or How Chris Can Twist Your Stomach Up In Knots
….. by TeeJay
“Sodalitas Quaerito,” a young woman by the name of Evelyn (Marissa Ramirez) answers the ringing phone, putting it on loudspeaker. There’s someone at the other end, distorted by a voice scrambler, telling her, “I keep having these dreams. And they keep coming true. I dream of obliterating people. And when I wake up, they’re dead—for real. I can’t keep doing this. I have to kill myself.” When Paul (Skeet Ulrich), one of Evelyn’s colleagues, asks for the person’s name, he hangs up the phone. Alva (Angus MacFadyen), the third member of the SQ trio, finds a couple of tabloid front pages, announcing that Bigfoot is on a rampage in the small town of Red Deer, Michigan. At first they are hesitant to follow this lead, but Alva persuades them that it may well be worth looking into.
Arriving in Red Deer, the first place they go to is the local gym, where a group of teenagers is practicing wrestling. As Paul walks past, his gaze is fixed on a boy, maybe 15 or 16, with dark hair and a slender build, who is just being slammed to the mat by his opponent, clearly inferior. The three SQ members interview the town’s sheriff (Gregory Harrison) and he dismisses them with it being just another Bigfoot scam, pushed by the media.
When the trio returns to their car, they find a note stuck under the windshield wiper. It states that if they’re still interested, they can meet their mystery caller at the library. When Paul and Alva go there, it’s the young, dark-haired boy Travis (Chris Marquette) from the gym. In a pained voice, he tells them he dreams about killing people. And when he wakes up, they’re dead. He also tells them this started when he was 13. You can just see how much it tortures him. He shows them his forearm with little round wounds all over it. Travis explains he’s been poking himself with pins to try to stay awake because he’s scared that if he falls asleep, more people will end up dead. As Alva and Paul are trying to find out what might be up with Travis, the sheriff’s car pulls up outside the library and Travis suddenly grabs his bag and bolts, telling them he has to go. Paul and Alva watch him run up to the sheriff’s car and get in. At first they think he might be in some kind of trouble, but it turns out he’s the sheriff’s son.
At home, Travis is setting the table to have dinner with his father, and it is immediately apparent that the sheriff is a very strict man who demands perfect obedience from his son. He talks to Travis about wrestling practice earlier that day and tells him he will not tolerate seeing his son being beaten by some jock again. Then he forces Travis to re-enact the tackle that brought Travis down earlier, insisting that he show Travis what he should do the next time someone tries to pull something like that on him. Travis reluctantly puts his arms around his father’s neck from behind and as Travis tries to make a move, his father lashes out his elbow and smashes Travis in the face. Travis crumples to the floor in pain with a bloody nose, and his father just gets up and says: “Hope you learned something. Clean yourself up, finish setting the table.”
That night, we see Travis in his room, listening to loud rock music, desperately fighting against sleep, but losing the battle. He is poking himself in the lower arm again and there’s a nasty bruise around his left eye where his father punched him earlier. Paul is outside of Travis’s house, watching him from the car as Travis escapes through the window and runs into the forest behind the house. Paul follows him, finding him in a shed with a lit fireplace and a makeshift camp-like bed on the floor. It looks very much like this is not the first time Travis has come here to escape.
Travis tells Paul about his friend Jimmy (Matt Newton), who’s from a couple of towns over. Travis feels like Jimmy is the only person who understands him and who he can talk to. Paul says he’d like to meet Jimmy, but Travis tells him that Jimmy doesn’t like people and wouldn’t talk to Paul. Paul notices Travis has a black eye and asks if Jimmy did that to him. He lies and says he did it himself because the pain helps to stay awake. Paul tries to persuade Travis that he doesn’t think he has anything to do with the killings. Travis doesn’t believe him, but Paul assures him that he can go to sleep. Paul humors him by saying he will guard the door and make sure Travis doesn’t leave to kill anyone.
The next morning, Travis jerks awake. He tells Paul it has happened again, but Paul says that Travis can’t possibly be a killer. Paul has been sitting by the door the whole night and Travis never left the shed. Just then we hear the Sheriff’s voice calling for Travis. Slightly panicky, Travis runs out to meet his father; Paul follows him. Of course the Sheriff is less than happy to see his boy messing with some guy from the big city, so he tells Paul to leave him and his son the hell alone. Paul tries to tell the sheriff about Travis’s problems, but the sheriff won’t hear any of it. And now Paul’s suspicions become way more than suspicions: Travis didn’t give himself that shiner.
Later, back in the shed in the woods, Jimmy is talking to Travis, telling him that his father is not a good person and that Travis shouldn’t tolerate any of the crap that he’s been doing to him anymore. But Travis defends him, saying that his dad loves him. Jimmy tells him that no one in town is ever going to stand up for Travis and he should know that by now. Travis begins to suspect that Jimmy might have something to do with the killings. Before he can ask him, Jimmy vanishes into the woods because Paul is coming to find Travis again.
When Paul enters, Travis is standing with his back to the door, telling Paul to go away. His voice is wavering, he’s on the verge of tears. Though Paul won’t leave him alone and Travis freaks, screaming at Paul to go away, but Paul knows something is terribly wrong. He sees that Travis has something in his hand and grabs him, causing a bunch of pills to drop from Travis’s hand. Travis yells at Paul that everything’s his fault, that he has to kill himself to make the murders stop. “I’m bad, okay? I’ve always been bad. I was born bad!” No, Paul says, that’s impossible, and why would he think that? Travis breaks down, crying. “I killed my mother. She died giving birth to me. I killed her, okay?” Paul asks, “Why would you think that?” And Travis sobs, “My father told me. She wouldn’t have died if it weren’t for me.” Paul is aghast. He tells Travis that his father is wrong, that he says things like that to excuse what he does to Travis, what he probably did to his mother. Paul wraps his arms around Travis, soothing him that it’s not his fault while Travis cries into his shoulder.
In the meantime the sheriff pulls up in his car at the house as Paul and Travis walk back from the shed. Paul promises Travis that his father won’t lay another hand on him. Paul’s phone rings and it’s Alva, telling Paul that they tried to find Jimmy over in Medicine Hat where he allegedly goes to school. But there is no record of Jimmy anywhere. It’s like he doesn’t exist. Alva’s theory is that Jimmy is Travis’s spirit protector. “They were fraternal twins. Apparently the sheriff beat his wife when she was pregnant. He killed Travis’s brother in utero.” Jimmy is killing those who have failed to protect Travis. And the only reason Jimmy hasn’t killed his father is that Travis is somehow preventing it.
What Paul doesn’t realize is that the sheriff is coming towards them from behind. Before Travis can warn him, Paul is knocked to the floor by a blow from the sheriff’s night stick. He’s locked up at the sheriff’s station and from behind bars, Paul tries to convince the sheriff to apologize to his son, otherwise he might be in mortal danger. The sheriff doesn’t believe any of it, and when Travis comes to Paul’s defense, his father shoves him away, causing him to hit his head on one of the cell bars. Travis falls to the floor, unconscious.
Suddenly, the door opens and a gust of wind blows in. Jimmy is standing there, telling the sheriff, “I went after the others, but I could never go after you. He loved you too much. I had to respect that.” Paul tries to persuade Jimmy that he doesn’t have to do this, but there’s no stopping Jimmy now. Alva and Evelyn show up then, but all they can do is stand by in horror as Jimmy beats the sheriff and strangles him to death.
One week later, Paul takes Travis to stay with his mom’s sister. She knew what her sister’s husband was doing to her and her son, but she never had the chance to do anything about it. She once tried to have Travis taken away from him, but didn’t succeed. But now that Travis’s father is dead, he will finally have a good home with her. Paul sees him to the front porch and gives Travis his business card. “This may be hard to believe, but I’ve been where you are. I’m not gonna let you go through this on your own, okay? Call me, any time, day or night. I’m gonna check in on you, deal?” “Deal,” Travis answers.
His aunt (Michele Greene) comes out of the house, happy to see Travis. She assures him that everything is going to be okay. She spots a bracelet on Travis’s wrist and asks him where he got it. He says from a friend. And his aunt tells him his mother had one just like it, she was buried with it. The picture fades to black on his aunt welcoming Travis to his new home.
Travis Prescott. Boy, if you find a more tortured and angst-ridden kid anywhere out there in TV-land, let me know. This character and story had my stomach all in knots and tangles. Unbelievable what this kid is going through. He’s being beaten and abused by his condescending father, there is no one in that forsaken town out in the middle of nowhere who’s sticking up for him and he thinks he’s killing people by dreaming about doing so and then finding them dead the next morning. And his only friend is a dead twin brother who doesn’t even exist in the real world. At least not as a person. If that’s not reason enough to want to kill yourself, then I don’t know what is.
Brilliant, wonderful, tortured acting by Chris. This is probably my all time favorite role of his so far. Why? Because I just love the angsty, torturous agony of watching him work his tear ducts.
Visually, Chris as Travis is very casually dressed. Loose-fitting jeans, t-shirt, hoodie. Pretty much Adam-style. His hair is still short-ish, but cute.
See above. Loved Chris in it, loved the agony and the intensity. Loved his tear ducts in action. Loved how he managed to radiate it all off the screen and how that makes me cringe every time I watch it. You go, Chris!
Nothing about the acting or show or the episode itself, but I just hate the sheriff. Watching the scene where the sheriff gives Travis the shiner gets me every time, makes me sick to my stomach. How can a father ever hurt his child? Or worse, do it on purpose like this? I just want to scream at that jerk of a father, how can he so readily and intentionally hurt his son? How?? But to say something positive about this scene: Great acting, both on Chris’s and Gregory Harrison’s part!
There are a lot of great, intense moments in this one, and pretty much all of them just make you squirm. The library scene. How Travis is on the verge of tears, how you can see the desperation leak out of him. Too heart-breaking.
The dinner scene with his father. First we see this totally normal kid who’s having fun with his video game, and suddenly there’s this abused teen being punched in the face by his father. Makes me sick to my stomach when I think about how anyone could ever do that.
The scene in the shed where Travis wants to kill himself. God, that’s heart-wrenching stuff. But finally there’s some relief when Paul gathers Travis in his arms and assures him that nothing of that is his fault.
The happy ending. Travis gets to live with his aunt who truly only has his best interest at heart. He’s gonna find a good home there and be with people who truly love him. Sigh.
Travis: “I keep having these dreams. And they keep coming true. I dream of obliterating people. And when I wake up, they’re dead—for real.”
Paul: “Well what? You think Bigfoot is calling us?”
Paul: “Travis, is it hard for you to feel things?”
Travis: “No. It’s… it’s actually hard not to.”
Travis: “What am I gonna do? I mean, I can’t go to sleep, but I can’t not sleep forever.”
Sheriff Prescott: “Oh, today at practice, I kept my part of the bargain, didn’t I? I didn’t say a word, I let you do it your way. And what was your part of the bargain?”
Travis: “To try my hardest?”
Sheriff Prescott: “You think you did that?”
Sheriff Prescott: “Excuse me?”
Travis: “Yes. Yes, sir.”
Sheriff Prescott: “You think your best is getting your clock cleaned by the likes of Jay Pearson?”
Travis: “I tried. Really hard.”
Paul: “Does your dad know you’re here?”
Travis: “He doesn’t care.”
Paul: “Is Jimmy the one who gave you the black eye?”
Travis: “No. No, I did it to myself. The pain helps.”
Paul: “Helps what?”
Travis: “Helps me to stay awake. You know, so I don’t fall asleep and… kill people.”
Paul: “Travis, what if I told you I don’t think you have anything to do with these people getting killed?”
Travis: “I’d say you don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Jimmy: “How long are you going to take this?”
Travis: “He just wants me to do better.”
Jimmy: “What he wants is to beat the crap outta you.”
Travis: “He loves me.”
Jimmy: “That’s a fairy tale, Trav. That ain’t never gonna come true.”
Travis: “Everything’s my fault!”
Paul: “It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault, all right?”
Travis: “Yes, it is!”
Paul: “No, it isn’t!”
Travis: “I’m bad, okay? I’ve always been bad. I was born bad.”
Paul: “That’s impossible.”
Travis: “I killed…”
Paul: “Who did you kill?”
Travis: “My mother. She died giving birth to me. I killed her, okay?”
Paul: “Why would you think that?”
Travis: “My father told me. She wouldn’t have died if it weren’t for me.”
Paul: “Your father’s wrong. Do you hear me? He’s lying to you.”
Paul: “To excuse what he does to you. What… what he probably did to her. It’s not your fault. It’s not. It’s okay.”
I always wonder if Gregory Harrison took one look at Chris on the set of Miracles and said, “Hey, you’re the kid who jumped me in the hospital hallway on Strong Medicine last year!” Gregory Harrison payed Dr. Rand Kilner on that show; he raped Lu, and Marc went ballistic. He was also in the episode of Judging Amy that Chris was in, but they had no scenes together.