John D'oh!

I've grudgingly enjoyed John Doe. I say grudgingly, because it's incredible to me that it survived the season while its superior leadin, Firefly, got the axe. But I watched Doe all season, despite the cardboard characters of Frank and Avery, because they had fun with the show's fundamental premise. When they killed Karen a few weeks ago, the show rose a notch in my esteem. That was a bold move-- even bolder if it was planned from the outset and not the result of a contract dispute. But last night... last night it jumped the shark.

They'd set up a really nice juxtaposition between John Doe and Digger. Doe's a man desperately searching for his past, while Digger steadfastly keeps his past behind him. There was a nice buddy vibe building. It worked. And last night they trashed it by revealing Digger to be the leader of the Phoenix Group, the organization that killed Karen and believes Doe is their messiah.

This makes no sense.

Doe wound up at Digger's place by happenstance. They met by chance. The odds against that happening-- of Doe linking up with his arch-nemesis-- are astronomical. Credulity is strewn all about the room in tiny particles floating on beams of afternoon sunlight. Explaining it, as they might, by saying that whatever gives Doe his knowledge also programmed him to seek out Digger so that the Phoenix Group could watch him is blatant ret-con. I'm sure if I were to review past episodes, Digger's actions would make no sense in light of this development.

This is the X-Files at its worst. For a series like this to work, viewers must invest their trust in the creators. We take it on faith that there's a grand plan, and that the writers aren't just making it up as they go along. Nowhere Man, a one-season-wonder from UPN a few years back, exhibited similar symptoms. 24 does it right. With its season finale, John Doe pulled back the curtain to reveal the wizard as a man without a plan, just struggling to keep one step ahead.

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