroes”, is there reason to trust him to do better this time?
The answer, for me at least, lies in the fundamental problems with the series to this point. I’ve said it many times, but the strength of any given episode of “Touch” is proportional to how much work the writers put into making the various connections feel organic. Far too many of them have felt forced or non-existent. If the writers will use narrative hand-waving in a single episode’s plot, why should we trust them to put more thought and care into a much larger series mythology?
For example, the connections in this episode are a bit overwrought. Will’s post-crash desire to make a difference with his life and atone for a supposed lack of judgment makes his eventual post-mortem ability to give hope to Lani and her partner in their quest for a child. It’s even a nice subversion of the expectation that they might find romance at some point. Lani’s clash with traditional spiritualism (which, of course, is depicted as more correct than modern sensibilities, given the theme of the show) gives her story a bit more weight.
But we’re expected to believe that Will is in such shock from his experience in the plane crash that he never realizes that he’s bleeding out over the course of several hours. And not one person in his office (or at any other point in time between his “landing” and his death) realizes that he’s got this massive blood stain and looks like he’s been mugged. Even his boss, who sees the blood dripping from Will onto the floor, doesn’t react at all. Never mind the idea that Will is close enough to work to walk there from the crash site, yet we’re supposed to believe that not one person noticed him leaving. It’s all so improbable that it falls apart at the least bit of inspection.
Far more interesting was the whole situation with Teller and the “Amelia Sequence”. The idea that these seemingly random numbers coming from Jake operate on both a micro-level (the episodic events) and a macro-level (the longer Amelia Sequence) lends a bit more weight to why some of the characters weave back into the story. With more consistent and forward-thinking writers, this could really be interesting. Sadly, I get the impression that this is just more of the same; there’s no real-world basis for the sequence, so it can be any random collection of numbers that they want to toss out, episode by episode.
There is also the implication that there is a conspiracy by some shadowy organization to silence the knowledge that there are children like Jake who have this special insight into the hidden workings of the universe. I’m not sure what to think of this. It plays into the notion of a modern world doing everything possible to defeat spiritual truths (a cloying running theme for the show), but it also suggests that there is a reason why various individuals are trying so hard to separate Jake from Martin, especially now that he is beginning to “understand” his son. It undercuts the more interesting and relatable issue of Martin’s ability to care for his son.
Teller’s death feels like a mixed message. On the one hand, everything points to the fact that he was completely right about the importance of the numbers and the underlying order of the universe that they denote. On the other hand, it seems like once he passed on this information and basis of belief to Martin, the universe basically dispensed with him. It’s supposed to suggest that his part in the grand scheme of things was fulfilled, but like Will’s death, it felt unnecessary. I was actually hoping that his story would end with the implication that this was all in his head, throwing some semblance of dramatic tension over the numbers into the mix.
So it almost seems like subtraction through addition: by adding this new layer to the premise, which should have helped to mitigate existing weaknesses in the show, the writers actually undercut some of the core strengths of the show. It’s rapidly becoming one of the biggest disappointments, at least narratively, of the current season.John Keegan is Editor-in-Chief for Critical Myth, a partner site of SciFi Vision.