A Case of the…. The Dead Zone

Or perhaps I should title this column “The Culling of The Dead Zone“? I really do have to wonder what happened in between season this season and last, because in the premiere alone J.J. was played by a new actor, Walt and Janus were killed off, and Purdy and Bruce were written out of the show. Were there major budget cuts or something? Because at least half of those characters had a lot of juice left in them. I guess the powers that be wanted to take the show into a new creative direction.

I don’t know what it was about the premiere, but I was very underwhelmed by Walt’s death. Maybe it was because of the fact that we saw it so many times earlier in the episode through Johnny’s visions, but I don’t think that’s the case. In a strange way, I think it had to do with the fact that J.J. was portrayed by a different actor (the third, I do believe, to take the role). It just seems that for the past several years that we not only grew attached to the character, but the actor that plays him also. I mean, the character has gone through a lot the past couple of years, most notably finding out Johnny is his father, and the emotional final few episodes last season. J.J. losing his father is an undeniably traumatic event, and with the character played by a completely different actor (one that looks nothing like the previous one, no less) made the emotional attachment seem very detached.

Whatever the case, after Walt was killed off, I felt as if saying “What, that’s it?” It just wasn’t as emotional as it should have been, especially when you consider that Sara was so pregnant.

Speaking of Sara, I have found her EXCEPTIONALLY unlikable so far this season. I mean, like Lana Lang-level bad. I understand she’s supposed to be in a very dire emotional state (and I don’t blame her for that), but her treatment of Johnny, especially when it relates to J.J., is despicable. And Johnny must have the patience of Job, because he’s been unbelievably (in every sense of the word) calm and understanding with her. Much more so than I would be.

I mean, Johnny spends six years in a coma, only to wake up and discover that his fiance is married to another man. Not only that, but Johnny has to watch as this man raises HIS son as if it’s his. Johnny lets this happen for years, without creating a conflict, and when he finally decides he wants J.J. to know the truth, he’s still very compassionate about it. He doesn’t try to complicate things (anymore than the situation allows) by allowing J.J. to continue calling Walt “dad,” and only asking that J.J. call him “Johnny.”

After Walt’s death, what does Sara do? She repeatedly and explicably reminds Johnny that HE’S not J.J.’s father, even though he, ya’ know, IS! She tells Johnny (who, in case you forgot, is J.J.’s real father) that he’s in no position to make decisions regarding J.J. (who is his son). Instead, Johnny has to report to her, who will then dish out punishments.

Which brings me to this quandary: With Walt dead, and Sara having a new baby and living with Johnny again, will she have the baby refer to Johnny as “dad” even though it’s actually Walt’s? It’s interesting, because it seems like Johnny would never expect that. Yet that’s exactly what Sara and Walt did with J.J. And Johnny wasn’t even dead! He was in a coma!

Now that the harsh stuff is out of the way, there is plenty of stuff I’ve liked so far. I think the prospect of Stilson actually being a good enough guy who has just received some bad guidance is interesting. It’s also pretty consistent with his past actions, since there have been instances in the past in which Stilson seemed genuine enough, and other people did his dirty work (sometimes unbeknownst to him). That said, I’m not too thrilled with this developing budding relationship between him and Sara.

I also find the possibility that J.J. has Johnny’s gift intriguing. It’s been hinted at a bit, especially this past week in the carnival episode. I’d like to see where that’s going.

Hey, it also seems like the show isn’t going anywhere for the time being. Anthony Michael Hall recently said that he’d do the show as long as the network wants to. And it’s pretty clear that the powers that be don’t feel like they need any of the supporting cast!

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