Episode 17: They Shoot Mothers, Don't They?


So, the Starship Voyager gets zapped to the other side of the galaxy by this strange ... oops, sorry, wrong show. Yeah, I watched the "Voyager" premiere first -- so sue me!

A lot of plotlines were finally resolved in this two-hour mega-episode! (Thank goodness -- the baby plot in particular was really getting on my nerves.) The Matt Slot this week belongs to ... nobody! Everybody got lines, although Matt sounded like he had one bad head cold.

Sydney, Nicki, and that wacky cult:

Amanda tells Syd that she's gotten approval for an across-the-board rent hike of all the apartments at Melrose Place. (She says they've been undervalued for years -- hey, why shouldn't they be? With all the strange things that have happened to its residents over the past couple of years, I'd undervalue the property too! What chemicals are in that pool?) Syd's rent is going up a couple of hundred bucks. Syd goes to Jane for (what else?) a handout. Jane scoffs, and says, "Why don't you do something normal for a change and find a roommate?"

Well, before you can say Single White Female, Our Sydney is putting up an ad on a bulletin board (no, not a BBS, you computer nerd!) at a diner. The blonde waitress at the counter asks Sydney about the place and says she'd be interested in checking it out. She introduces herself as Ricki (played by Traci Lords, who will probably still be called "ex-porn star Traci Lords" when she's 96). Ricki looks around Melrose Place and asks Syd about the pros ("Any cute guys?" "A couple.") and cons ("The landlady is a major backstabbing wench"). Ricki tells Syd she'll take it. Some of Ricki's 6-foot-tall Amazon friends help her move in; she introduces all of them to Syd.

They talk about Syd's family a little while later -- not a thrilling topic, as you might guess. Ricki tells her about this guy, Martin, who is the leader of a "personal fulfillment center ... I guess you could call him my guru." (Actually, I think the word "guru" was banned from the English language by an Act of Congress a few years ago.) Ricki later spots Billy and says to Syd, "He's cute." Billy seems to be talking to a potted plant in this scene.

They spot Jake returning from the baby plot. He still appears to be miffed over the Las Vegas incident with The Accent. Ricki tells Syd that she can get Jake back; she should come to a meeting with Martin. Better still, the first meeting is free! (What is this, the Columbia House of Cults?) Sure enough, Syd attends, and everyone is soooooo friendly to her. She is introduced to the charismatic Martin (played not so charismatically by Ramy Zada, formerly of CBS's "Dark Justice" and NBC's very short-lived prime-time soap "The Round Table"). Martin tells the group how each of them has to take responsibility for their own actions, etc., etc. -- Syd is intrigued. Ricki later tells Syd that many members of Martin's messianic mob make mucho moolah. Syd is further intrigued!

Alison, Billy, and Terry:

After Amanda announces D&D's new drug-testing policy (more on that later), Billy and Alison chat briefly about it. (The other employees are silent because they're not paid to have dialogue.) Billy tells Alison that he saw The Bizarre Dr. Peter Burns and wonder-wench-with-the-bad-gold- hair Caitlin having Biblical knowledge of each other. Alison Gapes! Billy says, "Gaaah, so whaddaya think? Should I tell 'Manda?" Alison says that, based on past experience (remember Chaz, the Mascara Man?), this would be a Bad Idea and Billy should stay out of it. Terry shows up at the office to meet Alison for lunch. Billy is annoyed.

Later, Billy chats with Matt about Alison. Matt points out that even though Billy says he's always been there for Alison during her recovery, he has yet to attend one of her AA meetings. So Billy goes and, of course, he arrives just as Alison is speaking to the group. She talks about this guy who has been such a big help to her, and so forth. Billy's chest swells -- until he realizes that she's talking about Terry! D'OH! He quietly leaves.

Some time later, in bed, Alison tells Terry about how different her life is now -- how she seems to be losing contact with the people in her former alcoholic life. Terry responds to this outpouring of emotion by telling her not to worry about it, and he says he'll make sure she has tickets to the Big Game (or was it Conan O'Brien?) He invites her to come with him on the team bus, but she declines. (Nice to see she has some scruples left!) She does join him eventually, however. Unfortunately, his team loses the playoff game, thus no Super Bowl. (Damn that Joe Montana!) Terry is furious, and he wants a drink. Alison is scared, but she talks him down. He asks her to get rid of his liquor supply. (What was it doing there in the first place?)

Returning to D&D, Alison finds the mood downright gloomy. Billy tells her that Caitlin's first round of layoffs went into effect. (More on that later.) Billy adds that he saved her job. Alison asks why, and he says, "Dah, I guess I'm just a glutton for punishment." The phone rings. Guess what? It's Terry! While Alison takes the call, Billy stares at the floor tiles. (Wow, when it comes to method acting, that De Niro guy's got nothing on Andrew Shue.)

Terry later takes Alison out and proposes to her! Well, sort of. He gives her a big diamond ring, but when he realizes that she's gaping, he says she can just think of it as a friendship ring. (Gee, thanks, Mr. Trump.) Alison, though obviously happy, is worried that this may be a little too soon, and says she can't promise anything.

Billy soon sees the ring; he's stunned and tells Alison that she's just trading one dependency for another. "Daaah, Alison, I probbabbly know more about dis guy than you do!" (Ewww, that's a scary thought.) He accuses her of being a co-dependent. Alison goes to Terry's house and sees him going at it with a young nubile female. Alison Gapes again! Terry leaps out of bed (still wearing his boxers -- this ain't cable, ya know) and tells her that the girl is just some "bimbo" that he picked up. (Nice guy.) He couldn't help it; it's his addiction. Alison says how convenient -- just blame it on his "problem" so he doesn't have to take responsibility for it. She walks out.

Terry finds her the next day, and pleads with her to reconsider. She doesn't buy it. Terry then becomes Super Neanderthal Man and says, "Fine. Go ahead. You think you're special? I can get a girl every night if I want." Alison coldly says, "When I first met you, I thought you were arrogant. But I was wrong -- you're pathetic." End of Guest Star #1!

Jo, Jake, the Baby, and the Carters:

Jo comes into Shooters' and tells Jake that Mary Poppins stole her baby! She realizes that this wasn't any random baby-snatching. Little Austin was the target all along! So, she goes to the hospital and confronts Kimberly in the hallway. Kimberly denies knowledge of the kidnapping, but gleefully admits that she called the Carters and told them that Jo had the baby. Jo then decks Marcia Cross with a right cross! YES!

Determined to confront the Carters, Jo starts packing -- in more ways than one! She has a gun! Jake takes it away and says he'll go with her. (Frankly, I'd take the gun instead of Jake.) Jo borrows Matt's jeep and they go off in search of the Carters. They eventually wind up in a motel, where Jo ("I'm adorably vulnerable") Reynolds and Jake (Fickle in the Ways of Love) Hanson do The Nasty. After a couple of dead ends and some ludicrous private-eye-type stuff from Jake, they find the Carters' cabin by the lake. They stake the place out, parked behind a shrub about 50 feet away. Eventually, Mary Poppins turns up with Austin. (What took her so long?) Jo is about to run out, but Jake tells her not to blow it. He'll run down to a pay phone and call the cops, since the Carters are guilty of kidnapping.

Wait a second! As ridiculous as that custody hearing was, the Carters did indeed win custody of the baby. So why did they bother kidnapping the child? All they had to do was send the authorities to Jo's place and take the baby away! Also, are you trying to tell me that a good Californian like Matt doesn't have a phone in his jeep?

Well, as you might guess, Jo succumbs to her emotions and leaves the jeep when Mr. Carter walks out of the cabin, shotgun in hand. Jo's ninja training fails her, however, and she is heard by Mrs. Carter. Jo reveals herself and says she's come to take her baby back. Mr. Carter turns up behind her and tells her to get off their property. Jo hears the baby crying and moves toward the cabin. Mr. Carter, urged on by his wife, shoots Jo in the back (!) as Jake runs up the hill yelling "Nooooo!!"

The police and an ambulance arrive. Jake has Mr. Carter arrested. Jo recovers in the hospital. Jake tells her that they took the bullet out of her back, so she can't play Ironside's daughter in a new mini-series. Carter is out on bail, and Austin is in the custody of Child Services. Jake says he spoke to Jo's lawyer -- there's going to be another custody hearing. Jo is terrified, but Jake says it's the only way to settle this. Mrs. Carter menacingly appears at Jo's bedside that night; she says she'll keep Jo in legal entanglements for years and that she'd let "God take the baby" rather than let the woman who murdered her only son keep the child.

Back at Melrose Place, Jo and Jane talk about what a great guy Jake is. Jo adds that she's frightened of the custody hearing. At that hearing in a judge's chamber, there are accusations and cross-accusations between the respective parties, until Jo finally says enough. She tells the judge that her baby is only 8 weeks old and has been through hell. She doesn't want Austin to be in the middle of this war anymore. She asks the judge to consider putting the baby up for adoption by a family who will love him. While she certainly would prefer to keep the baby, she loves him too much to see him jerked around anymore. Mrs. Carter spits, "Oh, so noble, Jo," but the judge tells her to sit her backwoods butt down. The judge rules that, by their actions, the Carters have shown themselves to be "morally bankrupt" and unsuitable as parents. He'll consider Jo's suggestion.

Finally, Jo says goodbye to Austin; Matt tells her they've found a great couple to adopt the baby and that when Austin turns 18, he'll be told where he can find his real mother. ("Yes, Austin, you came from the planet Krypton...") Daphne Zuniga goes for the Emmy in her teary farewell to her child.

Okay, now hold on tight -- it's time for Amanda, Peter, Michael, and Caitlin:

The Bizarre Dr. Peter Burns and Caitlin scheme in bed. They're going to nullify Amanda's long- term contract with D&D. Caitlin tells Amanda that D&D has made a beneficial new arrangement; however, everyone now has to undergo mandatory drug testing. Failure will be cause for dismissal. Amanda's all for it; she keeps harping about how much money the company had to pay because of Alison's alcoholism. (Amanda, you fool! It's a plot!)

Michael and Kimberly also scheme in bed. Kimberly wants sympathy because she got decked by Jo, but Michael just focuses on how he's going to put the screws on Burns. Kimberly gets frisky: Evil just turns her on!

Burns and Amanda do some necking. He tells her she's coming down with the flu (swollen glands, etc.), so he prescribes some medicine. (Amanda, you fool! It's a plot!) Burns and Michael go golfing, and Michael discusses how he can blow the whistle on Burns at any time. Burns seems conciliatory and asks Michael to head up the pharmaceutical project (this way, they can both reap the profits from the phony project).

Kimberly suggests to Amanda that she and Peter come to the beachhouse for dinner with the Mancinis. (Hahahahaha!) Amanda asks Matt to dig into Burns' files -- she doesn't trust Michael's assertion that everything was on the level. Matt initially declines, but Amanda suggests that Matt's rent does not have to increase...

Matt tells her that Burns' grant is phony ... and that Michael is now handling the project! She confronts Michael -- "You worm!" -- and warns him that Burns will crush him. Michael laughs it off. Amanda takes the drug test at D&D. She feels lousy, but Burns tells her to keep taking the "antibiotics." Sure enough, Amanda fails the drug test! Her test contains one of the prime elements of marijuana!! (Reefer Madness at D&D!) She is fired, effective immediately. She realizes "I'm a fool! It's been a plot!" She vows to hand Peter his "jewels on a silver platter."

Amanda and Billy talk at her place. Billy tells her about Caitlin and Peter. "Why didn't you tell me this earlier?" "Gaaah, well, I asked Alison because I have no brain of my own...." Amanda finds one of the pills that Burns prescribed, and she asks Matt to have it tested. Matt says it contains one of the elements of marijuana, but it'll take a couple of weeks to trace it back to Burns. (Huh? How do you use a single pill to track down the doctor?) Amanda can't wait, so she bluffs Burns, telling him to get out of town or she'll use the proof she has to ruin him. Burns is unsettled. He tells Michael that Amanda is out to ruin both of them. He then asks him to arrange a secret meeting at the hospital with Amanda, but not to mention Peter's name; he says he wants to arrange a "financial settlement" with her. Michael does so, using the pretense that he and Amanda can go through Burns' personal files.

After Amanda arrives, though, Burns shows up and, while a shocked Michael looks on, sticks a hypo into Amanda's shoulder. She quickly drops in pain. Burns says it causes painful abdominal cramps -- "Why, it looks like acute appendicitis to me. We'll have to operate!" Michael says, "You're nuts! I'm callin' the cops!" Burns stops him and says, "You've got a bright future ahead ... don't blow it. You've lost patients before. One more won't make a difference!"

In the operating room, Burns tells the nurse to give the scalpel to Michael. Michael says he can't do it. Burns mutters, "Cut her open, Doctor -- that's an order!" Michael backs off, yelling at the nurses, "There's nothing wrong with this woman! Burns is trying to kill her!" Burns moves to make the incision himself, but Michael leaps on him! Burns slashes his arm, then Michael lands a couple of solid punches, knocking Burns unconscious! End of Guest Star #2!

Amanda awakens in a hospital bed. Michael humbly admits to saving her life, and says Burns has been arrested for attempted murder. Amanda and Michael show up at the D&D Board of Directors meeting. She spills the whole truth to an incredulous board! Caitlin, in a stunning piece of bad writing, conveniently loses her cool! The only speaking guy on the board says, "Well, most of us were brought on by Peter, but it's clear he made an appallingly bad choice. I don't think we need to take a vote on this, do we?" (Of course not, Comrade Gorbachev!) Caitlin swears revenge. (Please don't bring her back!) Amanda is back in charge of D&D! End of Guest Star #3!

Next Week: Ricki goes nuts, stripping and smashing all over the place! Billy sees Tracy Nelson in bed -- hey, is she still playing Alison's sister? Michael seems to hint that Amanda may be suffering some medical ailment. (Plot constipation?)

--Ken Hart

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