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The Dead Zone: Cycle of Violence

"Boom. There go our rights."

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Innocent until proven guilty. Got it.

The over-the-top reaction to an attack that hadn't happened yet, and the complete disregard for civil liberties (the lockers, the unequally initiated searches, the way Johnny invaded the privacy of the kids by touching them and their stuff) was the point and it was certainly topical, as this show tends to be. Okay, a bit preachy, too, but it worked; I honestly didn't see the twist at the end a-coming. The set-up was good; Principal Rowan actually pointed out the perverted Mr. Talbot in the school play scene and said that he was "bringing kids of all ages together."

Robert Iler (Derek) was excellent; it was easy to care about him. The most touching scene, I thought, was when Derek actually started having doubts about his own capacity for future violence. (Expecting kids to be bad is a self-fulfilling prophecy, of course.) Yes, the fake bomb and the bottle went way beyond civil disobedience, but he shouldn't have died for it. Should Johnny be making these kinds of choices? Was it right to save Zeke and maybe others (possibly even J.J.) from sexual abuse at the expense of Derek's life? (They didn't tell us if Derek lived, but the shot looked fatal to me. The fade to black and white at the end made me think it was. Maybe we'll find out next week.)

Anthony Michael Hall was right on his acting game, as he always is. I really liked the former teacher follow-through implicit in his easy way with teenagers, and his natural tendency to defend them. The other young actors were all very good, too – oddly enough, with the exception of J.J., who didn't seem to know the words he was lipsyncing on stage.

Good continuity with the newly returned Rebecca handling the debris of death (selling the house) and still actively mourning her sister. I can relate. But she also seemed a bit like window dressing, someone for Anthony Michael Hall to emote to. I'm assuming that we'll eventually be returning to Rachel's murder, which is still unsolved.

Bits and pieces:

— Judge Reinhold, an actor I've always liked, was dislikable here: too grim and paranoid. Although that was probably appropriate characterization for a high school principal who immediately instituted martial law and suspended 31 students when nothing had actually happened yet.

— What happened to the principal who was in the pilot episode and "Quality of Life"? And why didn't any of the other teachers seem to know Johnny? He worked there briefly two years ago, didn't he?

— Did Rebecca come back to just to sell the house, or because Johnny called her on the phone in "Speak Now"?

— I assume Rebecca now knows J.J. is Johnny's son. Or not.

— J.J. plays the clarinet. That's new, isn't it? Sarah, of course, used to write songs. Maybe he got some musical talent from her.

— The bomb scare sign reminded me of an American flag bumper sticker I saw recently. It said, "That's okay. I wasn't using my civil liberties anyway."

— Johnny was pointedly referred to as "John" in this episode. Are we moving away from "Johnny"?


Sarah: "Do you ever joke about damaging school property, or getting back at a teacher for something?"
Derek: "Only when I'm awake."

Johnny: "They could turn into shooters, or they could turn into doctors and lawyers. It's hard to tell."

Derek: "I ate all your food, went through your drawers, set your house on fire, and now I'm just doing my homework."

Two stars out of a possible four. And only four more episodes of the way too short Dead Zone season to go! Please, please, let there be a season 3.5 as well as a season four,

Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

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