The Lone Gunmen Review – “Like Water For Octane”

The fourth episode of The Lone Gunmen aired last night. “Read More” for my thoughts, or “Post a comment” to voice yours. Either way, there’s going to be spoilers. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!


Bruce Harwood as John Fitzgerald Byers
Tom Braidwood as Melvin Frohike
Dean Haglund as Richard “Ringo” Langley
Steven Snedden as Jimmy Bond
Zuleikha Robinson as Yves Adele Harlowe


Written by Collin

Directed by Richard

Original Airdate

Like Water For Octane was originally aired on Sunday, March


The episode begins and ends with a voice over by
Jimmy Bond, explaining some of the history of the Gunmen, and giving
some insight into why he keeps hanging around even though they treat
him like crap.

The plot of the episode is a search for a car
that runs on water instead of gasoline. (Frohike and his father once
rode in it.) The search is inspired by a mostly-censored document
Byers collected at the Freedom of Information office.

Byers and
Frohike started the investigation by visiting the daughter of the
car’s inventor. While searching her basement, they uncover an old
picture of her father with and man named J.T., whose initials appeared
on the censored document.

Meanwhile, Bond questioned the odds
of this paper accidentally turning up in a box that was, in essence, a
practical joke. He and Langley returned to the Freedom of Information
office after Langley realized it wasn’t stamped, and must have been
planted. When they arrived, they found the corpse of the man who
“helped” Byers earlier. They called Byers to let him know, since
they had evidence that Yves Adele Harlowe was the last person to see
him alive. (The viewers knew that her employer had killed the man
without her knowledge.)

Armed with fresh knowledge, the four
Lone Gunmen and the inventor’s daughter all headed out to J.T.’s farm.
A tire blew out along the way, providing some great comic relief,
while reminding us of Bond’s apparently superhuman strength.

the farm, Langley and Bond posed as the farmer’s expected guests, only
to find themselves interrogated at gunpoint while Langley had his arm
in a cow named J.T. When the farmer saw his childhood friend (the
inventor’s daughter), he stopped threatening their lives.

Gunmen learned that the original J.T. (who the cow was named after)
died a few months earlier, but that he lived at a local airforce base
when he signed the censored document. The Gunmen sent Bond in to find
the original, uncensored document, but half of it was taken by

They returned to the farm with Yves, and combined their
two halves of the document with what J.T.’s son remembered to
determine that the car was being kept in the bottom of a missile silo.
Early the next morning, Frohike started to panic, having read a
newspaper article that stated the silos were being blown up that day.
Yves and Bond watched the ceremony from the bleachers, while the
Gunmen snuck into the silo to find the car. Unfortunately, Yves
noticed her employer driving away with the car, but the radios didn’t
work well through the concrete, so the Gunmen were still inside when
the charges were set off.

In the final act, Bond was trying to
dig through the collapsed concrete to get them out, while Yves tried
convincing him it was a futile exercise. The Gunmen soon wandered up
on their own, after crawling out through a ventilation shaft that
opened under a Port-A-John.

The rest of the final act was a
fine demonstration of deus ex machina. They all return to
J.T.’s farm to find out the car had been stashed there the entire
time, and to stop Yves’ employer from stealing it to make billions.
They took the car for a spin, but were convinced that the car would
destroy the world’s economy if it ever came into mass production, so
they left it at the farm.

High Points

There were some
very memorable moments in this week’s episode. The opening teaser
showing the childhood of the Gunmen was very entertaining, as was
Jimmy’s attempt to improvise a jack to repair the flat tire.

Low Point

Finding the car at J.T.’s farm was just too
contrived. Most of the final act could have used a rewrite to avoid
taking the easy way out.

The Review

This episode did
have a fairly original concept. However, the easy-out at the
end costs a couple of points for originality. I give it 4 out of

The only noticable visual effects were the
explosions, hiding Langley’s arm in the cow, and Jimmy’s improvised
jack, all of which were very well done. I give the effects 5 out of

The story was great for the first 3/4 of the episode,
but it was an easy way out. The final act needed to be reviewed.
However, the writing was much better than it usually is for a person
who is so inexperienced. (According to the IMDB, this is Collin
Friesen’s first writing job for TV or movies.) I give it 3 out of

The acting was up to par this episode. Steven
Snedden did an impressive job as Jimmy Bond once again, and we almost
saw something like a character with emotions from Robinson when Byers,
Frohike and Langley came out of the mist. The writers seem like
they’re almost ready to develop Harlowe into a real person instead of
a sexy uber-hacker who shows up with necessary information. I look
forward to seeing this happen. I give the acting 5 out of 6.

The writing and acting, however, did not evoke an emotional
from me at any time. I suspect this is just a necessary
element of a comedy, but it’s still being rated on those terms. I
give it 2 out of 6.

The directing, scoring, editing, and
photography were well done in this production. There were a
couple of lingering shots that could have been shorter (like the cut
to Langley before he cried out in frustration,) However, it was still
high quality. I give it 5 out of 6.

Overall, the episode was well worth watching. The problems
with the writing were irritating, but the only major flaws in the
episode. I give it 5 out of 6.

Adding up the above, it seems that the episode earned a score of 29
out of 42.

The next episode will be Three Men and a Smoking Diaper on
Friday, March 23. There won’t be any more Sunday night episodes of
The Lone Gunmen. Neither Ten Thirteen production will be seen on
Sunday, March 25, however. The X-Files returns to the air on
April Fools’ Day, the first day of Daylight Savings Time.

4 replies on “The Lone Gunmen Review – “Like Water For Octane””

  1. the show has a rhythm now
    The show has now established a rhythm. It’s kind of

    funny, then it gets somewhat serious, then you laugh at

    the serious part. I enjoyed the episode a lot, perhaps

    because much of the action seemed to take place in my

    home state, North Dakota. They don’t blow up the old

    missle silos, BTW, they just seal them. I think the

    synposis is right about the cop out ending. If they had

    tied in the introduction’s personality sketch pieces to

    a hypothetical climactic scene where the LG had

    destroyed the car rather than letting it fall into the

    wrong hands, the overall effect would have been much

    better. My favorite scene was the shredder.

  2. The ending
    Personally, if I had the chance to rewrite the ending, I’d have left the real water engine in the Studebaker. Yves and Jimmy would have gotten word to the other three, who would escape, while Yves and Jimmy would jump in Yves’ car and catch up with the truck. Jimmy could jump on the truck and drive the Studebaker out, probably after a fight. It would be expensive, but it wouldn’ feel like such a cop out.

    Then, to wrap things up without changing the world, we’d see the same speech we saw before, and the boys would put the engine in their van instead of leaving it at the farm. It would always be around if they changed their minds, and Langley wouldn’t run the risk of siphoning gas again.

  3. Yes, they should have put it in the van

    They definitely should have put the motor in their van.

    I think it would be most excellent for them to build up

    a whole series of urban legend(?!?) things like that,

    epsiode by episode. It could be very understated, and

    they’d never really mention it, just once in a while you would see them fill the van from a garden hose…

  4. I like the show, but….
    I enjoy watching the show, however I am ready for Yves to take an exit. I think her character is about as lame as they come. She profits way too much from the Gunmen. She is a total leech, and I’m surprised that the Gunmen even deal with her. It seems that every week all the character does is sets up the Gunmen, moves in to profit from it, and then buddies up with them until the final scene. She’s gotta go. Plus, she really isn’t all that attractive, nor funny.

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