This week’s Eli Stone opens with our hero trying to return his now-ex fiancee’s engagement ring. Which of course he can’t do, because who keeps the receipt for something like that?
And the Stone boys do some bonding — or commiserating, as the case may be. Eli misses Taylor, and thinks he might’ve made a mistake by ending the relationship. "Let me clarify something for you — you did the wrong thing, buttwipe," says Nate (Matt Letscher). Eli’s the "worst bachelor ever," Nate says. "Instead of getting back with old girlfriends, of which we know there aren’t many, you break out the microwave popcorn and you spend your nights in bed watching TV movies on the We network." Now, how Eli got to be my alter ego, I’ll never know. But I digress.
It’s in the midst of his TV movie that Eli has a vision — a man in a hospital gown, asking for Eli’s help. He comes out of the television and follows Eli around his apartment ("Man, everybody comes to your apartment — George Michael, boys’ choirs — I’m a little insulted I haven’t been invited," says Dr. Chen when Eli tells him.). The guy in the vision isn’t familiar, and Eli can’t figure out what’s going on. "It’s a wait and see vision," Chen says. There are no answers — get it?
In the A — or is it B? — story this week, Jordan agrees to represent a friend and fellow prestigious attorney, Mason Andrews (James Avery), who’s being sued by a young African-American attorney, Keith Bennett (Jason George), who alleges racial discrimination because Andrews didn’t hire him. Eli declines to be second attorney on the case, partly because he’s terrified of how Jordan will react to his breaking off his engagement — and partly because he’s going to end up representing hospital gown guy, a.k.a. Jake McCann (Chris Diamantopoulos). He meets McCann in Nate’s office — he’s a patient who’s just awakened from a three-year coma to discover that his wife has annulled their marriage and taken up with his business partner, who while he was unconscious took their start-up company public and tripled its value. With Eli’s help, Coma Guy contests the annulment. Several incredulous "You’re suing God?" queries are posed to Eli.
The upshot of the Andrews case — with some very smart acting from both Avery and George, is that even though Bennett walked into his interview a Harvard grad with sterling recommendations and an impressive record in the public defender’s office, what Andrews saw was an arrogant punk who dressed flashy and wore an unkempt afro. It’s not racism, Jordan argued in his summation — it’s a difference in style. And in an unsurprising but nonetheless nifty turn, Jordan all but offers Bennett a job. It’ll be good to have another smart, aggressive foil for Eli, if only so poor Matt Dowd (Sam Jaeger) can keep on being a bit of a punching bag.
While Eli pursues his case contesting the annulment, the visions persist of a hostpital gown-clad Jake — multiple Jakes, in fact — warbling and twirling around in this week’s song-and-dance number: the Rascals’ "Good Lovin." Eli levels with his client that he’ll probably win the case — but he won’t get what he really wants, which is his wife — and his life — back. "I know a little bit about living on borrowed time," Eli tells him, advising him not to waste any more in court and settle.
Meanwhile, Eli and Taylor move into a sort of a gray area. He comes home while she’s picking up her things, and Eli confesses that after what he’s witnessing with his client, he thinks that not being able to return the engagement ring might be a sign. "You know what could happen to me, and you still want to stay," he says. The next morning, Eli wakes to a note from Taylor — she’s in court — and a vision of Jake on the floor, sick. He unsuccessfully tries to get Nate to run more tests, convinced that something’s really wrong. But he’s right; after he and his ex-wife sign the settlement papers, Jake collapses on the stairs — the victim of a sudden heart attack.
It’s a good night for both camraderie and seriousness between the Stone brothers, and the scene where Eli goes to Nate’s office to talk about what happened to Jake and comfort his brother is a lovely piece of work. We’re so used to seeing Eli freaked out that it seems odd to see Nate at loose ends. The camera never leaves Jonny Lee Miller’s face, and he’s touching and believable trying to comfort his brother through his own bewilderment over his own situation and Jake’s.
Later, a drunken Nate barges in on Eli’s We network movie night. "Are you Eli Stone, asshat at law?" he asks when Eli opens the door (best line of, well, just about any night). Nate’s confounded; why did Eli know something was wrong with his patient and he didn’t? Eli tells him about the "Good Lovin’" vision, and confesses that he believes his episodes are more significant than just the aneurysm. Nate tells Eli a story no one else knows: he put a cassette of the Rascals song in their father’s casket when he died — a memory of a fishing trip they’d gone on together.
So little by little things come together. And there’s a rerun of "Working Girl" on the We channel.
What’d you think? Do the song-and-dance numbers still hold the same charm for you? Are you eager, as I am, to watch Eli’s relationships with his family, Taylor, and his colleagues develop?