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The Commuter Recap

At the underground station, Ed Jacobson is doing his job and then goes to the break room. He discovers that the tea bags are gone and reuses on from the garbage. He takes a mug to his coworker, Bob Paine, and asks if there are any delays. Ed is relieved when Bob doesn't notice that he gave him the recycled garbage bag.

Later, is trying to deal with an Icelandic customer. He helps a mother take her baby carriage down the stairs and then goes into the restroom to take a call from his wife Mary. She wants Ed to come home but he says that he can't because he's at work. As he hangs up, Ed notices that a man has blocked up the toilet.

At the ticket booth, Ed is working and a woman named Linda comes up and asks for a ticket to Macon Heights. Ed has never heard of Macon Heights, and Linda insists that he check the computer. He assumes that she's looking for another train, and when Linda turns back from his computer, he discovers that Linda has disappeared. The schedule book he gave her is lying on the floor.

As Ed and Bob leave, Ed tells him about what happened and says that the name is familiar. Bob asks if his son Sam is okay, and Ed insists that he's never been better. They go their separate ways and as Ed walks home, he sees a police car parked outside their flat. He runs up and Mary says that she called the police. They go inside and the police say that the girl won't be pressing charges for Sam attacking her. Sam says that the girl laughed at him, and the police warned that they can't excuse him again.

Ed talks to Sam and says that he hasn't scared people, and he admits that he does. He turns on the stereo and Ed realizes that it's Louie Bellson playing the sax. He tells Sam to count the notes, trying to cheer Sam up, and then asks his son if the girl did anything to provoke him. Sam just says that he forgot and Ed walks out of his son's room.

The next day, Linda shows up at Ed's booth and he invites her into his office. Bob asks for more details about the place, while Ed looks at her. Linda wonders what the problem is, and Bob shows her the route map with no Macon Heights. She suddenly disappears, leaving Ed and Bob puzzled.

Later, Ed checks the train to Alton, which runs at the same times that Linda mentioned. He goes aboard the train and looks around for Linda but doesn't see her.

At home, Ed tries to subdue Sam as he loses control. They take him to a psychiatrist, Dr. Simpson, who questions Sam about his outbursts. Ed looks around and sees Linda watching from the hallway. Surprised, he returns his attention to the session and Simpson says that she wants to talk to Ed and Mary privately. Sam goes out and Simpson tells the Jacobsons that Sam's psychotic episodes are getting worse.

That night as Sam sleeps, Ed looks at his son and gently strokes his cheek. He goes to bed and Mary asks if Sam frightens him. Ed finally admits that sometimes Sam does, and Mary insists that Sam doesn't frighten her. Her husband talks about how they met on a train, and she says that Sam reminds him of the true Ed and that's why she can talk to him. Mary is more frightened of Ed when he puts on a fake smile, and Ed rolls over.

The next day at work, Ed makes tea and cries. He gets onto the Alton train and he times the trip to match the 28 minutes Linda said it took to Macon Heights. Ed sits next to the tall man from the bathroom and says that he's just a passenger. The train goes by a field and Linda is standing in the middle of it.

The train continues on until it reaches the 28-minute mark, but there's no sign of a town. The Tall Man goes to the door and jumps out as Ed stares at him in horror. After a moment, Ed jumps off as well and discovers that several other passengers have also jumped off. He follows them as they walk across a field to a mist-enshrouded town: Macon Heights. Ed goes into a cafe and the Waitress asks what he wants. He orders tea and takes a seat. The Waitress brings him tea and a piece of apple cake, and Ed nervously takes a piece and then says that it's divine. She asks if he's new in town, and says that there are a lot of divine things around there.

Ed drinks his tea and is impressed with how good it is. He goes back to the street and an engaged couple bump into him. The man says that it's glorious, hugs Ed, and the couple run down the street telling everyone the news. Continuing on, Ed passes people and waves to them. He sits on a bench and looks at the children playing. Linda approaches him and Ed says that one of the children reminds him of Sam. He wonders if he's ill, and Linda suggests that he see the possibilities of the place. She assures him that Macon Heights is real but Ed doesn't know if he can believe it exists because it makes him happy and he's not used to being happy. Linda suggests that it's the world as it should be and offers him a cigarette. She tells him that his train home leaves at twenty past 7 and advises him to enjoy Macon Heights until the train leaves.

That night, the passengers go back to the train line and Ed goes with them. They get aboard and the train pulls into the station. Ed walks home and looks at the pack of cigarettes that Linda gave him. Inside, Mary asks how his day was and kisses him. There's a new photo on the hallway wall, and Ed looks into Sam's room and discovers that it's a parlor. Mary comes in and says that she thought they'd have a boy but they never did. Ed says that he loves her and they kiss.

The next day, Ed helps the woman take her pushchair down the stairs. Two other people come over and help them, much to Ed's surprise. He goes to the train and catches a glimpse of Sam boarding the train. Ed runs over but Sam has boarded, Later at home, Ed finds articles about a proposal to build Macon Heights written by reporter Martine Jenkins. He gets her address and goes to see her, and asks for everything she knows about Macon Heights. Martine asks how many times that he's been there, and admits that Ed isn't the first to look her up. She explains that Macon Heights is a town that almost existed, and she could never get a big piece written up anywhere because nothing was interesting. The man responsible for designing the town won the bid but there were financial irregularities due to incompetence. Martine explains that she tried to visit but the door wouldn't open to her. There's a photo of Linda, and Martine explains that she disappeared after he overdosed in the woods two weeks after they took the project away from her father and gave it to the next bidder.

At work, Bob complains that Ed disappeared. Bob is reading an article about how Martine disappeared, and asks where Ed went. He warns that once a family is broken, it doesn't get mended. Bob says that he's had three children from three mothers, and Ed tells him that he's taking his leave. He gets onto the train despite Bob's objections, and the train leaves the station.

As the train goes through the countryside, the Tall Man tells him that watching the world goes by is addictive. When the time comes, Ed and the others jump off the train and go to Macon Heights. The Waitress says that she's pleased to see him and offers him ginger cake, and Ed closes his eyes. The Waitress comes over and warns that it can become addictive. After he eats, Ed goes off and the same engaged couple bump into him again. He sits down on the bench and watches the same boy from before play with his parents.

That night, Ed goes back to the station and then goes home. He hears Sam whispering to him, but when he turns, there's no one there. At home, Ed finds Mary crying. She says that she's been thinking of what could have been, and Ed tells her that there's only the two of them and that's good enough for him. They go to bed and Ed hears Louie Bilson music playing. He goes to Sam's old room and the music stops as he opens the door. Ed hears something in the attic and climbs up. There's a white void and a VHGS player and tapes on the floor. Ed plays one of the tapes and sees video of a young Sam. The videos are of all of Ed's original memories of him and his son as Sam grew up. Ed watches them and cries.

Come morning, Mary finds Ed sitting on the couch. She wonders where the tapes came from, and remembers how they met on a train and then fell in love. Ed walks out without a word and goes to the station. Bob says that there's a problem at another station, but Ed doesn't care. He gets on the train and the Tall Man asks him if he's angry or sad.

When Ed arrives back in Macon Heights, he looks for Linda. A man tells him that she was called Jane, not Linda, and she died from lung cancer. The people from the station are there, torn and twisted. Ed goes to the cafe and all of the customers stare at him. He tells the Waitress that he's looking for Linda and needs help, and she gets him cake. Ed asks her what happened to Macon Heights, and the Waitress says that the truth happened to it and they want it back the way it was. He says that he needs to get his son back, and the Waitress describes how she was raped when she was 14, and a part of Ed needs to hear her story. She asks if Sam was in pain, and says that Linda is very good with pain. The Waitress explains that she fell in love but couldn't handle it, and Macon Heights is better. When Ed says that he was frightened of Sam, the Waitress silences him and says that Ed will remember where to find Linda.

Outside, the engaged couple bump into Ed. Ed shoves the man down but they go on their way smiling. Ed sees a building front at the end of the street and goes inside. He's in the white void from his attic, and Linda steps out. He says that he's not one of the others and doesn't belong there, and insists that Linda has made a mistake. Ed demands everything back the way it was before, and Linda walks off and disappears.

Ed goes after her and finds himself in the park. Linda is nearby, and Ed figures that none of it is real. Linda reminds him that Sam would be with the other children having an outburst, and says that Ed was a lousy father and Sam was a lousy son. Ed doesn't care and says that there were moments of joy and happiness. He admits that he dreamed of another life but never wished for it to be true. They appear on the street where Sam is standing, and Linda warns that Sam's story will; get sadder and sadder. It will break Ed and Mary, and Sam will go to jail and do terrible things. Ed insists that's it what will have to be, and says that it's love rather than guilt.

When Linda refuses to return Sam, Ed threatens to tell everyone coming through his station what they will lose. She wonders if he would deny them happiness, and Ed says that it's not happiness. Linda insists that Macon Heights is as close as some people can get, including the two of them, and Linda tells him that he made the wrong choice, says that she wishes she could have saved him, and disappears.

Ed goes to the tracks and waits for the train. The other passengers gather and the Tall Man says that he tried to leave once but couldn't do it. He tells Ed that he pities and envies him, and explains that he damaged his two children. The Tall Man admits that he wants to hurt himself, and Ed just says that he wants to see his son again. The other man says that some of them have no choice but to need Macon Heights.

The passengers board the train and when it returns, Ed goes home. He goes in and calls out that he's home. Sam is at the sink, and Ed smiles.

Written by Gadfly on Jan 21, 2018

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