When Last We Left Our Story: Abel had hired Madison, an impersonation artist, to disguise himself as Spike and infiltrate the lab of humanitarian scientist Prof. Rackerby. There he is to steal Rackerby’s new formula for synthetic radium, an asset worth millions of dollars. Madison completes the job, but is intercepted by the real Spike before he can leave. The two fight, and when Madison’s backup arrive, they find him over the unconscious Spike. They leave, and Spike revives and follows them in his car. However, the crooks unleash a stream of tear gas, causing Spike’s car to crash and burst into flames, ensuring our hero a horrible and seemingly inescapable death…
Cliffhanger Resolution: In previously unseen footage, Spike is thrown clear of the car and rolls to apparent safety.
Cheat Factor: No real cheat by serial standards, although it’s lame. But wait….
The first oddness is the text recap, which seems to get the details of the previous chapter wrong:
“After a fierce fight, Spike recovers [the formula] and flees in a car. The crooks, aware they are being pursued, lay down a smokescreen, and Spike crashes headlong into a hidden and dangerous obstacle.”
The “hidden and dangerous obstacle” appears to be a hillside. This, being right on the side of the road, isn’t particularly “hidden.”Nor, in the normal course of things, might it be considered an “obstacle.”
The crawl also identifies “Madison” as “Martel,” even though we hear him called Harry Madison several times in both episodes. And Spike doesn’t reclaim the formula; well, he does, as we’ll see, but to the extent they got that right, the “flees in a car” thing is wrong. This is so hosed a retelling that I wonder if the recap writer was working off a first draft script that had been seriously rewritten before filming.
Captain Thompson of the local police shows up at the lab and learns of the theft. The guards try to explain about Spike’s chasing after the crooks, but Thompson is having none of it. Meanwhile, Abel’s men have pulled to the side of the road to radio in—they have a huge radio set in the boot of their car—to the boss.
“Yeah, I’ve got OnStar. You guys won’t believe how convenient this thing is!”
All four of them pile out of the car. This proves convenient, as it allows Madison, still in his Spike disguise, to hide the Formula in the empty ink compartment of his fountain pen. It looks like another double cross is in the works.
Tired of foul-ups, Abel tells his men to sit tight and wait for Savini to come and collect the Formula. “That formula’s worth millions,” a generous Abel muses. “Plenty for all.” He’s a very progressive crime lord; share and share alike is his motto. His gang probably has a good dental plan, too.
Thompson arrives at the scene of the wreck. Amazingly, Spike’s body is still lying there. He’s dead! (Three guesses.) One of the cops examines the body, and finds it’s wearing a wig.
Yep, it’s Madison. The real Spike is with the crooks. Anyway, Thompson somehow comes to the conclusion that the imposter was murdered by Spike, although clearly he died in a car crash. Thompson has an APB issued for Our Hero.
Now, I wondered in the previous chapter review why they didn’t do the switch thing with Spike and Madison. Clearly, they did. (The biggest clue; like any one mortal man could take Spike in a fistfight.)
You might be thinking I should have caught that, but I fell for some cheating. When the crooks pick up ‘Madison,’ he’s speaking in that actor’s voice. I guess the logic is that if Madison could imitate Spike’s voice exactly—by dubbing that actor with Victor Jory’s voice—then Spike should be able to imitate his. Anyway, that’s where we stand.
Savini comes to pick up the Formula, although he (of course) doesn’t bother to open the envelope ‘Madison’ gives him. Savini’s presence causes grumbling among the men, who suspect—wrongly, as we know—that Abel is planning to cut them out.
Savini is also the first one to suggest that ‘Madison’ strip off his Spike disguise, which seems tardy. They just framed Spike for a major crime, so you’d think that would be the first thing they’d do. Not in Serial Land, though. Still, Spike’s in a good bit of trouble, as Prof. Rackerby has revived enough to report that it was Spike who robbed and assaulted him.
Savini splits, and ‘Madison’ tries to do the same. (Although he has no car.) However, the men are still suspicious, and decide that they will disobey Abel’s orders and immediately return as a group to Garr Castle. Bum bum bum.
While the hoodlums aren’t looking, Spike disables their car tire. However, before he can use the situation to effect an escape, a radio announcement—that was fast!—proclaims that a fingerprint check revealed the body in the car crash to be Madison.* Spike’s cover is blown.
[*OK, that’s just crazy. A ‘fingerprint check’ back then involved comparing by hand finger prints to a card catalog-type system. And presumably this was handled by the city cops, which would have thousands and thousands of prints on file. It beggars belief they would have identified Madison so quickly, much less informed the press of it. Hell, given the time element, I would presume the body would have barely gotten to the morgue at this juncture.]
Spike is subdued following the regular brawl, and taken back to the Castle. However, he plays it smug and cool despite Abel’s threats. He knows Abel won’t kill him as long as he’s the only one who knows where the Formula is.
Abel is pretty frustrated, as they’ve searched Spike and the car he was in but can’t find the Formula. Apparently searching Spike’s personal effects, like his fountain pen, hasn’t struck anybody yet. (“It was in my wallet all the time! Good thing they didn’t check!”) Also they could torture him…nah.
Sadly for Spike, though, the dopey Dinky takes a real shine to Our Hero’s fancy fountain pen and decides to take it for himself. For the first time Spike seems nervous, but nobody notices this. Dinky later even proudly hands the pen to Abel for him to use, but the latter tosses it in disgust when it proves to be “out of ink.” Yep, a regular Moriarty, that guy.
Sadly, Spike forgot one thing; Criminals are a superstitious cowardly lot who love fountain pens.
Dinky does actually suggest using threats against the captive Elaine to pressure Spike. Yes, nobody had thought of that. In fact, more oddly they didn’t kidnap Valerie yet again to use her yet again for the same purpose. Elaine’s on hand, though, so Abel of approves of the plan.
And so they whip up a note they want Elaine to sign, asking Spike to give up the Formula. Of course, she refuses to sign it. Stalemate! Who could have foreseen Elaine wouldn’t sign the note. All of Abel’s plans are in ruins.
Meanwhile, they’ve moved her into the room with the spiked ceiling, so presumably this will come into play at some point.* (Why not just bring Spike out to witness this? Just have the whole gang on hand to make sure he doesn’t try anything.)
[*Future Ken: Actually, no. I guess they just ran out of sets. The Spiked Ceiling in fact never comes into play again.]
They leave her to mull things over, then send Brad the Ersatz Archer to look for Dinky. Of course, the real Archer just snuck into the Castle, so prepare for more mistaken identity hijinks. And also of course, when Brad heads out into the Castle hallway to look for Dinky, he pauses to PUT ON HIS MASK. WHY?! WHY WOULD HE DO THAT?! YEESH.
For some reason (IITS!), Dinky searches for Brad in the tunnels under the dungeon area, or wherever they are. Of course he comes across the real Archer, and naturally instantly assumes he’s Brad. Oh, if only Brad wouldn’t wear his mask inside—sometimes.
For some reason the Archer doesn’t slug Dinky this time, but rather lets him escort him upstairs. Dinky doesn’t seem to notice the Archer doesn’t say anything, much less not giving that password they talked about before.
Upstairs they—oh noes!—bump into the Ersatz Archer. Luckily, as noted, Brad is FOR NO REASON WHATSOEVER wearing his mask. So Dinky inevitably takes him for the real Archer and springs to attack him.
Brad lets Dinky flail away at him for a bit before, you know, saying “Hey, it’s me!” This allows the real Archer to run back into the tunnels and escape. Hilariously, despite him having like a 20 second start, Brad and Dinky just throw up their hands and assume he’s past catching.
Abel appears and tells Savini to organize a search for the Archer. Then he assigns Brad to ‘free’ Spike, thinking the latter will assume Brad to be the real Archer and blab the whereabouts of the Formula. Dinky, meanwhile, is assigned to hide nearby and plug Spike with a revolver after Spike reveals his secret.
Abel’s plan initially seems to be working, but Brad overplays things by actually asking about the Formula. Spike seems to go along with the charade, but distracts Brad and decks him. Then, and this is marvelous, he dons Brad’s Archer outfit. Another Archer! This is the kind of craziness I can get behind. (Even better, this leaves Brad in his BVDs!!)
Luckily, Brad only went commando on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The disguise gets Spike past Dinky, who’s waiting outside with the gun. Only instead of finishing off ‘Spike,’ Dinky again escorts Spike Archer (who’s clearly taller and less paunchy than Brad) down the hall. Meanwhile, Brad is freeing himself. Nobody can tie a decent knot in these things. Brad gets loose and beats on the door, calling out. This alerts Dinky, who is decked by Spike. This allows Spike to reclaim his pen, to boot. The Formula is recaptured!
So Spike Archer tries to escape through the tunnels, where he bumps into some men ironically searching for the real Archer. Fisticuffs ensue, before Spike manages to break away and make it safely outside.
Cut to Lady’s Manor, where the real Archer fires an Arrow-o-Gram through the perennially open front window.* John Howett grabs the attached message and reads it to Valerie. Also attached is the fountain pen, so I guess Spike Archer fired the arrow. Into a room with his two friends in it. What an ass. Dude, just lean in the window and toss them the pen next time. Anyway, the note instructs the Howetts to care for the pen. Spike Archer runs back off.
[*Answering an astute reader query below, no, the Arrow-o-Gram finally lays off the chairs. This time it embeds itself in a window frame.]
However, he doesn’t manage to escape because he gets jumped by Henderson the Butler. He ends up running back inside the house and revealing himself to the Howetts. Dude, why didn’t you do that in the first place?! However, when she heard the commotion Valerie dropped the pen in the living room. Women!
They go to search for it, but Thompson arrives just in time to catch Spike in the Archer outfit. He got a tip from Abel, you see. Since Thompson has always thought Spike was the Archer, well, it ain’t great timing. Plus they still think Spike stole the Formula from Prof. Rackerby, and killed (somehow) Madison.
In a typically believable moment, Thompson first allows Spike to go up to his room to put on some normal clothes. Remember, Spike has escaped from Thompson at Lady’s Manor alone at least twice. Meanwhile, Howett, finding the phone wire cut again, leaves to find a phone to call Inspector Ross. Henderson and Valerie continue to search the living room for the pen.
Then, despite the cut wire indicating intruders, Valerie sends Henderson upstairs. Needless to say, some of Abel’s men appear and abduct her. Henderson assumes her screams are a trick, and refuses to leave Spike’s room. Spike (again) pushes the cops to the floor and flees out the window. Thompson fires at him, in what I think is reused footage from a previous episode.
The cops head outside. After sending his subordinates to search for Spike, the Archer appears and shoots Thompson’s hat off with an arrow. A nice shot in the pitch dark. But hey, the worst that could have happened was accidently killing a police detective. “My new hat!” Thompson exclaims.
Meanwhile, Spike jumps the wall to Garr Castle and finds Abel’s men leading Valerie into a secret entrance. Abel and Savini had planned for this, though, and are waiting. With Spike trapped against a wall, Abel raises a rifle and fires. The bullet creases Spike’s forehead (or hits him square on, since we’ve good reason to believe Spike’s bullet proof), but he remain able to run.
Unfortunately, the bad guy also brought Abel’s pack of killer dogs. As Spike stumbles and then falls to the ground in a daze, the hounds are let loose. They run forwards and surround his prostrate form, promising our hero a horrible and seemingly inescapable death….
Given the intense focus on these dogs faces, you know they’re thinking but one thing: Kill, kill, kill!
Wallace-O-Meter: Zip. Nada. Nil.
Fights: When Spike’s disguise as Madison is blown, and down in the tunnel.
Car Crashes: No.
Gunplay: A little.
Easy Opportunity to Just Shoot Hero Ignored: Not really, since they have a good reason to keep him alive.
Valerie Endangered: No, she’s not really in this chapter much.
Chair Murdered: No.
Big Explosion: Nope.