Touch's "Bonus" Episode: Where Did the Magic Go?

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Touch S01E13: “The Road Not Taken”

I wanted to like this episode. Touch was one of my favorite new shows from last season and the Friday timeslot for Season 2 makes me nervous about what the future holds for this little feel-good drama—not to mention how long that future may be—but if Season 2 turns out anything like this random addendum to Season 1, I don’t think it will be bright.

Sometime before Jake and Martin met up with Amelia’s mother (at least, I’m placing the timeframe before their meet-up for the sake of not obsessing too hard about where she is otherwise) they made an accidental pit-stop in Martin’s hometown. The number of the week was “67” and Jake tossed the keys to their car into a passing garbage truck. Despite his previous epiphany about Jake and why he does the seemingly random things that he does, Martin freaked out. With the locksmith MIA, Martin and Jake were forced to hang around town and introduce us to a parade of faces from Martin’s past. There was the TV-typical townie resentment toward Martin for being a sort of prodigal son, running off to New York to make a name for himself and forgetting all about the poor little Willamette Valley where he grew up. There was an old flame and all of the wistful longing for the simple past baggage that comes with an old flame.

Honestly, it didn’t feel like an episode of Touch.

Jake himself seemed relegated to the background after taking the initiative to strand Martin in his old stomping grounds. From that point, it was some good ol' journalistic detective work on Martin’s part to reveal that his old mentor Henry’s big story about a chemical spill poisoning the town’s water supply was one orchestrated by Henry himself in an attempt to grab the same sort of prestigious career that Martin found when they collaborated on a similar story years earlier.

Meanwhile, a hapless LARPer who went into the woods to prove himself to his family stumbled upon the missing town locksmith, who'd been injured while searching for a deer his truck clipped. The kid attained the respect he wanted from his family after heroically saving the elderly locksmith’s life and, after crashing the truck into Henry’s Mustang on the way to the hospital, gave Martin the chance to stop his former partner from publishing a damning story about the glass company that essentially saved the town from ruin after the steel mill went out of business following Martin’s award-winning story from the past and, theoretically, plunging the town into yet another economic meltdown.

Martin briefly felt guilty about the fact that rather than create a safer workplace, as he had intended his expose on the steel mill to do, the mill instead closed and condemned a sizeable portion of the town’s population to unemployment. It was all made better when Travis, the current husband of Martin's former love interest, Beth, revealed that he wouldn’t have met Beth had it not been for the article that closed his old workplace and forced him to find a different job.

Meanwhile, in England, the couple who mourned the loss of their daughter in Touch’s pilot discovered they were once again pregnant when the missus fainted and those Japanese girls with the internet following were there to save the day while in the middle of answering a Willamette Valley native’s “Community Service Day” outreach, courtesy of 670AM radio.

While Jake’s prophetic introductory voice over managed to ultimately tie the storylines in “The Road Not Taken” together with the theme “every time we take an action, we make an impact,” the magic just wasn’t there. I felt like I was watching a procedural cop show without the cops. Maybe I’m just accustomed to travelling the world each week, and I know that Touch can manage more than a brief layover in London, but everything in this bonus episode felt very small and constrained. From the under-use of Jake himself to the lack of the usual global reach of the story to the downer vibe of the story—it didn't feel like the Touch I know. Where are the group hugs, man?

Touch returns with its Season 2 premiere on October 26. Hopefully it will return in full and not with another cardboard episode that merely pretends to be show I fell in love with least season.


QUESTIONS:

– What do you think was the point of this "bonus" episode? Did Fox air it simply to try and snag some new viewers? Do you think anything that happened in it will actually tie in with the new season?

– Will you be tuning in for Season 2 when it premieres on October 26?

– If you're planning to stick with the show, what are hoping to see this season? What are your biggest questions? How do you think things will change now that Martin and Jake are on the West Coast?

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