Jake swings high into the air on a swingset. “89 degrees, 15 minutes and 50.8 seconds past the current position of Polaris – The Northern Star. Viewed from another planet, it’s just one among many, but on earth’s it’s uniquely important. Fixed in place, an anchor. No matter where you are in the northern hemisphere, if you face Polaris, you face north.” An Asian woman practicing group yoga is interrupted by her cellphone. She answers it, and her face registers some bad news. She looks over a woman sitting in the grass holding a baby. The baby stares up at her. “You know where you are. But there are other ways to get lost.” A man, who appears to be an architect leaves his office, before seemingly flashing back on some prior event. He rushes out of his house, standing next to his crying wife. He hands a police officer a family portrait. “Even in our own minds. What could be our anchor then? What beacon could we turn to?” Clea stands on a bridge, next to the train. She looks upset and uncertain. The train speeds past her. “What would be our anchor then? Could it be a person?” Jake swings back and forth, smiling and laughing. Martin watches him, beaming, proud. “Because unlike Polaris, the light they bring will never fade.” Jake leaps off the swing and runs into his dad’s arms. The two embrace.
Martin startles awake to find Jake standing in front of him, no longer smiling and silent. They’re at the boarding facility. Martin hands Jake his notebook. “I had the dream again,” he says. In the hallway, Clea and Sheri review Jake’s case, and while Clea sees positive improvement, Sheri’s not so sure, and really, without knowing that Jake has some sort of gift, she’s right to doubt: Martin is overworked and Jake is unresponsive to any of his therapy. His final evaluation is drawing near and Sheri wants Clea to prepare other options in case Martin loses custody. Suddenly, Clea is interrupted by a phonecall. Her mother has been taking to a psych ward at Victory Memorial Hospital.
At the Teller Institute, Arthur has asked Martin to write down every number Jake has given him since March 18th, calling them “the anomalies.” The sequence is thus: 318529632879522. Martin begins to read them off and Arthur is able to finish off the sequence without even looking. He says that Jake’s numbers aren’t random or new: they’re called the Amelia sequence. Arthur says that 10 years ago, one day, he felt like he’d gone out of his own body and felt a oneness with everything that existed, and that’s when he saw the numbers for the first time. But he was told by doctors that he had a brain aneurysm and loss of brain function. But Arthur happily denies that he lost anything, but rather, found his calling. There are three more numbers in Arthur’s sequence, which Arthur says will be next, but he wants to see Jake. Martin, too afraid of rocking the boat, tells Arthur that it’s impossible. Martin thanks him and leaves for work. Arthur roots around in a drawer and pulls out a temporary pass for the boarding facility.
At an airport, an Asian business woman talks on her cellphone, while trying to figure out the answers to a crossword puzzle. The man sitting next to her can’t help but tell her the right answers, both of the clues pretty difficult to figure out. She introduces herself as Lanny. His name is Will. (Names! I don’t have to keep referring to them as That Guy or Businesswoman!)
Martin delivers a lost bag from JFK to someone’s house. A dazed looking man answers the door and Martin peers behind him to see police crowding his living room. The man looks past the bag to a red tricycle sitting next to it. “You got kids?” he asks Martin. Martin nods, but before the man can say anything else, he’s called back into his house by a police officer. We overhear them as Martin walks away. Apparently the man’s son has gone missing.
At the hospital, a nurse guides Clea to the psych ward, explaining that her mother was arrested for shoplifting, but was clearly confused, so the police brought her in for evaluation. Clea tells her that her mother is schizophrenic and that she hasn’t seen her mother in six years. The nurse says that they could keep her mother at the hospital for the time being, as long as she consents. Clea enters the room and quietly asks her mother if she’ll stay. Her mother refuses. Clea tells her about the time she was called in, thinking she’d been hit by a car (a few episodes ago) and confesses that when she heard the woman thought to be her mother might not wake up, she felt relieved. She tries to appeal to her mother again, but her mother doesn’t recognize her, saying “my baby’s at home.” Before Clea can decipher what she means, her mother runs off.
Arthur uses his expired temporary pass to get into the facility and approaches Jake, who is painting in the rec room, specifically, the number 975. Arthur watches him for a moment. “I guess you’ve been expecting me.”
At the hospital, Clea asks the nurse if the police told her what her mother tried to steal. Apparently her mother was caught shop-lifting children’s cough syrup. This alarms Clea: her mother was once caught trying to take someone else’s child from the playground in a bout of confusion. She looks over to see Martin delivering a package. On the TV behind her, a news report reads QUEENS CHILD MISSING. Martin realizes that he just spoke to the father in the case and Clea puts two and two together after the mother tearfully says that her son had a cough at the time he went missing.
At the airport, Will and Lanny chat. Will is flying standby and might not make it on. He tells her about how he just closed a huge real estate deal, but the building he just bought on behalf of his company is a Harlem jazz renaissance masterpiece that’s now due to be torn down, and his overwhelming guilt about all of this is causing him to question his purpose in life. Right before the board the plane, Lanny is told that her baggage was lost and she needs to come fill out paperwork. Will gets her seat. He hands her his business card, writing IOU on the back.
When Arthur notices Jake playing with his red race car, he continues to speak to Jake, telling him about a patient of his named Amelia, who was just like him. He asks him if Amelia is here. Jake rolls the car down the floor and Arthur goes to pick it up and narrowly misses being seen by Sheri, who is on a walkie-talkie with someone, now alerted to Arthur’s presence in the building. Jake paints one more number on the sequence, making it 9756.
Martin reads the Amber Alert text message on his phone and realizes the missing boy’s case number is 975. Clea says that she’s given the police her mother’s description but has no idea how long it will take them to look into it. Martin tells her that the number, given to him by Jake, as well as meeting the boy’s father, are signs that Clea and Martin will have to find the boy themselves.
Will sits in his seat, his ticket still tucked in his pocket, and awakes to find himself in the middle of a sunny field. Behind him, the plane lies in smouldering wreckage. Will gets up, grabs his suitcase, and wanders off in a daze.
Lanny returns back to her apartment to find a man and a woman doing meditative yoga in her living room. The woman, named Serena looks surprised and says “You’re not supposed to be home.” She introduces the man, named George, as a medium. Lanny looks extremely incredulous.
Martin buys a city map and asks Clea to mark down any places her mother might frequent. Clea tells Martin that she was taken fromher mother by social services when she was eight, and that her mother has been on the street ever since. Clea really doesn’t know very much about her at all. Clea marks the World Plaza where the homeless woman who stole her mother’s cellphone was hit by a car. Martin remembers that he was witness to that accident. “Still think there’s nothing to this?” he asks, before they head off in that direction.
Will enters a building, very slowly, looking hyper-focused on just walking and breathing. The building is Will’s office and people stand around, watching the news conference about the plane crash. Will walks right past them and heads to his office. A coworker enters, completely oblivious to Will’s disheveled state and asks him why he didn’t get to Omaha. “If I told you, you wouldn’t believe me.” He looks at the plans for the destruction of the building in New York with a heavy sigh.
At Lanny’s apartment, Lanny argues with Serena about having a medium in their home. Serena says that it’s because she got test results back from a doctor and that she’s so far unable to have children. Serena seems to think it’s because she’s displeased one of her ancestors, thus, the inclusion of the medium. The women continue to argue over the legitimacy of Serena’s need for spiritual guidance versus Lanny’s practicality.
Arthur wanders around the lower levels of the facility and comes across the mysterious room 6, only to find it clean and completely empty. He thinks he sees someone with an IV and a wheelchair being rolled past him and calls “Amelia!” before turning around to see Sheri and a couple of security guards.
At the World Plaza, near the train tracks, Clea fearfully watches a train go by before Martin checks in with her, having found nothing. He asks her what’s wrong, telling her that any detail could be important in finding the boy. She snaps at him, telling him that this is where she used to wait as a little girl while her mother screamed at the train to silence the voices in her head, not knowing if she could come back down. Martin apologizes, although he still thinks they were brought there for a reason. Clea finds a star traced into a patch of dirt.
Sheri has Arthur apprehended by security while Arthur tries to prove to her that Amelia is somewhere in the building. He starts to tell her to check her records before realizing something: there’s a conspiracy and Sheri’s in on it. “Did they offer you money? Fame? They offered me that too.” Sheri threatens to have him arrested before having him escorted out of the building.
Serena continues to consult with the medium while Lanny watches incredulously. He tells her that her grandmother is very angry with Lanny, because she doesn’t support Serena’s decision to have a baby. Lanny insists that she does, listing off all the things she’s paid for, fertility treatments, etc. “I’m not talking about what you paid for, I’m talking about what you want!” Lanny doesn’t have an answer and Serena storms off, upset.
Clea looks at the star, remembering that her mother drew it in the concrete when she was little, and used it as a part of a poem she taught Clea as a child, in case she got lost and had to find her way home, the next step of the puzzle is finding a bar, which they can see from across the street.
Arthur goes to his car and puts the key in the ignition, only to stare at the speedometer. The last four numbers of his mileage are 9756. All the numbers begin to float in front of him and he smiles and says “Oh my god” before whiting out.
Will walks into his boss’s office, expecting to give him some info on the new project. Will asks “Ever think what we do here is wrong?” He begins to talk about their business, which is, in a word, gentrification. He returns to the building in Harlem, where legends like Billie Holliday and Count Basie used to play and says that the building should be turned into a museum. “I’m not gonna let you tear it down,” he says. His boss tries to talk him down from his decision and Will refuses to let it go. “I need to do something that matters. And it needs to be today,” he says before walking away. Will’s boss looks down to see a trail of blood left in Will’s wake.
Clea and Martin follow the next clue from the poem, a crest, to find one on the side of a dilapidated building – the building Will is trying to save, which is about to be blown up in 10 minutes. Clea and Martin try to explain that her mother might be in there but the construction manager doesn’t think anyone could still be inside and tries to lock them out of the site. (Why they don’t explain about the missing child is beyond me.) Just then, the construction catches Will breaking in with some bolt cutters. He runs into the building, saying if they want to blow the building, they’ll have to kill him too. Clea and Martin use this distraction to go look for Clea’s mother.
Lanny sits outside their bedroom, triyng to talk to Serena through the door. She says that she might want to have a baby someday, but right now, she has her career, and furthermore, she likes it, and having a baby would be too big of a change. Serena opens the door and says she understands, but doesn’t know how much longer she can wait. Lanny gets a phone call from someone who’s been calling her repeatedly, and they ask if she’s okay. She gets up, turns on the TV to see the news report about the plane crash. “I was supposed to be on that plane,” she mumbles as Serena holds her tight.
Clea and Martin run through the building, trying to find her mother, when they reach the top. Martin finds the boy’s red hat and Clea’s mother approaches them out of nowhere, threatening them with a piece of glass. Martin tells Clea to remind her mother of all the things Clea remembers about her childhood to earn her trust. Outside, Will repeatedly swings the boltcutters as a way to fend off the construction workers. Clea goes about the room, using the different spaces to bring back memories of when she and her mother used to live there. Clea’s mother finally remembers her and they embrace. She finally says that she lost the boy when she took him to the park, and thought he would come back here. Martin rushes off to the park after telling Clea and her mother to get out of the building.
Outside, the construction workers apprehend Will and restrain him. The manager turns to see Clea and her mother walking out of the building. Clea spots will and thanks him, saying that he saved her mother’s life. “I did?” he asks and Clea nods. The manager looks at Will and asks if he needs a doctor. Will pulls back his jacket to reveal a gash in his side, his shirt soaked with blood. He looks back up and collapses. Clea and her mother watch as they try to help him and Clea picks up his flight ticket, with the 975 on it. Before she can do anything, the manager looks back up at them. “He’s dead.”
Martin rushes through the park, calling out the boy’s name. In the distance, he hears the sounds of a squeaking chain and recalls his dream about Jake on the swing. He finds the playground, there the swing is still swinging, having just been used. Martin hears a tiny cough in the distance and finds the little boy sitting underneath some brush. Martin assures him that everything is going to be okay and promises to take him back to his parents. He embraces the little boy, still thinking about his dream with Jake.
Serena wanders about the living room with incense, thanking the spirits for Lanny’s good fortune. Lanny comes to the revelation that they have to try and get pregnant again, even if she has to do it herself, because if she had been on the plane, it would have been all over for them. Serena is overjoyed and begins looking through the donor book, to find someone compatible with Lanny on the Chinese Zodiac. She flips through a few pages and finds someone. Lanny looks at the page and realizes the donor is Will. Lanny looks at his business card with the IOU on the back.
Back at the facility, Clea meets up with Martin and tells him that her mother agreed to be checked into the hospital. “You were right. About the numbers… everything… if you hadn’t pushed me… Thank you,” she says. Martin tells Clea about his dream, which he’s been having for nine years. “You’re a good father, Martin. It’s time somebody told you that.” Martin asks Clea to help him put Jake to bed. In Jake’s room, Martin struggles to get Jake to hand over his notebook and get into bed. Jake hands him the book and stares up at him, and Martin flips open a page, realizing that Jake has added a 6 to his original sequence. Before Martin can guess what it means, security guards run past his room. Clea and Martin follow them out to the parking garage, where they find the door to Arthur’s car open, and Arthur slumped unconscious against the steering wheel.
If there would be one phrase I could use to describe this show, it would be “the walking dead.” No, not the hit AMC drama, but the actual reanimated corpse, because just as soon as I think this show is dead and buried and couldn’t possibly do anything to move me emotionally, it shambles back to life and comes at my brains with an episode like this. This kind of episode is what I have been waiting for, involving all major characters (including Jake, still less of a character and more of an adorable deux ex machina), moving the plot forward, and still managing to use it’s touchy-feely “everything is connected” theme. It added depth to some of our ancillary characters, like Clea and Arthur and gave a seemingly sinister back-plot to the show’s happenings: what does Sheri know about Jake and Arthur’s past? Who is she working for? Damnit, ‘Touch’, I didn’t want to care about this! But somehow I do, if not for the diehard earnestness of the cast and the show’s writing.
The side stories were also good, if not only because of some good acting from Will (David Julian Hirsh) and Lanny (Michelle Krusiec). Okay, Will’s story, how he got from a plane crash site to work without realizing he was bleeding out is a little beyond reasonable but for some reason, I didn’t even care. The intertwining of their stories somehow worked. They finally managed that delicate balance between plausibility and magical realism by trimming down the stories to two people, and making the lost boy and his family almost insignificant and or metaphorical. I feel like I should pat the show on the head but every time I do, the show bites me on the hand and goes back right to being sappy and uninteresting. You can do this, ‘Touch’, I swear, you can.
Did you miss an episode of ‘Touch’? If so, check our recap of last week’s episode: ‘Entanglement‘.