Episode 26: Triumph of the Bill


This show gets more surreal by the week! It's like "The Three Faces of Eve" meets "Disclosure"! The All-New, All-Evil Billy takes center stage, while some of the more prominent characters of recent weeks, like Alycia and Bobby, are deservedly pushed way into the background. And who sang that ultra-raspy number during the episode credits? "When you lose face ... " -- that's something that no one on Melrose Place ever worries about!

This brings us to the Matt Slot, which goes home this week! Yes, it goes to Matt, who did not appear for a single instant this episode! (Sniff sniff ... excuse me, but I am overcome with nostalgia. I'm getting verklempt -- talk amongst ya'selves ... discuss ...)

Jake, Jo, Jane, and Fashion Boy:

Jake visits Jane's Fashion Emporium (otherwise known as The Garage), where he finds Claire, who looks dramatically different from last week. When she wonders why Jake hasn't been returning her phone calls, he takes the opportunity to clear the air. "You were just supposed to around for the weekend." She replies that was true, but Jane's job offer was too good to pass up, and she makes it quite clear she'd like to ride in the Hanson Cab once more. Jake gets annoyed and says that he's with Jane. "So?" says Claire. Jane appears, but she caught none of this chat. When Claire leaves, Jake tells Jane, "I have to tell you something." Jane puts her arms around him and gets mushy. Jake wimps out: "Uh, gee, went right out of my head." "Oh, Jake, it's so cute when that happens to you."

Claire, dressed like Bowie's China Girl, shows up at Fashion Boy Central, where we learn -- surprise! NOT! -- that she's working for Richard. He wants an update on the Jake situation. "He's a honest man," Claire says, "if you can believe that." Jake won't cheat on Jane again. Fashion Boy is not deterred. "Fine. Tell Jane that you slept with him. Tell her you do him every day at lunch -- it's the Salami and Cheese special!" He hands her more money, which gets this response from Claire: "Give me an extra $50 and I'll jump Jane's bones!" YOW! You evil writers! Don't taunt us like this!

Back at the garage, Claire tells Jane, "Me and Jake have been having an affair." "Hah! That's ridiculous! Besides, shouldn't that sentence be 'Jake and I have been having an affair'?" Jake steps in to shoot down the accusation ... well, kind of. He tells Jane, "We were together one night, but it didn't mean anything." Jane does not forgive the transgression. "I hope you and your little tramp are happy together." To Claire: "You're fired, you bitch!" Hmmm, how will Claire phrase that on her resumé?

Here's a defining moment for Fashion Boy: In the empty offices, Jo shows up with a couple of sandwiches and a desire to talk. "I don't know where we stand," she wonders. FB says, "How about apart?" He admits that the designs at his show were Jane's, and he's actually impressed when Jo tells him that Jane set off the sprinklers. Jo is shocked by his attitude. Richard simply says, "I loved you -- and it was the worst mistake of my life!" He grabs one of the offending deli sandwiches: "I don't want peanut butter and jelly! I want caviar!" (What? A caviar hero? I don't think so.) Jo says, "You are a putrid excuse for a human being and a lousy actor. I can't believe I left Jake for you!" (Well, Jake was, uh, doing the paperwork on Shelly at the time, so it's not completely your fault, Jo.) FB says, "I can't believe you're still here." "I'm already gone." "But I still see you!" "I mean, I will be gone, you bozo!" Ah, existentialism!

Jo goes to Shooter's, The Only Bar in Town. As she tells Jake about Fashion Boy, she ponders her karma: "What is it with me? Violence, humiliation, bad scripts ... do I attract this?" She thinks about the good times she had with Jake, and she says, "I'm planning to go away for a couple of days to do some thinking and maybe a movie of the week ... you wanna come?" Jake declines, and Jo realizes that he really loves Jane and that she might have to go without sex this week.

Later, Jane and Jake hash things out. She's having a tough time handling both the business and design aspects of her company, not to mention the garage's persistent rat problem. They both admit they've made mistakes in their fledgling relationship. Jake seeks forgiveness: "I don't know why I do the things I do. All the changes you put me through. Take my money ... my cigarettes ... I haven't seen the worst of it yet. Take me to the river." Jane washes him down.

Jake visits the echoing offices of Fashion Boy Central. (Excuse me, but if FB is kaput, then what the hell is he doing in the office all the time? Protecting the mannequins from looters?) Jake makes an business offer to Richard. Jane needs a business partner, and FB needs a designer. Richard will go into business with Jane -- a 50/50 split -- and FB must keep his gelled head out of Jane's personal life. Richard agrees, and they shake on it.

Sydney, Alycia, and Bobby:

Sydney, looking refreshingly like she has finally regained her fashion sense, drops by Alycia's office, with a request that Alycia give Bobby a job at the cable company. Alycia snickers at the concept, even though Syd points out that Bobby knows more about the operation than anybody. Syd then not-so-subtly implies that Alycia is responsible for Bobby's fall from grace. Alycia lashes out: "It was his father's doing -- everybody knows that!" Syd innocently says, "Oh? So why would you have a problem hiring him?" Zing! Alycia advises Syd to lay off the Perry Mason routine; she says she'll consider hiring Bobby.

However, we later learn that Bobby rejected the offer and is now working as a mechanic at an airport. (Wait a second -- when Bobby was introduced, we were told he was working for the Pentagon! Now unless his job there was as a doorstop, I think he could find a slightly better-paying position.) Syd suggests that he move in with her! Bobby doesn't think that's a good idea, and he wants to be on his own for a while. Yet Syd persists, saying that he's going to be evicted from his house soon. (Things sure do move fast on this show!) She says it'll just be temporary until he regains his financial footing. She'll even sleep on the sofa bed! Bobby weakens: "You are kinda cute. But I want it to be clear that this will be, uh, platonic." Syd gets flustered. "Oh, well, of course! What did you think?"

Peter, Michael, Kimberly, Betsy, and Rita:

Michael wakes up in bed next to Kimberly -- but it's not Kim, it's Betsy! Michael is still oblivious to the fact that Something Really Weird is going on, so he starts caressing Kim's more sensitive spots. Betsy is quite disgusted by this, and she tells him, "It's not a good time." "When is a good time?" He's getting exasperated. Betsy settles down and says, "Go ahead. I'm ready." Yeah, right -- like an ironing board! Michael quickly gives up and heads for the shower. We then see a slight change in Kimberly's face as Betsy vanishes and another personality appears! (Marcia Cross really is the best actor on the show, hands down.) She says, "You blew it, Betsy. Now it's my turn, and Rita knows how to take care of her man!" She slinks into the shower, much to Michael's delight!

Kim (as Rita) saunters into the office of The Bizarre Dr. Peter Burns. She's wearing black jeans, a biker jacket, and black lipstick, and she's chewing gum! Malibu Barbie's gone bad! Peter casually asks her how everything is going. "Cool," she says. "Everything's cool." Oh, really? When he reminds her that she was worried about her mental stability just yesterday, she replies, "We all have personalities inside us. You almost killed Amanda once!" She wants to be off the medication he prescribed just yesterday. The Bizarre One has grave doubts, but he agrees to give her one chance to work this out on her own. After all, she's got two other people helping her!

In her office at the hospital, Kim has a frank discussion with herself, the end result of which is that she's worried! Michael turns up, and Rita returns to the fore(brain). She grabs Michael and offers to drive him home on her motorcycle! "C'mon, let's ride!"

The next day, Peter visits a cigar-smoking Rita in Kim's office. He heard about the motorcycle ride and he's concerned that Kim is violating the hospital's No Smoking policy. Besides, "Only Jake is allowed to ride on a motorcycle -- it's in his contract!" When he expresses his worries about her mood swings, she mockingly exclaims, "Oooh, look out! She's gonna blow!" He insists that she start seeing him again on a daily basis. She says, "Your Rorshach or mine?" Peter tells her that refusal may result in re-hospitalization.

Billy, Alison, Amanda, and Catwoman:

Some TV listing had the great joke that this episode could just as easily have been titled, "To Billy Campbell, Thanks for Nothing, Julie Newmar"! At the exclusive St. Dennis Club, Amanda arrives looking for Arthur Field, her boss! (Gee, which extradimensional limbo did they pull this character from?) The waiter/lackey says, "No women are allowed, not even one as luscious as you!" She finds Field, played by Michael Des Barres, a slightly Accented movie/TV actor ("Under Siege" -- high point -- and "The New WKRP in Cincinnati" -- low point). He's full of praise for Billy's recent efforts. There's a big advertising conference coming up, so he says, "Let's give Campbell the keynote speech." Amanda was supposed to present that! Field feels Billy should be encouraged.

As soon as she returns to Dumb & Dumber, she's confronted by Billy, who says, "So, daaah, 'Manda, I'm giving the speech, right?" Amanda, getting a little tired of Billy's arrogance and increased air time, says, "It's about Ethics in Advertising. That's not exactly your strong suit lately." She tells Alison to give the speech instead. Billy stares darkly at Amanda's back. [Subtitle: Billy is outraged.]

At an outdoor cocktail party that starts off the conference, Alison tests out her ideas for the speech on Amanda: "We've all done unethical things -- my boss, the CEO, Aaron Spelling..." Amanda is offended! "I have never done anything unethical!" Alison Gapes!

Billy bumps into a "friendly" advertising rival, Dennis, who gloats over the new campaign for his company, starring Julie Newmar! She's planning a big comeback. (Yeah, so has Burt Ward. Lotsa luck.) As Julie appears, Dennis introduces her to Billy, who proclaims that he is her #1 fan! Julie, well aware that she's surrounded by advertising sharks, graciously accepts Billy's flattery but doesn't believe it for a second.

Later, inside the hotel lounge, Alison is continuing to test out ideas for the Ethics speech -- on Billy?!? Hel-LOOOOO! Can you hear me, Alison? I guess not! Why? Because there's a moral vacuum around you, and his name's Billy Campbell! Billy talks about how impressed he was by Julie Newmar, and Alison mentions that she's next to her room and that Julie plays the TV really loud. Billy is intrigued: "Really? Daaah!" Julie then appears with Dennis and they sit down on the sofa. Billy wanders over and stands unnoticed in the brightly lit room as Julie and Dennis loudly discuss secret arrangements 10 feet away from him. It turns out that Dennis is agreeing to turn over incriminating photos of her with Yvonne Craig and Burgess Meredith, which is how he got her to agree to do the campaign for a low price. Yep, if I'm going to conclude my extortion agreement, I'll be sure to do it in the hotel lounge, where any drooling doofus can listen in!

That night, Billy is reviewing Alison's speech in her room when he notices that she's fallen asleep. (There's a quick implication later that he either drugged her or told stories about his days driving a cab.) He goes out the window, carefully steps over the railing, and makes his way onto Julie's balcony! Displaying catlike stealth, he goes into the empty room, swipes the mint on the pillow, quickly finds The Envelope, and returns to Alison's room, where he leaves it on a chair. (I smell ... Setup!)

Alison answers her door in the morning; it's Amanda, chatting on her cellular phone with Field, who has heard through "rumors" that Billy is NOT giving the keynote speech. He is extremely upset, and strongly suggests that Amanda's continued "Special Guest Star" status is dependent on Billy giving the speech. She gets off the phone, but doesn't reveal the conversation to either Alison or Billy (who probably leaked the news anyway). As she sits down, she sees The Envelope and opens it, finding the racy photos and the contract. Amanda stares suspiciously at Alison, who swears she knows nothing about it. "Daaah, don't worry, Alison -- we'll cover for ya." Amanda says they must return the photos to Julie: "It's the only ethical thing to do. It's what Batman would do."

The three of them invite the suspicious Ms. Newmar to Alison's room, where they hand over the photos. Amanda says there's no catch, but Billy has other ideas! "Gaah, we'll pay you triple if you sign with us! That's three times more, ya know!" He even has the contract prepared! Backed into a corner, Julie signs and retakes the photos. Both Alison and Amanda are stunned, but Billy says he was just trying to save Alison from a potentially disastrous situation. After all, the photos were in her room! "Daah, in fact, I think you should withdraw from givin' the keynote speech!" Amanda agrees that this is a good idea; she tells Billy to handle it. Alison Gapes! "He set me up! Don't you get it?" "Yes, and Billy just got us the Julie Newmar account." Alison is appalled by the bottom-line mentality. Billy says to her, "I just saved you. A little thanks would be nice. Ya got a lollipop?" Alison slaps him and says, "Thanks."

Now here's a scene that would have fit nicely in "Twin Peaks": It's Billy's speech! Before a large group of other advertising bigwigs, he says, "Everythin' we do is about sex. Sex sells!" (Alison leaves at this point.) "And we often have to lie to sell it. Lying is what we do best!" Billy starts stumbling over his words (more than usual, that is), and the audience begins to squirm -- too much chili for dinner? Has Brooke's "possession" ended, and is Billy regaining his morality at the worst possible moment? Billy continues, "I'm a liar, a thief, and an empty shell. When this show ends in another year or two, my career is over. I've lost all my friends. But then, I'm a huge success -- go figure! Gaaah! So say it loud: I lie and I'm proud!" The silence that follows is so intense you can hear the crickets chirp, and Amanda looks like she wants to crawl into a corner and die.

Then the impossible happens: There's a smattering of applause, followed by a standing ovation! WHAT?! My head is spinning! Billy smiles. (Oddly enough, there was a Polaroid commercial during the episode with a similar concept: At a fashion show, everyone is stuck silent when a model walks out wearing a nurse's uniform and squeaky shoes. One person breaks the silence, then everyone applauds the bold fashion statement. Weird. What that had to Polaroid I'll never know.)

Afterward, Billy accepts congratulations from all. Amanda takes him aside into an adjoining room. Once there, she plants a big smooch on him! "I just want to see all your great moves." She strips, and Billy helps her out. (Tough job.) As he gets on top of her, she says, "You're right. Sex sells." However, Amanda looks decidedly unhappy.

At the St. Dennis Club, Billy celebrates with D&D's Shadow Cabinet. But Field and the others want to know about Billy's "real conquest": "What was Amanda like in the sack?" He hesitates for a moment, then coyly says, "Well, whatever you gentlemen can imagine -- it's better."

Amanda returns to D&D late that night in time to see Alison, apparently burning the midnight oil. Alison quickly reveals that she knows Billy and Amanda had sex. "The whole conference heard the two of you. They want you back next year." Amanda is unapologetic: "You do what you can to survive. In the end, I'll be the last one standing." Alison says, "I'm surprised you can still stand after spending so much time on your back." Oooh, good one! Amanda insists that "this is as high as the Old Boys Network is going to let us get." Alison announces that she's had it, and she's quitting D&D. Amanda is full of disdain and tells Alison she'll watch her leave "from the top floor." Alison laughs, "You think you're gonna make your way to the top in Billy's pocket?" (That's a gross metaphor. The man sweats like a pig.) Amanda replies, "Billy, my dear, is snugly in mine." Alison openly scoffs -- and she's right to do so!

Next Week: No episode because of the competition of the Academy Awards broadcast. But in Two Weeks: Loni Anderson debuts -- and she's got a Bizarre taste in men! In the meantime, check out this special comparison of Old Billy vs. New Billy!

--Ken Hart

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