It has been a long and arduous journey for Eli Stone this season - both the character and the series. The character of Eli (Jonny Lee Miller
) has had to deal with visions from God, a deadly aneurysm, and a complete change of lifestyle; while the series struggled with inconsistency early on. Although things for Eli the character have continued to be murky in recent weeks, "Eli Stone
" the series has greatly improved in the second half of its season. All of that has lead to the season finale, which is without a doubt the strongest episode in the series thus far.
Eli's Last Hurrah?
Things start off with Eli's surgery, and it is not going well. A sudden hemorrhage has caused Eli to go into cardiac arrest, and things look dire. Just as it looks like Eli will perish, he wakes up, healthy, in his own bed. It was a vision...one that occurred during sleep. Also known as a dream.
Eli goes into work the next day and is a little taken aback by how nice everyone is being to him. The case of the week hits close to home, as it eerily parallels Eli's own situation. His client is a man named David Green (Richard Schiff
, who is the newest member of the "Eli Stone" awesome guest star club), who is dying of cancer. Green says that he was spoken to by God, not in the literal sense, but in the abstract one. God wants him to stop treatments and die.
Green's rabbi wife, who looks a whole lot like a young Lorraine Bracco
, feels differently and is trying to legally force David to go into chemo. What follows is a debate about life and death, God and religion, science and faith. All of it is fascinating, and more than a little relevant to Eli's own situation. Perhaps a little too relevant...
The rabbi begs Eli to tell her husband to reconsider. She says that she knows all about Eli, and subconsciously David chose Eli as a lawyer because he wanted to be convinced to live. Eli tries to talk David into it but is instead brought around to David's way of thinking. Like Eli, David never had time to enjoy life before he got sick. Once he developed the cancer, his life changed, for the better. He wanted to see it through to the end and that is his choice. After an emotional closing statement from Eli, David wins the case.
The Big One (vision that is)
Interspersed with the case are poignant moments between Eli and some of the major characters. Each heartfelt conversation leads into a scene that occurs seemingly after the operation, where Eli is in a coma, and that particular character is standing by his side. The transitions are very powerful and effective, and they are kept brief enough to keep the viewer guessing. Are they flashforwards? Is the episode a flashback? Or is it all in Eli's head.
Eli does receive a little good news in the days leading up to the surgery, as Jordan (Victor Garber
), who still loves Eli like a son (perhaps even more so than before), promotes Eli to junior partner in charge of pro bono projects. Eli is thrilled but a little guarded as well, thinking that perhaps that the promotion came because of his impending surgery. Jordan assures him that it is not the case.
Following that event, things start to get really interesting. Eli has a nice talk with Chen (James Saito
), after which Chen wakes up in the middle of the night, presumably in the future. He goes to see Nate (Matt Letscher), and confirms what had been hinted throughout the episode. The surgery had not gone well, and all the events in the episode (including the case) are in the comatose Eli's head. They never really happened. A truly massive vision of epic proportions.
Chen and Nate have the great man of science vs. man of faith debate, reminiscent of one of the central conflicts on "Lost
." Actually, if one closes one's eyes, it is very easy to picture Jack and Locke having the very same conversation. Chen/Locke wins the argument, and convinces Nate/Jack not to pull the plug on Eli for another two days - hopefully giving Chen enough time to help save him.
Credit where it is due
Prior to the big finish, there are two other nice touches that both reinforce the fact that the majority of the episode is taking place in Eli's head. They also happen to be pretty neat. The first is a conversation between Jordan and Taylor (Natasha Henstridge
), where Jordan reveals that he is thinking about making Eli a junior partner and starting a pro bono division of the firm. Did Eli's vision somehow touch him and give him the idea, or did Eli's subconscious simply know what ol' Jordo was thinking? The world may never know.
The other nice touch wraps up the "case" of the episode; you know, the one that was eerily parallel to Eli's own situation. It turns out that David and his wife are very real people, only they are not battling it out in court. David is dying in a hospital bed with Young Lorraine Bracco right by his side. Guess who the other occupant of the room is? If you guessed Martin Donovan, you'd be wrong. But most likely you guessed Eli Stone, so in that case you're right. Congrats. Hauntingly beautiful scene, actually.
One final number
Eli finally realizes that he is trapped in a vision and that he is dying. He has a conversation with a phantom Chen, who tells him that he has two choices - live or die. Apparently, phantom Chen takes after actual Chen in that he states the obvious. Eli chooses to live, and is brought to a dark room, where he encounters George Michael
. Ol' George is pretty mum as to whether or not he is God, but that is somewhat irrelevant. Instead of talking about spirituality, George does what he does best and starts singing.
The lyrics of the song help Eli understand that he has the power to wake up. That message is driven home when the entire cast joins in, although the only three that sing are George Michael, Loretta Devine and Victor Garber. The others just kind of stand around, looking like chorus members of a high school musical. It works though, and Eli wakes up. And that's a wrap. Nice cliffhanger, but not as cool as these (link to cliffhanger story?)
Impressive. Most impressive (in best Darth Vader voice)
Wow. The season finale of "Eli Stone," was light on the signature humor and banter that has become a trademark, but it was nevertheless extremely impressive. It was poignant, intelligent and thought-provoking. Emotional as well. But perhaps just as importantly, it was extremely solid from a technical standpoint. The writing was sharp, the parallels between the vision and actual life were fascinating, and the transitions between the two realities were extremely well done. The big reveal - that the entire episode was a vision, did not come too quickly, but it also came with plenty of time left for a resolution.
The finale was easily the strongest episode of the series, and one of the better episodes from the entire 2007-2008 television season. That's from every series, folks. Yes, amazingly enough, it was that good. Will it be coming back for a season 2? Now that's another story, and one which probably won't be resolved for another few weeks.
Thoughts on the season finale of "Eli Stone?" Love it? Hate it? What do you want to see for season 2? Comment!
Story by Derek Krebs
Starpulse contributing writer