In the series premiere of ABC Family’s first procedural drama, Stitchers, we meet Kirsten Clark, a brilliant grad student at Cal Tech who is told that her unique condition makes her the perfect candidate for a clandestine program. We follow Kirsten as she learns more about the Stitchers program and discovers that being a “stitcher” could change her life.
Stitchers is a bit of a change from ABC Family’s usual programming, so I hope the audience will give it a chance. The premiere, “A Stitch in Time,” does a good job of introducing us to the world of the show, and the science fiction twist should keep what could be a run-of-the-mill procedural from getting too stale.
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Kirsten’s No Good, Very Bad Day
After an intriguing and confusing opening sequence, we flash back 10 hours earlier to find Kirsten being accused of academic sabotage by her roommate, Camille. Camille and Kirsten do not get along, but their dynamic is interesting. I get the feeling that if they can look past their differences and get to know one another, they will become great friends. But first, Kirsten will have to forgive Camille for getting her put on academic suspension and threatening to kick her out of the house they share.
Kirsten’s bad day gets worse when she is approached by a detective. Detective Fisher takes Kirsten to the morgue to identify the body of the man who raised her, Ed Clark. Kirsten’s reaction to Ed’s death confuses Fisher, as does her unwavering belief that he did not kill himself like the police are claiming.
Detective Fisher questions Kirsten about why she was not close with her “father” — his word, not hers — but Kirsten ignores his attempts to pry into her personal life. Kirsten learns that the police took over 400 photos of Ed’s home after his death, and when Fisher is distracted by another detective, Kirsten takes a picture of Fisher’s computer.
Kirsten is Kidnapped
Kirsten returns home to find that she can no longer access the university’s computer network, thanks to her academic suspension. Kirsten asks to borrow Camille’s laptop, but Camille is not in a giving mood, so Kirsten decides to follow Camille’s sarcastic suggestion that she break into the Dean’s office and use his computer. She uses the Dean’s computer to hack into the LAPD’s data server, and we see that she took a picture of Fisher’s computer so she could get its ID number. Once Kirsten has access to the photos the police took of Ed’s home, she sees that one of his books is missing — the K volume of a dictionary set. Is this some sort of message to Kirsten?
Before she can investigate further, several men with guns break into the Dean’s office. They throw a black bag over Kirsten’s head and take her to a Chinese restaurant in downtown Los Angeles.
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The Stitchers Program
It is there that Kirsten meets Maggie Baptiste, the woman in charge of a secret government program to “stitch” a living consciousness into the mind of a recently-deceased person in order to use their memories to investigate crimes and solve mysteries. Kirsten’s condition, temporal dysplasia, makes her the perfect candidate for the program. As Kirsten explains to Maggie in one of the episode’s best scenes, she is unable to perceive time. The moment something happens to her, she feels as if it has always been that way. For instance, as soon as she learned of Ed’s death — the moment she saw him lying in the morgue — the knowledge of his death was familiar and it felt like he had been dead forever. This is why Kirsten reacted the way she did to Ed’s death.
Maggie tells Kirsten that she represents a federal agency — but do not try guessing which one — investigating a serious crime and she could use someone with Kirsten’s abilities. Kirsten is not interested, but Maggie points out that Kirsten has no money and nowhere to go, so what does she have to lose? Kirsten follows Maggie through the restaurant to a hidden elevator that leads into a high-tech lab. “Welcome to the Stitchers program,” Maggie says.
Kirsten’s First Stitch
Kirsten takes an appreciative look around the lab and is introduced to some of the other team members. The first person she meets is Cameron — the show is not subtle about painting Cameron as Kirsten’s main love interest — a neuroscientist who balks at the idea of rushing Kirsten into the program without a psych evaluation. Kirsten also meets Linus, a bioelectrical engineer who also handles communications. Linus, the resident unsocialized nerd, is the only character in this episode I take an instant dislike to. The last person Kirsten meets is Ayo, the woman in charge of the medical side of things — or, as Cameron explains, “She’s here to make sure you don’t get dead.”
The team wastes no time in plunging Kirsten into the program. After a brief interview with Cameron, Kirsten is sent into the “fish tank” to be “stitched” into the mind of Peter Brandt. Brandt was responsible for two bombings over the last two days and had enough materials to make four bombs, so it is Kirsten’s job to search Brandt’s memories to find out what he did with the other two bombs.
Kirsten has a very strong reaction to being stitched into Brandt’s memories. Cameron tries to talk her through it and get her to calm down, but it isn’t until she gets annoyed with Linus that she finally starts to relax. Cameron guides her through navigating Brandt’s memories, most of which involve the woman he loved. This woman, Julie, was killed three months ago and Kirsten watches her death through Brandt’s memories. But Kirsten does not get much time in Brandt’s mind before his memories start to collapse. She “bounces” out of Brandt’s mind just in time but has a strange reaction upon waking up in the real world. She kisses Cameron, tells him she’s sorry and calls him Julie. Then she passes out.
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Kirsten Saves the Day
The next day, Kirsten and the team go over what little Kirsten learned from Brandt’s memories. Eventually, Kirsten decides to investigate a lead on her own, and Maggie asks Cameron to go along to make sure Kirsten does not do anything to jeopardize the program. Kirsten and Cameron head back to her place, and Kirsten once again asks Camille for help. When Camille hesitates, Kirsten tells her everything about the Stitchers program. Camille is intrigued and lets Kirsten use her laptop. The trio work together and realize that Brandt was doing all of this out of revenge because someone stole Julie’s tech and sold it, causing Julie so much distress that she was not paying attention and got hit by a bus. They figure out that Brandt has planted the next bomb at the home of the woman who sold Julie’s tech.
Kirsten and Cameron are too late to stop the first bomb, but no one is hurt in the explosion. They get to the second site before the bomb goes off and work together to diffuse it. Unfortunately, the police arrive as soon as the danger is over and find Cameron and Kirsten with the bomb. Detective Fisher does not buy their explanation — they just happened upon the bomb and diffused it — but Maggie steps in when he tries to arrest them. Maggie flashes a badge that makes Fisher think she’s NSA, but she says it is more like “NSA-ish.” So I guess we still do not know exactly what agency our team works for.
Kirsten Learns Some Shocking Information
Maggie says the agency was not impressed with Kirsten and Cameron’s actions, but she managed to convince them to keep the program up and running, as long as they play by the rules. But Kirsten has had enough. As we learned earlier in the episode, Kirsten’s temporal dysplasia makes it impossible for her to connect to her own emotions or to make emotional connections with other people. But she tells Cameron that being stitched allowed her to experience those emotions for real. Now she knows what grief and anger and love feel like and she is not a fan.
But Maggie stops Kirsten before she can leave, saying that they have been asked to look into Ed’s death and they only have 48 hours before his memory collapses. Apparently, the agency shares Kirsten’s belief that Ed did not kill himself and they want answers as to what really happened to him. Why? Because Ed and his partner are the ones who developed the Stitchers technology. And who was Ed’s partner? That would be the man who left Kirsten with Ed when she was just 8 years old — her biological father. So Kirsten will be sticking with the program, at least until she figures out what really happened to the man who raised her.
What did you think of the series premiere of Stitchers? Were you surprised that Kirsten told Camille about the Stitchers program? Will Camille become involved now that she knows about it? Did you suspect that Ed and Kirsten’s father were connected to the program? Do you think their involvement in creating the technology is what caused Kirsten’s temporal dysplasia? What was up with Kirsten’s strange reaction after touching Julie and why did that cause the machines in the lab to go haywire? And what do you think happened to the previous “stitcher,” Marta? Was the program really just too much for her to handle or did something go wrong during a stitch? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.
Stitchers airs Tuesdays at 9pm on ABC Family.
(Image courtesy of ABC Family)