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?

Comments (45)
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I find it funny that fox said this was their premier episode when this was obviously episode 2. Maybe their master plan is to pretend that the previous episodes never happen so that they can keep doing the whole 'everything is connected' bit without ever having to do any actual real character progression.



I like this premise and enjoyed seeing how the episode played out but I constantly find the man and his son the least interesting characters and I hope this changes in coming episodes. The son was especially crazy this time around and I felt for the dad. Like how the son ran away, broke into the apartment, rummaged through the owner's things and then got his dad into a situation where he had to attack a guy. The dad could have gotten arrested for breaking and entering and more likely, assault. Or the other end could have happened and that other guy could have killed him right there. Then the kid screams and freaks out when the dad has to run and get them out of there. And the dad gets ragged on constantly by social services for the 'shitty' job he does and the first thing that woman does is lose him twice in a row? Uggh, I just have no patience for that kid at all.
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Some Day Soon by Alexi Murdoch is the name of the song on the end of the episode;)
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Yes i would like to know the name of that song as well
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what was the name of the song at the end of episode 2? The one about fathers?
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I enjoyed the show but I am already annoyed by the one sided conversations between Jake and his dad.I can't help it but I find the kid super irritating so it's difficult for me to care what happens to him.
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this exactly how I feel, I'm glad I'm not alone..
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i'm just worried about what happened to the dog.
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While I've enjoyed the two episodes that have aired so far, I can also tell that that enjoyment won't last long if every episode wraps up as perfectly neatly (and implausibly) as the first two have. It's not a sustainable formula. Things will have to go wrong now and then. Things will have to get dark now and then. Maybe an uberplot will have to emerge. (This is very likely to happen.)



But, hey, at least Maria Bello will be showing up for a while, and I'm fine with that. ;-)

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I like this show. When I watch it I feel like running the streets and hugging random people or intertwining my fingers with those of the stranger next to meet and kickstarting a chain of handholding around the world or something. It just makes you feel all gooey inside.



I loved the pilot. The pilot was fantastic and emotionally charged and had me hugging my pillow to my chest and trying to squeeze tears out of my non-functioning tear ducts. The recent episode was okay but didn't have the same effect. It was easier to follow than the pilot because with hte pilot you couldn't blink, but this was so predictable that I figured out all the connections within the first five minutes or so and just watched to see how it would all play out in the end. It was predictable and not exciting or nearly as captivating...in fact I found the opening bit of the little boy whispering about not talking and numbers and the universe more entrancing. I still like the show though, it's still pretty cool and I still want to watch it and get all fuzzy inside. I just thought the pilot was so much stronger.
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this episode is not tense enough.. enjoyable but not satisfying. I'm amazed about idea of connecting each others thorugh touching event, but i think Touch need a "bigger picture" plot, so we will be amazed and curious to wait for next episode.
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If folks want to see true interconnectedness of all things, check out Dirk Gently if you can on BBC4 (or the pages here at TV.com). At least it's funny, and it's as chock full of coincidences-that-aren't as Touch is. Like putting down a rug in act 1 that incapacitates the bad guy in act 4.
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was thinking the same. Love dirk
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The reason I liked season 1 of Heroes was that it took an entire season for all the characters to meet, you could see that the universe was pushing them together, and there was a promise of greatness when they met.. Then it got terribad. This show drops the aftermath, but my problem with it so far is that it also ignores the buildup, I don't find myself caring about the characters, and that just leaves me with a procedural about a guy desperately trying to connect with his son, and to me, that's just not enough so far.



I'll give it the four episode treatment, but I'll say I'm not impressed so far.
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I loved this episode, though I kind saw the whole flight attendant being the daughter of the pawn shop owner coming, it was still good.
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Does anyone else find Jake a bit annoying. The problem seems to be that when he does the voiceover at the beginning he seems so rational and a true genius but he can't communicate with the rest of the world even though he seems to understand them all fine. He's like a very smart dog with his empty food bowl in his mouth trying to get fed by the dumb humans. He does a lot of nose nudging and it all comes out great in the end. Meanwhile his father is going through hell 24-7 trying to please his pet boy genius. "What is it Jake, did Timmy fall down the well again?" Yes, it's going to get a bit tedious I believe.
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Please dont say that Jake is annoying. "Autism is a disorder of neural development characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior"

This doesnt mean that the kid or person whit autism dont understand you, they do and very well, BELEIVE ME, just they cant get out of the bubble so easy, in fact when they dont like somethig they show their disagreement; some can speak, others not, but all are highly intelligent..... Jake is a perfect example about this disorder..... and I cant told you this because my nephew have autism

Regards
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no, jake is annoying. selfish little brat, clearly has the capabilities and can see the hurt he's causing.
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most autistics are not 'highly intelligent', in fact 90% of them have IQ's much below average. only about 10% of autistics are 'brilliant' or 'savants'
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Can't say that I find Jake annoying. He's Autistic. They are playing up the whole connection between some Autistic children being genuises and what not, but they are individuals who can be trapped inside of their own head and incapable of adequate comunication and social interactions despite being so rational and a true genius, as you said. I don't think that aspect of it is far fetched or annoying.It's like expecting him to overcome a condition, by implying that he's somehow in control of it or too smart to actually have it. I think his father's response to it can be a bit over the top and tedious though.
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I think that the opening monologue from Jake defies the standard autistic prognosis. The kid reading the monologue is just a really smart kid who's well aware of everything around him, then after that he becomes really autistic
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Oh What a tangled Web was the tagline for season 5 of Weeds.
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I like the idea of the kid setting up a Rube Goldberg Machine using human lives, but I don't like having all the characters meet up in the end being so connected. I'd rather see it in a linear form. Don't keep having the same characters reappear constantly. It's a little too goody-goody for me the way it is now.
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Well said...
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This is just as bad as heroes if not worse. Tim Kring really has some obsessive need to make everything so happy touchy feely, he should rename himself Tim Cringe, as thats what you do when you watch his shows. And seriously what's with him and indian people?



Anyway the whole thing just gets too sappy with all the people having a heart of gold, and connecting and bonding and hugging and crying. That whole story with the guy with the ashes, all vulnerable being and then saved by the quirky stewardess.



I know this is fantasy and feel-good-sobby tv but come on. At least dont make characters some naive 5 year old girl would create.



In real life, when a "brown" looking man drops a statue full of POWDER in an airport, people don't just ignore it, or rush to help him clean it up. He pretty much gets a one way ticket to guantanamo.

And some stewardesse just doesn't up and go with some stranger to an empty stadium, not without a rape whistle anyway.

The old guy would have probably jumped off the bridge as well, in a real life situation.

But most of all, Jack Bauer wouldn't get owned by some petty burglar with a heart of gold!
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Are you kidding me? Real life situation? Did you watch the first season of Heroes and though that human-beings flying was not a "real life situation"?



This show is about a boy that "sees the universe by numbers" and "how everything is linked together". Can't be more science fiction than that. Try looking at the big picture... this show is so far intelligent and has potential. I just don't know for how long.
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I didn't refer to the realism of the show, but the realism of the way people act and react. It's so much like a children's afterschool special preaching morale
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He should have Jake go back and run the numbers for Heroes, Maybe he could fix it. But I seriously doubt it.
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Great review.... I tried to explain last night's episode to my husband and he looked at me like I was nuts! I should have just read him your review!

I am loving this show (so far)... my only question is - does everyone get to ride the city bus for free in New York?? First Jake got on, and I'm assuming he didn't have any money with him and then Martin just walked on too..
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In answer to your first question; in the opening credits, during the monologue, the kid says "Only some of us can see how the pieces fit together". I take it he's pointing out that he's not alone in seeing the numbers.
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Where's the CONFLICT?!



I get that Tim Kring is trying to create a theme of universal inter-connectivity that makes you feel like clasping hands with people all around the world and singing a poignantly emotional rendition of "Kumbaya", but where is the damn conflict?



Where's the bad guy, evildoer, or destructive malevolent force that wants to prevent us from making these beautifully timed connections? I think the show has promise, but it can't all be just about numbers and global hugs, can it?
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Obviously, the social worker is the bad guy.
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The conflict goes on in my head as to why oh why this guy keeps getting television deals !
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Good show but, the kid is being taken away from DAD because he can't take care of him, yet SHE lost him twice already...WHAT.
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Haha! I know, right? I was laughing pretty hard when she lost him again. I wonder if social services has an internal division that goes around checking if their workers are fit to take care of children, because someone needs to do a check-up on this lady.
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This show is sooo good but I am actually so worried it will turn into a heroes disaster. This is the thing with Tim Kring, he has incredible ideas but they are so big, writers will eventually get lost .... If it stay at its current structure, the show will get repetitive though. There needs to be a central focus running through. No show has done this better than The Good Wife.
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Or Fringe...
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I don't know if it's intentional on Kring's part, but Jake isn't the Cause of every Effect in the show. For instance the boy in Russia was not in any way influenced by Jake and yet he phones at exactly the right moment to "save" the peanut guy. He would have phoned either way and his father would have presumably turned a new leaf anyway.

So he is like using certain people's predestined moments to undestine other people's predestined destinies... makes sense? And as MaryAnn noted already if Tim Kring isn't careful this can go boom in a big way...
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Touch as a Lost vibe, in a how it connect's people and events, with that being said this show is awesome, just awesome, next week preview gave us a bigger picture scenario very much looking forward to that!!!!
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Great write up!



I was pleasantly surprised with last night's episode. It's like watching a magic trick seeing how all of the stories intersect at the end. I don't really understand why they didn't save the two Asian chicks coming to New York for another episode all together, maybe to fill time?



I must admit I didn't think this show would amount to much (seeing the epic nose dive that Heroes took post-Season 1) and I guess it still has time to fall on it's face, but for now I'm enjoying it. I think I enjoyed this episode more than Awake's episode 4 last night, which was just a little too cop-drama/nothing out of the ordinary for me.



You'd think Kieffer would know just to follow Jake's lead by now instead of screaming his name and chasing him every time his son is trying to lead him somewhere .. like did he listen to a word Danny Glover said? Next weeks drinking game: Take a drink every time Kieffer shouts 'Jake!'. We even got a 24 callback with Kieffer shouting 'son of a bitch' which is always extra sugar on my spoon.



Loved the performances all around minus Mr. My Father's Ashes annoying voice and stilted acting. Also, seeing some Heroes character type parallels as well : Ashes Man - Suresh. Two Asian Girls: Hiro and Ando. I'm sure more will emerge.
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Just as an aside: you missed something. Jake didn't run away and show up outside his home. He ran away and showed up outside Arthur's home, where Martin was hanging out and drinking orange soda.



My wife and I like the show, but I hope the general viewership can get behind the idea that we aren't being asked to swallow the unbelievable events in the show as believable. The whole point is that Jake is an instrument of the Universe, and is helping Mr. Universe engineer these corrections that make up the "I can't believe that happened!" moments that we're all familiar with at some point in our lives.



But since it happens to different people every episode (presumably), and they don't all get to see what we see (Becca doesn't know Indian fella got into the stadium, or that Peanut Guy didn't get whacked because Comrade Mobster turned over a new leaf, etc. etc.), each of those people will remember it only as "the one really amazing coincidence that happened to me that one time."



Essentially, Martin and Jake are Angels of Coincidence, or Good Luck Spirits, working behind the scenes, implying that neither coincidence nor luck is as pervasive as we thing. Perhaps they don't exist at all. The Really Big Question though is: are these actions of Jake's initiative alone, or is the Universe directing him in a conscious, intelligent way?



And if It is, does Jake know that? Does he care?
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i 100% agree. i love this show thus far. however, im worried it may get repetitive. Im wondering how they plan on depicting each episode while still maintaining its main focus (The boy and dad). Hope they work everything out. Cause this show has amazing potential.
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I can't help but compare Touch to Awake: both high-concept dramas; both mid-season replacements; both 5-letter words; both led by a strong male lead. But the more I do this, the more I dislike Touch, because it's simply not as good as Awake, more sustainable maybe, but better, definitely not. In my opinion it's going to take something extraordinary for Touch to really impress me.
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Yeah, it's hard not to compare Touch and Awake. And you're absolutely right, Awake is definitely better.
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tend to agree with both of you that Awake is more interesting but the gulf in ratings is pretty huge .... with Touch doing so much better thus far (though it is bound to fall....) So this seems to indicate we're in a minority and Awake is likely to get cancelled and Touch renewed
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