It's interesting to think that when Perception premiered, one of the biggest critiques was that it was centered on a super intuitive character that solved crime, much like a variety of other shows. In an attempt to set it apart, though, Dr. Daniel Pierce was a paranoid schizophrenia.
Certainly, the episodes that aired utilized his mental disorder to help him discover clues and figure it all out. We were given overly informative hallucinations like Joan of Arc and thought provoking ones like his younger self - but for the most part, those visions were mostly positive. They were, in a way, Pierce's ace up his sleeve, to finally crack the case.
At the same time, viewers were left trying to guess or be surprised by characters that might or might not be hallucinations. Even if there were certain lapses in Pierce's stability, there was a certain "fun" element to having him see these people around him.
"Shadow" broke the whole concept down and captured the reality, if you will, of that darker side to having schizophrenia and how heartbreaking it is to see someone fold underneath the illness.
Truthfully, most of the time TV has shown characters that have schizophrenia, we often see them as just crazy or delusional ramblers that make no sense. More often then not, shows portray them as killers that the police have been tasked with stopping.
Which is why Perception has done a fantastic job in peeling back the layers of a character with schizophrenia. It's an eye opening take that goes beyond the basic understandings and extends it to something that humanizes the situation. Of course, Eric McCormack has played Pierce to perfection, allowing the audience to care about him whether he's excitedly combing for answers or falling apart before our eyes.
That said, it was the final moments of the episode that really knocked it out of the park for me as we discovered that Pierce had been in his apartment the whole time. Watching McCormack turn Pierce from confident and assertive to disillusioned and broken was outstanding. The bathroom scene with Natalie especially captured the terrible atmosphere of being trapped in a world where you hear voices, become heavily engrossed in conspiracies and only want that one hallucination for comfort. If only Natalie really could give him a hug.
I was even pleased that Pierce was able to own up to his problem and admit himself. The whole revelation was a gut punch that took away all that so called fun of the imaginary friend.
Although, I would say that I liked the subtler moment of holding hands with Kate Moretti more than their passionate kiss. Maybe, I'm just not ready for these two to be together, but I guess it technically never really happened anyway.
Or did it?
At least on some level, some of the potential conspiracy has to be legitimate. Right?
That final revel that Wesley was in fact real and not just a figment of Pierce's imagination got my wheels turning. Is there a secret society and conspiracy theory that's true? And will JFK be back next episode? Would Kate really stun gun her partner?
The hour did a great job in playing with the "what's real" idea, although I kept wondering if his so called dream was within a dream or something.
But truly it was the character reveal of Pierce's mental break that made the episode stand out and spin everything on its head. What an emotional discovery before ending with a "to be continued..."
What did you think? Did you see the twist coming? Excited for next's week's conclusion? Sound off below!
Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.