29 June 2014


Early Edition: Missing Child

For one of those "high-concept" shows, Early Edition is getting me to focus a lot more on the technical storytelling than on the thought puzzles. It's not what I had expected, but it makes an interesting blogging challenge. So let's continue . . .

If you ever had to write news articles in English class, then you likely remember the 5Ws and the H, which give every news story its "form." Thanks to this convention, it has been very easy for Gary Hobson to fix tomorrow's mistakes today . . . until the day he reads one that is missing a couple of Ws.

Did anyone notice that the dialogue and the headline don't match?
(I'm sure the director did . . . which is why we don't get to see the article
until thirty minutes after Gary first reads it!)

All we know is that the baby is a Caucasian boy around ten weeks old . . . and that he will be left at St. Mary's church some time after midnight.

This isn't the first time that Gary and his friends have had to work with incomplete information, but this episode initially shapes up to be a better detective story than that first time (which, interestingly, also involved a baby!). So it throws the momentum off when he is able to find and to start helping the mother and child within the first fifteen minutes. Granted, it's an interesting twist, and just the first of several . . . but they thicken the plot in the wrong way.

You see, there's another missing element that we should have had very early on, given the role it plays later in the story.

I'm surprised that this one wasn't his priority

That is, it would have been great if Gary's day had started with him trying to solve two mysteries: the case of the abandoned infant and the case of the dead woman. But the episode doesn't inform us that there is even a second one to solve until the last ten minutes, which is something Twitter critics would rightly call a #detectivestoryfail.

Nevertheless, I like the episode's moral resolution, which shows us that the best way to reunite lost children with their parents is . . . to reunite lost children with their parents. And you'll have to watch the episode yourself if you want to figure out what I mean by that! =P

Your Turn to Be the Hero: If someone abandoned a baby on your doorstep, what would you do?


Belfry Bat said...

Well, I suppose the thing to do with a baby is feed it and keep it clean and warm... and then, yeah, "find her parents" or some such, but a detective I am not. Hmmm... One the one hand, most babies are born in hospitals, and hospitals ought to get contact info for admitted patients these days, but I've a suspicion that abandoned babies are preselected from a nontypical population.

I'm afraid there may also be civil laws involved about which I currently know nearly nothing.

Enbrethiliel said...


There was a time when I wouldn't have hesitated to say, "I'd keep the kid, of course." LOL!

Brandon said...

This episode was strangely paced; but I liked the moral resolution as well.

If someone abandoned a baby on my doorstep, I am sure I would have no idea what to do. I'm not even sure I would know who the correct people to call would be.

Enbrethiliel said...


Call me! I'll take the child. ;-P

Sheila said...

I believe one ought to call the police. Then call one's mother, if one doesn't know how to care for a baby. The police will know if there's a missing-person report out, and if there isn't, they can contact the appropriate social workers, etc.

I have often thought that a good parallel thought experiment for abortion is, what would you do if someone left a baby on your doorstep in a snowstorm? You know the baby will die if you don't care for it. You are snowed in and no one can do it but you, at least temporarily. But shouldn't you still do it? I certainly would, no matter how overwhelmed or unequal to the situation I was, because -- well, because taking care of babies is what one does!

I would actually assume, if someone left a baby on my doorstep, that it was the mother and the mother didn't want it. Why is this an emergency -- just take care of the baby, right? But now that I think about it, I suppose it could just as well have been someone else and the parents actually want it back -- in which case I suppose I *would* have the responsibility to find the parents, who surely would be distraught beyond belief.

Enbrethiliel said...


I think everyone would assume that an abandoned baby meant a mother who had given up. But as you point out, that's a more prejudiced idea than it seems. In fact, in this very episode, someone actually does take the baby away from the mother--and if the writers had wanted him to be the one leaving the baby in front of the church, they wouldn't have had to change much in the script to do it. And now that I think about it, that just might have been an episode-saving twist!

Despite all my glibness in this thread, I'd definitely notify the civil authorities if I found a baby. But I would be torn about doing so, because of what I know of social services and government workers. I'd want the baby to stay with me until his parents can be found, because he'd get better care with my family than in an institution, but that probably won't be allowed.

Sheila said...

Here, there are no institutions, only foster families, and if you volunteered, you might well be chosen to do it. So I wouldn't be so worried.

Enbrethiliel said...


There's actually a famous case in my country in which a baby was left on a celebrity couple's doorstep. They ended up adopting the child. I'd love to know the full story behind that, legal details and all!