“Some Time, Some Station”

19 June 1998
[Hilary and Jeff tune in to season four of 'Remember WENN'.] Written by Rupert Holmes.

Directed by Juan Jose Campanella.
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Wow!

What a great episode!

Rodney finally exhales and tries to breathe naturally.

When last we met...Pruitt had displayed his gullible side. Scott had walked in to find himself at the end of a gun barrel. Victor was shaking more and more uncontrollably as he dealt with the internal conflict between his conditioning and his core nature. And Betty?

Betty had put a lot of pieces together. Victor disappeared from the Jonathan Arnold role, deep in enemy territory. Pruitt had expected Victor to kill Betty, something that Betty knew would never be voluntary. Victor had been foggy in his thinking. "Buy Barley Futures" was obviously not a password, but a trigger phrase. That Rollie was still alive two seconds after saying the phrase indicates that Victor's doing a good job of fighting the conditioning. Not to mention the increasing shakiness.

Betty stands transfixed, trying to reason a solution. She's not interested in seeing any of her friends killed in front of her eyes. While Scott may have crossed some lines in the past, he's proven himself a friend to her and all of WENN (even Hilary) since his downfall (even if she's had to keep him, and Doug Thompson, at bay). And to see Scott, who loves her and whom she's had feelings for, killed by the man she loves and who loves her, as a result of Nazi conditioning, would be almost unbearable.

She knows that even though Pruitt was just someone Victor just knew as his boss when he was at WENN, Victor was still able to fight the conditioning. Victor doesn't know who Scott Sherwood is and might not be able to fight the conditioning for the sake of a stranger. However, Victor's familiarity and love of Betty is a different matter and maybe Victor would be unable to fire at her. Not to mention that when Victor had turned to aim at Scott, he had managed to partially block Rollie's aim, perhaps indicating that Victor had partial control over his actions.

So Betty takes the best chance she has of saving everyone. It's also the riskiest thing she's done in her life. The odds are...well, all over the place. So she closes her eyes as she says, "Buy Barley Futures."

And now, for our regularly scheduled program...

Betty opens hers eyes to find...she's still alive!

Based on Rollie's comments about a near miss, Betty checking herself for bullet holes, the new position of the characters and the last couple of seconds of "Happy Homecoming", this seems to be what has transpired: Betty closed her eyes and said, "Buy Barley Futures." Victor turned to aim the gun at Betty. Scott released the door in preparation to tackle Victor while Rollie reaimed his gun from Betty to Victor. Victor fired the gun! The door finished swinging shut. Everyone froze, expecting Betty to slump down, dead.

"My orders were to shoot. No one said I had to be any good at it."

With the completion of his programmed mission to fire the gun at someone saying "Buy Barley Futures" in the Green Room at the appointed time, Victor seems released from the compulsion. As the cloud begins to lift, Victor can start concentrating on how to get out of this mess.

Meanwhile, Scott is only concerned with keeping Victor from a second opportunity to fire and tries to rush Victor. Rollie reaims the gun at Scott. Since Scott couldn't save Betty if he was dead, he very reluctantly holds his place, his mind racing for solutions.

Rollie provides one for Scott by explicitly stating, "Victor! You must execute whomsoever last said the password." Certainly that jives with what Scott's witnessed since he came into the room. Picking up that Victor is not acting out of choice but out of some sort of programming, he thinks he can make himself the target. "Hey, Victor! Listen! 'Buy...Barley...'."

"Quiet, Scott! Victor knows what he's doing." Since Victor didn't kill her, Betty knows she's won the hardest battle. Now it's back to the ole Betty/Victor teamwork. She reminds him that she fainted when she saw him at the end of "Magic", suggesting she could play dead if Victor would fire and miss again. But she does it in such a way that Pruitt wouldn't get the reference. This way, they gain a few more seconds of time and perhaps Rollie will lower his guard somewhat, thinking that Victor is back under control.

Betty frowns as she has to go so far as to make the connection between "fainting" and "dying" explicit. "Is Victor comprehending this at all?" she must be asking herself.

Victor fires the gun. Betty slumps to the floor. Unfortunately, Rollie was not the only one who didn't possess the key information about Betty fainting upon seeing Victor in "Magic." Scott doesn't know about that and assumes Victor has actually wounded or killed Betty. Scott leaps on Victor.

"Step away from him, Victor or I'll have to kill you both!"

Obviously the plan has worked and Pruitt still believes Victor is acting under his conditioning. He would certainly want to keep Victor alive to see if he can get information about why his Nazi allies wanted him dead.

(Whether Rollie was actually gullible enough to believe Victor had embraced Nazism or whether he had been told that Victor was acting under behavior modification is unclear. But certainly by this time, he should have no doubt.)

In the struggle we witness, Victor is keeping the gun from getting in between him and Scott so that the gun won't go off, accidentally wounding either of them. His precaution is merited as the struggle does cause Victor's finger to trigger the gun.

I like the way they both jerk and freeze in reaction to the shot. It reminds me of the first time the Vulcan nerve pinch was used on "Star Trek." Nimoy came up with it and Shatner knew instinctively how to react to it. Kevin O'Rourke and John Bedford Lloyd seem to have that natural actor chemistry.

Scott feels the impact of the gun's recoil as it slams him in the gut. "Am I shot?" he probably asks himself.

Victor, now in his well-mannered, normal voice, politely apologizes, "I'm sorry. Didn't mean to shoot you." Our first ROTFL (rolling on the floor laughing) moment with more to come.

Scott listens to his body. "I don't feel anything. Is it numbness? It should hurt a lot, shouldn't it?" Victor's politeness seems to bring the same out of Scott. "That's all right," he says forgivingly, braced against the pain that doesn't come. "You didn't," he says in relief.

Rollie, however, is not so lucky, and faints to the floor. (#2, with Betty's pseudo-faint being #1.)

The gunshots were well done. About 4 years ago, there was a shooting outside my apartment. I thought I had heard the sound of someone hitting a hammer on a sheet of metal or something. I had been so brainwashed by the made up sounds for gunshots in films, I didn't think it was gunfire. These pop-gun-like sounds were more realistic, making the scenes more credible. In all, there were 3 shots. The one we heard from our viewpoint in the hall. The one where Betty faked being shot. And the one that plugged Pruitt.

So far, all this text has been about 1 minute, 25 seconds of show (excluding opening credits). Time to pick up the pace :)

Scott quickly relieves Pruitt of his gun to prevent any more mischief and then goes to check out Betty. Perhaps using first aid knowledge from the war in Spain, he begins patting her down, checking for wounds. Interestingly, there are no apparent wounds you would expect from a gunshot. This doesn't dissuade Scott from being thorough! Betty, if she had any doubts that the crisis was over, now decides it would be an opportune time to stop playing dead.

Scott is briefly impressed with Victor's shooting until Victor admits he was aiming for the couch (in a line reminiscent of the meeting of "Victor" and "Scot" in Rabat).

Since Betty knows the government needs to be contacted instead of the police, Betty decides to confide Victor's secret to Scott.

"Betty Roberts, you trust me?" Scott asks incredulously. He's finally making some inroads.

The Betty explains the limits on the trust. She makes a reference to petty cash, obviously referring to his embezzlement. Then she references, "...not on a second date." Does this mean she never went on a second date with him? Or did he make some moves on a second date. Seems like another WENNuendo.

Betty explains Victor's mission to Scott, then they notice that Victor, who was starting to look disoriented, wandered off.

Finally, Mackie returns from the brief trip to the writer's room.

"Mr. Bloom. Scott Sherwood has shot me."

"Had to happen sooner or later."

Mackie displays his ability to take surprises in stride (such as in "The New Actor") and uses the opportunity to disparage Mr. Pruitt. Particularly after Pruitt offers Scott and Mackie an insultingly low commission to free him.

Betty tracks down Victor in the station manager's office, where he no doubt straightened the picture beside the door out of a sense of tidiness.

Unfortunately, Victor's acting a little wiggy, and through a misunderstanding, believes Scott to be Rollie Pruitt, of Globe Enterprises, whom he met briefly once in Boston.

"So now, let me shoot you..." Betty and Scott recoil. Betty suggests Victor needs to lie down on the coach. Victor's gentlemanly, proper manners fears that Scott/Pruitt may misunderstand like Mr. Winthrop did in "Sight Unseen" and convince him that Betty is loose. "Betty! Not in front of Pruitt," he whispers.

"Victor, could I have a few moments with Betty in private?"

"See! He's got the wrong idea about you, now." Even foggy, Victor is perceptive. :)

Mackie, through putting the clues together and/or interrogating Rollie, has put together the behind-the-scenes activities. He boasts his conclusions to Pruitt (while nicely allowing Mackie to summarize it for the audience). As he takes credit for putting Rollie on ice, he goes to take a swig of booze, then decides otherwise. Perhaps he feels he's had too much to drink already (which could help to explain his too cool reaction to events).

Seems like a good possibility since Scott confirms that C.J., at least, had left the station for the local bar, O'Malley's.

As Betty and Scott discuss Victor's sudden amnesia, they finally give it a name: "Mind control...It's like hypnosis."

The WENN word of the week is: "brainwashing." The word that Scott DID NOT use. Why? Because it wasn't actually coined until the fifties. During the Korean War, the Chinese Communists used isolation, deprivation and exhaustion on captured American and European prisoners of war to induce them to say publicly that they were ready to embrace Communism.

"Once back in a normal situation, however, all of the seemingly converted men returned to their former attitudes. Thus, brainwashing, while temporarily effective in some cases, is not a way to change the basic beliefs of a person permanently." (Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia, 1996)

So, "Remember WENN" managed to use an old standby plot, brainwashing, and managed not to abuse it with the ludicrous hyperbole of other shows. This is one of the reasons I like this show.

Victor has slipped into an amnesia, forgetting everything since before he was contacted by the government. I almost expected a reference to Celia. :)

It could be that it was planned. A post-hypnotic suggestion to forget everything after fulfilling the mission of killing Pruitt. Victor would be left, accused of murder. Since Victor wouldnít even remember his governmental contacts, they might choose to let Victor take the rap to prevent exposure of clandestine activities against Germany before a declaration of war. A perfect revenge against a man who had dared spy on them. (This also assumes the Nazi's were unable to identify Jeff from his codename.)

Or it could simply be a reaction brought on by side effects of the mind control techniques and the stress of the last few minutes. I would think this is more likely since the Germans would probably have an idea of the effectiveness of their techniques. They were probably just hoping it would control Victor long enough for him to do their dirty work.

From knowledge of early mind-control experiments by the Nazis during the Spanish Civil War, Scott believes the best way to bring Victor out of his amnesia is incrementally. Hitting Victor with the full impact that he's forgotten more than a year would be as unwise as waking a sleepwalker (assuming there's any truth to that possible TVism).

Now it's back to the ole Betty/Scott teamwork as they try to come up with plans to minimize the damage of a rapidly out-of-control situation.

Mackie, who had been coping so well, now goes beyond amazement to stupefaction and passes out. (#3)

Victor, who believes WENN is just starting it's broadcast day, tries to cover for his missing cast.

Betty tries to explain the situation to Mackie and offers him a glass of water. Mackie thanks her, but doesn't take the water internally nor externally. Instead, he goes right back to the flask.

Between Betty and Victor, Mackie is pulled into Studio A to relieve Victor and Scott/Pruitt who had been improvising.

Betty tries to get the name of the contact from Pruitt. Rollie says he will tell her if she will let him leave the studio scot-free. (Or is that "Scott-free"? Or even "Scot-free"?)

Now Eugenia is on the scene. Betty expects the same delayed reaction to Victor's reappearance that Eugenia gave upon Jeff's sudden return. But she and Scott underestimate her response which is to collapse in the hallway. (#4)

Hilary returns, followed by Jeff who has been following her for hours. [Interestingly, the Czech tart's name was Pavla, which sounds like Pavlov (as Hilary herself realized), the scientist who performed reflexive conditioning experiments on dogs.]

Hilary finally relents and agrees to hear Jeff out as long as he keeps it brief. As it turns out, brief meant one word. :)

Hilary dispatches Jeff on the task of finding her shawl, probably meaning to leave the studio when he's not looking. Hilary has her chance to react to Victor's presence, but her mind is so overwhelmed with anger she's nearly oblivious to what's going on around her.

Jeff pursues her, trying to point out how she never allowed a chance to find out what was really going on...while trying not to blurt out what was really going on!

Victor discovers the real Rollie Pruitt. This leads to the next question to Scott: "Then who...are you?"

Scott decides this is a good time to start trying to bring Victor forward in time. He tries to remind Victor of one of the oldest of the forgotten memories: the brief meeting between Victor and himself at the Georgian Dragon pub in London.

"You're Scott...Sherman!"

"Close enough."

Step one.

Victor begins to deal with the emergency. Well, what he thinks is the emergency. Sherman will try to revive Eugenia, Betty will free the strangely bound Pruitt, and Victor will search for the missing cast. Scott, however gives Betty her real task...he hands Betty Pruitt's gun to watch Rollie with. Betty...feels empowered! :)

Hilary has recovered her shawl and continues to put off Jeff. Jeff can't understand why Hilary didn't understand the letter. Hilary proves her familiarity with the letter by reciting portions of it. (Obviously from lower on the page that we saw on-screen. :) But then she realizes that Mackie is reciting the same words on-screen. If her vision was dimmed by her anger before, believing Jeff is having Mackie read her Dear Jane letter on air really makes her blind to reason.

Victor is having no luck finding the rest of the cast, but Maple finds him. Victor stops in front of his picture (looking very JBL-ish in front of the original WENN sign) in the hallway while Maple is taken by Victor's tall, firm posture wrapped in a policeman's uniform. She offers to be his organist. After all, experience is her name. So Victor begins to proposition her, "Listen! This might be inordinately impromptu of me, Miss Experience, but would you be willing to go on the air for this radio station right now?"

But Victor is interrupted by a strange cleaning lady, who seems slightly Germanic, who wants to "mop up." She inadvertently brings to Victor's attention that he's in a policeman's uniform.

Step Two.

Hilary confronts Mackie, live and on the air. Since it's always seemed to me there was a close friendship between Hilary and Mackie, her wrath at him seems to indicate how out-of-control she is. I don't think she's been this bad off since the first time her and Scott acted on air.

Mackie identifies the stock monologue he's been reading, but Hilary has long since stopped listening. Finally, even Mackie, who's been very patient with Hilary in the past, is close to losing his temper and tries to be firm with her. This pushs Hilary even more over the brink and, safety be hanged, she's going to throw water at Mackie in an electrical environment.

Mackie luckily dodges. Maple, coming through the door, has no chance. Maple certainly has no interest in being cowed by Hilary and, taking advantage of the cleaning woman's mop bucket, dowses Hilary with sudsy, filthy mop water. Luckily, Hilary is not electrocuted. After a brief moment of all-consuming fury, Hilary starts to break down in Scott's comforting arms (who's been busy trying to bring Eugenia around).

Mackie tries to cover for the odd events the listeners have heard and tries to pretend it's all been intentional.

Victor is at the switchboard taking a listener complaint about morning shows in the evening. "Evening?" he puzzles, looking at his watch.

Step Three.

Mr. Foley has wandered in and reacts in stunned silence to seeing Victor. He's followed shortly by Gertie, who reacts with a stunning scream. But she recovers quickly and gives Victor a heartfelt hug, welcoming him back to the station (expressing the reaction of many of us out in the viewing audience). She cheerfully pulls on his cheeks. Mr. Foley cautiously pulls on his ear. As well as poking him in his side and slapping him in the face!

And we have another date supplied. (A rare event on "Remember WENN.")

"Oh, this is the happiest day of my life. It's the day of a miracle. Oh, God bless September first, nineteen forty-one."

Which calls to Victor's attention that not only did he have the wrong time of day, but he's had the wrong year in mind.

Step Four.

Mr. Eldridge reacts typically. "Victor! Where in the hell have you been?"

Back in Studio A, Hilary has recovered and is ready to take a swing at Maple, who is trying to tell them about Victor.

Jeff has finally pieced together where the odd lines Hilary claimed were in his letter to her came from. It was from the book Pavla claimed Jeff wanted back. Jeff obviously told Pavla where the monologue had come from. Once she saw that Hilary believed the letter was authentic, she moved to make sure no one would run across the monologue in the book.

As Hilary begins to mentally digest the concept that she's completely misread the situation, she calms down enough to realize...Victor has passed between the doorway of life and death!! Hilary screams, startling Maple into letting the still unconscious Eugenia fall forward onto the organ, giving a spooky organ highlight to Hilary's "It's Victor. He's alive!"

Of course, Victor chooses this moment to walk into the room, causing Hilary to briefly faint. (#5)

Victor sees Jeff, "Jeff." Victor is probably reminded of his contacts with Jeff over the last year.

Step Five. And I think Victor has been progressed through the last year to the present. Certainly, any final jogging he's needed is provided by Jeff's explanation.

Seems like we hit all around the Jeff/letter situation. We were right about "Dearest Hilary" indicating that the letter wasn't straightforward. And we were right about the contents of the letter being from some already written play or monologue (I think this was Bizís). But we were wrong that Jeff expected Hilary to recognize it since it was really written for Pavla to learn acting with. Also, our guess that code was used was correct, but only in regards to the real letter that Pavla trashed.

In the real letter, Jeff revealed to Hilary that Victor was still alive. Jeff trusted Hilary enough to entrust Victor's life into her hands. This is definitely not the same relationship we saw between them at the start of season one. However, it may take a while for Hilary to realize this.

Jeff was Victor's civilian contact. After "The New Actor," I noted his "lack of amazement at Betty's statement ('Maybe [Jonathan Arnold] has some good, personal reason for being like that')" and that he quickly distracted "the others from it (a quick 3-word reply to Betty's astonishing speculation immediately followed by getting Gertrude out of the room before she has time to wonder about Betty's statement.)"

I'm very glad to see that Rupert spun a good mystery. If no one can solve your mystery, then you have told it badly. You might as well trick the people by having the hero pull out his never-mentioned atomizer at the last moment and blast the alien armada. Being the nature of television, he of course laid in alternate possibilities (Doug?) against non-availability of cast members. And he certainly put in a lot of red herrings (Maple's interest in Betty's defense of Arnold; Gertie's uncanny mimicking of the real life situation of Victor).

Victor's returned memory helps back up Jeff's story about Pavla, the Czechoslovakian refuge who worked for the Germans. Hilary is calming down enough to facetiously try to protect those associated with her man, Jeff Singer. "Be careful now...you're talking about the second...or third Mrs. Singer."

Scott had figured out Pavla. She simply wanted a big assist in becoming an American actress. What he and we didn't know was that she knew about Victor and used that knowledge to extort Jeff into marrying her.

"Hilary, nothing happened between me and Pavla. I've always loved only you." Maple, and we the audience, are touched by Jeff's profession of love for Hilary. (Rodney grabs a big tissue and blows his nose: Honkkk! Well what were you expecting? Sniff, sniff?)

Hilary now realizes that Jeff has reasons that do hold water. (Much as a pitcher and a mop bucket hold water.) But she also realizes that she is now firmly steering the events. Since she obviously fears Jeff's idealism will lead to choices not in the best interest of their relationship, it's clear she doesn't plan to release the steering wheel for a long time to come. In fact, she's already thinking more clearly than Jeff. In response to his marriage proposal, she points out that there is still the issue of his third marriage to resolve. "Oh yeah. But other than that."

Hilary makes her conditions clear. Her plans include "bedeviling, belittling and begrudging [his] every breathing moment."

Hilary pouts as Jeff sweetly agrees, "Sounds great to me, Hilary." I think we're going to be exposed to the bickering Singers all through the season.

Victor starts to wrap things up. He sends Jeff to contact U.S. Government officials. His commanding tone, "Eugenia!", brings her out of her stupor. "Perhaps you and Miss Experience could give us a four-handed rendition of 'Second-Hand Rose' for our listening public while we regroup."

Eugenia, happy that her friend is alive and well, enthusiastically agrees, "Yes, Victor!"

Maple, "Miss Experience," sweetly concurs, "Sure thing, Vic." Scott looks slightly disconcerted by Maple's friendliness.

Well, that will take only a few minutes. Victor thinks quickly. "...Followed by...'An Hour With Hilary Booth'."

Hilary, feeling quite good now that she has Jeff under her thumb, looks at the time, 8:29 PM, and gives a reliable estimate, "That should carry us through to midnight. Thank you, maestro."

Victor gathers "Mr. Sherman" and Betty and heads to the station manager's office. "I think it's best if we tell the world nothing about Jonathan Arnold for the time being." That Victor Comstock was playing the part of Jonathan Arnold was about the ONLY secret not revealed to WENN's listening audience. Although if the WENN listening audience is as bright as the "Remember WENN" viewing audience, they may be able to put all the pieces together.

"Sure, but, there are some things I need to tell you, Victor," Scott say with a somewhat guilty look on his face. He's probably thinking about how he took information about Betty and the station and, instead of just doing the favor of dropping off the book for Tom Eldridge because he was heading that way, represented himself as Victor's selected temporary station manager. Or even the lies he told to denigrate Victor in order to build himself up ("Victor was a lost puppy in London. Good thing he had me to show him around.")

On the chat, I said that I thought there was no need to rehash that. The plot had served to launch Scott's character arc. However, thinking about it realistically, Scott never did fess up to the others about his true relationship with Victor (as Betty oh, so gently reminded him in "And How!"). Now, almost certainly the others will quiz Victor about the last 18 months, including the time he spent with his pal, Scott Sherwood. So it probably is best if Scott deals squarely with Victor on this issue, before he finds out from others. Taking Scott's behavior through most of Season 3 into account, I think Betty will probably support keeping Scott around.

Victor sits down in his chair, happier than he's been in probably 15 months. "Tell Mr. Eldridge and Gertie that I'm back."

Betty smiles happily at Victor. Things are finally getting back to normal.

Scott...frowns, finally realizing what, in addition to the embezzling, had put the kibosh on the budding relationship between Betty and himself. The words I imagine going through his head are, "Well, this is going to be a little tougher than I thought..."

We could probably have gotten more detailed answers (there are certainly some details that have not been fleshed out) if the episode had not been squeezed into just 24 minutes as the rest of the seasonís episodes will be. Sigh.

But wait. Is Rollie still safely bound in the Green Room? What about that strange cleaning lady, Mrs. Etruscan? Was she a German agent sent to inconspicuously make sure that things went as planned? If so, did she sneak Pruitt out? Or, since the Germans planned to have him killed, did she plug Rollie with a silencer? And why give a name to such a small part? Will her character be seen again?

And what of Scott's profession of love (albeit under the gun...literally)? While nothing that Betty didn't already know, now that the crisis is over will Betty be moved as she turns it over in her mind?

What about next week's preview? Jeff and Hilary sitting on far ends of the table. Mr. Foley and Maple sitting next to each other. And where's Victor? Intensive military debriefing and medical checks? Complications from Pruitt?

And what about me? Will I continue writing so much that it seems like "Annotated WENN?" I certainly hope not! (This is 27 KB. "From the Pen of Gertrude Reece" was only 19 KB and "Happy Homecomings" was 18 KB.)


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