|"...to a world of dung" Arturo predicts the later seasons of the show.|
...or that may just be the plot of Blazing Saddles (at least that's what came to mind for me).
Of course, I'm not really a Western fan but I know enough of the genre to know some of the tropes and one of those, as I mentioned, is gunfights. You have to admit, a legal system built around this concept would be a hell of a lot speedier than most. No complicated court proceedings or hours upon hours of research followed by hours upon hours of legal jargon. Got a hostile takeover? Just point and shoot, easy.
At least that's how I imagine the pitch for this episode went, because that's what we ended up getting.
We begin with what looks like an Old West town with the San Francisco skyline bluescreened in the background. A somber harmonica plays as we focus on a young man in a cowboy outfit practicing with toy guys at a poster of a man in a suit and hat. As he shoots, a wind picks up and he is witness to the opening of a vortex just before Quinn, Arturo, Rembrandt, and Wade fall from it. On the fly, Quinn bluffs that they are traveling magicians and the boy buys it. Arturo puts on a hilarious psuedo-Texan accent and inquires about food, the boy only too happy to direct them on their way to the "Wall Street Saloon".
|I was gonna do a Monty Python Spam joke, but this is basically Heaven...|
In the Saloon, Marty McFly is facing down Mad Dog Tannen while Quinn, Rembrandt, and Wade see some famous figures from Texas history in pictures on a wall - George Bush, LBJ, and Sam Houston. It's noted that there's a stock ticker above the bar, which strikes them as odd. We focus suddenly on a group of men playing poker. One takes exception to another winning and kicks him out of his chair, ruining the festivities. As a woman comes up to defuse the situation, Quinn comes to the aid of the fallen man and helps him to his feet.
The other man tries to take Wade hostage before challenging Quinn to a gunfight. When it's noted that he's unarmed, another man throws a gun to Quinn. The Saloon clears as the pair square off. At the count of three, draws are made and...Quinn shoots the man, killing him instantly. And Quinn, as you can expect, is absolutely horrified by this.
After the title sequence, Quinn is filled with shame but the people of the Saloon seem to approve which just fills him with more shame. The fuzz quickly arrives and Quinn is apparently arrested for helping the man and taken in...in spite of Wade and Rembrandt's insistence that it was self-defense, and Quinn is taken away. The woman who spoke up before watching all the while. Arturo returns just in time for us to have a funny bit where he laments that they're arrest in trouble.
Meanwhile, the Sheriff decides to go Law & Order on Quinn's butt. Apparently, Quinn not having a law degree makes it confusing that he knows how to shoot so well. However, a Billy Ray arrives working for a Mr. Bullock and informs the Sheriff that Mr. Bullock would like to see Quinn. Through some heavily implied corruption, Quinn's released into Billy Ray's custody.
|Shots! Ha! Get it? It's funny because we all have guns...|
As Arturo heads into the hotel, we get a small aside with the boy from earlier - Jamie - and the woman from earlier, his mother. The boy likens Quinn's arrival to the 'Mighty Morphin' Texas Rangers' (which, given Power Rangers actually had a Wild West episode, makes this even more hilarious), but his mother won't have any of it and shoos him off while he insists that they're not on the level.
Billy Ray brings Quinn to the corporate offices of Drexel-Bullock Corporation. Apparently, the man himself wants Quinn to be his new hotshot negotiator, seeing as he killed the previous one who was thought to be nigh-undefeatable. Because Highlander rules. It is, of course, abundantly clear that this man is not remotely on the level - if the scene of Billy Ray "convincing" the police to let Quinn go was any indication.
Then we get a scene at a karaoke Western bar (try to wrap your head around that one) where Billy Ray gets Quinn drunk. There's also a minor incident with another gunslinger named Lonnie who apparently is none too happy about Quinn getting the sudden fast track to success. Unlike the previous meeting in a bar, Quinn doesn't shoot. Billy Ray, on the other hand, is quick enough on the draw to put Lonnie down before he can even begin pulling his own gun. He tells Quinn not to worry about it, and just goes back to drinking like nothing happened. As you can expect, Quinn is horrified. Therefore, the writers found it in their infinite wisdom to have a scene of him completely plastered coming into the hotel room where the others are waiting.
We get a brief scene where Priscilla, the woman from earlier, is speaking to her broker - Cliff - and the writers have her force some exposition with all the subtlety of an oversized plumber's wrench in the face. She's apparently sitting on a computer chip that could change the face of the PC market, but can't get in without a one million dollar buy in to a trade show. In addition, her late husband worked too hard for her to declare bankruptcy.
The next morning, poor Quinn is hung to the over and horrified about how he ended a man's life. While Rembrandt and Arturo do their best to console him, Quinn doesn't really care about whether or not anyone cares about it - the fact is that a man is dead, and he killed him.
Wade, meanwhile, has an aside with Jaimie where she tries to convince him that Quinn is not a gunslinger. Priscilla arrives and once more tells him to shove off before she asks to see Quinn - apparently quite interested to learn that he's not a gunslinger. Wade brings her to the hotel, and she pulls Quinn aside to try and explain the situation...and the fact that Quinn didn't actually kill anyone. She killed him. Apparently autopsy isn't a thing on this world, given she was on the stairs in the scene where Quinn "shot" the man and was almost coming from a completely opposite direction, but what the hey, I'm just some guy on the internet who knows nothing about physics.
|Yeah, no joke here. Just enjoy the screenshot of a yak.|
Meanwhile, the others are with Priscilla at the poker/stock exchange and Cliff has not shown up much to Priscilla's irritation. If there's not a body in his chair soon, he'll forfeit his seat and Priscilla's company will be ruined. Rembrandt ends up sitting in, apparently knowing "every form of poker known to man", and she, Arturo, and Wade head off to go find Cliff. When he doesn't answer the door to his room they break and find him hanging around...by his neck. It seems that he's hung himself...or that someone hanged him and wanted it to look like an accident...
Back on the floor, Rembrandt's not doing so hot. Wade relays the news to him. Rembrandt continues to hold the fort and Wade heads off to see the Sheriff...who is apparently going to do nothing. No investigation, no nothing. Wade berates him for this and calls him out as being afraid of Bullock. He kicks her out, and Wade stands on a soapbox with her moral correctness and is all too happy to call the Sheriff a coward while ignoring the fact that, while she gets to leave this world at the end of the episode he actually has to live there and deal with the consequences of things.
He doesn't. Everything gets pretty nicely resolved by the end of the episode (spoiler alert), but that's not the point.
Back at the gunslinging officers of Wolfram & Hart, Bullock gets Quinn and Billy Ray into his office. Apparently, words going around that Quinn is set to defend Priscilla against a corporate takeover. It seems he's out and he manages to bluff his way out of the room with his 'reputation' as the Waco Kid. Because Bullock and his cronies have a very low Sense Motive bonus, this works and Quinn's able to leave without resembling Swiss cheese.
Also, poor Billy Ray also gets the boot, though he's not threatened with gun violence.
Priscilla resolves to give up the company despite Quinn's protests, but the matter is quickly thrown to the wayside when Wade notices Quinn's gun is missing...and so is Jamie. Immediately they know where he's going and pursue him to Bullock's office. He's having a shot of whiskey with two of his employees, including...wait, Groosalugg?! Billy the Kid is Groosalugg?!
...oh, poor Quinn is so screwed. This guy is Pylea's greatest warrior!
|"Hello..my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my pa. Prepare to die..."|
So tomorrow, it will be a case of kill or be killed, whether Quinn wants it or not.
Back on the broker's floor, Wade spouts off her quips about gun control and the need for it, and the anvicilious hope that they might land on a world where guns had never been invented. Nevertheless, Quinn is getting ready for the duel and Rembrandt has won somewhere between three and four hundred thousand so the company will be alright in the event that he wins - which he plans to. So, before the court house, the duel is set. A crowd gathers and parts to watch the show. In one corner, in jet black, a trail of terrible monsters left dead in his wake - the mighty Groosalugg, the Brave and Undefeated! In the other...Quinn.
...yeah, not really as impressive, is it?
The air is tense until the clock strikes high noon..and Quinn takes off his belt and drops it on the ground, telling him to just shoot him if he's going to. However, Groo doesn't because of...honor or something...and Quinn gets to do his Fortune Cookie summation of the moral of the story. He also tells the Sheriff to nut up and do the right thing. Though Bullock orders him to kill him, Groo ultimately will not shoot an unarmed man and Bullock gets his own gun to do it himself in spite of the Sheriff's protests. Billy Ray comes out of the crowd and stands before Quinn, telling Bullock that he'll have to shoot him first. Then Priscilla and Jamie come out of the crowd, then others for a big ol' "I am Spartacus!" moment.
To diffuse the situation, Arturo opens the vortex and everyone is utterly mystified and amazed. The Sheriff arrests Bullock and Quinn gets some parting words to Jamie - it takes a stronger man to put a gun down than to fire one in anger - and tells him to remember them before he jumps into the portal, leaving Jamie confused as to where he went.
I'll be honest, it may just be the piles of pretentious or nonsensical crap that came to us in season one, but I'm really surprised that two episodes in a row have been to my liking. Besides Priscilla deserving an award for the worst exposition ever delivered by dialogue and then Wade's short and quick dropping of an anvil on our heads about gun control at the end, this is a very solid episode. While it certainly doesn't use all the potential given the genre that it's homaging, it definitely makes a good - and I hesitate to use the word, but - "modernization" of the western. A hero riding into town to have a gunfight against some evil force for the greater good, except this time Quinn is able to solve the problem not through violence but through words and actions - inspiring others to do better as he did in "Prince of Wails" and "Gillian of the Spirits".
And while I do (and likely still will) give Quinn garbage for the Fortune Cookie speeches, I'll be completely honest that Jerry O'Connell almost always sells it. More so here than in "Prince of Wails" since his speech isn't a bunch of Presidential quotes and he actually has something to tell the others. Few have the skill to pull it off in a way that isn't eye rolling, and he does it very well here.
Whether or not you agree with gun control, we can all pretty much agree with Quinn's closing message - it takes a stronger person to put a gun down than to fire one in anger. Again, another moment where the Doctor is somewhere smiling and he doesn't know why. Because, when written properly, Quinn is absolutely awesome. As is the show. I supposed we should enjoy it while it lasts. It's going to change very quickly soon enough...and going to hurt about as much as a bullet between the eyes...dragged out over three seasons...
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