Jake wants us to know that symmetry is the language of the universe, and geometrical shapes make up its characters. “And when you speak the language, follow the logic you can predict the next step. You just have to trust in where the paths meet.” M.C. Escher fans, rejoice! You know where Jake’s coming from, am I right? Or if you’re a fan of honeycombs (which are big—yeah, yeah, yeah! they’re not small—no, no, no!), go ahead and rejoice also, for not only is honey delicious, it comes from a naturally tesselated (tiled pattern repeating particular shapes) structure.
But you know, symmetry isn’t the most exciting thing. If all the sides and patterns are perfectly proportioned and matching, there’s less complexity to experience or describe. Symmetry can be beautiful, and it can move us greatly. But when we strive to make things symmetrical, we sacrifice detail and surprise. And really, in that way this episode showcases Touch‘s strengths and weaknesses pretty damn well.
Martin and Jake walk around at a seaport that’s so obviously in California instead of NYC. As a random woman takes pictures of everyone, Jake runs up to a magnifier viewer, and Martin obligingly slips in the coins. Though Martin wants to show Jake where he and Sarah used to walk on the Brooklyn Bridge, Jake’s already got his sights trained on the setting of Our Significant Number of the Week: 25-45, which points the viewer to the company logo Mobius.
Turns out Jake and Martin are there to meet Abigail, with whom Martin has somehow completely reconciled even though they were at utterly odds every other time we’ve seen them, with the yelling and the threats and the custody battle. He feels so comfy with her, in fact, that he asks for her help, and AsterCorps’s purse-string pulling, to get Clea Hopkins re-instated on his case in time for the custody hearings.
Back at Teller’s old office, Avram (who I swear FOX called Abraham in CCs and promo materials, but perhaps that was deemed not authentic enough) asks a fellow Hassidic on Skype for a favor for his cousin. Clea warns Martin against Abigail. Jake, meanwhile, has added 25-45 to the chalkboard as the next numbers in the Amelia sequence. Clumsy butterfingers Martin spills the boxes he just warned Jake away from, so we can find Teller’s stash of Dungeons & Dragons mega-dice—no, no, they’re actually 12-sided (perfectly symmetrical! Tessellated!) thingies. Also, thingy is a technical term. Martin gets an eensy bit distracted at learning Mobius is a shipping corporation that sponsored Teller’s research—why would they want to fund developmental psychology experiments?
Martin returns Jake to the Evil State Facility and heads to the docks. Now, Martin’s a busy man, solving mystical problems along with and on behalf of his One of the Thirty Six Chosen Ones son, almost getting killed multiple weeks in a row, somehow causing traffic accidents by his very presence, and miserably failing in his custody bid—in addition to somewhere finding the time to work a full-time airport job, what? So when no one responds to him calling out immediately, he cuts the chain link fence, tries to get into a locked office, and then starts rifling through someone’s stuff including a cell phone in a nearby transport truck (marked 2545, so you know it’s Significant!). Understandable!
Whoops, turns out the stuff and truck belong to some guy named Mike. Martin plays along like he’s Mike, ha ha ho ho, and ends up in a pickle when he realizes good old Mike’s slotted for some heist-in’ with his pals. Said pals take Martin at his word when he says he’s Mike, though they train a gun on him, so you know they’re a little loco.
The men plan to steal valuable electronics cargo to get back at their manager, Nelson, who fired their Pal Joey, probably for being Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered. Nah, it’s because he’s got a sick wife and the insurance company said, “Fire that guy!” and Nelson complied because he’s a jerkwad.
Over to Israel, where we launch into a Romeo-Juliet type thing: he’s Israeli, she’s Palestinian, and their love can never be, except for, oh the pain, they can never love another! We already know these two kids are going to overcome all odds and end up together, right? Because that’s totally how it was for the real Romeo and Juliet! No, no, actually—spoiler alert for those of you still in eighth grade—Romeo and Juliet totally end up dead. Nerts! But these two will work it out somehow, because Touch only has unhappy end results for its long-suffering main characters, never for the ensemble cast members.
Hey, whatcha doin’? Clea wants to know when she stumbles upon Sheri making Jake repeat the same anxiety-inducing 12-sided dice experiment over and over for the benefit of someone watching on camera and barking out orders. Well, certainly not trying to exploit Jake and see if he’s One of the Thirty-Six Teller was searching for, Sheri communicates by her brusque manner coupled with guilty slamming of her laptop to end her Skype session with co-conspirators. Go Jake, for flashing Clea a little 25-45 with two of the dice thingies, and making her realize the mystical mystery of the week is related to this situation. Poor kid looks like an exhausted mess from this little pattern-solving game. I guess that’s how Teller’s protégé Amelia got all brain-damaged (which seems odd, certainly, that figuring out patterns pretty much imploded her smarts, but I’ll go with it for now).
The Israeli boy finally buys a promise ring for his Palestinian girlfriend, even though the jeweler (the man Avram told to help his cousin, who of course is the Israeli Romeo) initially wouldn’t sell to him. When he nervously tries to give it to her, though, she’s too upset. Her brother was arrested, swept up in a raid even though she claims he’s innocent. Can’t her boyfriend go to jail to talk to him, because she can’t go, being Palestinian? Oh, er, hrrrmmm, the boy hedges before saying it’s too dangerous and pretty much implying her brother’s probably a terrorist. Smooth. “Now I have my answer,” she says, upset, the real truth about just how far they can go with this relationship. Protip: NOT FAR.
Martin and his new crime-committing friends head to the dock to steal the shipment. But the area’s crawling with customs officers. Maybe Nelson, their supervisor who is crooked as a coiled snake planning tax evasion, was tipped off, so changed the arrival point for the illegal cargo. The gang sends in Martin to Nelson, to say he’s looking for his cargo. Gee, wouldn’t now be a good time to turn in these criminals and their scheme, Martin? Of course not, you fool! The supporting characters in Touch are never fraught and ambiguous in the end, so if Nelson = bad, the criminals = GOOD. So Martin just gets the lowdown from mean old Nelson, whose punitive instant karma is clearly in the works.
Martin calls Clea to ask if it’s okay to do some illegal stuff if the voices in his head numbers tell him to. NO, Clea emphatically says, as she slips in the story of Sheri and the Emotionally Distressing Brain-Damaging Dice. But Martin says he’s got to follow the numbers to help Jake avoid the universe’s pain, so gottagobye, and hangs up.
The criminals, meanwhile, have found out Big Mike got arrested, so who is Martin, and what’s his game? They plan to beat it out of him, and start to open a can of whoop-ass. But just as they’re really starting to kick him good, Joey’s sick wife shows up with his lunch for work, because of course he didn’t tell her he was fired. Just first day initiation pranks, the guys say when asked about their smacking down of Martin (while they sneak in an extra kick or two).
“Don’t I know you?” Joey’s wife asks Martin, because of course she was the random woman in the opening scene. Ah, she’s really there because she needs money for her medications. You may well question why she doesn’t have 40 bucks for meds later on when we see she has the expensively fun habit of developing her photographs in her very own darkroom. But let’s just say she bought that stuff in bulk a year ago at Costco.
The Israeli boy heads to prison to meet his girlfriend’s brother. The brother trying to hurt anyone; in fact, he says he only tried to help a friend and his family escape Israel. He needs to send a vital message through his sister so that the friend’s family won’t be in terrible danger. “9808 has been changed to 2545,” is the message, so we know Palestinian brother is on the up-and-up (no one horrible can use the Significant Number of the Week for evil purposes!).
As Clea plows through more of Teller’s completely disorganized boxes of junk (I feel for Clea, but at least she’s not trying to find papers because Teller got audited—can you imagine the books that guy kept?) Avram talks to his Israeli Romeo cousin. If a message was changed from 9808 to 2545 that’s great, Avram tells him, because 8’s are bad, and 2, 4, and 5 are all terrific numbers. Just terrific. Kaballah for the WIN!
Joey and friends are wary but willing to listen to Martin, because he helped them when he could have run, or could have revealed their plot. Besides, Martin’s the only one who knows the pier where the cargo’s coming in, psych! Nelson did give him the right information, but they missed their window, they find when they arrive. The place is flooded with agents and lawmen and patrol cars. Except, hey, the crate there, 9808 (evil! Number of evil according to Avram!) turns out only to contain oranges. Well. Oranges aren’t terribly evil, are they?
Clea, having found out that Sheri and the kids have already gone on an excursion to the park, messes around in Sheri’s office looking for clues about who watched Sheri and Jake with the pattern experiment. OF COURSE SHERI COMES BACK, because she’s forgotten something. We see her arriving at a snail’s pace interspersed with frantic shots of Clea searching for vital information. At least Clea is a smartypants and comes up with an excuse why she was in the office. But Sheri is an OCD-pants, and notices Clea messed up her paperclips, and is therefore up to no good. Seriously, she remembers how she arranged her paperclips? Okay then.
While the men were arguing over what to do next now that the cargo seems to have been innocuous and therefore useless for crime-committing purposes (but orange-y, yum), Joey escaped with the gun. The other two run to search the crates for the right illegal goods crate while Martin tries to find Joey and stop him from doing something stupid—stupider than stealing an entire shipment of hot electronics in broad daylight, apparently.
At the park, Sheri has the kids playing a game using their AsterCorps-provided tablets, following patterns they can see on the screen. Clea hurries up to Jake under the guise of getting him to play, and tells him in a low voice, “That test you were taking—someone else was watching.” Jake immediately hacks the game program and sends all the other kids skedaddling in all directions. While Sheri runs off to find where they went, Clea gets a chance to view Sheri’s incriminating laptop. Jake actually gives a small smile, aww. I did like that Jake responded directly to Clea’s problem, understood what she meant, and immediately took action that helps them both. Though I would like it even more if we could see a few aspects of Jake’s personality that don’t involve our mystical numerical tour, you know?
Joey’s on his way to shoot Nelson and steal what’s in his safe, because he believes he’ll be an incredibly huge help to his struggling family if he kills a dude and ends up in jail. Martin tackles him after trying to convince him he’s wrongedy wrong wrong, and tosses the gun into the water.
The Israeli boy makes good with his Palestinian girlfriend by telling her he saw her brother in jail, and they call her uncle Mikhail, the only one with the name close to the one her brother mentioned.
The cell phone that Martin took way back at the start of the ep rings. Oh, so Mikhail apparently is Big Mike. 9808 is changed to 2545, Martin hears when he answers the phone, and immediately understands the crate shipment they’re looking for is actually 2545—which was also the truck number, and the ship number, and goodness gracious, is there any number 2545 isn’t in this episode? I’ll tell you what number it isn’t. The number of delicious juicy oranges, that’s what.
Guess what’s in crate 2545? If you guessed PEOPLE, you are absolutely right! I guessed it only a moment or so before the guys busted off the lock. So now mean old Nelson and his insurance agents plotting to defraud workers aren’t just mega jerkwads for dicking people around—they are Super Ginormous Mega-Ton Jerkwads, because they’re running a human-trafficking ring, yikes!
Clea goes to confront Abigail in her fancy-schmancy soulless all-white apartment, telling her that “the dodging, the double-speak, it stops now.” I love when Clea is a badass! She knows that a man from AsterCorps was the one watching Jake do that experiment, and her suspicions get reinforced because Abigail’s got an absolutely hideous crystal paperweight—well, okay, because the paperweight is exactly the same as Teller’s twelve-sided dice. Abigail looks conflicted, shaking her head, so I’m guessing the implication she’s guilty is a major mislead. She’s going to be trapped in the scheme somehow, I’d wager, and really wants to help Jake and Martin all along.
Joey’s a hero for saving the people trapped in the cargo crate! Well, I’m not sure how he’s going to explain being there and breaking the lock if he was fired and possibly banned from the piers. But, ssshhhh, HERO! I think Big Mike is, in absentia, supposed to be a good guy as well, not part of the human trafficking but part of the group rescuing those people?
Martin tells Nelson he’ll throw him a bone and instead of exposing him, directs him to Rush Middleton, Martin’s reporter former-colleague and kinda-sorta friend. Nelson should work out a deal with the DA, with Middleton’s help, and be able to turn in those who are guilty but also escape prosecution himself. Why is Martin being so nice to such a jerkwad of epic proportions? Well, he wants Nelson to give Joey his job back, and give Joey’s family back the insurance that will solve some of their problems.
In the series of quick wrap-ups, Martin shakes Joey’s hand, and gets the photo of himself and Jake that Joey’s wife took and developed earlier. The Israeli boy gives his girlfriend the promise ring, and they’re happy, which I don’t especially care about one way or another because neither character was well drawn or even vaguely interesting. Avram enigmatically holds one of Teller’s cubes and ponders it, showing us he’ll turn up for at least one more episode. And Martin puts the photo of himself and Jake in a frame for Jake’s bedside at the Evil State Facility.
Like bricks in a wall, we might not all touch, but we’re all responsible for holding each other up, Jake tells us in his closing voice-over. Collective support is what keeps the infinite tesselation together. I do find Touch‘s depictions of the connections between people very moving. I just hope, as we finish out this season with the two-hour finale (in two weeks!) and go into season two (Touch was renewed, dontcha know?), that we see some of the effects of imperfection as well. A perfectly symmetrical honeycomb is an amazing thing, and when people connect to one another in ways that show individuals are part of a larger whole, it’s beautiful and inspiring. But often life is more complex than that. Disconnection can also touch and move us, and reveal our strengths as much as a happy resolution can. I’d love to see Touch create some great stories by discarding its dependence on perfect harmony and symmetry next season.