Title: Blood Ties
Written by: Mitchell Burgess and Robin Green
Directed by: Thomas R. Moore
Aired: May 16, 1994
Log line: Maggie’s childhood male friend from Grosse Pointe arrives in Cicely; Joel loses his confidence during the annual blood drive; Ed thinks he’s finally found his mother.
Listen to our podcast discussion of the episode here.
One aspect of “Blood Ties” (5.23) which we didn’t discuss in detail is the theme of hunting, which can be seen in most of the major storylines. It’s an especially fitting theme given the prominent appearance of Jed’s raptor, Taylor. In the opening scene, we see Maurice stalking the prey of Lloyd Hillegas in Cantwell for the prize of highest blood donation (and $1,000). He is also pursuing his DJ to donate blood, saying, “No excuses this year, Chris, even though you are squeamish around needles.” Indeed, we will see him on the prowl throughout the episode, trying to round up every available citizen who hasn’t donated blood yet.
Related to the blood drive, we see Joel lose his ability to draw blood from patients. He can no longer hit a vein. He’s going off target, “shooting through them” and “undershooting” them. The language here relates to sports (the references to Steve Sax and Steve Blass are definitely appropriate), but it also relates to hunting. Later, we’ll see Joel doing target practice on an orange. Eventually, he’ll catch his prey when he “stopped thinking completely”, which is the same advice Maurice gave to Chris to overcome his fear of giving blood.
Reynaldo and Ed clumsily pursue their target, Jeannie Hansen. Reynaldo gathers as much information as he can about her and discretely takes a photograph of laundering clothing. The hunt for information on Jeannie ends abruptly when she surprises both Ed and Reynaldo by knocking on the car window. Reynaldo seems especially amazed that they were caught in the act. In the episode’s final scene, Reynaldo offers Ed some surveillance work, returning us to the idea of pursuing a target.
Clearly, the storyline that most closely relates to hunting involves Jed and Maggie (and Taylor). From the outset, we have Jed being associated with hunting. He refers to him and Taylor as both hunting and calls Maggie “scrumptious.”
One of the most interesting hunting-related scenes occurs when Jed proposes to Maggie with Taylor on his arm. (It’s unclear why the hawk is there, but it certainly underscores his predatory nature.)
We see him take a swoop at Joel (figuratively) when he offers him $30,000 to leave Cicely (and Maggie). At the start of this scene, the lighting even makes him look slightly vampiric. Both Joel and Jed use food/hunting metaphors when they discuss the offer.
The final confrontation between Joel and Jed is spurred by Taylor hunting the poodle Chi-Chi. Jed describes Taylor killing the dog as “too bad.” Marilyn says her mom told her that “Chi-Chi ran, but the bird was faster.” We get the sense that Jed is like Taylor, while Joel might be a bit more like Chi-Chi. When Maggie tells Joel that Jed left town, she mentions that “he had to take Taylor for a hunt first.” We need not worry about Jed Fleming. Just like Taylor, he got his. But he failed to get Maggie.
Songs from the episode’s original airing:
- “Lonely Road” – Bobby Darin [replaced in DVD version]
Ed visits Mr. Pinetree.
- “When the Boy in Your Arms” – Connie Francis [replaced in DVD version]
Joel talks to Eugene about leaving Cecily.
- “Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams” – Les Paul and Mary Ford [replaced in DVD version]
Ed and Reynaldo go fishing.
Themes / Recurrences: Death; family; fear.
The Good: There are innumerable moments in this episode that tickle us, everything from Reynaldo and Ed’s relationship, to Chris being afraid to give blood. All the storylines work together and are cohesive. We especially love Reynaldo. He’s one cool, karate-knowing dude.
The Bad: We can’t really think of a bad thing about this episode. However, the replacement music is unfortunate, especially in the final scene.
The Notable: Lots of vampires in this episode, from the Dracula movie festival, to Chris reading from Interview with a Vampire, to Joel’s hilarious impersonation of Dracula in one of the final scenes with Chris.
On’s rating: 9.0 out of 10
Shane’s rating: 9.5 out of 10
Really fun episode. Don Davis did have a memorable small role on X-Files as Scully’s dad (surprise surprise, a navy captain). Also re: Joel and piña coladas – to me it seems like a callback to his medical conference turned bikini party dream sequence at the beginning of “Una Volta in L’Inverno”? The official drink of “escape”? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLom-87AmO8
Piña coladas – I’m a fan of the drink myself! But it’s rather unexpected for a serious “wine guy” like Joel. It does seem to be correlated with escape, as you mention! -On