This week on Persons Unknown: Paging Steve McQueen! We cover every prison cliche in Hollywood’s repertoire. Tunnels. Tear gas. Attempted rape. Pillow-biting. Are you intrigued?
Does this guy need a makeover?
Let’s get to it. The Townies are digging a tunnel in plain sight of about half a dozen cameras. They’ve been digging for a week and they’ve made it a whole 20 feet… and then they hit an undiggable wall of steel. Air raid sirens go off and steam or smoke or something comes pouring out of the wall. Tear gas, maybe?
Finally, someone shuts Janet up.
Normally I’d fast-forward straight through the commercial break, but there’s an Inception trailer. How did I not realize Ellen Page was in this movie? X-Men to Juno to Cisco commercials to a Christopher Nolan movie. That’s quite a career arc. When’s that movie come out again? Couple weeks from now? Can’t wait.
At dinner, no one feels much like eating Chinese.
Or freshening up either, unlike last week.
Moira, who’s become quite the Debbie Downer since her butterfly got fried last week, keeps repeating that they’re screwed. Janet doesn’t take this well and goes into hysterics. So much for shutting her up. But wait, says Moira! Instead of trying to get out, maybe they should try to get found. So (Lost Ripoff number 98) they should go build a big fire and let the outside world find them.
The Outside World
Fearless Reporter Renbe is in the doghouse because he stood up his boss/girlfriend on a date, and because he’s back on Janet’s case instead of covering… a reality show about cannibals? Surely you can’t be serious. These stories are getting sillier every week. Maybe you guys should leave a little something in the tank for the last couple episodes? What do I know. Renbe found out that Janet’s psycho mom abused her and now she has the kid, so he’s back on her case again. He thinks with that angle it could be a front-page story. She wants “the sleaze on the story” by tomorrow or he’s off it. I dunno, I think she’s selling San Francisco a bit short. Like all they care about is dirt.
This city is way more seriouser than that.
Tori’s clearing out the general store, looking for stuff to burn in the pep rally, while Salesbill ogles her.
He gets a little too personal, in like the most awkward way possible, and before he can get his grimy mitts past first base, she goes all Chuck Norris and totally cleans his clock. “I have intimacy issues that can sometimes result in inappropriate and violent outbursts.” LOL.
I dunno, seems pretty appropriate to me.
So Salesbill slinks off to find Charlie and complain. Charlie isn’t very sympathetic and so Sleazebill is left alone with an old display-model TV. The TV comes on by itself and shows him a video of Charlie. Smothering a woman with a pillow. Well. That was unexpected.
”That was way less fun than trashing that Ferrari back in the day.”
Out in the town square, the Hotelguests are all set to roast a bunch of weenies, but can’t get their bonfire lit. Literally nothing will burn. “Like somebody doused everything with flame retardant,” says McNair. Well, you just have an answer for everything, don’tcha? BUT WAIT! Is that a helicopter? Woohoo, everyone’s saved! Right? The chopper drops a big crate with a Dharma logo metal box into the middle of the street. Inside are seven cans. Four are empty. The other three contain… gas masks.
So. It’s like that.
Looks like the goal of this week’s HOH (Head of Hotel) competition is to be one of the lucky three Hotelguests to end up with a gas mask.
Yeah, I’m getting pumped. Under two weeks away!
Here’s an ad for The Event. Is that a fall show? I’ve seen a bunch of teasers for it. This is the longest one I’ve seen yet. Looks like it might have more potential than this show, anyway.
So now the Hotelguests are trying to figure out how to share three gas masks among seven people. McNair gives Moira one. Janet, getting less likable by the minute, demands one because her little girl needs her. Charlie points out that his psycho cancer-ridden wife needs him too, so he should get the last mask. The same wife he murdered on tape, I presume. Joe is actually starting to look like a decent human being in comparison to the rest of these people.
While they squabble, in comes the manager. He ain’t the night manager anymore, he’s been promoted to days.
And now he can afford this awesome suit.
They ask him if he has a gas mask. He has no idea what they’re talking about. So the Hotelguests decide to go search the town for stuff they can MacGyver into four gas masks. Don’t hold your breath, folks. rimshot
Over in the City by the Bay, Ren Markbe comes home to a ransacked apartment…
Yep. Definitely needs a personal shopper.
…and runs into the heavy with the big mouth from last week. And then it hits me: because I have zero short-term memory, I didn’t realize that this is the same private dick that talked to Janet in the first scene of the premiere. His name? Let’s check the closed captions. It’s… Edick. I could not make this stuff up.
eDick says his client wants him to kill the meddling reporter, but that he can be talked out of it. Apparently he’s a big fan of good old-fashioned yellow journalism and stories about conjoined twin pimps or somesuch. eDick gutpunches Renbe and takes his laptop.
Something’s bugging me about these outside-world subplots. They aren’t getting anywhere. NBC is billing this show as a “miniseries event”, which I take to mean it’ll be over in 5-6 more episodes tops. Shouldn’t we have found out something about the masterminds by now? Even Dollhouse was getting into its story arc at this point. But maybe I expect too much.
Salesbill goes looking for Charlie again. He lets Charlie know he knows about the wife-shaped skeleton in Charlie’s closet. Why’s he bringing this up? To get Charlie’s mask? Charlie flashbacks to the event in question, so at least we know They weren’t lying when they showed Salesbill the video.
”Who do you love? You love a CAR!”
A guy this stupid should really have his own reality show. Salesbill has no idea what he’s doing. Does he realize he’s turning everyone against him? He’s like that dumbass the first week of every Big Brother that decides to stir up trouble and gets himself voted off. But first! It’s McNair’s turn to give up some secrets, to Moira, in the hardware store, with the lead pipe. McNair was a guard at a military prison that held suspected terrorists. And he’s a Muslim. Who tortured people. Who knows a lot about weapons and technology. Moira asks Sayid, I mean McNair, to teach her… something. Clarity, I think. The scene doesn’t make it too clear.
Janet, playing the part of Bag Lady this week, pushes a shopping cart into a store. “Hello,” she says, “is anyone there?” Bottles clinking. Shuffling. Sorry, I’m getting carried away reading the captions. It’s just Charlie back there loading up on sodas. Suddenly, the door slams shut and air raid sirens go off. Charlie puts on the mask, but he can’t breathe. He’s either panicking or that thing just doesn’t work. Gas starts spraying out of the air vent. After a few nerve-wracking moments, the door opens and they get out to safety. Well, if that was the big gas attack, it was pretty much a yawner. I’m just ready to see four Hotelguests get killed off.
Especially Janet. She’s now directing another patented rant at the security camera.
If I was the poor intern on the other end of that thing, I’d’ve hit the mute button days ago.
Charlie tells everyone how horrible the gassing was while Janet (who had no mask, remember) rolls her eyes. McNair notes helpfully that at least they saw the gas coming. To which Tori says: “There are some gases you can’t see?” Only the one you’re breathing right now, toots. They look over the pile of stuff they collected, none of which looks like it would be any use against scary gases you can’t see.
But I bet they could design a new overpass like nobody’s business.
So Moira goes over to the Chinese place alone. Maybe she craves MSG when depressed. It’s closed and no one’s there, but there is a piano under a tarp. She plays one note over and over for awhile, until I can’t take it anymore. Worse than those vuvu-whatchacallits. She did manage to summon McNair, though, and as he comes in she starts playing something familiar-sounding that I can’t place. “Where’d you learn to play like that?” he says, like she’s busting out Rachmaninoff instead of just the Sad Hulk theme. She learned to play at the mental hospital. She was an orphan, see, and orphanages are scary places as anyone who’s ever seen Annie or Oliver can tell you. (Maybe Moira should do Broadway?) So she started acting crazy because she felt safer at the mental hospital.
Oh yeah, and the drugs were way better.
Back home in Chinatown, Renbe (still wearing the trademark vest) breaks into an office with eDick’s name on the door. Did I miss something? How’d he know where to find this guy? He grabs files on himself and Janet that are just lying around, and decides to check the computer. He finds some correspondence from Evil Grandma and calls a phone number that plays gibberish. When he hangs up, his phone rings and the same noise is on the other end of the line. Well, that’s kinda weird.
Salesbill digs through a box of stuff that has absolutely zero chance of helping him survive a chemical-weapons attack. Charlie drops by to tell him that 1) yes, he did kill his wife and 2) it was a mercy killing, because she was crazy and full of cancer at the time. Don’t sweat it, says Bill, these things happen. It’s starting to get boring up in this town, y’all. They’ve just revealed that a major character killed his wife and that’s all the reaction we get? Wake me up when Big Brother starts.
In other boring town news, Janet eats ice cream alone in the drugstore. So there’s a drugstore in town. I guess if anyone gets bunions or poison ivy or hemorrhoids while being held against their will, they’re covered. Good to know. Joe comes in and wants some ice cream too, because hey, Cherries Jubilee is his favorite. Two-sevenths of the population of Crazy Town likes Cherries Jubilee? That can’t be a coincidence. It brings back memories of his dad, who was terrible at cheering him up when he lost a baseball game. Janet has no sympathy because her kid has it worse, since she’s with Psycho Grandma now. Hey, what’s that on the wall over there?
NO ICE CREAM SUNDAES, EVER!
This is the last straw for Janet.
”Ima cut a bitch RIGHT NOW!”
Joe talks her back from the edge, barely. She apologizes, but the damage has already been done. McNair says the bad guys are using psychological warfare on them. Well thanks, Sgt. Obvious. Just as he says it’s going to get worse, here come the air raid sirens again as the night manager sneaks away into the office. Salesbill and Charlie fight over one mask.
The gas pours in, then…
There’s a twist.
Are you ready for it?
The twist is about to be revealed.
Hey, who let Julie Chen in here? Out, out, Chenbot. I’m as excited as you are, but let’s get through this recap first, OK?
Anyway. The twist:
YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG
Yes, indeed, the masks have gas in them, and now they can’t get them off. See what they did there? Dance on your strings, townies, dance! Anyway, they finally get them off–and sadly, no one dies or is even muchly incapacitated. How anticlimactic. YAWN.
In the aftermath McNair goes to the gazebo to thank Allah that he’s one of the lesser idiots in this town who didn’t fight for a mask. Moira sits with him and watches and wishes she had something meaningful in her life. She had a butterfly once, last week, but that didn’t work out so well. Meanwhile, among the greater idiots, Salesbill prowls around Jed’s Taxidermy, maybe realizing he should be mounted on the wall alongside the moose heads. He apologizes to Charlie for trying to steal his mask, then in the very next breath accuses Charlie of lying about murdering, or maybe convincing himself he didn’t murder, his wife. “You’re not really a car salesman, are you?” says Charlie.
Aren’t all car salesmen this psychotic?
Joenet discusses what to do next. Or is it “Joenet discuss what to do next? I’m fuzzy on the verb conjugation of shipper names. Anyone? Guess I’ll go ask the Bachelorette recap readers. Anyway. The way out is the way through, Joe says. Play the game. Ride it out. Bend but don’t break. Be the ball. Help me help you. Janet doesn’t like this Jedi Master nonsense. She wants to be a shark. No emotion, no weakness. No more raving at the camera? Great plan! The manager brings them a big bowl of fortune cookies. Good luck, he says.
Eat this whole bowl and the Power of Veto is yours!
Janet is not interested in playing for POV, so she tosses all the cookies. Make your own luck, she says.
Once Upon a Time in San Francisco
eDick pays their mutual cop friend a visit and says he can solve the Missing Janet case. He says he knows where the ex-husband is and oh, wait, I know where this is going. But… wouldn’t the police have photos of Janet’s real ex?
Hey, the glasses worked for Clark Kent.
So, lots of lying liars this week, huh? Moira. Bill. Charlie. eDick? Renbe? Who knows? I stand by my theory that Joe is some sort of plant. He definitely knows too much. Is anyone telling the truth? Does anyone care? By the end of the summer, all will be revealed. Will anyone still be watching? I will, so stick around!