So at the beginning of this week’s Eli Stone, all — well, most — seems right with the world for our favorite modern prophet. He’s happy. He’s dating an heiress with a sassy streak, who’s interested in, ahem, getting to know him better (and boy does she). And his vision is a hopeful one — a woman named Jenny Clark wins the Nobel Peace Prize for her work on cold fusion, which helps wean the world from its oil dependency. But of course, there’s always a catch. Or several.
Spoilers of the dark truth variety ahead…
Eli goes to see Dr. Chen post-vision, ostensibly to thank Chen for setting him up with Ashley (Bridget Moynihan). Chen immediately guesses about Eli’s third-date intimacies. "About time, bro," he tells Eli, who’s relieved for once to actually feel like a normal person. Later, when he checks in with Patti as she looks for the future Nobel laureate, she guesses as well. "You finally got yourself some!" she says. "I was wondering if you’d taken a vow of chastity." Later on, Nate guesses that Eli has gotten lucky ("You finally let the little attorney out of his briefs!") as well. Apparently there’s no such thing as discretion, but it’s a happy occasion, so what the hell.
Eli’s got a hunch that the Janelle clark, a college dropout who works at a Home Depot-style big box store, is the future Nobel laureate. He goes to see her at her trailer, asking if she might need a lawyer, when a crowd of FBI agents screeches up and arrests her for alleged terrorist activity. She’s being accused of building a dirty bomb in her backyard. When he goes with Eli to meet with Jenny, Keith’s incredulous about the charges — but this time he’s not questioning Eli, who knows Jenny was working on a safe form of nuclear energy — cold fusion.
In court, we learn that the feds were tipped off by one of Jenny’s co-workers, and their search — properly conducted under the Patriot Act — led them to a lead-lined shed. It was filled with hundreds of smoke alarms and glow-in-the-dark clocks that had been stripped of their nuclear materials. But no explosive devices were found, and no plans or diagrams or journal entries gave any indication Jenny had plans to build a bomb. Even so, the jury thinks she’s a female Ted Kaczynski, the lawyers tell her. "Kaczynski — that guy was a hack," Jenny snorts. "You ever see his work? Shoddy."
She’s trying to act tough, and her stand against the system is legitimate — she saw her father’s plan for an engine that gets 59 miles to the gallon back in 1979 get squashed by the government and big oil. It made her want to fight back and find a way to not be dependent on oil. In the meantime, Eli took Jenny’s notebook to the head of the physics department at Stanford, who said her notebook contains some of the most advanced mathematics and innovative reasoning he’s ever seen — and no discussion of anything weaponlike. "Jenny’s may be the most significant contribution toward a carbon-free energy economy since we first split the atom," his affadavit reads. "That’s nice," she responds. "But the point is — not a bomb."
Ultimately the judge calls out the terrorism charges for the bogus attempt at conviction that they are, but acknowledges that Jenny broke the law by stripping the nuclear materials out of the household items, even though they were legally obtained. That said, he doesn’t want to be the judge who put the next Einstein in prison. Work it out, he tells Eli.
Which brings us back to the vision. Keith believes Jenny’s story, but he doesn’t share Eli’s faith that cold fusion will be solved in the next 40 years, based on an article written by Irving Wallenberg, the head of the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Who, coincidentally, is the guy who presents Jenny with her Nobel Prize in Eli’s vision. They show Jenny’s notebook to Dr. Wallenberg, who’s impressed enough that he agrees to help get the charges dropped against her if she goes to work for him. Eli responds to her initial refusal to work for The Man by saying she has a gift — and having that gift means owing it to the world to use it. "You don’t get to say no," he tells her. "No matter how much you might want to."
Then there’s Ashley the Heiress. She’s still looking for a way to give some of her family’s fortune to a worthy environmental cause. Maggie’s in the midst of pitching sea otters (I can’t even get into all the things that are wrong with that) when Ashley tells her about dating Eli. She’s not looking for anything serious, but she’s not bored yet, so she’ll keep him around for a while, Ashley tells Maggie.
Yet Eli, loving this new feeling, wants to tell Ashley that he’s a prophet. He should probably wait until after the fourth date, but whatever. "Some people don’t get it, but some people think it’s a gift," he says when he breaks the news. "Jewelry is a gift," Ashley responds. "You just told me you work for God." She’s not terribly receptive to the idea, and Eli’s devastated at her reaction. It’s back to Dr. Chen, who quite rightly reasons that even though Eli was nuts to tell Ashley, if she can’t handle who he is it’s better off that he know now.
For a bit it looks as though he may have talked her into continuing to hang out with him — despite a visit from Maggie warning Eli that Ashley doesn’t exactly have a long attention span. But in the end she doesn’t have the staying power. Ashley stands him up for dinner at Nate and Beth’s — who are eloping to Las Vegas, by the way — and apologizes later by saying she’s just not a serious person.
Meanwhile, Taylor insists on representing Jordan in his divorce, much to his initial consternation. "I’m sorry to have to play this card," she tells him, "but I’m starving and moody and my pants are being held together by a rubber band. Now you call Diane [his original divorce lawyer] and tell her I’m taking over or no baby pictures!" Jordan’s wife, Ellen, is demanding a hefty financial settlement that he’s no longer prepared to give, since his money’s all tied up with the new firm. Taylor tries to reason with Ellen and her lawyer, but to no avail.
Taylor talks through the conundrum of her father’s divorce with Matt while trying on clothes at a maternity store, and he’s surprisingly astute with his advice. Go talk to her and work it out, he says. Taylor goes to see Ellen, who says forgive her for sounding selfish, but she won’t be victim to the same tactics Jordan used on Taylor’s mother, she says. Turns out that when he left his first wife, Jordan hid his assets in offshore accounts, then hired a great divorce attorney, took his wife to court and got full custody of Taylor. That explanation sounds a whole lot more reasonable than Ellen’s lawyer’s argument that she had a certain expectation of a kind of lifestyle when she married Jordan.
Taylor, aghast that the story of what really happened between her parents is so different from the version she believes to be true — that her mother abandoned her — is understandably very upset after she confirms Ellen’s story with Jordan’s first divorce lawyer. She lays into Jordan for fundamentally changing whatever relationship she might have had with her mother, which has affected every aspect of her life. In the end, Ellen gets the house, the car, and alimony — and Jordan admits he hasn’t been a great person in the past. But the question now is how much and for how long Taylor and Jordan’s relationship will be disrupted or altered by this.
Ultimately, it comes back to Eli. Upset about Ashley and tired of being the one who’s supposed to help everyone else but has to sacrifice a normal life to do it, he turns once again to Dr. Chen. He wants Chen to practice the Dark Truth accupuncture technique on him again, so he can see his future. Chen wisely refuses, noting how dangerous it is, particularly for someone with Eli’s medical condition — and he’s not going to risk Eli’s life to help him straighten out his love life. But Eli’s lonely and fed up, and it stinks. So in the end, he goes to see Dr. Lee, Chen’s competition from down the street, and offers to pay big to get the procedure. Against her better judgment, they go ahead — and she warns him that it’ll be painful. What he ends up seeing is painful indeed: Beth leaving Nate at the altar.
What did you think? Were you surprised by the Ashley turn of events, or was it what you expected? Do you think the rift between Jordan and Taylor will last long? And does it seem to you that Eli will ever get a break and get to have some blessed normalcy?