THE DEAD ZONE: Symmetry (Mania.com)
Review Date: Saturday, August 05, 2006
Often entrusted with the job of moving the ongoing Stillson arc forward over the last season, the writing team of Loren Segan (sister to executive producer Lloyd Segan) and Christina Lynch have otherwise contributed run of the mill standalone stories since beginning their association with the series. "Symmetry" is a definite step in a different direction and showcases the writers' skill at twisting the program's central conceits in exciting new ways. A series of disjointed visions find a disoriented Johnny Smith (Anthony Michael Hall) experiencing a nasty custody battle from a variety of perspectives. As Johnny becomes increasingly confused, his subconscious, in the form of best friend Bruce Lewis (John L. Adams), helps him sort out the situation to save a mother's life.
The story's labyrinthine narrative must have looked like a nightmare on paper and itās a tribute to director Rachel Talalay's skill that the episode achieves a disconcerting and confusing tone without ever becoming too muddled to appreciate. As Johnny leaps from perspective to perspective and repeatedly finds himself in the hospital suffering from a concussion that threatens to send him back into the coma from which he awoke in the pilot, the disparate pieces of the story slowly come together into a plausible and satisfying cause for the foregoing confusion. Essentially, Johnny, deprived of oxygen in a headlock, is mixing visions associated with the three individuals in physical contact with him. Once again, THE DEAD ZONE manages to parlay another "obvious" take on Johnny's powers to create an entertaining story. Reminiscent of the QUANTUM LEAP episode "Lee Harvey Oswald - October 5, 1957 ā" November 22, 1963," "Symmetry" sacrifices linearity to tell its story like a jigsaw puzzle with the entire image only apparent when enough pieces are on the board.
Shoring up the exquisite plot with a nice emotional angle is the climactic confrontation between Johnny and Cole (Aaron Pearl), a father fearing that he'll lose contact with his daughter due to his wife's flight from their unhappy marriage. In an episode filled with reminders of Johnny's six years in a coma, it's nice to reflect on the time he lost with his son, J.J. (Spencer Achtymichuk). Segan and Lynch bring this plot point to the forefront as Johnny identifies with Cole in a scene that puts the emotional button on the story. J.J.'s inadvertent place in resolving the plot is also a nice, and as Walt (Chris Bruno) points out, symmetrical touch.
John L. Adams steels the show with his hilarious rendition of Bruce as Johnny's subconscious. His continual decrees of "Happy birthday!" and otherwise zany behavior provide a nice counterpoint to the laid back performance that characterizes Adams' portrayal. Unusually, Walt and Sarah Bannerman (Nicole de Boer) are also on hand to offer support to Johnny as he rests unconscious in the hospital. Sadly, neither character is used to as interesting an effect as Bruce and the idea that this episode might cost the series the too infrequent services of de Boer is a terrible consideration. Tamara Craig Thomas, best remembered for her role on ODYSSEY 5 also seems underused in a plot ostensibly rooted in her character's plight. Better served are Vancouver stalwarts Richard Leacock and Aaron Pearl who essay their roles with proficiency.
Mania Grade: A-
Reviewed Format: TV Show
Original Airdate: 30 July 2006
Cast: Anthony Michael Hall, Nicole de Boer, Chris Bruno, John L. Adams
Developers: Michael Piller & Shawn Piller
Writers: Loren Segan & Christina Lynch
Director: Rachel Talalay