'Eli Stone': So much for faith

Natashahenstridge_elistone_s1_240 I'll be sitting second chair again for this week's Eli Stone, which is more of a pleasure each week as the show grows into its own mythology.

We open with Eli shaving, only to be interrupted by an earthquake. After some frantic scrambling -- shouldn't a lifelong Californian know to take cover in a doorway? -- Eli grabs a modern-art duck and runs into the hallway, where a neighbor sniffs at what we now know is a hallucination.

Back at the office, Eli approaches Maggie about her behavior since the kiss, and seeing as he brought it up, let's address it here: I hate it. The writers have nicely shaded Taylor's character so that she's not just some blonde ice queen. She knows Eli, she still cares, she's clever enough to take him to a George Michael concert. Jonny Lee Miller and Natasha Henstridge have chemistry, and while I like Maggie as a character, the love triangle feels clumsily tacked on. Later we'll see Maggie totally submit to Eli's apparent craziness, which jarred me even more. Eli needs to earn belief.

Besides, Maggie had no idea who Carole King was.

Lorettadevine_elistone_240 Anyway, Taylor and Eli are working together on the Solinsky case. Specifically, Arvin Solinsky (guest star James Remar) is gentrifying a neighborhood called Silver Terrace, but the low-income residents, including at one point Patti, don't want to move. Solinsky and the city have already offered the residents a settlement, which was rejected. That said, the Taylor-versus-Maggie rendition of Carole King's "I Feel the Earth Move" was done very well, complete with earthquake effects.

Dr. Chen helps Eli realize the earthquake visions mean Silver Terrace will be destroyed by an earthquake. Helping Arvin win will actually remove the residents from harm's way. Naturally, nobody believes Eli, especially not Taylor or Patti. In fact, Patti takes the stand for the Silver Terrace residents, which makes me wonder whether that's a conflict of interest. Any lawyers want to weigh in?

Long story short, the judge approaches Eli and mentions how his son, a budding developer, sure would love to work with a pro like Arvin. Hello, bribery. Eli refuses, but next time we're in court the judge rules that he must enforce the city's eminent domain ruling, and the Silver Terrace residents are out. In a nicely understated scene with Taylor, we're left to infer Eli accepted the bribe in order to save lives. The problem? No earthquake. Eli finds Patti in a Silver Terrace church at the appointed time, but feels not so much as a tremble.

In the end, Eli confronts Chen: All of this, he says, really has just been his aneurysm. No greater good was served with the Solinsky case aside from greed, and our hallucinating hero resolves to have the aneurysm repaired or die trying. Wow. Mediocre episode totally saved by the final scene, an examination of faith versus proof with neither side clearly in the right. That's a lot of nuance for what's been a fairly optimistic series.

Samjaeger_elistone_240 The Turk case: More yawns. In the end, Jason Turk's wife breaks spousal privilege on the stand, leading to a mistrial. Jason and his wife set it up. Why? Who knows? Dowd insists Jordan drop Turk as a client; Jordan agrees and names Dowd his new heir apparent instead of Eli. And... so? I hope that comes to bear at some point soon.

One last note: I fully expected Eli and Taylor to lose, the earthquake to strike and Silver Terrace to be destroyed in an earthquake. This show uses a very Old Testament definition of prophet, and when people ignored Lot or Moses, they were struck down (or turned to pillars of salt or deprived of their firstborn sons) with no hesitation. While it would've been intriguing to see lighthearted Eli cope with working for a jealous God, the loss of faith storyline has promise as well.

That said, next week Real George Michael returns!

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