Guess ABC is not swooping in to save Medium. After seven seasons, this supernatural show/mystery/domestic drama is coming to an end. Was it revolutionary? No. But it featured one of the most realistic families on television (all the psychics aside), its leads had tremendous chemistry, and I for one will miss it. Let’s take a moment to list some of my favorite episodes.
“How to Beat a Bad Guy”
Scanlon (David Cubitt) is kind of a blah character, and I’m not counting this episode for the somewhat lackluster plot of Allison, post-mugging, meeting guest star Laura Prepon’s self-defense instructor and slowly realizing that she’s a brutal avenging angel when it comes to sex offenders (or even the occasional undercover cop who has the misfortune to cross her path). Scanlon spends the hour dealing with an estranged brother (guest star Dean Norris) just out of prison for rape. He tries to give him the benefit of the doubt, but this leopard just won’t change his spots. As the running time slips away, you wonder how Scanlon will get through to his brother with only a few minutes left. And the answer is he’s thrown in the towel and stays on the sidelines as Prepon claims her final victim. A bleak finale, the consequences of which were revisited in this last batch of episodes, that asks the question can a person truly burn bridges when a loved one is past hope? In this case, the answer is yes, and Cubitt is quietly powerful right before the credits roll.
“Wicked Game (Parts 1 and 2)”
I’m not the biggest fan of Season Four and the arc that finds Allison without her job at the DA’s office and working for guest star Anjelica Huston. But both parts of “Wicked Game” are top-notch. Huston’s Cynthia Keener is haunted by the disappearance of her daughter, and Part 1 finds Allison dreaming about the last days of the young girl’s life along with a fellow captive who may or may not still be alive. Part 2 puts the pieces together. The other hostage was in on a series of abductions and got off on befriending the victims before turning the tables and taking part in their deaths. Despite Allison’s dreams, it’s impossible to prove. So Keener takes matters into her own hands and executes her daughter’s murderer. A tragic outing all around, and while we might not agree with Keener’s act, the character is finally understood.
“Mother’s Little Helper”
Allison and her oldest daughter, Ariel, go to buy a dress and find two bodies, another mother and her young daughter. Each woman dreams from the point of view of her deceased counterpart, and it’s fascinating to think that even in the afterlife, a person might not know exactly how it all came to an end. On the other hand, perhaps, it’s a testament to family finally working together with what they know to reach the truth. It’s a psychic Rashomon with great performances from Patricia Arquette and Sofia Vassilieva.
David Arquette recently played Lucky in a pretty bland episode (kudos to Patricia Arquette for getting her brother some work, though). But Ryan Hurst originated the role of Allison’s brother, also a psychic, something of a screwup. The ironically named Lucky first appeared in this episode as a Gulf War Vet torn between a “friend” who promises a cushy job in California and revealing the truth about his commanding officer’s death. No big surprise that he ultimately makes the right choice, but the sight of his CO’s ghost saluting as Lucky’s bus pulls away gets me every time.
A pre-Boardwalk Empire Aleksa Palladino plays Allison’s childhood friend who escaped the mistakes of her past by assuming another identity. This bleeds into Allison’s current case. A councilman’s sexually abused daughter (a young Emma Stone) fakes her own death also to start over. Guest stars aside, this episode gives Miguel Sandoval’s Devalos a great scene where he listens to the councilman try to rationalize his behavior, and Allison does the right thing in the end and keeps quiet so his daughter can run away for good. Also have to give it props for the scenes of a young Allison trying to drive the ghosts away when we’re so accustomed to seeing her embracing and defending her gift.
It’s Halloween, and Allison keeps dreaming that she’s stuck in Night of the Living Dead. Not so strange considering that the movie seems to be playing in a continuous loop in the DuBois household. But Allison keeps waking up with injuries that eventually lead her to solve the murder of a funeral director (his daughter, guest star Aida Turturro, did it). Maybe not the best mystery of the series, but the scenes with Allison, and eventually the entire cast, taking part in the classic horror movie work to great effect. And there’s a fun subplot with middle daughter Bridgette (Maria Lark) aiding the spirit of her deceased class pet (appropriately, a tarantula). A fun, fun time.
“The One Behind the Wheel”
Allison is not herself, possessed by the spirit of a recently deceased woman, a shallow, spoiled socialite. Allison’s husband, Joe, lends a hand in order to get to the bottom of things. But the real story here is Arquette and Jake Weber. Arquette dazzles as a character very different from Mrs. DuBois, but she still has beaucoup chemistry with her familiar costar. Then there’s the last few minutes when Joe finally gets his wife back. He plays the fear that Allison would never return, the sorrow he felt in her absence, and the exhausted relief that their life is as back to normal as it will ever be. Very, very romantic.
“A Person of Interest”
The creepiest use of “Viva La Vida” to date. After finding a John Doe’s body, Allison is compelled to undertake a project that Joe quickly realizes is the construction of a bomb. He snaps her out of this compulsion, but she is still left with dreams of a young boy abused by a fanatical father, the unnamed victim found earlier. This boy, now a man, is ultimately not responsible for his father’s demise, but he did construct a bomb that led to many other deaths in a misguided attempt to win his father’s love. And he’s Joe’s new employee, David (guest star Kevin Corrigan), to boot! Directed by Patricia Arquette, this episode neither completely condemns or absolves the troubled boy who became a loving husband and father despite the blood on his hands. And when Coldplay’s signature track accompanies the faces of the dead that forever haunt David, you too will both sympathize with and loathe the person who committed an act out of desperation that left a whole lot of misery in its wake.
“The Man in the Mirror”
Allison’s in a coma (this happens from time to time), and her consciousness ends up in guest star Jeffrey Tambor. Let’s start there. Tambor does not attempt to mimic Patricia Arquette, yet he’s totally believable as Allison. Then there’s Weber’s Joe who, admittedly, accepts the situation fairly quickly (it’s par for the course in this marriage). The scenes between Tambor and Weber are a funny, touching dance. “Allison” wants to be close to her husband, but “she” understands how awkward that would be given “her” current appearance. But Joe is still tender with and supportive of the wife trapped inside the big, balding man. An incredibly sweet episode.
This is my favorite. From an inspired prologue that aptly imitates school scare films about social misfits before transitioning into a decidedly modern school shooting, we’re in for quite the ride. Allison investigates the abduction of a little boy only to learn that his own mother tried to kill him out of the firm belief that he is evil. But it’s the mother’s demons that most threaten to shape her son’s future. Acting on this information, Allison confronts the woman and, sadly, she takes her own life to free her son from the darkness but not before identifying Allison as an angel working for a greater good. Her son thrives in Allison’s dreams of the future, and whether you believe in a god or not, it’s a fitting explanation for the whole series. A loving wife and mother took risks and invited chaos in aid of something even she did not fully understand. But more often than not she got the job done.
Did I miss any of your favorites? Feel free to interject. Fare thee well, Medium, and let’s hope these actors appear on our screens again very soon.