Medium Watch: Native Tongue

The episode’s ODS begins with a rough-looking man with a dark complexion driving his car up to a trailer in… well, if it isn’t the middle of nowhere, you can probably see it out the back window. He steps inside, and immediately slips and falls on the large puddle that covers the floor. Before he can get up, however, a man wearing a silvery Hazmat-type suit and a lit acetylene torch tells him that the liquid he’s lying in is motor oil, and that he had better come clean about where “it” is. Rough Man first feigns ignorance, but after being threatened with immolation, tells Mr. Hazmat (who has a very young-sounding voice, like mid-to-late-twenties) that his partner, who leaves near Kingman, AZ, has “it”. This is not enough to save his life, however, as Mr. Hazmat calmly lights the place up on his way out the door, getting just clear before the trailer explodes. This wakes Allison up, and a few short sleepy sentences from Joe later, we find out this week’s hook: though we hear Joe speaking clearly, using plain English, Allison apparently can’t understand a word he’s saying. She hasn’t gone deaf, but her ears are now processing spoken words as gibberish. That’s not a good start to the day.

Joe’s really got to be tired of hospitals by now, as this is like the fourth or fifth time he’s had to accompany Allison to one in like two seasons. He is approached by a doctor named Natalie Salem (played by Rena Sofer, whose has appeared on shows like 24 and Heroes, as well as a recent stint on NCIS), who tells him that physically Allison is fine. She can still apparently read English and speak it, so that at least makes communication possible. The bad news is, there’s no treatment, but don’t worry, I’m sure everything will be fine 48 minutes from now. Dr. Salem is very sweet and pretty, but her bedside manner with Joe is very close to being almost flirtatious…

So it would seem that communication between Joe and Allison will be done via notepads, e-mails, texts and charades, and Joe is already looking worn out. He’s displayed a level of patience that verges on sainthood in the past, but like I’ve said before, I don’t envy the position he often finds himself in. When he brings the girls home from school, Allison is no longer home, for the morning paper featured a story about the “accidental death” of a man in a trailer fire. Wonder where she’s going!

Joe is practically seething when Allison returns home from Devalos’s office (where she explained her suspicions about Rough Man’s death). He explains to her that having to make constant adjustments to whatever bizarre form her “gift” takes that particular day, which is something that he’s had to deal with for seven whole seasons (and then some) has driven him the brink, and he doesn’t know if he can go on. She can’t understand him, of course, but promises him that whatever’s wrong, she’ll fix it.

The next day, Allison goes back to work, though it proves to be a very unproductive day. By quitting time, no revelations have presented themselves beyond Devalos telling her that the coroner confirmed that Rough Man was indeed murdered. However, on her way to the elevator, amidst a crowd of people talking gibberish, Allison overhears a woman talking on her cell that she can understand perfectly. An interesting wrinkle, however: it turns out the woman is speaking Dine (pronounce “dee-NAY”), which is the language of the Navajo tribe, but it’s coming through as English. The woman, a linguistics professor named Jane Livingston, is played by Judy Reyes, who played Nurse Espinosa on Scrubs for its first eight seasons. Jane thinks that Allison is suffering from xenoglossia, which is defined as “an ability claimed by some mediums, clairvoyants, etc., to speak a language with which they are unfamiliar.” (Who says reading recaps can’t be a learning experience?) She also, very generously, volunteers to help Allison through this crisis any way she can. Awww, that’s so sweet!

The next morning, Allison picks up Jane for translational purposes and they head out the scene of another murder, which is just off the Navajo reservation. It looks like Mr. Hazmat found Rough Man’s long-haired partner and shot him repeatedly. Allison is presented with an automatic weapon that was found under the man’s trailer, and when she touches it, she discerns that both murdered men comprised a two-man bank robbery crew. Jane, visibly shaken by the violence of the crime scene, is also very mournful on the trip back home: she’s studied Dine her whole life, and is saddened by the fact that it’s a dying language that even Navajo kids aren’t taught anymore. Which is pretty sad, especially when you consider the doggerel that youngsters these days consider to be hip.

That night, Joe looks like his jets have cooled a little, but we’ll see how long that lasts. Jane, who Devalos was kind enough to appoint to the position of Allison’s aide, tells Allison on the phone that the dead robbers stole $1 million from a New Mexico bank the week before, so I guess we know now what the “it” that Mr. Hazmat was referring to. In bed, Allison does her best to reassure Joe that the ordeal is probably almost over, still not realizing that her husband’s pain goes quite a bit deeper than that. I truly hope they can overcome this rough patch, the Dubois are easily my favorite married couple on TV today. Things get worse, however, with Allison’s next dream: she sees a young man (Mr. Hazmat?) sneak into Jane’s house and club her over the head with what looks like a Polynesian tiki totem. Oh, nuts.

The next morning, Jane is not answering her phone, but Devalos tells Allison that theoretically, she shouldn’t be in any danger, since she’s not involved in this case beyond being Allison’s aide, and thinks that her dream may just be her imagination running away with her. Let’s hope that’s the case.

The next dream sequence shows the scene leading up to Mr. Longhair’s murder. He and Rough Man made the cardinal mistake of bragging about their crime in a bar while drunk. They were bragging in Dine, but it was enough to catch the attention of Mr. Hazmat, Jane’s bludgeoner, a polyglot who wants their stolen money for himself. But Mr. Longhair was reluctant to divulge that information, and so began the torture-by-gunshot interrogation method. Yowch. When she awakes, Allison receives a text from Lee, who has peeked in on Jane’s residence to find her gone. Not good.

That night, Allison is still worried sick about Jane, and gets angry with Joe about his apparent lack of concern, but he communicates to her, in a series of very sweet texts, that he sometimes has a hard time dealing with the “gifts” that everyone in his family possesses but him. And then he strips down and joins in her bubble bath. Yay!!! All is right with the world!

Well, not quite… the next dream replays Rough Man’s murder, and we find out that Mr. Hazmat has a partner in this whole affair… and it’s Jane. Shoot, why do all the nice people on this show turn out to be evil? This epiphany wakes Allison up, and there you go, she can understand English again. Finally.

You remember that scene at the end of Silence of the Lambs where a newly-escaped Lecter calls Clarice from a foreign country? I am reminded of that scene when the next morning, Jane calls Allison from what looks like an island in the Caribbean. She is very grateful for Allison’s voice messages about her impending demise, and so decided to dispose of her boyfriend before that could happen. This makes Allison very angry, but one more dream will cure that! You see, Jane made the mistake of conversing with Allison in a crowded marketplace, within earshot of an unscrupulous man who had no reservations about following her and shooting her dead to steal her ill-gotten gains. Tsk tsk. Crime doesn’t pay, blah blah blah. I guess the only real casualty of this episode after all is the Dine language, which just lost three of its speakers.

Next week: a decorated fireman is doubling as a contract killer, but the ensuing investigation could have political ramifications for Devalos. See you then! (BTW, this episode featured a few snippets from a song called “Secret”, which is off of Seal’s brand new album. Go on YouTube and check it out, it’s a gorgeous song, and the (very sweet but VERY sensual) video also features Seal’s uber-famous wife, Heidi Klum.)