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 H O M  E :: p:tl episode guide :: season three :: episode description

58. Human Vessel

Season: 3
First Air Date: 03 July 1998 (Showtime)
Alternate Title(s): Kurzes Erwachen (German)
MGM/Showtime Photos: see Season Three photos page
A bolt of lightning changes an autistic man into a genius. However, this "gift" of nature becomes a menace and danger to everyone around him.


Derek de Lint

"Dr. Derek Rayne, Ph D"

Helen Shaver "Dr. Rachel Corrigan, MD"
Martin Cummins "Nick Boyle"
Robbi Chong "Alexandra (Alex) Moreau"
Kristin Lehman "Kristin Adams "
Alexandra Purvis "Katherine (Kat) Corrigan"
Guest Actors


Bilie Worley "Tommy Crane"
Kari Matchett "Caroline Crane"
Jenny-Lynn Hutcheson "The Girl"
Fred Keating "Dr. Ahrens"


Co-Executive Producer Garner Simmons
Co-Executive Producer Grant Rosenberg
Producer David Tynan
Produced by Robert Petrovicz

David Tynan

Director Paul Lynch
This description by: Kris Kroner (1998)


House in the country - early afternoon

Nick smiles as he plays ball with Tommy, an autistic man slightly younger than himself. Tommy tosses the ball up and then swings with the bat but misses. "Home Run Nicky," he calls. Each time he misses, Nick catches the ball and hands it back to him. Nick coaches encouragingly and reminds him to keep his eyes on the ball. Whenever the ball falls to the ground, Nick retrieves it and returns it to Tommy, who keeps trying. Nick encourages, "Big swing. Swing like a champ." Caroline Crane, Tommy's older sister, watches from the front porch of the house. Tommy continues trying to hit the ball while saying happily "Home Run, Nicky." Nick hands the ball to Tommy and tells him he's going to talk to his sister for a minute. He then returns to the porch where they'd had lunch. Caroline thanks him for coming and Nick tells her he always wondered why she stopped taking his calls. He had decided it was his car. "That blue thing? That was a car?" She jokes. Nick laughing, replies, "Don't you start."

They haven't seen each other in 10 years and Caroline tells him that after her parents died she started taking care of Tommy full time. She didn't want to put him private care because that would have meant selling the house. The house was all her parents left them and she didn't want to disrupt Tommy from the only house he ever knew.

Fast moving storm clouds form in the distance. The wind increases in intensity. Across the yard from the house is an old dilapidated shed with a weathervane on the top. The wind suddenly blows the weathervane around until the arrow on it points directly at Tommy. As the storm blows in, Caroline begins to pick up the dishes to take them inside. Nick returns to Tommy and asks him what he thinks of taking a rain check. Tommy replies, "Home run, Nicky." Nick agrees to let him hit once more and coaches him to get the bat up on his shoulder, "Here it comes, it's got your name on it." Nick pitches this time and Tommy connects and hits a fly ball out. "Sweet hit; right out of the park!" congratulates Nick. They watch it fly to the old shed at the end of the yard. It comes down and goes right through a window in the shed. Tommy gets very upset and puts his hands up to his face in dismay. Nick grins and reassures him that everyone gets to break a window sometimes, "Jose Cansecu, Nick Boyle, and even Tommy Crane." Telling him they have to go help his sister, he directs him to get his glove and promises they'll retrieve the ball later. Nick picks up some dishes from the porch and goes inside. Tommy, intently concentrating on the broken window, starts walking towards the shed.

Old shed

As Tommy gets closer to the shed, the thunder in the distance intensifies. Old vines cling to the building and untended foliage grows close to it. He opens the old door and slowly enters the dark interior. Light only comes via the windows and the openings between the planks in the walls. In the shadows he sees the ball lying on the floor and carefully walks forward. When he leans down to reach for the ball, it rolls away from him and deeper inside the shed. Then he hears the ghostly voice of a young girl calling "Tommy. I'm in here." Frightened, he stops. The voice tells him not to be afraid and to come closer. The ball now forgotten, he follows the sound to the middle of the building. The voice coaxes him closer and continues to tell him not to be afraid. "You know who I am don't you?" she asks ominously. Tommy kneels and slowly moves debris from the floor where he heard the voice. Suddenly the pale hand and arm of a young child reaches out of the floor in his direction.

Outside of house

Caroline and Nick come back out to the porch as the storm rumbles in the distance. They look up at the sky and figure the storm will be a big one. Caroline notices that Tommy is missing and gets very alarmed. Nick reassures her he was right behind him and probably went to get the ball that he knocked into the shed. Caroline is filled with fear and tells Nick there is an old boarded up well inside it and that she had nearly drowned in it as a child. She races towards the shed and Nick follows. Just as she reaches it, Tommy comes out looking dazed. Then he reaches his arm forward and grabs Caroline, which frightens her. She asks what's wrong then screams, "Nick! Nick, Nick, Help." Just then, a lightning bolt strikes the weathervane on the shed and ricochets off striking Tommy and Caroline. Nick is very close at the time and is thrown backwards himself. Caroline falls unconscious. Tommy stands unharmed. Nick gets up and goes to Caroline. She's breathing but not responsive. Tommy looks on.


Caroline lies unconscious in intensive care. Nick talks quietly with Doctor Ahrens, her physician; He tells Nick that she received a large jolt that could have damaged her internal organs or nervous system. They plan to monitor her condition but there isn't anything else to do but watch her closely. Directing his attention to Tommy who waits on a bench outside, Dr Ahrens explains that Tommy has no damage and is incredibly lucky. Since Tommy is autistic, he asks if there's someone to take him in. When Nick tells him no one, the doctor suggests a county facility. Nick doesn't like the idea "because he's never been in an institution before. I don't know if he can handle it." The doctor then reminds him he can't be left alone and Nick nods his head in agreement.

Legacy house foyer –that night

Tommy looks around the foyer nervously as Nick stands off to the side explaining to Derek and Alex that Tommy has been autistic since Caroline can remember. He adds that he usually isn't that shy. Derek watches him for a few seconds then asks gently if maybe he'd be better off in a hospital. Nick quietly tells him that he's totally harmless and just like a child. Meanwhile, Tommy who is getting more nervous turns quickly and accidentally knocks over and breaks a large decorative vase. He throws his hands to his face and shouts "No! No!" Nick goes immediately over to him, hugs him and reassures him that "It was just a piece of junk. No harm done."

Alex and Derek come up quietly and Alex smiles sweetly and also reassures him that it's OK. Noting that Kat is staying there while Rachel is out of town, she decides to take Tommy to meet her. Tommy is very intrigued by Alex and softly reaches his hand out to touch her face, saying "Pretty." She smiles widely, thanks him and then turns to the men commenting "I hope you guys are taking notes." Nick grins "Right." Alex and Tommy go upstairs. Derek, who is wearing a suit and a red tie with white dots, walks over to Nick. He stands looking intently at the broken vase and picks up one of the pieces. Holding it out to Nick he says softly, "Junk?" Nick smiles and says, "I promise I'll watch him." Derek grins and nods.

Legacy - library

Alex introduces Tommy to Kat. Tommy remains nervous in his new surroundings and rocks and back and forth while looking around the room. Kat asks Alex why he's rocking like that and she explains he does it to calm himself. She adds that his mind works differently than other people. Kat smiles and points out that "He should fit in here pretty good then." She asks Tommy if he wants to read with her. Alex tells her she doesn't think he can read. Then she asks if they're hungry and offers to make them something to eat. Kat agrees and starts to get up when Tommy sits next to her and looks at her books. Since Tommy doesn't want to leave, Alex decides to go downstairs and bring back the food. "Call me if you need anything," she says as she leaves. Kat looks at Tommy, and says, "I bet you don't have any homework." He reaches over and touches the book, saying "Read."

Control Room

As Nick and Derek walk into the control room, Derek says, "I hope you know what you're taking on. It's a huge responsibility." Nick leans against the wall and replies seriously that "It's only as long as Caroline is laid up." Right now, he's the only one that Tommy has. Derek asks, "Why this sense of deep obligation?" Nick relates that he went out with Caroline 10 years ago. "We were just kids then but it seemed pretty serious at the time." Tommy always went with them and it was like having a little brother. Her dad was preoccupied with Caroline and had her whole life planned out through law school. He was too concerned with Caroline's success to care about Tommy. He recalls that Caroline was always totally committed to Tommy. Curious, Derek asks, "What happened between you two?" Nick only knows that she stopped taking his calls and didn't return his letters. When he was in the Navy he found out her parents had died. "We lost touch until just a little while ago." Derek reminds Nick, "He needs constant attention. Who's going to give it here?" Nick reassures him that he will until Caroline recovers.


Alex returns with a tray and says, "Feast your eyes on a kitchen miracle." Grinning, Kat asks since when are crackers and cookies a miracle. Alex replies when it's on short notice. Tommy takes a cookie and eats it while looking intently at a book. Soon, Kat is ready to go up to her room and asks Alex to help her with her books. As they walk out of the room, Kat turns and says "See you, Tommy." He looks up and instead of seeing Kat, he sees the girl ghost calling his name. He gets very scared and remembers when he was a child he walked into the shed and found the little girl dead in the well. Back then, he could speak and he recalls that he called out Caroline's name when he found her. He memory causes him to screams and flails around. Alex runs quickly back into the room but can't calm him. She screams for Nick. Just then, Nick and Derek run in and Nick grabs Tommy, telling him it's all right. Derek advises that he shouldn't be left alone. Alex apologetically replies that she was only gone for a few minutes. Nick reassures her it's all right and it could have been anything that set him off. "No harm done." Nick promises that he'll watch him.

Tommy, still nervous, hears the ghost's voice in this head telling him he's ready now and it's time to wake up He stands up straighter and visibly changes his body language before saying, "No Nick, Tommy is fine now. See I'm fine." In his head, Tommy hears the ghost say, "Yes." Nick looks at Tommy incredulously; surprised he's talking clearly.

Kitchen - next morning

Alex tells Derek she researched everything she could find but wasn't able to find anything on the sudden resurgence of speech in autistics. Derek asks if the lightning might have done it. She replies it should have made him worse if anything, adding that his reaction times and reflexes are normal. Nick, wearing a blue striped shirt, comes into the kitchen to get coffee. He looks tired and comments that Tommy asked non-stop questions. "What does this do? Why does that work?" Alex grins and prods, "And you had all the answers?" He grins, "Not enough, so we cracked the books, I felt like I was in school again. Grammar, spelling." He now reads by himself. "He reads?" Alex asks incredulously. Derek, just as surprised, adds, "It hardly seems possible." Drinking his coffee, Nick replies, "See for yourself. He's upstairs reading to Kat."


As they walk in they hear Tommy reading aloud to Kat. She tells him he "reads really good." He looks at her patiently and says, "Well. I read well." Kat scoffs that he sounds just like her mother. Then she looks up, "Oh. Three adults. My cue. See you later Tommy." Nick also excuses himself so he can use the phone. There are several books on the table and Derek asks Tommy if he intends to read all of them. He replies that he already did. "I don't understand it all but I will." Then he looks at Alex and apologizes for scaring her the previous night. Alex smiles, "Consider it forgotten, OK? How are you feeling this morning?" He replies that before it seemed like there was a cloud over him and now it's gone. He feels like he can see. He adds that before when he heard people talking it was just noise and hurt his head. "Things make sense now. Like I woke up." Nick returns then and tells him Caroline woke up. Tommy wants to go see her so they leave.


Caroline tells Nick she remembers running towards the shed but she can't remember a lot of other things. Nick reassures her the doctors said she'd feel a little confused for awhile. He tells her she was lucky. She smiles and notes that not many people can say they got hit by lightning. "It's a shocking experience," Nick says. Caroline suddenly gets worried and asks about Tommy. Nick tells her he got hit too but didn't get hurt. He adds, "Something else did happen," and then he calls Tommy. When he walks in Caroline grins. He tells her he's fine. He reassures her she has nothing to worry about because he's different now. Caroline looks shocked at his demeanor, "I don't understand." Nick tells her they don't either but it may be something the lightning did to him. He then goes out to talk to the doctor so they can be alone.

Caroline smiles gently saying, "You can talk. It's amazing." Tommy then hears the ghost voice urging him, "Do it." He puts his hand on Caroline's face and she loses consciousness. "Feed me," the voice demands. Caroline's life energy flows from her into his hand as he pulls strength from her. Tommy suddenly yells "NO" and pulls his hand off. Monitors connected to Caroline begin beeping madly and Tommy screams "Nicky, Help!" Nick and Dr Ahrens run in and ask what happened. Tommy replies that she was fine. "I don't want her to die," he says woefully. The doctors examine her, determine she's had a relapse and needs to rest. Nick tells Tommy there's nothing they can do and they should go. Tommy agrees and tells Nick he wants to go to his own house. Nick replies, "That's what we'll do." They leave.

Crane house- later

Tommy comes out of house with a single suitcase. Nick is surprised that's all he packed since everything he owns is in that house. Tommy replies that they belong to the old Tommy Crane and he's not him anymore. He tells Nick that he was a freak, not a man, not a child. Nick softly replies that "The old Tommy wasn't such a bad guy. People liked you for who you were. I know Caroline did and so did I." Tommy replies seriously, "I didn't." He then tells Nick he wants to be alone for awhile. Nick tells him to take his time and he'll go "tinker around with the car or something."

Tommy looks towards the shed then begins to walk towards it as he hears the ghost's voice calling him. He reaches the shed and goes inside. The ghost child, who appears about 5 years old, stands and adamantly demands he come to her. "Feed me," she commands. She has a plaid skirt and a blouse with a v neck sweater. Her hair is long and straggly since she's wet. She repeats the command and reaches out her pale wet hand to him. He tells her he did what she wanted. "Give me your hand" she commands, more urgently this time. He grasps her hand and energy is transferred to the ghost. She then tells him that wasn't enough and she needs more. Upset, Tommy tells her that Caroline had nothing more to give and would have died. The ghost child gets very angry and reminds him that she is his real sister. "I'm the one who died, remember? They murdered me and replaced me with her." Tommy replies that isn't Caroline's fault and she doesn't even know about it. The ghost, very angry now, threatens him with returning him to what he was before. She tells him she'll keep helping him if he helps her. He is her real brother and therefore, the only one that can help her. Before she vanishes, she tells him to find another and come back to feed her.

Legacy House - living room

Alex administers an IQ test to Tommy. He asks why she does it since it seems so limited. She explains that he's changing so much so fast it gives her an idea of what's happened. He wonders why she works there and asks if it's because she's so clever. Alex replies, "I have other talents that got me involved here." While she works on the test results, Tommy draws. As he does this he asks how anyone can tell a human being by a number and notes it's like gauging a diamond by weighing it. He holds out the completed sketch and adds, "or saying this is you." It's a perfect likeness. He hands her the drawing adding that it doesn't come close to capturing the real Alex. He tells her she's different that others and she feels alone even lonely, yet she has an inner strength. Surprised, Alex asks how he knows all this. He replies he feels the same way. He touches her hand and the ghost voice in this head says, "This one has the power, do it. Tommy do it!" He begins to pull strength from Alex. He eyes flutter and go partially closed. Kat walks in then and alarmed, calls out, "Alex?" "Not now Kat, we're busy," thinks Tommy without speaking. Kat leaves. Tommy lets go of Alex's hand and she asks what they were talking about. Tommy replies, "being different." Alex cannot recall what happened.


Kat comes in as Derek is slicing Gouda cheese. He asks if she's hungry. She's preoccupied and asks Derek if he likes Tommy. Instead of answering, he asks her if she does. Kat replies that "creeps me out." Derek explains that sometimes Tommy may not know how to react. She agrees but tells Derek "I thought I heard him talking except his lips weren't moving." Derek's eyebrows rise in concern.


Nick comes in and tells Tommy that the doctors said Caroline could go home in a few days. He asks if he wants to see her but Tommy isn't interested and tells Nick that it wouldn't make a difference whether he went to see her or not. Nick looks at him angrily. Tommy goes on and tells him that "I've changed. I had no value, no vision." Nick abruptly asks, "What's your vision now?" Tommy replies that he sees how things work now and how they connect. He goes on to explain he can see how chains of molecules extend from the past into the future. He asks Nick if he can begin to understand what that's like. Nick responds that he lost him but "I tell you what I do understand and that is that your sister needs you and you'd do well to show her some respect." Tommy tells him that the old Tommy is gone and he's changed but Nick has stayed the same. He tells him it's not his fault but they have little in common anymore. "You may have gained something Tommy, but you lost something infinitely more important," Nick replies. Tommy looks directly at Nick and says, "and what would that be?" Nick disgustedly replies, "You're a smart guy, you figure it out." Nick turns and walks away.

Control Room

Nick tells Derek that the parents were normal, determined and kind of hard to get to know. There was nothing to suggest brilliance. The father was a lawyer and the mother a housewife. They wanted Caroline to go places. When Derek explains that Tommy's psychic abilities are increasing, Nick asks if that's bad. Derek remarks, "I believe it's worth investigating." Nick queries, "It was a freak accident right?" Derek, looking worried, replies, "Was it?"

Legacy - Outside gardens

Tommy and Alex walk in the garden. He's intrigued and comments he could never have appreciated its beauty before. He wonders about his newfound self and asks Alex if she were him and she had a choice, would she go back to the way he was before. She replies that if she had the choice she wouldn't go back. She goes on to reassure Tommy that he's going to be OK. She sees a large white flower and exclaims that she can't believe it bloomed so early. She cuts it and holds it out for him to smell. The ghost girl commands, "Do it, Tommy, do it. She's the one I need. Take her hand." Tommy puts his hands over Alex's as she holds the flower up to him. Immediately, her energy begins transferring to him via his hands. Then he pulls away as Alex gets weak. She can't remember the name of the flower and is dizzy. He tries to reassure her that they all forget things. She looks upset and replies, "not me." Then she turns and goes towards the house. As she leaves she drops the flower. It has wilted and turned brown.

Legacy kitchen - evening

Tommy is looking out the window when Nick enters saying, "I think we ought to talk." Tommy apologizes for being arrogant. Nick replies, "Everyone makes mistakes, the idea is to learn from them." Tommy remembers how the kids laughed at him before he changed. He didn't know they were laughing at him then. Nick simply remarks, "There's a lot of pointless cruelty in the world Tommy. Don't take it on." Tommy sadly tells Nick that no matter what happens he'll always stay his friend. Nick replies softly, "That's good to know buddy," and then leaves.

The ghost then calls Tommy to come to her. She wants Alex's life and wants Tommy to bring it. Tommy is upset and doesn't want to. The ghost demands he obey saying that Alex has the power and she needs it. She threatens him by saying he'll go back to what he was. Tommy reminds her that Alex did nothing to her. Angry the ghost demands he bring Alex to her and she'll do the rest. He stands and thinks for a second before saying softly, "Soon, sister, soon."


Caroline is feeling better and was looking at Chic magazine, which now lies on her lap. He tells Nick that she knows Tommy wouldn't come and tells Nick that no matter what happens she'll still love him because he is her brother. Nick asks what he was like before the drowning accident in the shed. She replies she remembers nothing before she was 5 and figures she suppressed the memories. Her parents told her that Tommy wasn't always like that though. They also told her she fell in the well when they were playing. Tommy believed it was his fault and her parents boarded up the shed after that and wouldn't let them near it. She asks what will happen to Tommy and he tells her not to worry and to concentrate on feeling better. He kisses her on the forehead and leaves.

Crane property - foggy afternoon

Derek drives up in a SUV. He wears a black turtleneck and brown leather jacket. He parks and looks up to the house before turning and walking towards the shed. He carefully goes inside and looks around with a flashlight. Noticing a part of the floor that's boarded over, he goes to it, kneels and begins to open the boards. As he moves them he sees a bracelet wedged in the cracks. He pries it loose with a penknife and looks at it. It's small and has an ID "CO 7641." He puts it in his pocket and looks carefully around the shed as if sensing something. From off in the distance, the ghost child watches. Derek cannot see her. Saying nothing, Derek gets up and leaves.

Legacy - Living Room

Alex tries to help Kat with her math homework but can't seem to remember how to do it. Kat, realizing she's having problems with the numbers, asks if there's anything wrong. Alex denies it and continues struggling with simple addition. When Kat suggests that a computer would be "way faster," Alex reminds her gently that she's not a computer. Just then, Tommy enters and asks Alex if she will come with him to visit his sister. Alex agrees. Tommy leans forward, touches Kat's shoulder and tells her they'll be back soon. As soon as he touches her shoulder, Kat has a vision of the shed and the young ghost. She recoils from his touch causing Alex to ask if something's wrong. "She's fine," Tommy quickly replies. Alex accepts this and tells Kat that Dominic will have her dinner ready soon and leaves saying, "We'll be back soon." Kat holds her shoulder and looks troubled.

Control room

Derek still wearing his black turtleneck sweater talks with Nick. Derek explains what he found and displays data about the child's bracelet on the monitor. He was able to trace the identification number on it and determined that it belonged to Caroline Crane. He was also able to access medical records and found out that she had Biagi syndrome, which is a progressive, painful and incurable condition. Nick seems surprised that Caroline was ever sick and asks how she was cured. Derek shares his belief that his friend cannot be the real Caroline Crane. The disease would have left the real Caroline unable to walk by age 5. Derek believes the father killed her and by doing so trapped her spirit in the well. Derek has found that the parents never registered for any legal adoption and figures they probably bought the child and simply gave her the same name to cover up the murder. The reason the shed was off limits to the children was because the body was in it. Derek recalls that he sensed an angry presence when he was inside the shed. He believes the ghost wants justice and revenge and to live again through someone else. . She wants a life force that she can control and she needs someone to bring it to her. Nick becomes visibly angry because the father, knowing the child would never be the success he wanted, heartlessly killed his own daughter and bought himself a new one.

Living room

Nick and Derek go to the living room and Kat tells them that Alex went with Tommy. She adds that she felt something strange. They ask her to describe it and she tells them about her vision of lightning, some kind of building and a girl. "Try to concentrate real hard for me, Kat," asks Nick. Kat describes a girl that is a little smaller than her and adds that she was lying in the water. Alarmed, Derek declares, "Tommy's real sister." He wants to use Alex to bring his real little sister back to life. Nick thanks Kat and Derek and he leave her sitting on the couch.

Crane property - outside near shed

Tommy and Alex drive up to the property and get out of the car. Alex comments that she doesn't feel well and shouldn't have come along. She turns to head to the house but is stopped by Tommy who tells her they aren't going to the house. Alarmed, but weak, Alex asks, "where are you taking me?" Pulling on Alex's wrist, Tommy replies, "To meet my sister." As they get close to the shed, it bursts open with a blinding light and the young ghost comes outside saying, "You've finally come." Lightning crashes overhead. She reaches for Alex who pulls back and tries to get away. Tommy tells Alex that he needs her to bring back his sister. Maintaining a firm hold on Alex's wrist, Tommy reaches for the ghost with his other hand. The connection begins to immediately pull strength from Alex, which goes into the ghost.

Just then, Derek and Nick arrive and run towards them. The ghost reaches her free hand forward and sends a jolt of energy at the men, which causes them to fall back. The storm intensifies and lightning crackles all around. They implore Tommy to let Alex go and not to hurt her. Derek tells him "her time on earth is over. Don't let her use you." Tommy is obviously in turmoil and replies that she cured him and gave him the power and he has to bring his sister back to life. "Use the power she gave you and set your sister free. You're her brother. You're the only one who can," Nick implores, and continues with "Your real sister is in the hospital. She loved you all your life." Tommy, who now seems very distressed, suddenly lets go of Alex. She falls to the ground. He maintains his grip on the ghost while he reaches his free hand up to the sky. A lightning bolt immediately strikes Tommy's hand flowing through him into the ghost. She screams and then disappears. The shed collapses into itself.

Derek runs to Alex and Nick goes to Tommy. Derek cradles Alex and asks if she's all right. With his help, she sits up and then nods groggily. Tommy looks at Nick and says "Home Run Nicky." Realizing that Tommy has reverted to the way he was, Nick replies gently, "Home run Tommy. That's right, home run." Nick helps him to his feet and reassures him, "I'm here pal, right here." Derek helps Alex to her feet and they approach Nick and Tommy. She smiles and says "Tommy it's me, Alex." He smiles, reaches his hand forward and says "Alex. Pretty." She smiles. Nick says, "Come on. Let's go see your sister. She's waiting for you. The four of them turn away from the remains of the shed and head for the cars.

Nick's voice-over:

"Power and intelligence. For just a little while, Tommy Crane had more than most of us dream about. Ultimately he chose to sacrifice them, but I believe in doing so, he regained something far more important, the people who love him."

Description last revised: 1998