Touch 1.09 – Music of the Spheres

Jake, want to use your words? No, Jake wants to use his NUMBERS, okay, Martin?

Jake opens by complaining to us he’s never been so bored in all his life, and that all the other kids got that new Xbox game from their parents, and why can’t we just be cool like Sam’s dad?  No, no, I’m just joshing you—Jake taps into another mystical universal truism by intoning the principle that all musical elements can be translated by mathematical ratios; if all ratios could translate into sound, he posits, we’d hear the music of the spheres. Yeah. This kid’s always on.

As Jake speaks, we switch from a woman in New York playing a violin in Trilogy Music (shout out to last week’s triangles! Triangles, woooot!), a man strumming a guitar in front of a Brazilian café, and Jake himself tapping out a melody on his tablet by entering the Significant Number of the Week, 55124. Poor Martin tries to promote the awesomeosity of Words and Letters and You Can Tell Me What You Want Directly With This Computer Program Instead of Making Me Guess What A Spiral Means. But Jake’s not having it, and switches back to his Number-Music program to keep tapping out the same melody.

Martin shines Sheri but good when she tries to keep Jake at the Evil State Facility instead of going to the zoo for the day. He’s still got Legal Physical Custody, he taunts her, and she shuts down like a killbot that’s reached its killing limit. Only in Sheri’s case, she’s a killjoy, who’s reached her joy-killing limit, because what the hell is bad about wanting to take a kid to the zoo for the day? Well, I’ll tell you what’s bad about it. THERE IS NO TRIP TO THE ZOO! I mean, yes, I get that Jake would rather go with Martin and Clea to mess around in Teller’s secret office of numerical mysteries and come up with sequences that will solve life, the universe, and everything. I bet he doesn’t much care about, say, pandas. But come on! ZOO! I personally feel cheated of the fateful conundrums Jake might solve were he let loose with the tragically disconnected people looking for life’s meaning in the Central Park Zoo’s Bat Cave.

Meanwhile, Dee Dee “Do Re Mi” the instrument shop owner and musician, apparently has some real Do Re Mi an enterprising young thief would like to get a hold of; a kid’s in her apartment pointing a gun at her. But he doesn’t shoot or have time to steal anything, just jumps out the window and drops his gun in the alley, because nervous desperate teenagers make terrible master criminals.

As Martin catches up Clea on their way to Teller’s Secret Research Room, Dee Dee, frazzled from her almost-shooting, spills an entire latte on Jake’s t-shirt, and of course he freaks out. Because he’s autistic. Right, I hear only autistic people dislike having ENTIRE HOT LATTES spilled all over their chest. Clea goes ahead without them so Jake can change at Martin’s apartment nearby, and surprise his dad with the gun he found in the alley. Yay?

Over in Brazil, Felipe the guitar player wants Yarah the café owner to spend the day with him. Or the night, he’s not picky. In fact, let’s just run away to NYC, because that’s the best plan ever. But though initially she agrees to spend time with him, later she’s too upset because a man wants to buy her failing café. *pauses* Isn’t that…good? No, because her café is her last connection to her family, who are all dead, or in the case of her sister’s children, have disappeared. Just like Felipe’s guitar, which his dad gave him and will always be his connection to family, right? WRONG, Yarah snaps, because she has café-sized problems, and she cares not for Felipe’s guitar-shaped whimsy.

Clea heads into Teller’s dark ambience-filled office, and I can’t help remembering Martin’s suspicions about Teller dying ten minutes after he gave the key to his life’s research to Jake. And now Clea is alone with the key in Teller’s office. Clea is totally going to die! As it turns out, though, nope, she’s just going to embark on a series of excitingly enigmatic conversations with a Hassidic diamond dealer who later on reveals he’s Teller’s best friend and yet doesn’t seem terribly rattled that Teller’s possibly been murrrderrred.

Martin and Jake head back to Gun Finder Alley, where they find Elliot, the boy who dropped the piece now searching for it. Oh, Martin’s got his gun, which hey, has the serial number 55124 matching the sequence of Jake’s melody. But he’s not giving Elliot squat until he fesses up about what kind of trouble he’s in. Elliot changes tacks, asking what’s wrong with Jake that he doesn’t speak. Martin’s defensive, saying Jake’s “different,” and communicates with numbers. Well, it turns out Elliot has a brother who also doesn’t speak. Maybe Jake can show him how to talk with numbers too?

Jake and Martin end up in the Bronx to meet Andre, Elliot’s brother, who is in a wheelchair because of brain damage sustained when he was shot. Their mom, who wasn’t American, died a while ago, and their father’s run out on them. Seriously, this young actor is so good—he’s got my heart breaking into pieces for Elliot’s defiant bravery, trying to keep his brother safe and stop them from being separated by child welfare.

Clea plows through all of Teller’s stuff, finally getting a ring-a-ding-ding from Martin to explain why they’ve ditched her. She agrees to figure out where Elliot and Andre are in the social services system, and then mentions the Amelia sequence. Oh, Amelia, Abraham the diamond-dealer asks? He’s got a photo of her—whoops, Amelia is a person? Clea realizes it’s the girl from the security tapes, and Abraham explains she was a patient Arthur Teller worked too hard because of demands from his superiors at the institute. She sustained brain damage because of it, and Teller became discredited, sank into depression, and blamed himself. Wait, Amelia was in a wheelchair—like Andre—and I’m assuming maybe she also can’t speak, like Andre and Jake? Quick, let’s head to Room 6 back at the Evil State Facility and break down the door to find out if Amelia’s inside!

But no, Clea keeps on paging through Teller’s research, and back in the Bronx, Martin keeps grilling Elliot about his brother and how they need more support. Elliot brushes him off saying, “Why don’t you worry about fixing your own kid, because I’ve got my brother.” Listen, Martin, if everyone minded their own business, the world would go around a great deal faster than it does! Though as Alice said to the Duchess, if that were true, we’d be in a face full of world-whirling trouble, gang (note: I’m paraphrasing here).

Meanwhile, Jake’s shown Andre the tablet, and after pressing a few of the numbers to make musical notes, Andre switches to the letters program and types out “Hungry.” “Look at that, my boy is learning to talk!” Elliot exclaims, and he’s so proud, and I would like ten episodes featuring these characters, please, Touch. Martin, of course, is quietly devastated that unlike Andre, Jake’s not picking up words at all. There’s a moment of silence as Elliot and Martin give each other intense meaningful glances, and I skip out the room to get more seltzer during the commercial break.

Maybe Jake doesn’t want to talk, Elliot observes when we return, and though Martin looks doubtful (all this stupid “show progress or lose custody” storyline’s getting the better of him), Elliot emphasizes maybe Martin’s got to be all right with that. Hi, Elliot, can you come run the Evil State Facility? Because I think you’re way better at dealing with these things than anyone else there, especially She of the Apparently Motiveless Malignity, Sheri the Social Worker of Custody-Contesting Doom. Though I will say that Elliot’s quick, “get out, get out, get out!” ousting of Martin and Jake when he realizes he needs to report to his Criminal Overlords doesn’t bode well for his diplomatic skills in future administrative positions.

Felipe the guitarist comes to speak to his friend Alberto, who is charming and wonderful and should have had several more scenes in this episode. “Write her a song,” he tells Felipe in advising him how to approach Yarah. “She will melt into your arms!” he exclaims, because he’s a believer in love!

Martin and Jake haven’t really abandoned Elliot, though (like the abandoned Clea earlier)—they’re hiding around the corner so they hear when some mean white guy with glasses pushes Elliot around and tells him, “Sorry doesn’t cut it!” Though Martin finds him a moment after the man leaves and tries to offer anything to help, “Nobody can help me,” Elliot says dully, and I’m counting on Martin to save the day here for this poor kid.

Thank cripes Clea’s found all kinds of useful info today, including learning that Elliot and Andre have family on their mother’s side who seem unaware of their plight. Martin calls their aunt, saying her nephews need her in New York. As Martin speaks, Jake heads over to Teller’s blackboard and fixes the Amelia Sequence by adding the “6” he gave Teller just before Teller died. “So this is the boy!” Abraham exclaims—Jake just might be one of the Thirty-Six Righteous Ones, the people on earth who work to alleviate suffering and change the world in little ways; as long as they exist, God will allow humankind to exist. “He’s one of these Righteous Ones?” Martin asks, because can someone give him just a little bit of hope to which he can cling as he digs himself deeper into this custody battle? “Or not, who knows,” Abraham says cheerfully. Ahahahaha, I love Abraham! Though I shouldn’t say that out loud, right? Because now Touch will probably let him slip out of the storyline after one or two more random appearances.

Felipe sings his beautiful love song for Yarah, who does not have time for his simple heartfelt nonsense, not when she’s got a café to save! “You haven’t had to sacrifice for something you love,” she yells at him, and sheesh, no wonder this café isn’t doing so well. I don’t know about you, but when I’m drinking a café au lait and contemplating ordering some biscuits, I dislike it when the proprietor walks around shrieking, “What do you know about sacrifice?”

Martin’s gotten the name of Elliot’s probation officer and guess who that is? If you blurted out, “the mean white guy who yelled at Elliot to get the job done on the stairwell?” you are CORRECT. Fun fact: John Tenney, the probation officer, sits in office number 42155—the opposite of our spiritual guide number o’ the week, 55124. So we know he’s pretty much evil incarnate.

Martin, posing as Elliot’s basketball coach at the Y, can’t get much out of Tenney, though he does leave with an indirect threat saying if someone in a position of authority is harassing Elliot, he’s not going to get away with it. Hey, maybe things turn out better when people don’t expose something and make things worse, Tenney warns him, because he just can’t keep his evil under a bushel.

Outside the office, Martin runs into another man on probation—the janitor from the alley where Jake found the gun! You remember him, right? Yeah, I didn’t either. In any case, he has a crisis of conscience when Martin pleads with him to help save Elliot from a life of crime. Turns out he was the one who tipped off Tenney about Dee Dee’s music shop and the bag o’ Do Re Mi she takes to the bank on the same day of the month at the exact same time of day (come on, Dee Dee, add a little mystery to your perambulations so you don’t get robbed blind). So pretty much we confirm Tenney’s running a crime syndicate worked by his probation cases. Jerkwad.

Felipe returns to Alberto to sell his guitar. No, Felipe, we all wail, because Felipe’s a happy laid-back lover in a go-go cut-throat world of despair. “Music is in your blood,” Alberto protests sadly, but Felipe insists. Well, Alberto’s got a contact in NYC who will pay top dollar for the guitar—he shows Felipe a picture of her, and it’s Dee Dee. “Even if I don’t get to see New York, maybe my guitar will,” Felipe says wistfully. Feliiiiiipe! D:

Back in NYC, Martin almost doesn’t make it in time to see Elliot rob Dee Dee of the money bag (which is our standard significant RED). He catches up to Elliot after the crime, and tears run down Elliot’s face as the police car pulls into the alley, blocking them. I love this actor, truly—he looks so young and hopeless here, and has absolutely fantastic chemistry with Kiefer Sutherland. Martin looks so devastated and disappointed and so very worried for him.

Sheri calls Clea and wonders where Martin and Jake are, because they’re not back from the Zoo (and for Zoo, read “fact-finding mission about the secrets of the universe as emblematized by a sequence of numbers named after a brain-damaged girl in a wheelchair the Evil State Facility wants to pretend doesn’t live in Room 6”). “I’m confused,” Clea says slowly. “What makes you think I’d know where they are?” I do love how after Clea stood up to Sheri last episode, she’s so cool and calm about calling her out. Even though Clea was mostly “allow me to provide you opportunities for exposition, Abraham” girl this week and the episode didn’t give her too many chances to shine, the moment when she says flatly, “Good-bye, Sheri,” and hangs up on her insidious questioning about Martin and Jake made me fall in love with Clea all over again.

Oh, Abraham, you just spilled diamonds everywhere, you silly ninny! Jake helps him gather up the rocks. “Helpful, this one!” Abraham exclaims cheerfully. “Yoda, you are!” I yell at the television screen. When one diamond seems missing, Jake finds it, and carefully unfurls Abraham’s fingers to place it in his palm. “He never touches anyone,” Clea says, dazed, while Abraham smiles and ruffles Jake’s hair with no ensuing freak-out. “Nes Gadol Hayah Sham!” I shout at the screen, because most of the Hebrew I know came from Dreidel-based lessons at my elementary school, yo.

Felipe turns over the money from his guitar to Yarah. But doesn’t he love his guitar most of all? Criminy, Yarah, it’s so obvious Felipe loves YOU most of all. She says she won’t take charity, but he’s going to help her run the café in a partnership. “Do you know the first thing about running a café?” she asks in exasperation. No, but he can’t do too much worse than you, Yarah—café failing here, remember? Still, let’s not quibble about café administration, not when it turns out Yarah is Elliot and Andre’s aunt, and immediately resolves to go find them in New York when she gets Martin’s message about them, huzzah!

“What took you so long?” Tenney the evil probation officer demands of Elliot, and hey, does anyone else think he’s being set up in a sting here? Tenney, oblivious to the obvious generic conventions at play, readily speaks, tantamount to a confession, about how he set up the robbery and owns that there gun given to a minor. Out in the hallway, officers wait to arrest Tenney, and Elliot runs to hug Martin. “It’s all right,” Martin soothes, and I do love the opportunities we get to see Martin father with his surrogate sons in this series.

Let me get all serious here for a sec and say how I love that Kiefer Sutherland has such excellent rapport with these young actors. Though we get a lot of dads portrayed on television, I think seldom do we see evidence of this kind of heartfelt parenting, not just of someone’s own children, but other kids in need or distress. That’s part of what keeps me loving this show even though other aspects of it sometimes make me a bit impatient or skeptical. It’s well worth the price of some stuff that might just be hooey, as Abraham so lightly called all things mystical this week.

Note to Touch: keep Abraham on board, okay? We need some cool regular characters who aren’t Evil Sheri the Social Worker of Doom and the Jake and the Beleaguered Parent Figures.

In the wrap-up monologue, Jake mentions the earth emits its own frequency, essentially a musical note. But it’s changed slightly for some reason, and he thinks it’s the influence of the seven billion souls on the planet with their own music. We see Felipe getting his guitar back from Dee Dee, and then returning home—to Yarah and Andre and Elliot as they all gather for dinner, yay! Though most weeks I see Touch‘s fateful connections between disparate by the end of the first act, I genuinely felt surprised by and loved the family relationship tying two storylines together this time.

Martin reveals to Sheri Jake gave his tablet away. “Maybe he doesn’t want to talk,” Martin says serenely while we can practically see a head of steam building up at the top of Sheri’s coiffed head. “Maybe it’s my job as his father to be all right with that.” And Sheri leaves them, no doubt to cackle madly over the exciting evidence building her case against Martin’s suit for custody. Eeep.