Thursday, March 13, 2014

Friday the 13th on Thursday the 13th - Episode 6 - The Great Montarro *UPDATED*

Damn! So close. It's another Thursday the 13th. But that doesn't mean we can't enjoy a bit more 80's horror cheese....that just sounds filthy.

So let's delve back into Friday the 13th the Series!

As I mentioned last time, I'm skipping passed the fifth episode of the first season. (It's one of the Halloween episodes, and I'm saving it for later.) So let's go to episode 6.

The Great Montarro.

Oh, great, will this episode center around a series of kids' birthday parties?

No, instead it will focus around a magic show theater.

...Is the Master in this episode?

And a large magical box. Wouldn't it cool if this was that magic wardrobe from Harry Potter? A teleporter. It almost is. Except this wardrobe transports death.

The episode opens in the dressing room of Fahteem the Magnificent. Inside he is celebrating with his new assistant. He's also drugging her...I hope we aren't going back to the last review.

No, he just wants her to die...That's better, is it?

So he seals her away in some large box or...Ah! The cursed item.

Really? You're wearing a shirt that matches your death box?
And then it's showtime!

Really? I know the whole top hat and tails look is amazingly old fashion, but this?

What's worse, the appropriation or tackiness?

Not that the audience will notice as our magician intends to impress with the Cabinet of Doom!

He steps in, the blades come down, and all the pain and death befall another. Quite a trick exchanging your safety for the life of another, all to impress an oblivious crowd.

And another new assistant is gone.

And Fahteem enjoys some applause.

To be fair it is magic. He does actually use magic to prevent the blades from harming him. It's just he hides the brutal and vile crime that makes it possible. That old blood magic.

And while you might think that this means we know who our episodic villain is...nope.

"No! What did I ever do to deserve this?"

Fahteem meets his ends later that night. At the end of his own trick, sprung by another.

But who? And, why?

Later at the antique shop...the woman that is always window shopping outside the shop is there yet again. Why didn't they do at least one other exterior shot?

"Hmm. It does look evil, but is evil evil?"

(If you decide to watch this show through from first to last episode, see how many episodes costar this lady in white.)

"You still read Starlog?"
Inside the trio are learning that Fahteem died a few months back. (Being an old illusionist and escape artist, Jack has an interest in the field.) Fahteem's Cabinet of Doom trick had taken him to the top of the magic world (He toured only the finest Chuck E Cheese establishments.). No one could figure out his trick, and some died trying to recreate it...I am pretty sure I've seen some similar

But reading about Fahteem, Jack sees his real name, Harvey Ringwald. And Micki and he suddenly recall that name. Looking in the manifest of cursed items, they find his name.

Years back Fahteem had bought the Houdin Box. And now Jack knows how Fahteem pulled off his great trick.

The Houdin Box was once owned by a French magician named Houdin (and he's an actual historic magician) who had worked for years to perfect a deadly trick and died in the attempt (that's not his actual history). The box is what remained.

Jack has Micki and Ryan go and talk to Robert, Fahteem's old assistant. He's working in a magic supply shop.

And an SNL sketch is born.
Micki and Ryan go in without a disguise for once. They just want to find the old box that was once their uncles. But talking to him they find him unhelpful. He doesn't know where anything is, and he didn't know how Fahteem did his tricks. He actually seems resentful about it, and even thinks he should have been the magician, that he has the real skill.

Earlier in the show he was creeping outside Fahteem's room, and now he seems really arrogant and defensive about where the cursed item is. We may have a good candidate for the episode's baddie.

Add to this that once the pair leave, Robert calls someone and is worried about the questions asked. He also shows that he knows about "the box".

Meanwhile, Jack heads over to the Temple of Magic. The place where everyone cold reads your name.

Jack meets up with an old friend, Monte Martin, the head of the Temple of Magic. He's busy setting up a contest for magicians to try and win $100,000 and entrance into the elite magicians society. But he doesn't know much about what happen to Fahteem.

Also there is the Great Montarro, an uptight, arrogant bully of man. He walks around yelling at his daughter, Lyla, who's trying to help him. But, man, he is somehow pulling off a very silly bit of chin hair. (And by pulling off I mean he looks like he stumbled out of a 60's Hammer Horror flick.)

He's come to try out for the contest. He is unknown, but he has a trick that will skyrocket him to stardom. The Coffin of Blood!

And, yes, it is clearly the old Fahteem trick, repainted.

Duh! Duh! Duuuuuh!!!

"No! Christopher Lee isn't in it! And neither is John Carradine!"

,,,But Robert is still the baddie, right?

Jack has a theory of sorts. Some magician got the Houdin Box. And with a major contest about to happen, that magician will use the box to show the world an amazing death defying trick, and begin a bloody jaunt to fame.

But they can't search the Temple of Magic, as it's off limits to nonmembers, except to those competing. Jack has a crazy plan to get in. It's time for a return to magic!

"Ta da....Wait! Where's the rabbit then...oh my god! The dry cleaners..."
Yup. Back to being Mad Marshak. (I think we can guess that was also his childhood nickname.) But at the Temple he will be called Marshak the

"Jack? You are contracted to be on
next season, right?"
He's rusty, but he does have his deadly Pendulum of Death! (And you know, you do have some cursed items that might help...Not saying it's a good idea...) This worries Micki and Ryan a little, as...he's really rusty. And when he asks Monte for a chance to compete, Monte's leery. But he is let in to the tryouts that night.

So they begin looking around, and Ryan does see the Montarro's bladed horror, but no magic box. Micki helps time Jack as he practices getting out of a straitjacket. But his timing is not that great. In fact he's about half a minute short of not dying a grisly death.

When Ryan comes to update them, Jack decides to check out the props himself. Micki and Ryan will watch Montarro and his daughter.

Oh, I know this trick. Now Montarro slips an elephant
back under the door.
While all this is happening, a silent female magician, Miranda, sneaks over to Montarro's dressing room, and slips a note under the door.

Later, as Micki and Ryan watch, Montarro fumes to his daughter about the note. He says someone wants to blackmail him.

When he's done fuming, he storms off. This is at the same time that Jack is checking out his deadly prop in the backroom.

But when Montarro walks in...Jack slips inside the Montarro's setup, with blades floating over it...Oh, Jack. Really?

He also likes pressing big shiny red
Montarro looks around nervously for a moment before Ryan walks in and begins talking to Montarro. And as he does this he rests a hand on the handle that brings down the blades...that could kill Jack. (Will someone spray Ryan with water already, and yell, "No"?)

Luckily Ryan doesn't kill Jack, and Montarro and him leave.

Silly murderer. You don't sharpen
While Jack takes out time to repeatedly kick Ryan, someone breaks into his dressing room (But who could get through that lock? ...It must be a real magician.). And that person proceeds to file away at the key to Jack's straitjacket. That may make escape from his trick a bit harder

And this is why you don't borrow Micki's mousse.
Now it's time for Jack to astound with his deadly Pendulum of Doom!!! And if that key fails it will be his doom.

Micki is dressed up as his assistant. (Hey! She did get to have a disguise this episode! Good for her.)

But I have to admit, part of this trick is not making sense. Okay, he has to escape chains, a straitjacket, and all before the rope holding him up burns through. But how does he escape the spikes underneath him? Even freed, the rope will give at a minute. Am I missing something?

Maybe I'm not because the trick doesn't seem to go very well, and Jack falls into the spikes, and is impaled...?

"Jack! I don't think you're relaxing."

Ta da?

Oh, wait! No. It wasn't Jack. ...Ta da?

But how did he do it? Well, an amateur magician wanted to show that he had skills, so he locked Jack in a closet and took his place. And then they see the broken key and see that it is a murder.

They decide to check with the silent female magician, Miranda, thinking it may have been her plotting. So they head to her dressing room...and it doesn't look like it was her.

She's hanging from the neck in her room. She's also not who they thought. She's Robert, my previous suspected baddie.

Now, I don't know why Miranda is who this is. Is this Robert's alternate persona? Is it a magician's identity? (There's at least one famous Victorian British magicians, Chung Ling Soo, who pretended to be Chinese, hiding it from everyone.) Is Robert in hiding? We never do learn.

What Jack decides is that it was a murder, like the attempt on him would have been. They then catch Robert's assistant, who admits that the two were blackmailing Montarro. They said that they wouldn't reveal Montarro had snatched the Cabinet of Doom right after Fahteem died. For this, they'd be made Montarro's headliners. But that's all for naught now.

"Let me get this straight. You want to see where I keep my
magic box?
The team decide they need to stop the show for that night, before someone else is killed. Jack and Ryan head to convince Monte to stop the show. Micki looks to find Montarro's daughter, Lyla, hoping she can tell them where the Houdin Box is.

Lyla doubts what Micki says. But she has seen a box like the one she is talking.

So the two go to check on it in the wine cellar.

"No. My name isn't Sucker, it's..."
Once there, Micki checks it out and...sigh, she gets inside it. Really, Micki? So everyone has a really stupid moment this episode.

She comments quickly on how sticky it is...with blood.

And this is a question I have had since introduced to this cursed item. You get someone to get in the box, and then it kills. But what happens then? Is there a gruesome body to be disposed of? Or does the box consume them? Is it an execution device, or a stomach?

And Micki will have some time to consider this, as Lyla shuts her inside the book. A crystal on top on the box glows red, which seems to mean it is activated.

Lyla cackles. This has all been her doing. Her dad is a dumb pawn for her to use to get fame and wealth. She killed Fahteem, Robert, and tried to off Jack. The Great Montarro has no clue how his trick actually works. He's just her dupe.

Jack and Ryan have no luck stopping the show. And soon, Montarro is on, his daughter smiling by his side.

Early QVC had way better products.

Watching Lyla, they notice some sawdust on her. They've spotted sawdust at some other strange spots. Ryan realizes he knows where he's seen sawdust on like that before. In the wine cellar.

They go there and find the box, but can't open it.

But Jack has an idea, the glowing crystal on the top of the box may be key to the items function, so he tries to wedge it loose. (Now before we've been told that the cursed items are

Fidgeting with it does seem to help, it finally causes the crystal to turn white. And the box door opens.

But with Micki free, the trick on stage does not go to plan. The blades fall, and Montarro is no more. Run through.

He dies as he lived, looking like a Hammer Horror character.

In the hustle after that, the team get the Houdin Box out and back to the vault.

As they relax afterwards, Ryan decides to try being an escape artist...or they are finally sending him for the help he clearly needs.

And they leave him like that as they make it an early night.

Overall it's a fun episode. I appreciate that it could actually surprise me from moment to moment, so you have to pay attention to catch key moments. It feels like the people behind the show were upping their game. Good for them, and us viewers.

Also, I really like that this show works in such a way that they can play with the episodic structure. Up to now, each episode let's us clearly from early on just who is the bad guy, and just what they are doing. And that formula works fine.

But in this episode, it is left to be revealed in the 3rd Act of the story. Before that, you are going from Fahteem to Robert ro Montarro (even the episode's title screws with you).

This is like going from the structure of a normal episode of Columbo to that of Poirot. And when you do that with either of those shows, it annoys me. They have great structures that are what make those types of shows and stories work so well for so many years.

But Friday the 13th the Series? It doesn't need to be held to any of those rules. I am not sure in reminiscing now how often they did play with our expectations, but it's a worthwhile lesson. This is something they did right.

So I will be back with more next month, around...Oh, how about the 13th?

Next time, we head to the doctors for a check up, and murder.


I forgot to link to a copy of the episode for those interested. Apologizes.

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