== (1.1) Switchman

(commented on by Kathryn A)

=== General

Somehow, in that initial sequence, all we can do is admire Jim. Here he is, nobly carrying on with his mission when everyone else would have given up. What's more, he succeeds. What's more, he hasn't got a clue that he was left for dead. He's lost, and he doesn't know it. Macho, and vulnerable.

It is ironic that Jim did his job so well in Peru that they didn't send anyone after him: the remark that they heard that rebel activity had died down in the area so they didn't send any more teams in - and presumably the rebel activity died down because of Jim's work with the Chopek. This is supported by the follow-up remark that nobody who has gone into that area in the past 18 months has ever come out again.

Then we get the build-up of all the incidents with Jim's senses; a very balanced treatment - his strength is his weakness. On the one hand, he saves their lives in the lumber-mill. On the other hand, he goes to a restaurant and chokes. And then we have the zone-out factor on top of that, very dramatically demonstrated with the incident with the garbage truck (though foreshadowed in the stake-out when Jim didn't hear the radio at first).

Then Blair bursts on the scene, with all his chutzpah and energy.

Question - how come it took them so long to figure it was personal, with the Switchman and Jim? Which came first, the email, or Jim being in charge of the case? They were obviously assuming that the email was addressed to Jim because he was in charge, and that it wasn't particularly unusual for the Switchman to know that Jim was in charge. Note that this was a very high-profile case; the bombings had been going on for six months.

Note - Simon still thinks at the end, that this whole thing with Jim's senses was just Jim having the jitters.

=== Characters

  • is considered a good enough investigator already that he is (a) in charge of a high-profile case and (b) allowed plenty of leeway in how he does it.
  • is desperate
  • wants to cure his senses problem; if he can't get rid of it, he'll settle for controlling it
  • has never been a communicative man, not about his feelings
  • thinks partnership in cop terms (note the word "guide" is not used, just "partner"): (a) he gives his gun to Blair to cover the Switchman with, and (b) he calls Blair his new partner, and then tells him he'll have to go to the Academy. It isn't entirely clear how serious he is about that, considering that in the next episode, they are talking in terms of "observer", but then, given Blair's objections, that might have been a compromise they both reached.
  • is not into music with lots of drums
  • demonstrates obfuscation, enthusiasm and chutzpah from the word go
  • has a wandering eye; he mentions the nurse, he asks about the TA, and he hits on the perfume-store attendant.
  • thinks of Jim in terms of being a research subject
  • has an office which is a converted store-room - but he also has a business card
  • seems to have done archaeology at some point
  • is into music with lots of drums
  • has a cousin who sends him coffee blends
  • does actually tell people "good work" (at least, he told Carolyn)
  • does seem to have good management skills
  • thinks of things in terms he can understand: it's more likely that Jim is just psyched out by the Switchman, than that anything is actually strange with his senses.

=== Senses

  • sees (and hears?) water boiling. A mini-zone: he doesn't hear the radio at first
  • hears a motor vehicle passing
  • smells gas (in front of the others). Note that he doesn't realize that it is unusual.
  • gets dizzy in reaction to his reflection in the motorcycle helmet
  • tastes the paprika in his meal at the restaurant, reacts to the mildly warm spice as if it is red hot chili
  • kisses Carolyn very sensitively
  • goes to the doctor and complains of sight, hearing, smell and taste. Note that the doctors don't find anything. So what were they looking for? They were looking for pathology; for diseases and wounds and brain-lesions. Which of course weren't there. If they did test Jim's senses, they would only have tested within the normal human range, and, of course, found nothing unusual.
  • zones out on a bright red Frisbee
  • smells the roses
  • hears the two girls talking
  • feels the texture of different kinds of ashes
  • sees the bird and the blue yarn
  • smells the perfume on the yarn (shampoo, presumably, since the fibre was from a hat)
  • identifies three separate perfumes
  • hears the bomb ticking on the bus; a mini-zone - doesn't hear Blair calling for help
  • hears Carolyn's watch ticking in the back of her car

Observed by:

  • Carolyn (taste) (touch, hearing weren't so obvious)

=== Favourite Bits

The opening sequence.

Seeing Jim's vulnerable desperation when he thinks he's going nuts.

"Listen, you neo-hippy witch doctor punk..."

Jim telling Blair that the girls thought he was a dork.

Jim crashing in through the back of the bus just after Simon says that "he'll be with you in a minute".

"Cadet? Cadet? Wait a minute, man. I am not cutting my hair."