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Critical Myth Review: The Dead Zone 6.13: "denouement"


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#1 entil2001

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Posted 17 September 2007 - 09:38 PM

“The Dead Zone” has weathered its share of challenges over the years. Prior to the sixth season, the series was practically on life support, and several changes in the production, cast, and scope were required by the studio and network. Given that the series itself had been out of production for nearly two years, the opportunity was there for a fresh perspective.

This season finale manages to justify the various changes in the status quo introduced in the season premiere while adjusting the events of the fourth and fifth season to fit a more compelling tapestry. Those (like myself) who felt that the previous two seasons were disappointing can now look back and appreciate how well the pieces managed to fit together.

In essence, this finale reveals that Greg Stillson has, in fact, been the mastermind behind his political success, despite the appearance that Malcolm Janus was the true puppet master. According to this episode, Stillson tracked down Johnny’s father, who also had the psychic ability, and used him as a resource for making the right political moves and gain power.

This is clearly “retroactive continuity”, but it does much to explain some of the oddities of previous seasons. For instance, Janus always seemed to be one step ahead of Johnny, suggesting some kind of psychic ability of his own. Yet Janus met his untimely end in the season premiere, so that was clearly not the case. Now, the reason is simple: Janus had access to visions from Herb Smith until Stillson chose to eliminate him to pursue Sarah.

Walt’s secret is also revealed in this episode, wrapped around the core revelation about Johnny’s father, and this makes sense of his death, Turner’s appointment as sheriff, and the intrigue surrounding all of it. I was expecting the explanation to be somewhat incomplete, given how little had been revealed, but it all fit together.

All of these explanations required a ton of exposition, and though the use of visions has always been the perfect tool for such necessities, there was a lot of heavy lifting required to make this episode work. Thankfully, the pieces were arranged well enough that the episode kept moving. If anything, so many implications were at play that a two-part finale might have been more appropriate.

As it stands, this could be the series finale. The writers left the door open, especially in terms of Armageddon, but nearly every character arc has come to a point of resolution. Walt’s legacy is complete, Purdy has turned the corner on his search for redemption, Bruce has found a life for himself, and Johnny is with Sarah and JJ.

There is one hint for the future, if the series is renewed for a seventh season. Had Sarah remained with Stillson, her presence would have prevented Armageddon (or so Herb’s visionary statement seemed to imply). This is an interesting angle to explore, since Johnny could find himself wondering if he made the right choice. While that might be material worth exploring, I would be content for the series to end with this installment.


John Keegan
Reprinted with permission
Original source: c. Critical Myth, 2007
All rights reserved
Link: http://www.criticalmyth.com

#2 Jcisco

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Posted 18 September 2007 - 12:48 PM

"Walt’s secret is also revealed in this episode, wrapped around the core revelation about Johnny’s father...."....at the 1irst season, was there any mention of JS's dad (herb) death?????

#3 entil2001

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Posted 18 September 2007 - 01:10 PM

"Walt’s secret is also revealed in this episode, wrapped around the core revelation about Johnny’s father...."....at the 1irst season, was there any mention of JS's dad (herb) death?????


Not that I recall.

But remember, I openly acknowledge that this was retroactive continuity.




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