Medium Watch: Blood on the Tracks

As anticipated, the hammer finally dropped this week. The folks at CBS announced that this will indeed be the final season of Medium, confirming what Patricia Arquette said in an interview a couple of weeks ago. The show’s final episode will air on January 21, which… bums me out a little bit. You’d think that any show that has survived for seven seasons had earned the right to play out its final full season, but apparently not in this case. Which means that, including tonight, there will be only three first-run episode before the series finale. Show creator Glenn Gordon Caron is keeping mum about the details of the finale, but I hope everything gets wrapped up nicely and there’s a happy ending involved for every one of the characters. I guess it’s a given that Ariel will be returning for the last couple of episodes.

Tonight’s ODS begins with a red sign hanging on the wall of an stark-white room. The sign reads: “It’s been 24,837 days without a workplace incident”, which, if my math is right, is just over 68 years. That’s an impressive safety rating, I gotta say. Two clean-cut guys wearing red “Neuron” T-shirts are sitting down to work, when they are interrupted by a bearded guy with long hair wearing a black tee that says “Bad Cell”. OMG! It’s symbolism! (I majored in this in college! This is my time to shine!) Anyway, the Neuron Boys attempt to shoo Mr. Bad Cell away, but to no avail, and before long, the room is filling up with multiple Bad Cells, all looking identical. (Think Agent Smith replicating himself ad infinitum in the Matrix sequels, but without the ass-kicking.) The Boys start to panic, and then there’s a pullout shot that reveals that the “Bad Cells” are in fact cancer cells, and the brain they are attacking belongs to Joe’s mother, Marjorie. Well, this is no way to start off the happy endings, writers!

As it turns out, a phone call from Marjorie (played once again by Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning actress Kathy Baker) informs Joe before Allison has a chance to. Joe is still on the phone on the patio when Allison is visited by Joe’s dead Dad, who tries to convince Allison that he needs to get Joe to her mom’s side ASAP, despite whatever reassurances she might be giving him over the phone. When Joe comes in, she tells him he needs to pack a bag, but neglects to tell him the content of her latest dream. He needs very little convincing, as he makes arrangements to fly to Michigan that same day.

Later that morning, Lee shows Allison this week’s victim: a man in a suit met a grisly demise after being hit by a train. (Yuck.) It’s unclear whether it was a homicide or a suicide, but witnesses believe that a stinky hobo was nearby begging for change just before it happened. Allison quick-flashes when she looks at the body, on a very curious item: a nametag for someone named Adam coming from a local fast-food joint. Hmm, very cryptic.

When Joe is reunited with his mother at the hospital in Michigan, he is shocked by how weak and frail she looks. She does her motherly best to downplay her condition, but he is not terribly reassured. He is even less reassured when he chats with her doctor, and gets the full horrifying truth: mom has brain cancer, and it’s inoperable, which means she has a year-plus, tops, left. And there’s not much I can say to add to that. Man.

As it turns out, the train victim’s name was indeed Adam, but rather than being a fast-food employee, he was a CPA whose behavior had become very erratic after being passed over for a promotion. No homeless person has turned up yet… that is, until Allison’s next dream: a coughing, lurching man with a cardboard sign and a coin-cup filters through a crowd on a crowded train platform. Most of them do what most people do: they ignore him. A Hispanic-looking woman, however, is feeling charitable, and she graciously drops a dollar into his cup. He thanks her, but just moments later, as the train is pulling up, the man pushes her off the platform. Yikes, that’s gratitude for ya.

The good news is, this was one of those dreams that was a foretelling instead of a retelling, as we notice when we see Lee on the same platform, making his way through the same crowd of people from Allison’s dream. The Hispanic woman is still alive and well, and by the sound of things, Lee brought backup, who will wait until the hobo makes his move. Allison has joined the proceedings, and curiously enough, she brought Bridgette and Maria along, having had to adopt the role of chauffeur during Joe’s absence. But either the hobo got wind of the police presence or Allison’s dream was inaccurate, because nothing out of the ordinary happened. No hobo, no murder. Which I guess is good news for at least one person.

Meanwhile, the news just keeps getting worse for Joe. Not only is his mom dying, but her total refusal to accept her condition has had one unfortunate consequence, as relayed to him by his mother’s attorney: she hasn’t updated her will in many years, and if she fails to do so before her demise, a goodly portion of her estate will be tied up in red tape for years. When Joe confronts Marjorie about it, she maintains that she’s not worried about dying, because in an episode a few seasons ago, she had a similar scare, but Allison reassured her by telling her that she’d live to see Bridgette’s high school graduation… which, of course, was a barefaced lie, a lie Allison told so Marjorie wouldn’t worry. Jeez, is the theme of this episode “no good deed ever goes unpunished?” Joe has got one major toxic spill to clean up.

Dream #3 is pretty much a repeat of Dream #2, except that this time they are events that actually happened. The homeless guy, remarkably clean-shaven for a vagrant, follows the Hispanic woman onto the platform, but he thinks better of committing murder when he spots no fewer than four obvious cops talking on their cells between him and the woman. He leaves the platform, gets into an expensive-looking car, removes his grungy shirt and cap, cleans his face off, and drives away. Ah so. Very clever… what better than a homeless guy to disguise oneself as, given society’s propensity to turn the other way? Allison can at least be comforted by the fact that she saved a life…for now, that is. The next morning, Allison shows a sketch of NotHomelessGuy to Devalos and Lee, convinced that he was the one who killed Adam and would have killed the woman as well. Devalos promises that he’ll make sure the sketch is distributed appropriately.

The next break in the case occurs when a vagrant’s body is found the next morning in an alley. Lee and Devalos tell Allison in the morgue that the vagrant, Jerry Thortnton, was in possession of Adam’s watch, so it looks like they are able to close that case at least. But Jerry is definitely not the man from Allison’s dream, which makes it likely that NotHomelessGuy killed Jerry and stole his clothes so he could stalk the Hispanic woman. Allison flashes on another imaginary nametag from the burger joint, this time with Jerry’s name on it. This is going to be great when it all makes sense.

The first bit of good news for Joe is that it takes little more than Joe telling her mother that Allison lied to her for her own good in order to break down her wall of denial. Joe tells Allison over the phone that her legal issues are now behind her, but that now would be a good time for the rest of her family to join her. She promises to get herself, Bridgette and Marie on a plane the next day.

Of course, there’s still the little matter of the mystery of NotHomelessGuy to clear up. Dream #4 shows NHG (whose real name is David Ostrowski), approaching Jerry in the alley. They are acquainted, as it seems that they two of them, along with Adam, worked at the burger joint more than twenty years ago. Hmm. Jerry recognizes him, because David bought his jacket from him two weeks before, but David is now returning it because he’s “done with it.” And poor Jerry, not suspecting a thing, lets David slip the jacket onto his body right before David jams a syringe into Jerry’s neck. Jerry’s eyelids flutter, and… Allison wakes up. As she rushes into the kitchen to write the details down, Marjorie is there to greet her, which can only mean one thing, and that is that Joe is now officially an orphan. Damn, that sucks.

The next morning, a neatly-groomed (but still coughing) David is in Devalos’s office. Of course, he denies any connection to Adam and Jerry beyond the fact that they worked together as teenagers. Devalos and Lee then lay the dastardly scheme out: David’s cough was ostensibly caused by asbestos poisoning, which he incurred from his stint at the burger joint. He also filed a lawsuit against the company that owns is, but was given a choice: the company would pay an equal sum to every one of the fourteen people who worked there that summer, or tie up the settlement in court for years. So naturally, David logically figured that the best way to make his slice of the pie bigger was to murder his former co-workers, including Adam, Jerry, and the Hispanic woman, Ingrid. David defies them to prove he had anything to do with it, after which Lee gleefully produces Jerry’s coat, wrapped in plastic. As it turns out, the sleeve of the coat contains more than enough phlegm coughed into it by David to prove that he wore it. Busted! (On a personal note, I have to say, of all the reasons the writers have come up with for people to commit murder, this is definitely one of the lamest.)

That evening, Allison and the girls have finally joined up with Joe at Marjorie’s house. There is a lot of hugging and holding, as you might expect. Joe tells Allison that he’s sorry she didn’t get to speak to Marjorie before the end, but that he knows that she loved her. We then get a montage of clips from Kathy Baker’s previous appearances on the show, going all the way back to Season One when Bridgette was still an adorable chubby-cheeked child. This, of course, is just a pretext for another dream, and when Allison wakes up, DeadMom is there with her. Allison apologizes profusely for lying to her, but Marjorie tells her that she forgives her, and that she always suspected that it was a lie, but she pretended that it was the truth because it gave her comfort.

Of course, this episode really marks the beginning of the end, so the writers decide to tack on a teaser for the rest of the season: Marjorie tells her that “there’s darkness ahead”, but before she can elaborate, Joe walks back into the room. Allison turns back, but Marjorie is gone. And that flapping sound you hear? That’s the Giant Bird of Foreshadowing! (I minored in Foreshadowing in college.)

So, three episodes left, and they probably will probably start the final run on January 7th. Feel free to check out my recaps of the remaining episodes of Survivor and The Amazing Race if you just can’t get enough of my stuff. Otherwise, have a happy holidays, everyone!