Amid opening shots of our characters of the week lighting candles, creeping on girls on subways, texting friends about running away from forced marriages, and stealing and emotionally returning a German guy’s wallet (wouldn’t it be fun if those acts were all done by the same character?), Jake’s voiceover gives us a stat on the number of babies born daily. And they might think they’re individuals (those smug babies), but really they’re composed of internal networks — just like how all people seem unique but are all connected to one another.
Martin and Jake meet Clea for breakfast, so she can reiterate that today’s the first of a series of evaluations to judge Martin’s parenting. Martin’s connection with Jake will be so evident, Clea says, and no doubt he’ll get custody — just as long as the committee sees them together, in person, in the same room, face to face, *insert eye-to-eye back and forth pointing*. We now know without a doubt no way is Martin making it to this critical meeting.
Both Martin and Jake react terribly to the news that Abigail, Sarah Bohm’s sister who apparently tried to gain custody of Jake, is back in the picture, sending packages and no doubt clucking with disapproval: Jake breaks something at the mention of her name. When Clea hustles Jake away, Martin, left to clean up the mess (isn’t that always the way?), realizes Jake had scooted under the table earlier to arrange sugar packets in an exciting new swirl. And that pattern echoes the swirl Jake’s syrup-coated hand left on the outside window when he slammed the glass as his way of saying goodbye to Martin. What sweet swirly mystery is this?
Martin stops by Arthur Teller’s place, complaining he was just getting the hang of the numbers thing, and great, we’re doing patterns now? “Of course!” Danny Glover exclaims when he hears the medium, maple syrup and sugar packets. The Glucose Association of American does a little jig at all this simple sugar plugging while Arthur tells us about the Golden Ratio, the pattern Jake’s giving Martin as a sticky roadmap.
Back in Saudi Arabia, Norah’s going to blow off that whole arranged marriage thing by dressing herself and her shy friend Shada as boys and cruising her dad’s car around while he’s at the call to prayer. And they’ll have fun, fun, fun, until her dad makes her marry that guuuyyyy! “If the boys get all the choices, then today we’re going to be boys,” Norah declares. Too bad this won’t turn into a Shakespearean cross-dressing plot in which the men then fall in love with the seeming boys who are actually their fiancées. *sighs*
Arthur feels Jake’s progressing by giving his number hints through geometric indicators (in this case, signifying 22) instead of straight up digits. “That seen to be remains,” Arthur remarks absently while Martin corrects him “remains to be seen.” “We’re finally starting to communicate and he changes the language, Martin grouses. But Arthur’s too busy watching the computerized representation become a living 3-D psychedelic twisty DNA-like strand floating around in the air to field this with anything other than an offer of tea.
Over at a French Canadian hospital Sami, for that is the stalker-guy’s name, hears from his pal that he’s a tool for not approaching the girl he’s secretly in love with, wearing ties his mother sends him, and, oh yeah, getting ready to marry that girl his father arranged for him. Just then, on Norah and Shadah’s Day of Fun! the arranged-marriage avoiding girls are just getting the swing of this boy thing. It mainly involves driving fast down desert highways. Soon they stop for a woman wearing a burqa who is in distress. The baby’s coming early, she shrieks. Nerts! Say goodbye to fun music-blaring and car-seat dancing; there’s an infant to be delivered!
As Martin drops oranges on the side of a street, as one does, a robber takes his laptop — hey, it’s that thief with the heart of gold, who returned the wallet to the German tourist in the opening! The man jumps onto a bus to escape, and Martin follows, noticing the bus is #22. Passengers try to help stop the thief, but he jumps off the bus, and Martin’s stuck on board. “He stole my computer,” Martin explains to a young woman, who promptly aims a gun at his gut and says, “Sit still and shut up. This will be over in five stops.” Her university’s logo on her bag has the same pattern Jake and Arthur showed to Martin. So…I guess her having a gun and keeping him from a key meeting about his son’s future is part of the sticky-sweet roadmap?
The thief, Wember, shows up at a restaurant; turns out it’s his daughter’s birthday, and Martin’s filched computer is her gift! Wow, that was some seriously last-minute gift-stealing; next time, beat the rush and snatch a computer in advance, guy! I suppose if Martin hadn’t had a laptop in his bag, Wember’s daughter’s gift would have been oranges. Delicious, delicious oranges.
“I’m going to open this and find pictures of someone else’s vacation, aren’t I?” she asks her dad wryly in Cantonese (or Mandarin; I’m terrible at discerning the difference). Hey, that computer is going to look a little shabby when we see what Wember’s ex-wife and step-father have given her: it’s a brand new car! Score! This girl is making out like gangbusters in this bitter play for her affections.
Poor Sami. He has a plan to introduce himself the woman he’s been stalking at long last before his final night in town, but he has to stay put because this pesky couple wants to save their adopted son’s life and find a bone marrow donor for him. Totally insensitive to the course of true love, they are. Oh, look, the pattern on the donor-matching program is also a sugary Golden Ratio!
At another hospital, this time in NYC, Danny Glover shows up in need of medical attention. “It happened again, didn’t it dad?” a nurse says, making us realize this oftentimes bathrobe-sporting enigmatically wise gent has children who lead productive lives. He wants her to get him into an MRI, because he’s seeing patterns in the air and “this could be the key to the next numbers in the sequence!” Or, you know, the key to exposing his terrible neurological disorder. Whichever. She brushes off his excitement and wants to take him to a doctor because he’s seeing things that aren’t there. “No, I’m seeing clearly for the first time in years,” Arthur disagrees, stalking off, no doubt to search out rock candy with which to shape into a spiral.
Norah has a great plan to drop the desert woman off near a hospital and hand the baby problem off to someone else. When the car runs out of gas and the woman’s contractions speed up, they shift to Plan B, which is to panic.
At the same time, Martin promises the woman, Marisol, he won’t reveal her murderous plan if she’ll just let him go to his freaking appointment. Turns out there’s a man on the bus who, ten years ago, killed this woman’s entire family, including her five-year-old brother, in a Mexican village. “Today I balance the scales,” she says grimly. Either she’s planning on shooting the man on the bus, which is nutso because it’s likely one federal offense atop another, killing someone on public transportation, OR she’s going to follow him off at his stop and kill him somewhere else — in which case, why involve Martin in this, again? Why take the bus, even — just wait at the stop for the murderer to get off! Wait, she knows where he lives — why are we involving commuters in any of this? These impassioned righters of wrongs: they never plot their terrible revenge efficiently.
Clea, after failing to reach Martin on the phone, tries to convince the evaluators that Jake’s just having an off day; he does so well if his dad actually shows up when he’s supposed to! “On paper, it’s a mess,” the woman evaluator says of the case, what with Martin’s absence and the records of Jake repeatedly running away. “You’re betting on the wrong horse” by rooting for the father, the evaluator tells Clea. In the background, Jake uses some blocks, and what do you think he makes? If you guessed that sweet, sweet Golden Ratio swirl, you’re correct!
Martin pulls the “you think you have it bad with your family and entire village being murdered while you hid under a bed; my wife died in 9/11!” card. Not in any way fun fact: apparently his wife called him when the plane hit the 87th tower, but Martin, on a deadline, didn’t pick up. How horrible. “You have a choice,” Martin begs her, “don’t let this man win.” “I have nothing left to lose,” the woman says grimly — no, no, honey; on this show it always turns out everyone has a choice, often conveniently tied in with something they didn’t know they had to lose!
In Saudi Arabia, the pregnant woman borrows Norah’s phone to call her husband, screaming that she needs him. Touch once again combines a knotty twist of the strings of fate with a wacky near-accident that will impact all the storylines: that woman’s husband is in NYC, and in his haste to get to the airport, runs right in front of Bus #22. When the bus brakes to keep from hitting the expectant dad, Marisol drops her gun, Martin yells for the driver to open the doors, and quickly escapes with the murdering guy.
Completely ungrateful for the whole life-saving thing, the former murderer slams Martin against the alley wall and demands he explain himself. Martin tries to explain the whole, “Remember the time you murdered a village?” and gets distracted by the murderer’s chest tattoo: Exodus 22:22. “Today you die,” Marisol bites out as she catches up with them. “No, today we change fate,” Martin pleads, trying to buy time to go look up Bible verses.
“Thanks, Quan, I owe you one,” Wembler tells a friend on the phone. Having just bought something using the credit card he stole from his daughter’s step-father, he pulls the fire alarm.
“You shouldn’t even be here,” Marisol complains as Martin continues to shield the murderous man. Hey, it was war, the guy pleads; oh, thank goodness there was an excuse for murdering all those civilians!
Meanwhile, Wembler’s arranged for street dancers to create a teensy dragon-dancing parade configuration on the step-father’s dime. “Thank you, dad told me you two did this together; I can’t believe it was your idea!” the daughter tells her step-dad — her quick thinking is faster than even Wembler’s nimble fingers! Wembler secretly returns the wallet/credit card to the befuddled step-father, so as not to look like a complete dick.
As the dragon-dancers set off some tiny firecrackers, the pop-pop-pop distracts Marisol in the alley nearby. The murderous man pushes Martin down and run, Marisol gives chase, and of course they head straight into traffic where she’s immediately struck by an SUV. People get hit by cars when Martin Bohm is around, folks; second in the series so far! “Please, someone call 911,” Martin sobs, rocking her, because it’s always a good idea to pick up and yank around someone who has just had a full-body hit by a moving vehicle.
Shada and Norah wait for Norah’s brother’s to arrive with gas. Uh, oh, it’s her dad instead. “You’ve broken the law; you brought shame on our family,” he says gravely. “There’s nothing you can say” to him now. “The baby, it’s coming!” the pregnant woman shrieks, and hey now, that is something she can say to him to shut him right up! “Who taught you” that you define fate or are defined by it, her father scoffs as Norah asks if she can deliver the baby, can she, can she? You did, dad! I learned to define fate from you!
Martin arrives at Victory Memorial Hospital and urgently phones Clea saying he’ll be there in a jiff. Too late, bucko; the psychologist already checked out. She pooh-poohs his contention he was only following Jake’s pattern, and that’s why he was late. When she hangs up, she finally gets a load of the pattern Jake’s, you know, blocked out for her to see during the meeting. She’s just seeing it now? Hey, was no one paying attention to Jake during this damn evaluation? Good work, everyone!
Martin, headed to check on Marisol, stops at the hospital chapel so we can finally learn about what Exodus 22:22 says. “Do not take advantage of children whose fathers have died.” Wise words indeed. And while we’re at it, let’s just throw around some Exodus 22:19, which reads, “You shall not permit a sorceress to live.” Just giving us all some context, people. Help orphans; kill witches. I think we can all get behind those teachings.
Norah, taking directions from Shada’s touch phone course on baby birthin’, yells that she’s scared. “You’re the bravest person I know!” Shada objects feelingly, and I love Shada, truly. They manage to guide the baby out, and wrap it in Norah’s head scarf; the woman who gave birth sees that Norah’s a girl and not a boy, and is immediately upset she just delivered in front of two teenage girls instead of two teenage boys. All righty.
Sami’s so busy trying to find donors he’ll definitely miss his eight o’clock train. “There will be other girls,” his friend says. Like Norah, for example. “Not like her,” Sami says feelingly, because a Canadian blonde he knows nothing about beats a spunky ambitious Saudi Arabian teen every day of the week for him.
“I cannot ride into the city with you; it is haram,” the woman tells Norah and Shada. But hey, if they hadn’t stopped to pick her up on this totally deserted road (which, for real, no one else has been down these past eight or so hours), things might not have turned out so well for her, huh? “If you take out one brick the wall will come tumbling down,” the woman tells them. Sometimes this is true. And sometimes all the bricks separate from the wall and you end up in Diagon Alley. Think about it.
The murderous man doesn’t want to talk to martin, but Martin finally cashes in that whole life-saving favor. Ah, they didn’t kill the children on that murderous raid; they turned them over to a local church so they could be taken away and adopted in Canada. Martin, while trying to figure out where Marisol is in the hospital, spots the identical donor matching computer program at this hospital and sees the swirly Golden Ratio design on the screen. After breaching every patient confidentiality protocol ever, he realizes this kid that so desperately needs a donor must be Marisol’s brother.
Gosh. It’s nice Marisol will soon find her brother lives, but a little awkward she’s pretty much turned into a marrow-filled convenience to save his life. Unless you want to show me more of Marisol and her brother another week, Touch, and while you’re at it maybe cover the just slightly problematic decision to bring all those Salvadoran kids to Canada instead of finding them homes in their own country. Then I won’t scoff, promise.
Martin tries to convince Marisol to hear about her brother. Stop, she begs him. Her whole life she thought she knew what happened, that this man murdered her entire family. “But he spared the children,” Martin whispers, and damn, Kiefer Sutherland is a very persuasive whisperer. “You weren’t wrong. There’s just more to the story.”
Well, thank goodness we got that pesky donor matching thing sorted so Sami can go catch his train and meet the blonde of his dreams! Awww, he’s got his friends bag, not his, so he misses the 8 o’clock. Guess what: she missed the train tooooo! She broke her heel, and he rushes to her in the pouring rain, extending his umbrella to cover her and saying her broken heel just made his day. She’s immediately persuaded she should get a cup of coffee with him; all those weeks of stalking sure paid off!
Martin goes to see Jake at bedtime. “Jake craves routine; he gets that here,” Clea says coldly. He can give him that too, he argues, but she tells him if the state has its way, Jake could be getting routine in Rhode Island, where apparently they have their own set of Evil State Facilities to meet Jake’s needs. Hey, Clea suggests, maybe don’t go running off and saving lives and getting women hit by cars all the time, and we might keep Jake with you yet. “My son is finally communicating with me, and you people are telling me not to listen?” Martin objects. I know we’re supposed to shake our heads at pragmatic Clea and bemoan the state’s terrible heartless interventions, but maybe it’s worth showing up for a few custody dispute appointments, Martin.
Norah’s father starts to call off the arranged marriage, because he’s been so swayed by Norah’s baby delivering prowess that he wants to give her a shot at having more freedom and education. “I was hoping I might reach you before the news [of my son] did, but a man can’t outrun technology,” the father of the would-be groom sighs. So, yeah, yeah, we get that it’s Sami already, and it turns out he already has his Facebook page plastered with pictures of him and the new blonde love of his life. The boy moves fast, right? Let’s hope the blonde doesn’t break up with him for rushing her just a little after they’ve only had one coffee together.
Martin opens the ominous box from Aunt Abigail — turns out to be a teddy bear, and some cassette tapes Sarah made of herself singing to Jake. Awww! “There will be nights when I can’t be with you,” Sarah says, and, not going to lie, I’m totally choked up when she sings Paul Simon’s St. Judy’s comet to her son.
Time for the wrap-up shots. Marisol’s already in Montreal to give her brother bone marrow. And this whole reunion isn’t going to be a little, I don’t know, awkward later when Marisol potentially sues for custody? In Saudi Arabia, Norah sees her father has gotten various college catalogs in the mail; he’s sending her to school. Arthur Teller watches a recording of an old interview with him about these special children he’s mentoring, rewinding the bit: “without you, these children would be lost.” And Clea stops in the doorway as Martin and Jake listen to Sarah’s song. As Sarah says, “Good night my sweet, I love you,” Jake looks over his shoulder, making eye contact with Martin, and I’m sniffling too hard to write any more.
You know what I want to see on Touch? A week where Martin makes the wrong choices, follows the wrong people, and maybe things get screwy. As it is, everything always works out — for everyone else, though not for Martin himself, who still has lost his current custody for Jake and has to tuck his kid in at a state-run home. Is anything going to go Martin’s way, or is he sacrificing his relationship with his son to solve the mystical pain of strangers? Come on and ante up on this, Touch, and engage with this weird relationship between Martin saving people and Martin messing up his life big-time. I bet you can get an episode that’s just as heart-wrenching and moving from near misses of solving everyone’s problems, maybe dealing with the resolutions in something more than a single day, as opposed to hitting the swirly Golden Ratio out of the park every single time.