The flaw in the third season of "The Dead Zone" is seen when you compare the season finale from this season with the one from season two. A year previously we ended with Johnny Smith (Anthony Michael Hall) confronting Christopher Wey (Frank Whalen), the mysterious hooded man in his future who shows him a devastated world tied to Johnny's visions of Greg Stillson (Sean Patrick Flanery) causing a nuclear attack on Washington, D.C. But it takes us until the end of the third season to really get back to this point and move forward. The good news is that it sets up a tragic choice for Johnny in the fourth season; the bad news is that we only assume it will get resolved at that point because almost from the beginning "The Dead Zone" has been playing out the Stillson plot line. That is because stopping Stillson was the climax of the original novel by Stephen King, and this series has never made it clear that would be its own end point or if it would go beyond it to give Johnny a live afterwards. Consequently, the Stillson bit is a two-edged sword for the series, because it is very important but not exactly on the front burner.
But there is a logic to the third season, which is apparent in retrospect, because it begins with the two-part "Finding Rachel," in which Wey shows Johnny a vision of future and a "Missing" poster for Rachel Caldwell (Sonja Bennett), who was working for the Stillson campaign. It turns out she filmed something she should not have filmed, but when Johnny talks to her he has another one of his blackouts, wakes up with a head wound, and Rachel gone. Johnny meets Rachel's sister, Rebecca (Sarah Wynter), but the more he tries to fill in the gaps the more evidence he uncovers that make him look like Rachel's killer. No wonder it takes Johnny two episodes to get out of this one.
But several key elements of the third season are being set up at this point, the most important of which is Rebecca as a love interest for Johnny. Of course this requires Johnny to make a concerted effort to move on with Sarah (Nicole de Boer), and we have an episode that specifically does that ("Collision"), although they will always be plagued by "what ifs" ("Speak Now"). There are also these recurring blackouts that Johnny is having, which will come to a head, so to speak, by the end of the season ("Tipping Point"). Then we have the involvement of Reverend Purdy (David Ogden Stiers) with Stillson's campaign and what that means for his Faith Heritage Ministry ("Instinct"), as well as for Johnny's estate. However, at the end of the season we come back to Rebecca as the key to the future and the grim truth that what is required by Johnny may well be an act of omission rather than commission.
One of the key things is that "The Dead Zone" is evolving over the years, which is something series like "Medium" and "Ghost Whisperer" will have to contend with as they go along (and it will be interesting to see what they do in this regard). By this point Johnny has been doing this so long with such success, that we have gotten to a place where the problem is that people take him seriously, so if he yells wild horses are coming he is believed ("Instinct"), but this also cause problems because some go overboard trying to prevent the future Johnny sees ("Cycle of Violence"). Even the truth of J.J.'s parentage finally ends out in the open ("Cold Hard Truth"). However, this means that there are people who believe in Johnny's gift who decide they can play with him to get away with murder ("Looking Glass"). So the dynamic of the show is certainly changing over the years, plus they are still coming up with new special effects for allowing Johnny to check out a frozen moment in time.
As executive producer of his series, Hall is well aware that he has a loyal fan following that makes a point of seeking this show out on the USA network. Fans have to be overjoyed that every single one of the dozen third season episodes contains a commentary track. On the one hand you do not have a lot of actors showing up for these commentaries, but when they do they are certainly more involved than what we hear from other actors on other commentary tracks. The writers and directors show up ready to make intelligent comments as well, because everybody in this series takes what they are doing seriously. You have to wish all of our favorite television series treated us this well.