Touch Review: "Kite Strings" (Episode 1.4)
David Simon, creator of The Wire, recently said in a New York Times interview that it was unfair for people to criticize his show because they were not aware of the beginning, middle and end, and how everything works together. Simon does have a point, with some shows like The Wire, knowing how all the puzzle pieces fit makes for a more engaging and enjoyable experience. A show like Touch also suffers from this problem. Now while Touch will almost certainly never attain the status of The Wire, considered by many to be one of the greatest shows of all time, it also shares the problem of trying to build a complex interconnecting world, all while keeping the audience engaged without having them know the endgame. But unlike The Wire, which was based in Baltimore, Touch connects the entire world, from Iraq to Virginia and everywhere in between. This makes it harder to see how everything will come together in the end. But with “Kite Strings,” for the first time since the pilot, Touch feels like it has an endgame in mind, one that will at the very least attempt to connect all these disparate stories.
“Kite Strings” immediately sets off feeling different than prior episodes, not starting with Jake’s frustrating narration filled with facts, but rather with a quiet moment with Martin finding out that no part of his wife’s remains have been found in the rubble of the World Trade Center. Immediately after, we get the narration in the next scene, but at the very least the show is mixing it up ever so slightly. Also, instead of having Jake run away, Martin takes him out of the facility in which he is staying to take him to visit his mother’s grave. While there, he meets a man also visiting his wife’s grave. Martin talks to the man for a little bit, but has to chase after Jake, of course, and the man runs away. Instead of following the man, he trusts Jake and runs after the boy who has lost his kite.
What Jake leads Martin to is the man’s apartment. The man was a bike messenger who his wife tutored to help him get a better job. The man would go on to name his daughter Sarah, after Martin’s wife. Meanwhile in Virginia, lottery winner Randall Meade, whom we haven’t seen since the pilot, is looking for answers as to what to do with his earnings. He walks into a church that claims to have answers but instead is just a chapel falling apart with a preacher who seems to be in the wrong line of business. In Iraq, we have two friends who want to audition to play a show for the military, one with his metal band, the other telling Chris Rock jokes. That also intersects with a woman in the military they’ve become friends with and a roadie back in New York that they ask for sound advice.
Unlike the last two episodes, “Kite Strings” connects these scattered stories into one whole tale that actually works. Even the roadie story, which does seem thrown in, works in its simplicity. “Kite Strings” also gives us a strong Martin story, exploring more of his past with his wife and concluding with a touching moment where he is led straight to her wedding ring.
Touch can be quite an engaging show when it can combine all of its storylines into a plot that matters, especially when it all seems based around the Martin story. I couldn’t care less about a worldwide online dance contest or about a mobster’s son talent show, unless it works towards the overall story. “Kite Strings” works everything together, while also combining some stories from past episodes that actually matter. “Kite Strings” is Touch heading in the right direction for what the show needs to become. Here’s hoping that David Simon is right and Touch creator Tim Kring can make all of this seem like it has a point by season’s end.