Medium Watch: The People In Your Neighborhood

Well, I would definitely be remiss if I didn’t (re)mention the big news concerning Medium, which is that Patricia Arquette stepped forward this week and said that the show would be packing it in after this season. I’m of mixed feelings about this: of course, I love the show and its characters, but no premise can go on indefinitely without showing cracks at the seams, and Medium has definitely had many instances where it seems like the writers are repeating themselves. But apart from the stories, a great deal of joy is had simply by watching the Dubois family interact, watching the girls grow up, etc. It will be tough to realize that I won’t get to see Bridgette blossom into young adulthood, or Marie reach an age where she could get more screen time and juicy lines.

Now, whether the writers saw the writing on the wall before the season started, we may never know, but the potentially huge sweeping changes in the lives of the characters may be beneficial in wrapping things up. Ariel is off to college, Allison is thinking about returning to law school and getting her degree, Devalos will be running for mayor, etc. All I can hope is, the show ends well, and happily for all concerned. I don’t think there’s been a show since Crossing Jordan that I’ve been so enamored of the characters, and they deserve that much. I’ll be sad to see Medium go, but any show that lasts past it sixth season – and on Friday night to boot - has done damn well, especially when you factor in the change of networks two seasons ago. I’ll be expounding more about the history of the show and what it’s meant to me over the final half-season remaining, but for now, let’s get on with tonight’s episode.

The ODS starts with a man in a hideously ugly tie knocking on the door of another middle-aged man named Clark Kerwin (played by Brian F. O’Byrne, who you may remember played Aaron Stark in last year’s ill-fated show Flash Forward). It seems Clark is a recent parolee, and one of the conditions of his parole is that he notify his neighbors that he is, in fact, a sex offender. So the man, whose name is John Claybourne, who is Clark’s parole officer, escorts while he nails unflattering warning flyers to every tree on the block. John waves hello to a couple of the neighbors, including a teenage girl across the street picking the morning paper off the lawn. The girl, of course, is Bridget. This wakes Allison up, and it takes very little time to realize that the events of her dream happened mere minutes ago, as confirmed by the flyers that are definitely present on the trees up and down her street. Uh-oh.

One Google search by Joe the next morning explains Clark’s disturbing past: He was an English teacher in Tuscon who spent ten years in prison after raping one of his students, not once but twice. Not long after, a neighbor named Susannah (played by Saving Grace’s Laura San Giacomo) knocks on their door and invites them to a block-meeting to discuss what they can do about Clark. A chat later that day with Claybourne does little to reassure Allison; Clark was a model prisoner and parolee, but the recidivism rate for sex offenders is less than encouraging.

Of course, it doesn’t take long for the first stone to be cast, literally: one of Clark’s new neighbors has welcomed him to the neighborhood by throwing a rock through his window. Allison assures him that this is not typical behavior for people in this area, but Clark seems understandably worried that this is just the beginning.

Today’s B-story seems to revolve around Joe, who is pitching his company’s new algae bio-fuel reactor to a group of potential investors. He gives a very savvy and convincing presentation, and it impresses his boss, Dan Burroughs (played by Mitch Pileggi, who I used to love on The X-Files), so much that Dan wants to promote Joe to upper management. The catch is, in order to sell that promotion to the board of directors, Joe would have to go to night school for the next two years to get his MBA. But afterward, he would be helping Dan run the place, which would definitely represent a bump in salary. Of course, with Allison also planning on returning to law school part-time, this will present a logistical nightmare as they still have two young daughters in their care.

The block-meeting goes pretty much as one would expect: while they’re not suggesting a lynch mob, Susannah will be leading the charge to disturb the quietude of Clark’s suburban life as much as possible. Allison, however, has decided not to take part, because being somewhat of an expert on reading perverts and deviants, she wasn’t getting that vibe from Clark. Things get even more dicey with her next dream: we see the girl that I’m assuming Clark was convicted of raping (named Stacy), fuming with rage at the “B” that he gave her on a very important paper. This “B” will have the detrimental effect of costing Stacy her valedictorian status, and she actually threatens Clark that something bad will happen if he doesn’t give her an “A”. In fact, she’s already taken measures: when Clark wasn’t looking, she used his laptop to send threatening e-mails to herself, making it look like he had raped her and was still menacing her. Then she rips her blouse open, pepper-sprays him and screams… and Allison wakes up. Wow. Ten years blown away because of one conniving, opportunistic, self-empowering bitch.

And as if things couldn’t get worse for Clark, the next morning Susannah’s teenage daughter Hayden has gone missing. I get the feeling from Susannah’s outraged demeanor that we’re but one step away from the torches-and-pitchforks stage. At the police station, Clark professes his innocence as well as his willingness to cooperate. He admits that his solitary life makes for a rather weak alibi, but also points out that it would take a moron to kidnap a girl from a place where everybody knows his face and his past. Allison gently tries to reassure Clark that everything will turn out okay. Hope she’s right. (And she even bakes him a tuna casserole. How neighborly!)

That night brings more disturbing news on two fronts. Allison’s next dream is short but brutal: a small boy digging in the sandbox in a playground accidentally unearths a girl’s body. When she wakes, she finds Joe crunching some numbers, and it would seem that their current financial situation simply will not allow both of them to return to school while their still footing Ariel’s collegiate expenses. Bummer. The next morning, Lee confirms that a girl’s body was indeed found in a playground, and it is indeed Susannah’s daughter, and not only that, but the knife used to kill her was also found, and it yielded one usable fingerprint… belonging to Clark Kerwin. Wow, he must be the unluckiest S.O.B. in the universe, no joke. As it turns out, Susannah’s daughter was not only stabbed multiple times but sexually assaulted, and despite her earlier misgivings, Allison seems once again convinced of Clark’s guilt. Her offer of condolence is lost on Susannah, who now partially blames Allison’s inaction for her daughter’s death.

The next dream is a shocker: we see Susannah bake a “welcome” cake and deliver it, friendly as you please, right to Clark’s waiting arms. And since this took place at a point when Clark had yet to unpack, Susannah was kind enough to include some utensils so he can enjoy her cooking… including a long-handled knife that we’ve already identified as the weapon that murdered her daughter. My God, the things people are capable of.

You gotta hand it to her, framing a known rapist for murder is about as slam-dunk as it gets. But what motive could a woman have for murdering her child, you ask? Well, just plain old-fashioned greed. Turns out Hayden wasn’t Susannah’s daughter at all, but her stepdaughter, who Susannah had been taking care of since Hayden’s father had perished in a car accident eighteen months earlier. And what do you know, the vast estate that he bequeathed to Hayden automatically defaults to Susannah if she passes away before the age of eighteen. And it gets much worse: no sooner has Allison filled Lee and Devalos in on the gory details than they receive word that Clark has hung himself in his jail cell. Damn. It. I expect this on SVU, not here!

On the home front, Joe calmly informs Allison that because his promotion would mean greener pastures for the entire family, it’s best that he be the one going back to school at the present time. And she responds by superseding his judgment, applying to law school without telling him, with the justification that if she’d had a law degree, Clark Kerwin would still be alive. And you know, what happened to Clark is the worst thing that I can imagine happening to an innocent person, but I can’t side with her decision here.

Allison’s final dream shows John giving the same get-acquainted speech that he gave to Clark with a man named Dale, a just-paroled stalker. And no sooner does he leave than Susannah shows up at his door with a cake! When Allison wakes, she is confronted by Clark’s ghost, who tells her that Susannah attempted her little fingerprint-on-the-knife trick with Dale nine months before, but it backfired when he forgot to return the knife to her. He then tells her to “flash forward” (cuuuuuuuuute….) to the present: Dale’s obsessive nature has put Susannah’s friendly, neighborly face in his sights, and in the past nine months he has, unbeknownst to her, recorded her every move. Yes, including the murder of her stepdaughter. Allison rushes off to phone Devalos, and… fade to black. Huh? That’s it? No comeuppance moment? Come on, show! That’s what I live for!

So, lots of unresolved issues. Will Allison go back to school and become a lawyer, or will Joe get his degree so the Dubois family can move to a ten-acre estate on the outskirts of town? How long will this be a bone of contention between them? Will Devalos become mayor? These questions will hopefully be answered to everyone’s satisfaction over the show’s final episodes.

Next week: is Thanksgiving. I have no idea when the next first-run episode will be, but I know for sure that it won’t be until at least December. Until then, happy Turkey Day!