Thursday, November 08, 2007

"You're not here to protect Joel anymore. You're here to protect you.": Journeyman

[This is perhaps my favorite production still ever. The flying chair, the look on the shooter's face, the little puff of smoke from the gun...brilliant. - C]

Despite a slight creative uptick in Heroes this week, Journeyman once again managed to be far more compelling than its sophomore slumping lead-in. I mentioned last week how the show finally feels like it has settled on a tone (which is something like "family drama with a bit of time travel thrown in") and this week that tone is celebrated with another excellent episode focusing on Dan and how his time traveling ability affects his life and the lives of everyone around him.

Things started out on a great note when it became clear that although Dan was seemingly sent to the past to help prevent a witness from being murdered by the gang he was planning on testifying against, the story quickly becomes about Dan trying to prevent himself from getting murdered by the same gang and therefore completely altering (or erasing, I suppose) his future life. Time travel stories have always relied on these types of stories for their bread and butter, and this version definitely doesn't disappoint. Things get even more complicated when Dan realizes that while working to fend off the gang, he accidentally almost blew off an important day in his and Katie's history that could end up erasing their entire future and would, most importantly, mean that his son Zach might not exist. With Livia's help he gets everything back on track and ensures his future is safe, a sequence that featured a very fun fistfight between "past Dan" and "future Dan."

The "reliving your own life to make sure it goes the way you want" thing is interesting, but the problem is you can't think about it too hard or else your brain might explode. I know "past Dan" was drunk, but wouldn't he remember that something was off about that night? Also, if Dan's past was affected by "future Dan" would he and Katie only be together if this time travel thing existed? Unfortunately I think linearly and If you put all the pieces together it doesn't completely make sense, but I suppose that's the rub with time travel stories.. Still, it's great the writers finally have the confidence to take these risks and tying the time travel to the characters in a way that elevates both to a more interesting level. Hopefully they will figure out a way to continue this trend and not go back to the disconnected, stand-alone "past person of the week" stories that were dragging the previous episodes down.

The other main thing happening on this show right now is Jack and his bullheaded quest to "fix" Dan and Katie's problems, or at least figure out exactly what those problems are. While babysitting, Zach innocently reveals the existence of Dan's Dylan McCleen money and Jack is immediately suspicious, grabbing one of the bills and taking it to the police station for tracking. Of course, this triggers the FBI to come a-calling since the bill was stolen money, and Jack immediately goes to Dan and Katie's house in search of the money (which luckily Livia had just jumped in to take in connection with what she and Dan were doing in the past). Jack had cagily rebuffed the FBI agent's request to know where the money came from before this, but when the agent confronts him again he tells them it came from his brother. Although I hated the Dylan McCleen episode, what they've done with the money from it so far has been very good. How will they explain the existence of this bill? Will Jack ever stop being such a freaking jerk? Both questions that must be answered.

Surprisingly, this show has gone from one I begged to be allowed to quit recapping to one I actually look forward to each Monday in a matter of two weeks. With the strike's ugly head looming over every new series head right now, I can only hope that somehow this one can survive to at least finish out the first season. Next week, Elliot Langley returns to hopefully shed some further light into why Livia and Dan are able to time travel, and what this all means.

(Side note: One thing I absolutely hated at the beginning of the season was how whenever Dan would travel back in time, a song would be playing from that year to clue you in on what time period he's in. I still hate it as a narrative device, but I've learned to have some fun with it by guessing what year he's jumped to by only the song. I'm good with the 90's rock and 80's pop, but I had a hard time with "La Vida Loca" this week, guessing 1996 when the real answer was 1999. All of those late 90's years blend together for me. I blame the beer.)

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