Kristen Fyfe

Monday’s NBC psychic crime drama Medium featured a plot line in which an Arizona state senator and former POW is discovered to be a two-time murderer and a cannibal.

While it is safe to assume that the story was written before the Hollywood writers’ strike, and before the rise of John McCain to front-runner status for the GOP presidential nomination, the parallels to McCain’s personal history as a U.S. Senator from Arizona and Vietnam POW are obvious.

In Monday’s episode, titled “Aftertaste,” the medium (“Allison DuBois,” played by Patricia Arquette) suspects an ex-POW Arizona state senator is involved in a murder she sees in her dreams. Through a series of psychic flashbacks, she discovers that the senator (“Jed Garrity,” played by Greg Itzin), as a young Army captain held by the North Vietnamese, proposed to his cellmates that they kill and eat a dying American soldier rather than starve to death. “Garrity” drew the short straw and committed the actual murder himself by strangling the dying soldier.

In the present day, “Garrity” and three of his ex-comrades become fearful that another survivor, “Gordon LaRoche,” is going to go to the media and reveal their dark secret, so “Garrity” again convinces the group that they have to kill him. The group kills “LaRoche” and dismembers him, with each burying a piece of the corpse. One of the other men is confronted by police, and confesses that he committed the murder by himself, so “Senator Garrity” is not held accountable, although in the final scene “Allison DuBois” does confront him about his guilt.

The end of the story gave Medium writers the chance to dabble in a study in moral relativism. “Garrity” is about to endorse “DuBois’s” boss as he steps back into political life. “DuBois” knows that her boss wants to get back into politics and it is the only job that will make him happy. When she confronts “Garrity” about the killing he reframes the story back to her and states that all of the men involved in the murder were actually better men than “LaRoche.” Why? Because they had all made something of their lives, and by so doing honored the “legacy” of the man they ate while prisoners of war.

Garrity: But let me make sure I've got your story right. A long time ago, a soldier died so that the men he served with could survive. My guess is they were probably aware of the burden that the death of Michael Rhoades placed on them. Who knows? Maybe they even made anonymous contributions to the family of that poor, dead soldier. Seems like the least they could do. If these men had any kind of decency at all, it seems to me that they would live their lives in a way that honored the sacrifice that made them possible.

Kristen Fyfe

Kristen Fyfe is senior writer at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.

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