When Last We Left Our Story: Our Hero, intrepid
reporter insurance investigator Spike Holland, had fallen into one of Abel’s dungeon pitfalls. Abel’s killer hounds leapt into the pit after him, promising Our Hero a horrible, seemingly inescapable death….
Cliffhanger Resolution: Just before the hounds make their leap, down in the pit another secret wall panel opens, revealing the Green Archer! Bewildered to find Spike behind the door, the mysterious figure flees, allowing Spike at the last second to jump through the opening and close it safely behind him.
Cheat Factor: Hmm, let’s call it a three. It’s not really a cheat, as we know the dungeon is riddled with secret passages inside secret passages. It’s kind of lame, though, because they already had somebody escape the hounds this exact same way in just the previous chapter!
Moreover, why would a secret passage lead into what is usually a concealed pit? And what the heck was the Archer planning to do there? 99% of the time, more really, it’s just a small chamber covered with a stone slab that can only be opened from above. Is there another secret passage on the other side of the pit, and he was only traveling through? I will say, though, that the guy playing the masked Archer mimes surprise extremely well.
“I knew I should have taken that left turn at Albuquerque!”
Topside, Abel is chagrined to be denied the rending and screaming sounds he anticipated after loosing the hounds. He is downright apoplectic, however, to gaze into the pit and find his intended victim missing. He is also flabbergasted, as he had no knowledge of the hidden passageway leading into the pit. Still, as we see now as we briefly follow the Archer, the place is positively riddled with them.
Having gotten behind Abel and Savini, the Archer lets loose with an arrow that plows into another convenient chair. (Wouldn’t want they flying straight through those plasterboard set walls, would we?)
“Man, what does that guy have against chairs?!”
He flees, and the two men examine the latest Arrow-o-Gram. The note warns Abel to beware for betraying his family. Abel is irate because he naturally assume this Archer is Brad, the henchman he has playing this same role, who he supposes is playing a very ill-considered prank.
He is disabused of this notion when his Fake Archer stumbles in (through the front door yet!), a bit worse the wear for being ambushed by the ‘real’ Green Archer in the previous episode.
Meanwhile, we see Spike stumbling around the labyrinth of passageways. Suddenly an arrow lands in a door right next to his head; this represents the Archer trying to get his attention. (!!) Spike follows his mysterious benefactor and discovers a hidden exit leading out to the lawn.
“Hey! You know, a simple ‘Psst!’ would have sufficed!”
This is pretty handy, as he emerges just in time and right in the correct spot on the sizable grounds to intercept two men who Abel sent to recapture Valerie. Undercranked fisticuffs ensue, although the two mugs prove no match for the virile Spike. The bad guys dazed, the two jump over the wall and make their escape.
Thinking quick, Abel decides the best offense is a good defense, and calls the cops first to complain about trespassers. That seems dubious, but it’s a serial, so the cops pretty much accept his story. In this Abel is probably aided by the fact that we never see Spike or Valerie even suggesting going to the police themselves. Yes, that seems likely.
As with Elaine earlier, Abel escorts police Capt. Thompson on a tour of Garr Castle to establish how decrepit and dangerous it supposedly is, by again secretly triggering the pitfalls and such and pretending they open randomly on their own. This provokes some painful ‘comic relief’ from the easily frightened Thompson, from which I doubt even the ten year-olds in the audience garnered much mirth.
Even though this gambit works splendidly, Abel apparently forgot (!) that the imprisoned Elaine’s room is nearby. Hearing the noise, Elaine lets loose with a loud shriek before she is silenced by her jailer, Mrs. Patton.
Having confined her charge, however, Patton makes her way out to Abel and Thompson, convincing the latter that it was she who was screaming after having nearly fallen prey to another faulty trapdoor. Buying this story, a still agitated Thompson makes a quick exit. Abel’s plan (such as it is) has worked beautifully.
Abel is gloating about how the police will ignore any reports against him now when Savini drops a bomb: Spike grabbed Savini’s gun during their tussle in Chapter 1, and might be able to trace it to their fence, from who he received it. Abel reacts by having Dinky summon his henchmen.
As Dinky sends out the radio call, however, he is disturbed by an arrow from the Archer impaling the door of the room he is in. (The Archer could certainly speed things along if he starting shooting the bad guys instead of innocent doors and chairs.)
Sure enough, this bears yet another Arrow-o-Gram, this one warning the “The Man You Are Working For Is Doomed. Watch Your Step.” Since, as we know, criminals are a cowardly and superstitious lot, Dinky is thrown into a tizzy by this missile missive. He takes the note to Abel, who just sneers at it.
Meanwhile, across the street (and with no indication that he ever even tried to tell the police about Abel’s kidnapping / murder attempts against him and Valerie), Spike sees John Howard, Valerie’s father, engaging in—what else?—some archery practice out on the lawn.
Although John presents himself as a novice, he has already sunk a number of bullseyes. Yeesh, it couldn’t be more obvious what’s going on here if they had named the character ‘Fred Harring.’ Then Spike himself blithely sinks his own bullseye before leaving—archery, anyone can do it!—echoing back John’s earlier comment of “Beginner’s luck!”
Sure enough, Spike leaves to try to trace Savini’s Gun. Meanwhile, Abel is sending his gang to silence their fence, pawnbroker Blinky Evans, lest he rat them out. This is all folderol, of course, as serial chapters nearly always revolve around some McGuffin that either the heroes are trying to keep the villain from getting, or vice versa. In this case, the McGuffin is Blinky.
However, the Green Archer, using the venerable “removable eyes from the portrait” trick, has spied upon Abel’s meeting with the gang. He calls Spike at police headquarters—how would the Archer know Spike was there?—to inform him that Blinky’s the man Spike is looking for. He also warns him to watch out for a trap. That’s a bit vague, since he knows Abel’s entire gang is heading over to Blinky’s shop, but hey, why should he do all of Spike’s work for him?
“Oh, you do? Well, you better let him out before he suffocates! HAHAHAHAHA!”
By the way, where is the Archer calling from? Is he using Abel’s phone? I guess, because it’s not like he would have had a cell phone back in the 1940, or use a pay phone whilst dressed in his costume. Still, pretty convenient that he can pop in and out of the main house without ever being seen.
The hoods arrive at the pawnshop first and, for some reason, find Blinky’s hesitancy to fence their latest load of stolen diamonds (see previous episode) as proof of his incipit betrayal. However, rather than just killing him and leaving, they gag and tie him up on the back room.
The Green Archer, delivering the hot pawning action audiences crave!
Then Spike shows up. One of the men impersonates Blinky to throw Spike off their trail, and nearly leads Spike into a fatal ambush. However, the real Blinky tips the chair he’s tied to over, the crashing sound of which alerts Our Hero that something’s up. In a surprisingly brutal bit, he tosses the Blinky imposter into the room, whereupon that fellow is shot down by his compatriots.
With the gunmen distracted, another Sped-Up Fistfight ensues. After the requisite quota of haymakers and roundhouses has been exchanged, Spike naturally comes up the winner. His opponents flee his battering fists, and after freeing Blinky, he heads after them. Following Blinky’s advice, he jumps in his roadster and heads out to Bloodgate Hill. (Oooh, it has ‘blood’ in the name! Spooky!)
Figuring Spike in on their tail, the four hoods currently gathered there decide to set up another ambush. Deciding that the one foolproof plan is to position a car up the hill and drive Spike’s car over the adjoining ravine—yes, that’s much easier than just shooting him when he gets there—they set their scheme into motion.
And so Spike is speeding along the road when he suddenly spots the car careening towards him. It’s too late to avoid it, and the car crashes into Spike’s own vehicle, forcing it over the edge and leaving Our Hero facing a horrible, seemingly inescapable death….
Really? The ‘cars going over the cliff’ thing already? Dude, it’s only the second chapter.
By the way, at the end of the previous chapter we saw a ‘coming next week’ preview of a mysterious masked face appearing at Valerie’s window—which we in fact do not see in this episode. Furthermore, we never see anything even remotely like that.
This is sort of weird, given that the current chapter is, you know, actually entitled ‘The Face at the Window’! Now, we know Valerie gets snatched a second time, because Spike rescues her again on Abel’s lawn after he gets out of the secret passage.
If I had to guess, I’d say there was originally a scene where Valerie had returned home and saw Abel’s men peering, you know, in her window. With his face. Presumably this got cut for time constraints, and nobody bothered to say, “Hey, maybe we should change the episode title, then.”
Anyway, join us in two days for Chapter Three, The Devil’s Dictograph. (Will there actually be a Devil’s Dictograph? Who knows?!)
Wallace-O-Meter: Let’s call it 20%. Yes, the Archer in the novel does traverse Garr Castle via secret passages unknown to the villainous Abe(l), although he never uses one to spring anybody from a death trap. And John Howett—Walter Howett in the book—does turn out to suspiciously be an archery expert. And, uh…. That’s about it, I guess.
Fights: Spike dukes it out with a pair of overmatched henchmen, then with another dastardly duo in the pawnshop.
Car Crashes: Yep, right there at the end.
Gunplay: Just a little, when the hoods accidently ventilate their own guy.
Valerie Endangered: Naturally, although just briefly.