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The Dead Zone: Finding Rachel, Part 1

"You think I've crossed that fine line between psychic and psycho?"

Season three opened with a bang. Johnny was melting down, no pun intended. He was experiencing blackouts and starting to wonder if maybe he, not Stillson, was the cause of Armageddon.

Well, I didn't buy it. Someone or something was screwing with Johnny. Or it was his health? In the original King book, Johnny's health did deteriorate. I don't remember book Johnny having blackouts; I thought it was just debilitating headaches and exhaustion. (Am I wrong?) Either way, I hope Johnny, series Johnny, isn't becoming seriously ill.

I put together a Rachel timeline:

— At 7:00, Johnny and Rachel met at Sharkey's restaurant. (Johnny didn't remember this, but saw it in a vision.) He told her about the "missing" poster of herself in the far future, dated October 25, which was that day. He asked if she was having an affair with Greg Stillson, and postulated that she filmed something incriminating.

— Sometime before 8:00, Rachel abandoned her car and ran into the woods. Someone beat her with her own camera. Johnny showed up thirty seconds later, according to the recovered tape, with no gash. Did he move her car back to his house? Why would he do that?

— Sometime after this, but before 8:05, Johnny got hit on the head. We still don't know why or how.

— Johnny came back to himself after a blackout lasting several hours, and he had a gash on his head. He was in the process of dialing 911.

I have a theory. I think Greg Stillson was worried about Johnny, and about how close the election was, enough to risk getting caught doing bad things. So he was killing two birds with one stone. He killed Rachel and took her computer so that she wouldn't tell anyone about the vote-stealing computer software, and he framed Johnny for it so that he could steal Johnny's trust fund, via Purdy, which would be easier to do if Johnny were in jail. Plus it got Johnny out of his hair, permanently. Yes, this works. Let me add that I never read spoilers, so PLEASE don't write and tell me if I'm right or wrong!

I usually don't mention political stuff in my reviews because I don't want to alienate half my readers, but I have to here, because it's in the show. The writers deliberately inserted some Bush-related stuff. (1) The computer vote fixing no-paper-trail controversy started partly because the head of Diebold, one of the chief manufacturers of these machines, said he would deliver the state of Ohio to Bush in 2004. Stillson referred to it as the digital equivalent of a hanging chad. (2) Stillson's platform is all about tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts. (3) Greg said that he was deeply religious. Please don't send me hate mail about this. :)

On to the future stuff. We learned some new tidbits about future guy Christopher Wey. Wey said he was in trouble with the gangs, because they knew who Wey was. Hmmm? Johnny is well known and not liked in the future... according to Wey. Why would people start putting up a poster from 2004... in 2015? It doesn't make sense. There was also a poster of a hand with an eye on it, the words "Johnny Smith" above the hand, and "Believe" below the hand. That sounds like Johnny is well known, but why disliked?

Johnny didn't use his cane through most of the episode, because every time he had a Wey double communication vision, he lost time. Why would that happen? The simple answer was that Wey was somehow causing the blackouts. Was Wey taking over Johnny's body during the double visions? That would explain it. Maybe Wey killed Rachel. But why? It doesn't make sense.

Bits and pieces:

— The saga sell, credits, and cast were all the same as in the first two seasons.

— Johnny described Rachel as "blonde, about 24." That simply had to be an in-joke about Sarah Wynter (Rebecca), who was on 24. I understand that Sarah Wynter's character on 24 was centered around what was happening to her sister, too. I admit I'm easily amused.

— I don't like what's happening with Purdy. I like Purdy, damn it. He's a real human being who makes mistakes, but he's also a deeply moral man, and he truly loved Johnny's mother. I can't see him stealing Johnny's trust fund. What would Johnny do if he were broke? The visions won't let him hold down a teaching job, and he won't do readings for money.

— I'm assuming the blackmail photos, whips and chains, apply to chief financial officer Mike Kennedy, not Purdy?

— Loved the Johnny/Rachel/Rebecca vision scene in the restaurant, with the two women answering the same questions the same way. Made me think of my own sister.

— Stillson: "How you voting on Tuesday?" Johnny: "Not for you." Stillson: "Sorry to hear that. I was really counting on the psychic vote." and, "That Ouija board freak had a problem with me since the first day we met." Ouch. The gloves finally came off. Which substantiated my theory that Greg Stillson killed Rachel.

— Sarah slapped Walt??? Yes, she loves Johnny, but she knows Walt wouldn't arrest Johnny unless he had to. It was totally out of character for Sarah to slap Walt. Is there something going on between Sarah and Walt that we haven't been told yet? Is Walt, who has always been his own man, finally succumbing to pressure from the prosecutor's office, or is he worried about losing his own election?

— "WDZP News"? Is that short for "Dead Zone People?" Dead Zone something else starting with P?

— Purdy said, "St. Paul had to be blinded before he saw the light." When Wey woke up in the future, he was momentarily blinded. Connection?

— Johnny had two future visions of Rebecca. One, the not-so-nice one, occurred in this episode. The other, with the Johnny/Rebecca smoochies, will undoubtedly show up in a future episode.

— Rachel was sleeping with Stillson, of course. Everybody does. Except Sarah, I hope.

— In this week's hair report, Johnny and Walt have gone shorter, Sarah has gone straighter and more formal, and Bruce has started wearing strange objects on his head.

This episode was fascinating and fun to watch, but it was too convoluted even for me, and I review the show. USA is trying to pull in new viewers. If this episode confused me, what did it do to new viewers?

Three out of four stars,

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

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