It’s the second to last episode of Dead Zone, and we finally get around to addressing what was ostensibly supposed to be the central mystery again: Why did Walt Bannerman die? And hey, it looks like we’re getting back to the Armageddon story, too! Plus we have dead presidents shooting at living sheriffs, mysterious strangers who may be spies, itty bitty potential psychics, and a shootout in the police station! Wheee! Now that, my friends, is the Dead Zone I remember!

I see spoilers ahead.

Johnny comes home to find Sarah moving out. Cue the petulance on both sides. Yeah, yeah, whatever, let’s get to the shooting!

So. Johnny wanders into the sheriff’s office and pokes around, because they have the worst security ever. A nervous deputy finally mentions how maybe Johnny shouldn’t be poking around the sheriff’s office. Ya think? However, while he’s poking around looking for Walt evidence, he gets a vision of Sheriff Turner shot. She claims Abe Lincoln did it. Never trust a dead president. Sure he signed the Emancipation Proclamation, but you just know he had a lot of rage built up in him after that whole assassination thing. Apparently it finally came to a head.

So Johnny of course wanders on over to Turner’s house and then wanders in, because the door is unlocked, because she has the worst security ever. There, Johnny finds Doug, a guy he’d seen having heart-to-heart talks and long walks in the park with Turner. Doug says he’s up from New York to surprise Turner. Johnny goes with that. He gets another  vision hit and goes running after Turner again.

Let’s cut to the chase, here: Turner is seeking out Leo Vitali, the guy who came to the sheriff’s office claiming Walt owed him money. Yes, the case has been shut down due to the "kindness" of Greg Stillson, but there are still some things that don’t end up. After a couple more visions of Turner blaming Honest Abe for her gunshot wounds, Johnny finally tracks her down at a skuzzy motel, and from there they find a drunk, wounded Leo. As they’re hauling him through the parking lot, Johnny gets a vision of something that’s going to happen in the <i>very next second</i> — that someone in an Abe Lincoln mask was going to do a drive-by on them (aw, and I was so convinced we were talking about a zombie version of our sixteenth president. Curses.) That (rather late, in my view) vision gets them out of the line of fire, and they scamper back to the police station.

Leo’s unconscious (passed out from drink or head trauma, or possibly both), so they can’t question him. There’s more futzing around in the office, and Johnny gets a vision hit of Walt (hi, Walt! We miss you!) setting up an invisible partition on his computer to shield some super-secret stuff (but not, alas, stuff about the zombification of former leaders of the free world. Maybe next season…) More chatter, more futzing, a quick vision of the return of our Abified Assailant, and hey, there’s Abe again, and he’s shooting at them! He wings Turner, but Johnny manages to get Leo in the office and closes the door. Fortunately, Turner installed fabulous security when she took over, so the office now has bulletproof glass and a keyless deadbolt that can only be operated from the inside.

Dear Turner: Spiffy security doodads are lovely, but you want to know what would really keep your office secure? Not letting random idiots wander in and rifle through your stuff. Just a suggestion.

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The Abified Assailant ambulates through the antechamber while Turner bleeds, Leo sleeps and Johnny thinks. Leo wakes up to the Abified Assailant and freaks, because Abe attacked him! Um, duh, we were there, say Turner and Johnny. No, before! Leo tries to make a run for it, Johnny has a vision of the Abified Assailant shooting Leo (uh, Johnny, it honestly doesn’t take a psychic to figure that out) and gets him down  before the shooting starts. And start it does — but it’s Turner doing the shooting. She takes out the Abified Assailant, who is revealed to be … Doug!

Johnny is shocked — why would your boyfriend try to kill us? Boyfriend? He was my shrink. He got me this job. And, it transpires, he paid Leo to plant the idea that Walt owed money, and all sorts of other nefarious acts. And you know what’s weird? NYPD has no record of this guy. He’s not no driver’s license, no record, nothing — it’s like he doesn’t exist — or like he’s a spy!

But the surprises don’t stop there. JJ goes into a tailspin and tries to refuse to move out of Johnny’s house — he has a feeling it’s a bad idea. Johnny’s in danger, and JJ can sense it. JJ is not happy about this — the danger, or the fact that he’s turning out to be a bit too much of his father’s son.

After Sarah and JJ leave (there was another poignant moment, but eh, it was just getting in the way of the good stuff), Turner delivers Walt’s computer to Johnny. Johnny found the password for the hidden partition during the police-station shootout and finds out what Walt was working on -the End of the World. His computer is packed with pictures of Johnny’s insane-looking Stillson board. Johnny goes downstairs to visit the old board and gets a vision hit of Walt taking pictures, then calling a mysterious person to meet about Herb Smith — Johnny’s father. Dun dun DUN! To be continued.

OK, this is the most fun I’ve had watching the show since the season premiere, when they changed the whole playing field on us. It’s just possible this past season hasn’t been a waste after all — the boring Johnny-as-matchmaker and Johnny-saves-a-racehorse episodes were just lulling us into a false sense of security (or boredom) so we wouldn’t see the Return of Armageddon coming. We’ll find out next week, folks — I hope they pull it off.

Posted by:Sarah Jersild