By the third episode of a new show (or fourth, in Touch’s case, if you want to count the preview episode back in January), for better or worse, it’s generally clear what you’re in for. By now, for those who’ve tuned in every week to see Kiefer Sutherland play desperate father Martin Bohm and squeeze out every ounce of melodrama with little to no plot movement from one episode to the next, it’s surely become clear that this show is, well, a group hug disguised with drama. People connect (or touch) in various ways, Martin tries to understand his silent, numbers-obsessed son, Jake, and, in the end, good things happen to people. Yay!
When last episode ended, Martin, with Jake’s help, had just helped take down an evil corporation, while simultaneously helping an estranged son reunite with his family. Naturally, none of this is mentioned as we start the new episode. Martin takes in his mail and finds a letter from the Chief Medical Examiner. Apparently, DNA results for Martin’s wife, Sarah, who died in 9/11, have come back inconclusive. He’s crushed and decides to take Jake to visit Sarah’s grave.
Jake has brought along a red kite. Upon arriving at the cemetery, Martin finds a man sitting on his wife’s grave. The man, Bobby, says he was a friend of Sarah’s – he was a bike messenger and she was on his route. Jake runs off with the kite and Martin follows. Suddenly, the man disappears. Jake lets the kite go, but not before dropping a notebook that says “9.5.” And wouldn’t you know it, just then Martin’s watch changes to 9:50. So yes, as you are probably guessing, 9.5 is our number for the episode that will make everything “touch.” (Phew, we were worried.) Jake wants to follow the kite . . . so he does.
As is par for the course, we’re now suddenly shifted to a completely new locale. This time, it’s Iraq. We are, however, reunited with a previous character, an Iraqi teenager named Abdul whom we met in the preview episode. Abdul’s friends are in a metal band. They want to play for U.S. soldiers stationed in their town. A female soldier named Lieutenant Davis agrees to let the teens “audition” for her to see if they’ve got the chops to play at the U.S. Embassy. For reasons unbeknownst to us, this excites the teenagers.
Another new location! We’re now at a church in Colorado. A distraught pastor stumbles through a sermon – he doesn’t think he was meant to lead people. After the church service lets out, a man confronts the pastor and says that the pastor did a crappy job – he didn’t offer any semblance of hope. It seems this man, whom we learn recently won the lottery, says he needs to make amends for letting someone die. The pastor, who says he got into the theological world through a long family lineage, agrees to help the man. So who did the man let die? Oh, of course! Sarah, Martin’s wife; he’d tried carrying her down the stairs at the World Trade Center on 9/11 before giving up and saving himself. The pastor and the lotto winner are soon exploring the church when they accidentally get locked in the basement.
Back to Martin and Jake. Jake has now led Martin to a random apartment building in search of the kite. More things point to the significance of 9.5: a store offers a discount of 9.5 percent; construction on 9th Street causes a half-hour delay. Jake goes inside the building and winds up in front of an apartment. The door opens. It’s Bobby, the man from the cemetery who knew Sarah. Martin wants to know more about how he knew his wife. Bobby, who named his daughter after Sarah, says she used to tutor him (their last session was on 9/5). Like the lotto winner, Bobby feels guilty and thinks he could have saved Sarah’s life because he was near the WTC tower after it was hit by the first plane and didn’t tell her to get out.
Just before Bobby’s wife comes home, inexplicably causing Jake to lock himself in a room, Bobby tells Martin that Sarah was not wearing her wedding ring during their tutoring sessions. This causes Martin to freak out.
Back in Iraq, Lt. Davis is involved in an ambush. She and another soldier are shot and hobble away into the desert. As night falls, her fellow soldiers can’t find her and worry she might die if they don’t locate her. Meanwhile, Abdul and his metal-band friends are trying to prepare for their audition. They write an email to a man who calls himself “King Roadie” with a question about how loud to turn their amp.
King Roadie, it turns out, lives in the same building as Bobby. He tries to respond with his answer (50 watts). But Jake, who escaped onto the building’s fire escape, scares King Roadie’s wife when she opens the window and sees him. This causes her to bump into King Roadie’s keyboard, changing “50 watts” to “950 watts” just as his response to the Iraqi teenagers is being sent. (Complicated, we know!)
Receiving the “950 watt” instruction from King Roadie, the teens end up blowing out their amp while playing. But in the process, they cause an electric spark that goes through the power lines and magically sends up a flare right where the injured soldiers are located. This allows them to be discovered. (Crazy how things work out like that!)
Back at Bobby/King Roadie’s building, Jake is climbing to the top of the fire escape to get his kite. Martin, for reasons we don’t understand, realizes that Jake wants Bobby to come save him. As Bobby comes up to grab Jake, Jake falls but Bobby saves him. Bobby has now redeemed himself for Sarah’s death. Want more redemption? At the church, as the pastor and the lotto winner are found in the basement, the pastor gets a call from his wife/girlfriend (we’re never told). Wouldn’t you know it, it’s the injured female solider in Iraq. She tells the pastor his words of wisdom – “one footstep at a time” – inspired her to keep going when she was stranded in the desert. Beautiful. The pastor, who decides to leave the church and go see the woman, is now redeemed.
OK, so Bobby is redeemed. The pastor is redeemed. The lotto winner is (kinda) redeemed (he decides to buy the church from the pastor). But what about Martin?
Don’t worry. He’s also good by episode’s end. He discovers something in Sarah’s old ledger that shows she had made an appointment at a jewelry store the week she died. He goes there. Turns out she was having her wedding ring engraved with “1+1=3” – what she used to say about their family dynamic. So she did love Martin after all!
The only ones who get the shaft in all of this are Abdul and the Iraqi metal band. They get nothing more than a meaningless chance to audition for some U.S. soldiers. Doesn’t everyone get a happy ending on Touch? Apparently not.
Last episode: Tell Me a Bedtime Story