Entertainment Magazine

Review #3516: Touch 1.10: “Tessellations”

Posted on the 18 May 2012 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: John Keegan

Written by Zach Craley
Directed by Jon Cassar

While “Touch” is still too self-indulgent for its own good, and I don’t see myself watching it after the end of the first season (unless the season finale changes things dramatically), this is the second episode in a row that worked for me. One big reason is the tighter focus of the writing; this episode, like the previous installment, has only two plot threads. This forces the writers to make the connections more logical.

Review #3516: Touch 1.10: “Tessellations”

The numerical connections in this episode were a bit more heavy-handed that the more subtle usage in the previous episode, but given how every single episode beats you over the head with the supposed connection between the numbers and the order of the universe, it’s now a given. So it comes down to the story threads.

On one side, a dock worker whose wife suffers from MS has lost his job unfairly, and he’s committing a crime to find a way to make ends meet and gain revenge. Despite a looming review board situation regarding custody of Jake, Martin follows the circuitous path of the numbers and becomes entwined in the criminal act. Thus he has to find a way to resolve the situation and remain out of jail, which is a lot harder when you’re not actually Jack Bauer.

Despite the fact that Martin manages to convince the dock workers that he’s on their side a bit too easily, even accounting for the beating they give him, I thought that this side of the story worked fairly well. My only quibble is that Martin tends to be rather dense. At one point, he’s willing to follow the numbers (2545, in this case), no matter how tenuous the apparent connection. All well and good, but when the number of the cargo container doesn’t seem too match up, why wouldn’t he consider that 2545 was the one they should check? Why did he need to be told? Seems like he ought to have considered that, if only because it was working out in every other respect!

Luckily (for them), Abraham’s cousin in Israel is trying to get a promise ring for his gorgeous Palestinian love, and the understandable tensions lead to the girl’s brother needing to send a message via the young man. There’s just enough atmosphere to those scenes to communicate the dangerous overtones of a Jewish man getting a secret message from a Palestinian with a troubled past, and I imagine that is the benefit of having Jon Cassar direct the episode.

The message is very straightforward, and in keeping with the uplifting nature of the show, it’s not at all surprising when the “cargo” turns out to be Palestinians seeking political asylum. Setting aside whatever statement the writers might be trying to make about the Israeli-Palestinian status quo, there is a connection to the overall series concept. If Jake is one of the 36 special individuals meant to right wrongs in the world, then this must inevitably involve breaking some of the human laws that impede justice. In this case, aiding the dock workers as they deal with a corrupt supervisor, and helping a Palestinian circumvent official channels to save the innocent.

This is especially meaningful when one considers that Jake’s aunt and her company are contriving to use Jake for nefarious purposes, and they are using their ability to influence the legal system (and everything else) to facilitate their goals. This sets up a “right vs. might” situation. It also feeds into the ever-popular notion that corporations are dens of evil, even though they are made up of the very same people that Martin and Jake are trying to help. (And never mind that earlier notion, now more or less sidelined, that the oppressed around the world are uplifted by Western values and technology.) It’s so easy these days to paint organizations of people as monolithic inhuman entities.

But given that this show has already admitted its religious underpinnings, and Judeo-Christian culture emphasizes the difference between God’s will (as expressed through Jake, apparently) and the secular world, the battle lines being drawn aren’t particularly surprising. If nothing else, I must admit that it gives the show more focus; the audience knows who they’re supposed to be cheering and why. (Besides, there’s a certain delicious irony to a show like this being produced and distributed by Fox.)

It’s just not the kind of story that I necessarily want or need to follow. I think it plays on convenient magical thinking, especially since the writers openly modify mathematical, scientific, and numerical concepts to fit the narrative, which is dishonest in its own way. The only thing that might change my mind would be a more nuanced treatment of the overall status quo. For instance, what if the corporation had good intentions, but they were going about it the wrong way? Right now, that doesn’t fit the simple and direct narrative that the writers are trying to sell, so I don’t see it becoming a more substantially thoughtful series.

Writing: 2/2
Acting: 2/2
Direction: 2/2
Style: 1/4

Final Rating: 7/10

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