Touch Episode 2: Oh, What a Tangled Web

Touch S01E02: "1 + 1 = 3"

Touch initially caught my eye because the people at Fox made some very pretty promotional material for it and I’m a total sucker for pretty things. It looked magical and ethereal and deep. It looked like the kind of series that has the potential to be Epic.

Touch still looks all shiny and magical but has forced me to reevaluate my criteria for calling something Epic. When I thought Touch had epic potential, I meant that the series in its entirety could be Epic. Or even just the first season (it does hail from Heroes creator Tim Kring, after all). Let's call it “macro-epicness,” as denoted by the big E in Epic. This is the Epic that considers the whole picture.

However, Touch has the unique distinction of being epic on an episode-by-episode basis. It’s pretty intense and it has the potential to blow up in Tim Kring’s face if he isn’t careful. We’ll call this “micro-epicness,” or epic-with-a-small-e.

The second episode of Touch followed the template created by the pilot. Jake listened to the universe tell him something important and roped his dad into helping him correct a series of epic wrongs. Unlike in the pilot, though, Jake’s clues were slightly wrong throughout the episode: numbers didn’t add up, phone numbers were off by a single digit—close enough to get Martin to the right building, but not the right apartment.

Sort of.

In the beginning, an airline courier named Becca ran through JFK airport freaking out because she was late and couldn’t find the dog she was tasked with delivering to a wealthy kid in Russia. In her haste, she bumped into an Indian man carrying an urn. He dropped the urn-that-Becca-didn’t-realize-was-an- urn, spilled its contents, and she offered to have someone come clean up the dirt. He said they were his father’s ashes and Becca looked pained but needed to find the dog. Don’t worry, they met up for adventures later.

Becca found the dog being handled by none other than super baggage handler Martin. She spent a few moments chewing him out over the fact that she had to run across the entire airport looking for the dog, and when she turned around, the dog had escaped.

Later, Martin was sent to Arnie’s Pawn Shop, a location discovered through a phone number Jake wrote on his palm. There, Martin stopped a robbery—and Arnie was oddly ungrateful about the whole thing. The thief scrambled away from his botched job, but snatched up a baseball with a kiss stain on it as he left. He met with a Russian mobster, who was veeeery disappointed that the thief didn’t have the money he owed him. Out of the kindness of his mobster heart, he gave the petty thief three more hours to come up with the cash.

Becca missed her flight and gave up on looking for the AWOL pooch, bumped into the Man with the Urn (again), and listened to his plan to spread his father’s ashes across center field in New York Stadium (I guess the show wasn't allowed to use the real name?). With nothing better to do, and still feeling bad about calling his dad’s ashes “dirt,” Becca offered to help him get there. Cue adventures.

Meanwhile, Jake escaped from Clea’s custody and made his way toward home, or rather, the bus stop right outside of home. Martin chased him and they ended up back at Arnie’s Pawn Shop. Jake gave Martin a different phone number, one digit off from the original, which led them to an apartment above the shop. Arnie’s apartment.

Diagnosed with cancer, Arnie had arranged to have the thief “rob” his shop and kill him in the process. The thief got his money, Arnie’s daughter got the insurance payout, and Arnie didn’t have to face the possibility of dying slowly without anyone by his side—his daughter hadn’t spoken to him in years.

And that’s when it all clicked for me. “THE DOG LADY IS ARNIE'S DAUGHTER!” I exclaimed, because I talk to my television in lieu of flesh and blood people from time to time. The Boyfriend looked up from his laptop and said, “What?”

And that, dear readers, might be the most succinct description of Touch that anyone can offer.

It’s not bad and I enjoyed having my brain tied in knots for an hour. The second episode of Touch was very much as epic as the pilot.

But Touch is an exhausting show to follow:

In Russia, a boy named Pavel was crushed to learn that no one at his school talks to him because they’re all afraid of his father, the mobster.

Becca took her new friend to the stadium, only to learn that he hadn’t arranged to spread his father’s ashes prior to his arrival, so it wasn’t about to happen. That Darn Dog showed up just long enough for Becca to see him and they commenced their game of tag. The Indian man sat on the sidewalk, dejected.

The thief, having had no luck coming up with money for the mobster, accepted his fate and took the baseball with the kiss stain to the baseball stadium. He'd caught the ball while working as a peanut vendor and decided to return it to the player who hit it. As he left, he didn’t shut the door the entire way, and the Indian man snuck in with his father’s urn in tow.

The thief went before the mobster for his cement shoe fitting, but just in the nick of time, Pavel called his dad to ask him if he was a murderer. Ouch. The mobster decided to turn over a new leaf and let the thief go because that totally happens all the time.

And Martin tracked down Arnie on the side of a bridge, grabbed him before he jumped, and lo and behold, the wonder dog and Becca the Estranged Daughter, came around the corner just in time to spread some TV love.

Whew. Wow. My head hurts. Maybe next week I’ll just draw you a picture.

Overall, Touch is satisfying the way a good run is satisfying, or a long book, or a completed crossword puzzle. It isn’t slacker television. Each episode is a finished story, a tiny epic. My only concern is that the format might get tedious after several episodes. I’d like to see more of Martin and Jake and ideally, their own story will come to be the Epic (big E!) theme of the entire series. I just hope that the ever-rotating supporting cast—a requirement for the current anthology format the series seems to be going for—doesn’t distract from what is, essentially, a story about a boy and his dad.

Question time!

– Arthur told Martin that Jake’s numbers were off because the universe was in pain and trying to correct itself. I’m assuming that this happens all over the world and it would be unfeasible to make Jake fix allll of the universe’s aches. Does that mean that there are more kids like Jake? Does the universe keep an army of quirky kids around to slap Band-aids on its booboos?

– Am I the only one who gets a serious Quantum Leap vibe? You know, without the time machine and the Bakula and hologram BFF.

– What did you think of Episode 2?

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