'Touch' Recap: '1+1=3' Is Wrong Math, But Great TV

March 23rd, 2012 1:04am EDT

Touch It's been awhile since we saw the Touch pilot, but the show is finally here to stay and for my money, it's the best new show of this TV season.

"I'm not taking him back there," Martin tells Clea when she shows up at his apartment, wanting to take Jake back to the boarding facility. It's the very next day after the events of the pilot, and Martin is insistent that his son is trying to communicate with him. Yet when Clea threatens to call the police, Martin reconsiders. Before he leaves, Jake writes the phone number to Arnie's Pawn Shop on his father's hand, the last four digits of which are 5296.

At the airport, a busy flight attendant trying to catch a plane bumps into a guy and causes his father's ashes to be scattered across the terminal floor. The flight attendant tells Martin that someone paid extra to have his dog hand-delivered in Moscow, but the dog escapes its carrier and takes off across the tarmac just moments later. Meanwhile, Clea catches Jake writing 5296 repeatedly, and wonders if it's another message. Jake then wanders off again and that's when Clea realizes 5296 is the security code for the boarding facility's front doors.

Martin visits the pawn shop, run by Arnie (that's another 24 alum, Jude Ciccolella, who played President Palmer's right-hand man Mike Novick), who thinks he's crazy. About two minutes later, a guy in a ski mask walks in and wants to rob the place. In a moment Jack Bauer would appreciate if not necessarily endorse, Martin tackles the would-be robber (former K-Ville regular Blake Shields), which doesn't go all that well. Arnie gets shot, and as Martin's still on the floor, the robber escapes with a baseball. This show seems to be going out of its way to help us debunk the Kiefer Sutherland-as-Jack Bauer perception. That's two episodes in a row he's gotten hurt.

Back at the airport, we meet two young Asian ladies arriving at JFK for a music festival. The flight attendant from earlier walks right by them, and goes to apologize to the guy she bumped into earlier. We find out that she missed her flight trying to find the dog, and she offers to go with him while he scatters what's left of his father's a baseball stadium. Now it starts to come together...

Arnie doesn't want to go to the hospital, and doesn't want Martin anywhere near him. Confused by this turn of events, Martin goes to ask our old pal Arthur (Danny Glover) what it all means. We get the phrase "cosmic pain that has to be healed." Apparently, Jake sees such things as numbers, and has to follow them to wherever they lead. That's when Martin sees Jake on a passing bus, and their journey begins again.

Meanwhile, the robber is meeting a foreign guy in an alley, and offers him what we find out is a home run ball from a league championship series. He claims he sold it for fifty grand. The foreign guy tells him that he has three hours to pony up his money. And in Russia, when a kid's magic act bombs at a talent show, he finds out from a classmate that his father isn't a businessman, but a mobster.

Jake and Martin get off the bus outside of the same pawn shop, leading Martin to wonder why they're back. That's when he realizes the phone number on the shop window doesn't match the one on his hand; the number he has actually goes to an apartment above the pawn shop. Inside, Jake finds a bat numbered 5296, and Martin nearly gets beaten up again when he's mistaken for a burglar. He and Jake go to the hospital looking for Arnie, who's escaped his room and is wandering down the street.

At the baseball stadium, the flight attendant finds the missing dog and leaves her traveling companion behind. Inside, the robber (who used to be a peanut vendor there) goes to see the player whose home run ball he caught. He says that once he sold the ball, it started a whole chain of bad events for him, and he wants to make things right by returning it. As he does so and departs the stadium, he leaves a gate open that allows the guy hoping to scatter his father's ashes to get inside. And the foreign guy in the parking lot, waiting to beat up the robber, gets a call from his son. He wants to know if his father really is a mobster. That's enough to make the foreign guy hesitate, and he allows the robber to leave unharmed.

Martin tries to convince Arnie not to jump off a bridge, saying that he's figured out the would-be robber was actually there to kill Arnie, as Arnie had paid him ten grand to do so, with the hopes of leaving his daughter insurance money were he to die in the robbery. Martin begs Arnie to reconsider, and when that doesn't work, physically hauls him away from the edge. At that moment, the dog and the flight attendant arrive. The flight attendant is revealed as Arnie's daughter Rebecca. Another mission accomplished!

There's a lot to like about Touch. As I mentioned in my pilot review, all the hype about Kiefer Sutherland returning to TV is understandable, because he's a great actor -- and I think he's even better on the small screen, when he's able to develop a character over an extended period of time. Sure, he'll always be Jack Bauer to a lot of us, but Touch is a good next project for him to show what else he can do. The combination of Sutherland and Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Doctor Who) is interesting, and I'm curious to see how their partnership develops over the season.

It's true there's a lot to keep track of in this show, and because it moves between those multiple storylines, it's not always immediately clear how some things connect; I had to take a moment in each commercial break to be sure I was keeping the story straight. That confusion might be a turn-off for some people, but I enjoy a series that makes me think, even if I might not necessarily catch on right away. So far the show seems to have found a middle ground: the concept is sustainable - there will always be connections for Jake to discover - but I don't feel like I have to be keeping notes to enjoy it. And there's a warm, fuzzy feeling that happens for me as everything comes together at the end.

Plus, there's the coincidentally awesome pairing of Touch at 9 PM and NBC's Awake at 10 PM, making for two hours of truly ambitious television. After FOX axed some great series last season (The Chicago Code, Human Target), Touch might be a big step back in the right direction.

(c)2012 Brittany Frederick/Digital Airwaves. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.

Related: Blake Shields, Danny Glover, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Jude Ciccolella, Kiefer Sutherland, Touch, Starpulse Exclusives, Recaps, Television, Drama, FOX

Photo Credits: FOX

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