The holidays can be stressful — all the baking and decorating, plus disapproving family coming to visit. Journeyman adds in downsizing, pregnancy, post-traumatic stress, a proposal and that whole unstuck-in-time thing, making it one hell of a holiday.

We wish you a Merry Spoiler.

It’s not looking like a Merry Christmas in the Vassar household. How much does this holiday suck? Let me count the ways…

Bah, humbug the first: Dan gets fired. Evil suit Dennis Anbacher has decreed that editorial staff shall be reduced by 25 percent, and both Dan and Hugh are out the door.  Merry Christmas, indeed.

Bah, humbug the second: Dan and Livia are still unstuck in time. In fact, they get unstuck back to Christmas Eve, 1979, the night Dennis’ father, the previous publisher, died. Rumor has Old Man Anbacher had a heart attack while cavorting with a young copy girl named Nancy, who is now a respected reporter. Hmmm.

Bah, humbug the third: the night Anbacher dies is also the night Dan’s dad finally left for good, thus scarring him for life. Ouch.

Bah, humbug the fourth: While Dan is out gallivanting through time, Katie is trying to keep it together despite being haunted by the events of the last episode. No matter what she says, it’s not easy to shake off being held captive and made to play mommy by a gun-toting psycho.

Bah, humbug the fifth: Dan and Jack’s mom is in town, and she’s never liked Katie. And since Dan is otherwise disposed and Jack has his own problems, she’s got no one to run interference.

Bah, humbug the sixth: Jack’s girlfriend Theresa seems inordinately interested in Dan’s mental health. That, we discover, is because she’s pregnant with Jack’s child, and she wants to know the chances of her kid being psycho. Jack is somewhat taken aback.

Bah, humbug the seventh: And let’s not forget Livia — she’s got a life in 1948, you know. This life includes a sweetheart named Henry she really wants to get back to. Interesting…

Dan and Livia figure out in short order that (1) Dennis has always been an ass, as he hits on Livia then tries to hit Dan, (2) Nancy did in fact know Old Man Anbacher, but she wasn’t with him when he died, and (3) Dennis was with him-and he watched his father die of a heart attack without lifting a finger. Harsh.

Dan tries to use that knowledge in the future, enlisting Nancy to "persuade" Dennis to call off the layoffs. The newspaper — and his job — are saved.

Katie holds it together for as long as humanly possible, but finally, after seeing that accursed apron Bennett made her dress up in one too many times, she snaps and flees to the bedroom. Her mother-in-law is her unlikely comforter — she has to know that this isn’t something she can get over in a minute. Plus, she says, Katie has to know that Dan is not his dad — he won’t leave her. He’s in it for good.

Jack and Theresa try to come to terms with things — Jack says he’s in it for the long haul, but Theresa doesn’t know what she wants to do. They decide to take it slow.

Highlights, thoughts and odds and ends

  • Again, I love the Newsroom of Yesteryear — booze everywhere, people making out in the halls, and dreadfully bad fashion choices. I’m almost sorry I missed that era.
  • And then I’m reminded why I’m not so sorry — "Believe it or not, she wants to be a journalist," Daddy Vassar sneers. A woman journalist! Of all the unlikely things! (Now pardon me while I call my old journalism mentors to thank them and then renew my N.O.W. membership.)
  • Did anyone else panic when Huh pulled the bottle of booze out of his drawer? Is that something he keeps in case of emergency (i.e., having to fire someone), or have the layoffs pushed him off the wagon? Poor Hugh…
  • Dan enthuses when Zack announces they’re using fennel seeds in the new batch of cookies. "Do you even know what that is?" Zach asks. "I … have no idea." Hee.
  • I love how Livia’s 1948 home is all sepia-toned. Nice touch.
  • Holy crap, Henry proposed to Livia! And Livia said yes! How does that square with her speech to Dan earlier — "Maybe people like us can’t have anyone else in out lives"?
  • Dan tells Katie they can call the party off — "Just have a peaceful day with the family." "Your mother’s coming, so peaceful? Not an option."
  • Even though Jack knows about the time travel thing now, it’s not any easier for him — he still takes it as a personal affront when Dan gets pulled away and dropped back in the present. Somehow, that makes the brotherly relationship that much more authentic — Dan is still Jack’s pain-in-the-ass younger brother, only now, he’s skipping through time instead of skipping chores.
  • Again, great work on the parts of Kevin McKidd and Gretchen Egolf. Check out the emotions that flit across Dan’s face when he first tries to approach his father, and then realize he has no idea what to say. And the way the blood drains from Katie’s face when she sees that damn apron keep appearing is heartbreaking.

Next week, we get two episodes of the show: One in its regular time slot, and the next when Life usually airs on Wednesday. Is this good news or bad news? I have no idea. The ratings are holding, and Life, which has already been renewed, had similar numbers to Journeyman when it showed in the Monday-night timeslot. Plus, Journeyman was the16th most Tivoed show in America after its last episode — ahead of such full season earners as Life, Chuck, and Pushing Daisies. Here’s hoping…

Posted by:Sarah Jersild