Wednesday, November 14, 2007

"Men with guns always want to control men with ideas.": Journeyman

Although not quite as good as the past few very entertaining weeks have been, Monday's installment of Journeyman was still very compelling and revealed a twist about Livia's character that was both interesting and genuinely surprising. We all know the strike is going to negatively affect all of our favorite programming very soon, but it might have done this show a favor by NBC giving it a chance to run all of its ever-improving episodes despite dismal ratings simply to have something to put on the air. It will be a shame when they run out, because an additional episode order at this point looks very unlikely and the show is just hitting its stride.

Best things first. Livia finally revealed some background on her character, albeit only because Dan found out first and she was forced to confirm. It turns out she lives in the past, in 1948 to be precise, and travels forward (while Dan travels back).
They gave us a hint of this last week when Livia jumped forward to grab the Dylan McCleen money in Dan's closet, which I thought was interesting when I watched but completely glossed over in the recap. Oops. She ended up in San Francisco in the 1980's with no mission, so she made the best of it and formed a life there. When she disappeared on the plane, that was her going back to 1948 for good. This is interesting for a few reasons, but not any that seem to make sense to me right now. Exactly why has she been time traveling since the 1940's? Is someone or something controlling both her and Dan's time travel from a specific place in time, forcing him to go back and her to go forward? Why would this happen to both of them?

None of these questions are answered yet, but for right now just knowing that there is something more complicated going on is enough. In the past it seemed like Livia's character was a bit useless, but when she reveals backstory like this you remember that she is an essential part to what makes the time travel portion of this show work. Additionally, it's good to have someone for Dan to bounce exposition off of while he's gallivanting in the past. Finally, Moon Bloodgood is just an appealing actress that I want to watch every week.

Another character that is growing on me is Jack, Dan's brother. His obsessive mission to find out what is going on with his brother created quite the unlikable character in the past few weeks, but a character that was flawed in a way that made sense. He's compelled to find these answers for many reasons, including the protective nature of his relationship with Dan and the conflicting feelings he obviously still has about his brother marrying and making a life with his ex-girlfriend. It's a testament to the writers and actor that he manages to come off as flawed and confused and not just vindictive and petty. The FBI investigation of the Dylan McCleen money has added a tension to the show that feels earned and exciting, and also an inevitable risk to being a time traveler. It also gives the show a chance to have a little fun. How great was it when Katie tricked the FBI into looking in Dan's briefcase for the money while she sneakily hid it in his coat? Also, tying the "counterfeit" $20 from way back in the season to the FBI money and suggesting a pattern was a fun continuity payoff for loyal viewers, and might just cause Jack to believe Dan is a time traveler after all.

Also packed into this loaded episode was another appearance by Elliot Langley. This time, he contacts Dan and warns him not to tell anyone at the FBI about his "book." I get the feeling Elliot knows Dan isn't writing a book. Just a hunch. He also hints that he left one of his research projects on tachyons because the government got too interested and started meddling in what he was doing, and mentions a possible connection between time travel research and stopping terrorism. He also makes the point to tell Dan he is working at a university now, researching quartz. Hmm. What exactly did Langley do in that think tank? What is he doing now with quartz? And are we ever going to find out, seeing as we're almost out of episodes?

Least compelling this week was the "past person of the week" story featuring a key party, hippies, and lots of 70's tunes. But even this had its good moments, like the welcome cameo by John Schneider (a.k.a. my first television boyfriend, Bo Duke) as a 70's swinger, the hippies mentioning that quartz keeps time better than any other organic compound, and the ridiculous moment when one hippie, fearing Dan might be a cop, said "Dude smells like bacon." Gold, people.

A good episode yet again, even if it does leave me with more questions than answers. If any of you out there are still watching, what do you think is going on? Because time travel always stumps me, and my brain is beginning to hurt from trying to figure it out.

1 comment:

page said...

I have no idea what's going on, but we're thinking along the same lines, I think. You are on to something with Langley. I loved the quartz tie-in with the past, and how when Dan popped back the second time he "woke up" on the beach--sand--quartz. We've got something there, it's the Bay Area, silicon valley, tons of money, high-tech research. Or else that's all red herring. It's good though. I loved the bit with the counterfeit 20 and I agree, Jack is going to end up believing. I've liked Jack's character from the start, I think because I so enjoy Reed Diamond. I loved seeing "Bo," ha! Perfectly smarmy in that satin shirt. They went a little too "Patty Hearst" on Abby's get-up during the hold-up but whatever. I like the Livia backstory a lot. Very intriguing. There was one gorgeous "Noir" shot of Dan on the foggy street under a street lamp. The setting being San Fran I think we always have to keep that Noir sensibility in mind and expect that the fem fatale is never going to be as simple as she seems and that we will have cause to mistrust her at times.