The Dead Zone: Zion

Bruce: "There's a lot of ghosts here. Starting with me."

Excellent episode, even though it was a departure from the formula in many ways: it was Bruce having a vision, not Johnny; and it was alternate reality It's a Wonderful Life instead of a vision of the past or the future.

I liked Bruce (John L. Adams) as a character before, but I didn't really see a specific role for him in the continuing story other than as Johnny's friend. Now we know that Bruce has had a profound effect on Johnny's life already, and that effect made all the difference. If Johnny does manage to save the world, it will be because Bruce saved John first.

John L. Adams more than held his own in several heavy emotional scenes with Louis Gossett, Jr. It was nice that they brought out the big acting guns for this one. And speaking of big acting guns, Anthony Michael Hall was frightening as a villainous, lunatic Johnny. A different choice than the tragic and pathetic performance of Christopher Walken, but this was a different incarnation of the character, after all.

I took note of some of the other changes. In the alternate reality, Johnny charged a thousand bucks for a reading; Sarah's marriage to Walt broke up because of problems with Johnny; and Johnny was stalking JJ. Johnny's limp was also a lot worse, which made sense if he didn't have Bruce as his therapist. And in a departure from the novel, John's death at the end was pointless, because he didn't stop Stillson.

Plus, Pastor Lewis would have lived longer if Bruce had stayed at home and become a preacher so that his father could retire. Nothing like guilt, huh? But following in his father's footsteps would have made Bruce a lost man, drinking and screwing around. Bruce now knows that he did the right thing with his life. And that final scene where Bruce was able to say goodbye to his father was just lovely.

Bits and pieces:

— We now know that Bruce grew up in Indianapolis. I loved the discussion that acknowledged the fact that there are very few black people in Maine.

— Bruce's impromptu sermon about John was fascinating: "I have seen the angel who has told me that a fire is going to rain on mankind! I have seen the angel who will come save us, and his name is John! And John has visions! Matter of fact, I think he's having a vision right now!"

— Yes, I liked the haircut; John L. Adams has cute ears. "Because spring is coming, and it's already starting to get warm, and my ears needed some air." It's funny, but on a personal note, my mother always wanted my hair short, so of course, I always wore it long. After she died, I cut it very short, just like Bruce did. Well, not quite as short as that. It wasn't a conscious choice, but cutting one's hair is a universal gesture of mourning.

— The little boy who played Bruce Lewis as a child was impressive. It's not easy for a little boy to preach a convincing sermon.

— The comparative religion class Bruce took awhile back makes more sense now.

— This episode was designated the season ender, but an additional half a season was ordered. So this isn't it.

Sometimes we get a so-so Dead Zone episode and I wonder if the series is as good as I think it is. And then we get something like this, and I'm fascinated all over again.

Four out of four stars,

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

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

i thought that this was a strange episode as bruce was having visions instead of johnny. louis gossett jr. was great playing bruce's father. the haircut bit at the end was cute. johnny killing stillson was bizarre.johnny was taking on a different identity as a stalker.

magritte said...

I really loved this episode, maybe the best of the series so far. I think the show is at its best when it departs from the formula. It had not occurred to me until now how little we really knew about Bruce and it was great to learn more about him. And it was very interesting to see the alternate Johnny who seemed to me closer to the book, and certainly the end of his story is very much like the book. It's a long time since I've read the books so perhaps I'm wrong, but I don't remember Bruce being in them, so the implication is that Bruce may lead to a different ending to the series as well as a happier, less socially isolated Johnny.