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Stitchers - Just The Two Of Us - Review: “Complex Puzzle” + POLL

Stitchers tackled a tough case under unique circumstances as Kirsten stitched into the mind of a brilliant autistic man. Autism is a topic that very few shows want to tackle and it’s because it’s hard to capture the high-level way in which autistic minds work. Those who are autistic can be some of the most brilliant and exceptional people around and it’s simply hard to do justice to how incredible their minds are. Their brains were beautifully crafted to process the world in a unique way that can sometimes be hard to bring to life on the screen. Though there has been a big need for autistic characters to be represented on television, so it’s a topic writers have needed to become more comfortable bringing to life in their characters. Shows like NBC’s now cancelled Parenthood who had an Asperger’s character or the upcoming ABC series The Good Doctor who will have an autistic character as the lead are prime examples that those in the Autism community can not only be represented on television, but they can be represented in respectful brilliant ways that show how incredible their whole community is. They are savants and puzzle solvers and truly exceptional people, but they have challenges like everyone else.

Because their brains were created to process the world differently it can sometimes be a challenge for them to deal with all the noise out there in the world. Their senses can be way more acute than others causing them to experience what can only be imagined as a massive overload of information. Some can learn to cope with everything the world is throwing at them by channeling all their energy into one thing. Whether that’s a certain subject or puzzle, they learn to process the world in a way that their brilliant brains can translate. In the case of Tom, he processed out all the noise by losing himself in puzzles. They gave him a sense of peace and calm and by all accounts, he was exceptionally good at them. Sadly it’s that very thing that his mother’s evil boyfriend would use against him in the vilest of ways. His gift for puzzles did put Kirsten in the unique position to have to try and figure out how she could translate his translation.

To do that she had to turn to her imagined version of Cameron to help her comprehend and translate everything she was experiencing. Whether it was intentional or not it was quite obvious before the end of the first act that Kirsten was in the middle of a stitch, though the specifics were unknown. Even having a good idea of what was going on didn’t deter from the fun of the hour. Learning that Tom was autistic did answer a lot of questions about what was going on, but it was terrific that they managed to show that being autistic isn’t all he was. He had a life and was a son who was passionately loved by his mom and he was a puzzle solver. It was interesting that they had Tom manifest in the form of Cameron. That was a rather brilliant choice as it gave Kirsten a chance to reconcile her feelings for her Cameron and gave the writers a way to flesh out who Tom was without having him running around the stitch with Kirsten. This was just another fun part of the puzzle of the episode.

Emma Istha and Kyle Harris dominated the hour and they delivered some truly exceptional performances. Harris was brilliant as he perfectly captured the Cameron we all know while infusing him with some of the characteristics of Tom that were filtered in by Kirsten. He was exceptional throughout the entire hour as faux Cameron aided Kirsten on her journey through Tom’s complex brilliant mind. Faux Cameron was Kirsten’s lifeline in many ways. They were a team and he really opened Kirsten’s eyes to what was perhaps the real issue behind her and Cameron’s relationship. When Kirsten shot faux Cameron that was a huge scary moment for the character that really opened her eyes to all the reasons she loves Cameron. She could lose him for good and while their relationship is complicated it is something that she needs to fight for and is now, by all visible account, ready to fight for.

While Kyle Harris was exceptional, this was a tour de force for Emma Istha who was phenomenal in every single moment of every single scene. She has always had her fingers on Kirsten’s pulse and been able to stunningly bring her to life, but there was just something a little extra special in her performances in this episode. For most of the episode she had Kyle Harris at her side, but as the stitch wound down she was alone. She had to keep the flow of the story progressing forward when she had absolutely no one to work off of. Most people don’t understand how incredibly hard that is to act without anyone to work opposite of. It’s just a performer and their surroundings and if they can’t use the elements of the set to inform their performance than what they are trying to convey can fall very flat and not connect with the audience. Istha went for it and delivered almost an entire act all by herself and those moments were as impactful and important as any other part of the episode. She is a gifted actress and has consistently shown what she can do, but this episode took things to a whole other level and she took on the challenge and delivered an exceptional episode.

An episode like this can either be very good or go very wrong very fast. This is first and foremost an ensemble show with a huge mythology. To try and isolate away just two of the characters and still expect the episode to hit as hard, as usual, is a tall order. Now, here is where viewers will probably differ in why they love the episode. There will be the shippers who are obsessed with Cameron and Kirsten that want to see them get back together who will be thrilled by them spending so much time together. Even though the characters weren’t actually together it was the experiences that Kirsten went through with faux Cameron that permitted the kiss that ended the episode with real Cameron. Then there will be those who simply don’t care about the ships and just adore the mythology of the show that will be thrilled to see yet another aspect of stitching explored. This was a whole new exploration into what can happen in a stitch and how time is so different inside a stitch. To Kirsten, days passed, but in reality, it was only three seconds. It is the mechanics of the stitch and the puzzle solving element that makes it the most appealing. It is that aspect that allowed this episode to avoid the usual pitfalls of a bottle episode.

Shipping has become a very unfortunate aspect of fandom in that now some viewers base their entire love of a series based off of a certain ship. If that ship isn’t together then people aren’t watching or are putting down the writers for breaking up a couple or not putting them together fast enough. Unfortunately, since fans fuel the medium of television, writers are forced to write towards those ships instead of being allowed to let their core story have a nice natural flow to it. What is most respectable about this show is that they understand the ships that fuel their show, but they don’t just give the shippers what they want. They make the couples earn their relationship and they make the audience angry and happy along the way. It’s the moments of discourse that make the moments of togetherness so much sweeter. Like the kiss that ended the episode meant so much more because of the fact that the characters went through what they went through. There was real heart and meaning behind that kiss as opposed to two characters kissing just to appease shippers. When Kirsten and Cameron reunited in that kiss it felt right and earned and the writers deserve huge kudos for sticking to their guns and writing the story the way they wanted to write it. It’s okay for fans to want certain characters together, to each their own, but it’s up to the writers to decide when and if the time is ever right for that to happen without harming the core story that fuels their show.

This season of Stitchers has been very couple heavy as the show chose to give the fans some fun couplings on top of the hallmark one between Cameron and Kirsten. It was, in fact, time for the show to dive into their personal lives, so that has been fun to watch. Still, the writers have smartly not just handed over happily ever after to any character. To do that any time prior to a final season or a series finale is a recipe for disaster. Viewers think they want that, they crave it and beg for it, but in so many cases when it happens that same spark that kept them rooting for the couple is gone. Even after Cameron and Kirsten fully work things out they will still have bumps in the road, hurdles to cross, and probably future separations to deal with. It’s all about the journey and this episode was a prime example of the beautiful journey the writers are taking these characters on. Things won’t be easy, they live dangerous lives, but when they come back together or overcome something together it means so much more this way.

That same thing applies to all the other characters as well. Whatever ultimately brings them happiness and makes them feel whole will mean so much more because of all the failed relationships and heartbreaks. It’s very true to life in that way because happily ever after in real life isn’t an easy thing to reach. Every relationship whether real or fiction is a labor of love that ebbs and flows. Camille and Amanda failed, but that will likely aid Camille in her next relationship. Linus and Ivy may not survive all the issues befalling them, but they’ll have learned lessons for their future relationships. Also, it was nice that even though the other characters were only in the very end that they still felt very present throughout. Camille was mentioned so many times that it felt like she was there with them. The same goes for the other characters as well. That right there is the very definition of tight writing when you can have characters absent yet still make them part of the story. It was a lovely surprise to see them all appear at the end to close out the episode.

This episode delivered big poignant moments along with some scary moments such as the garage scene or Cameron being shot. It delivered a poignant story and made it exceptionally easy to hate the monster that ultimately murdered Tom. It was also a terrific homage to past cases when they all appeared to motive Kirsten. Perhaps most unexpected was when Ed appeared to give Kirsten the last bit of motivation she needed to solve the case and ensure Tom’s voice was heard. That’s that thing, Kirsten is the voice for all these people and she brought them justice. Had Kirsten not been able to solve this case it would have haunted her. Ed in addition to everyone else gave her that last bit of motivation she needed. This episode delivered such a beautifully stunning and important story that the whole cast and crew should be so proud of. They told a complex story smartly and with so much respect to the autism community that this episode will not soon be forgotten.

Don’t miss the next all new episode when it airs next Monday, July 31st at 9/8c on Freeform.

Hit the comments with your thoughts. Are you happy that Kirsten and Cameron appear to be back together? Did you miss the rest of the cast in the episode more? What were your favorite moments?

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