OK, explain to me again why NBC didn’t stick with Journeyman? Because this episode was funny, tense and mind-blowing — plus it answered a few questions (maybe) and raised several more. And to top it off, we got an explicit Kurt Vonnegut reference and a tribute to bitchy, inappropriate aunties the world over, which is clearly a shout-out to me.
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One of the things this show does well is tackle the consequences of time travel, both when it comes to domestic relations (it’s tough to be a good husband and father when you can get pulled out of time with no notice), and when it comes to the changes made in the past having consequences in the future. This episode melded the two aspects beautifully, as something Dan accidentally leaves in the past changes his future domestic life something fierce.
Dan first gets whisked away to save a mother (Sondra) and son (Chris) who are trapped in an RV that’s teetering on the edge of a cliff. He manages to get them out — but in the process, he drops his spiffy new digital camera. He’s bummed, but he figures he’ll be ok if no one finds it.
Yeah, nice thought, Dan — he next gets pulled to the early 80s (if we’re to go by the music cue) to find that Sondra (now wearing oversized and massively thick glasses) working for a tech firm that’s incredibly paranoid about security breaches, and Chris showing off the camera he found to Dewey, a young tech geek on staff. Uh-oh. Dan and Livia try to get it back, but they’re thwarted and escorted out of the building. Dan returns home to find everything’s fine, just fine… except his son Zach has disappeared, and has been replaced by a daughter named Caroline.
Dan is devastated and is determined to get Zach back, but Katie, who never knew Zach, doesn’t want Dan to change anything. This is the only life — and child — she’s ever known. And Caroline seems like a great kid — does she have any less right to exist? Her being born rather than Zach was just a quirk — in Zach’s timeline, Dan and Katie got busy after a baseball game, while in Caroline’s timeline, Dan got called away from the game because some technology at the paper broke. What should Dan do?
There are a couple of other changes. One, technology is wildly advanced — we’re talking digital paper, holographic screens, the stuff of science fiction. It’s tremendously cool. Two, Chris disappeared shortly after Dan saw him in the 80s. Could the two changes be somehow connected?
Why yes, yes they could. Dan basically begs and pleads his way into the past to meet up with Chris as he’s about to sell the camera — not to Dewey, as Dan originally thought, but to the head of security at the firm. She’s not to be trusted — I’m a little unclear on this, but I’m thinking she disposed of Chris after she got the camera. Dan and Livia snatch the camera back and run. Dan manages to ditch it in a garbage truck that’s in the process of compacting, so all those lovely advanced circuits are unusable bits of silicon. And to top it off, he and Livia get pulled out of the past just in time to dodge a bullet — and to send the bullet meant for them into the security chief’s chest. He gets back home to find Zach back — and Katie apparently none the wiser about her alternate-reality daughter.
Highlights, thoughts and odds and ends
- I admit it — I kind of loved Annette, Katie’s sister, and I’m delusional enough to think she’s All About Me. We’re both bohemian, cosmopolitan aunties; we both appreciate a stiff drink; we both enjoy tweaking our sibling’s significant others; we both spoil our nieces and/or nephews; and we both lived in Hong Kong. Plus, she’s a gorgeous, wildly successful something and I… um, ok, let me get back to you on that on.
- Annette, when she first hugs Katie — "My god, it’s like hugging a pretzel stick." I, too, want to feed Katie a cheeseburger or 12.
- Jack, when Dan asks him to get agent Garrity’s files on him: "We’re talking the FBI — I mean, they wake up in the morning and put a stick up their ass." Hee.
- This episode also spent a lot of time portraying the unpleasant effects inadvertent time travel can have on one’s sex life. Dan gets pulled away form Katie while she’s flinging off clothing and burrowing under the covers (oh, the look on her face when she realizes he’s gone…). Later, Livia gets pulled out of time in a peek-a-boo nightie — and she’s not happy about it.
- Livia also tells Dan about Henry’s proposal — and that she’s planning to get married that weekend, because Henry has been drafted.
- Annette convinces Katie to consult a psychic — who may actually have some answers for her and Dan. First, she tells alternate-reality Katie that everything is in disarray, suspended, and that’s certainly true. Then, she tells alternate-reality Dan that he’s looking for something small, but vital — Zach. Finally, she presents Dan with a birth chart, and tells him he was born when a rare, mystical comet was passing over. That’s happened only once before — when Livia was born. Hmmm.
- Jack digs up some of Garrity’s files, and finds a picture of young Dan with Langley at NASA. Dan confronts Langley with the picture — and Langley claims not to know him. Is he telling the truth, or lying? Did Dan change something in the past that makes it so Langley never met him? Or is Langley manipulating everything somehow? I hope we find out…
One episode left: Do you think all of our questions will be answered? How do you feel about Dan being born under the sign of a mystical comet? Is Langley controlling things, or is he just a scientist with a hunch? And how stupid is NBC for dropping this show?