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 #07, A Virus Among Us

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EPISODE #08, Not Even a Mouse

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EPISODE #09, Mirage

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#10, The Better Part of Valor

FIRST SEASON EPISODE 10: "The Better Part of Valor":

IN HIS LAIR Jarod is watching a DSA of himself as a child from 11-02-73 in which Sydney is having him look at video tape of a crowd of people in Africa and asks Jarod to assess what the people are feeling. The video regards the betrayal of the people by their leader, Idi Amine. Jarod says the people are confused, angry and sad because someone they trusted with their well-being betrayed them; they can't trust him anymore.
Hero firefighter, Jarod O'Leary

FAIRFAX APARTMENT COMPLEX, in Pittsburgh, PA. We see a fire fighting crew, including a captain, Harrigan, and a female firefighter, Nancy Gleason, overseeing the extinguishing of a vast fire that's consuming the apartment complex. Harrigan demands to know where "O'Leary" is, and Gleason tells him that O'Leary is still inside the building somewhere. Talking over walkie-talkie head sets, Harrigan tells O'Leary to get out of there, but there's no response from O'Leary.

We see inside the apartment complex, a young girl hiding in her bedroom while the fire comes in from all sides. She's crying and calling for someone to come help her. Through a wall of flames comes the figure of a firefighter in full safety gear. As he approaches, we can see that it's Jarod, posing as Lieutenant Jarod O'Leary. He grabs the little girls, lifts her into his arms and carries her out of the building. Outside, Jarod emerges from the fully-involved apartment building, blackened by the fire and smoke, and carries the little girl across the parking lot where her mother rushes up to Jarod to meet him. The woman takes the little girl into her own arms and hugs her, and thanks Jarod profusely for saving her child's life. Jarod smiles at the woman and says, "Just doing my job ma'am."

AT THE CENTRE, we see a stringy-haired man walking slowly down a "corridor" of newspapers which are spread out on either side of him on the floor. As he walks past, pages of the newspapers are turned by Centre operatives. The man instantly scans each page for information and then walks on to the next. When he reaches the end of the "corridor", he turns around and walks it again... over and over... Miss Parker refers to the man as "Cousin It", and learns from Sydney that he's "on loan" from Mr. Raines. Sydney says the man's name is "Angelo", and he warns Miss Parker, "Don't trivialize this... He's very special."

IN PITTSBURGH at Fire Station #16, Jarod shyly accept congratulations from other firefighters in his brigade for his saving of the young girl at the Fairfax Apartments. "That's what the Fighting 16th is all about," one of the firefighters says. Jarod asks where he should store his gear, and a blonde firefighter named Roy tells him he can take any locker that doesn't have a name on it. Jarod picks one, but Gleason comes up and slams it shut. "Any one but this one," she says, and walks away. Roy explains that the locker had belonged to another female firefighter named Tamara Copeland who had recently died in a warehouse fire. Gleason and Copeland were very close, and Gleason hasn't gotten over Copeland's death yet. Jarod apologizes and puts his gear in a different locker.

Captain Harrigan comes in, congratulates Jarod on his excellent first day on the job, and tells Jarod to get himself cleaned up so he can meet with the reporters who are waiting to interview him about the rescue. Jarod balks at the idea at being interviewed and photographed by the press, and tells the captain he doesn't want any publicity. Captain Harrigan tells him he should do it anyway to enhance the reputation of the company. Jarod reluctantly agrees.

IN DELAWARE, Miss Parker and Sydney are at a high class restaurant having lunch. While they wait for their meals to arrive, Miss Parker talks to Sydney about Angelo, and Sydney tries to explain more about the mysterious man. Sydney says that Angelo, technically, isn't a "savant" and that they don't really have a classification for him. "Think of him as a sort of sponge," Sydney suggests, and he goes on to explain that Angelo apparently has no personality of his own -- or if he does, it's so repressed that it doesn't show at all -- but he's capable of "absorbing" other people's personalities. They've given Angelo every bit of information they could on Jarod in the hopes that Angelo would "absorb" enough of Jarod's personality to intuit where Jarod might go and what he might do next. "So now he's another Pretender -- " Miss Parker says. Sydney tells her, no, not exactly: "Angelo could never make a moral judgment on his own... And he would never run away." Miss Parker gives Sydney a droll look: "Now, where have I heard that before?"

Before Sydney can respond, Miss Parker notices another man in the restaurant who approaches their table. She brightens immediately at the site of him, and stands up, putting herself into his embrace as soon as he's near enough. She introduces him to Sydney as Michael Patrick. Michael indicates that he knew Miss Parker in the past, and compliments her on her looks. She tells him she'd look better if she'd had some good sex lately. A bit surprised by such a remark in a public place, Sydney's eyes widen, and he looks down at the table. Michael says he's working for a pharmaceutical company as a sales rep and is in town to peruse his new territory. He offers to buy Miss Parker a drink, and she dumps her luncheon engagement with Sydney to join Michael at the bar.

AT THE FAIRFAX APARTMENT COMPLEX Jarod walks in as arson investigator John Zimmerman walks through the burned out shell of one of the apartments to try to discover what started the fire. Jarod asks if he can try to make a determination himself, and Zimmerman humors him. Jarod looks over the materials in the apartment, and determines that the woman who lived there was a smoker. She was painting her fingernails, fell asleep, and the lighted cigarette ignited the nail polishing fluids. Zimmerman tells him it's a very good guess, but wrong. He then indicates to Jarod the burn-pattern in the room, and explains that it was an electrical fire. The fingernail polish ignited long after the fire had already started.

AT FIRE STATION 16, Jarod is on his hands and knees growling at the company's pet Dalmatian, "Ember", while Roy finishes up the meal Jarod is supposed to be completing for the company's dinner. Roy looks at the mass of green slime in the cooking pot and asks, "How long am I supposed to keep stirring this mess?" Jarod answers, "Until it coagulates." Roy makes a face at the green slime and says, "That's a good word for it."

As the company gathers for dinner, Jarod spoons out portions of the green slime onto everyone's plate. One of the fire fighters asks what it is and Jarod explains that it's, "Optimized Nutritional Supplement: hearts of palm, wheat grass, and asparagus stewed with tomatoes. I grew up on this stuff." Gleason remarks, "Threw up, is more like it." She holds her plate down to Ember, but even the dog won't eat the food. Harrigan tells them there is only one way to save this disastrous meal, and he produces several cans of "Insta-cheese". He tosses them around the room -- to the cheers of the other firefighters -- and everyone covers their food with the cheese-like spray. As they eat their dinner, Harrigan remarks, "-- Haven't had a decent meal around here since Tamara Copeland died." Gleason winces at the sound of Copeland's name and pushes her meal aside.

IN HIS BUNK AT THE FIRE STATION Jarod goes through information files on the Tri-River Fire: the fire during which Copeland died. The coroner's report read that Copeland had died of asphyxia.

AT THE TRI-RIVER WAREHOUSE, Jarod walks through the burned out rubble to try to recreate in his mind what the place looked like during the fire. He takes several photographs of the burn patterns on the floor and walls, and then refers to a red notebook he's been keeping about the incident. In the notebook are newspaper clippings with headlines that read:

IN DELAWARE, Miss Parker and Michael Patrick are having a meal in a restaurant, and her description of her fencing classes could be easily misconstrued by passersby as descriptions of sexual activity. Michael is not unaffected by her conversation and remarks that she's got "that look" again, "half invitation, half intimidation." He warns her: "Don't tempt me, Parker." Miss Parker grins slyly at him and says, "Too late."

AT STATION 16 that evening, Jarod comes across Roy and Ember putting together a late-night snack for themselves with Insta-cheese, which Jarod refers to as "aerosol cheese-like imitation food product" and complains that it has absolutely no nutritional value whatsoever. "Who cares," says Roy. "It tastes good." Jarod lets Roy continue putting his sandwich together, while they talk about the "Fighting 16th" and its aggressive approach to fire fighting... except when it comes to warehouse fires. Jarod expresses a concern that Harrigan holds back his team whenever warehouses are burning: such as with the case of the Tri-River warehouse fire. Roy explains that Harrigan does that because he doesn't want to risk the lives of anyone in his brigade to fight buildings that are NWS: Not Worth Saving. In the Tri-River fire, Harrigan had told his people to stay back and let the building burn, but Tamara Copeland thought she heard someone inside the place screaming, so she rushed in to help... and died in the process.

AT MISS PARKER'S HOUSE, Miss Parker and Michael Patrick are half naked on the livingroom floor, and have just finished up a bout of heavy sexing that's left them both a little breathless. "Nice place you have here, Parker," Michael remarks, and Miss Parker says, "How do you know? You haven't even seen the bedroom yet."

BACK IN PENNSYLVANIA, at Herb's Grinders sandwich shop, Nancy Gleason comes in to deliver Herb's laundry to him. Herb was Tamara Copeland's father, and Gleason thinks of him as a sort of surrogate father, too. She asks how business is going and Herb tells her that Manny, the cook, called in sick that day. Gleason is concerned that Herb has been left alone to fend for himself in the shop that day, but he says, no, he's gotten help from a volunteer. At that moment, Jarod walks out of the kitchen with a deep saucepan in his hand and asks, "Hey, Herb... What should I do with these balls of meat?"

Herb takes the pan of meat balls from Jarod, and finishes up an order while Jarod buses the tables. Gleason watches him for a while and then asks him what he's doing there. He tells her he came in for lunch, noticed that Herb was short-handed, and offered to help. "You would have done the same if you were here." Gleason says, "You're not going to make this easy, are you?" Jarod looks at her, puzzled, and asks, "What --?" Gleason half-smiles half-frowns at him and answering, "Hating you." She tells him it's difficult for her to stay angry with him for taking Copeland's place, when he's being so helpful and supportive. He tells her he just wants to do his job; he's not there to "replace" anyone.

AT THE CENTRE Broots and Sydney are stunned when Miss Parker waltzes into the Tech Room, smiling and happy. She expresses concern that Broots had apparently spent the whole night working, and offers to get him a cup of coffee. As she walks away to procure the coffee, Broots and Sydney just look at one another totally confused by her convivial attitude.

Sydney catches up with Miss Parker as she's on her way back to the Tech Room with two cups of coffee. He tells her he's not accepting her gleefulness as simply a sign that she's having a good day. He says he's concerned that she's getting too involved with Michael Patrick, who will make for a transient relationship at best. Sydney says he's worried about her, and he asks her to assess for herself if she has enough "healthy relationships" in her life. Miss Parker shoves the coffee cups at Sydney, tells him to mind his own business, and walks away.

THE NEXT DAY, Jarod and the other members of the Fighting 16th are all gathered at Captain Harrigan's house for a barbecue. Harrigan brags about the remodeling he's been doing, and proudly shows off a wet bar made of marble, and trimmed with railing off of a 1934 ladder truck. Jarod expresses concern that such remodeling jobs must be expensive, and Harrigan dismisses him by saying he gets the members of his brigade to do most of the labor so it's not as expensive as it might otherwise be. Jarod is unconvinced by Harrigan's explanation, but says nothing. Later, when Tamara Copeland's name comes up in conversation, Jarod is also unconvinced by Harrigan's display of "fatherly concern" for his dead co-worker. When Harrigan says that Copeland died because she was "over zealous" and didn't follow orders, Jarod simply eyes him suspiciously.Writing Harrigan's name in accelerant

That evening, Jarod goes to the Tri-River warehouse again, and looks over the place. With a bottle of accelerant, he writes the word HARRIGAN on the floor of the warehouse, and sets the word ablaze.

AT THE FIRE STATION, Jarod sets up his laptop computer and hacks into the Shadyside Saving Bank (2000 Morewood Plaza, Pittsburgh, PA 15244) and finds John Zimmerman's accounts. He notes several deposits made by Zimmerman, each for over $30,000 a piece, and each one following the dates of warehouse fires that were overseen by the Fighting 16th.

THE NEXT DAY, Jarod meets Zimmerman at Herb's Grinders and buys him lunch. While they eat, Jarod shows Zimmerman photographs of a burned out warehouse and tells him that he has a bet with Roy that the warehouse was destroyed by an electrical fire. Zimmerman tells Jarod he lost his bet: the photographs indicate an arson fire. Zimmerman shows Jarod details of the "web like" burn patterns on the floor and walls that are indicative of arson fires. If someone labeled that warehouse fire as "electrical", Zimmerman says, that person was a moron who didn't know what they were doing. Jarod smile shallowly at Zimmerman and says, "Then I guess that moron would have to be you."

Jarod explains that the photographs are of the Tri-River warehouse site; the site where Tamara Copeland died; the site that Zimmerman had stated, in his reports, burned because of an accidental electrical fire. Realizing he's been pegged by Jarod as an arsonist and liar, Zimmerman can't eat any more lunch.

AT THE TRI-RIVER WAREHOUSE Zimmerman confesses to Jarod that he did, indeed, set the fire that burned the warehouse down, and that he did, indeed, falsify his report about the fire afterwards. He and Harrigan were working an insurance scam together. They'd find people who wanted their property destroyed so they could collect on the insurance; they'd set the fires, contain them, and then lie about the cause. Once the insurance companies settled with the property owners, Harrigan and Zimmerman would collect a percentage in pay-offs. They'd never intended to kill Tamara Copeland, but she showed up at an inopportune moment while the Tri-River warehouse was burning.

Zimmerman had set the fire himself, but it got out of control, and he was having trouble getting out of the building. He had a bad knee that went out on him, and he couldn't get to the back doorway to escape. The heat from the fire was very intense and when the flames moved in he let out a cry of pain -- that was overheard by Copeland, who had arrived at the scene with the Fighting 16th. Even though Harrigan demanded that she stay outside and let the building burn, when she heard Zimmerman cry out, she ran inside to try to rescue him. When she saw him, she recognized him immediately, and knew he had set the fire himself. She didn't judge him, though, and rushed over to help him get out of the place before the heat and smoke killed him.

Harrigan came in after Copeland, and bashed her in the head with a crowbar, then took her mask and breathing gear from her and gave it to Zimmerman. He helped Zimmerman out of the warehouse, and left Copeland to die.Teaching Ember to pull the lamp chain

AT THE FIRE STATION Jarod puts together a plot to force a confession out of Harrigan for the murder of Tamara Copeland. He teaches Ember to pull at a lamp cord when its "baited" with Insta-cheese. He tells Nancy Gleason the truth about the Tri-River warehouse fire, and asks for her help, which in memory of Copeland she's eager to offer. He then goes over to Harrigan's house, and tampers with the wiring and electrical outlets.

AT THE CENTRE, Angelo stops walking down the "corridor" of newspapers and points to one of them. He says simply: "Jarod."

AT MISS PARKER'S HOME, Miss Parker is between rounds of sex with Michael on the livingroom floor. He complains with a tired smile, "Parker, are we ever going to make it to your bedroom?" Miss Parker laughs, but when the telephone rings, she's all business again. She leaves Michael on the floor and gets up to answer the call. It's Broots; he tells her they've got a solid lead on where Jarod's last lair was. With Michael over-hearing everything she says, Miss Parker repeats, "... the Borodin Smoke House, Pittsburgh...," listens to Broots a little longer, and hangs up the phone. She then looks over to Michael, throws him his wallet, and announces abruptly, "Your business trip just ended."

AT THE BORODIN SMOKE HOUSE, Strip District, Pittsburgh, PA., Miss Parker and Sydney talk to the smoke house manager, Mr. Borodin. He tells them that Jarod had been there for several weeks and helped them with money management. He set up an investment strategy for them, corrected the flaws in the bookkeeping, and got the workers on a dental plan and into a 401K retirement plan. In return, Jarod asked to be able to sit in the smoke house for as long as he wanted, whenever he wanted. Mr. Borodin tells them, "He loved smoke... He said he wanted to feel it in his pours."

When Miss Parker asks Mr. Borodin if Jarod had left anything behind like a red notebook. Mr. Borodin tells her, "Same as before. I don't have it." Miss Parker grabs Mr. Borodin by the shirt collar and drags him toward her until they're nose-to-nose. "'Same as before'? What does that mean?" Mr. Borodin tells her that another man had come less than hour before her, looking for Jarod and asking the same questions. He didn't know what the man's name was. Miss Parker is frustrated, having come so close to Jarod only to lose him again. When he cell phone rings, she snaps at the caller, "What?!" It's Broots again, he tells her he's found Jarod... through the photograph taken and newspaper article written up about firefighter Jarod O'Leary's rescue of the child in the Fairfax Apartment complex.

AT THE FIRE STATION, Jarod sees to it that Gleason delivers to Harrigan a sealed envelope with a private note inside. When Harrigan opens it, he find, in Zimmerman's hand writing, a note that tells Harrigan that they've been discovered, and that he should meet Zimmerman at his (Harrigan's) house immediately.Burn, Harrigan, burn

Harrigan arrives at his house to find Insta-cheese sprayed all over the newly remodeled flooring, and Ember padding through the house, eating the cheese stuff off the tiles. Harrigan goes to the bar, and picks up a mug which he intends to throw at the dog to get the dog out of his house. Before he can hurl the mug, however, Jarod comes up behind him, grabs his throwing arm by the wrist, and hand-cuffs that wrist to the railing around the bar. Startled and furious, Harrigan demands to know what's going on. Jarod tells Harrigan that he knows all about the arson and the insurance scams, and demands that Harrigan admit to the killing of Tamara Copeland. Harrigan refuses, and yells at Jarod to uncuff him.

Jarod then baits the pull-chain on one of the lamps in the room with Insta-cheese, and has Ember come over and pull the chain. As soon as the light comes on, the outlet into which the lamp is plugged bursts into a shower of bright sparks. Jarod explains that the dog-started fire should be working its way up inside the walls of Harrigan's home fairly quickly because he'd laced all the wiring with accelerant; the same kind of accelerant that Harrigan and Zimmerman used in their arson fires.

The livingroom starts filling up with smoke, and Jarod lets Ember out so he doesn't get hurt. Jarod then goes to the telephone and calls the fire station to tell them that Harrigan's house is on fire. Outside Harrigan's house, the Fighting 16th arrives very quickly, but Gleason tells the other fire fighters to not do anything until they listen to something first. She lifts up a walkie-talkie and turns it on so everyone can hear it.

As the smoke alarms inside the house start screeling, and the wall behind him bursts into flame, and the ceiling starts to blister, Harrigan screams for Jarod let him go, but Jarod refuses. He picks up a walkie-talkie, turns it on, and again demands that Harrigan admit to his crimes. Realizing that Jarod will let him burn to death if he doesn't confess, Harrigan tells Jarod the truth about the Tri-River fire and the murder of Tamara Copeland. Outside, the members of the Fighting 16th hear every word.

Jarod backs out of the house just as part of the ceiling caves in and falls on top of the bar, very near where Harrigan is hand-cuffed. Harrigan screams to Jarod and pleads for the keys to the hand-cuffs so that he can escape before the house crashes down around him. Jarod waggles the keys in the air for a moment, then tosses them into a pool of fire on the bar. He then turns his back on Harrigan, and leaves.

Inside the house, Harrigan has to reach into the fire to get the keys to the handcuffs and burns his hand very badly in the process. He then races outside to the curb where the fire engines of the Fighting 16th are waiting. Cradling his burned hand in the crook of the opposite arm, Harrigan begs his crew to save his house. None of the fire fighters move. Harrigan shouts to them that he's their captain; they have to do what he tells them. Gleason looks up at him, and tells him that they're not going to risk their lives for a building that's "definitely NWS".

Harrigan runs over to the side of the pumper truck and is about to pull the hoses off himself when Herb Copeland arrives and slams the cover on the hoses back into place. Herb just stares at Harrigan, angry, confused, betrayed... Harrigan's eyes fill with tears and he turns away.

BACK AT THE FIRE STATION, Jarod stows his firefighter gear away, grabs his Haliburton case and is readying to leave when Michael Patrick comes up behind him, threatens him with a gun, and says, "You must be Jarod." Michael tells Jarod to put his case down, and to put his hands up. Jarod doesn't look impressed or surprised by Michael, but does ask who he is. Michael tells him that's unimportant, and again demands that Jarod do what he tells him to do. Jarod and Ember at Harrigan's house before the fire

Jarod is about to comply when Ember comes into the room behind Michael, and starts to bark. Michael is so startled by the dog that he turns around to face it. As he does, Jarod lifts his Haliburton case and whams Michael in the head with it, stunning Michael and knocking him onto the floor. Jarod then heads for the exit to leave the station, but before he goes, he stops to shake Ember's paw and thanks the dog for its help.

A few seconds later, Miss Parker, Sydney and Sam the Sweeper arrive at the Fire Station and rush inside to try to catch Jarod. Jarod is gone, but Michael Patrick is still on the floor, just now recovering from the bop on the head. Sam kicks Michael's gun aside, and Miss Parker walks up and puts her high-heeled shoe against Michael's groin. She demands to know who he's working for. He says he's working for a pharmaceutical company -- and she pushes down, hard, with her foot. Michael doubles up in pain, and admits to her that he works for The Centre. Mr. Raines commissioned him to find Jarod, without informing Miss Parker.

Miss Parker levels her handgun at Michael and threatens to shoot him, but Sydney stays her, telling her that his death might cause "repercussions". Miss Parker withdraws her gun, and instead stomps on Michael's groin and turns to walk away. With Michael curled up in the pain on the floor, Miss Parker turns back to him and announces: "By the way... I was faking it." She then leaves him there.

The episode closes with an image of Jarod working as a short order cook on a mobile lunch wagon. One of his customers complains that the meal he's been served is unpalatable, and Jarod smiles and tells the man he can fix it right up. Jarod shakes up a can of Insta-cheese, covers the dinner plate and its contents with it, and hands the plate back to the customer, saying: "Bon appetite!"

Jarod humoring Harrigan

TRIVIA: Although the newspaper articles Jarod looked at in his red notebook had headlines about the Tri-River fire, the text of the articles was actually about genius-level mentality found in infants. Part of one article read: "...At first glance, it would seem that there are more cases involving scientists who act like teenagers than cases of infants displaying genius-like behavior, but this proves to be a widespread misconception. The instances of new born children displaying prodigal mental powers are more numerous than would be expected..."

Also, the address from Captain Harrigan's house was: 16309 Elsworth Terrace; and John Zimmeran's home address was: 17015 Henley.

DISCOVERIES: Insta-cheese; meat balls; Dalmatian dogs. We also learned in this episode that Jarod drove a chimpanzee through the Amazon once.

BEST LINE(S): Zimmerman to Jarod: "Bet you could tell me some tales, huh?" Jarod: "Well, I do know this one about this little monkey and a man in a yellow hat."// Zimmerman to Jarod at the site of the Fairfax fire: "You know what the saddest thing is...? This burned out mattress... This is the closest I get to sex." (To which Jarod gives Zimmerman a somewhat fretful sideways glance.) // Zimmerman to Jarod after Jarod buys him lunch: "If you're hoping to get lucky, you won't." Jarod looks at him blankly, and Zimmerman explains: "That's a joke."

OUR REVIEW: The introduction of Angelo, the "human sponge" was an interesting surprise, and added a level of "creepiness" to The Centre that hadn't quite been there before. The story of the arsonist firefighters was an old one, but told well enough that we didn't mind the cliché. We also liked the director's use of lighting to enhance the many close-ups of his primary characters.

However -- sorry -- we could have done without seeing Miss Parker's extracurricular activities over and over again. If we MUST look at people having sex, why can't we see JAROD do it? We were also exceedingly insulted by the rather dated sexist notion, put forth and exacerbated by this episode, that a woman will deteriorate into a "bitch" if she doesn't have a man around to service her; and then turns into some kind of nurturing princess when she does have one. Puh-leeze!

O'Leary: doubtless a reference to "Mrs. O'Leary" whose cow was attributed with kicking over a lanturn that started the Great Chicago Fire in 1871; a fire which killed 250 people and left almost 90,000 homeless.

EPISODE #11, Potato Head Blues

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EPISODE #12, Prison Story

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