For the instacap of this eppesode, I resorted to a bit of a stunt -- an almost entierly onomatopoeic instacap. For this percolated recap, I'm going to explain the odd noises.
Geez, that sentence sounded a lot less odd in my head, but I'll let it stand in all its oddity.
Convenience Store: We begin with a disaffected faux-goth girl (is there any other kind) trying to be all entitled while trying to shoplift. She gets all snarky with the store clerk when he tries to piont out her EPIC FAIL in shoplifting, by trying to point out the concept of video surveillance on the television. Instead of realizing she's walking right into a trap, she proves how completely faux she is at anything as she uses the term "interwebz" and not ironically. Oh, sweetheart, that is so LOLcats.
Once faux-goth girl leaves, the next set of customers prove the subliminal power of muzak. How is this done? They rob the store of all the Change Your Life lottery tickets, all the while bumbling almost every aspect of the crime. First of all, they don't really keep a good eye on the clerk. Secondly, one of the robbers accidentally drops the clip from his gun. Thirdly, the clerk manages to get out a shotgun and fire at the robbers and although he doesn't hit any of them, at first, one of them is convinced he is shot.
Why? The clerk hits a ketchup bottle and the contents are all over one of the robbers' shirts.
Finally, the clerk does hit one of the robbers, and the rest take off, probably pissing themselves.
Now, what does this have to do with the subliminal power of muzak? The song playing in the Background, is the muzak version of this song.
Yup, what the robbers obvious want is their money for nothing. Don't expect the chicks though.
La Maison d'Eppes: Alan's found his old bucket list, which was written on the back of a Donovan poster.
For reference things included on that list are:
- Growing a ponytail
- See Easter Island
- Take a cooking class at Cordon Bleu in Paris
- Date Barbara Eden
- Learn the banjo
Oh, this is just another case of Charlie's ego getting in the way of logic. This list was written when Alan was a really young man, and I don't think things like "Having children who are brilliant, all the while trying to fight a subconscious battle over who really owns the house" are going to make it on most young men's lists. Although, in Charlie's mind, he can't imagine why anyone wouldn't want him around, or put him on a bucket list.
IHOF: Squee. SQUEEE! SQUEE!! SQUEE!!! SQUEE!!!! SQUEE!!!!!
Sorry, I should be recapping what happens, but every time I watch this scene, I turn into a pile of mushy fangirly goo. This makes typing rather difficult.
Needless to say, there's a lot in in this scene that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy about my OTP. There's kissing, there's a rational, non-fear inducing explanation for Robin's prolonged absence (trial in Portland was TOO DAMN LONG). There's even a very not subtle (a phrase which here means Acme anvil worthy) hing about no clothes and baths and things that might occur sans clothes and apres baths (or during baths, or both, whatever).
In fact, I'm perfectly content with life, the universe, and everything, only to have that scourge of this OTP rear its ugly head, or shall I say, ring tone. Don, please meet me in the very irate letter below.
Robin is way more understanding about the phone call than I ever could be, but she is awesome, and I'm a dork, so I guess comparisons aren't apt here.
All I could say about this at the time of the original airing was GRR!!!ARG!!!
Convenience Store: Liz fills Don in on the on the lottery-stealing thieves and introduces us to one of the two former West Wingers in this eppesode: Ron Butterfield. I don't care what the character's name really is, he'll always be Ron Butterfield to me. Apparently, after leaving President Bartlet's employ, he now works for the California Lottery as a security advisor.
He's also developed an aversion to blood, and no, I have no intention of ever separating the character portrayed here from Ron Butterfield.
The reason the Fedcakes have the case is because there have been 8 other robberies in several jurisdictions, all after the Change Your Life lottery tickets. Someone needs a gambling intervention.
What's weird is that the dead robber, won 150000 the previous year: duh dun duh dun. (Which means he got to take home like 12 dollars, right?) This could easily be a comment on lottery-winning, inflation, or both, if the winner is now resorting to robbing convenience stores.
IHOF: We get an overview of the case thus far: the dead guy was behind on the rent, and attended a support group for other lottery winners, or, as writers call it, convenient suspects.
Also, Butterfield's brought some important statistics and charts on the 3 billion a year business that is the lottery, and how someone might be able to cash in a stolen lottery ticket. In fact, it's such big business that there are lottery cops. I sense a spin-off L0TT3RY C0P5.
And the lottery cop is Nicole Sullivan from MADtv. Just out of curiousity but how the hell am I supposed to take her seriously? I mean, pie charts are serious. My anger about inconvenient phone calls is serious.
Thus, there is only one thing to do: endear her to Charlie by geeking out over odd, and statistics, and dropping hints about having a crappy morning due to missed flights. She reminds me a lot of Mildred Finch. Don't remember Millie? Well, just because she seems to have dropped of the face of the Numb3rs universe doesn't mean I've forgotten her. (Although, that really doesn't say much, considering I remember little things like when the show used a Bob Dylan song, Liz has a hamster, and that Don and Robin were broken up for 525 days, before my 'ship was relaunched, so me remembering Millie, probably isn't that impressive.) Millie often did silly and ridiculous things, yet was always rather useful.
It takes Nancy Hackett (AKA Nicole Sullivan) a moment or two to realize that Charlie wasn't just randomly riding up and down in the elevator (but I wouldn't put it past him) and that he's following here. Well, to be more accurate, they're heading to the same place.
Just like Millie, Nancy is useful in providing information about the next robbery hot zone.
There's some really cool mathematical way that revealed the next hot zone location, but I'd rather use the Charlie-vision analogy for the mathematically challenged
It's like a piano. Knowing the order of the keys allows one to be able to guess at the next key, or the whole melody. So, essentially, musical theory was used. I would've stuck with my piano lessons if I knew musical theory would've allowed me to get closer to the adorkable professor.
The problem is that within the hot zone, there are 67 different lottery retailers, and only so many Fedcakes to spread around. Plus, without Colby in this eppesode (and I'm going to assume, unlike Don, Colby was clever enough not to pick up the damn phone and is off somewhere with someone extraordinarily hot), the Fedcakes have even fewer resources
Nikki and David decide to let the geeks geek-out and take off in search of information on the lottery-winning victim. To do this, they have to go to a very specific pool.
Convenient Suspect Pool: It's a meeting at Scott Wilson's house of lottery winners. Wilson doesn't endear himself to me as he quotes not-so-great David Mamet movies and discusses how lottery winners "earned" their money. The quotes there are intentional, with all possible connotations.
I find it weird that the Nikki's brought Nancy with her, instead of David. I would much rather imagine Nancy and Charlie comparing ratios and odds (not like that) while watching David and Nikki scoff at at the "woe is me, I have millions of dollars, boo-freaking hoo" lottery winners.
Showing exactly how much numbers means to her, Nancy recites Scott Wilson's winning number, 2, 7, 19, 23, 41 and 13. While the factoid that he won with all prime numbers is interesting, I would've preferred a little more foreshadowing. How about numbers that suggest mystery, and doom like 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, and 42? 23 is still a prime number and 42 is the meaning of life, so I like my suggestions better.
We also meet Scott's disaffected and annoying son, Zack, who thinks stupid people should be stopped from buying lottery tickets. By "stupid people" he means, "his father who has given him everything." Hey, Zack, I have a suggestion.
Scott justifies his son's behaviour by blaming it on his wife's death because no decent father is going to admit to two strangers that he raised an ungrateful asshole.
He also recongizes the dead robber -- a man who blew through his lottery winnings, something Scott tries to counsel against. He gives the name of the dead robber's financial advisor to Nikki and Nancy and instantaneously I'm suspicious. People who take on clients that stupid, must have an angle.
Some random location: Liz is sent to talk to my suspect, but I have to revise my suspicions because it's another West Winger, Mallory! Suddenly I'm all WTFWW reunion?
All Mallory can give us is that the dead robber was a sucker, and couldn't think his way out of an open door. All right, she doesn't say it quite like that, but with her tone of voice, that's what she meant. So, if the Fedcakes get a subpeona, they can have all the financial records, and I can move on to another, more entertaining scene.
Cal Sci: Alan and Charlie are sharing warm fuzzy family memories of the time Charlie used math to destroy the family fun of scratching off lottery tickets. Charlie then goes on to explain the astronomical odds of every winning the lottery, despite the fact people can claim they're doing it to help support things like schools, and charities.
IHOF: Nikki and David have struck out with the convenient suspect pool and I'm mixing my metaphors. Of course, this means all they can do is discuss what they would do if they won the lottery. David says he'd have a nice car to drive to work. Nikki responds that she'd buy him a nicer car and make him drive her to work.
I find it interesting that neither of them say they would leave their jobs. They're truly dedicated Fedcakes.
A call about the van used in the robberies stops the conversation.
Parking Lot: I find the reaction to what's in the van, and the contents, not quite equitable.
There are 10 thousand lottery tickets. If there'd been a corpse, several corpses, or the holy grail, perhaps the look of surprise would be warranted, but really, they were looking for lottery tickets and the van was used to help steal the tickets. What else did they expect?
IHOF: Not all of the stolen tickets are in the van. 7 tickets that won less than 600 are missing, and this is important because one doesn't have to go anywhere special to cash such a ticket.
Nancy's rather impressed at the effort it took to scratch off 10000 tickets, as there could be some serious repetitive injuries as a result. She jokes that Liz might have difficulty shooting a weapon with carpal-tunnel, but that David could "shoot through the pain."
SQUEE! Of course, this means that elsewhere, Don and Robin are having a scene. (Not like that, and not in the negative connotation either.)
There's some interest from above about the lottery case, and sometimes, Robin thinks they hassles of the lottery aren't worth it but other times, she can use the minuscule chance of winning to hint about where Don should take her on a vacation: a villa in Italy.
It also gives Robin the chance to quiz Don about the motorcycle, and it's so obvious Don thinks he's about to get in a little bit of trouble -- the same type most men would get into when buying a vehicle which is such a solitary method of travel, for the most part.
Yet, this is not the case. In an interesting turn of events (a phrase which here means, events which totally turn Don on) Robin reveals that she rode motorcycles in college, and might still have her leather pants.
La Maison d'Eppes: Charlie's appalled to find Alan testing his luck at the lottery. "Fortune brings in some boats that are not steer'd." Alan informs his youngest.
Um, who quotes Cymbeline to prove a point? That's like saying using one of these as a valid argument. Alan, Hamlet proves a point. Macbeth proves a point. Cymbeline is sort of the play Shakespeare wrote on a bad day and probably wished was forgotten entirely by history.
Alan turns to other tactics, like arguing he'll use the lottery money for his bucket list. His argument is destroyed by two things.
The second thing is Alan's new addition to the list: grandchildren. Um, money can't help with that unless you really want to make my mind go places it doesn't want to go. Ever. As for the grandchildren request, Charlie's heard it so often, it doesn't faze him anymore. Hee.
Alan's attempt to check things off his bucket list does provide an ah-ha for the case. The robbers weren't after the tickets, but the serial numbers. Unfortunately, those numbers happen to be on the tickets.
IHOF: Nancy's all uh-oh, but is reassured by the computer programme that randomizes the serial number and prize relationship, and that it would be almost impossible for someone to crack the code. Poor Nancy, has just said two things that always make Charlie scoff.
And with 10000 tickets, that's enough data to crack the code. This also leads us to this week's NPAL™. "You're right, that, I guess that's why you're the famous math professor and I'm the state employee. For stroking Charlie's ego in both a self-depreciating, and painfully awkward way, Nancy earns an NPAL™.
Charlie tries to make Nancy feel better, but it's almost as awkward. It's as much "well, it's easier to explain it to you than it is to a pack of beagles" as it is reassurance. At least they now know, like so many other criminals on this show, that one of the robbers has to know a great deal about math to break the random-not-random lottery code.
Just as Nancy and Charlie head out to tell the Fedcakes about the newest theory, there's a call about someone trying to cash in one of the missing tickets. This may not fit in with the mathletes theories, but it does give me a chance to chastise someone.
Venice Convenience Store: Artemis and Athena are finally sent somewhere together. Seriously, if these two were in any fewer scenes together, I'd start a
The arrival of our female Fedcakes results in bike versus women chase across the various bridges in, what I think, is Venice. Not that I know Californian geography that well, but one thing I do know, it's a setting that's been used before on this show. Although, instead of Super!David, we get a new Fedcake super hero.
When the kid gets thrown off the bike by a decorative plant that leaps into his path, (OW!) we find out that it's Zack, the annoying, overly-privileged kid who think that with money, comes assholery. Artemis and Athena deal with him appropriately.
Zack has all the other missing lottery tickets and tells the partners that his dad, who gives financial seminars to lottery winners, is broke.
IHOF: In a turn of events that I find remarkably cool, and not just because it involves Robin, we get some good ideas that don't involve Don's gut, David's talking, or Charlie's math. Now, don't get me wrong, I appreciate all of the above, but I think it's sort of awesome that TPTB, at this point in the series, think it's all right to have a major development, or plan to suss out the bad guy, not come from an ah-ha from the usual people.
Nikki and Robin rationally discuss the likelihood that Zack has any idea about the pile of shit he's found himself is. The answer is no, thus they plot to use Zack to get his dad to talk. There's enough of a connection to make the intuitive leap that Scott is involved. The first, is his son's possession of the lottery tickets when probabaly the last time that kid possessed anything, it would've wound up with Zack be arrested for possession. Secondly, the dead robber knew Scott, both of whom were broke. Finally, Scott has to be 100 times more involved since he blew through 100 times more money than the dead guy. I think Charlie would be impressed by my correlation there
Convenient Suspect Pool: The pool's emptied quite a bit since the last time we were here, as the only person David and Liz find is Scott Wilson. Can I just add that any lottery winner who wears headphones, while jumping up and down on a trampoline and forgets to lock his door, doesn't exactly scream criminal mastermind to me.
After informing Scott of his son's arrest, the pair of Fedcakes take him downtown.
IHOF: Nancy and Charlie explain that with 10000 tickets, the robbers can now crack the algorithm used to "randomize" the serial numbers.
Now the robbers know the serial number of the jackpot ticket, which means 5 million dollars -- or -- if their spending sprees are any clues -- the next two years worth of funding before they have to resort to more crime.
Butterfield scoffs at the idea the idea of some big master plan, which gives me a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach that Butterfield isn't the noble agent I remember him to be. On the other hand, he does have a point since the robbers wouldn't know where to find the ticket, unless they had inside help. It's at this point that I figured out what was really going on in this eppesode.
Liz has some other important information about the lottery support group. That information is that they were a crappy support group. We're now up to 4 members who went broke. Worst support group ever.
So, now would be the perfect time for Robin not to suggest Scott and Zack be put into the same room together. She would never suggest such a thing because that would be total manipulation, they might say something that would be admissible by spontaneous utterance, or would make their lawyer look like an idiot.
The spontaneous utterance isn't really that spontaneous. In order to save his son, Scott confesses to everything save the Lindbergh kidnapping and stealing the cookie from the cookie jar. The son, by the way, giggles at the predicament of being arrested by the Fedcakes, right up until the moment he realizes he could go to jail and get a cellmate named Big Mick, or something that rhymes with that.
The problem is that even though Scott confesses to the robberies, he isn't the mastermind. He was just told where to commit the crimes that are going to take him away from his beloved son. On the other hand, considering the stellar job he's done thus far, perhaps that's not a bad idea.
Oh, yes, he has no idea where the other two bandits are but at least he know where they're going to hit next.
Convenience Store 3: Robbers 0, Fedcakes 2.
IHOF: Neither of the other two robbers know anything, but Butterfield does. Someone with supersekrit access to the lottery corporations computers accessed the information as to the locations of the robberies, someone with clearance. Uh-Oh.
Cal Sci: In case the set up wasn't more obvious, let me make it clear, the current suspect, is Charlie's new BFF. Sadly, just as Charlie and Nancy come to the realization that there's an insider involved in the thefts, Nancy is taken into custody.
In disbelief, David offers Charlie a way out -- provide an equation (which translates to, something of logic, in my world) -- and the Fedcakes will release Nancy, other than that, and the next time Charlie sees his new BFF, will be at her arraignment.
IHOF: Artemas and Athena are reviewing the evidence with Butterfield -- all of which looks pretty damning for Nancy. Obviously, since we're not near the end of the eppesode, this scene is meant to whack us in the side of the head with the dead stinky trout of foreshadowing saying that she can't possibly be guilty. (Why dead, stinky, and a trout? Would you miss a dead, stinky trout hitting you in the side of the head? I thought not.)
La Maison d'Eppes: Alan is subtly reminding Don that Robin is in town, and yet, Don is not with her giving Alan grandchildren. Okay, so that isn't exactly what Alan says, but I can translate subtext pretty well.
Alan cannot believe her son can't show how enthusiastic he is to have Robin back in town, inspiring what is officially, Alan's best line in the history of this show. Forget all the wise things Alan has said. Forget all the teasing and and gentle nudging of his sons. This is his all time classic line.
Not only does it amuse Don that his father used the name Beyonce in a sentence, but also it gives me
This goes into a brief discussion about men's ponytails being out of style (one thing scratched, no pun intended, off Alan's bucket list), Charlie's intuition, and Alan not wanting to spend 14 hours on a plane to visit Easter Island.
The plane comment triggers something in Don's mind, and he quickly leaves, the the purpose of a man who has just solved a mystery.
Speaking of mysteries, I found one of my own in this scene. No, it's not the psychological need Alan has to feed someone, anyone, even if it is fish (although that would be a good piece of meta).
No, it is the shocking, the unbelievable, the amazing mystery of Don's drink. First of all, it's not beer. That alone is a mystery, but then something almost X-Files-worthy occurs.
IHOF: We get a neat aerial shot of the International House of Fedcakes, but considering the rumours this week about an American version of Torchwood, I offer up a different suggestion.
In interrogation, Don and David confront Butterfield about the times and dates Nancy allegedly collected information for the robberies. There's one slight flaw. Remember that throw-away line at the beginning when Nancy's going on about missing her flight? Yeah, well, the last time she supposedly accessed the lottery corperation's database was from a landline when she was 31000 feet in the air. That's one hell of a phone cord.
I'm feeling a bit like I did when I was little and watched Murder, She Wrote
Considering about the only thing Butterfield did to hide his connection to the robbers (as his number is all over the dead one's phone records, and well, just about everything else he's ever done in his life, apparently), was use Nancy's password, it didn't take the Fedcakes too long to pull down his house of cards, or lottery tickets.
Now the only thing Butterfield can do to make his situation a little bit better is turn over his partner -- the mathematical one. Hmmmmm.
Convenience Store 4: Who knew working in and around the government kept you honest? I mean, seriously, Mallory was the daughter of Bartlet's Chief of Staff. Butterfield was the head agent in charge of the President's security. Now, they're scamming the California Lottery Corporation. Although, I'd like to say that I would like some credit for providing the Fedcakes with the small piece of information about where our criminals met.
Can I just say that a good portion of this scene is filmed in what I believe would be called surrealistic, or the camera is on drugs mode.
Just as Mallory exits the store, winning ticket in hand, her surrealistic version of the universe, settles back into reality.
Sure, Mallory tries to play it cool, and stuffs the winning ticket into her shirt. Now the reason for sending out the two female agents to pick her up make sense. I think David or Don's sense of propriety would win over having to go in after it.
The justification for the crime includes having to deal with people who invest in getting their own lightsaber. Sorry, but I find that weak. I mean who wouldn't want to have their own lightsaber?
Oh, and for the record, it's Nikki who retrieves the ticket.
IHOF: The winning ticket is bagged for evidence, as Nikki, Liz, and David discuss who is going to benefit from the 5 million dollar windfall. As David needs to give some cool exposition and/or story in every eppesode, he provides us with the tale of the woman in Oregon, who bought a lottery ticket with a stolen credit card. Seizing authority got to keep the cash.
Now, while it's rather hehehehehe to have Artemas and Athena bicker over who is really the "seizing authority" I don't like to think my Fedcakes are really like that. Plus, it puts David in a really untenable position.
Plus, the seizing authority is the FBI, which was pretty obvious from the get-go. So, as David takes the ticket down to evidence, Liz and Nikki follow him -- proving that money can destroy plenty of things, even the trust of the Fedcakes. Wow, the last couple of times we had this level of distrust, Don was in therapy and, most importantly Colby was a spy (not theoriginalspy).
Outside the IHOF, Don and Robin have a serious talk about their relationship. Sure, Don gives a great quippy answer about what Robin was coming back to after being in Portland for forever (forever as judged by my fandom time), "Me," but Robin's worried that long-distance and the lack of true commitment from having to deal with the everyday realities of a relationship, is as good as they're going to get.
I am not, in the least, amused by this. Discussion about the future is fine, great even. Discussion with such a negative tone, makes me worry. I don't like worrying about my OTP.
As Robin's not sure about how to how they're doing as a couple, Don tries to reassure Robin (and, vicariously, me) by responding "we're doing it."
Ahhhh. I'm not so worried anymore.
My fangirliness ramps up to 11. Well, let me rephrase that; my fangirliness was at 11, now it's got to be around 15.
La Maison d'Eppes: Alan, Nancy, and Charlie are discussing random lottery trivia, like the Bulgarian lottery picking the same numbers twice in a row. Intrestingly enough, the article I found on the incident says the odd of that occurring are 1 in 4 million, whereas Nancy says the odds are 1 in 5.2 million
Charlie scoffs at all the improbable math, so Alan hands his son a lottery ticket, jsut for the heck of it. For all of Charlie's abilities to figure out the odds when playing the lottery, he's crap at figuring out the odds of when he's the one getting played.
Nancy jokes, as Charlie scratches off the ticket, that he must be feeling "numerically violated." He's actually feeling rather chuffed, because he's won 10000 dollars, or at least, he would have, if his father wasn't playing a joke on him to get him to shut the hell up about people who play the lottery.
Plus, there's not a damned thing Charlie can do about it. It's not like Charlie can take Alan "out with differential geography," or "protractors... at 20 paces."
So, Charlie now has to accept that he's been pwned, by his own father. Even Nancy, his new BFF, sides with Alan. The eppesode ends with Charlie being taught a lesson about mocking those who play the lottery, or mocking his father, either one is valuable.
Looking forward to the next eppesode, Don learns a lesson of his own. That lesson? What happens when one can't bother to use a bloody answering machine!