God, weren’t the Spin Doctors an awful band? Like, so bad. ’90s, I like to believe you can do no wrong, but they were just the worst. Like horrid little proto-hipsters. Feh. Lucky for us, this episode has nothing to do with them, and everything to do with McCarthyism. Yay! …wait.
We open on a news report about two mayoral candidates who have set up shop in opposite ends of the same hotel. Why? Who knows? All we know is that Harry Hamlin is watching interviews with both candidates while he’s smoking in the tub.
The male candidate, Clifford Hiatt, says that voters bring their hearts into the voting booth, and…he’s right. The female candidate, Barbara Norton, says that people should “wake up and smell the oatmeal. It’s 1992. Gender is not an issue.”
Oh, honey. No.
And then someone throws Harry Hamlin’s TV into the tub with him, and there we are.
Harry Hamlin was a journalist – he had a press pass, but no official affiliation. He checked in with a woman, whom no one has found. Nick finds a medallion engraved with “Make Luck” on one side and “Steer Fate” on the other. Nat declares the death definitely not an accident, and then it’s all over the news, because obviously Metro PD can’t keep its mouths shut. Nick and Schenke walk out of an elevator into a press conference with Hiatt, and an olde-timey flash bulb goes off in Nick’s face, triggering a flashback to being called a “filthy communist”. The flashback is in black-and-white, so apparently Nick’s commie trial happened in Pleasantville. Weird.
Both the candidates are jabbering about crime, because they know the first rule of politics: Never let a crisis go unexploited. Schenke and Nat are at each other’s throats about the mayoral race, but their arguing is interrupted by the arrival of Mona, the woman Hamlin checked in with. She seems pretty broken up about his death, and says he was her fiance, and that they were there because Hamlin was working on a big deal that was going to make him a lot of money. Politics confuses Mona, but it was Harry’s passion.
And yes, I’m going to refer to him as Harry Hamlin for the rest of the episode. This is how I watch TV at home: I call all the characters by the actors’ names for at least the first season. Sometimes they get nicknames. If they’re lucky.
Stonetree, Schenke, and Nick are trying to figure out what Hamlin was doing at the hotel. They figure it must have something to do with the election – duh – and Stonetree tells them not to talk to the press.
Down in the lab, Nat and Schenke are arguing again, and Nat suggests that Nick could dig up some dirt on Hiatt if only he worked days. Nick tells her that he’ll leave the character assassination to someone else, and he sounds pissed.
Schenke goes to volunteer at Hiatt Headquarters, presumably undercover because he calls his wife and asks her if he’s registered to vote. Jeez, Schenke. Please stop being a cliche of an uninformed voter.
Nick goes to see the editor of some scandal rag that Hamlin was in touch with. Turns out Harry was hawking a sex scandal involving one of the candidates, but he never said who. And that’s all he knows about Hamlin. Nick shouldn’t sweat it, he says, because “the truth will out” – just like Nick’s Pleasantville judge said at his trial.
The editor also tells Nick to go see Hamlin’s girlfriend, because she’ll know all the dirt. So Nick flies right over – because of course – but he doesn’t get there in time to stop Mona from dying, presumably from poisoned pillow chocolates.
Nick gives Nat and Schenke a lecture about biasing the investigation, and then we’re back in 1950 black-and-white for a second. Nick tells them they shouldn’t be volunteering for their candidates, and that they have to decide whether they want to be zealous or thorough.
Nick goes home to some weird, pre-internet homemade microfiche machine research.
Like, he’s using that giant TV as a monitor, I get that, but where are these articles he’s scrolling through? Can he remote in to the Metro PD database or something? Did newspapers have anything digitized in 1992? I mean, LOOK AT THAT FLOPPY DISK.
Anyway, it’s time for us to spend some time watching Nick deflecting questions about whether or not he’s ever been a communist. Look, Nick, I know that you disagree with the McCarthy trials on principle, but just tell them no. Yeah, you’re going to be found guilty and have to move on, so I understand you want to make a big stink and testify in grand speeches and all, but seriously, dude, you do not need that kind of publicity. You are a vampire.
Wait. Why are you even showing up to the trial in the first place? You are a vampire. Vampires do not have to appear in human court. (Grant Black will tell you that vampires don’t even have to appear in vampire court.) This is one of the advantages to not being human: when they try to railroad you, you don’t have to take the fucking ticket. I mean, humans don’t, either, but a human has a lot more riding on one place and one time. They can’t run away because they don’t have unlimited funds and friends in strange places; they have family and friends they don’t want to leave; they don’t want to be a fugitive.
But vampires are fugitives. They exist outside the scope of human laws. Especially outside the scope of bullshit anti-Communist railroading by one of the more evil politicians of modern times. Why did that subpoena not just make you laugh your immortal head off? Is it that you love humans so much, and want to be one so much, that you’re willing to subject yourself to a farce of a legal proceeding just to prove how much you hate being yourself?
That is some bleak shit right there. Jesus, Nick. I’m super depressed right now.
Nick finds Schenke at Hiatt headquarters and asks what he’s found out about the guy. Schenke tells him, but says everything’s off the record because he “entered the premises under a different pretense”. Sounds official. Can Canadian cops not lie to people? That would be awesome.
Anyway, Schenke tells Nick that Hiatt wasn’t actually guilty of a previous real estate scandal. The dude for whom Hiatt supposedly changed zoning laws didn’t contribute to the campaign, so Schenke – and Nick – think he’s innocent, and that this obviously wasn’t the story Hamlin was going after.
Hiatt comes in to have a press conference, and a reporter asks him if he has anything to do with these murders. Turns out the tabloid rag has run a story about the “Campaign Murders”.
Meanwhile, Nat’s watching Norton’s press conference on the same issue. There’s a woman at Norton’s side who looks suspiciously like the museum curator from the pilot episode. Nat’s assistant, who is this fabulous bitch:
says that Norton looks nervous. Nat says that Hiatt’s just a better liar, and Fabulous says “You think she’s lying?” and then Nat gets all snippy, grabs something out of a drawer, and takes off.
Nick calls the lab like two seconds later to ask about the results of a test on some evidence – a broken fingernail from the TV tossed into Harry Hamlin’s bath. But no test has been run: Nat put the nail into the evidence locker, and Fabulous couldn’t get the key before Nat ran out – to go to Norton’s rally.
And again, Nick is pissed.
At the hotel, Elyse 2 Electric Boogaloo is telling reporters that Norton won’t be making an appearance. The reporters look bored, and the one from Hiatt’s earlier press conference sees Natalie, grabs her, and puts her in front of a camera because she was there the night of the murder. Reporter tells the camera Nat’s full name and title, and now I’m wondering how much press Nat is getting, here. I couldn’t tell you the name of my county’s medical examiner. Maybe I should be able to, but I can’t, and I’ve never once seen them mentioned in the press.
Nat says “no comment”, and Nick comes to drag her away, also saying “no comment”. Nat does let slip that she’s a Norton supporter, and then Nick actually drags her away with the press in pursuit.
Nat gets into her car, but Nick tells her she’s not getting off that easy. She starts driving and apologizing, and we see they’re being followed as Nick starts lecturing her about not testing the evidence and talking to the press. The car behind them pulls up to broadside them, and suddenly they’re spending the whole show’s budget on a flipping car and a big explosion. (Don’t worry, everyone’s fine.)
The crash convinces Nat that the murderer is Hiatt, because they’ve focused the investigation on him, and he wants to shut them down. Nick points out that neither candidate has an alibi, which…is really weird. Even if one of them did it, there’s not a single staffer or spouse that will alibi them out? Seriously? This is not how the world works, my friends.
Elyse 2 is in front of her computer, typing furiously and frowning. Norton comes up behind her and tells her to get some rest, but Elyse has Work To Do, and she’s not going to stop until Norton’s in City Hall.
Nat finally runs DNA on the fingernail, and confirms that they’re looking for a woman. Hiatt’s having another press conference to proclaim his innocence, and Nat tells Nick this was never her intention. Nick flashes back to his McCarthy judge asking him why he kept bottles of blood in his fridge. Nick plead the fifth, of course, but I’m feeling bleak again.
Norton is upset that Hiatt is all but conceding right before the election, and Elyse 2 says they should have their own press conference, urging people to wait until the police finish their investigation before holding anything against Hiatt. Norton agrees.
Apparently, Hamlin had an old phone number of Norton’s in his address book. Hamlin used to be an alderman, but the number is to an apartment of Norton’s. Nick and Schenke also find that the real-estate scandal article they found in Hamlin’s stuff is a fake – none of the tell-tale typing idiosyncrasies that would identify it as Hamlin’s. So the killer faked the article and put it in with Hamlin’s stuff to make it look like someone on Hiatt’s team killed Hamlin. I think. This is a really convoluted plot.
Nick goes home to think about things and watches an old press conference where Norton gave a pin to Elyse 2: one that says “Make Luck”. Oh, snap.
Norton’s press conference is about how awful the media is, and while she’s speaking, Schenke’s going through Elyse’s datebook. She has an appointment: “Make Luck”. But Schenke’s in a repairman’s uniform, so has he entered under different pretenses? Can he use that?
And does it matter, as Norton admits she had an affair with Harry Hamlin and Nick notices Elyse’s bandaged finger?
Elyse is pissed that Norton went rogue, and accuses Norton of betraying her and the city. She’s worked too damn hard to let Norton give up now, and Norton finally turns and notices the gun Elyse is holding. Elyse takes Norton down to her car, and Schenke runs out just in time for Elyse to try to shoot him. Nick flies in to save the day, but Elyse and Norton peel out. Nick flies after them, Schenke commandeers a taxi, and Elyse is taking Norton to City Hall – because she promised to get her there.
Elyse spills the whole thing to Norton, claiming it was her job – “Spin control.” Norton’s horrified. Nick touches down and speechifies at Elyse as the squads roll up, and it’s all over.
Norton loses, because of course gender matters, especially when you admit to having sex. Nat goes through an old bag of Nick’s, pulling out priceless artifacts that aren’t in a museum and Nick’s nameplate from his communist professorship days. He doesn’t tell Nat about the trial, and we don’t see if he stuck around in
Chicago Pleasantville long enough to be almost killed by commie-haters or what.
Next week: Nat dates someone! Who is not Nick! Go, Nat! You deserve a kitten:
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