"The Touch" Review
by Mike Helba
I think "The Touch" is one of the best episodes of Jeremiah so far.
Jeremiah and Kurdy encounter a town in which physical contact is illegal. The residents are paranoid about the return of the Big Death, and they are not entirely sure whether the virus can be transmitted by skin contact. This behavior is introduced to Jeremiah and Kurdy by a heartbreaking scene in which a mother encourages a fallen child to stand up without offering her own hand.
Jeremiah soon learns that this ban on touching is ruthlessly enforced by the town leaders, and not all of the residents are content with it. This episode draws its theme from a compelling truth. When power and fear collide, freedom is the most likely victim.
Much of the strength of "The Touch" comes from the strong guest characters including the young lovers forever separate in this society, the unwaveringly stern father figure, the power-hungry town leader, and the strong-willed young girl whose mother was taken away for the crime of hugging her.
The sub-plot of "The Touch" is sadly less compelling. Advance publicity promised a power struggle in Thunder Mountain while Markus is incapacitated by the flu. This struggle amounts to little more than a secret ballot conducted around the table and is resolved almost before it begins. Meanwhile, the apparition of an Indian medicine man that defies explanation visits the fevered Markus.
My only other quibble with this episode is the explanation of the so-called experiment that serves in my mind to actually make the motivations of the town leaders less sinister. This explanation leads directly to the resolution, but it seems that Sam Egan surely could have found another way. Still, the Thunder Mountain sub-plot and the experiment explanation can not diminish the power of the climax. The image of the townspeople holding hands is just too powerful and brings the story back to the truth that I mention above. With the abolition of fear, power withers and freedom returns.