How Medium used sickness to spark strange new directions on the show

By: Start TV Staff     Posted: March 5, 2019, 10:58AM

You never know what Allison will see next on Medium. Her visions were in part terrifying, but also the show's most entertaining element, giving series writers a chance to parody and pay homage to everything from iconic horror movies to classic TV sitcoms. And while the psychic's visions were primarily a vehicle for solving crimes, they were not immune to being messed with, and rarely did we see Allison's visions take bizarre turns more than on Dubois' occasionally sick days.

In the first season of Medium, there's an episode that shows Allison posted up on a couch, a familiar and empathetic scene for anybody who's ever had to surround themselves with tissues to deal with the flu.  In this way, "I Married a Mind Reader" starts out as extremely relatable, but soon, Allison reaches for the medicine, and blame it on her fuzzy head, once she falls asleep, her dreams react oddly to the ordinary meds.

The title of the episode offers a clue to the direction Medium takes us next, which is into the TV, where Allison becomes part of one of her favorite programs, a fictitious TV show made up for Medium called I Married a Mind Reader. Through the rest of the episode, we see Allison in classic sitcom housewife garb, thick headband and all, looking more like a modern, older Patty Duke than a typical June Cleaver. As you might expect, though, the sitcom's plot eventually twists, and in the idyllic black & white sequences, Allison has exceptional trouble separating reality from the flu-medicine fog of her fanciful dreamscape.

Although the episode remains a standout of the first season, it also offered significant insight into Allison's nature. This would be our first look at how Allison's health can have a serious impact on her ability to correctly interpret her visions, and the series explores this much more in-depth in the fifth season. That's when Allison falls into a sudden coma in an episode called "The Man in the Mirror."

For "The Man in the Mirror," the episode opens with a shot of Allison collapsing in the woods. When she awakes, she doesn't feel herself and it's because she, in fact, is not herself. Instead, the episode explains, her spirit escapes into a man's body and back at her own hospital bed, doctors can find nothing wrong to explain her sudden loss of consciousness. Meanwhile, the male version of Allison wanders back to the house, where she finds Joe and explains what's going on.

It's one of the series' weirdest episodes, and it's pegged to the notion that when Allison is sick, she's not in control of her supernatural abilities. Of course, time and again, we watch Allison wrangle her powers and regain control, which is what makes watching Medium so much fun. We can trust that while we can't always trust Allison in the moment, in the end, we can always trust her to make sense and pull us all out of the haze, even through moments when we feel most skeptical.

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