Last night, Fox aired a previously unseen episode of The Lone Gunmen. Go ahead, read more. I dare 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
Tom Poston as
Untitled originally aired Friday, June 1, 2001.
This originally unaired episode’s teaser features a voice-over of Langley describing his favourite childhood memory, his parents’ Zenith television. Among his television heroes, his favourite was Cap’n Toby, because he was so honest and true. At the end of the teaser, we see an image of present day, and Cap’n Toby is being loaded into a police cruiser in handcuffs while the Gunmen (including Jimmy and Yves) look on.
The main episode began six days earlier. A woman in rose-coloured glasses was moving through a mall, obviously being followed. She escaped her pursuer in an elevator, while he bumped into a man in a hot dog suit. Once in the elevator, she found one of her pursuer’s accomplices. The original pursuer soon caught up in the parkade, where he found his partner dead on the floor with a small needle in his chest. The woman in rose-coloured glasses emerged from hiding, and quickly beat the snot out of the man before hitting him with a needle too.
The action jumps to the Gunmen HQ, with Jimmy serving a pancake breakfast while Byers, Langley and Frohike read “between the lines” of the daily papers, looking to uncover the real stories the normal press couldn’t cover. This search turned up two stagehands on a local TV series who died from heart attacks at a local mall. Both were in their early 30s.
Byers and Langley went to the TV studio the dead men worked at to track down more information about their jobs. They soon realized it was “The New Cap’n Toby Show,” in which Cap’n Toby lived in a nuclear submarine rather than a tugboat. Langley was very upset at the changes made to his childhood hero. It seems that the changes were initiated by the new director, John Gillnitz. (Does that sound like a combination of John Shiban, Vince Gilligan, and Frank Spotnitz to anyone else?) The only elements left in the show Langley remembered from his childhood were the Captain, his first mate (a crab puppet), his pipe, and the magic porthole routine. Byers and Langley gained access to the set by claiming to be journalists writing a story about the success of the show, and they were given the personnel files of the deceased men.
Meanwhile, Frohike and Jimmy searched the murder scene for evidence. Frohike found one of the needles used to deliver the poison, and they were told about the woman in the rose coloured glasses by a man dressed as a hot dog.
After bringing Yves in on the case, they learned that the poison used was of Chinese origin, designed to induce a heart attack and then break down into salt water to prevent detection. They also learned (via face recognition of the personnel photos) that the two dead men were FBI agents working on the show. The Gunmen decided to gather more information.
Jimmy and Yves went back to the mall, where Jimmy dressed in the hot dog suit to try and identify the woman with rose-coloured glasses. He noticed her in a copy shop, and she noticed him. Jimmy and Yves tried to follow her, but Jimmy lost the trail when he tripped over his clumsy shoes and dropped to the lower floor of the mall. The woman in rose-coloured glasses came and had the pair arrested, using her position as a CIA agent to do so.
Jimmy was diagnosed with cracked ribs, but received only a large bandage as temporary treatment. The woman interrogated Jimmy and Yves, revealing in the process that she knew Yves’ real identity. This seemed to scare Yves considerably, so Jimmy agreed to cooperate to protect her.
Langley, Frohike, and Byers went back to the set with Frohike posing as their photographer. With this cover, they were able to search the area. While searching Cap’n Toby’s dressing room, Frohike found a document in Chinese. Since the working theory was that a Chinese agent was encoding secret information in the show for transmission to the Chinese government, the Gunmen decided that Toby was a likely suspect. Then Yves, Jimmy, an assortment of FBI agents, and the woman with the rose coloured glasses came in and searched the area. The woman found microfilm in Cap’n Toby’s dressing room, and had him arrested.
Back at headquarters, the Gunmen continued to investigate. They were not convinced that Toby was the culprit anymore. Frohike had searched his dressing room, but hadn’t found the microfilm. Toby was married to a Chinese woman, which was a rather circumstantial piece of evidence being used against him. They translated the document Frohike found, and learned it was just a recipe. They began to suspect that the woman with rose-coloured glasses was the true culprit, and that she’d planted evidence to frame Toby.
Byers, Langley and Frohike went back to the set of the Cap’n Toby show, where they found the (recently bailed) Cap’n filming one final show in front of the press. (The show had a lot of thinly veiled pro-United States messages.) Frohike and Byers released an odd weight suspended from the ceiling, and the corpse of John Gillnitz dropped into the set. (He had discovered the method the spy was using to deliver the messages to the Chinese government, and
had been killed by the woman with the rose-coloured glasses.)
Yves and Jimmy returned to the copy shop in the mall where they’d picked up the woman’s trail. They collected a printout made for the Cap’n Toby show, and found that it was the paper used in the magic porthole routine. The woman with rose-coloured glasses came up behind them, and gave the glasses to Yves. With the glasses on, a secret message became very obvious in the paper. The woman took the pair to the roof, where she shot a dart at Yves. Jimmy jumped in front of the dart, and fell to a lower tier of the roof. Yves and the woman fought it out before the woman could reload, and Yves won. She went to check on Jimmy, who was fine; the dart had lodged in his
bandage, and he hadn’t been poisoned.
Cap’n Toby was set free, and the woman was arrested. Langley regained faith in his hero.
The fight between Yves and the woman with rose-coloured glasses was excellent; somewhat comedic, but fast paced, and a nice way to expand on Yves’ abilities and add to her character.
The joke with Jimmy sucking on Frohike’s nipple to remove the poison was a very improbable setup for a poor joke. The needle jumped off the microscopic plate, for Pete’s sake!
This Episode In Relation To The Rest Of The Series
This episode deserved to be aired in its natural order, before The Lying Game, two weeks before the series finale. It was the perfect way to remind the viewers of Yves’ clouded past, which would help set up All About Yves. It allowed the writers to explore Langley’s character, rather than leaving him as the only main character without an episode centered around him. This should have been aired, even if it did push the finale out of May sweeps.
This was a relatively original episode. I admit that the
theme of confronting the past is a very common one in this series, (as seen in Pilot, Like Water For Octane, and All About Yves,) but it worked well. I give it 4 out of 6.
The effects were few this week. In fact, the delivery of the dart was the only visual effect I can think of, but it was done well. I give it 5 out of 6.
The story was well designed. The evidence and counter evidence was well placed to keep the blame flipping between the woman and Cap’n Toby, although I never doubted Toby’s innocence. (Not only was he Langely’s hero, but we saw his arrest at the start of the episode.) I give the story 4 out of 6.
The acting was well done this week, too. Zuleikha Robinson may have troubles with fury, but she does an excellent job with fear. Tom Poston seemed slightly less wooden than he did on Newhart, but his character wasn’t well developed to begin with. I give it 4 out of 6.
For emotional response, I think it’s lacking. While I felt sympathy for the characters, I didn’t really feel for them. Langley’s voice-overs, which should have been the most resonant parts of the episode, did nothing for me. 2 out of 6.
The production was up to the typical 1013 standard. The sets were well assembled and convincing, the direction was well done (although the camera work was a little tight during the fight scene,) and the score was well suited to the story at hand. I give the production 4 out of 6.
Overall, this is a worthy episode that was bumped undeservedly from the main viewing schedule in an attempt to grab ratings with X-Files crossovers. It should have been seen in the rest of the season, where it belonged, and the series finale should have been seen after sweeps where it had less competition, and could have stood up on its own merits. I give it 4 out of 6.
In total, Untitled has earned 27 out of 42.