Touch 1.07 – Noosphere Rising

You know what's good about numbers? Sure, mystical magical global connections, right, of course, that's super important—but also, WINNING AT POKER!

Jake’s latest voice-over covers how during a cataclysmic global event, computer-generated random number sequences stop being random. “As our collective consciousness synchronizes, so do the numbers.” Hmm. Listen, I could nod sagely here, with my bubble pipe poised in an erudite gesture acknowledging the truthiness of this. Or I could be honest with you and voice my real reaction to this alleged knowledge Jake’s dropping on us: the hell?

Which, if any of the smart-sounding components I just cited, make any sort of sense? Fine, Jungian reference; okay, random things sometimes appear logical; sure, it’s comforting to think that we surge strongly together in circumstances in which people are being tragically torn apart (even though those initial outpourings of sympathy and donations never last out through the actual recovery time and economic support needed to piece together a country or people after a disaster). But put it all together, and try to tell me this has any mathematical basis of numbers truly synchronizing in unmistakeable conjunction with a crisis without making my eyes cross, okay?

Seriously, kids: I’m starting to worry that instead of the writers continuing to base Jake’s worldly and heartfelt platitudes on a vaguely truthful example of a human or animal tendency or ability (fire ants, as a for-example, or singers and orchestras), they’ve thrown in the towel and are now just going to bang out monologues by using a pithy mumbo-jumbo generator.

Clea shows Martin the gap in the security footage, in between the time Arthur Teller visited the Evil State Facility and before he died. Watching, they spot him leaving something for Jake. Off to Jake, who this week has given up popcorn and sugar packets to make fun patterns with cards. Aha, Jake’s got Teller’s visitor’s badge in his cards, along with a key. 1-1-8-8 reads the number on the key, as Jake deals out the corresponding cards (A-A-8-8). It’s “a dead man’s hand,” Martin tells us, the poker hand Wild Bill Hickok held before he was shot.

College student and wide-eyed idealist Natalie records her latest video blog. She’s scripted lots of adorable exclamations, so I’ll try to compress. Her boyfriend Daryl is a jerkwad, so she spent a week in Paris alone but it rained the entire time. Since Natalie is apparently made of spun sugar, she was forced to stay inside her youth hostel reading, and happened upon a flash drive video of Paolo, a hot Italian guy yearning for his love Celeste. Celeste was whisked away by her pals after she and Paolo got a gelato in Rome, so he wants to meet her on her birthday at Café Kismet in NYC. But oh no, did Celeste get the message in time to know Paolo’s plans? “Let’s find Celeste!” Natalie enthuses, drumming up international support into what will soon become a red-scarf-and-hat-wearing Team Love brigade.

After Arthur Teller’s memorial, Martin breaks into his house. Kidding, kidding—he’s got a key, which he shows to Arthur’s daughter (remember, the skeptical nurse?). She was her dad’s assistant until his brain damage, and Martin asks if she knows if this key will give Martin access to Arthur’s research. She speaks of a basement on the corner of 3rd and Allen where she spotted him headed the days before he died.

Abigail Kelsey, Jake’s evil aunt who wants to take custody of him has to fill out paperwork because she’s not on the approved visitor’s list. She’s brought Jake her company’s latest computer tablet, not even on the market yet: “I thought it might help Jake to communicate.” Seems nice. But obviously there’s an insidious master-plan driving all this.

When Martin arrives at the seedy basement, the key doesn’t fit. Someone slides open an eye-level panel, Prohibition gin joint style, and tells him if he wants in, it’s $1,000. Sounds like we’re playing high-stakes poker, people!

In Australia, a no-good city-slicker father-leaving son, Devon Michael Jones, impatiently waits while his ranch dad’s will is read. He’s got no time for pleasantries, not when there’s a deed to the station to collect (it’s 1188 hectares of property, so there we’ve got our teensy numeric connection to the NYC action) and property to sell. Whoops, the dad left all the property to his horse, Zeus. I hate to tell you, son, but you’re going to have to marry that horse. Okay, wrong again: he’s going to have to ride the horse. As his father’s folksy outback-stereotype pal looks on skeptically, Devon approaches Zeus, who glares at him with horsy hatred. Then, because Devon’s a useless urbanite who leaves gates open, Zeus runs away.

Natalie’s quest to reunite Paolo and Celeste gathers steam, even gaining the support of the Happy Pop Twins, those fun Japanese girls, Miyoko and her as-yet-unnamed friend, who are shrieking, “Celeste!” on a dock somewhere whilst hopping about in baby doll frocks. They’re seriously adorable. “Celeste is one lucky girl,” Natalie sighs, already half in love with Paolo, who is, if nothing else, both handsome and fond of gelato.

Martin’s got his 1,000 dollars and of course walks into a dimly-lit high-stakes poker game. Martin introduces himself smiling and chattering like a dork, because he’s apparently never flipped channels through ESPN’s poker tournament coverage and noticed that these are not a chatty people.

Clea gives Jake the tablet; he immediately switches the special program to help him express himself to solitaire and that dead-man’s hand: A-A-8-8.

As Natalie gains supporters from places like Argentina, she spontaneously organizes her red-wearing viral flashmob. Meanwhile in Australia, Devon tries to shove a harness on Zeus and Zeus makes him look like a chump.

Martin has not gotten the message he should shut up and play his hand and asks all his new pals at the poker table if they’ve heard of Arthur Teller. Finally the dealer asks, “You another math guy?” and tells him “those numbers” of his never work. Martin loses with, you guessed it, a dead man’s hand, and Stacey the dealer gets pulled off the table when she freezes at a bill on which “Logan <3s Stacey” is scribbled. Okay, so Teller’s friend Logan was a player: he played poker, and he played Stacey in a con. He’s also won the biggest con of all: he’s a tenured math professor. Just joking. I doubt he’s actually tenured. He’s also apparently in 8th grade if he thinks writing “Logan <3s Stacey” is clever wooing. Anyway, he won big at Stacey’s table, and now she’s forced to pay back his winnings because the house runners figured out they were in a relationship.

Martin gets a call from Clea saying Abigail is at the Evil State Facility and barks out, “Do not let her anywhere near my son, I’m on my way.” When he arrives, Abigail nastily informs him she knows all about those bad evaluations (seems less than ethical for her to know this) and demands custody of Jake. Martin won’t allow this, and storms in to see Jake, who’s looking on his new tablet at a web site for Professor Logan Coteweiler, Teller’s friend who won that $200,000 from Stacey’s table.

Natalie, our Team Love: Paolo + Celeste captain, is suffering a crisis of confidence. Mean old Daryl called her and said she was making a fool out of herself with the videos. Daryl, the Happy Pop Twins and that guy from Argentina crushing on Natalie say otherwise.

Devon just can’t get on Zeus for the life of him. When his father’s friend Zeke arrives offering to help, he scolds Devon for quitting on his father. “I was good with numbers, that was not my fault,” Devon protests; he went to the USA to make something of himself. Never mind all that city-slicker talk, Zeke says—peel off that expensive shirt of yours and roll around in the dirt so a horse will trust you!

Oh, look, Auntie Abigail has “generously offered to endow a tablet program for the special needs clients” at the Evil State Facility. You won’t get away with this, Clea promises her, even though the Evil State Facility’s director is swooning over all these fancy-schmancy tablets for the children. Seems like a conflict of interest for the Facility to show favoritism in a custody battle when one of the plaintiffs is basically buying creditability. But hey, if Arthur was right last week, there might be a conspiracy a-brewin’. Abigail claims she’s just trying to protect Jake. “From what?” Clea asks, and normally I’d write this off as Abigail just wanting to beat out Martin, but I guess it’s our clue that we don’t know what side of the conspiracy Abigail is on.

Martin goes to meet this conniving professor, and finds him passed out on his floor. He calls for paramedics and immediately hangs up—dude, you’re supposed to stay on the line. But Martin instead wants to ring up whoever Logan was trying to call—and that turns out to be Devon, our Aussie guy who is crap at wrangling horses.

Meanwhile, Zeus is still not having it, while Devon takes the horsey rejection as emblematic of his father’s rejection of him. “I just wanted you to love me,” Devon wails to his disapproving dead dad, and the horse is like, “Aww, cheer up, buttercup,” and seriously comes up to nudge him in the back sweetly (if Zeus was my horse, he would have all the sugar cubes and apples and delicious carrots he wanted).

Just then Martin reaches Devon on the phone, and for a second I think Devon and Logan are boyfriends because Devon knows so much about where Logan keeps his insulin (that’s why he’s flattened on the floor; he’s diabetic), and mentions he can go right ahead and jab Logan in the bum if he wants. Ahem. But we just did our major-storyline gay couple last week (Asian lesbians with angry ancestors choosing between career and family, remember?), so I guess it’s not the case. Or maybe Logan has angry ancestors of his own, and so has gone straight for Stacey. Anyway, Logan comes to as Martin stabs him with insulin.

Natalie’s back with another video blog, ecstatic that she’s gotten so many messages of support, emails and video posts from people who believe in love and think she’s an inspiration. Plus, they found Celeste! Well, sort of. That traveling phone way back from the first episode has surfaced again, with a clip of Celeste saying she’s going to see the guy she fell in love with on her birthday. Notice she didn’t say that it’s Paolo. “So Celeste will meet Paolo at Kismet like we all hoped!” Natalie enthuses, and goes to get her red on.

Logan didn’t con Stacey, he claims, though he did use Teller’s Amelia Sequence to win. “It’s like the mind of god or something: a deterministic algorithm, it’s the past, the present, the future.” What does that have to do with poker, Martin wants to know? What does it have to do with anything, Martin? Sheesh. Just hang on and trust that this random number connects with some mystical wackiness and will wrap up nicely in a ball at the end with another monologue espousing a universal theme of global communities like the rest of us, okay? Logan decides to use the $50,000 he has left to play high stakes in Hoboken and win the money back for Stacey. Now, his partner is in Australia—okay, so Devon helped him run the con. If Martin acts as Logan’s partner for this last game, Logan will tell Martin where that key fits.

“Whatever happens in there you do not deviate from the plan,” Logan tells Martin, insuring that Martin will deviate like hell. After some banter and calling, folding, and raising, Martin defies the cough or hair-flip signal Logan’s made and goes all in. And guess what: he wins on a dead man’s hand. Take that, Wild Bill Hickok! Oh, wait. You already did.

Zeus now treats Devon like he’s his bestie, and they gallop along with Devon helpfully shirtless and very fit indeed. When Logan pays back Stacey, she can barely tolerate his apology enough to hear he’ll be at this restaurant every Thursday if she wants to meet him. Hey, the change they got includes a “Logan <3s Stacey” bill! It’s fate! Martin gets what he wants, directions to the place where the key will fit, and presumably the location of all of Arthur Teller’s life’s work and research.

Natalie webcasts from Café Kismet, and realizes there are a bunch of people there wearing the red scarves and berets to support Paolo and Celeste (it’s like that Red Hat Club has a youth division now). Natalie scuffs her toe on the ground and twirls a curl around her finger and says, gosh, she sure hopes Celeste will make it! But wha-a-at? Paolo steps out of the crowd to say he hopes she will not! Why? Because he’s fallen in love with Natalie and her wide-eyed hopefulness! To the camera, he wishes Celeste a happy birthday, and thanks her for helping him believe in love, which he’s now apparently found with Natalie. I give it a week.

Devon tells Zeke he’s realized “being out here has value that goes beyond profit.” But he’s not going to stay and run the station himself. “There’s only one person I know who loves this place the way my dad did.” Yes, he’s giving it to Zeus! No, no, to Zeke. Heck, Zeus and Zeke. It’s fate, with the whole “Z” thing (except you better say “Zed” if you don’t want to look like a jerk on the outback, fool!).

Jake closes out with a monologue telling us that “when human consciousness becomes synchronized, the behavior of random systems may change.” *nods gravely* Nah, seriously, I have no idea what this is supposed to mean; it’s just new age phrases + bits of mathematical language + pointed and poignant sentiment all stitched together. Meanwhile, we see Devon handing the ranch to Zeke, Stacey showing up to meet Logan at the restaurant, and, really the best development of the entire episode, Clea watching the gap in the footage and seeing the girl in the wheelchair, who it seems wasn’t just a figment of Arthur Teller’s aneurysm-clouded vision after all! Yay, there is a conspiracy! I mean, oh no, there’s a conspiracy.

“In times of tragedy or collective joy, the shared emotional experience makes the world seem less random.” Okay, that actually makes some sense, because we’re not saying numbers all of a sudden order themselves into steams of meaning when there’s a tsunami, but that things seem less random when we all actually or vicariously experience something highly emotional. Just stick to making sense with the pronouncements once in a while, Touch, and I’m on board with you.

Evidence that a character's seriously gotten to you: when you see a blackboard and think, "Arthur Teller," and start to tear up. A blackboard, my goodness.

Martin opens room number 1188, and finds Arthur Teller’s research, in an incredible suite of office rooms that would retail for millions in Manhattan. On the blackboard, the Amelia Sequence is scribbled: 318 3287 5296 9522 975. Martin adds this week’s Number of Significance 1-1-8-8 at the end, and I hope with all my heart that Danny Glover guest-stars in flashbacks as we figure out what the hell is going on with this string of numbers and the Evil State Facility’s conspiracy.