Last summer introduced viewers to the wondrous world of Dr. Daniel Pierce (Eric McCormack), a neuropsychiatrist working as a professor at Chicago Lake Michigan College and in his spare time as an expert consultant for the FBI. Paired with his former student, Special Agent Kate Moretti (Rachael Leigh Cook), they delve into the mysteries of the mind and the criminals that may or may not be afflicted by neuropsychiatric disorders. However, as was revealed fairly quickly, Dr. Pierce struggles himself each day with distinguishing what is real and not real. Diagnosed as a highly-functioning schizophrenic, Dr. Pierce uses his unusual medical condition to perceive realities and truths that a normal functioning brain may not; and so perceptionally-enhanced, Dr. Pierce and Agent Morreti make a phenomenal crime-solving team.
Yet even the most brilliant mind has a few flaws. Daniel’s ability to perceive how crimes may or may not be committed, which he frequently sees through hallucinations, can also trigger very real hallucinations in his personal life. Last year we met Daniel’s imaginary friend, Natalie (Kelly Rowan), who was more often than not, a great foil for Daniel’s flights of fancy and gave him someone to rationalize his thought-processes since most people cannot keep up with his great intellect. But that friendship became an even more tricky relationship when Daniel came face-to-face with the woman who he had based this fantasy friendship, Dr. Caroline Newsome (Kelly Rowan), a psychiatrist.
Confronted with the real woman who looked and sounded exactly like Natalie (his fictional fantasy friend), Daniel was immediately smitten. He then had to choose between the chance at a real relationship and real happiness with the woman who he had based his fantasies, or to give that up in favor of continuing his fictional friendship. It also forced Daniel to reevaluate his hesitancy to try modern medications to control his schizophrenic disorder. Season one ended with Daniel choosing to embrace the real world and surrendering his rich fantasy life in hopes of really connecting with the people around him.
Taking the medications and getting treatment not only offered a potential for a relationship with Caroline, it helped to regain the trust of Kate who was not sure if he was becoming more of a liability in her criminal investigations. It was also hugely reassuring to Daniel’s live-in teaching assistant, Max Lewicki (Arjay Smith), who functioned as both housemate and professional assistant to make sure Daniel’s life maintained enough regime and order so that he could maintain a normal live and keep his teaching position.
Delving into the mind of Dr. Daniel Pierce in Season One was an incredible journey. Whether ground in reality or indulging in flights of fancy and outright hallucinations, viewers were entranced. We were very curious to see how his brain would make the intuitive leaps that we could not even see. It was also great fun seeing how he navigated the real world and yet still could have such a rich imaginary world.
As PERCEPTION returns for its second season, we find Dr. Daniel Pierce faithfully taking his medications and reaping the benefits from it. He is secretly involved with Caroline and Natalie is long-gone. He is able to continue working with Kate and the FBI, and Max is breathing a lot easier now that Daniel seems to be back on track. But even in the midst of such a full and fruitful life, Daniel feels yearning pangs for the loss of his alternate reality. It pulls at him and tugs at his brain like a constant itch.
So Season 2 takes right back into Daniel’s world and we wonder how long he can resist the temptation to abandon his medication and play in the wondrous world of illusion yet again. Will his developing feelings of love for Caroline be enough incentive to keep his curious mind from dabbling once again? Will his desire to keep working with Kate be strong enough to keep him on the straight and narrow and medically-constrained? Will Max’s watchful eye be enough to remind Daniel that someone would notice?
Also introduced this season is newcomer Scott Wolf, who plays Donnie Ryan, the ex-husband of Kate who returns with perhaps the hope of wooing Kate back into his life. While their marriage was rocky at best, Donnie’s genuine efforts to be a better man do not go unnoticed. There is perhaps hope for the two, but Kate is going to make him work hard for his redemption.
In a recent set visit, the cast of PERCEPTION talked about the joys and challenges of working on the show and what lies ahead for each of their characters in the 2nd season:
Rachael Leigh Cook and Scott Wolf
To see where this romance-rich and illusion-enhanced world of PERCEPTION will lead in the second season, be sure to tune in for the 2nd season premiere on Tuesday, June 25th at 10:00 p.m. on TNT.
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