Wow, I haven't seen Jonny Lee Miller in anything since, like, Mansfield Park. He's the eponymous Eli Stone, who's a corporate lawyer working for a soulless San Franciscan firm. In case you've read nothing about the show, Eli's equally shallow and soulless life changes when he starts seeing visions, one of which is -- no lie -- George Michael. Eli's firm is representing a company that manufactures a vaccine that supposedly causes autism, and I don't suppose I need to get into the dodgy medicine of that when the American Academy of Pediatrics has already been screaming bloody murder for the past two days. Early on, a woman who's suing the vaccine manufacturer tries to get Eli to flip the script and help her. He refuses initially, but when an acupuncturist helps him remember that he and the woman had sex to a George Michael album fifteen years earlier (no, really), Eli goes to see her again, meeting her autistic son in the process, and before you know it, he's asking to take the case. Firm bigwigs Tom Amandes and Victor Garber are delightfully bemused at Eli's behavior, but Eli babblingly convinces them to grant his wish. As the episode goes on, it becomes clear that the visions all relate to Eli's past, and the acupuncturist helps him to unlock their meanings. Also, Eli's fiancée, played by Natasha Henstridge, is Victor Garber's daughter. After Eli has another vision that causes him to come dangerously close to jumping off a ledge, his doctor brother breaks the news that like their father, Eli has a brain aneurysm that's causing him to be intermittently delusional, and worse, the aneurysm is inoperable. This leads to self-recriminations on Eli's part for thinking for years that his dad's erratic behavior was due to alcoholism rather than the brain defect, and also to an existential debate in which the acupuncturist tries to convince a skeptical Eli that he's not delusional but prophetic. This gives Eli the confidence to bring the case on home, and in the end, he goes to India to scatter his father's ashes. I was a little skeptical myself for the first half, but the second half brought it on home, and Jonny Lee Miller is really quite engaging. Gotta have faith in Berlanti!
Before I start, I just want to say that as I mentioned in the recaplet, there was a big brouhaha over the storyline in this episode involving a preservative in a vaccine causing autism. The American Academy of Pediatrics took umbrage at that depiction, worrying that it would prompt parents to shy away from getting their kids inoculated against diseases. My personal viewpoint is that if you base your life decisions on the content of medical storylines on television, perhaps your license to watch the tube should be revoked, followed immediately by your license to have any more children. However, I'm not going to dwell on that, because dissecting the dodgy legal proceedings is going to be time-consuming enough for me without bringing the medicine into it.
One more thing. Jonny Lee Miller, Angelina Jolie may have taken your hairline in the divorce settlement, but you are still adorable.
From a quick opening shot of the sky, we descend to a valley surrounded by snowy mountains, and the caption reads "Mundoli Village, India." We see locals doing whatever it is locals do, and then we see Mr. Miller, who's clad in a three-piece suit and sitting in an open shack, a leather luggage set next to him. I know we're immediately meant to learn that he's out of place here, but I still think the suit is a bit much. I mean, a Patagonia jacket would have been a lot more practical, while still looking almost as incongruous in this rustic setting. When two Sherpa types approach, beasts of burden in hand, he asks if they're his guides, and then introduces himself as the eponymous lead character, Eli Stone. He babbles about how he's going to the base of the Panch Chuli Peaks, and then mentions that one of his bags has a laptop in it, but the Sherpa handling it is unmoved, as he tosses it into the cart without a care. Considering that this part is supposed to happen after the transformation we'll witness in the episode, it might have been more believable for him not to have the laptop at all, but then we would have had to look elsewhere for our Sherpa humor. Eli wrests the laptop bag away from the Sherpa, gives an endearingly big dorky smile, and then tries to mount his donkey ride but pitches himself clean over it. Hee. He gets up and says he's fine, and that he's going to walk for a little while. From the looks on the Sherpas' faces, it doesn't seem like they live off tips. In VO, Eli tells us that he's a lawyer for "Wethersby, Posner, and Klein" in San Francisco, and you wouldn't have heard of his firm "unless you own a huge company that's screwed over a little guy." Eli then asks one of the Sherpas to take his picture in front of the mountains, and gives him instructions on how to work the camera. In his native tongue, the guy says to his counterpart, "Like I've never used a disposable before?" Hee, again. Hey, I like a cheap laugh. And that's going to come in handy. Eli dithers about whether or not to have his shades on in the shot, prompting Sherpa #2 to remark that it's going to be a long week. Eli, in VO, then asks us if he mentioned that he recently found out he might be a prophet. From the needle scratch on the soundtrack, this is apparently supposed to be a surprise. It's the fault of the strike that this is, like, almost the only new scripted show in 2008, but I'll tell you what: I already knew that.
We get a frankly rather boring, but blessedly quick, montage/voice-over about how Eli has been materialistic, ambitious, and shallow, unlike the idealistic kid he was when he was younger. In my personal calculus, VO + Montage = Fast Forward, anyway. Eli hugs Natasha Henstridge as he finishes that he was like that, "and then I heard the music." We see him on a terrace with a beautiful view, making some notes into a tape recorder about a case involving "Beutel Pharmaceuticals," when he hears the opening strains of George Michael's "Faith." After ignoring the music once, when it comes back, he calls for his assistant, a woman who's sassy and speaks frankly to her boss. For the readers who just bought their first television, I'll mention that she's black. Anyway, Eli asks her to do something about the music, but she hasn't heard anything. They then head out to a 2:30 meeting, and as they pedeconference, we get exposition that Sassy Assistant doesn't like "Taylor," who's presumably Natasha and is definitely Eli's fiancée, and whom Eli defends. Sassy Assistant: "You take all the fun out of this job." If George Michael is going to be showing up at the office, I have to disagree.