Though I love this episode, there's an
interesting dichotomy in my feelings about it. The plot is ho-hum, barely holding together. The microchip storyline is overdone and tiresome. But what redeems
this episode is the wonderful scenes that the sorry plot makes possible. I don't mean to criticize Richard Chapman overly much - my writing is often the same way.
The plot is just the means to create good scenes between characters. And boy, are there some good scenes here!
The opening scene between brothers is one of my all-time favorite openers. It's
partially influenced by reading the account of the TV Guide reporter who was on the set that day, but it just has all the classic earmarks of a Simon spat. First of all,
knowing that Mac's goggles made JP go into a giggle fit makes the sheer fury in AJ's eyes all the more impressive. Here's a play-by-play, click to see bigger version:
Let's look at Rick: he is simply adorable as he's hitting the skillsaw, trying to figure
out why it's not working when AJ's unplugged it. Then the big grin as he relates his great news to his brother - cheap toys! Which turns into defensiveness when he
feels he's been accused wrongly - after all, he did put a drop cloth down. And finally
sheer puppydog chagrin when he realizes he's used the wrong sheets and that AJ's really going to be mad at him. Precious!
As for AJ, the scene does kinda make me feel for him. (Not as much as I felt for Rick, but still...) Especially when he gives the anguished
cry asking if Rick plans to do these things to him or if it comes to him in a vision. We all know this isn't the first thing Rick's done to him,
either well-meaning or otherwise, and it's no surprise AJ feels a little persecuted. AJ is in fine form as he continues his eloquent denunciation of his brother as Jerry
enters. Too funny!
I've said it once, I'll say it again - they should have stuck with Jerry a little longer.
As he says himself, they're like brothers. For instance, Jerry knows them well enough to pitch his wild plan to Rick directly, not AJ. He knows as well as we do that Rick's the one most likely to go for it. It's little things like
this that really endeared the character to me, and I think it's a shame they didn't keep him around.
I must say I relished watching AJ unleash a major can of blue-robed whoop-*ss on the goons who broke into his house. All I could see was a
blur of blond hair and blue terry cloth - great to watch! Both brothers have come a long way in hand-to-hand combat since the show started.
One small thing I liked, silly really, was the phone call where Rick picks up on the
fact that the guy on the phone is a cop. First, that Rick was able to peg that. Second, that his hand signals instantly made sense to AJ. Third, the enjoyment AJ got out of letting the cop know they knew who he was.
Just a brief brotherly moment that made me grin.
I want to nominate the receptionist at the Sahara as one of my favorite flash-in-the-pan characters. I loved her ability to take the
wind right out of AJ's sails, both about the wet hens, and teaching him a little lesson about Nevada ranches. She was just great.
Need I say anything about the boys' reaction to the Appaloosa? Didn't think so. I'll just say I derive amusement from their discomfiture and unabashed grins.
It was fun to see Jay Johnson again, the most famous ventriloquist to my generation.
Sure, Edgar Bergen was technically bigger, but who among us doesn't remember Jay on Soap? (Warning, if you aren't old enough to remember, be kind and keep it to yourself.) ;)
And finally, we come to the last few scenes,
pulsing with power. Rick, always cool under pressure, stares his Ricknappers in the face, makes a glib comment here and there, no matter
how hard he gets hit. In this case, he also had to point the bad guys to water regarding the possibility of a switch. Even as he stands on the
edge of a very big cliff, he's cracking jokes and enjoying AJ's sense of humor, also. I adore this strength in Rick.
AJ is an awesome power to watch after Rick
is captured. His entire being is focused on one thing - getting his beloved brother back. He cuts off Jerry's self-recriminations so he can concentrate and he doesn't have time to be
gentle about it. And the sheer force of his fury and frustration as he faces down the government agent. Wow, Wow, Wow! I sure wouldn't have crossed him. Great job, JP!
Finally, the last scene by the Dam, where
AJ reveals his clever location for hiding the microchip. Though I didn't care for the agent much, I gotta admit I got chills when he said, "Come and get it." Oh my, my,
As I said, I couldn't care less about the plot, but there are so many scenes that show the essence of why I love this show, I gotta give it four Camaros.
4 out of 5 Camaros