The two-hour, season-finale event was actually two separate episodes, so I'll comment on each of them individually...
It's ironic that the story started out with Johnny, Bruce and J.J. out on a fishing trip because this had me hook, line and sinker for the first half of the episode. Johnny has a vision of him killing a man with his bare hands out of revenge and as we slowly work backward, we find out that it's because a "family" member died. Jumping to conclusions, I assumed it just HAD to somehow be J.J. and that crazy man who got robbed did it out of some sense of misguided revenge because Johnny and Bruce got special treatment by Bannerman while his report was pretty much filed under "want to help, but ain't likely." The guy was having a pretty bad day all around, so it's too great a leap to see him doing something stupid to try and get Walt to notice him and help out his plight. Instead, the intended victim is Bruce and we slowly see that very little of what Johnny does to try and change things helps, until the last few moments. But the really interesting angle is the one Bruce brings up--is Johnny trying to save Bruce or himself from becoming what he sees in the visions? Johnny desparately wants to not become like Stillson but yet he may have to sink to Stillson's level in order to stop the coming armageddon. And did anyone else have a sinking feeling for the last half hour that maybe we were going to lose Bruce from the show? And how HUGE a loss that would be for Johnny? I'd argue that it's been Bruce more than any other character who has kept Johnny focused and grounded in reality and that without Bruce, Johnny would become onto only the violent man he saw in this vision, but also the gray-headed Johnny from the vision of the future in the next episode.
At long last, the series goes back to some of the arc plotlines that have been bubbling under the surface since the season premiere. Seeing Purdy has a crisis of faith was well set-up by the events of last week's episode and the scene where he shred the Bible (I'm assuming it's the one Stillson gave him) was nicely done. The murder of Rachel comes back up to haunt everyone--including Stillson. Johnny is faced with a difficult choice about whether or not to continue his visions, despite the now growing side effects to his health. I had to call the Rebecca relationship as offically headed for the rocks when Johnny revealed to Sarah he was as happy for the first time since he'd been with Sarah. Three scenes later, Rebecca is manipulating Johnny so that any visions he gets of her won't reveal her plan to take out Stillson. The visions from future guy get weirder and weirder, though I called that the guy coming in and out of the room would be J.J. long before that was revealed. Also, this brings up an interesting question--in the future Johnny sees, he appparently does not choose to have the surgery to take away his visions. So, if he does chose it in the present day, will he be preventing this future or ensuring it? Can he really make the difference he wants to make and stop Stillson? Also, we don't what happens to Stillson when Rebecca shoots him, though we get a pretty good indication she is probably gonna die. And yet, Johnny is told not to save her--is this the crucial crossroads of history? And seeing Johnny's obsession in the earlier episode of not becoming the insane, obsessed man over Bruce's death, would he allow Rebecca to die? Of course, we're assuming here that future Johnny has everyone's best interests at heart when relaying information to Johnny. He may not. In fact, he may be trying to create the future he's living in for his own selfish reasons.
All I can say is, I wish the conclusion to this was airing next week and we didn't have to wait around to see how it all plays out. All I can say it--I hope we get a season 3.5 like we did with season 2 and don't have to wait until next summer for the epic conclusion.
posted by Michael Hickerson at 8/23/2004 09:58:00 AM