The Lone Gunmen – The Lying Game

The second-last Lone Gunmen of the season featured Mitch Pileggi in a guest spot as Assistant Director Walter Skinner. Read More for the details.


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 Nandie Bowe
Directed by Richard Compton

Original Airdate

The Lying Game originally aired Friday, May 4, 2001.


The episode opens at an event with Mr. Memory, a performer who
remembers all sorts of trivial facts. Two men met in the audience:
one is a member of the Russian mafia (although we don’t know that
until act two), and the other is Larry Rose. The mob guy asked
Mr. Rose about the identity of his “friend,” a man by the bar who’d
been asking about him all night. Mr. Rose talked to the man by the
bar (Jeff Strode), and discussed terms of the blackmail. They were to
meet in the bathroom, where Mr. Rose would pay Jeff $2,000 to prevent
his wife from learning about his mistress.

In the bathroom, Mr. Rose is nowhere to be seen, but Walter Skinner
came out of no where and grabbed Jeff by the lapels. Mr. Memory’s
audience heard two gunshots, but by the time they arrived, Jeff’s body
was the only thing left in the bathroom.

Act one began with Jimmy comparing life to football (“God’s gift to
Monday night.”) When playing football, you wear a helmet for your
own protection, but it prevents others from seeing your face. You
wear invisible helmets in life, preventing others from seeing your
true face, to protect yourself. This segment was done as a form of
narration, spoken directly to the audience.

As the action begins, we learn that Byers hadn’t been home all night,
and that Jimmy was running short on funds for the group. (His car was
reposessed.) Byers soon retruned with Carol Strode, the sister of the
murdered man. (The dead man had been Byers’ roommate in college.) A
post-mortem e-mail sent by Jeff indicated that there were several
people who might want him dead.

When they investigated the scene of the crime, they found that
Mr. Memory had scoffed Jeff’s glasses, which he found behind the
toilet. They had a built-in camera which allowed them to record what
the wearer saw and broadcast the image back to Jeff’s computer. The
Gunmen tracked down the cell phone the camera used, and located the
computer. They found the appropriate video on the backup computer,
and saw Skinner’s face on the video.

At the beginning of act two, Byers was refusing to run the story. He
didn’t feel they had enough conclusive evidence to run it yet. He
went through the back to one of the upper floors, offering the viewer
one of the only shots exposing where the Gunmen actually sleep.
(They have very cell-like rooms on the second floor.) Frohike tried
to give Byers a pep talk, and asked him if he was resisting
publication because of the lack of evidence, or because he didn’t want
Skinner to be guilty of murder.

Yves arrived at Byers’ request after checking out the video footage
they sent her. She didn’t recognize Rose, but she recognized the
Russian mafia man he was with. Yves and Jimmy stayed at Gunmen
Headquarters while Byers, Langley, Frohike, and Carol Strode followed
Skinner in an attempt to get more concrete evidence.

Langley had put Jeff’s camera in his own glasses to provide a feed of
the images to Carol in the Gunmen’s van. While they watched a meeting
between Skinner and Rose in a park, the mafia man appeared at the
parking lot and took Carol hostage. They took Rose hostage when he
returned to his vehicle, but Skinner didn’t notice, as he was too busy
trying to find out what the Lone Gunmen were doing there.

In act three, Jimmy and Yves discovered they couldnt’ contact the
others. They did find out that the van had been impounded. (Jimmy
referred to it as the “mobile command post,” while Yves called it
the “clown car.”) Before they could retrieve it, the FBI broke into
the headquarters. Jimmy and Yves hid from them in the rafters.

The gunmen were being held by the FBI. Skinner soon showed them that
Jeff was alive and well, and explained the situation. The Russian mob
member was selling a salvaged ICBM, so an FBI agent went undercover as
Mr. Rose to buy the weapon. Jeff had found Mr. Rose having what
seemed to be an affair online, but the mistress was Rose’s real wife,
and Mrs. Rose was another FBI agent. The FBI decided the best way to
deal with this information was to fake Jeff’s death.

When Skinner left them alone, Langley tried to contact Jimmy and Yves
using Jeff’s glasses camera, but they two weren’t in the van. (They
had recovered it from the impound.) After Jeff and Byers had an
argument, it was revealed that Carol had been Byers’ college roommate,
back when she was Carl Strode.

The Russian mafia man had released Rose, but kept Carol hostage, and
was uncovering inconsistencies in her past that resulted from her sex
change operation.

The final act began with Jimmy and Yves going through the Gunmen’s
headquarters. Jimmy feared the other three were dead, so they decided
to set up a sting and prove Skinner’s guilt.

In captivity, Byers wasn’t allowed to warn Skinner about Carol’s
past. Frohike could get them out of the window using the Leatherman
he carries in his boot, provided the camera wasn’t always watching
them. Jeff had an idea about how to deal with that.

Meanwhile, Yves and Jimmy had tracked Mr. Rose to the location the
deal would go down. Jimmy, in full Skinner make-up, went inside to
gather the necessary evidence. Unfortunately, Jimmy wasn’t exactly
subtle. The mafia people didn’t recognize him, as they had never met
Skinner, and Rose was incredibly confused. Jimmy ordered a rum and
coke, which was the signal that the evidence had been gathered and the
deal was done. Armed FBI agents came out of every nook and cranny in
the building, and captured the mafia man.

After the dust settled, the Russian man was arrested, and the bomb was
found in the trunk of his car. Skinner enterd moments before the Lone
Gunmen did. Skinner did not seem terribly impressed with finding a
duplicate of himself there, though.

When the Gunmen returned to headquarters, they prepared a new article,
detailing Skinner’s successful operation to catch the man sellling the
ICBM. The story was very popular in Russia, and provided them with
enough money to get Jimmy his car back, despite the fact that he
hadn’t told them it had been impounded.

High Point

Mitch Pileggi did a great job as Jimmy-under-makeup. The transition
between two faces of the character was seamless thanks to his prefect
acting job. This was definitely the high point of the episode.

Low Point

Once again, trained professionals don’t spot people hiding in an
exposed ceiling. Why do people never look up?

There really was no need for Mr. Rose’s dog to enjoy Langley’s leg, either.

The Review

The originality this week was, well, not so good. The
double-sting storyline has been done before. It won’t be easy for any
series to do something truly original, though. I’ll give it 4 out of 6.

The story and writing this week were very good. Jimmy’s
running football analogy tells the audience as much about this episode
as it does about Jimmy. Even the Carol/Carl subplot fit in well, and
added unnecessary depth and danger to the situation. Unlike many
writers, Nandie Bowe chose not to make this one as simple as
possible. I give it 5 out of 6.

The effects were almost all stock special effects this
week. The exception seemed to be an improvement on the demasking
shot. Previously, the eyes were not believable when a person was
being de-masked. This week, there seemed to be some sort of
air-brushing about the eyes, so the gap between the mask and the face
was almost invisible. However, it wiped out the texture of the skin,
which reminded me that it wasn’t real. All in all, they’ve shown some
real improvement on a small budget. This week, I’ll give it 4 out of 6.

As I mentioned in the High Point this week, the acting
was very good this week, for both regulars and guest cast. Mitch
Pileggi did a fantastic job as Jimmy-under-makeup. Byers was
convincingly torn between protecting Carol’s secret and lying to the
Gunmen. I give the acting 5 out of 6.

In terms of emotional response, this episode did rather
well. I felt sorry for Jimmy when he was mourning the loss of his
friends, despite knowing that they were alive and well in captivity.
Drawing any emotional response from a comedy is hard, so I’ll give it
4 out of 6.

The production on this show was excellent. Mark Snow’s
score was very appropriate, the directing was well paced, and the
photography was very high quality. I give it 5 out of 6.

Overall, The Lying Game was a worthy addition to
the series. It incorporated a tie-in with The X-Files in a
rather natural way (even if it is hard to believe Skinner would be in
the field, rather than a field agent), and even made Yves’
introduciton almost natural. I give this one 5 out of 6.

Totaling this up, I see that the final score is 32 out of 42.

Next Week

On Sunday, we will have an unusual episode of The X-Files. One
character in Alone, the new FBI agent, is named after a
prominent fanfic writer who recently passed away.
Next Friday, (May 11) The Lone Gunmen will close off thier
first (only?) season with All About Yves, an episode which
guest stars David Duchovny and Mike McKean in the same roles they
played on The X-Files.

4 replies on “The Lone Gunmen – The Lying Game”

  1. Jimmy as the comedic dumb guy
    I’ve gotta say, this was a really good ep. (The title is awesome! :)

    I’m starting to actually like Jimmy: they’re not using him as just a stock dumb guy. He’s actually got some depth. His football analogy is one of several examples I’ve seen that shows he’s got good insight into human nature. He’s not clever, and he’s naive, but he’s not a complete idiot. I’m impressed.

    Now if they can just give Yves some depth… (which they might, next week…)

  2. Emotional Responces and leg humping
    Two comments, one I’ve made before. LAUGHTER IS AN EMOTIONAL RESPONCE!! Lone Gunmen gets such horrible ratings in your little X-files system because the system was designed for a dramatic series and not a comedic one. It makes TLG look a LOT worse than it really is. But if you give a rating for provoking an emotional response, why does it have to be a negitive emotion such as sadness or anxiety? Why can’t it be happy? Why do I have to cry my eyes out for the episode to get a good rating? Why can’t I just laugh til I cry?

    Also, the leg-humping scene was necessary because it was a cheap gag to lighten the mood of a serious scene. That was the whole point of it. There was a very dramatic scene where the director of the FBI who is suspected of murder is meeting with a strange man who has some ties to the Russian mob. If you put a scene like this in a comedy series, you HAVE to put some kind of cheap gag in there or else the scene bogs down the show and you lose the timing. Besides, I’m a fan of crude humor.

  3. Emotional responses
    I think that’s a good point — an “emotional response” doesn’t have to be negative. Did you cheer as the characters eptly caught their target? Were you on the edge of your seat as they tried desperately to reach someone in time? Did you laugh as they convulsed in some freaky immitation of dancing? Did the ep’s resolution leave you with a feeling of satisfaction?

    Excitement, tension, anger, frustration… these are all emotions, dude.

  4. Emotional Response
    I feel laughter is more of a reflex than an emotional response. When it comes ot the positive emotions, such as when I cheer them on, when I feel those emotions strongly, I do give them credit for it. Read my old reviews, and you’ll find it there.

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