For those of you Medium fans who are on Team Ariel (if there is such a thing), you probably know by now that she will be taking a brief leave of absence from the show. Of course, the reason for this is simple: Ariel is off to Dartmouth, which is a happy coincidence because Sofia Vassilieva, the actress who plays her, started at Columbia just this fall. I’m not sure what her major is, but given that her parents are Russian scientists – that’s not a joke, they really are – I’m sure that we all wish her well, and hope that she can pop back in on her TV family from time to time.

This week’s episode starts with some scenes from a particularly disturbing episode last season. Det. Scanlon’s estranged brother Paul, just paroled from prison after serving a stretch for sexual assault, is the chief suspect in a teenager’s rape. It seems clear to both the viewers and to Lee that Paul is guilty, but Lee is loathe to turn his brother in. About the same time, a string of vigilante murders is occurring, and a woman named Kira targets Paul for elimination. Lee has a chance to save his brother from her, but chooses not to intervene in time to save his life. Wow, that’ll keep you up nights, no matter how big a scumbag he might have been.

Speaking of: tonight’s ODS shows two boys somewhere in rural America, staring up at the clouds. The younger one confesses to the other that he accidentally scratched up their father’s prized Buick. Dad comes shooting out of the garage, mad as hell, and the older brother takes the bullet for his little brother and claims responsibility (for which he will later be beaten severely). It is then that we learn that the boys are none other than Lee and Paul Scanlon. Lee awakens in his car, currently staking out, from across the street, a shirtless Josh Brolin wannabe smacking his wife and son around. Paul’s ghost is in the back seat, needling his brother, but it’s unclear whether Lee can see or hear him. Once the violence in the house escalates, Lee leaps into action. He barges through the door, breaks Josh’s finger and proceeds to kick the crap out of him. And then, Allison wakes up. Huh? An ODS within an ODS? What is this, Inception? Allison texts Lee immediately, asking if he’s okay. Well, he’s not; he’s just returned home with flecks of blood all over his face. Uh-oh.

The next morning, Allison arrives at work just in time to see Josh berating Devalos about his midnight encounter with Lee. He wants Lee’s badge for breakfast, along with a heap of spending cash for his troubles. Of course, Josh is not the most credible fellah in town, but even so, Devalos has to start the procedure for a disciplinary board. Allison keeps mum about her dream for the moment.

While all this is going on, Ariel is trying to wangle a used car in lieu of a plane ticket to the East Coast. She wants to pick up Melissa, a Texan who phoned Ariel that morning and said they were just appointed roommates, and drive to school together. Things get weird when she goes to visit a potential car seller named Rebecca, only to be told by Rebecca’s mother that she disappeared three days ago. A second phone call from Melissa later that day ends in violence, and a tearful Ariel is informed by her resourceful father that “Melissa” was murdered in Texas eleven years prior. Whoa. Cool. Weird, but cool.

Ariel’s next dream is of Rebecca, who apparently was taken captive by older man who just happens to be her uncle Gabe. The next morning, Allison and Devalos give Lee a chance to make amends for his perceived indiscretion by keeping tabs on the alleged kidnapper. Lee is grateful, but is a little quizzical when Allison mentions her dream of him, including the part with his dead brother. She’s hoping he will deny beating Josh up, but he doesn’t. In fact, he actually admits it to her, justifying his actions by saying that the creep deserved it. Which he totally did, but Allison is still concerned that Lee may be straying to the dark side of the (police) force. Heh.

It doesn’t take Lee long to find Gabe, who he tails to the drugstore and the dentist. But lack of sleep catches up to him, and he nods off. When he wakes up from another dream/flashback to his boyhood, hours have passed and the suspect is long gone. He puts out an APB on the man’s car, and a nearby officer collars him very soon after… which wasn’t part of the plan, because now they have no way to know where Rebecca is. And in the back seat, Paul’s ghost just chuckles and grins evilly.

Allison’s next dream finds Lee alone with Paul’s ghost, holding a crack-pipe which he comes inches away from using, but doesn’t. (Quick note: Lee was apparently a user many years before.) Allison visits Lee at his home, and offers him moral support to help battle whatever demons he may be facing, including his dead brother. Lee then relates the ugly truth to her, about how he let his brother die instead of saving him. Allison is aghast with shock, but no more so then later that night, when a bedtime conversation with Joe has him on Lee’s side about letting bad guys get what’s coming to them, Paul and Josh included.

We next see uncle Gabe (played by Frank Whaley, who some of you might remember as “Mr. X” in an awesome episode of House a few years ago) entering a locked room where Rebecca is bound and gagged on a bed. He relates a story to her about how he stalked and killed a girl eleven years earlier (aha), and then begs her to promise him to keep their numerous trysts a secret, lest he kill her. (Damn, Frank plays psychopaths well, I must say. Seriously, for mild-mannered, middle-aged, unassuming-looking men who are great at playing serial killers and whatnot, it’s a toss-up between Frank Whaley and Doug Hutchison.) And then Ariel wakes up, because this is HER dream. I hope you guys have scorecards, because keeping track of who is dreaming what is as confusing as… well, watching Inception, I guess, though that was a totally kick-ass movie.

The next morning, Gabe strolls into the D.A.’s office, and Devalos, who is wearing that “this-is-going-to-be-so-much-fun” smirk on his face, confronts him in the conference room. Gabe beholds several bags of trash on the table, and Devalos asks him to confirm in writing that the trash is his so they can compare his DNA to one from a certain unsolved 11-year-old murder in Texas. Cornered and he knows it, Devalos gives him a choice: reveal where Rebecca is or be the next contestant up in the state that is the Death Penalty capital of the world. He capitulates, of course, and Devalos later relays the good news that Rebecca has been found safe and sound to both Allison and Ariel, even asking Ariel with a wink if she’d consider choosing a school closer to home.

Back to Lee, who we see back at Josh’s house, speaking to Josh’s abused wife. But it would seem that she is no saint either, having changed her name and skipped town in Cleveland to avoid prosecution on a drug bust, so Lee gives her a choice; testify on his behalf at his hearing or get hauled in handcuffs back to Ohio, leaving her son to Josh’s tender mercies. Of course, this is another of Allison’s dreams, and she wakes completely unsure of how much more support she can continue to give her friend.

The episode ends with Allison confronting Lee in the courthouse hallway with her latest dream, and once again, he doesn’t deny it. Allison tells Lee in no uncertain terms that he has no intention of switching sides and testifying against him, but she won’t be rising to his defense either. She tells him that whatever’s going on in his head is turning him into someone else, and she is no longer convinced that they can remain friends. Ouch. I’m a little torn on this one: Allison can be a insufferable goody-goody when it comes to morality, but when Lee crosses the line from committing an obliquely necessary evil to being cavalierly dismissive about it, I tend to lean more towards the side of our favorite psychic.

Next week: we won’t have to wait long for the continuation of this story, as Paul’s Ghost turns his evil eye on Allison’s dreams, to the continued detriment of Lee.

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