Season 1 Episode 1

The Ferguson Syndrome

Aired Unknown Jan 27, 2003 on ABC

Episode Recap

The series begins at the grave of one Sister Alice Fulton (1834-1861). Workers are exhuming the bodies there in the cemetery, preparing them to be moved before the end of the year. After an accident, Alice's coffin spills open in front of a trapped worker, revealing the corpse of a woman whose eyes are as white as snow, and whose body has simply not decayed one day since her death over 140 years ago.

Almost immediately, Paul Callan is dispatched to investigate. The absence of decay in Sister Fulton's body can be a sign of her ascension to Sainthood, and Paul is there to investigate on behalf of the Catholic Church. Upon examining Alice's body, more specifically her eyes, Paul determines that the reason for the body's perfect preservation is due to the presence of alkaline and other preservatives in the soil. The chemicals, mostly originating from the gas generated by apricots, have preserved Sister Fulton's body for well over one hundred years. Paul determines that the preservation of Sister Fulton is no miracle, even going as far as to open another grave in the cemetery to prove that they are all preserved by the same process as Alice. He tells the priest in charge of verifying the miracle, "Congratulations... you've got a town full of saints."

In the distance, a man watches intently as Paul makes his departure from the gravesite.

Keel watches from a distance. Upon returning to the Archdiocese, Paul bumps into his old friend and mentor, Father "Poppi" Calero. Over a meal, they discuss Paul's disillusionment with his line of work. "It's looks like they've been gut-punched every time," he says about people after he's debunked their "miracles." Paul decides he needs some time off, and Poppi makes him promise to work extra hard on his faith while on his sabbatical.

On a train, Paul sees several strange phenomena: a water tower with the words "GOD IS COMING" painted on the side, and a pale young boy with red eyes, who appears to be crying blood tears. Paul is visibly shaken while the boy tells him, "I'm waiting for you."

Paul has awakened from what appears to be a nightmare. Three months have passed since his crisis of faith, and he is now working in the desert, helping to build houses for the poor. He gets a call from Poppi, who asks him to take a case for him. Paul is to contact the Ferguson family on behalf of the Monsignor. Paul will be inheriting the case from a Father Marcus. While en route to the Fergusons', Paul is stalled at a railroad crossing. He sees a water tower very similar to the one he saw on the bus, only without the words. It could be a sign...

Paul meets Mrs. Ferguson, who greets him very curtly. "Is this a bad time?" he asks.

"It's always a bad time."

She asks Paul if he is sick from cold or flu or anything, which he isn't. She chases away onlookers peeping through her windows.

"It's been like that for weeks; they never leave!"

Paul doesn't understand her concern, as he wasn't fully briefed before he arrived.

"They didn't tell you what Thomas can do?" she asks.


"He heals people."

Upstairs, Paul is obviously disturbed to meet the same boy he saw in his dream on the train: it is young Tommy.

The Fergusons tell Paul about Tommy. Mr. Ferguson later explains that Thomas suffers from Fanconi's Anaemia, a rare genetic blood disorder with no cure. The Fergusons say they first noticed Tommy's gift two months ago, visiting Mr. Ferguson's mom. She was dying of liver cancer, and walked out of the hospital two days after Tommy's goodbye hug, completely free of cancer. According to them, Tommy hugged his grandmother and told her he hoped she would feel better soon. Paul warns them that he has been sent to investigate Tommy's gift, and to authenticate it if need be. He wants to meet someone who has been helped by Tommy.

Paul meets Kate Armstrong, a local woman who has supposedly been healed by Tommy. Her pupils are completely white, because she has been blind for many years -- until Mr. Ferguson brought Tommy over and he hugged her and told her he hoped she would feel better soon.

"The next morning I could see."

Next, Paul interviews a local doctor who thinks the whole thing is a lot of excitement about nothing. The doctor informs him that Sarah Ferguson's cancer was already showing signs of remission before he hugged her, and that Kate Armstrong was previously involved in many aggressive treatments & procedures for her blindness long before Tommy's supposed involvement in her recovery. The doctor reminds Paul that people like to believe in magic, and that Tommy is a "sick little boy." She thinks all this attention is the last thing Tommy needs.

Paul talks to Tommy's doctor. Alone, Paul does some research on Tommy's blood disorder. He goes outside for a chance to speak with the boy, and to play a little bit of catch. We learn that Father Poppi Calero used to run the orphanage where Paul grew up.

"You don't have parents?" Tommy asks.

"Everyone's got parents, I just didn't know mine," Paul replies.

Paul asks Tommy if he is afraid of him. Tommy runs away.

Back inside the house, Paul walks into a heated discussion between Mr. & Mrs. Ferguson. Mr. Ferguson wants Tommy to heal a woman's premature baby, whose heart is weak. Mrs. Ferguson threatens to take Tommy and leave. "You don't know how much this takes out of him!" she argues. Mr. Ferguson argues that Tommy's gift is from God for a reason.

"Tommy can cure anyone but himself. Why would God do that?" Mrs. Ferguson asks Paul. "For God's sake, it's killing him!" she screams.

Tommy walks in and overhears. He runs off to his room. Mrs. Ferguson goes in and comforts him, telling him that they love him more than anything, and if he never wants to do "that stuff" again, it's alright. Tommy understands. Mr. Ferguson comes in and tells him there's somebody downstairs to see him. Mrs. Ferguson kisses his head, crying and smiling, and leaves the room, resigned to the fact that Tommy has made up his mind. Mr. Ferguson leaves behind her.

Paul enters. Tommy asks him what happens when people die. Tommy believes something bad happens. Paul believes that something good happens to good people like Tommy.

Downstairs, the woman with the baby is waiting for Tommy. He slowly takes the baby in his arms, and tells him "I hope you feel better soon." The baby's cries fill the room. Blood runs from Tommy's nose and he passes out, barely giving the mother time enough to react and rescue the baby from his arms.

Later, and alone on a stretch of road, Paul is trying to contact Poppi to let him know that something is definitely wrong here. The skies begin to rain blood, and a train is approaching. In the distance, Paul can see Tommy playing catch in the crossing. He runs to save him, but he is too late...

Paul awakens with a start, still in the Ferguson's house. The doctor says Tommy's condition is deteriorating, but he's stable for now. Paul realizes that every time Tommy cures someone, he gets sicker. He confronts the doctor, and insists that Tommy doesn't really have anemia; that his rare type of anemia usually appears at birth, but Tommy only developed it a year earlier. Paul says Tommy shouldn't be getting this sick this fast. The doctor tells him diseases progress at different speeds for different people. She tells Paul he should go to medical school if he wants to be a doctor.

Paul goes back to visit Kate Armstrong, who has been fitted with contacts to hide her white eyes. He explains about his crisis of faith, and that he used to think that we were all alone down here, but no longer. Now he thinks that we aren't alone, but that it may not be a good thing. He asks what she thinks about this whole situation. Speaking from experience, she says miracles are like falling in love: you never believe it can happen until it happens to you.

Paul goes to visit Tommy at the Fergusons' house. He insists on finding out why Tommy was so afraid of him when he arrived. Tommy tells Paul he knew he was coming, because he dreamed it. He remembers the same dream that Paul had, about the train. "Why is this happening to us?" Tommy asks.

Tommy tells him, "In school, they say there's no such thing as dark. Dark is just a place where there's no light. But maybe they're wrong. I think the dark is its own thing, too; I think it can do stuff. And sometimes I think it wants something..."

Paul takes this all in. Tommy asks Paul to stay while he rests, so he will feel safer.

Not long after, it's raining outside. Paul is asleep on the couch downstairs, and awakens to see Mrs. Ferguson sneaking Tommy out of the house. He follows them in his car, hardly able to see past the windshield. His radio starts to act strangely, and he sees once again the "God is Coming" sign on the water tower. He hears the train approaching, as in his dream, and finally looks back to the road ahead of him, where he sees the Fergusons' car right in front of the crossing. Paul skids to avoid them, causing his own car to be crushed by the train.

Inside their car, Mrs. Ferguson tells Tommy to stay put while she goes for help. Tommy watches her leave, and then slowly lowers his head as he resigns himself to his fate.

Inside the wreckage, Paul lays silently, dying. Tommy approaches him and asks if he is okay. Paul struggles to make words, and he sees the silhouette of a man behind Tommy. It is the same man who watched Paul from a distance before he went on sabbatical. "Don't," Paul tells the boy as Tommy reaches towards him. In the rain, Paul's blood can be clearly seen on a shard of glass, gradually forming the words "GOD IS NOW HERE." Tommy's last words to Paul, his last to anyone, are "I hope you feel better soon..."

At the funeral, a healing, somber Paul Callan is watching from the back rows. He stares at the Fergusons as they comfort each other in grief. He looks silently at Kate Armstrong, who returns his look with one of affirmation. He looks behind him, and sees Tommy watching him from a distance, half-smiling. Paul barely manages a smile before Tommy is gone, and Paul is left alone with his grief.

Back at the Archdiocese, Paul is with the Monsignor. He asks if there will be any further action taken on this case, but the Monsignor implies there won't be. He says there's no proof of what the boy has done, despite Paul being living proof of the miracle. Once it becomes apparent that the Monsignor has no interest in pursuing the matter any further, Paul abruptly resigns from the church.

Outside, he runs into Poppi again, and tells him it was all real, the case in Arizona. Poppi doesn't have a clue what he's talking about.

"The kid you called me about [in Arizona], remember?"

"I never called you Paul," Poppi says. "We haven't spoken in months!"

Alone in a diner, Paul is greeted by the man who watched him from a distance at the grave site of Alice Fulton; the same man who he could barely make out behind Tommy on the night of the accident. The man already knows Paul's name, and asks for a word. Paul is resistant. The man begs him to tell him about what happened with Tommy: "Tell me about the blood."

"I haven't told anyone about that," Paul replies.

"I used to do what you do. I've seen what you've seen -- and more."

"Who are you?" Paul asks.

"Someone who can help," the man says.

Paul explains how his blood dripped onto the glass, and started to make words. The man tells him not to say the words, but to write them out exactly as he saw it. Once again, Paul writes out "GOD IS NOW HERE." The man asks if Paul is sure of what he saw. Paul says it's the one thing in his life he'll never forget. The man tells Paul only six other people have witnessed this phenomena in the past 25 years, and his organization has interviewed them all. It is called Hemography: blood forming into words. The man begins to write down something of his own. He explains to Paul that in every case, the six people before him saw something significantly different than what Paul just saw. Paul looks at what the man has written: GOD IS NOWHERE.

Paul explains how Tommy got sicker each time he healed someone. He asks "why would God do that?"

"Who says it was God?" the man replies.

Paul deduces that this man is not with the church. The man tells Paul that he works with his own group now, one that pursues parallel lines of research to the church. He tells Paul that these events have happened all over the world, and that they seem to suggest a larger event coming. "The end of the world?" Paul asks. The man gives him a card, that reads:


365 Midlothian Lane

No. 29

"My cell [phone is] on the back. We may be able to help each other," the man tells Paul.

At home, Paul looks up the words in a dictionary. Both words are Latin: "Sodalitas" means "brotherhood," and "fellowship," among other things. "Quaerito" means "to search or inquire"

Later, Paul makes his way to 365 Midlothian Lane, and up to the Sodalitas Quaerito office. He is greeted by a friendly woman, who appears to have been expecting him.

"I'm Paul Callan," he says.

"Please, come in," she replies.

He does.