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Touch: Things Are Starting to Come Together

Touch S01E04: “Kite Strings”

I initially feared that Touch might go the route of pure anthology at the cost of developing its main characters. There have been hints throughout the past three episodes that this isn’t the case at all, but “Kite Strings” finally confirmed there's something bigger going on.

Martin received a disheartening letter at the beginning of the episode, informing him that all efforts to continue identifying victims of 9/11 had been exhausted and the Powers That Be were terribly sorry, but they couldn’t identify his wife, Sarah. He admitted to Clea that the headstone in the cemetery we often see him at doesn’t mark any remains at all, that he erected it because he wanted a place where he could go.

In the aftermath of the unfortunate correspondence, Martin took Jake to the cemetery and ran into Bobby, a bike messenger who said that Sarah had tutored him, helping him ditch his bike messenger gig for something better. He'd always wanted to pay her back, and Martin was totally intrigued because he couldn’t recall Sarah ever mentioning a Bobby. He hoped to explore this avenue further, but Jake took off running, as Jake tends to do, chasing his kite and stopping precisely at 9:50...which gave Bobby just enough time to make a quick escape to avoid talking to Martin any further.

On the other side of the world, Abdul, the boy who needed an oven for his family in the pilot, practiced his Chris Rock impersonations and arranged to audition with the troops stationed near his town for a chance to perform at the embassy. He and his friend also started a metal band and chatted with a metal-obsessed hoarder in New York City via the internet.

Meanwhile, Randall, the lottery-winning firefighter from the pilot, wracked with guilt over his role in Sarah’s death, got locked in a basement when he and a minister fell through the dry-rotted steps of a church’s basement and they bonded over Randy’s guilt and the minister’s regret over lost high school love.

Through the trippy, number-crunching crazy fare that's become the standard at Touch, Jake led Martin on a quest for his kite through the city, all the way to (surprise surprise) Bobby’s apartment. Martin noticed a picture of a Bobby’s daughter, named Sarah, and their conversation descended into a shouting match over whether or not Martin was a good husband (touchy subject for him, that). Then Bobby revealed that Sarah wasn’t wearing her wedding ring on the day she died.

Cue angst.

Jake climbed out on the fire escape because that’s what Jake does. His kite was tangled near the roof of the building, and while I understood Martin’s panic over Jake scrambling up the escape like a miniature Spider-Man, I also thought, “Dude, your son climbed a cell phone tower like, eight times in the pilot with no problems. I think he can handle a fire escape.”

It’s thoughts like that that make me realize what a terrible parent I’m going to be when I grow up.

Martin realized that Jake wanted Bobby to pull him down from the fire escape and Bobby scurried up there just in time because fabulous climbing skills are meaningless when the universe wants to make a point. Jake slipped, Bobby caught him, and Martin informed Bobby that he'd just paid Sarah back by saving her son.

Back home, Martin dug out Sarah’s planner and scoured it for any mention of Bobby, who, once Martin started paying attention, he found surprisingly easily. He also found a receipt for an engraving at a jeweler who, shockingly, still had the ring waiting for pick-up. Sarah wasn’t wearing the ring on 9/11 because she was having it engraved with the phrase “1 + 1 = 3” to celebrate the addition of Jake to their family.

Say it with me now: Awwww.

But it’s pretty cryptic too, right? Considering the role numbers play in Jake’s life?

Of course it is. And I’m so excited.

Back in Iraq, the soldiers Abdul was supposed to audition for were attacked and stranded in the dark. And in New York, all of the excitement surrounding Jake’s Spidey routine happened to take place in the same apartment building where our hair metal hoarder lived, and he accidentally sent the wrong information to Abdul and the band, telling them to turn their amp up to 950 volts, rather than 50 volts. Their mistake blew the transformer where the injured soldiers were stranded, enabled a rescue party to find them, and after someone finally let poor Randall and the minister out of the church basement, we learned that a female soldier in the attacked troop was the minister’s high school sweetheart.

I was delighted by all of this because it brought another level of connection to the characters we’ve seen so far—and for a mere four episodes, we’ve seen quite a few pass through. Last week, Rob Benedict played Walter, a man with a gift similar to Jake’s that he utilized to right wrongs within his own family. So riddle me this, awesome readers: Do you think the gift Jake and Walter and the "others" Arthur Teller has mentioned connects them to random people, or somehow heightens or highlights connections to people who are already tangentially connected to them? Furthermore, both Walt and Jake have experienced tragic losses in their lives, and Walt’s brother said that Walt was normal until their father died. Since Jake was an infant when his mother was killed, it would be hard to make that comparison, but consider Jake’s aversion to being physically touched...if you had a baby that freaked out every time you picked it up, you’d take it to a doctor, right? With that in mind, I’m currently assuming that Jake was a “normal” baby until Sarah was killed, and this whole universal number business is something that people end up with in the aftermath of some sort of tragedy.

But WHY?

Hit me with your best thoughts.

Comments (15)
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Yeah, he just saved a couple of soldiers to let them kill more Iraquis instead. Great work, Jack! Americans are delighted.
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Unfortunately the ratings are not coming together - the January 'preview' got 3.9, the official premiere 3 weeks ago 3.3, last week it dipped to 2.7 and this week to 2.3 behind POI and Grey's so not a great trend....
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Has anyone else had an emotional response to this show? I am in tears by the end of each episode. I love the interaction of lives through (what seem to be) meaningless moments. I am kind of a sap because I also cry every time I hear our national anthem and I the tragedy of 9/11 still haunts me. The multiple meanings of the show title also grip me. Jake cannot be touched but yet he touches people all over the world. The smallest "touch" affects others to a great extent. I believe the writing and acting on this show are great cinema on the small screen.
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can someone keep a tally of how many times Jack bauer says Jake per episode cuz its A LOT!!!

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That along with "dammit!","dammit jake!" and all other variations of it.

Oh and the classic Jack Bauer "Son of a bi**h"!
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Drinking game anyone? I bet all the number stuff would make much more sense
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Oh, and about that ring. Okay, because of 9/11 and because it was a wedding ring, I can -- barely -- imagine them holding it for ten years -- assuming the engraving was not already paid for. But would they release it to him without his paying the bill? If they would, or if it was paid for, wouldn't they have made some attempt to track Martin down and return it? If not, where DOES his money come from?



And since the implications of finding the ring, and the other parts of this episode blow the idea of a romance between Martin and the social worker, there's even less way for his character to be developed.



Btw, was it ever explained why he quit being a reporter. The picture of the newspaper business they gave in a couple of scenes was straight out of thirties movies (those I DO watch) but today, with hundreds of new news outlets, he could get a job any time he wanted, and the Guild would be supporting him if he tried to get back to the newspapers. In fact, even without Jake's 'mysterious power' he could tell a story of 9/11 followed by Jake's autism that would give him a round on all the talk shows.

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And for me, this might be the episode that gets me to 'punt' the series. It's painted itself into a corner, and the only way out I can see is even worse. As several commenters have mentioned, there is no emotional conflict since Jake will 'fix' everything, so after the first couple of episodes, it has all the drama of watching a complicated domino chain fall -- fun once or twice but then boooo---ring. (What's worse, at least the first couple of chains were capable of causing a suspension of disbelief, but the 'Jake grabs tv dish, woman goes to fix it, and happens to fall on the number nine to add to the message' went flying far over a whole school of sharks. And the tie in with the guy who just happened to have carried the dead wife down stairs was even harder to swallow and keep down.)



But where do you go from there? (Other than the one obvious place that the letter Martin received also hints at.) Do you make the whole number thing have some sort of Kozmic Zignivigance -- yet again? (Cue the evil number runners to struggle against Jake and Glover's attempt to keep the Universe in balance.)



Meanwhile, Sutherland may be a good actor -- I'm one of the rare people who never watched 24, and don't watch new movies -- but half of his dialogue every episode is telling Jake 'climb down from there' or explaining why 'there is a PURpose in his wandering.' And nowhere do you get a hint of the 'ex-reporter whose world collapsed and has fallen to a series of odd jobs.' I've been there, and it doesn't feel that way -- and I fell without rising first, never reaching a supposed potential. (And yes, how does he manage to keep working and supporting himself and Jake through all the adventures?)



Maybe I'll give it a week or so more, if there's no conflict with another show or baseball, but I don't have much hope they will find a way out of their corner.

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And Touch just goes to show why having kids is always a bad idea.



This show has no conflict. We know that no one is ever really in any trouble because Jake will always fix everything and everyone will be just fine, if not much better off than they were before. It's very hard to care about anything in this show since everything gets wrapped up in a neat little bow a half hour later, there's almost no point in watching. Also, the entire plot about the military woman was frustrating. Once they had gotten away from the battlefield and were walking for hours trying to be found I don't know why they didn't just fire off one of their guns to draw attention. They also could have shot out that transformer, the universe didn't need to make it explode for them. I just couldn't stop thinking how stupid that was.
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It can't possibly, by definition, connect them to 'random' people because it's all a pattern, right?



Anyway, this was the best episode to date, save possibly the pilot, and I'm glad that it seems to be getting better -- one more episode like the past couple and I think the show would have been in serious trouble; there's poor emotional scoring and it's too sentimental.
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touched and hooked
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"Damn it, Jake!" LOL! That was so Jack Bauer.



I wonder when Jack, I mean Martin, finds time to work in two jobs with all the running around Jake puts him through.
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Great show.
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I am interested in the big picture overall, but i stated on my review of this show that this show needs some sort of clear conflict to keep me interested. I mean there is no real danger, everything works out as long as jake is there to run to apparently unimportant places. His father is set on the "I am listening to you" path, so what are the stakes? How can we lose? What are the rules? The show is developing its characters and its doing a good job at it as you said, and we are learning more about the back story of each and everyone involved. But where is the danger? And i don't mean tangible danger, like a gun, i mean when can you destiny fail you. What are the conditions that need to be met in order for everything to work out perfectly as it has on every episode so far.



I said on my review that this is very like (almost the same thing) the concept of God's destiny (providence) for you. But in that case it's clear that if you are not good you mess up your destiny. How can destiny be mess up here and why? I would love for the show to clarify on that. If it does it will keep my interest. Because i think is a good, beautiful, and very well written show. But heck i crave conflict, possibility of failure
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I agree! I was initially wary of the initial anthology format because I thought it would be really hard to tell an overarching story when every week is just, basically, the same play with different players. So I'm thrilled that they're moving away from that and starting to offer more focus on the select few. Based on the previews, it looks a little bit like the who MIGHT touch on your questions about what happens when you mess up destiny....if it's even possible to mess up destiny. That's why its destiny, right?

This show gives me the most delightful headaches.

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