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THE BLUE NOTEBOOKS

Detailed recaps of the FIRST SEASON episodes of "The Pretender"


All of the written synopses are the sole property of the author and cannot be reproduced in any fashion without the author's expressed written permission. To contact the author see the guestbook on the INDEX page. All of the images are the property of the original filmmakers and are reproduced here, under fair use, only to promote the projects of Michael T. Weiss and to entertain his fans. We cannot and will not create hard copies of images for sale, so please don't ask.


episode #13, Bazooka Jarod

Synopsis not finished yet


episode #14, Ranger Jarod

FIRST SEASON EPISODE 14: "Ranger Jarod"

Jarod is watching a SIM of himself from 1969. He sees himself as a ten-year-old, wired up to monitoring devices while he stands inside a glass booth. Syndey and other spectators are on the outside of the booth. Jarod asks what's going on, and Syndey tells him they're studying human sexuality. Jarod says he's read all the technical manuals. Syndey says that sexuality cannot be defined simply by what one reads in a book. "I want you meet someone."

Into the room (outside of the glass booth) Miss Parker arrives. She steps up gingerly to booth where Jarod is standing. We can hear in the background the "blip" of the monitors. Their audio signals increase in tempo as Miss Parker approaches Jarod. Jarod looks at her and smiles a little. "You're a girl," he says.

In the present, Jarod is sitting at a counter in a diner in Oregon. A television set in the room is on, and the patrons are watching an episode of "The Three Stooges". Jarod watches somewhat amazed by the fact that the characters "seem to be able to withstand an enormous amount of pain." At first, he doesn't understand why others in the diner think the mock-violence of the Stooges is funny, but then starts to laugh along with them. When the waitress has had enough of the Stooges, she changes the television station and a news bulletin comes on. Seeing the broadcast, Jarod rises to leave, but steps back and bumps into another patron of the diner, a dark-haired woman.

"I'm so sorry," he says, "I feel like such a --- "
"-- Stooge?" the woman finishes for him, and gives him a slight smile before moving on.

The reporter on television is telling about the disappearance of an ornithology grad student named Victor Simpkins, who disappeared in the mountains of the Toluca Lake National Forest five days ago. The search for him is continuing. Jarod pays his bill, and then leaves before the waitress can give him his change.

Along with the other volunteers and rangers, Jarod poses as an ex-Army Ranger, Jarod Forrest, and joins the search for Victor Simpkins. When the Head Ranger, Sam Conrad, starts questioning Jarod about his background and skills, the woman Jarod saw in the diner comes up and says, "He's lying, Sam. He's really just one of the Stooges." She walks away with a shy smile for Jarod. Jarod asks if she's a ranger, and Conrad tells him, no, she's a volunteer named Nia. She owns an outfitting store nearby, and usually keeps to herself. When Conrad then gets word that Victor Simpkins' base camp has been found, everyone rushes to the camp.

While the others stand around the camp and get directions from Conrad for the day's search pattern, Nia finds Jarod sitting in the middle of Victor's tent. His legs are crossed underneath him, his eyes are closed, and he seems to feeling for things in the air around him. Nia asks, "A disturbance in the Force?" Jarod doesn't understand the reference, not even when she mentions Obi Wan Kenobi and "Star Wars". Nia then just asks him what he's doing. Jarod says he's trying to get a feel for the kind of person Victor is; why he would spend so much time in isolation on purpose.

"Maybe he's trying to find himself," Nia suggests.
Jarod: "In the wilderness?"
Nia: "Sometimes you have to get lost before you can find yourself."

Jarod and Nia then re-join the search party, and Jarod finds Victor's mother to ask her a few questions. He discovers from the mother that Victor was right-handed, and that he had been documenting the nesting habits of eagles. She also tells Jarod that Victor is the only family she has left. Jarod promises her he won't leave the mountain until victor is found. When the search party finally breaks up to spread out over the mountain, Jarod and Nia get paired together.

As they walk, looking for Victor, Nia asks Jarod about the questions Jarod had asked Victor's mother. Jarod said he thought it was strange that at Victor's camp Victor's glasses were put on the left side of the sleeping bag; that would be a bit awkward for a man who was right-handed. He is also concerned that at the base camp there was no refuse pile or even a latrine. If Victor had been there for several days, why was there no debris of his living and working there? Jarod then stops Nia, and tells her he can see footprints in the loam that someone has tried to sweep over.

He realizes that a few feet ahead someone is hiding behind one of the pine trees. He approaches the tree carefully and rousts out a twitchy little man from behind it. The man's name is Bob, Big Bob, and he's searching for his partner, Little Bob. Jarod and Nia ask him if he's seen any sign of Victor, and Bob says, no. He then sniffs the air, feels the wind direction with his finger, and tells them that a big storm is coming. Bob then hurries off into the forest.

As Jarod and Nia search further, they come across a cliff-side where Jarod sees a "carabinier" sticking out from the cliff-face. He climbs down to retrieve the carabinier, but when he tries to climb back up, he temporarily loses his footing. Nia grabs him by the wrist to keep him from falling, but he bangs his back and shoulder against the cliff-face. With Nia's help, he's able to scramble back up to safety. For a brief moment, while they lay face-to-face on the edge of the cliff, Jarod find it difficult to look at Nia without feeling moved by her presence.

Back at the ranger compound, Jarod shows the other searchers the carabinier he's found, and Victor's mother identifies it as belonging to her son: "The orange tape... the Inuit sign for eagle. He said anyone could use their initials." The placement of the find, indicates that Victor was moving toward the river away from the mountain, but it's too late in the day for anyone to go looking for him again that day. Ranger Conrad tells everyone to regroup in the morning.

Jarod asks another Ranger, Derrick Cobey, if there's a hotel nearby, and Cobey tells him the nearest one is about 100 miles away. Nia overhears this and tells Jarod she has room at her house for him, and invites him to spend the night with her. Cobey is impressed.

"Señorita Iceburg invites you over for a slumber party?" Cobey says to Jarod. "You are in."
"In where?" Jarod asks, confused.

At Nia's home, she offers Jarod the couch to sleep on, and he accepts. He sees a photograph on a nearby tables of two adults and a child standing in front of the Casa Rosada, and determines the Nia must be from Argentina. She's impressed that a "gringo" like him knows about the Argentinean White house. When she sees that he's only carrying his Haliburton case she asks him why he's traveling so light. Nia asks him if he's, "On the run?" And Jarod answers, "Some days.... I, uh, do a lot of consulting work." As he's putting the case down, he turns his back slight to Nia and she see the tear in his shirt from when he fell on the cliff that afternoon. "Take off your shirt," she tells him. And he does.

Naked to the waist, Jarod sits on a chair, while Nia cleans an ugly-looking gouge on his shoulder blade and bandages it. He likes her touch, but also seems to be uncomfortable with her close proximity. He watches her furtively from over each shoulder as she moves around him. When she's finished dressing his injury, she tells him she's going to go take a shower, but will try to leave him enough hot water. She goes upstairs... and Jarod rises to his feet.

Still shirtless, he paces for a while, full of energy and some frustration, and then he watches a DSA of himself as a ten-year-old interacting with Miss Parker. That doesn't seem to help alleviate his agitation, so he turns off the DSA and closes the case... just as he realizes has come back down from the bathroom to tell him he can use the shower. She glances at the case, but doesn't ask about it. Then she smiles shallowly at Jarod and tells him to sleep well. He returns the wish, and Nia goes back upstairs to bed. Still confused by his feelings, Jarod calls Sydney on his cell phone.

Jarod: "I need to talk to you... about women."
Sydney: "Why is that?"
Jarod: "Because I've met one."

Later that same night, Jarod, sleeping on the couch, is awakened by the sound of Nia screaming upstairs. He rushes up to find her thrashing in bed and shouting, "I don't want to disappear!" in Spanish. Realizing she's having a nightmare, Jarod goes to her, puts his arms around her, and quiets her down. She awakens and clings to him. As she's holding him, he can see a handful of deep scars on her right shoulder that course down her back.

AT THE CENTRE, Miss Parker, Syndey and Broots are listening to a recording of Jarod's conversation with Sydney about women. We can hear Jarod tell Sydney that he's been around hundreds of women since he left The Centre, but never felt for any of them what he feels for Nia... Sydney tells him the attraction is chemical... When Jarod starts talking about Nia coming out of the shower, Broots stops the tape. Miss Parker looks surprised and asks him what he's doing. He tells her that they've reached the part of the back where the radio playing in the background was the most distinct. She tells him she's interested in that and demands that he play the rest of the recording.

Later, she demands a mini-cassette copy of the conversation for herself, and she sits in her office and listens to Jarod's voice over and over again. She also remembers a time when she and Jarod were both about ten-years-old. After touching hands with her across a table, he asked her what her first name was and she stepped up to him and whispered it in his ear... She also recalls the time when, announcing that "girls mature faster than boys", Miss Parker gave Jarod his first kiss.

BACK IN THE TOLUCA NATIONAL FOREST, Jarod and Nia continue their search the next morning, and once again come across Big Bob -- who falls out of a tree in front of them. He tells them he still hasn't found Little Bob yet, and so has to check on his "crop" by himself. He also says that the last time he saw Little Bob, Little Bob was almost hysterical from a plane that had buzzed the mountain several days ago... and by the dynamiting that had gone on on the same day. He says Ranger Conrad was out dynamiting stumps and clearing trails that afternoon.

Over the walkie-talkies, Jarod and Nia hear that Victor's back pack has apparently been found. They go back to the Ranger Compound, where Cobey shows them the back pack he found by the river just a little ways away from the cliff where the carabinier had been found. He concludes that Victor fell from the cliff, walked to the river, dove or fell in and dropped his pack in the process. Conrad says if Victor is in the river, he'll have to turn the search over to the sheriff's department because they have jurisdiction over the river from there to the ocean.

While the other searchers disburse, Jarod goes through Victor's pack. There's too much food in it to have been used by Victor over a five-period, and there no writing materials for him to document anything. Jarod doesn't believe the pack belongs to Victor, and tells Nia that he believes Victor is still on the mountain somewhere. Nia agrees to search with him the next day.

That evening, while Jarod is showering, Nia comes across his Haliburton case and opens it. She plays one of the DSAs from 03-20-69 in which Jarod is simulating one of the failed Apollo missions. His hair still wet, his chest bare, Jarod comes back downstairs and finds her watching the SIM. He walks around her and closes the case. His eyes fill with pain when she asks him, "Is that boy you?" He says he can explain what she's seen, but she puts her fingertips to his lips then brushes his cheek with her hand and tells him he doesn't have to explain anything to her. "We all have scars," she says, and Jarod's eyes glisten with tears.Jarod nearly cries when Nia comforts him

Very early in the morning, Jarod wakes Nia up and tell her he think he's figured out where Victor Simpkins might be. They travel for nine hours up the mountainside, and Nia is about to give up when they come across Victor's REAL base camp. They find debris of his camp there, and scraps of paper on which he'd sketched the likenesses of eagles. Nia asks Jarod how he knew the camp was there, and he tells her that the other base camp was just too low on the mountain for Victor to have observed the nesting habits of eagle from there, "because they always nest at the highest point."

BACK AT THE CENTRE Miss Parker is watching an e-mail transmission that came to her from Jarod. It's a front-piece to a Three Stooges episode. While the Stooges' theme song plays in the background the title Catch Me If You Can appears, and in the place of the Three Stooges faces there appears the images of Miss Parker (as "Missy" with a bald head, like Curly), Broots (as Brootsy with a mop of curly hair like Larry), and Sydney (as Sydney with Moe-style bangs). Then an image of Jarod, with a bald head, "n'yucking" it up like Curly appears. Miss Parker shuts the transmission off as Broots interrupts to tell her he's found out what radio station was playing the song they had heard in the background of Jarod's earlier telephone call to Sydney.

IN OREGON, Jarod and Nia search further, and at nightfall come across the wreckage of a crashed plane. "The plane that scared Little Bob," Jarod presumes, and he searches through the wreck. He finds the pilot -- with a bullet in his head -- traces of narcotics inside the craft and a wad of money. Simulating Victor's response to the crash Jarod then describes to Nia how Victor had heard the crash, had come to help the possible victims, saw the murder and then was chased off by someone. He shows her the two sets of footprints in the ground fleeing down the side of the mountain toward the Box Canyon area. Nia tries to ask Jarod how he was able to feel what Victor felt, but he interrupts her and tells her they'll have to find shelter. A storm is coming up and they won't survive if they get caught in it. Nia tells him she knows of a place they can stay.

Nia takes Jarod to a small rustic cabin, where they're able to start a fire in a firepit, and snack on granola bars. While they're this close, Jarod starts to tell Nia about his past: how he was taken from his family and raised by people he didn't know; people who made him do things that hurt other people. Nia tries to silence him, but he tells her he'd never been able to talk to anyone about this before, and he wants to tell her. Sadly, he says: "I don't know who I am." Nia comforts him with a soft, "You're Jarod. And you're here with me."

Jarod then encourages Nia to talk about herself. "I saw your scars," he tells her, and she explains that she got them when she was a child. Her father had run a newspaper and her mother had been a reporter. One day when she was eight, the garrosocia came in the middle of the night, kidnapped her whole family and took them to "a horrible place". She never saw her parents again. The members of the garrosocia tried to get her to say that her parents were traitors, that they hated the generals... but she refused to betray them with such lies. She was beaten and raped... and then placed in a home with people she didn't know, who refused to tell her what happened to her parents. As she talks, Jarod feels her humiliation, rage and anguish.

She cries, "I miss them... I miss them so much..." and Jarod gathers her into his arms and repeats to her, "I know, I know, I know, I know..." To comfort her, Jarod gives her a kiss on the cheek and brushes her hair from her face with his hand. She responds by kissing him on the mouth... once... then again, more firmly... When she leans into him with a more passionate kiss, he withdraws slightly and explains, "I know this is going to sound crazy, but... I've never done this before." Nia takes his face gently between her hands, smiles at him, then kisses him softly and tips him onto his back.

Later, Jarod is sitting in the dark cabin with a blanket draped over his naked shoulders. Nia rises from the blankets on the floor and walks up to him. She sits down beside him, strokes his hair with her finger tips, and then cradles his head in her lap.Nia and Jarod in the small cabin

The next morning, Jarod and Nia are lying on the floor side-by-side, covered with blankets, when their sleep is disturbed by a loud "snuffling" noise in the cabin. Jarod, still bare chested, rolls over to see what's there, then taps Nia on the shoulder to awaken her. She rises beside him and sees that the cabin has been invaded by a very large pig. Jarod asks Nia: "Is that pig wearing a baseball cap?" A few seconds later Big Bob comes in with a rope calling, "Sooo-eee, sooo-eee."

Jarod asks him, "Is that your pig?"
Bob answers: "That's no pig; that's my partner in a burgeoning mushroom business."

It was Little Bob's job to route up truffles for Big Bob to sell. Big Bob claims they would have made a fortune on the truffles in the old mine shaft in Box Canyon, but couldn't get to them now because the entrance of the mine shaft had been dynamited by someone and sealed shut. That dynamiting took place the same day Ranger Conrad had been clearing stumps in the area... the same day the plane buzzed the area... the same day Victor Simpkins disappeared. And it was Conrad who lead the search AWAY from the mountain and toward the river...

Jarod and Nia get themselves together and rush out to the Box Canyon mine. They're able to pull enough boulders and debris from the entrance to get into the mine, and find Victor Simpkins there, lying on floor. He's suffering from exposure, but is alive.

Jarod has Big Bob Carsey call Ranger Conrad and tell him that he thinks he's been able to find Victor in the mine shaft. Conrad tells Cobey and the other rangers to stay where they are and not to call Simpkins' mother until he's had a chance to check the lead out himself. Conrad arrives at the mine shaft and finds the entrance sealed shut. He relocates enough rock until he can get into the shaft, then creeps up to what he believes is Victor's Simpkins' body on the floor of the shaft. When he touches it, the body rolls over. It's Jarod. "Well, it's about time," Jarod complains to Conrad, "my legs were staring to cramp up."

Jarod confronts Conrad with what he knows about Simpkins' disappearance, and Conrad's drug running. Conrad offers him money if he'll just ignore the whole thing, but Jarod refuses. Instead, he traps Conrad in the mine shaft himself, and collapses the entrance again so Conrad can't get out. Conrad screams, "You can't leave me in here!" And Jarod tells him, yes, he can; but he'll lead a search team personally to retrieve Conrad... "in a few days."

Back at Nia's home, Nia is reading a newspaper. Headlines tell of Conrad's drug-running, the murder of the pilot and attempted murder of Victor Simpkins. Conrad will go to prison. Jarod, his Haliburton case in hand, walks out of the house, and sits on the porch next to Nia. "I can do many things," he tells her honestly, "but I don't know how to do this." Nia tells him, "I know you have to go." He says he's worried that if he stays the people who are looking for him might endanger her life. She tells him she can take care of herself, and wishes him well. "I hope you find what you're looking for," she says. Jarod caresses her face and says, "You've already helped me find a part of it." He kisses her on the mouth. Gives her a last good-bye, and then walks off into the nearby woods.

Nia goes back into the house and finds a small wrapped present with a large purple bow sitting on a table in the entryway. She opens the wrapping and uncovers a simple wooden music box. As she opens the lid, she smiles: it's playing "Three Blind Mice" Stooges-style.

Later that same morning, a sedan pulls up in front of Nia's home as she sweeping the front porch. Although he had indicated to her that he was leaving, Jarod returns -- but stays out of sight -- so he can keep an eye on Nia when Miss Parker and Syndey step out of the sedan. They show Nia a photograph of Jarod and ask if she's seen him. She tells them, yes, "He was tall, handsome, a little mole beside his right eye...He was here for a few days. He's gone now ." They ask Nia if she knows where Jarod went, and she tells them, no, "But he did say something about loving Argentina." (In his hiding place, Jarod smiles a little.) Sydney starts walking back to the sedan, but Miss Parker linger for a moment, looking Nia over. She asks, "Do you think he'll come back?" Nia replies frankly, "I hope so." Miss Parker gives Nia one more look-over, then walks back to the sedan and gets into he driver's seat.

As the sedan pulls away, Jarod looks over to where Nia is still standing in front of the house. His longing and despair is evident in his facial expressions, but he turns his back and walks away from her -- alone -- through the woods.

TRIVIA: The television station which broadcast the news update about Victor Simpkins was Channel 15. The channel used on the rangers' walkie-talkies was Channel 9.

DISCOVERIES: Star Wars, Jedi, sexual intercourse. We discover that Jarod was a Sherpa on Mount Everest once, and that he speaks fluent Spanish.

BEST LINE(S): When Nia asks Jarod what he did before he became a ranger, he tells her, "Test pilot, thoracic surgeon, a lieutenant on a navy destroyer... the usual."// Jarod to Nia: "Trust in the Force, young Jedi."// When Miss Parker realizes Jarod is feeling passionate about a woman, she quips, "So, Frankenboy has a girlfriend - "

OUR REVIEW: This episode was a favorite -- and not only because we got to see a lot of Michael T. Weiss without a shirt on. We also got to see him ACT and interact with a female character in a gentle and respectful "love scene" that was made all the more provocative by its simplicity. We enjoy the episodes that are less "stuff" and action and more drama and character-devlopment.

It was nice to see that Jarod, who's life had been so "unnatural" and miserable in The Centre, waited until he actually FELT something before opening himself to a sexual experience. We don't know what was done with all of Jarod's sexual energy at The Centre (and considering the fact that Franken-Raines was there skulking around, doing who-knows-what to whomever he pleased, we really don't WANT to know), but we're glad Jarod finally found an outlet for it, and that his "first experience" was with someone who was gentle and who seemed to care about him. We're also glad that Jarod hasn't been made, by the writers, into a promiscuous sex-starved "himbo" who tries to sleep with every woman he meets. Jarod respects himself enough to be choosey: that's a lesson from which a lot of people -- young and old -- can learn.


episode #15, Jaroldo!

FIRST SEASON EPISODE 15: "Jaroldo!"Jarod using acupuncture on himself

In The Hampshire Building, New York City we see Jarod in a black undershirt, standing with long spindly acupuncture needles protruding from his right arm like porcupine quills. He's used the needles to deaden all feeling in that arm, and tries to manipulate a pair of scissors with this left hand. Frustrated that he's unable to use the scissors correctly, he throws the scissors onto a table. They land on a newspaper. An article on the front page tells about a cameraman, Ken Watanabe from Seattle, who was left partially paralyzed as a result of a gunshot wound he received while covering a gang-land turf war.

Two days later, Miss Parker and Sydney arrive at the building and are let into Jarod's vacated room by the building manager, a hippy-like pseudo-medicine man, who tells them that Jarod is no longer living there. He explains that Jarod -- a very "even-tempered" man -- had shown an interest in acupuncture, so the building manager taught it to him. Jarod was most interested using the acupuncture needles to manipulate the "brachial plexus", the nerve center for the upper extremities. He would purposely deaden his right arm and walk around with it like that for days at a time. Unimpressed with the manager (or his unveiled sexual attraction to her), Miss Parker readies to leave, but the manager stops her to give her a red notebook from Jarod. "He said you'd understand what it meant," the manager tells her.

Inside the red notebook are newspaper clippings with headlines that read: "New York Slumlord Arrested, Forced to Spend Month in Roach Motel" and "Bronx Tenants Freed From Bondage". Miss Parker says the articles are about a nearby building in the Bronx and demands that Sydney go with her there. Sydney tells her that this notebook was simply Jarod's way of making a point about "freedom", and didn't necessarily signify that he had ever gone to the Bronx location. Miss Parker ignores Sydney's assessment and makes him go to the building with her anyway.

In Seattle, Washington, we see a second-rate newscaster, Phil Campbell, arrive in a parking lot below a mid-town building. He looks up to see a "jumper" -- a man threatening to commit suicide -- on the rooftop, and angrily demands to know where his cameraman is. One of the tech people on hand points up at the roof, and we see Jarod, as videographer Jarod Crane, walking along the edge of the roof, approaching the jumper. Phil complains, through Jarod's communications headset, that Jarod had better be getting film of this. Jarod gives Phil an irritated glance then returns his attention to the jumper.

The jumper is a man named Dave who has been separated from his family. He drinks too much and can't hold down a job, so his wife left him with their two kids. He's so despondent that he wants to die. Jarod tells him to use the camera to talk to his family, to tell them how much he loves them... When Dave is calm enough, Jarod reaches out a hand to him and escorts him off the roof.Jarod suggesting Phil get credit for the save

Later, inside the studio at KTJE Channel 43 Seattle, Jarod meets with Phil Campbell, the program director Chris Rockwell [who rudely refers to Phil as "Grecian Formula with talent"], and a film editor named Annie. Chris is excited about the footage Jarod got of Dave, but Phil remarks that it would have been more interesting and made for better ratings if Dave had actually committed suicide. It would have given the story more "punch". Somewhat sickened by Phil's attitude, Annie complains, and Phil rebuffs her with the remark that sensationalism is what sells in the news business these days. "If it bleeds, it leads," he insists. When Chris says he's anxious to get Jarod on the air with his footage of Dave, Jarod suggests -- playing to Phil's ego, while also protecting himself from being photographed on television where he might be seen by Centre operatives -- that the footage be recut and looped with Phil's voice, making it look as though Phil was responsible for the "save" and not him. Phil thinks it's a great idea, and Chris is willing to go along, but Annie is against the fraud. "I thought only God rewrote history," she complains. Phil remarks: "God never won 'Sweeps'."

In the Bronx, at 1811 North Bushnell Street -- the address mentioned in the articles in Jarod's red notebook -- Miss Parker and Sydney arrive to find the building is a ramshackle place that has been condemned. Nevertheless, they go inside to look around. Sydney keeps suggesting to Miss Parker that they send Cleaners in to check the building, but Miss Parker -- her gun drawn and ready to fire -- is insistent on checking the place out herself. In the basement, they are attacked by two looters, and in the fracas Miss Parker's gun discharges -- into Sydney's right leg. He collapses to the floor, and the looters wrest Miss Parker's gun away from her, take her watch and jewelry and then bang her on the back of the head with a piece of pipe. They then take Miss Parker and Sydney to a fenced-in storage area in the basement and lock them inside of it.

Back in Seattle, at KTJE, Jarod sends another e-mail message to Sydney from his laptop computer: "Sydney, why aren't you responding to me?" When Annie sees him busily typing at his computer she asks if he's writing Phil's copy for him, too. Jarod smiles and tells her, no, he's just trying to get in contact with an "old friend". He closes up the laptop and follows after her as she walks through the studio. He tells her that Phil had asked him to get some of the old video footage from the studio archives so that he can see how Phil likes to be "shot". Annie takes Jarod to an indoor storage cabinet and lets him pick out whatever archive materials he wants. He chooses tapes of the Ken Watanabe shooting.

Later, Jarod watches the old news footage at his lair. We see images of Phil and Ken approaching a warehouse on the docks where members of a local gang are gathered outside. Suddenly, members of a rival gang show up and both gangs start shooting at one another. Ken is caught in the crossfire and is injured; his right arm is immediately rendered useless. He begs Phil to rescue him, and Phil pulls him to safety.

Back at The Centre in the Tech Room, Broots is on-line participating in an internet chat-room conversation. He's "Samson", and his contact is "Delilah". Samson says he'd like to meet Delilah, but Delilah responds that she's a little afraid to do that. The telephone next to him rings, and Broots answers it, "Samson... I mean, Broots... here." It's Mr. Parker on the line, and he wants to know where his daughter is. Broots says he hasn't seen her or Sydney for quite a while, but that he'll keep an eye out for them and let Mr. Parker know if he finds out anything. Mr. Parker hangs up before Broots can say "good-bye".

In Seattle, Jarod is walking into the studio at KTJE when he's stopped momentarily by Dave -- the man whom Jarod saved from suicide. Dave is doing better and thanks Jarod for helping him. He says he's located his wife and kids, but his wife won't take him back until he gets a job. Jarod says he'll let Dave know if anything comes up at the studio. While they're talking, Dave keeps looking at some technicians working on some satellite transmission wiring outside the studio. Jarod asks him if he's an electrician. Dave says, no, but he was a Sat Com (satellite communications) grunt in the Army,and he knows bad wiring when he sees it. If the technicians continue the way they're going, they're going to blow out the power to the entire facility, he says.

Jarod goes into the studio, and approaches Phil, asking him if he can see the raw footage of the Ken Watanabe shooting because he wants to see how the raw stuff was cut together to create the final news clip. Phil brushes him off saying all the old tapes are recycled. Jarod doesn't really believe that, but before he can say anything else, all the power goes off in the building. Jarod looks up in the dark smiling and says, "Way to go, Dave."

Later that evening, in his lair, Jarod uses his laptop computer to hack into the studio's raw footage archive. He finds the footage he wants on the Ken Watanabe shooting and watches it. In the raw footage, we see Ken and Phil arriving at the warehouse. Phil seems to know exactly where he wants to set up the camera to film the scene, and we hear Ken quip, "Oh, been hanging out with the homies, eh, Phil?" When Ken is in position, Phil tells him how he wants the filming to go. As they're talking, the rival gang shows up. There is shooting, shouting... Jarod can make out the name "D-Mac"... and Ken is hit by gunfire. He collapses immediately, crying to Phil that he's been hit and that he can't feel his arm. Phil at first looks like he wants to run away, but Ken grabs hold of the front of his shirt, and drags him toward him, begging for help. Phil -- eventually -- pulls Ken away to a safer distance. Jarod backs up the film again, and zooms in on Phil's chest area, after Ken has grabbed Phil's shirt. Under Phil's white dress-shirt is thick black padding. "Interesting undershirt, Phil," Jarod remarks to himself.

Jarod returns to KTJE after hours, breaks into the place, and pries open Phil's desk. He finds a black padded bullet-proof vest in one of the file drawers buried under sheaves of paper and folders. "Is a flak-jacket standard issue for newscasters these days?" Jarod asks aloud.

In the Bronx, Sydney is not fairing well after having been shot in the leg. He's going into shock. Miss Parker searches the area for a blanket to warm him with and finds one strapped to one of the support pillars in the basement. She removes the blanket from the pillar... and notices that the pillar is covered with wires and small soft-pack charges: it's all ready for a demolition blast that will collapse the entire structure. Horrified, she returns to Sydney, tells him that the place is wired to explode, and asks if he had told anyone at The Centre where they were going. Sydney shakes his head, no. Miss Parker didn't tell anyone where they would be either... Unable to escape, and unable to call anyone for help, Miss Parker wraps Sydney in the blanket and tries to warm him. "Some future," Miss Parker complains, "sitting around waiting to get blown to bits."

As the hours go by, Miss Parker starts to show the signs of nicotine withdrawal. She has no cigarettes with her, and is also without her ulcer medication. "I'm sick, Sydney," she tells him, as she moves around the confinement of the fenced-in area, nearly doubled-over, pale and perspiring. Sydney tries to distract her from her pain by talking to her, and they get on the inevitable subject of The Centre and her father. Sydney says she's still young, she still has a life ahead of her: why doesn't she just go to her father and tell him she wants to leave The Centre. Miss Parker shakes her head and starts to laugh at the absurdity of the suggestion, and Sydney laughs a little, too, if sadly.

At The Centre, Broots gets another telephone call, but this time it's from Jarod (who's speed-reading the official rules of basketball while he talks to Broots). Jarod wants to know where Sydney is, and Broots tells him that Sydney and Miss Parker have been missing for two days. Jarod is concerned that they may have gone to the Bushnell address, so he tells Broots where it is.

In the Bronx, Miss Parker remembers the reception that took place after her mother's funeral. Her father wasn't with her then, and, in a room full of people, she was sitting alone in a chair, crying. Sydney approached her, took her hand in his and tried to comfort her. He then had one of the operatives take her home... and gave her a kiss on the forehead before she left.

Miss Parker looks over to Sydney, who's looking worse from loss of blood and shock, and asks him to tell her about her mother's death. "I know it wasn't suicide," she tells him. But Sydney won't let her torture herself with talk about her mother's death and instead tries to focus on her mother's life. Catherine Parker was a driving force in The Centre in its early years, he tells her, and spearheaded many altruistic projects. Miss Parker says she can't believe that The Centre was ever involved in anything positive, and Sydney tells her of the days when The Centre was able to influence nations toward peace talks and democracy, and how it was rumored that the "Pope-mobile" was really a Centre invention. The Centre had saved thousands of lives in those days, Sydney tells Miss Parker... lives which it had since reclaimed when its benevolent projects were pushed aside to make room for malevolent ones.

Miss Parker asks Sydney why he didn't leave when he realized the evil change was taking place at The Centre, and he tells her it was, in part, because of Jarod. He couldn't leave Jarod there alone. "He's not very different from us, you know," Sydney tells her; all of their lives would have been different had they been able to choose their own paths. "I could have saved him. Jarod." Sydney says, "He should have lived a normal life." Trying to comfort him, Miss Parker tells him, "They would have killed you." Sydney sadly responds: "You can't kill someone who's already 'dead'."

In Washington, at the gang's hide-out on docks, Jarod walks in on the African-American gang members as they're playing a game of basketball. He has a box of pizza balanced on one hand, and is eating a slice of pizza with the other. He watches the game for a moment, and then calls "traveling" on one of the players. The gang members approach him en masse, trying to threaten him with their number and attitude, but Jarod isn't phased. He just smiles at them, charmingly. The gang leader, D-Mac, asks him if he has a death-wish and Jarod answers frankly, "Not that I know of". D-Mac continues: "Well, didn't your mama ever tell you that White people shouldn't be walking around in other people's neighborhoods?" Jarod responds that he never actually knew his mother, so the answer to the question was probably, no.Jarod then holds the pizza box out to D-Mac and offers it to him. D-Mac pulls out a switch-blade in response. Jarod looks at the knife, looks at the pizza, and says, "Thank you, anyway, but it already comes pre-sliced."

He introduces himself to everyone, says he's from the local television station, and wants to talk to D-Mac. D-Mac asks if he'll get on television, and Jarod answers, "Quite possibly, yes." D-Mac takes the pizza box from Jarod and tosses him the basketball in its place. Jarod shoots for a basket at the three-point line... and makes it. The gang-members are impressed.

Sitting alone with D-Mac, munching on pizza, Jarod asks him about the shooting that left Ken Watanabe injured. D-Mac tells Jarod that a man who "sounded White" had called him on his cell phone one night and asked to talk to him about the turf wars. D-Mac agreed to the meeting, but when the time of the meeting arrived, he was met instead by a rival gang. The gangs started shooting at one another and Ken was injured. Jarod asks D-Mac if it was unusual for a White man to call him on his cell phone, and D-Mac gives him a puzzled look, "You really didn't have no mama, did you?" Jarod doesn't answer... But he does ask D-Mac for his cell phone number so he can check to see who made the call to him.

Later, back at the studio, Jarod uses his laptop computer to hack into the local phone company's records so he can find out who placed the call to D-Mac. It was Phil Campbell. He also discovers that Phil made a similar call to D-Mac's rival gang on the same evening. Phil had set up the events that lead to Ken's injury... Jarod then seeks out Annie and tells her what he knows about the Watanabe shooting, and asks her to help him trap Phil. At first, she doesn't want to believe that Phil would have been that reckless and that careless, but then she agrees to help Jarod prove that Phil was responsible for the circumstances that left Ken injured.

Jarod finds D-Mac again and asks him to help him set up Phil. D-Mac agrees. Jarod also goes to the rival gang and asks for their help, too, and angry at Phil for setting them up earlier with D-Mac's gang they agree to help as well. Jarod then has Annie call the General Manager of the station to come to the studio for "a very special broadcast". She does so, and when he arrives she puts the General Manager in the same viewing room as Chris Rockwell. They then wait for Jarod's broadcast.

Jarod goes to Phil and tells him he's been tipped off about some "fireworks" going off between the local gangs, and he wants Phil to come with him to cover this fast-breaking story. Eager for more sensationalistic footage and his face on camera, Phil agrees to go with Jarod to the same warehouse area where Ken Watanabe was shot. Rather than staying outside the warehouse, however, Jarod takes Phil inside... then disappears. Phil, afraid to be in the place by himself, starts to call for Jarod, but stops when he hears the gang members arrive. Members from both gangs flood into the building, talking loudly and hooting and laughing. Terrified, Phil tries to hide himself behind some packing crates. Through his mini-microphone/headset he whispers to Jarod, asking him where he is. Jarod whispers back, through his own headset, that he's standing above Phil. Phil looks up to see Jarod on a catwalk above the gang-members with his video-camera.

Back at KTJE, Annie runs outside to cue Dave -- who's now handling the wiring and broadcast systems for the station -- to link up to Jarod's transmission. As soon as the link is made, all of the monitors in the studio light up with the images of Phil and the gang members Jarod is filming. In the office both Chris Rockwell and the General Manager can see and hear everything that's going on at the warehouse.

At the warehouse, the gang members are getting very rowdy and threatening each other with violence. Phil tells Jarod they'll kill him if they find him, and he tries to escape out a back door. But Jarod has already seen to it that door was locked and chained from the outside, so Phil can't get out. The gang members hear Phil fighting with the door, and descend upon him. They drag him out into the open and threaten to kill him. He tells them they can't kill him because Jarod is standing above them with a camera, filming everything they're doing. The gang members look up at Jarod and, still filming, Jarod waves to them.

Jarod then confronts Phil with the information he's gathered about the shooting that left Ken Watanabe paralyzed on one side. It was Phil who set up the confrontation, Phil who made the phone calls, Phil who protected himself with a bullet-proof vest while he put Ken in harm's way, Phil who appeared in all the publicity from the incident, Phil who lied about what happened... Afraid that the gang members around him are going to harm him, Phil begs for Jarod to help him. Jarod asks him why he should help... when Phil had offered no help to Ken Watanabe the night of the shooting. Phil says he didn't know there was going to be any shooting that night. And Jarod then demands to know, if that was so, why did Phil where a flak-jacket? Phil has no answer...and the gang members move in on him. Phil starts trembling and admits loudly, yes, yes, yes, everything Jarod said was the truth.

D-Mac looks up at Jarod and asks him if he got all the footage he needed. Jarod gives D-Mac the thumbs-up sign and thanks him for his help. All the gang members then start laughing at and mocking Phil and disburse.

Back at the studio, the General Manager has heard everything Phil said and admitted to, and he's furious. Not only did Phil's reckless behavior set the station up for a liability suit from the Watanabe family, he also ruined Ken Watanabe's life and career. The General Manager fires not only Phil, but Chris Rockwell, as well, blaming Chris for allowing such a series of events to have taken place.Jarod being filmed by Ken Watanabe

In the Bronx, following the address and directions given to him by Jarod, Broots finds 1811 North Bushnell. He searches around the perimeter of the building and calls Miss Parker's and Syndey's names. Miss Parker hears him calling, and from the basement lock-up area screams back, "Broots! You moron!" A few minutes later, Broots has the police and an ambulance unit at the site. Sydney is taken to the hospital, and Miss Parker leaves under her own power.... after stealing a cigarette from one of the policemen and inhaling at it with everything she's worth.

In Seattle, Ken Watanabe is in a park with Jarod and he's very happy. Jarod has constructed a harness for him that will hold a television-style video camera up against his body and shoulder, so he doesn't have use his arms or hands. He can manipulate the camera's functions with a small remote unit he can hold in his left palm. Ken thanks Jarod for giving him the opportunity to get his job, his livelihood, and his self-reliance back. He takes some footage of Jarod smiling and waving at him, and Jarod makes him promise that it won't appear on the evening news.

The episode closes with Jarod standing on a sea-side cliff in a yellow flight suit and dark glasses. He's wearing a parachute on his back and a light-weight headset on his head. Through the headset he can hear the voice of a woman, who's somewhere below the cliff on the beach. She tells him that if he manages to pull off this jump, he'll make the record books. Jarod says, "Now that would be news, wouldn't it?" and jumps off the cliff. When he's partway, the parachute unfurls behind him.


Jarod as a cliff-diver DISCOVERIES: Acupuncture, the game of darts, the official rules of basketball, pizza, and videography. We also see Jarod as a cliff-diving parachutist attempting to break a world record.

BEST LINE(S): Miss Parker to Sydney: "I regret not going to The Prom... I regret laughing at my first boyfriend when he told me I was 'the one'... and in this instant I regret not having a nicotine patch the size of a doormat"// Jarod, on playing darts: "I just close one eye, and let it fly."// D-Mac to Jarod after Jarod gives him a quizzical look when D-Mac asks one of the other gang members to find his Day-Runner for him: "We're bangers, not cave men."

TRIVIA: The actress Lisa Howard who played Annie Lambert in this episode of "The Pretender" also worked with Michael T. Weiss for a while when he was co-starring in "Days of Our Lives". Here's some images from those "days".

 

B/W image from an old soap opera magazine

Color image from Shooting Stars

OUR REVIEW: This was a good -- but not great -- episode. We liked the interaction between Jarod and the gang members; his charm disarmed them immediately. But we were concerned that those gang members who were responsible for actually spraying the bullets that struck Ken Watanabe were seemingly never sought out or prosecuted for their crime (at least, not that we were able in the story) as Phil Campbell was.

The story, we understand, explored the deterioration of the news media (from fact-finding truth-seekers to gossip-mongering sensationalists), but made it appear as though only small-time operators and local station managers went for the "blood". In truth, all major so-called news magazines and television shows today depend too heavily, not on facts, but on gossip, innuendo, unnamed sources, and emotional "gore" for the bulk of their stories. And although innocent people don't generally get struck by stray media-bullets, they do get struck by paralyzing lies and reputation shredding slander... while the so-called "news"casters protect themselves with the "bullet-proof vest" of freedom of the press.

Phil Campbell, we should all recognize, isn't representative of "the exception" in the news industry; he's representative of "the rule".
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Crane: Most likely a reference to the cranes and/or crane operators that carry and manipulate cameras for television and motion picture filming.


episode #16, Under the Reds

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episode #17, Keys

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episode #18, Unhappy Landings

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