Long Haul: Journeyman 1.5 — The Legend of Dylan McCleen

This episode of Journeyman is a reminder of why I love this show so damn much.
First off, apologies for any font wackiness. Circumstances had this being written by emailing it back and forth to myself, and apparently WP doesn’t like that. Moving on:

Re-reading my post on “Year of the Rabbit,” I realized it was way, way to recappy, so I’m going to work harder to find a balance between giving the gist of the story and offering up some insights on it.

But before I do that, I have to mention the first scene in great detail, because I laughed so hard during it that I had to back up and watch it again. A couple times. And I’ve seen this series at least three times before.

Dan, Katie and Zack are at a farmer’s market, generally being adorable (as they do), when they spot Jack and Trout hanging out by the red bell peppers. Later in the episode, I hear clearly that Trout’s name is Theresa, but here it just sounds like Something Something Sanchez. So she’s still just Trout to me. They all meet up — turns out Jack’s “diet is lethal” — and are carrying on, having a perfectly normal conversation when, all of a sudden, Katie whips her head around and locks her eyes onto an unseen target.

“Target: Cheese” acquired

“Cheese guy’s here!” she announces as she makes a beeline offscreen. Trout races after her, also proclaiming her love for the cheese guy.

 

Deploy!

“Wait, so, hold up! Cheese is okay, just not cheesecake?!” Jack calls as he runs after them.

 Ah, cheese. The universal uniter. I don’t know if that scene is as funny written down as it is on screen, but if you watch not one second more  of Journeyman (and live in the US ), take the two minutes to go watch this scene. It’s on basic Hulu, so you don’t have to sign up for anything or spend any extra money.

Sadly, while Katie, Trout and Jack are descending on Cheese Guy, Dan and Zack are left alone watching street performers when Dan gets one of his patented “I’m about to time travel, and it’s very inconvenient” expressions. They try to find the others, but there’s no time before Dan journeys to the 70s, leaving his seven-year-old son alone at the world’s largest farmers market.

I’m still wondering just what the rest of the world sees when Dan travels. What the viewers see is a blue sort of ripple and flash in the air around him, and I’m not sure if that’s just for our benefit as TV watchers or if it’s something that people in-show would see if they were paying attention. And that we don’t know this really kind of stands out here, because usually Dan scampers off and is at least not in anybody’s immediate field of vision, but here he literally bumped into a guy before disappearing in a flash of light. But whatever. If that’s my biggest complaint, the show could do a lot worse.

This week’s journeys find Dan smack in the middle of 32-year-old mystery, where a guy hijacked a plane and then parachuted out with $100,000. Turns out Dylan McCleen was actually Capt. John Ritchie, an Army Ranger who was hurt during the Vietnam war and now is trying to get the family who helped him out of Cambodia. 

“Dylan McCleen”

This is another one of those episodes where so much happens, you wouldn’t think it would all fit in 44 minutes. But it does, and quite well. Dan’s mission — with a nudge from Livia — brings him face-to-face with his father, Frank (played by Joel Gretsch of The 4400), who left when Dan was Zack’s age. He looks familiar to me, but I can’t place him in anything I’ve seen. Similarly, the guy playing Ritchie, Jeffrey Pierce, also looks familiar, but I think that’s probably just a case of my freakishly good memory for useless things and just having one of those faces. Because when I looked him up, I only (but immediately) recognized his two-episode stint as a T-888 in The Sarah Connor Chronicles, but he also looks a little like Rob Estes of Silk Stalkings and New 90210.

But that’s not the point. The point is that Dan’s dad — who was a photojournalist during the war — is the key to unlocking Ritchie’s identity. Also, as somebody who works at a newspaper but came into the game well after typewriters fell by the wayside, I share Dan’s sense of awe at a 1970s era newsroom. How did people work with all that clacking?  And, while I work at a small paper in a small company now, I spent about five years with one of the giant news companies with a history of layoffs and furloughs. So I can relate to The Register’s present-day concerns with tumbling profits, employee buyouts, other cost-cutting measures and everything that has Hugh excited by the prospect of breaking open the McCleen mystery (and the newsworthiness, too, of course).

But wait, there’s more! While Dan is gallivanting through time, Katie is confronted by an SFPD detective investigating a liquor store robbery the night of her benefit gala in “Year of the Rabbit.” And can I just say I’ve never been so happy to be so forgetful and wrong? Because if you read that overlong post, you might remember that I commented at great length over the photograph that was taken as Dan reappeared in the middle of the street with a gun in his hand. I thought that point was just dropped – but no – the detective has a copy of the photo, and I guess it maybe *sort of* explains what everyone else sees, because Dan’s head is helpfully concealed by a burst of light that doesn’t look like it could come from the camera’s flash. That doesn’t really explain how the crowd didn’t notice his appearance, but see above, re: thing that could be worse.

Also in this episode, during Dan’s time in the present, he finally meets Elliot Langley, the Livermore Labs scientist who Dan hopes can shed light on his journeys and point him in the right direction for controlling – or stopping – them. Dan tells him he’s writing a novel about time travel, and they have a very interesting conversation laced with undertones of Langley knowing more than he’s letting on and teasing to potential plot lines. And I loved this excerpt of dialogue so much that I have to include it here:

  “So, time travel’s impossible.”
“No, just not proven. 500 years ago we knew Pluto didn’t exist. Five years ago we knew it was a planet. Now? We know it’s not. Did Pluto change? No. Did our understanding of Pluto? Yes.”
….
“Are people taking advantage of (the character)?”
“Not yet.”
“They should, a person wielding that kind of power would be very valuable. Right?”

And there’s more still. Zack, stung like only a small child can be stung at his father’s random disappearances, spends a good chunk of the episode being disappointed – especially when he finds out Dan can’t keep their football game plans. Because if losing him at the farmers market was this bad, imagine losing him at a major NFL arena. Jack, who’s really getting frustrated by everything Dan and Katie aren’t telling him, is going to the game instead. But Zack is cheered at the end though, when Dan shows up with three more tickets – purchased using money given to him by Ritchie for his help, which should solve his past-currency issues – and then he drops a bomb.

He says, it’s okay that Dan’s not around all the time, because he “saw” and thinks it’s cool. “What did you see?” Dan asks.

 “Your magic.”

Oooh, boy.

 Next up: Episode 1.6 – Keepers. Watch it for free at hulu.com/journeyman.

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