Episode 18: Another Perfect Day in Hell

There were more slams in this episode than at a New York Knicks game! Lots of insults and putdowns.

Thanks to the departure of Caitlin and The Bizarre Dr. Peter Burns, everybody got dialogue (unless of course you're on the D&D board of directors, in which case you never have anything to say), so the coveted Matt Slot goes to no one. Jane comes closest because she's still searching for a subplot. Now, on to the action...

Sydney, Jake, Jane, Jo (too many "J's"!), Ricki, and that wacky cult:

Jake tells Jo (who has magnificently lost that baby weight, by the way -- what's her secret?) that they're "connecting" and he wants to develop a close relationship with her again. Jo probably thinks, "Jake, you loser!" but she actually says that she is messed up about having to give away her son Austin, Texas, and that she wants to be alone for a while.

Sydney goes to some reception at Cult Central, where Martin, the Guru Guy, tells her how happy he is to see her -- he "understands." Syd talks with Jake at Shooter's about the group; she's really getting into the whole idea of taking responsibility for one's self. "Jake, you'd really like it," she says. Jake mutters something about how he's never belonged to anything in his entire life, how he likes it that way, blah blah blah, as he wipes beer glasses and scrapes gum off the bar. Syd wonders if the movement will help her and Jake get back together, but Jake politely rejects that notion. Jo walks in, fuming that someone poured the wrong type of fuel (or was it apple juice?) in her motorcycle's engine -- it's totally ruined. Syd looks at how Jake offers his sympathy, then she mumbles "Well at least someone got what they deserve," and leaves.

Syd and Ricki (serious actress Traci Lords) are planning to hit the night spots. Jane intercepts them in the MP courtyard, complaining that A Total Stranger is wearing the dress that she loaned Syd. Ricki walks over and says, "You want your dress back? Fine, take it!" and she takes it off, standing proudly in her black undergarments. She tosses some nasty comments about what a terrible, petty person Jane is, and she and Syd head back to their pad, laughing. (Yep, she's a serious actress, all right!)

The next day, Jane shows off her sexy (?) line of clothes to Alison and her sister Meredith (more on that later), but the clothes have all been slashed to ribbons! (Cool! Punk fashion returns!) At this point, we realize that wacky cultist Ricki is probably responsible. Jane heads back to MP and verbally slams Syd for ruining her clothes. Syd has no idea what Jane is talking about. Jane demands that Syd hand over her set of keys to Jane's store. Jane walks off, and Ricki says to Syd, "It's just like Martin said -- the weak ones blame the strong." (I thought that was a Mike Ditka quote?) Syd is sad and angry that no one trusts her. Gee, what a surprise. Hey, Syd, wake-up call: Everyone still thinks you tried to kill Michael! Deal with it!

Jo and Jane compare notes about their mutual misfortunes. Their conclusion: Sydney's whacked! Jane tries to call Syd's parole officer. Jo finds her apartment open and her camera equipment stolen! She runs to Shooter's and confronts Syd (who is with Ricki). Jake shows up just in time to stop what would have been a really cool three-way catfight (oh well, maybe they'll save it for the season finale). Syd is angry when she perceives that Jake is automatically taking Jo's side.

That night, Ricki takes Syd's set of keys to Shooter's. She sneaks in after closing and goes to the cash register, which is empty. (Well, duh, Ricki, of course it is.) She goes on a rampage and trashes the place. Serious actress Traci Lords then tries to show a wave of emotions across her face, and fails horribly. We see Ricki bringing the stolen cameras, etc. to the Guru Guy, who praises her on her work. He then officially welcomes the unsuspecting Sydney to the group. (Sydney, your new "cult name" is Kiwi.) Syd later shows up at the wrecked Shooter's where she gets the blame, and everyone wonders what kind of sick puppy she is. Jake fires her. (Shooter's -- the bar where everybody knows your name and whom you've been sleeping with.) Syd rejects her past life and decides to embrace the cult.

Matt and Kimberly:

In the wake of Dr. Burns' rather fiery departure, the hospital orders psychiatric tests for everyone, and Matt will be coordinating them. An understandably worried Kimberly openly scoffs at Matt, who calmly states his qualifications. The hospital director then slams her, saying her arrogant attitude is the same one exhibited by Burns. Kimberly gripes to Michael that this is unfair -- there's nothing wrong with her. Michael, in perhaps the funniest scene this year, smiles and says, "Okay, let's do a test question. Say you're angry at your boyfriend for sleeping with another woman. Do you: a) deal with it, b) cheat on him yourself, or c) put on a wig and run him down with a car? Hmmmm, on second thought, let's skip that one!" Kimberly sees no humor, but Michael is totally amused. She visits Matt and tries politely to convince him to skip her at test time. Matt says he can't do that, so she threatens him and calls him nasty things like "Little One." (Ooohhhh, tough talk!)

Later, Matt tells her that she, ah, didn't do particularly well on the test. Her job isn't threatened, but he recommends some therapy sessions: "You're a walking time bomb." She doesn't take the news well. Going home that night, Matt is beaten up by two guys who make anti-gay comments. He ends up in the hospital where he's questioned by a gay cop. (Subplot for Matt!) Afterward, Kimberly visits Matt and takes credit for the attack. (What did she do? Go to Thugs 'R Us?) Matt looks worried.

Alison, Billy, Amanda, and Michael:

Amanda calls a meeting of D&D's top brass and says the company is in terrible shape due to recent events. They've lost clients, employees, and any chance for an Emmy nomination. Alison makes a suggestion for the upcoming client party, but she gets slammed by Amanda. The other employees are extras with no dialogue, so they say nothing. (Wow, what a great company to work for!) Billy says Amanda doesn't look well. In the echoing halls of the nearly empty D&D, Alison thanks Billy for everything he's done for her. Andrew Shue tries to look uncomfortable, and fails horribly.

Alison's sister Meredith turns up. She's in town for a library symposium and she wants to make amends for bailing out on Alison during the whole business with their father. Over dinner, Meredith tells Alison that she wants to look sexy -- she's never really "been" with a man (nudge nudge wink wink). So Alison takes her to see Jane, who says Meredith has the perfect figure for one of her dresses. "You're just anorexic enough!" However, Jane's dresses are ruined (see above).

At a D&D meeting with a client, Alison goes ahead and describes her fun plan for the upcoming party, which the client likes. When he leaves, Amanda slams Alison again! Alison gapes, "Amanda, I ..." Billy again questions Amanda about her health: "Gaah, 'Manda, whatz up with you?" She tells him to butt out. At the party, Meredith asks Billy if he'll dance with her. She seems taken with his, uh, primal charms and wonderful speaking ability. Billy asks fellow guest Michael to walk over to Amanda and discreetly check her out (no pun intended). Kimberly, who's been getting not-so-happily trashed, fumes when she sees Michael dancing with Amanda. Amanda realizes that Michael is trying to give her a physical on the dance floor and walks away. Kimberly staggers over and tries to slap Michael, who catches her hand and says, "I'll deal with you later!" Obviously concerned that Amanda is unwell, he runs over to her. She protests, then passes out!

The next day, Billy returns from jogging to find Meredith in his bed, naked and frighteningly eager to please! Billy stutters, "Meredith, what are ya doin' here?" At this point, Alison walks in and sees her naked sister and a shirtless Billy! (Geez, didn't they do this in "Three's Company"? Where's the laugh track?) Alison Gapes, horrified, and tells Billy he's gutter trash. Billy thinks he's been set up: "You're sick, daah, dat's what you are!" Eventually, Meredith fesses up to Alison, who politely suggests that Meredith seek professional help.

Michael visits Amanda with the results of her medical tests. He's not happy. He tells her she may have Hodgkin's Disease, cancer of the lymph nodes. Amanda reacts violently! She refuses to accept this. Michael pleads with her to come in for more tests and to speak with a specialist, but she goes wild and Michael leaves. Amanda calms down as the news settles in.

Good episode -- and Michael is the best character going!

--Ken Hart

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