The Dead Zone: Shadows

Bruce: "It goes to prove only one thing. It always pays to listen to me."

This episode had a strong emotional impact on me. I got a little lost with the visions going in all directions, but the second time I watched it I could see that Johnny was getting hits off of things that Bruce had touched. The chaos in Johnny's mind was reflected to some extent in the messed up order of the visions, as well as the way they kept changing as Johnny changed the circumstances.

Bruce believes in Johnny and supports him unconditionally; like Vera, he wants Johnny to believe in the still, small voice when it comes. Even more than that, Bruce has become Johnny's moral compass. It's in character for Bruce to do the right thing, to risk his own life in order to save a stranger from dying in his place. Bruce is probably a better person than I am; I'd be hiding in a closet for the rest of the night. And if I were Johnny, I'd probably lock Bruce in that closet. There would be a general closet theme.

Bruce was right, too. The Drew Carey look-alike salesman didn't intend to kill Bruce, after all. He only thought he was defending himself against the mugger who was taking his precious briefcase, a briefcase that was very important to him, as was established in the station scene. And if Johnny had strangled the guy, he would have been killing someone who truly didn't deserve it.

The questionable nature of Johnny's visions and the fact that they don't always make things better has been acknowledged since the second episode, when Johnny saved Allison's life and another woman died in her place. But the implications haven't really been discussed much when it comes to Johnny's Armageddon vision. If there are a thousand variables and the only constant is Johnny himself, and Johnny has now realized he is capable of making terrible mistakes with his visions, it explains why he is so jammed up about Stillson. "Maybe I'll be fighting so hard to save the world that I'll cross that line and I'll become as dangerous as Stillson. Maybe more dangerous." Indeed.

Anthony Michael Hall and John L. Adams did a terrific job here. Bruce's death scene in particular was deeply moving; it made me cry. The two of them click together in a big way as actors and as their characters.

Bits and pieces:

— The director and writer did a good job at the beginning, establishing with the mirror that it was Johnny committing the murder. The episode was confusing enough as it was; we didn't need more.

— $42.50 seems pricey to me for a room with such a scuzzy sink.

— The Walt/Sarah smoochies established that they have indeed made up. If this were an episode of Buffy, that would mean one of them was going to die in the next episode.

— Roscoe is in charge of the server going down? There's no IT department?

— Johnny asked about fireworks. If he had grown up in the area, wouldn't he have known about fireworks on Founder's Day?

— The vision with the hospital worker was disturbing. Johnny touched her without permission, and then he hurt her as well.

— For me, it was apparent that the "almost a family member" had to be Bruce. What would Sarah or J.J. be doing alone in the park at night? Plus Roscoe referred to Walt in a way that made me think the loss wasn't also Walt's. I did think for a moment that it might be Reverend Purdy.

— Johnny looked very uncomfortable during Tyler's lap dance. Pretty woman, but not much of an actress; she delivered her lines in an odd way in the street scene. Maybe the wig threw her off.

— The desk clerk was reading something by Richard Bachman, which is Stephen King's famous pseudonym.

— Bruce: "Why do I get the feeling like somebody just walked over my grave?"

Murky, but emotionally strong and very well-acted. I'd say three out of four stars,

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

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I like your insights here. Bruce has long been established as Johnny's anchor, the one that keeps him from going off the rails like in the alternate universe with Bruce's clergyman father. But with so much else going on (the Bannermen, Stillson, Purdy) we don't often get to see their deep friendship.
You raise a good point about his touching people, and now even hurting them without their consent.
I found the strippers distracting. I really didn't need to see that much naked woman. And it wasn't even a sweeps month.
I think the fishing, specifically the casting, is symbolic. The ripples in the pond, the effects of every action rippling through the future.

Anonymous said...

i love this episode. johnny having a vision that bruce was in danger and seeing him being killed. the lap dance scene was a bit much for me. johnny running into a very dangerous vision after another.

Anonymous said...

shadows was a scary episode with johnny witnessing a murder as it turns out it was bruce that was killed. how could that be he was with johnny the whole time.walt and sarah have gotten back together kissing on the front porch. johnny called sarah to take jj in the house while she was outside fixing her flowers because he knew there was going to be danger. johnny would never leave her in such a situation and he was foolish for it. tyler the stripper was pretty kind of naive for johnny and alot younger than him. bruce and johnny having a heart to heart talk scene while fishing at the end was sweet.

Anonymous said...

while out fishing with bruce and jj johnny has a terrifying vision that he sees himself in a fight with another man when he tells bruce he saw something that's going to happen later on that night. johnny can't always protect bruce but bruce always seems to protect him as he said johnny should look out for himself. johnny went to the hotel where he saw the vision inside the room while having scary images of the fight. he goes across the street inside a strip club and meets a stripper named tyler who gives him a little lap dance while getting a vision of himself being kicked out of the bar. johnny's vision of bruce being stabbed to death all the time it wasn't happening at all.

Anonymous said...

johnny is on a fishing trip with bruce and jj when he has a terrifying vision of himself getting in a brawl with another man when he tells bruce that something's going to happen that day. bruce and johnny go to sarah's house when bruce gives him a 20 dollar bill when johnny goes to the same hotel that he saw in his vision before he goes to a strip club where he meets a pretty stripper named tyler who gives him a lap dance while having a vision of him getting kicked out of the bar that night. he tells bruce that he saw blood on the knife which he stabbed a man with and says his visions aren't changing anything. the man who was in his vision goes to the park when he's attacked by three men that johnny sees in a vision and another vision sees him throwing the knife in the bushes. johnny talks to bruce and says he'll protect bruce any way he can while bruce tells him that fate doesn't change anything and that his visions aren't wrong. johnny and bruce go to talk to walt when johnny has a vision of bruce being stabbed to death before they walk to the park where it all happened when the three men attack the man from his vision when johnny runs to the guy on the ground. johnny is at the lake with bruce when bruce tells johnny that he'll always be there for him.

magritte said...

"Pretty woman, but not much of an actress; she delivered her lines in an odd way in the street scene. Maybe the wig threw her off." I was wondering if she was supposed to be hopped up on drugs or something. But when somebody's that far off, I think you have to blame the direction, not the actor. Not sure what they were trying to accomplish.