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'Eli Stone' Recap: Matters Of The Heart

April 4th, 2008 9:14am EDT
Eli StoneEli's (Jonny Lee Miller) visions take an odd turn as he learns more about his brother Nate's (Matt Letscher) dark past in this week's marginally entertaining installment of "Eli Stone." Nate is being sued by a widower (played by "Oz" alum Blake Robbins!), who claims that Nate made a biased decision when he passed over the man's wife for a heart transplant. He has good reason to believe that there was foul play involved, as his wife was an alcoholic, and everyone seems to know the problems that the Stone boys have with alcoholism. Thanks, dad!

Atticus Finch would be proud

It is quite normal for Eli to have visions that relate to his case; sometimes those visions even take him back in time. Only this time, things are different (really, they are). On several occasions throughout the episode, Eli finds himself transported back to the night that his father (Tom Cavanagh) died in 1997. Only catch? He wasn't actually around when it happened. He experiences the event through Nate's eyes, getting an opportunity to "walk a mile in [Nate's] shoes."

Through the flashbacks, Eli discovers that his father, whom Eli always thought died due to driving while intoxicated, was completely sober at the time of the car accident. Apparently, what he actually died of was a heart attack, a fact that in 10 years no one bothered to disclose to Eli. At the time, there was an available donor for Papa Stone, but Nate chose for him not to get it, figuring that a new heart would be quickly squandered by their alcoholic dad. So, what it comes down to is this: Nate feels responsible for killing his father.

Magic Man

The trial is emotional but follows the standard "Eli Stone" pattern. Things start out strong and then take a turn for the worse. Just as it looks like Eli will lose, he pulls a rabbit out of his bottomless hat, makes an impassioned speech, and wins the case. Ok, to be fair, he does occasionally lose. But it sure doesn't feel that way.

His last-minute magic this week consisted of bringing out the woman who received the heart transplant over the distraught widower's wife. See, a life was saved, and Nate did the right thing. He didn't even have to ask her any questions; the case was won by default. Afterwards, Nate and Eli get to do some more bonding, and Nate becomes a true believer in the power of Eli's visions. Another convert for Chen's (James Saito) cult!

Subplots and Such

The other case in this episode, involving a divorcing couple who end up having affairs with each other's online alter egos is ludicrous and a waste of a good 4 minutes. There will be no more mention of it here.

A more successful subplot, however, involves Dowd's (Sam Jaeger) attempts to start up a relationship with Taylor (Natasha Henstridge), who still can't believe that she actually slept with him in a moment of weakness. Their petty bickering ends up drawing in Eli, Maggie (Julie Gonzalo) and even Jordan (Victor Garber), who is repulsed by the idea of Dowd dating his daughter.

The confusion and "Boston Legal"-like love polygon leads into an awkward and hilarious scene in Taylor's office, where Eli, Taylor and Maggie all fight with each other about the various romantic entanglements within the group. Dowd, who is quickly becoming the series' most entertaining character, enters, makes a typical arrogant remark, and quickly feels the wrath of all three of them. Good stuff there.

What's wrong with it?

Believe it or not, "Eli Stone" does have a few strengths, and they were on display once again this week. The characters, while a detriment in early episodes, are starting to come around (well, most of them anyway). The lighter scenes are generally the most effective, as this episode had several laugh-out-loud moments. In addition, the chemistry between Eli and Maggie is actually somewhat decent (although there is still zero chemistry between Eli and Taylor).

Problems tend to arise with the cases, though. They are almost always hackneyed and boring and often seem like useless filler that just exists to give the characters a reason to interact with one another. It will never happen, but if "Eli Stone" were to lose all of the courtroom scenes entirely, it would become a vastly improved program. Forty-four minutes of these characters standing around the office and bickering with each other? Now that's entertainment.

What is the reason you like (or dislike) "Eli Stone?" What do you think could be improved? Favorite character(s)? Comment!

Story by Derek Krebs
Starpulse contributing writer