Medium Watch: Only Half Lucky

When last I spoke on the subject of Medium, it had just come down the wire that, after seven seasons (well, six-and-a-half), the show featuring our favorite psychic soccer mom was finally folding its tents. The best information that I have at this point is that, including tonight’s episode, there are three episodes remaining before the Dubois clan rides off into the syndication sunset. Over that time, we’ve seen: Ariel blossom from a winsome preteen to a strong-willed young woman going off to college; Bridgette develop from a pudgy tomboy to a… slightly older pudgy tomboy (and she’s always been my favorite character); Marie progress from being a newborn to an adorable pre-schooler with coke-bottle glasses; Joe go through so many ups and downs regarding his employment and many predicaments involving being the family’s main breadwinner; and Allison herself bring more murderers to justice than you can shake a stick at.

So what will the last few episodes bring? Just to recap the last few episodes, D.A. Devalos will be running for Mayor of Phoenix very soon; if he wins, that might mean the end of Allison’s consulting job, so she hopes to go back to law school and earn the degree that she’s wanted since giving it up to start a family. Joe, meanwhile, has been offered a senior management position at his engineering firm, but only on the condition that he earn his Masters degree. Regrettably, the family finances will not currently allow both spouses to return to school, so the decision as to who gets to go first is still up in the air.

Tonight’s ODS starts with a zoom-in shot on Allison’s no-account brother, Michael Benoit (who, interestingly enough, is played by Patricia Arquette’s real-life brother David), standing on an overpass above the railroad tracks. His face is messed up, he’s four sheets to the wind and is contemplating taking the final jump. He is interrupted by a mysterious man (played by John Glover, who most people know as Lionel Luthor on Smallville but I know him better for his delicious portrayal of The Devil in the short-lived 1999 show Brimstone) calls Michael by name and tells him he can turn his life around. Having nothing to lose, Michael gleefully agrees, but loses his foothold and plummets to the tracks below… and Allison wakes up, of course. Joe inquires what’s up, and Allison relates that Michael might be in trouble. Joe responds that that’s nothing new, and Allison hysterically pushes hubby right out of bed. I am so gonna miss this! A few hours later, Allison calls Michael up and receives some heartening news; not only is he not depressed and suicidal, but he is gainfully employed and happy. He also just happens to be boarding a flight to Phoenix, so Allison invites him to dinner that night.

Tonight’s case finds Allison meeting Lee at the home of a young man named Warren Cheswick who was killed the night before, and not well, if you know what I mean... someone beat the poor guy to death with his bare hands. Lee wants to clear the case ASAP, for Devalos’s sake, because it seems that Manuel’s mayoral opponent, Charlie Dalton, has already slung the first mud, calling Devalos “soft on crime”. Allison wants to help of course, but points out that her gift usually manifests itself when she’s not expecting it, and not something she can do on cue. However, a quick look around Warren’s apartment causes an immediate flash: a half-naked girl, bound and gagged with a plastic bag over her head, struggling to free herself while Warren stands over her snapping photos. (I hereby take back what I said about “poor guy”.) The girl runs out of air and dies, and Warren hides his camera in the pages of a hollowed-out book. Allison immediately tells Lee, and they find the camera in its hiding place. A brief scan of the camera’s memory lets them know that Warren had been a bad bad boy, with multiple victims. Swine.

Devalos, meanwhile, is watching his opponent’s smear campaign on TV, somehow citing him as the reason that violence and homicides are on the rise. Manuel doesn’t seem worried, but his campaign manager, Justine, is concerned. She wants to fight fire with fire, but that’s not how he rolls. After reminding Manuel that nice guys finish last, especially in politics, she even suggests using Allison to dream up some muck to rake on Dalton. Naturally, he’s not having that either. But here’s an interesting tidbit: it seems Bridgette has been volunteering her services to Manuel’s election campaign, stuffing envelopes and the like. Justine takes one look at her and you can almost see the light bulb go on over her head. Uh-oh.

Michael shows up for dinner that night, and even Joe is impressed by the radical change. No longer an unkempt, slovenly lout, he has procured employment as a pharmaceutical rep. Allison tells him about his dream, and the mysterious man who talked him down. As it turns out, the man is a recently-deceased self-help guru named Carson Churchill, one of whose inspirational books Michael shows to her. Of course, there’s slightly more to it than that, as it usually is. Allison dreams about Michael’s job interview; Churchill’s “spirit” is there, and though it seems at first that he’s merely there for moral support, there’s a nasty catch; Churchill agrees to help use his life-coaching abilities to help Michael turn his life around, but only on the condition that he let Churchill “take control” of Michael’s body from time to time. Once again, having nothing to lose, Michael agrees. And now Allison knows. I mean, wow. Ambition born of desperation has led so many people astray.

Allison immediately hoofs it to Michael’s hotel and confronts him about this creepy turn of events. Michael laughs it off as nothing more than a business transaction, and reveals that Churchill’s motive for “taking over” Michael’s body is nothing more than finishing the book that he died before completing. Nothing sordid, nothing illegal, and since the takeovers only happen when Michael is asleep, he doesn’t lose anything in the process. He assures Allison that once the manuscript is finished, he’ll find a way to convince Churchill’s publisher that his final work was “discovered”, the book would be published and Churchill’s widow would be set for life. This seems to mollify Allison for the moment.

Meanwhile, Cheswick’s murderer has been found. A burly man named Jason Bumgardner confesses to killing the man who murdered his sister Carla three years before. He relates to Lee, Allison and Manuel that he was given Cheswick’s name by a retired Phoenix detective who just happened to be in the same cardiologist's waiting room recently. The detective, whose name was Isaac Federer, convinced Bumgardner that Cheswick was the one he always suspected in Carla’s death, but could never prove it. And big brother responded accordingly. Thing is, Lee worked that same case, and he can’t remember any detective by that name on the taskforce with him. Hmmm.

That night, Joe discovers Bridgette in the kitchen, staring at reams of data about Charlie Dalton, and she relates that Justine gave her the project that Manuel expressly forbade her from giving to Allison. Which, technically, she didn’t, but I doubt Manuel’s going to split that hair. Case in point, we immediately cut to Manuel confronting Justine about her audacity in recruiting a preteen to do her dirty work. He’s outraged, but Justine puts her foot down as well; Manuel is losing, and running a lily-white campaign is not going to get him anything higher than second place.

The next dream sequence flashes back to the cardiologist’s waiting room where Bumgardner got his info from “Federer”. The unseen detective lays it all out for him, and then it is revealed that “Federer” is, in fact... Michael. And obviously, we have to assume that this is Churchill at the helm, not Michael, and that he's using his post-death all-knowingness to relate this information.

Allison catches Michael leaving his hotel and confronts him about his ghostly mentor’s hidden agenda. It’s all news to him, of course, but he doesn’t see the problem with a murderer getting what’s coming to him, and is convinced that he’s far enough removed from the situation to be considered an accessory. Allison begs Michael to disassociate himself from Churchill, but he refuses, saying that he owes the man everything for helping him out.

Manuel calls Bridgette into his office to apologize for Justine’s unethical request. She responds that she’s happy to help his campaign, and that she did, in fact, find some dirt on Dalton. Manuel tells her politely that he would rather not hear what it is, because he doesn’t want to win that way. Bridgette then adds that Dalton isn’t the only one he needs to worry about. Go, Bridge!

Any doubt about Churchill’s deceitful nature is washed away in the next dream: Churchill, once again in Michael’s body, approaches a recovering alcoholic on a park bench who just recently lost his wife. They make acquaintance, and then Churchill pulls out a pocket flask of whiskey and offers it to the man. Hesitant at first, the poor man eventually grabs the flask and downs the contents. Immediately thereafter, overcome with guilt at his shameful act, he runs back to his car, and Churchill calls 911 and reports that he’s witnessed a drunk driver that needs to be picked up. Man, that is cold.

The next morning, Lee tells Allison that the alcoholic was picked up and arrested, and that he begged the officers not to charge him because a DUI would prevent him from getting a heart transplant that he needs. Which is curious, because Jason Bumgardner was also awaiting a transplant, a procedure that he is unlikely to undergo now that he’s been arrested for murder. And thus, the pattern becomes clear.

The good news is, Michael’s gotten wise to Churchill’s shenanigans. He set his Blackberry to record everything that took place after going to sleep, including the conversation Churchill had with the alcoholic. Allison relates her theory about disqualifying potential heart donees, and Michael confirms that Churchill’s wife is also in need. Obviously, Michael doesn’t feel so indebted to Churchill that he is willing to go along with this dastardly plan any longer… the problem is, since Churchill has the ability to take over Michael’s body after he falls asleep, how can they prevent him from doing it? If I know this show, it’s going to be delicious.

Until then, however, Michael is back on Allison’s couch, much to Joe’s chagrin. After pumping him full of coffee and pills to keep him awake, Allison is confronted by Churchill in the laundry room. The smug bastard wants her to thank him for saving his brother’s life, but Allison tells him to eff off. Churchill smiles and retorts that they can’t keep Michael awake indefinitely, and if she continues to fight him, the next time he takes control, he may just commit a crime that Michael will have to do the time for. But Allison's next dream shows more of the same, with Churchill offering a smoke to an elderly woman at a bus stop who needs to stay off cigarettes in order to receive a new heart. She takes it, of course, but when Allison awakens she realizes that this particular temptation hasn’t happened yet, so there's still time to prevent it.

Manuel calls Justine into his office and tells her the meat of Bridgette’s clairvoyance; apparently Justine was Dalton’s campaign manager when he ran for city councilman some years before, and the reason he won was because Justine bribed the manager of a polling station in Dalton’s district to destroy a bunch of ballots that went against him. And just after firing her scheming ass, he tells her to tell Dalton that if the mudslinging continues, he’ll launch a formal investigation into the incident that would surely destroy his reputation. So Manuel sticks to his guns and still gets dirt on his opponent. Best case scenario.

Allison finds Churchill, in Michael’s body, at the selfsame bus stop, awaiting the old woman. Allison tells Churchill that unless he leaves Michael alone, he’ll be reenlisting for military service, and probably scheduled for immediate deployment. Outmaneuvered, Churchill agrees to her terms, but tells her to tell Michael that he has it in himself to be a success on his own. Michael’s body then goes limp, and Allison gives him the good news. They leave the bus stop together, just as the old lady arrives and takes a seat. Fade to black. Nice one.

Next week: Allison is kidnapped by a distraught husband bent on using her to find his missing wife. And the man don’t look too stable, believe me.