This is Eli Stone. He’s a lawyer in a schmancy
who’s spent his life worshipping Armani, accessories and ambition. He has a
beautiful fiancée who happens to be his boss’s daughter. His life’s going
great. And when we meet him, he’s freezing in his Armani suit in the Himalayas, asking two sherpas to take his picture. And he
tells us that he recently found out he could be a prophet.
Shoutin’ it from the mountaintop… spoilers ahead…
Twelve years of Catholic school taught me to be immediately
suspicious of anyone throwing around the word "prophet." Particularly
when one of the things that’s made Eli question whether or not he’s destined
for bigger things is the fact that he hears — and sees — George Michael. And in
this case, he’s singing "Faith" (and looking mighty age-defyingly
good — is he drinking the blood of babies or something?).
Yeah, I know. George Michael. And it’s fanciful, and you’re
being asked to suspend disbelief, and Pushing Daisies already kind of has a monopoly
on the quirky/fun-loving thing. So what? Go along with it. A show that’s this charmingly
acted and snappily written is worth giving a shot.
Eli (Jonny Lee Miller) is representing a big pharmaceutical company that’s
being sued by a woman who contends that a preservative in its flu shot caused
her son’s autism. He pushes the original $60,000 settlement offer to $90,000
and urges her to take it — all the while hearing the more talented half of
Wham! singing in his head. The song follows him, driving him to distraction
while in flagrante with his fiancée, Taylor (Natasha Henstridge). He goes to
the living room, sees George Michael dancing around on his coffee table, and
promptly passes out. Of course you expected that. But if I get up tonight and
find Simon LeBon swiveling his hips on my coffee table and singing "
He goes to the doctor — his brother, in fact — for an MRI, which comes up
empty. Meanwhile, Beth, the plaintiff in his lawsuit (Laura Benanti), shows up
at his office, asking him to represent her. Big, fat conflict of interest. He
turns her down. Then, after a visit to acupuncturist Dr. Chen (James Saito), it
dawns on him who this woman is: his First. From college — UCLA, 1991; she was
Lizzie then. He confronts her at home. Their interaction is quick and
believable as she’s ‘fessing up to being The One and reasoning that it wasn’t a
big deal because they were stoned on pot brownies. He meets her son, Ben, who’s
stacking hundreds of wooden letter blocks in the living room — in which Eli
sees a message: "Make peace George Michael." Words to live by.
Eli works hard to convince his boss/father-in-law to be (Victor Garber, one
of the hardest-workin’ men in showbiz) that he should take the case and
represent the plaintiff — it’ll make them rich, and the firm can reap both the
public relations and financial rewards. Next hallucination, which begins during
this conversation: a cable car in the lobby. Eli flashes back to riding a cable
car with his father (Tom Cavanaugh), an unreliable alcoholic whom the entire
Stone family (Eli and the Family Stone?) has resented for 20 years. Pops gives
young Eli a postcard of mountain peaks in
meant to do great things, son. You’re going to go to beautiful places and speak
inspiring words — you are going to help people."
The upshot: Eli goes back to the doctor, and finds out he has an inoperable
brain aneurysm, which may be the cause of his hallucinations — and inherited
from his father. Along with feeling the ensuing guilt about his dad, Eli starts
reexamining his life. And being confused by
don’t know if I can do this, Eli."
In court, Eli may be a shark of a litigator, but he does have ethics and a
heart. He refuses to use, even though he knows about, an internal study by the
company acknowledging that the vaccine preservative could be dangerous — obtained
by his assistant, Patti (Loretta Devine), with whom he has a plucky, West Wingy
relationship that brings some of the show’s best lines (see below).
The plaintiff triumphs after Eli gets the CEO to admit he requested that his
child not receive his company’s vaccine, and after he gives a great summation,
all about — you guessed it — faith. As in, having faith that a big enough
judgment against Big Pharma will make them do the right thing and take the
chemical out of their vaccine — and faith that the jury will find for the
plaintiff. They do, to the tune of $5.2 million, and the company agrees to
remove the preservative.
Taylor comes back and apologizes for her
shaky reaction, and in the end, a now properly parka-ed up Eli goes to
scatter his father’s ashes. Which are in a coffee can his mother (Pamela Reed)
gave him. Closure at last. Happiness ensues. And it’s surprisingly touching.
A lot happens in this episode — there’s a lot to establish. But there’s also
a lot in there — including some very relatable performances, particularly by
Miller, and just enough quirk.
A little flavor:
"Not to be a prude, Eli, but I’ve got a deposition at 8 tomorrow
morning, so could we forego the role playing this one time?" —
to find George Michael in the living room.
"Stress can give you premature grays, it doesn’t make legendary British
pop stars sing their greatest hits from your couch." — Eli to his brother
when they’re trying to diagnose his hallucinations.
"Who is it this time? Cyndi Lauper? Billy Joel? The Go-Go’s?" —
Patti, when Eli hears the cable car.
"Don’t whisper yell at me!" — Patti, when an appalled Eli refuses
to use the pharmaceutical company’s study.
"You wouldn’t happen to have any needles for my inoperable brain
aneurism that I inherited from my alcoholic father who I wrongly hated for 20
years?" — Eli to Dr. Chen after the conclusive diagnosis
"Oh, that totally blows bro." — Dr. Chen in response.
What did you think? Would you take a George Michael vision seriously, or
would it have to be someone else? Did you find this a relief after