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The Dead Zone: Tipping Point

Future Johnny: "There's still time. But not much."

We finally got back to the Armageddon arc, and I loved it. The quality of the show or the energy or something just bubbles to the surface when they do the heavy stuff. Not that I don't like the non-arc episodes; in fact, one of my favorites was "Deja Voodoo" where the insurance adjusters went wild. But I digress.

"Everything you're afraid of happens," Future Johnny said. I've always been lukewarm about the Christopher Wey storyline. Johnny communicating with his future self was a lot more interesting. Can Johnny trust what his future self told him? The fact that J.J. was with Future Johnny increased his credibility, as far as I'm concerned. I also found it touching that Johnny and his son will someday have a strong relationship – or at least they will in a tragic, apocalyptic future, which of course doesn't mean they will if the future changes.

Speaking of which, Bonanza syndrome strikes again! "When the time comes, do not save Rebecca" sounded an awful lot like "Jim, Edith Keeler must die." Rebecca appeared to be doomed. And that's too bad, because I like her. She has been good for Johnny in so many ways, and they make a cute, very blond couple. And she is one smart cookie. Planting that surprise party vision was a sharp move.

Elliman killed Kennedy. But we still don't know who killed Rachel. And I still don't think it was Stillson; if he had, I don't think he would have let Johnny touch him. Stillson himself doesn't know about the Armageddon visions, after all; he probably thinks Johnny is seeing other bad stuff, and he just doesn't care.

In the novel (SPOILER ALERT – skip to the next paragraph if you don't want to know) Johnny decided to shoot Stillson himself. Stillson grabbed a toddler and held it in front of him (a generic toddler in the book, Sarah's son in the Walken movie) and someone snapped a photo that hit the papers and ruined Stillson's political career. Armageddon averted. And Stillson was never actually shot; Sonny Elliman killed Johnny, instead. And we knew for certain in the book that Stillson was a psycho. In the series, we've already gone way past this point. Rebecca was going to do what Johnny did in the book, but there's no baby, no photo – everything has changed.

Is series Stillson a psychopath? He has bad guys working for him, he doesn't hesitate to do bad things, but what if he isn't totally evil? And those shots didn't look fatal. What if getting shot will propel Stillson into the national spotlight, and that's how he becomes vice president in just a couple more years?

We now know that Purdy lied about Kennedy and faked the suicide note, probably to get Johnny out of jail. His confession on television was very much in character for a deeply religious man in such a moral mess. David Ogden Stiers was so good that I sympathized with Purdy; you could literally see his pain. I particularly liked the scene where he was shredding the Bible Stillson had given him, although we still don't know how Purdy is protecting Stillson, do we?

A week ago, I was complaining about the animals attacking. This week, I have to complain about the hypnosis. I've actually undergone hypnosis, and hypnotists can't just say, hey, you're on a beach, now I'm going to tell you something that you'll forget. You are conscious most of the time when you're under. It takes a while (it took me several sessions) to get to the point where you zone out and don't really hear what the hypnotist is saying. And they said clearly that Rebecca was doing it because Johnny couldn't have anesthesia, so he wasn't drugged. For me, that was the weakest part of an otherwise strong episode.

Bits and pieces:

— The promos for last week revealed Future Johnny. Those turkeys ruined the surprise.

— We got WDZP News again. Dead Zone People?

— During the morgue scene, I was worried at first that Johnny was going to touch Mike Kennedy's excised brain.

— I liked the actor that played adult J.J., and I hope we get to see more of him. (Did you notice that future J.J. had no burns?)

— The scene with Dr. Yeagher and his son's baseball was cute. You could see the doctor didn't really believe at first.

— Why was Christopher Wey in chains? Was Future Johnny (or J.J.) the one chasing Wey all this time? Has Wey been trying to mislead present Johnny? And why would he do that?

— The bakery/gun shop visions were just terrific. The first one was so odd that I knew something was wrong, and it wasn't just the cigarette hanging out of the guy's mouth: "Ever eaten cake before? Need a box of candles with that?"

— The motive for Rachel's murder had to be the voting machine. She might not have taped them talking about fixing the election, but why would a candidate be looking at a voting machine in such a clandestine way? And wouldn't an election worker realize it was suspicious?

— The Armageddon vision was different; this time it was the Capital, not the Washington Monument. In this episode, it was confirmed that Johnny has only told Bruce and Rebecca about the Armageddon visions.

— I have no idea how they're going to resolve the surgery issue. How can they possibly cure Johnny's dead zone without causing more brain damage? I thought the brain tumor thing would come up, but it didn't.

— It made total sense that Johnny would give medical consent authorization to Sarah, not Rebecca. Sarah is a lifelong friend and the mother of his son. I'd trust Sarah to have Johnny's best interests at heart, always.

Even with the flaws, this episode kicked serious butt. Four out of four stars,

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


  1. This was a gripping intense episode and if I had to wait a whole off season to get more I'd be pretty upset! I found sweet bright JJ holding that big gun especially disturbing. You're absolutely right about choosing Sarah as medical proxy. At first it seemed weird, but really the only other good choice was Bruce. I it was strange that an employee would smoke in a bakery, and the "have you ever eaten cake before" came off like a creeper, but then everything fell into place, including her hasty return to dc.

    I'm concerned that we've uncovered a fatal flaw though. Present day Johnny can't change the past. He always had warned the shaman who saved his people whose descendants Johnny and Bruce met at the gas station. He always talked himself out of the burning car. Johnny is like a train conductor with extraordinary vision, seeing far down the track and frantically flipping switches and pulling levers to keep the train safe, but he can't do anything about where the train's been.

    But if present day Johnny can't change the past, then doesn't it follow that future Johnny can't change the present? Isn't Armageddon, blind Johnny, gun toting JJ... Aren't they all now inevitable? Doesn't future Johnny remember this conversation and know it doesn't work (but some good must come from it)? 69 dudes!

  2. this was one hell of an episode. future johnny christopher wey and jj were creepy johnny does have headaches from his visions and can't do anything to change it. and rebecca behind him on all of it. sarah wynter and anthony michael hall have great chemistry in this one. johnny wanted sarah to pull the plug and don't let him sleep in another coma.


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