The Dead Zone

Season 4 Episode 5

Heroes & Demons

Aired Sunday 10:00 PM Jul 17, 2005 on USA
out of 10
User Rating
116 votes

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Episode Summary

Heroes & Demons
An autistic boy makes his way to Johnny to "ask" him to help clear his father - a cop on death row for the murder of an undercover cop.

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  • Johnny has his work cut out this time....

    In this episode Johnny finds himself trying to find out the truth about what really happened when a man was accussed of killing an undercover officer. Before long Johny realises that the man is innocent with a litle help from his authistic son who is trying to make contact with Johnny through his drawings. Overall i thought this episode was well written and cleaverly plotted because it kept me guessing until the end. Considering this was a filler episode it was very good. I look forward to the next episode and i want to know what is going to happen with Greg Stillson.moreless
  • A respectful treatment of a little understood disorder.

    As the father of an autistic child, I cringe when television trys to portray people with the disorder. All too often the subject is treated in a contrite manner with little understanding or respect for the autistic or the people around them. A late February episode of Scrubs comes to mind when the father goes from not knowing his son has the disorder to acceptance all in the space of 15 minutes, commericals included.

    This episode of The Dead Zone has done the best of any TV show I have watched recently to bring a greater understanding of autism and the effect it can have on those afflicted and effected by the disorder.

    I am constantly being surprised by my son's display of intelligence and ability so I did not find Thaddeus' ability to find John too much of a stretch of the imagination. Autistics are capable of operating on very high levels but have difficulty in expression themselves. The difficulty that John has in intepreting the visions from Thaddeus makes sense when we consider that autism stems from an inability to process sensory information in the same manner as non-autistics.

    The plot itself was unremarkable but it is the way the story is told that makes the episode so enjoyable.moreless
  • Very good episode

    A really good episode with lots of intensive moments. The use of comics drawings to present the story by the boy was very original and a nice twist on things that have been happpening with the series as a whole. His vision of the boy watching thing that happened and the ending with all the partner in the middle of things was great.
  • This was a really good episode!

    I really liked this episode. I loved that the little boy made up a story to tell about his day to day life. I love that it was his mother who narrated the story in his head. It was just a different way to tell the story.

    I knew it was the partner. It's always the partner. But I thought it was clever how they trapped him. I thought about the cell phone, but when Johnny didn't have a vision, I just assumed that it was one of those times he didn't get one.

    There was nothing especially fanatastic about this episode, only that it was presented in a different way than before.

    That little boy was very talented. Makes wonder if he was actually autistic. I know he probably wasn't, but he was really good.

    Anyway, this was a good episode.moreless
  • Not a favorite, largely for personal reasons

    Like the previous episode, there’s a feeling that the writers are struggling to find the hook into each new story. Having played with most of the obvious variations on psychic murder mysteries, the writers seem to be struggling to keep the series from slipping into a serial mode in terms of the mythology. As much as I like the overarching concepts of the story and how it diverges from the original novel, I wonder if the writers need to take advantage of the large episode order (a total of 20-22, IIRC) to delve into the Stilson mythos.

    My wife happens to work as a teacher in a “second chance” school for behaviorally challenged children. Since many of those children have a mild form of autism called Asperger’s, she’s been taking the necessary training and extended educational courses to understand the condition. She also has a cousin with a form of autism. The bottom line is that she is often skeptical of how the condition is treated in the media, and in this case, in her opinion, the pattern holds. (Yes, I know that she’s not an expert, but she knows more than I do on the subject and so I defer to her on this one.)

    This episode is no better at portraying the intricacies of autism, since inevitably, story concerns trump reality. Frankly, realistic depictions of autism would be incredibly frustrating and boring. This is inevitably where Johnny comes into the picture, since his ability can cut through the communication barrier to a certain degree. But the writers can’t get over the fact that the information would be nearly impossible to interpret, so a consistent rationale is established.

    I’m not sure that I liked the whole Tolkien-esque fantasy theme. The opening sequence neatly incorporated elements of the opening to “Fellowship of the Ring” and Galadriel’s monologue, right down to a bit of Elvish. It communicated the idea that Thaddeus is completely immersed in his interpretation of the world. But that’s something I found hard to accept: how could a child so focused on that frame of reference manage to travel on his own without anyone raising an eyebrow.

    The story requires Thaddeus to be a silent witness to events critical to his father’s survival. Therefore one would have to accept that the child was regularly following his father around and basically interacting with the world on enough of a level to accomplish perfect surveillance. Yet it’s also made clear that the child was often completely unable to interact with his father. Apparently, this is possible with autism, but funny how it also happens to serve the exact needs of the story.

    Perhaps it’s just that episodes centered on autistic children are troublesome for me, based on the personal angle. I’ll admit that possibility. I will say that the young actor who played Thaddeus did a very good job. But that final scene, where Thaddeus opens up to his father? It rubbed me wrong. It seemed a bit too dishonest, designed purely for the emotional payoff. It broke the spell, in a sense, created by the concept of a child with so many challenges accomplishing something profound. I thought it would have been far better to have Thaddeus’ father simply recognize that his son loves him dearly, even if he can’t express it directly.

    I don’t want to make it sound like that’s the only problem I had with the episode. I found the “mystery” to be rather predictable as a whole. I immediately guessed that the partner was the true crooked cop (isn’t that always the way it goes?), and that made the rest something of an exercise. If I had enjoyed the shift in perspective a bit more, the predictable elements might have been less annoying. But as it stands, I simply didn’t like the episode.

    One aspect, quite apart from the story itself, is the music. I actually like the new theme, because after the initial disappointment, I let it slip past my defenses. But the music within the episode has been spotty at best, and this time around, it really got on my nerves. Television scoring is largely done by computer these days, and sometimes, it’s all too obvious. (Early “Stargate SG-1” episodes were particularly guilty of destroying a fine episode with cloying synthetic music.)

    It’s way too early into the season to be worried about a decline in quality, especially when this is an episode that might simply be ranking low for purely personal reasons. But I’m still holding out hope that the next episode will reach my expectations!


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Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

    • Walt mentions to Johnny, "Remember that corruption scandal in the Boston P.D. about five years back?". Five years ago, Johnny was in a coma. He didn't get out of the coma until September 2001, which Walt is well aware of.

  • QUOTES (3)

    • Irime: Ethelemme truanai andasse. Efiritana tol-muura e wiisha mella. Stories are like journeys. The most difficult step always seems to be the first. It is often in the darkest times, when our strength and will are weakest, that we are challenged to set out on an unfamiliar path. So it was for young Finn. "Finn the Silent," as he was known. A riddle to all who knew him and to himself as well. His journey required him to negotiate strange currencies. And to face dangers he could barely have imagined. And though his courage was often tested, he found strength to face his fears. For never had he traveled so far, even in the company of those far older and wiser than himself. And on this most important journey he was alone. His path leading him toward a distant...a distant and fabled realm. Wherein dwelt a man of uncommon power and compassion. A grand wizard named Eldgar.

    • Irime: Every story has a beginning, but no story truly has an end. Only a new beginning.

    • (reviewing Thaddeus' drawing)
      Bruce: Whoa, are you saying this freaky little dude with the pointy ears is me?
      Johnny: Very lifelike, Thad. Very lifelike.
      Bruce: Uh-uh, no. I am no elf.
      Johnny: You know, Tolkien's elves are all immortal.
      Bruce: Immortal, huh?
      Johnny: Uh-huh.
      Bruce: Well, I ain't ever seen no black elf before.

  • NOTES (0)


    • Johnny: Tolkien's elves are all immortal.
      A reference to the Lord of the Rings series. The narration of this episode is also very similar to Lord of the Rings.

    • Boris Kujo
      The crime boss' name is a nod to Cujo, the killer St. Bernard in series creator's Stephen King's novel of the same name.