When Last We Left Our Story: Spike arrives at the crooked Lanton’s Garage to find the owner mortally wounded, a victim of his comrades in crime. Before he expires, he reveals the location of a robbery occurring at that very moment, and Spike and Valerie head out to stop. In the end, Valerie escapes while Spike is overwhelmed, tied up and bundled into a van. This is sent careening at speed into an electrical transformer. An explosion occurs and the van bursts into flames, promising our hero a horrible and seemingly inescapable death…
Cliffhanger Resolution: Pausing but a moment to enjoy their calamitous work, the crooks split up and drive off with the swag. Unknown to them, Spike is still safe in the back of the truck, despite the van flipping when it crashed into the transformer. Meanwhile, the impact popped open the rear doors, allowing the still bound Spike to simply roll to safety.
Actor Victor Jory performs his greatest roll. (Get it?)
Cheat Factor: I’ll give it a 3, because it’s hard to believe a guy tied up and rolling around loose in the back of a van could emerge from that accident without a scratch. Even putting that aside, man, that’s a pretty mundane way to end a cliffhanger. He didn’t escape peril, he just survived it. Adding insult to injury, they write off Spike surviving the tremendous crash unscathed by having him say, “Only a miracle saved me!” (Well, that and an extremely lazy scriptwriter.)
With the crooks departed—“They scattered like quail,” Valerie notes—Our Heroine emerges from hiding. Seeing Spike’s plight, she runs over to untie him. They decide to take off before the cops arrive, because…well, frankly, I have no idea.
Back to Abel’s house. He’s conferring with some of his men, and is shocked to learn that his henchman Tardoni didn’t tell call off the heist as Abel had ordered. Seeking confirmation, he calls Dinky, who is in the secret communications room monitor the police scanners. Dinky, not knowing of Tardoni’s insubordination, happily confirms that the robbery proceeded as planned.
Cut to Tardoni’s office in a high rise building. He’s meeting with Tinder, the jeweler who cuts diamonds for Abel, and it turns out they’re planning a double cross. (That’s the second time in six episodes that one of Abel’s men has tried to steal jewels from the gang following a heist. Abel really needs to work on his management technique.)
Tinder has manufactured a “perfect” set of paste jewelry matching the main piece, a huge necklace, the gang just stole. Their plan, unsurprisingly, is to present the fake to Abel and keep the real one for themselves. Since Tinker is the one who would authenticate it, well, do the math.
I have to admit, I’m wondering how this worked. To create an exact duplicate piece of jewelry, especially of such an elaborate piece, don’t you have to study the original? I mean, it’s hard to believe you could make a perfect copy without actually handling the piece. However, the gang just stole the necklace, and making the duplicate would require time, as well. Anyway, that’s the idea, though.
As they confer, a radio call comes in from Abel. Tardoni answers it after pulling a toaster-sized radio unit from his desk drawer. Yes, that certainly is more efficient than using the phone. Abel orders Tardoni to come to in for a conference.
The earliest version of Mr. Microphone never really caught on with consumers.
Tardoni tosses in a sweetener to mitigate this disobeying Abel’s order to cancel the job: “It might interest you to know that Spike Holland was destroyed.” (‘Destroyed’? What was he, a vampire?) Abel smiles broadly and seemingly accepts this statement at face value. And why wouldn’t he? I’m sure this won’t turn out like the half a dozen other times he was told Spike was dead but he really wasn’t.
Tardoni makes to leave for the meeting, but Tinder stops him when he tries to grab up the real necklace along with the fake. (And why would he take the real one with?! What if Abel had him and his car searched?) Neither of them trusts the other, as it turns out, so Tardoni offers to leave the necklace behind in the office safe. Tinder agrees to this, as long as he can stay in the office until Tardoni returns.
And so Tardoni locks the necklace up, and Tinder grabs a chair to keep an eye on the safe. However, Tardoni is even more treacherous than Tinder supposed—treacherous like a necklace—and shoots Tinder in the back. I guess that’s the sort of thing you can get away with in a crowded office building. Anyway, Tardoni then reopens the safe and grabs up the real jewelry as planned.
I was shocked by this turn of events, by the way, especially after this dialogue exchange.
Tinder: “I just want to get wants coming to me!”
Tardoni, slyly: “Don’t worry; you’ll get what coming to you!”
See, Tinder meant the jewels, whereas Tardoni meant a bullet in the back. This is why nobody should ever ask for “what’s coming to me” from a bad guy in a movie or TV show. I mean, even in 1940 you’d think people would have known better than that.
Meanwhile, I think just about everybody killed in this serial so far, aside from the train crash victims, have been bad guys killed by other bad guys. Let’s see, Abel had the previously mentioned duplicitous henchman killed. Spike threw another crook in the path of his associates’ bullets. Abel tried to have his fence killed, did kill Lanton the garage owner, and now his jeweler has been kacked by another hood. Why doesn’t Spike just hang back and in about a week all the miscreants will be dead without him lifting a finger?
Meanwhile, Spike, Valerie and Inspector Ross drive up outside the building where Tardoni has his office. How did they get a lead on Tardoni? Got me. Was Spike supposed to recognize him? He didn’t recognize Dinky earlier. Lanton didn’t mention Tardoni before he died. Tardoni’s name was never mentioned when Spike interrupted the robbery. I don’t know, maybe I missed something, but I don’t think so.
Anyway, somehow Spike magically knew that Tardoni was the leader of the robbery crew. And knew where he had an office. So he and Ross and Valerie get out of the car and head upstairs. Tardoni is about to leave his office when he sees them arriving, and instead he ducks out the fire escape.
Spike et al enter the office seconds later, and are shocked to discover Tinder’s body. Ross walks over to the open window but only takes a quick glance straight ahead (!!), apparently not noticing the fire escape or thinking to tilt his head down at a slight angle. Too bad, as Tardoni is in fact still climbing down at this juncture. Indeed, we see Ross and Spike having a conference, and only after their little tete-a-tete is over do we see Tardoni actually making it down to the street. And remember, Ross is the competent cop in this serial.
Back at Garr Castle, an agitated (odious comic relief!) Dinky is filling in Abel on the developments, gleaned after from listening in on the police scanner. Spike is alive, the cops are actively searching for Tardoni, and Tinder was found dead in Tardoni’s office. But man, that Dinky is hil-ar-ious. Check out this exchange:
Abel, fuming: “How did they identify [Tinder]?”
Dinky: “His passport! The sucker carried it around so’s everyone would know he was an atheist.”
Abel: “’Alien,’ Dinky, ‘alien’!”
Ho, ho! Take that, Leo Gorcey!
Abel explains to the rest of the gang that Tardoni must have double crossed him. Savini is bewildered by this notion. “But what could he have to gain?” he asks. “That’s what we’ll have to find out!” Abel responds. Yeah, it’s a mystery all right. Anyway, you can ask him when he shows up with all the fabulously valuable jewelry he has in his possession.* Anyway, Abel assumes Tardoni will show up at the Castle soon (?????), and orders some of the other guys to hang around but in a covert fashion.[*Making their lack of comprehension even more embarrassing is that fact that, again, another henchman tried to similarly steal jewelry from Abel just a few episodes ago.]
And, blow me down, but sure enough, Tardoni does arrive at the Castle, using the old Hole in the Hedge and the Hidden Lift. Now, in case I haven’t made myself clear, Tardoni has the jewels. So why the hell would he show up here? I know the original idea was that he would give Abel the fakes, which Tinder would say were authentic, and thus the two would gain time to make their escape.
However, Tinder’s dead now. And Tardoni knows the cops were at his office and found Tinder. And even if Tardoni somehow thought Abel wouldn’t hear of this anytime soon, Tinder’s still dead and thus wouldn’t be around to ‘authenticate’ the necklace. In other words, there’s not a single damn reason I can think of for Tardoni not to jump on the quickest plane heading out of the country. Even by Serial Logic, which is none too rigorous, his returning to the Castle doesn’t seem to make much sense. But, it is what it is.
Before he heads down, Tardoni hides the real necklace in a little crook of a nearby tree. Yes, that’s an infallible hiding place. Then he jumps back in his car just as it’s being lowered down to Abel’s underground lair. Then he goes in to try to bluff his way through with Abel. (Again, why?)
Abel plays along, pretending that he knows nothing of the aftermath of the robbery. This is as Tardoni expected, and he thinks any annoyance Abel might be exhibiting is because they went ahead with the robbery after Abel told him to call it off. In any case, Abel toys with Tardoni, allowing him to present the fake necklace and relate his patently fake story. Meanwhile, we again see the Green Archer eyes gazing out from the portrait behind Abel. That’s the real Archer’s only appearance in this chapter.
Abel explodes and lays out the real events to his henchman’s surprise. Realizing the jig is up—although Abel orders him to turn himself into the police, which makes no sense whatsoever—Tardoni pulls his gun and prepares to shoot his erstwhile boss. However, and pretty conveniently, he keeps walking back until he bumps into a table. Meanwhile, Abel has clearly been moving his hand towards a button on his desk, and now activates an electric current running through the table that disables Tardoni. Wow, good thing he maneuvered himself back like that for no apparent reason.
Having drawn his own gun, Abel turns off the current and yells for Tardoni to get out. He does, but some of the gang are waiting outside and jump him. They struggle a bit before Tardoni is shot down. So again, pretty much every concrete victim in this serial so far has been a bad guy killed by other bad guys. By the way, you’d think Abel would want to get the location of the real necklace off Tardoni before bumping him off. This is especially true as the Green Archer stole the swag from their previous job, and the gang is running short of funds. I guess I’m just a worrywart.
Back at Lady’s Mansion, John Howett is again missing. Let me reiterate; whenever the Archer is doing something, like looking through the portrait, they have Howett ‘disappear’ for red herring purposes. Meanwhile, Spike has gone looking for him and seen Henderson in the backyard, playing with the archery set and having sunk half a dozen perfect bullseyes. Great, another ‘suspect.’ Unnerved at being so discovered, Henderson scoots.
Sure enough, Howett comes ambling in the front door again, as he has a tendency to do at such moments. He informs Spike that he intends for he and Valerie to leave Lady’s Manor (duuuuh). Spike says this would be “playing right into Abel’s hands” (???), and plays the ‘Don’t you want to find Elaine?’ card. Elaine, lest you’ve forgotten, is the wife of the brother Abel considers safely murdered, as well as Howett’s other daughter, and secretly being held prisoner in Garr Castle. Anyway, Howett folds. You’d think he’d at least insist on Valerie going somewhere safer herself, but nah.
Back at Crime House, an amused Abel is examining the necklace Tardoni gave him. Abel has various irons in the fire at present, and Savini bemoans his using the Ersatz Green Archer again. “I must do something to keep them confused,” Abel says. And indeed, it’s hard to think of a more valid reaction to the Green Archer than a very sincere “WTF?!”
Anyway, Abel has sent for Brad the Ersatz Archer to come get his instructions. For no other reason than IITS, though, we see Brad pause to pull on his mask as he makes his way to the boss’s office. Dinky sees him, and naturally assumes it’s the real Green Archer. He pastes him a few times before Brad makes himself known. Here’s a suggestion; keep your mask off while in the Castle, dumbass.
Brad goes to Abel’s office and complains about the shiner Dinky game him. This is all part of this particular episode’s large helping of odious comic relief. Dinky provides more than his share, as does the prissy Henderson. Anyway, Abel gives him his assignment and Brad heads out.
We see Brad climbing the trellis on Lady’s Manor. Inside, Spike is still conferring with the Howetts. However, there’s a disturbance, and they find Henderson lurking around the second floor stairs. Henderson says he heard a noise, investigated it, and saw someone climb out a window. Spike runs outside with his revolver drawn and sees the Archer. Howett implores him to shoot, but Spikes demurs. “It might be our Green Archer,” he notes.
The Archer runs off, but soon a police siren is heard. It’s Thompson—more bad comic relief—and he reports a phone call saying Spike was in on the jewel robbery. Spike figures it’s a frame up by Abel, and agrees to let Thompson search the place sans a warrant, because…well, that’s what the script says. However, he also tells Valerie on the sly to start the car and wait outside in case he needs to make a quick getaway.
In a scene that I fear was inspired by My Man Godfrey, Spike sits nonchalantly on the bed as the cops toss his room. Here, however, they actually find the gems. Spike protests that they’re paste—he knows Abel wouldn’t sacrifice the real ones—but still shoves Thompson into the closet so he can hoof it to the waiting car. Which is entirely retarded, but anyway.
The cops are impeded in the chase when they ‘comically’ collide with the befuddled Henderson, knocking the latter splayed-legged onto the bed. Oh, my sides.
“Oh, I say, what a comically undignified predicament for a staid butler like me to find myself in!”
Then they get outside to their squad car, but it won’t start. They pop the hood, and discover Spike has pulled out their spark plugs. Uh…wouldn’t that take more than ten seconds? Because that’s about how much of a lead Spike had.
Spike figures the real gems might be in Tardoni’s office—an idea that Inspector Ross apparently didn’t have—and tells Valerie to drive back there. Spike uses the same fire escape to go up to the office that Tardoni earlier used to leave it. However, Abel’s men are already there on the same hunch. Bum bum bum.
So Spike uses the same fire escape, and...hey, wait a minute!
For about the sixth time already, Spike just strides into a place unaware of danger. In this case, it’s to find the safe, which the gang has rigged to blow. And yep, I know what you’re thinking. A few hours earlier there was a murder in this room, following and apparently tied into a high profile jewel heist, but the police left nobody behind to secure the premises.
So Spike casually enters the lit room from the fire escape, not thinking it weird he’d find the window unlocked. It’s only at this point he notices the safe with the burning fuse all of ten feet away. The explosion goes off, and although it’s too small to kill Spike, it does knock him back on his feet pretty good.
Worse is that the gang, who had fled to the inner office to wait out the explosion, now pours back in and surprises Our Dazed Hero for about the dozenth time. Cue fistfight #157. As usual, Spike acquits himself well, but is quite outnumbered. Finally, he takes a gun butt to the head, which in combination with the explosion—yeah, you’d think—knocks him for a loop for a minute.
Taking advantage of this, one hoodlum grabs Spike and pitches him out the window. We see his body plummet to the ground below, hurtling our hero towards a horrible and seemingly inescapable death….
Hey, Spike, have a nice fall! (Ha, I’m so damn funny.)
Oh, I like during the “Coming Next” part when the Narrator exclaims, “Jiminy Crickets, what will Bellamy’s mob be doing next!”
To find out, join us in two days for Chapter 7: The Secret Passage.
Wallace-O-Meter: Edgar who?
Fights: Yep, in Tardoni’s office.
Car Crashes: No.
Gunplay: Tardoni and Tinker join the roster of bad guys killed by other bad guys.
Easy Opportunity to Just Shoot Hero Ignored: Yes, but since they elect to chuck him out of a fifth or sixth story window, I can’t really fault them.
Valerie Endangered: No.
Chair Murdered: I can’t believe it, but no. Of course, this episode was pretty light on Green Archer content. The real one doesn’t even make an appearance.
Big Explosion: Not really. The safe gets blown, but in a pretty controlled fashion.