Monday, August 4, 2014

After A While, They Always Stop: A Review of "Golden Years"

I've got a treat for you today, folks, assuming your idea of a treat involves reading 25,000+ words on the subject of Golden Years.  If it doesn't, you're out of luck.  Go buy yourself an ice-cream cone, and have one for me while you're at it.  My apologies for the tease.

Everyone else, strap in, because this one will take a while.

Before we proceed, I've got to mention the format we'll be taking.  Typically with my reviews, I just sort of do whatever feels right.  Sometimes that takes the form of proceeding along the lines of theme and subject; other times, I just sort of yammer for a while and then slap a title on things.  What I don't tend to do is plot summary.

The reason for that is simple: I assume you've read the book (or seen the movie), and have no particular need of a summary.  It makes more sense to me to discuss the ramifications of the events rather than the events themselves.

With this piece, though, I had some difficulty deciding whether to limit my review to the DVD version (which at one point was the only commercially-available edit of the series), or whether I ought to also discuss the original, uncut television episodes.  (I'd already done so once, here, but felt there might be room to expand and revise that approach.)  Those have evidently become available via Netflix in the past few years, so they are relevant again whereas before they were not.  However, those versions themselves are seemingly somewhat compromised: the final episode has been edited to incorporate the tacked-on "ending" that was included on the VHS and DVD releases.  Or at least, that's my understanding; I'm not currently a Netflix subscriber, so I cannot verify that.

So, what version to tackle?

In contemplating the issue, a solution presented itself: do a "side-by-side" plot summary, and find a way to offset the scenes that were cut out for the feature edit.  That way, anyone who is interested enough in Golden Years to care about the differences between the television and home-video versions will have a fairly comprehensive resource at their disposal.  From there, the piece developed under its own powers, and when I say "developed," what I mean is that it turned into what amounts to a running prose "commentary track" written by yours truly.  Lots of snark, lots of profanity; this should surprise nobody who has ever read my blog.  I'm pretty hard on the show when I think it deserves it (which is often), but I'm quick to praise it when I think it deserves praise.

There are tons of screencaps, too, so what you've got here is a very lengthy plot summary with multiple visual aids, accompanied by observations from yours truly.  It's a very different piece than what I normally do around here, but the results may be one of the lengthier articles ever written on the subject of Golden Years, so I guess there's that.

Without further ado, let's just dive right into it. [A word about formatting: scenes omitted from the "feature" cut are set aside in brackets, like so.  That ought to be sufficient to help us remember which  scenes are in the feature edit and which are not.

I can't help but point out that my old VHS version begins with the CBS lead-in.  The premiere two-parter was actually aired as a "CBS Tuesday Movie."  Check it out:


If anyone knows who wrote the cool music that accompanied this, let me know. It sounds like, but is not, John Williams.
  
Modern networks would rather do just about anything than air thirty seconds' worth of stuff like this.  I can't honestly say that I blame them.  Still, I kinda miss garbage like this, personally.]
  
We begin with the opening credits, set to the David Bowie song "Golden Years." 
 

 


[The television version does not include the opening-credits sequence; it begins with an abbreviated version of the Bowie song, but then launches straight into the first scene.]
  

An elderly man, Harlan Williams, bikes to work.  He huffs and puffs, obviously struggling with his task.  [I believe the television version of this goes on for a bit longer, but I wouldn't swear to it; I'm not obsessive enough to do a literal side-by-side comparison of the two versions to find out, either.  So it's possible that I'll miss a few things here and there along the way in compiling this recap.  I'll do my best not to, though!]


  
  
  
  
He arrives at his location: Falco Plains, a government-operated scientific research facility.  There is a highly electrified fence; to prove this, a couple of birds spooked by Harlan's bicycle flutter up to the top of the fence, land on it, and are zapped to death.  There's also a guy in a spacesuit walking around with a radiation detector.

[Incidentally, this premiere episode was written, as the credits tell us, by Stephen King, and directed by Kenneth Fink.]


  

  
At the entrance gate, Harlan has a congenial conversation with a security guard named Rick.  "I like the spring," says Harlan.  "I think I want to die in the spring . . . when the whole world is celebrating the fact that life keeps going on."  Rick, seemingly a bit embarrassed by this frank confession of mortality, unconvincingly reassures Harlan that he'll bury them all.
 
Changing subjects, Rick instructs Harlan to sign in at the terminal, a -- for 1991 -- high-tech computer display that obtains thumbprint identification from Harlan.  "Machines that say thank you make me nervous," Harlan says jocularly, though we suspect he's probably more serious about that than he lets on.
 

 


Harlan bikes past the gates and toward the facility itself.  He stops outside, and gazes up -- fearfully? -- at a portion of the structure that looks a bit like a grain silo or a water tower.  It's obviously a place of ominous importance, whatever it is.
  
 
 




The image fades from the tower to what we assume is a laboratory inside the tower, where Dr. Richard Todhunter is at work.  "Tell me when you're clear across the board," Todhunter instructs his two assistants.  "He's like a kid on prom night," one of them says.  "Yeah, with Uncle Sam's car," replies the other; "two billion dollars for a blind date with a virgin particle accelerator, the least he could do is buy us a corsage..."

  
  
   
  
Cut back to outside, where Harlan is walking into the building.  A security camera with the same computer voice as that of the thumbprint-recognition terminal now asks him for voice identification; he gives it, but reluctantly, and adds sourly that his identification is the same today as the day before.  He trudges up the stairs, and whether it is the years slowing him down or the oppressiveness of the computerized security is left for us to figure out.  My take: it's mostly the former, but with the latter not helping one little bit.
  
Back inside the lab, Todhunter prepares an injection for his mice, but is interrupted by news from one of his assistants (Ollie Jackson, to be specific): there is a red light on a secondary override.  This will scuttle the experiment until the fault is located, according to regulations.


  

  
  
  
Todhunter is not interested in the regulations; he insists that they proceed, and declares that he will accept full responsibility for any resultant problems.


The "halo" above Redding's head and the deeply red numerals above Ollie Jackson's create what is probably a very unintentional shoulder-devil/shoulder-angel effect, with Todhunter in the middle.  Don't ascribe too much to that idea; it doesn't work thematically, and, as I implied, is probably just a coincidence.


Meanwhile, Harlan is in the hallway somewhere nearby, trying unsuccessfully to remember the combination to his employee locker.  A fellow janitor, Billy DeLois (who appears to be a simpleton), wanders up and says hello.  Specifically, he says, "Hey, Harl, howyadoon?"  The actor pronounces that last "word" so  clearly that you can practically see it written down in the screenplay.
 
Thing is, "howyadoon" should never actually be pronounced literally AS "howyadoon."  It should only be pronounced as what it is: a representation of the way certain people will slur the words "how are you doing" into one word.  There should be hints of the parts of sound which get dropped in favor of the shortened version; we should be able to almost hear them.

Instead, here, what ought to sound like a ruralism sounds instead like an actor reading a word off a piece of paper.  And this, my friends, is why screenplays should, generally speaking, not include words written in a dialect.  You simply cannot count on actors and directors to get it right.

Billy tells Harlan that he has signed up for a taxidermy course, and plans to stuff some of the dead animals from near the electrified fence.  He says that the brochure for the course says people will pay top dollar for well-mounted specimens.


Billy is played by Philip Lenkowsky, whose other vaguely King-related credits include playing tiny roles in the Tales from the Darkside movie and in a late-seasons episode of The X-Files. He also essayed the role of "autograph seeker/assassin" in Stardust Memories, and recently appeared in eight episodes of something called 2020: The Series.

Harlan finally gets his locker open, and he smiles for a moment as he gazes at a photo of his wife from her younger days:


Was Frances Sternhagen actually that young at some point?  Seems almost impossible.  She was a babe.

Harlan's reverie is interrupted by a call from the computer voice, which asks him to identify his location.  He does, and is summoned to Administration.
  
Back in the lab, Todhunter tells his interns that they will shortly present for the beginning of Year Zero; "correction: Ground Zero," one of them says to the other.  "Not funny," he is rejoined; "not trying to be," he replies sullenly.
 
In Administration, Harlan approaches the secretary, who seems like a bit of a c.  "You wanted to see me?" Harlan asks.  "Major Moreland wants to see you," she corrects him, ushering him into the Major's office.  Moreland's office is pathetically tiny:

 
 


The entire production of Golden Years is a bit on the low-rent side of things, so I honestly don't know if Moreland's office is this small on purpose (i.e., for story reasons) or if the production budget simply couldn't accommodate anything better.  I suspect it's the former; it's probably intended to be a reflection of Moreland's actual importance to Falco Plains, and to serve secondarily as a sort of ironic echo of his holier-than-thou demeanor.  If so, I think there ought to have been a line indicating it at some point.  (Alternative reading: Moreland has a sign on his desk reading "THE BUCK STOPS HERE," so maybe his budget-consciousness has led him to demand an office no larger than the size he absolutely needs.)
 
Moreland give Harlan some bad news: he has failed his latest eye exam, and is going to be let go.  Harlan knows the Department of Defense regulations, and insists that he has the right to retake the eye exam.  "Be my guest," huffs Moreland.  "I don't need to be your guest; it's the law," Harlan replies angrily.
 
Back in the lab, the experiment gets underway. 
 
[Cut back to Moreland's office, where the Major waxes lyrical about how, when he was a kid, his mother used to buy big old slabs of beef to roast for dinner, even though such extravagances were out of her price range.  She did it because her husband, the Major's father, loved them so.  As Moreland relates the story, he mimes the carving of the roast, and gets a blissful look on his face that I must screencap:


The juxtaposition of the goofinly-grinning Moreland with the beaming visage of President Bush behind him makes me laugh.  Not exactly hard-hitting satire here, but it works on a visual level.  Alas, my screencap is fuzzy and inadequate, and that's what the 'caps of anything from the episodic versions will have to look like, sadly; we're talking a long-play VHS dubbed to DVD and then played back on a laptop, so we're far from pristine here.  I'm okay with that, personally; it adds a bit of character, and reminds me of the way I used to have to watch things.
  
Moreland proceeds to explain that on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, he and his brothers invariably had meals that consisted of repurposed roast beef.  "On Thursday," he says, "if there was anything left of that roast, my mother threw it away.  And we were glad to see it go."  In case the point isn't clear, the Major spells it out: meat only lasts so long.  Harlan, insulted and flummoxed, tells Moreland he is a jerk.  The conversation is over, but not before Harlan yells at Moreland, "I am not a roast of beef!"

It's arguably one of the very worst lines in all of Stephen King.  And a shame, too, because it is otherwise a good scene, one of Stephen Root's best as Major Moreland.]

We cut from here to a scene of Todhunter yelling for the secondary sequences to be engaged.  "More power than a supernova," says one of the interns, obviously scared (to the extent the actor's skill is able of conveying); "God help us if something goes wrong." 
  
In a bathroom, Harlan is at a mirror, looking himself in the eye.


 
 
The experiment begins to awry, with all sorts of power overloads causing your run-of-the-mill television-variety roof-sparks to come shooting down, as well as the occasional bit of "debris" (i.e., pieces of foam) to be flung into camera range from off to the side somewhere.  Todhunter panics, starts crawling around on the floor like a bug, and finally manages to run away from the scene, knocking Harlan -- who has valiantly grabbed a fire extinguisher and run toward the lab after hearing the alarms -- to the ground in his haste to get away.  Inside the lab, the interns are shooting fire extinguishers at the rook-sparks, and congratulating themselves on stopping things before they escalated too far.  But, of course, there's one last big explosion, which sends a fireball out into the hallway, knocking Harlan off his feet and dousing him in glass fragments and a bright green light.



   
 
   
  
At home, Harlan's wife, Gina, is setting the dinner table and dancing while listening to (extremely generic) old-timey music, dancing with herself as she works.  The music is interrupted by an unconvincing "local news bulletin" advising listeners of an accident at Falco Plains.  Gina telephones Falco Plains, but the computer voice that answers tells her that all circuits are busy.  No matter; before long, the door buzzer sounds.  Gina opens the door to find Terri Spann, the Falco Plains head of security, along with an aide, Lieutenant Vester.
  
Gina, understandably worried, asks if Harlan is alright.  The only thing Terri will tell her is that he has been hurt.  This scene is frustrating to the point of idiocy; there is really no reason on Earth why Terri should not tell Gina something about Harlan's condition, even if it is only a lie.  She would have every reason to want to keep Gina calm, and telling Gina essentially nothing is surely the fastest way to ensuring that calm is off the table.  ("Is Harlan dead?" Gina point-blank asks; "Do you have a purse?" Terri replies.)
  
  
  
  
  
  
"I want this place wired; tonight," Terri tells Lt. Vester.
  
Cut to Falco Plains, where a crew of soldiers wearing radiation suits is sifting through the wreckage inside Todhunter's lab.  The leader of this crew is a Lieutenant McGiver, whose name is pronounced just like MacGyver, but with 100% fewer Richard Dean Andersons.
  
  
  
     
  
The soldiers find a green-glowing mouse, and then find the soon-to-be-corpse of Dr. Redding, who tells McGiver that Todhunter ordered them to proceed despite the red light.  "Ain't that a bitch?" Redding finds the strength to say.  McGiver allows as to how that might be seen as a tenable opinion.
 
 
  
  
Military-style drums begin playing in the background score, and we are inside Terri's car with her and Gina.  Cut to a scene of General Crewes (pronounced like Tom Cruise, but spelled (almost) like Terry Crews) watching a security camera feed, concerned.  He sees Terri's car drive past a group of reporters outside the main gates; "Smart girl," he declares to nobody in particular (and to no sensible effect, seeing as how even a lummox like Billy the janitor would know to keep driving past reporters with video cameras in this situation).  [Crewes watches Terri's car pull into what looks like a parking deck, and then announces to his secretary that he is going down to the infirmary, and that he is to be informed when Dr. Todhunter arrives.  He passes through a couple of serious-looking heavy-duty airlock-style doors on his way out, which seems to be an indication that his office would not be easily breached by an intruder.]
  
In the infirmary, Gina demands to know how her husband is.  She continues to only get a poker face from everyone involved.  General Crewes shows up, and tries to console her somewhat.
  
  

  
He's successful in this regard, because he actually tells her something; not just that, he tells her that Harlan is alive, and that his injuries are "nothing serious."  [The television version of this scene runs a bit longer, and includes a beat in which a radiation-suited staff member comes out of the isolation area, catching Gina's eye and spooking her a bit.  She wants to know what's up with that.  "Just a precaution," Crewes says, personably (if not exactly persuasively).]  Terri interrupts, and pulls Crewes -- whom she refers to as "Lewis" -- aside and asks him to level with her. 
  
  

    
    
Apparently, she had been on her way to Washington when she got pulled away to pick up Gina.  So I guess she was being honest when she said she didn't know anything.  Still, she handled the situation poorly, and I don't blame her for that; I blame Stephen King for failing to write a scene in which anyone -- with the possible exception of Gina -- behaves as an actual human being would behave.
 
Terri wants Lewis to tell her what's going on; she's told the press that there was an explosion in a grain silo, and wants to know the real state of affairs.  Crewes says there's nothing to worry about, that they're just playing it safe.  The two of them speak in a sort of vaguely-too-familiar way that indicates that either they are romantically involved or that one or both of them wishes they were.  If you happen to develop an immediate investment in this relationship, I feel it is my duty to warn you that the series -- or the movie edit of it, for that matter -- never bothers to actually spell out the specifics of this relationship.
  
While Spann and Crewes are engaging in their whatever-it-is, Gina decides to use their distraction to sneak away and into the restricted area where she assumes Harlan is being kept.  The fact that she is able to do this so easily does not speak well of Falco Plains security, which appears to be even more inept than the security aboard Babylon 4.  (Ever heard the phrase "that's a 1% joke"?  Well, the joke I just made is about a .0001% joke; but trust me, it's funny.  Crack-a-grin funny; not bust-a-gut funny.  But I'll take what I can get.)
  
  

  
  
Gina is horrified at the sight of Dr. Redding, whom she mistakes for Harlan; but moments later, she hears Harlan's voice, calling to her from a nearby bed.  He looks a little banged-up, but essentially none the worse for wear. 
 
 
  
  
Terri shows up, and Gina asks what is wrong with her husband; "Nothing, Mrs. Williams," Terri says, in a tone that actually conveys a bit of sincerity.  "Nothing at all."
  
Cut to Dr. Todhunter sitting outside of General Crewes' office, waiting; a weird Muzak-esque instrumental of "Golden Years" is playing.  [Crewes and Terri come walking up a hallway that leads to the other entrance to the General's office, the one that's almost like an airlock.  Terri wants an explanation from Lewis as to why he lied to her.  Crewes tries to distract her by flirting with her, asking if she'd like to go get some dinner with him; he bets she has a big appetite.  This gets him precisely nowhere.  "I can't do my job if I don't know what's going on," Terri insists.  Crewes, producing a bottle of liquor, asks her if she wants to go non-reg for a minute.  She's amenable, and Crewes admits that what they've got on their hands is a mess, one that he's been out of the loop in regards to.]
  
Lewis and Terri are watching Todhunter on the security camera monitors; he is ripping pages out of a magazine, which reminds me a bit of Craig Toomey from The Langoliers.  Todhunter isn't quite as batshit crazy as Toomey, but he's clearly in the ballpark.  "Where do they find these lunatics?" wonders Terri.  "I think he's from Standford," deadpans Lewis.
  
  
   
  
Lewis decides to clue Terri in a bit.  He tells her that before she came onboard the previous year, the DSA apparently gave two black-book projects over to Todhunter, one of which -- the "Gold Series" -- was given carte blanche.  Whatever it is -- and Lewis claims not to know any specifics -- it has military applications, and Todhunter is in charge of it.  But Lewis has a top-secret file of some sort, which he hands over to Terri.  She sprawls out on the couch a bit to read it, and Lewis uses that as an opportunity to use the security cameras to check out her legs.  (Why he doesn't just look at her actual legs -- which are, like, RIGHT OVER THERE -- is a mystery.)  As this happens, I swear to God, porno music begins playing in the score.
  
  



  
"This makes me hungry," Terri declaims after reading for a few seconds.  Presumably, this indicates a desire to bust Todhunter's chops, and not to make a Burger King run or something.  [It's worth pointing out that without the first part of the innuendo, which is spoken by Lewis when he speculates earlier as to her "big appetite," this second part lands with a thud.  In full context, it's better; not exactly Shakepseare, but better.  Context matters, folks, and if you're going to take a hatchet to a series and edit it down, you'd be well-cautioned to keep that in mind.  The folks who edited the VHS/DVD version of Golden Years apparently missed that memo.]  "I thought it might," Lewis replies, obviously horny as hell.
  
[In the infirmary, Gina is worrying over something she sees on Harlan's hands.  "That's the stuff that came out when the lab exploded," Harlan cheerfully volunteers.]  Harlan and Gina discuss his firing due to the failed eye exam, but are interrupted by a nurse who declares that she needs to give him a spongebath.  An all-inclusive one, too.  She seems about as excited by this prospect as I would be to have to scoop out my cats' litter box with my bare fingers.  Gina lets the nurse off the hook, saying that she's got more experience bathing dirty old men.  The nurse leaves, which seems like something the D.O.D. would probably not be too happy about, but what do I know?  Gina begins washing Harlan's legs, and begins weeping out of gladness to be able to see them again.  [The scene goes on for just a bit longer in the tv version, I believe.
 
Cut to the nearby Redding, who is being attended to by a physician; this is Dr. Ackerman, whom we will meet again later.]
  
Todhunter is finally admitted to Crews' office, and makes his displeasure at being kept waiting known.  "The Gold Series is classified; I'm not at liberty to discuss it with just anyone," he says in response to questions from the General.  "You're not at liberty not to discuss it," Crewes counters.  Todhunter tells them that he has been experimenting with regeneration, so as to speed up the healing process, which would obviously have significant military applications for wounded soldiers.  "On the humanitarian side, it could mean the end of disease, the postponement of death . . . truly a new world order," says Todhunter.  He then asks for a glass of water in a weirdly childlike voice; he drinks it, asks for another.
  
  
  
  
Meanwhile, in the infirmary, Harlan and Gina take a shower together, years before Cialis and Viagra were around to make you feel gross about watching television with your parents.  ("The age of being ready."  The age of being ready to see no more boner-pill commercials during 24, more like.)
  
Nearby, Redding finally dies, possibly as the result of being so near septuagenarian intercourse.  Before he kicks the bucket, his abdomen briefly grows green.
 
[Back in the General's office, Todhunter is talking with Lewis and Terri about having lost a cooling unit in the explosion.  Terri wants to know if, had he lost two cooling units, the entire base would currently be part of the jetstream.  Todhunter is angered by her continual sniping at him, and to be honest, I don't blame him.  Dude's a loon, but does that mean he is obliged to suffer bullshit?  It does not.  Lewis seemingly agrees with me, and tries to calm things down.  Todhunter proceeds to relate his version of the incident, and lies about having a green board prior to the accident.  Terri notes that she hopes to confirm this soon via Redding; Todhunter seems surprised to learn that Redding is still alive, and Terri seems -- but probably isn't -- to be surprised by his surprise.
  
  
 
  
Todhunter blames the accident on faulty government machinery: bad wiring, bad solenoids, or the like.  Terri assures him in her calmest cat-toying-with-a-mouse voice that when the DSA investigators arrive, they'll discover the cause, no matter what it is.  Todhunter begins ranting, leaning over Terri, his face getting closer and closer to hers as he raves that after twelve years of research, all he has to show for his work is two aborts and one calamity, all due to shoddy government equipment.  Crewes has to step in again to calm things down, although Terri keeps her cool throughout, simply allowing Todhunter to go as crazy as he likes.
  
Todhunter continues his story, talking about the explosion and about how useless his assistants -- particularly Redding -- were.  He says they were like birds hypnotized by a snake.  "What about the janitor?" Terri asks.  "What janitor?" Todhunter replies.
 
Cut to the janitor in question, lying asleep in bed.  There is a pulsing green glow coming from inside his ear.  Gina sits in vigil near him; it is unclear whether she sees the green emanations.  Todhunter comes into the infirmary, and takes away a plastic case that holds the mouse found by McGiver.  
  
  


Todhunter sneaks away with the mouse, as quiet as one himself; he is observed by nobody.]
  
Terri and Lewis are discussing how crazy Todhunter is.  Terri wants to get him removed from the Gold Series, and plans to do so by proving that Todhunter went ahead with the experiment despite having a red board.  [In the feature edit, it is unclear how she knows this; this is one of the many ways in which the televised episodes are much superior to the feature edit.]  She messes with Lewis's bald skull in what appears to be an attempt at seductiveness.  This is not AS gross as old-people sex, but you still feel kind of bad for Felicity Huffman.  Lewis wants to know if maybe she'd rather grab dinner at his place, instead of going out somewhere; "I could cook something for you, and then we could have sex," he deadpans.  Terri tells him to be serious; he says he is.  She presses on, insisting that she can prove Todhunter's recklessness.
  
The next day, Gina asks Dr. Ackerman what happened to the man in the next bed.  He lies and tells her the man has been moved to a hospital with a burn ward.  She shows him a green glow that seeps from behind Harlan's eyelids, and he tells her that it's just minor phosphorescent qualities and nothing to be concerned about.  In fact, she can take her husband home.
  
  

Nope; nothing wrong here...
   
  
Terri is approached by Lt. Vester, who gives her some files on Todhunter.  He also informs her of Redding's death.
 
Cut to Ackerman, who is is in his office dictating notes about Redding.  Terri pays him a visit, and observes him for a bit before he realizes she is there; she overhears him talking about certain unexplainable anatomical abnormalities.  Terri wants to know why she wasn't informed of Redding's death.  Ackerman says he felt it was unimportant; Terri feels it is perhaps not his place to decide what is and isn't important to her investigation.  She also wants to know about these anatomical abonrmalities she's heard him mention, and Ackerman explains that during the course of his examination, he found that Redding no longer had scars which Ackerman knows to have been present previously.
  
Terri goes and checks Redding's corpse; she finds that its eyes are glowing green.
  
  
  
  
Later, Terri is waiting outside as a helicopter approaches.  Lieutenant McGiver comes up to her and tells her what he overheard from Redding about Todhunter proceeding despite the red board; she asks if he will testify to this, and he reluctantly says that he will.  The helicopter lands, and out pour several DSA agents, including Jude Andrews.  Andrews is evidently an agent from The Shop; he claims to only be along for the ride, but Terri knows there must be more to it than that.  Makes sense; she was once Shop herself, and in fact was Jude's partner.
  
  
  
  
Terri visits Lewis's office and tells him that the "DSA agents" are almost certainly Shop.  He asks how she knows and she says she used to work closely with one of them.  "How close?" asks Lewis.  "We were a team," Terri says.  "Were you intimate?" he asks.  "Yeah, very intimate," she answers; "we used to kill people together."
  
  
  
  
Terri tells Lewis that she wants to give the DSA guys Todhunter.  If she can't, she'll go public.  Lewis is mortified, and tells her that the downside her for her is likely to be a life-long vacation to an island with lots of barbed wire surrounding it.  Crewes tells her that he expects team play from her, and she storms out, obviously not planning to be a team player.
 
Why does any of this matter to Terri?  She has stated to Jude that the reason she took the Falco Plains job is because it's quiet.  But now she plans to raise a giant ruckus?  This makes no sense; the character motivations here are nonexistent, as far as I can tell.  This feels like an example of what happens when a story is adapted for the screen without the adaptor considering whether certain motivations will seem plausible.  
  
Problem is, it's NOT an adaptation; it's a King original for television.  What gives?  Did Uncle Steve have everything mapped out and logical in his brain, and then forget to make sure that he gave the audience the info they/we needed?  It's a mystery.
 
Lewis pours himself another in his seemingly endless line of drinks.  The camera pulls in tight on the liquid in the glass, and dissolves from the liquor to Harlan's house.  [In the televised version, the dissolve is instead to Todhunter, who sits in a room -- his house? -- by himself, repeating/rehearsing his upcoming testimony.
  
  

  
The camera cranes down to focus on Todhunter's face, and stays in position as he rocks back and forth; the effect of his back-and-forth rocking motion and the repetitiveness of his words is either unsettling or annoying, depending on how you look at it.  It works for me, and the scene cuts in mid-sentence from Todhunter at home to Todhunter finishing the sentence at the next day's DSA hearing.  It is a very effective edit.
  
At the hearing, Todhunter gives -- in what Terri, in an aside to Lewis, refers to as an Oscar-worthy performance -- his summary of events.  He expresses remorse over the two deaths, and admits that they may have been the result of dereliction of duties on his part: he admits that his proper place was at the board, but that he was so excited to see what happened in the experiment that he could not contain himself.
  
Andrews wants to know how he planned to use a fire extinguisher to damp a runaway hydrogen turbine
  
  


  
Crewes intervenes and adjourns the hearing for the day.  I'm not sure it makes any sense for him to do so, given that Todhunter is flustered, unprepared for Jude's question, and obviously on the verge of hanging himself.  Let's assume I've missed something.]
 
Back at home, Harlan and Gina argue over whether he is going to retake his eye exam.  They seem to have a light-bulb in their bedroom that makes everything looks sepia-tone:
  
  

  
"When did we start getting old?" Gina asks Harlan.  "I mean, why didn't I notice it?"  Harlan says, "You were having too much fun to notice."
  
  
  
  
Their conversation is being overheard by Lt. Vester, via the listening devices Terri had him install.  (This is the final appearance for Vester, who disappears from the story utterly.  Odd; seems like he would have had more to do.)  [I could be mistaken about this, but I believe the television version includes some sound effects not present in the feature edit: the sound of a grandfather clock chiming as it reaches the hour, which plays underneath Harlan and Gina's conversation, and sounds less like a pealing of the hour than it does the pealing of funereal bells.]
  
  
    
  
The next day, the DSA hearing is [re]convened, and Dr. Todhunter gives [more of] his explanations.  Terri starts to recommend that they interview McGiver, but Lewis kicks her under the table, and she backs off.
  
Later, at a diner, Terri and Lewis talk about how poorly the hearing went.  All they've got is McGiver's hearsay "evidence," but Terri wishes they had used it, if only to rattle Todhunter, who was composed and cool and had clearly been coached by somebody.  She wonders if they could use Harlan as a witness, but Lewis points out that Williams just flunked an eye exam; he's not exactly an expert eyewitness.  But he's retaking his eye exam, and Lewis -- who wants to keep him close -- has made arrangements for him to pass it.
 
[Cut from this scene to the eye exam, which is longer in the televised version: it begins with Harlan reading from an eye chart.
  
  
   
 
The eye doctor seems surprised by Williams' reading.  "How'd I do?" Harlan wants to know.  The doctor wants to get the dilation out of the way first.]
  
   
  


    
  
"See anything green in there?" he asks Dr. Eakins; the man is bewildered by the question, and Harlan passes it off as country saying that means "See anything odd?"  Eakins does not, except the decreased presence of floaters; very odd, that, since he's never known the number of floaters to decrease.  Harlan has passed the test, and we suspect that it may be a legitimate passing grade, as opposed to the gimme-grade Crewes arranged.  Harlan reports his victor to Gina, and they call it a day.
  
Later, that night, Lt. McGiver drives up to a ferry, but he's missed the boat, and has to sit there and wait for the next one.  Jude Andrews drives up behind him, gets out, and asks if he is going to testify against Todhunter.  McGiver reluctantly indicates that he is, and Andrews kills the man by bashing his head against the steering wheel repeatedly.  "Your government appreciates your honesty, Lieutenant McGiver," he says first.  (Did Andrews' plan hinge on McGiver missing the boat?  If so, that seems like a piss-poor plan.)
  
[The next morning, bright and early, Gina is awoken by the sound of Harlan singing "When the Saints Go Marching In."  He's in the kitchen, making pancakes.  He seems to be planning to go to work, and says that his arm is only a little sore.  He mentions that he couldn't see too well out of his glasses, so he pulled out an old pair, and can see through them just fine.  "Harlan?" asks Gina, evidently not a morning person.  "Would you mind not singing until I've had my coffee?"  
  
"No problem, my sweet," Harlan replies, and he commences to humming.
  
  

 
As with many of the scenes excised from the televised episodes for the feature edit, this is a nice scene that builds both character and situation much more strongly than the truncated version.]
  
Lewis gets a phone call, and says to whoever is in the room with him that McGiver has been found dead.
  
  

He's talking, of course, to Terri.  "Somebody really wants to keep this thing going, don't they?" she asks, referring to the Gold Series.  The camera moves to the side a bit, and a puff of cigarette smoke announces the presence of a third person: Jude, coolly evil and confident.

"Sounds like it," he says.  "Let me ask you something: how scared of Todhunter are you?"
 
Lewis doesn't want to talk there, owing to there apparently being a leak in the building, so the trio of them pay a visit to the scene of McGiver's untimely demise.  Andrews accuses Terri of suspecting that he killed McGiver; she says she knows he had something to do with it.  The conversation ends up shifting toward Harlan; Andrews has seemingly been unaware of the green-glow side effects.  Lewis offers to try and negotiate to have Andrews stay on for a while, so that if Todhunter goes off the rails a second time, Andrews -- being a Shop assassin -- can "take care of him."  Andrews begins laughing ruefully.
  
  
  
  
Lewis wants to know what's so funny.  "People always looked at me and saw a loaded gun," Andrews says; "this is the first time anybody ever saw me as a safety catch."
  
[At Falco Plains, Harlan is at his locker getting dressed, and up walks Billy with a stuffed animal.   He gives it to Harlan; it's a welcome-back present.
  
  

  
"I missed you, old man," says Billy, obviously affected.  Harlan, too, seems touched.]
  
Harlan pays Major Moreland a visit, for the purpose of handing off his exe-exam results.  Harlan walks directly past Moreland's secretary to do so, but Moreland seems to be expecting him; or, at least, seems none too surprised to have an elderly janitor come into his office unannounced.  He seems simultaneously unimpressed by Harlan and annoyed with him, which is probably a sign of good acting on Stephen Root's part.  Harlan walks out of the office, victorious, and gets several silent nods of approval (and/or thumbs-up signs) from the rows of office workers he passes on his way out.  How do they know what he's said/done?  Presumably, they read the screenplay.
  
In his (incredibly tacky-looking) motel room, Andrews places a device of some sort over the room's telephone and then makes a call. "This is Number Six," he says; "we have a secure line."  He makes a report on Crewes' plan to have him use the janitor as an excuse to keep an eye on Todhunter, but says that what he really wants to do is use Todhunter as an excuse to keep an eye on the janitor.  He says he has a feeling . . . like something in him just woke up.
  
  
   
  
While Harlan is shaving, Gina approaches him and asks him to fess up and tell her when he started using hair dye.  He's confused; he hasn't been using hair dye at all.  They are both confused and concerned by this, since once your hair goes white, it never goes back.
  
  
  
  
[This scene at the mirror marks the end of the first episode.
  
We now begin the second episode, with a scene in which Terri sits in her office viewing photos of the series' other characters, which are being projected onto her wall or something.  Each photo is accompanied by lines of dialogue from the first episode.  It's an odd scene, but sort of striking in its way.
  
  

  
This episode, incidentally was written by King and directed by Allen Coulter.]
   
Terri walks into Ackerman's office and tells him that she wants to see Redding's body again.  He puts her off, claiming that he has other things to do.  For some reason, she accepts this.  Does this woman not know she's the head of security?  If she wants something, she should hold people's feet to the fire until she gets it!  I'm not sure Terri is actually very good at her job.  Anyways, Ackerman is on the phone while she's there, and it turns out that he's got Eakins on the other end; Eakins is giving him a report on the eye exam Harlan just passed.  
  
The two agree to meet up to discuss the situation further at a local diner, where there is a guy with a boombox sitting at the next table.  [This scene runs longer in the televised version; the beginning of it has been truncated for the feature edit.]  Turns out this guy is working for Andrews, recording the entire conversation.
  
[At the Williams house, there is a brief scene of Gina reading in bed and then telling an already-slumbering Harlan good night.
  
Cut to the inside of the base morgue, where shadowy figures with flashlights identify Redding's body and begin to remove it to . . . where?  We don't know.
  
The next morning, at the base entrance, Terri is questioning Rick as to whether anyone followed Lt. McGiver out on the night of his death.  This conversation is interrupted by Dr. Todhunter arriving.  Rick signs him in, and notices that Todhunter's watch is broken.  Terri tells him he should get a new one, but he says the watch belonged to his father, and he will never get rid of it; anyways, even a broken watch tells the right time twice a day.
  
Harlan is in front of the mirror again, examining his hair, which is moving farther away from grey and back toward brown.  "This has gone far enough," Gina declares, insisting that he visit a doctor, even if it's only Ackerman.  "You're . . . getting . . . younger," she insists.  Harlan indicates that that's crazy; Gina indicates that that doesn't mean it isn't true.  She says he doesn't look the way he looked two weeks ago; he looks the way he looked two years ago.  This scene is in the feature edit, but has been moved a bit farther into the story.  So when you read some of that again later, you'll know what's up.  Anyways, this version of the scene goes on for a while longer, and includes Harlan reluctantly telling Gina about how a scar he got from a broken window a while back has now simply vanished.  He's obviously just as freaked as she is; he's just doing a better job of hiding it.  He tells her he'll go see Ackerman, but he wants her to be ready; "for what?" she wants to know, but Harlan does not yet have an answer to this question.
  
  

  
Ackerman hears noises coming from his kitchen, and warily goes to check them out.  He finds Jude Andrews holding a meat cleaver and two eggs, evidently in the process of cooking breakfast.
  
  


  
Andrews suggests they skip the usual -- usual for Andrews, one assumes -- banter such as "who are you," "get out or I'll call the cops," and so forth.  
  
"You're Shop, aren't you?" Ackerman asks.  Jude just smiles at him.  (Why this part of the Andrews/Ackerman breakfast scene was cut out is a mystery to me.  It's a good scene.)
  
Cut to the infirmary, where Terri has either grown tired of waiting on Ackerman or has purposefully decided to proceed with her examination of Redding's body before he arrives.  Either way, she is surprised to find that Redding's body is gone.]

At Ackerman's house, Andrews has apparently gotten the good doctor to spill his guts regarding what he knows about Harlan.  [In the feature edit, it is initially a bit confusing as to what, exactly, is going on here, since the context for the scene has been excised.]  "If I find out that you've withheld anything from me, even if it turns out to be something unimportant, I'm going to come back and perform some dental surgery with a power drill," Andrews says, in a tone that leaves no room for doubt as to whether he means it.  "You may think that I'm exaggerating; but, because I have enjoyed your hospitality, I want you to understand that I'm not.  I come back with a drill in a little black case and plug it in.  And then I go to work with a #2 drill bit, which is about the size of that finger."  He holds up his index finger.  "Sometimes I perform the surgery with the mouth open; sometimes, through the cheek.  I don't use Novocaine.  There's usually a great deal of blood."
  
  


  
  
This is easily one of the best scenes of the entire series, because R.D. Call is genuinely menacing, and because John Rothman does a pretty good job of seeming genuinely menaced.  The scene ends with Andrews reminding Ackerman not to tell anybody about their conversation.  The toaster spits out a couple of pieces of toast; Andrews points out that the toast is ready.  Given how long the scene has run already, this is either the world's slowest toaster or there's a bad piece of screenwriting right at the end of an otherwise solid scene.  You tell me which.
  
At some point later, Terri is talking to Lewis, and reports to him that Redding's body has vanished.  [Which, in the feature edit, we have not seen happen.]  "We need a drink," Lewis says.  "We need a body," Terri counters.  She wants Lewis to give her a couple of days before letting the DSA know, so that she can prove her suspicions (i.e., that Andrews is responsible).  Anyways, since it's Lewis's base and she's his chief of security, it's their heads that are going to roll; all she wants is to be able to offer up somebody different for the chopping block.
  
[Cut to a brief scene of Todhunter examining one of his mice.]
  
Speaking of Andrews, he's on the phone again, giving a status update.  He tells whoever is on the other end that he will be very actively checking out the janitor.
  
[Speaking of that janitor, he's arriving at work.  He comes bicycling up to Rick at the front gate like he's a middle-schooler on a dirtbike.  Rick wants to know what vitamins he takes that caused him to get better so quickly; "C," replies Harlan.]
  
Harlan is in front of the mirror again, examining his hair, which is moving farther away from grey and back toward brown.  "This has gone far enough," Gina declares, insisting that he visit a doctor, even if it's only Ackerman.  "You're . . . getting . . . younger," she insists.  Harlan indicates that that's crazy; Gina indicates that that doesn't mean it isn't true.
  
There follows a brief scene in which Harlan visits the base infirmary looking for Ackerman.  He's met by a nurse who tells him that Ackerman is doing a pharmacy inventory, and can't see anyone.  But she calls and tells Ackerman that Williams is asking for him, and Ackerman agrees to see him.  "He's usually like a bear on pharm days," the nurse says, bemused.  There's nothing notable about this small scene in and of itself, but I do want to point out that the actress playing the nurse is very good.  It's a tiny role, and in some ways an unimportant one, but the lady playing the role has a sort of effortless naturalistic quality about her that is sadly missing from the vast majority of the walk-on roles in Golden Years.  From some of the major roles, for that matter.
  
  
   
  
When a movie or a television series has a large number of supporting roles that are filled out by extremely ineffective actors, I find that it has a very negative effect on my opinion, in a cumulative sense.  It speaks to me of a relatively shoddy production, and it's one of the sins of which I find Golden Years to be guilty.  But here, in this one brief scene, a day player came in and did what a day player is supposed to do: seem like they actually are the thing they are pretending to be.  I don't know this actress's name -- I think it might be Susan King, but would not swear to it -- but whoever and wherever you are, ma'am, I commend you on a job well done.
  
Later, presumably after seeing Williams, [which, for the record, occurs offscreen in the television version as well as in the feature version] Ackerman calls Andrews and tells him that he needs to talk to him.  Ackerman is smoking.  Ackerman is always smoking.  It's funny.  Because he's a doctor and should know better.  Get it?  
  
[Billy comes up to Harlan and wants to know if they're going to move some lockers.  Billy also wants to know why the man tied his watch to a bird; Harlan confesses that he does not know; Billy informs him that it was because he wanted to see time fly.  Billy walks off, proud as can be.  "I'll be sure to use that one, Billy," Harlan says, but he never does, the liar.]
  
Harlan goes to a bank of pay phones, and calls Gina to give her a report on his examination.  While in the midst of trying to do so, he observes Ackerman meeting with Andrews.
  
  


   
  
Harlan tells Gina that he's suddenly got a feeling it might not be a good idea for him to be talking about this on the phone.  There are several problems here, the first being that as far as we know [and this holds true even in the televised version] Harlan has no clue who Jude Andrews is.  So why, from Harlan's perspective, should it be a huge deal for Ackerman to be talking to him?  But that's a plot hole that's only evident when you think about it; after all, WE know to be suspicious of both Andrews and Ackerman, and since Harlan is the protagonist (and therefore sort of the stand-in for the audience), it makes emotional sense, if not literal sense, for Harlan to see the two of them meeting and to then become paranoid about it.  This is a cinematic short-cut, and while I can't say that I approve of it, I will at least give King credit for doing something that is specific to the medium within which he is working.
  
Less easy to forgive is Andrews' idiocy.  We've been presented with the idea that this man is ruthless, efficient, and (above all) very good at what he does.  It strains credulity well past the breaking point to ask me to believe that he would abandon all hope of secrecy and simply meet with Ackerman in a wide-open parking lot, at the very base where he is currently conducting an investigation.  Run that through the machine however many times you want; it just won't wash.
  
I suspect this is one of those times when King the novelist got in trouble because he was bringing his novelistic sensibilities to the job of being a screenwriter.  It's understandable; a stevedore is not necessarily qualified to be a tug-boat captain, and the same is true vice versa.  I can easily imagine that, in his head, King had a perfectly good reason for why Andrews would be in such a rush to meet with Ackerman.  In a hypothetical prose version of Golden Years, King might have written the scene from Jude's point of view, and would have therefore been able to tell us anything and everything we needed to know in order to make Andrews' decision seem plausible.  The same tricks can't necessarily be accomplished in a cinematic narrative; we'd need the info to be presented in some other way, or at least we'd need to be able to make a hypothesis for ourselves.  Here, there's nothing.  We can only conclude that Andrews is in a hurry, but there is no specific evidence for why he should be in a hurry.  Consequently, he merely appears stupid and inefficient, and that undercuts our ability to believe in him as a formidable adversary.
  
We cut from Harlan's phone call to Ackerman and Andrews as they walk around outside the base, discussing Williams.  Ackerman is doing that thing some men used to do (and still may for all I know) where they wear their pants farther up past the waist than is normal.  Alfred Hitchcock used to do this, for example, and I've always assumed it was a sort of anti-obesity tactic designed to keep one's shirttail tucked in at all times.  Perhaps I'm wrong about that.  In any case, here's what that looks like:
  
  

  
  
Combined with his orange tie, Ackerman -- blessedly not smoking, for once -- looks a bit like a clown who's forgotten his greasepaint and balloons.  He makes up for it by having a decent monologue to Andrews about how, in his estimation, Williams is growing younger.  "He looks younger now," Ackerman says of the janitor.  Andrews wants to know how, apart from the hair color.  "That's just it," says the doc, "I don't know how.  It's like . . . when I was seventeen, I copped my brother's draft card and tried to buy a bottle of wine, and the guy in the store laughed in my face.  When I was 21, I still had to show my driver's license to get a drink more often than not, you know what I'm saying?  But every year, fewer and fewer bartenders'd want to see some proof before they'd pour me one, and then, one day, no one was asking at all; because your face changes.  It's nothing you can put your finger on, but it's there.  It's like that with Williams.  He's getting younger.  I don't know how; he just is.  The hair, that scar he says is gone: these are empiric things.  This other, it's just something around the edges of his face.  I don't know how else to describe it."
  
Andrews wants to know if Harlan understands what is happening to him.  Ackerman says that he does, and that he's scared; keeping it together admirably, but scared almost out of his wits nonetheless.
  
In the next scene, Major Moreland pays Terri a visit.  She is sitting at her desk, feet up, reading a magazine.  Moreland walks in, and a pair of marionettes on an overhead track go zipping by his head, startling him.  He asks what they are in a befuddled voice.  Terri says they are just a way for her to blow off steam; she produces a toy gun, and as the dolls zip back toward her, she shoots at them; it's a sort of target-practice game, in which the dolls register whether they have been successfully shot.  They have been; "ooh, ya got me!" one of them coos.  Moreland is weirded out by this, and that does not lessen when Terri tells him that it only cost the American taxpayers $11 million to develop.
  
This component of the scene is utterly bizarre.  We've been asked, earlier, to look down on Moreland's hyper-thriftiness, but here, we've really got no choice but to sympathize with him.  Spending $11 million on such a frivolous game would be unacceptable under virtually any circumstance, so of course we see things from Moreland's point of view.  That's all fine and good, in theory.  But having Terri be the person on the other side of the equation is a bizarre, ineffective maneuver.  She's ostensibly become one of the protagonists of the series/movie, so having her all of a sudden offer evidence that Moreland -- one of the antagonists -- has actually been right about something is a very odd reversal of sympathies.  It's all the odder because the sympathies don't actually end up being reversed; they stay the same.  All of this has just been a bizarre pit-stop of some sort.
  
  

   
  
King must have had something in mind here, but I'll be damned if I know what it was.
  
  
  
  
Terri seems like a crazy person in this scene, to be honest.  She tells Moreland that General Crewes has gone to Washington to testify; whether it's in front of the Fruits or the Nuts, i.e. House or Senate,  she can't remember.  (Does this scene take place on a different day from the previous scenes?  Wasn't Lewis just in Terri's office a few scenes ago?)  Where is this weirdness coming from?  Is she fucking with Moreland because she doesn't like him?  This is an odd scene.  Both Felicity Huffman and Stephen Root are good in it, so it's not a total loss, but . . . man, I just don't get it.  Anyways, Moreland wants to tell Terri about the situation with Williams' eye exam, which he assumes is the result of hanky-panky and/or chicanery; she urges him to tell her all about it.
  
Williams himself is in a hair salon, asking his wife's hairdresser to die his hair.  To die it white.
  
Cut back to Terri's office, where she has gotten Moreland to agree to let her make copies of his files on Williams.  He has really come around on the subject of Terri Spann, whom he now thinks to be a person who, like him, can get things done efficiently and expediently.  He bumps into the door on the way out and makes a goofy face to indicate their new rapport:
  
  

"Is it time to be on Sports Night yet?"
  
  
One suspects that Felicity Huffman's vicious eyeroll may not have required much acting.
  
Andrews pays Eakins a visit at his office.  "You'll have to make an appointment," Eakins tells him; "I don't think this can wait," replies Andrews, who then shoots him dead.
  
  


Moderately gory for 1991 network television.  Compare that to 2014, when Hannibal airs on NBC, and includes scenes such as a man cutting off parts of his own face and feeding them to dogs.  How far we have come...
  
  
Andrews finds Eakins' file on Harlan and steals it.  While he's doing that, Eakin's phone begins to ring; it's Terri.  But that phone will never be answered again, at least not by Eakins; so it just rings and rings.
  
  

  
Meanwhile, Harlan bikes home from the beauty parlor, and is greeted by a frantic Gina, who wants to know where he has been.  He levels with her, and tells her about talking to Ackerman, and about seeing Ackerman talking to Andrews; he's seen Andrews around, and has him figured for a spook of some sort.  Harlan tells Gina to pack a couple of suitcases and sit them in the front hallway in case they need to go on the run quickly, and presents her with a plan for them both to begin withdrawing small amounts of money to stockpile.
   
  
  
  
Gina is obviously concerned, but not just about the sudden paranoia.  She says a dye job can only hide so much; that whatever is happening to him is happening to all of him, not just his hair, and can't be easily hidden.  Where will this end?  Who will help them?  Harlan has no answers for her.
  
[At Eakin's office, a nightwatchman discovers the doctor's body.
  
Cut to the Williams house, where an implausibly-chipper Harlan coerces Gina into dancing with him.
  
  

  
Gina wants to know what will happen to them if they don't go on the run.  Harlan says they're likely to just disappear; he's heard that The Shop has places where people go to disappear.  And anyways, who'd miss a janitor?  The music on their radio changes to something more upbeat, and Harlan begins swinging Gina around; eventually, she gets a twinge in her back -- or, possibly, something else -- and has to beg out of the dance.  "I can't keep up with you," she explains; "I'm too old."
  
  


  
They look at each other in dismay, both seemingly aware that something has changed and is perhaps progressing beyond the point of repair.  This scene marks the end of the second episode.
  
The third episode was written by King and directed by Michael Gornick, and begins with the scene described below.]
  
Terri's phone begins ringing at 3:03 AM, and she, charmingly, tries to turn off her alarm clock.  Yep; I've done that, too, Terri.  It's a call from an informant of hers, who is telling her about Eakins' murder.  She drives to a pay-phone and calls Lewis in his Washington hotel room; the phone buzzes, a weird sound-effect that, I guess, is supposed to sound science-fictiony or something, although what sense that makes for an otherwise-normal hotel room is unclear to me. Seriously, this thing sounds like Captain Pike is telling somebody "no."  Anyways, Terri asks Lewis if he remembers how to play baseball, and then gives him a complicated code (composed of baseball statistics) that he can decipher and use to determine the number at which to call her back later, thus avoiding monitoring from any unwanted ears.  "You know something?" Terri asks.  "I hate this cloak-and-dagger routine."
  
Terri arrives at Eakins' office.  She's stopped outside by a local cop, who gives her shit and tries to keep her out.  She shows him her DSA badge and in she goes.  Inside, she finds a news photographer -- who apparently also doubles as the sheriff's crime-scene photographer -- snapping shots of the whole thing.  He is obnoxiously humming/singing/whistling "The Eyes of Texas" (as in, "are upon you, all the livelong day"), which I guess is a joke, on account of how Eakins was an optometrist.  This photog's name is Steve Dent, and he's played by Brad Greenquist, who also played Victor Paxcow Pascow in Pet Sematary.  He and Terri do a great job feigning that they don't know each other, but he, of course, is Terri's informant.  Terri looks at the crime scene as though it's something out of Bosch:
  
  
  
  
The fact is, though, Eakins' death was a tame one.  The idea must be that what we saw was merely a network-ready representation; that Eakins' corpse is actually in much worse condition.  Otherwise, Terri's reaction makes no sense; she's supposed to be ex-Shop, a killer in her own right.  Surely she has seen (and done) much worse than a tiny bit of goo on a poster.  But whatever.  She has a conversation with Sheriff Mayo, who tells her that he's had "Doc Pulaski" (presumably not this one) examine the body, which is now in a meat locker waiting on the two local morticians to return from the toot they are currently on.
  
This is another weird scene.  Mert Hatfield is good as the oddly-named Sheriff Mayo, and both he and Felicity Huffman do a good job of implying a sort of familiarity between their two characters.  The idea is seemingly that Terri occasionally has to call in favors with the local police, and that she and the sheriff have a friendship that he somewhat begrudges.  There's no particular context given for this, and I'm not sure it makes all that much sense, especially given the shit the other cop gave her on her way in.
  
Terri looks for Harlan's file, which, of course, is missing.  She then checks the phone -- from which Steve called her -- for listening devices, and finds one; cut to the inside of Andrews' car, where he's listening to a recording of Steve's call to Terri.
  
Terri goes to a diner, where she uses a pay-phone to try calling Steve to warn him.  She first has to use her gun to cajole a burly trucker into getting off his super-hot phone call.  ("Oh, baby, I wish I was there with you now," he's saying to somebody on the other end, presumably someone equally repellant as himself.  "I been savin' it for you, baby.")  Steve doesn't answer, but Lewis calls her, as they had arranged.  She tells him that things are getting ready to melt down, and that she wants to get Harlan and his wife away, and take them on the run.  (Shouldn't she know that Harlan and Gina are already thinking about running?  Isn't Vester still recording their house?  It's almost like somebody forgot that character even existed.)  Lewis doesn't understand; Terri says that Andrews is killing anyone who knows what is happening to Williams.  
  
  


  
The trucker points Terri out to a state trooper, so she has to skedaddle.  Meanwhile, Lewis has somehow drawn the ire of a janitor, who seems annoyed with him for being on a phone outside the bathroom the janitor is trying to clean.  I don't understand why this bit was written in at all.
  
Speaking of which...
  
  
   
  
Andrews shows up at Steve's house and kills him.  This makes zero sense.  For one thing, Andrews does not know where Steve lives.  He's heard Dent saying an address on the recording from when he called Terri, but that was the address of Eakin's office Steve was giving her, not his own address.  Additionally, Steve knows nothing about Harlan, Redding, the Gold Series, or any of this stuff; all he knows is that there is a dead optometrist.  I suppose you could argue that Andrews would suspect that Steve was some sort of confidant and ally of Terri's, and that he would consequently suspect Steve of knowing everything.  But that seems like a stretch.  And anyways, is Andrews planning on also killing Sheriff Mayo?  Anyone who ever even knew Eakins was alive?  What, exactly, is he doing here?  Other than calling unwanted potential attention to himself, I mean.  "The eyes of Texas are upon you," Andrews says to Steve's corpse, which, assuming Andrews is a Texan, is a decent payoff to this singing gag; not good enough to justify it but decent.
  
A bit later, Terri and Lewis are talking again, and she cajoles him into granting her permission to get Harlan and Gina out.  "He's everything that's wrong with everything," she says of Jude Andrews, whom she evidently once saw butcher an entire family.  Lewis is clearly reluctant, but his tender feelings for Terri win out, and when she asks if he, at some point in the future, will agree to a game of baseball if she calls, he says he will.  She hangs up the phone, and he gets hassled by a hotel security guard.
  
Now, look, I'm gonna tell you like it is.  If I were a general in the U.S. army, and was registered at a hotel in Washington, D.C., and got shit off a janitor who was annoyed I was on the pay phone outside his favorite restroom, I'd fuck that janitor up beyond recognition.  Not physically, you understand.  But I'd have the hotel manager down there pronto, explaining to me why I, a vaunted military man, should have to put up with guff from one of his employees.  Don't get me wrong; I've got nothing against janitors.  But what the hell is this guy's problem?  Better yet, why did Stephen King feel the need to spend CBS's money dramatizing that problem?  Neither of these questions are likely to ever be answered.
  
  
   
  
Harlan and Gina are roused from sleep at 5:15AM by the ringing of their door buzzer.  It's Terri, whom Harlan greets with both barrels of a shotgun.  
  
  
  
  
Gina vouches for her, which gives Terri enough leeway to demonstrate her bona fides by revealing a listening device hidden inside a light-bulb.  
  
Cut to Andrews, who is leaving his motel, and affixing a silencer to his pistol.  
  
Cut back to the Williams house, where Terri has convinced the pair of oldsters to leave by telling them that if Andrews gets there and kills her -- which is the likely result (she's good; he's better) -- his next move will be to put a hole in Gina's head.  
  
[Cut to Andrews, getting closer.  
 
Cut to Terri and her fugitives, walking out of the house.  Terri asks Gina for some lipstick, and then asks Harlan for the keys so she can go back in the house.  Harlan asks Gina if she thinks they can trust her; she says yes.]
 
Cut to Andrews, getting closer still.
  
Cut back to the fugitives, who get in the car and vamoose.  Before they do, Gina makes a cryptic reference to lipstick [which makes sense in the televised version, but none in the feature version until a few moments later].  
  
Cut to Andrews, who pulls up at the Williams house, goes inside, and finds:
  
  
   
  
"Yeah, Terri," Andrews admits; "just like old times."
  
[After the commercial, cut to Andrews at a firing range.  He's got bullets lined up in a heart-shaped pattern, and begins loading them into his gun.
  
  

  
This leads into a highly-stylized flashback in which we see Jude and Terri as partners.  They seem to be in a room in some South American country.  A man in screaming somewhere in the background.  Terri gives Jude a file folder of photos, one of which shows him holding a decapitated head.  These are blackmail insurance; she wants him to call off "Rafael" (he's the cause of whatever agony is making the screaming man scream).  "What's the matter, Terri?" Jude wants to know.  "You been takin' stupid-pills?  When did that start?"   Terri is resolved: Andrews has to break off whatever he's involved in, or he's going to be "more famous than Michael Jackson."
  
  

Dig that German-expressionist set design!  Say, kids: who is that in the framed photo?  I know I should know, but I do not.

I would love to read King's screenplay for this episode to find out what insights it might give to the character of Jude Andrews.  Based on the set design and editing, I think the idea is that this is a presentation of things as Jude remembers them, rather than as they actually occurred.  A key difference, that.  What's intriguing about that possibility is that if that is the case, then doesn't it seem as if this version of Terri ought to be somehow more unpleasant?  Less attractive?  Ah, but I think -- think -- that's the point.  Jude is maybe a wee bit in love with Terri.  If so, then it seems likely that he has been obsessed with her since this incident, and that she was probably the single biggest reason why he has come to Falco Plains.  And, therefore, why he pursues Harlan so relentlessly.  Some of that is implicit in the feature edit, but it seems half-baked and illogical; whereas here, it seems at least to have some motivation behind it.


That's kinda gnarly for 1991 network television!  Granted, this photo is only onscreen for about two seconds; but still...



  
Cut to Andrews at the firing range.  He unloads on his target, which he briefly imagines to be Terri herself.  He fires until his clip is empty, and keeps on pulling the trigger.
  
  


  
"Just like old times," he repeats.]
  
Terri pulls the car over briefly to give the Williamses time to decide on a direction: east or west.  Gina chooses west, and Harlan (who seemingly understands why she has made the decision) is somewhat grumpy about it.
  
At his base of operations, Andrews informs Fredericks -- the subordinate who recorded the conversation between Ackerman and Eakins -- that he will be in charge of pursuing the murder suspect: i.e., Williams, who is to be framed for Eakins' killing.  Andrews, meanwhile, will be at Falco Plains with Todhunter.  Fredericks wants to know why Terri is doing what she's doing.  "Because she's an idiot," Andrews replies.
  
Some time later, the fugitives are on the side of the road again, this time fixing a flat tire.  Harlan goes at it like he's in a pit at Daytona.  Terri asks Gina about his reluctance to go west, and Gina says it's because of Francie, their daughter.  She's evidently got a history of underground radicalism, and while Harlan wants to keep her out of their problem, Gina says that Francie would never forgive them for it.  She's in Chicago (where she lives with her seeing-eye dog, Whitney); that's where they're headed.  "Why are you doing this?" Gina asks Terri.  "Because I'm an idiot," Terri answers.
  
[Sheriff Mayo gives a trio of deputies their marching orders: they are to search for Williams and apprehend him, but nobody is to get hurt.
  
Terri turns off the highway and onto a less-trafficked road.  Gina wants to know why.  Terri says the highway just felt . . . warm.  "I think I felt something myself," Harlan says, obviously a bit smitten by this younger woman.]
  
At Falco Plains, Todhunter is talking to Andrews.  "What . . . what did you say?" he sputters.  Andrews repeats himself: "I said the janitor is growing younger."
  
  
  
  
Todhunter seems dismissive for a moment, but he soon realizes that a result like this is in line with the aims of the Gold Series, and that if it is true, then the implications are much more powerful than they thought.  Andrews asks Todhunter is he would like to see the janitor, and Todhunter would . . . oh, yes, most definitely.  At once!  Andrews clues Todhunter in to the problem with making that happen, and asks him to call his Washington contacts and try to convince them that reclaiming Williams should be America's top priority.
  
Meanwhile, Terri has decided that they need to ditch their car and steal another one.  They pull into a mall parking lot, and Terri finds her vehicle of choice: a hearse. (It is parked outside a movie theatre that is, rather implausibly, showing Gone with the Wind and Citizen Kane.)  Gina calls Terri out for having an odd idea of inconspicuous.  Terri disagrees; she thinks that hiding inside something big and gaudy is a good way to NOT attract attention.  She says that she'd drive them to Chicago in the Chrysler Building if she could.  I get the feeling that in Stephen King's mind, this made perfect sense.  It makes zero sense to me.  But, to be fair, I know nothing about successfully remaining a fugitive from federal custody and/or avoiding being disappeared by a black-ops organization.  I'm not sure King possesses such knowledge, either, but I'm certain that I don't, so I'm going to do my best to give him the benefit of the doubt.
  
Either way, Terri breaks into and steals the hearse.  Gina notices Harlan isn't wearing his glasses and asks where they are; he replies that he sees better without them now.  They stow their baggage in their new ride, which comes complete with a casket in the back.
  
[The hearse pulls away from the mall, headed for Chicago.  A trio of young punks -- who look about as much like punks as I look like Vin Diesel -- notice the abandoned car and appear to be on the verge of boosting it.]
  
Cut to Andrews, who has evidently obtained female companionship from someplace.  His companion is being really weird and rubbing his chest and stuff.  Let's assume that this is because CBS would not allow the series to show her getting sodomized with a broom, or whatever you assume Andrews' pleasure of choice would be.  She bears a very slight resemblance to Terri, and I suspect that King intended for us to notice that, and for the fact to clue us into Andrews' obsession with Terri that much further.  Anyways, the phone rings, and Jude sends his ladyfriend for coffee.  It's Fredericks, who tells him that Terri's car has been found; it was in the possession of three teenagers, who were out for a joyride.  Andrews tells Fredericks to get him a list of any vehicle stolen with a 200-mile radius, and to get it five minutes ago.
  
[On the road, night has fallen.  Terri drives; Gina is asleep against Harlan's shoulder.  Harlan and Terri shoot each other a look.
  
  


  
I'm not sure what this look is intended to indicate.  There are a few points in the series when small moments seem to be foreshadowing a sexual attraction between Harlan and Terri that might theoretically have served as story fodder for the never-to-materialize future seasons of the series.  So this might have been intended to be a moment that furthers that plot element.  Or, alternatively, it might merely indicate mutual worry about their futures.  It's unclear, both in terms of the context and in terms of the performances/production.  In other words, this small scene does not work.
  
Back at Shop (temporary) headquarters, Fredericks is reading Mayo the riot act.  Over what, we do not know.  Andrews shows up, and Fredericks gives him the list of stolen vehicles he asked for.  Andrews almost immediately intuits that Terri has stolen the hearse, which was reported stolen from the same mall where Terri's own car was stolen.  Frankly, this does not seem like rocket science.  I think King expects us to take it as a sign of extreme competence on Jude's part, though; this is asking a bit much for my money.  "Smart woman," allows Fredericks.  "Yeah," says Andrews, "she oughta be, I trained her."
 
Andrews picks up the phone, doesn't dial a number.  He tells whoever is on the other end that he wants to talk to General Crewes.  Cue the credits, complete with a voiceover inviting me to watch the "Crimetime After Primetime" series Fly By Night.  But first, the local news...
 
And that is the end of episode three.
 
As episode four begins, Crewes is on an airplane, presumably returning from Washington.  He's on the phone with Dr. Ackerman, who is freaking out because he perceives that people associated with the Harlan Williams case are being killed off.  He's afraid he might be next.  Crewes tells him he's being paranoid.
  
  


Coulter would later direct twelve episodes of some show called The Sopranos.

  
Ackerman goes to the infirmary and is in the process of stealing Williams' medical records when he is interrupted by the nurse Harlan spoke to earlier.  This is a weird scene.  The nurse's appearance causes Ackerman to bonk his head on the underside of a desk; then, while trying to walk around her, he does that accidental-dance thing with her where they both try to get out of the way of the other; then he nearly runs into another nurse; then he nearly walks into the wall.  It's almost as if actor John Rothman had a clause in his contract that mandated he be allowed to do physical comedy at some point, so Allen Coulter decided to get most of it out of the way at once.]
  
West of there, Terri and Harlan are putting the finishing touches on a hasty paint-job for the hearse, which is now a bright shade of spraypaint-red.  Harlan calls for Gina to come look at it, but she doesn't, and he finds her sitting dejected by herself.
  
  
   
  
She's upset, and begins crying.  She's old; she doesn't want Harlan looking at her.  [In the midst of this, my VHS dub scrawls across a bulletin from the local CBS news affiliate; they want people to call in and answer a poll about whether they feel President Bush stopped the Persian Gulf War too soon.  It's 2014, and Isis is mounting heads on spikes in Iraq while the Gaza Strip is getting the shit bombed out of it.  War in the Middle East is an ongoing foregone conclusion as far as I can tell.]  She says she's never felt old before, because they were going through life together.  But now that Harlan is moving backward, she feels the gap.  "It's your birthday today," she tells him; he complains that it isn't, but she insists that it is.  She'd say he's . . . sixty-five.  He'll have another birthday in a week or so, and he'll be sixty; another few days, and he'll be fifty-five.
  
  
  
  
Harlan protests that things could be worse; he could be turning into "a human alligator, like in the horror movies."  He does not seem to be saying this as a joke, and certainly not as a punchline, but the movie edits awkwardly away to a shot of a green-glowing mouse inside Todhunter's lab.  The scene between Harlan and Gina clearly continued; this is awful editing.  [Sure enough, as televised, the scene does continue.  Harlan says he's just an old man with a younger man's face.  Gina is dismissive, and accuses him of actually believing what he's saying.  And why not?  Don't old people all over the world claim to feel sixteen inside, even when they can barely stand up straight?  Harlan says she'll feel better tomorrow.  She lies and agrees with him.  
  
But, she says, part of him is enjoying this; she can see it.  "I see the way your head turns when you smell something in woods," she says, "or suddenly hear something that I can't hear anymore.  You don't see the light in your eyes, Harl.  But I do.  I do."
  
  

  
Why the remainder of this scene was edited out of the feature edit is a mystery to me.
 
Side-note: the DVD I've got that contains the dub of episodes 2 and 3 has out-of-sync audio, which is fairly aggravating.  Not so much so that I can't watch these episodes, but it's aggravating.  Happily, episodes 4 and 5 are on a different disc, and the audio is in sync on these episodes again.  So this is me breathing a sigh of relief to have audio and video sync up once again.]
  
  
  
  
Todhunter is approached by a younger man, presumably a new intern, who gives him a schedule for the afternoon.  Todhunter does not wish to wait until the afternoon; he wants the intern to do it now.  Whatever "it" is.  "Do it now!" he says; "do it now!"  I counted: Todhunter, in berating this poor fellow, says the phrase "do it now" nine times.  He bellows the penultimate one; and then says the final one barely above a whisper.  Bill Raymond is doing Ed Wood-level acting in this scene; he has arrived from some other planet to be on this set.  He is awful.  But, to be fair, there aren't two actors in a hundred thousand who could have managed to do any better; when writing is this lousy, an actor can only put the pages of the screenplay in his teeth and begin chewing.
    
"Time marches to the beat of a very different drummer," Todhunter insists.  Open your ears, and you can hear it; he hears it all the time.  It sounds something like "tap-tap-tap-tap-tappy-tap-tap" (I paraphrase).  To make sure we understand, the musical score begins doing a "tap-tap-tap-tappy-tap" thing.  Ever heard of the concept of "mickey-mousing" in a score?  Well, this is sort of an example of that.  It isn't mickey-mousing in the traditional sense, but it comes close, and Todhunter will be musically represented via this motif several times going forward, to remind us of his concern for time's passage.  The music here is by Joe Taylor, who -- unsurprisingly -- has very few IMDb credits to his name.  On occasion throughout the series/movie, the music works relatively well; but mostly, it is bland and unmemorable, except when it detours into being memorable for the wrong reasons.
  
Cut to Ackerman, who has some files he wants to photocopy, and is behaving so suspiciously that Mother Theresa would assume he was a nogoodnik.  The Xerox machine he visits is out of order.  He uses a smaller one.  Leaving, he steps out into the hallway -- which is, for some reason, filmed on a Dutch-tilt -- and trips over his own feet, scattering papers everywhere.  Why is he risking himself by copying these papers?  No explanation.  [If we're watching the televised version, we know that he is actively afraid for his life, so we can assume that he is attempting to obtain some leverage he can use to keep himself alive.]  I suppose his anxiousness makes sense, but we've been given no real reason for it; no urgent reason, at least.  Certainly nothing that ought to turn him into a bumbling jackass who may as well be a cartoon character.  Rather than nearly gather his spilled papers, he grabs them all together in a loose pile and stuffs the pile under his lab coat.  Nah, that doesn't look suspicious at all.
  
As Ackerman passes out of the hallway, Andrews steps into camera view.  He's been watching, I guess.
  
Meanwhile, at whatever conveniently-abandoned farmhouse the fugitives are at, night has fallen.  Terri is taking the first watch, and has her gun out.  Harlan has other concerns:
  
  
    
  
He says he's not going to be able to sleep until he has a look inside that casket.  "Oh," says Gina, both exasperated and amused, "he's about sixty, he's as skinny as a chicken leg, he looks like my cousin Cecil."  She says she told him that they would get him back to his people as soon as they could.
  
This brings on a memory for Gina of the two of them going to see a mummy in a museum.  Harlan wonders at her ability to remember such things; she says she remembers everything they ever did.  He then summons up his own memory, of them watching ships as they disembarked.  They'd stand on the pier, waving at people on the boat; the people on the boat would wave back.  Gina's face darkens; she says that she is still on the pier, but Harlan is on the boat now, and it's getting smaller and smaller.  It's a touching idea and a good metaphor for their situation, but the scene is shot and acted somewhat clumsily.  Joe Taylor's score helps; it's fairly good here.
  
Cut back to Ackerman, who is now walking outside with his briefcase, headed for his car.  He stumbles over his own feet AGAIN.  (Note to screenwriters and directors: you should only ever have your actors stumble over their own feet if you want them to look like they are bad at acting.)  As he gets to his car, Ackerman sees another car behind his turn on its headlights; he begins to panic, and can't get the door open.  It's a tiny convertible, so he literally just steps into the driver's seat without even finishing the job of unlocking the door.  The car with the headlights drives off; Ackerman is relieved, and obviously looks as if he realizes he is overracting.  He cranks his car, and it explodes, presumably killing Ackerman.  
  
Inside the lab, Todhunter hears the explosion and looks up, momentarily distracted.  Outside, Andrews looks at the flaming wreckage, stony-faced.
  
Back inside, Lewis sits drinking, obviously keyed up.  The door to his office opens unexpectedly; it's Andrews, who comes right in and makes himself at home.  He didn't realize it was happy hour, and asks for a beer; anything domestic -- he's not picky.
  
  
  
  
Lewis says he wants him off the base.  Andrews, unflappable, continues.  Maybe he'll also have some pork rinds; he knows they play hell with the old cholesterol, but hey, nobody lives forever, do they?  Lewis threatens to put him in the infirmary, but Andrews has a surprise: the U.S. Secretary of Defense has placed him in charge of the investigation, so he isn't going anywhere.  He looks down at security footage of Ackerman's murder on Crewes' desk, and says it looks like a terrorist bombing to him.  "Typical slimeball tactics," Crewes concurs.
  
 
  
  
Like most of the scenes in the series, this one is awkwardly staged.  Unlike many of the others, it works, and the reason is simple: both R.D. Call and Ed Lauter are good actors, and seeing them engage in a cold war with nothing but dialogue is effective.  It's also got good dialogue from King, who clearly relished the shifting power dynamic between the two characters.  It isn't a great scene, but it's solid, and offers a peek at the sort of series this might have been.
  
Elsewhere, Harlan -- shotgun in hand -- approaches Terri, and talks her into surrendering lookout duties to him long enough for her to get a couple hours' sleep.
  
  


Before she leaves, Harlan asks her if they are going to be caught.  "You know," she says, pondering the issue, "people in The Shop used to say that John Rainbird was the best field operative that ever lived.  Me?  I always thought Andrews was better."  She confesses, "He could catch us; yeah."  She then asks Harlan if he's ever thought about turning himself in.
  
I've got problems with this.  First of all, it was her idea to go on the run.  Sure, Harlan was considering doing the same; but, despite that, she brought the idea to them and took them on the lam.  So why is she now acting as if the whole thing was Harlan's idea?  That's just weird.  At a guess, I'd say that this episode is roughly where Stephen King lost his grip on the story.
  
Secondly, I cannot take the assertion about Andrews being better than Rainbird seriously for even a second.  Let's be honest, kids: what have we seen Andrews do that indicated any particular skill at black-ops wetwork?  I mean, yeah, sure: he's killed several people.  But did he do so in an imaginative way?  No.  Did he exhibit any particular stealth?  No.  Did he manage to make his victims disappear and thus prevent investigations from taking place?  No.  So what, exactly, is so special about this guy?
  
Two things: one, he's being played by a good actor who is giving him some character; and, two, Stephen King, as the screenwriter, wants us to think he's top-notch, so he keeps telling us Andrews is top-notch.  I'd love for you guys to believe that I once body-slammed Andre The Giant, too.  I guess I could theoretically just claim that I had done so, and then keep repeating it.  But would anybody believe me?  Only chumps.  And frankly, based on what we've seen during the course of Golden Years, only a chump would believe that Jude Andrews was some sort of A-number-one assassin.
  
Even worse, tossing in a comment like Terri's above actually makes Firestarter seem a little weaker.  We didn't see a whole lot of John Rainbird in action in that novel, but that was okay; suggestion and implication was enough to make Rainbird seem formidable.  King was able to make him work by having him do very little.  In Golden Years, he has Andrews doing plenty; the problem is that what he's doing is unimpressive.  And so if you tell me that he's potentially a better field agent than Rainbird, that means that Rainbird must actually have been a fairly lousy field agent.  Right?  I think that's successful associative mathematics, right?  If X is greater than Y and X is a semi-incompetent buffoon, then Y must also be shitty at his job.  Yep; that adds up.
  
The problem here is that King is perhaps writing way outside of his comfort zone.  What he knows about cloak-and-dagger intrigue is clearly negligible, and so he's presenting us with the idea that Felicity Huffman is a black-ops badass.  Say, fellers, did I ever tell you about that time I body-slammed Andre The Giant...?
  
  
That's me in the yellow tights.  Boy, howdy . . . that was one heavy Frenchman.
  
  
The scene continues with Harlan wondering what will happen if his de-aging continues.  Will he get to be "a preemie in an incubator"?  Will he die at the end of it all?
  
  

  
  
He doesn't know.  But he knows this: he isn't going back, unless it's beyond his power to resist.
  
Back at Falco Plains, Andrews brings Todhunter the janitor's medical records.  He asks what's going on with the mouse, but Todhunter becomes cagey, and Andrews stalks off.  He doesn't actually roll his eyes or say "whatever," but he might as well.
  
  
  
  
Todhunter, king of the weirdos, begins talking to the mouse, telling it that time is short and he isn't safe in the lab.  He apparently plans to take the mouse home with him, and promises to even bring along a couple of the mouse's girlfriends.  "I thought you'd like that," he says, responding, perhaps, to telepathic messages the mouse is sending to him.  I don't what else the explanation would be.  
  
[Cut to the sheriff's office, where Sheriff Mayo confronts Andrews and Fredericks.  They are moving out of the sheriff's office and back to Falco Plains.  Andrews, uncharacteristically, is wearing a t-shirt.
  
  


  
The Sheriff is upset because the relocation is taking Eakins' murder out of his jurisdiction.  Andrews tells him that he's been ordered by the government to take over the investigation, and tells Mayo to turn over any evidence he has.  The Sheriff stalks off angrily.  This is a decent scene, but I prefer its absence in the feature edit, where the cut from Todhunter in the lab to the next scene works much better.]
  
Things get even weirder, as we cut to a graveyard, which Todhunter is visiting in what seems to be a regular night-at-papa's-grave affair.  
  
  
 
  
Todhunter holds a watch out to his father's grave, and begins speaking to the old man.  "It stopped, Father," he says.  "After a while, they always stop.  Anyway, I brought it, Father."  He keeps talking, rambling about how his father let him in on the "secret" (i.e., that time is short).  This is a secret like Jude Andrews is a crack assassin: it isn't.  Todhunter digs into the earth and brings out a buried tin lunchbox sort of thing, into which he puts the watch; the box is almost full of watches.  "I love you, Father," he whispers.  "But it was a great relief to me, all the same, you know . . . when your time ran out."  And then he curls up on the grave and goes to sleep, like a cat.  This man has issues.  "Goodnight, Father," he says (in a childlike voice, just in case we missed out on how fucked-up he is).
  
The next day, General Crewes is leaving the base, but is unable to get past Rick, the World's Least Threatening Gate Security Officer.
  
  

  
Crewes has evidently been restricted to base.  Stymied by someone who makes Barney Fife look like Chuck Norris, Crewes turns tail and drives back to the base.  I honestly don't know if the scene is intended to be comedic or tense; I assume the director and actors didn't know, either.
  
[On the farm, our gang prepares to hit the road.  Gina feels faint; Harlan is concerned.  Terri has an unrelated suggestion.
  
  

  
Terri wants Harlan and Gina to consider the idea of getting themselves arrested.  For shoplifting high-price items, she suggests.  This will get them detained by the civil authorities, and from there they can refuse bail, get themselves an attorney, and spill the beans.  ALL the beans.  From there, all it will take is long enough for what's happening to Harlan to be observable.  Gina is thrilled by this idea; Harlan considerably less so.]
 
Meanwhile, Andrews is engaging in some supervisor-on-subordinate coaching in an attempt to find out why Fredericks is late for work.  It's because he only got an hour of sleep.
  
  

(Disclaimer: not actual Golden Years dialogue.)
  
I sympathize with Fredericks.  I'm a great believer in not being asked to go to work on too little sleep.  However, I do not work for The Shop, and if I did, I'd just drink a lot of coffee and keep my mouth free of complaints.  Andrews agrees with me in this latter regard, and tells Fredericks that he ought to be thanking his lucky stars that Terri hasn't decided to have Harlan locked up by some podunk sheriff, who can then bring in media and who knows who else to observe the effects of the Gold Series upon Williams.  This has clearly not occurred to Fredericks, who seems appropriately abashed.  He also says something about how Jude wants Terri.  Jude agrees.  "More than anything I've ever wanted in my life, I want her," he says to himself after Fredericks walks away.  Whether it's to kill her, fuck her, fuck her and then kill her, or kill her and then fuck her, we do not know.
  
Cut to the parking lot of some podunk gas station, where Harlan, Gina, and Terri are discussing the possibility of him getting taken into custody by some local law enforcement officer.  (It's almost like they read the same screenplay Andrews read!)  [Of course, the reverse is the case in the televised version, where Terri has already suggested the gambit before Andrews mentions it.]  Harlan wants to know what the downside is; they've evidently been talking about this, and he knows that Terri has some unstated objection.  She states it: "Lee Harvey Oswald," she says.  "I don't understand," says Gina.  Of course she doesn't.  But so that she and the viewers WILL understand, Terri spells it out for her.  "You're saying that . . . Harlan could get killed!" intuits Gina.  Great insight, lady.
  
  
  
  
[Back at Falco Plains, Todhunter is smuggling out his green-glowing mice, and is rather impatiently waiting behind another car, which has been detained long enough for Rick -- the base's only gate-guard, evidently -- to pass it through.  The cage falls over, and the mice get out, and then they escape from the van Todhunter is driving thanks to Rick opening the door to see what the delay is with the good doctor.  We get a Raimi-esque mice-cam view of the route one mouse takes as it scampers into the electrified fence and gets zapped.  Todhunter and Rick look down on it.
  
  

  
"I don't think you have to worry about them, Dr. Todhunter," says Rick.
  
"That's quite perceptive for someone who's obviously had major chromosome damage," retorts Todhunter.]
  
There follows a scene in which Gina begins singing: "Lord said to Noah to build him an arky-arky..."  This is evidently a song (primarily for Sunday-schoolers) called either "Rise and Shine" or "Arky Arky" or "Arky Arky Song" or "Rise and Shine/Children of the Lord."  I got that looking at the headlines on the first page of Google results, so be warned that my research was not terribly thorough.  Regardless, Harlan ends up joining Gina in song, and Terri reluctantly joins in, too.  I honestly don't know what is going on in this scene.  Why are these people singing a children's song about Noah?  Are Harlan and Gina deeply faithful people?  We've seen no particular evidence of it thus far.  Does Terri have a hidden past as a Sunday-schooler?  It's a really bad scene, not merely because it is a (pardon the pun) God-awful song, but because it comes out of nowhere; also because it is unclear in terms of what the song is meant to signify.  Perhaps viewers more devout than I will have an explanation; if so, use that comments section below, y'all.
  
[At Falco Plains, Billy the janitor mops and looks on as Andrews gives a major dressing-down to some hapless flunky of Todhunter's over the two missing mice.  Jude asks Billy if he has seen any mice, and Billy says just the two dead by the fence that morning, which he -- thanks to his taxidermy course (he's planning to turn them into bookends) -- has in his locker.  Andrews asks Billy to take him to the mice.

Back to the fugitives, who are still singing.  The song is interrupted by the sight of an overturned vehicle off the side of the road ahead.  Things don't look too good for the people by the wreck.
  
  


  
Harlan wants Terri to stop so they can help.  For some reason, Terri complies with this request.  There is a little boy with a broken leg, but the kid's father says his brother has gone for help.  Regardless of this Gina wants to stay until help arrives, which it does very soon thereafter in the form of a policeman.  Terri does her best to try and sneak her crew away, but the policeman's car is blocking the road.  Or at least, it seems like it's supposed to be according to Terri's dialogue; she asks him to move the car so they can leave.  But, like, there's a whole lane there that she could use to drive around the police vehicle.  
  
Presumably, this is a case of production failing the screenplay.  And if so, it failed pretty spectacularly.  Alternatively, I suppose Terri could theoretically be reluctant to break the law by driving into the wrong lane for long enough to go around the police car.  If so, the screenplay doesn't do a good job of spelling that out.
 
Bottom line: the scene doesn't work.
 
But, as it progresses, Gina's weird actions cause the officer to suspect something hinky is going on, and he checks his clipboard to find that . . . hey, these are the fugitives the entire country is looking for!  He draws his weapon and orders everyone to get out of the hearse, but Terri has already snuck around and gotten the drop on him.
  
  

  
The EMTs finally arrive on the scene of the accident, and the driver finds the policeman handcuffed to the hearse.  Terri and company have stolen his cruiser.  This doesn't exactly seem like the wisest idea, but what do I know?  We'll have to wait to find out, because this is where episode four ends.
  
Episode five begins, as do each of the episodes except the first one, with the opening credits, set to David Bowie's "Golden Years."
  
  
  

  
  
I've probably listened to this song a dozen times over the course of writing this post, and I have to say, it ain't getting old at all.  Frigging great song.  I should probably listen to more Bowie at some point.
  
As the episode proper -- written by King and directed by Stephen Tolkin -- begins, we see an Ohio state trooper looking through binoculars:
  
  


  
Smoky and his gang have found the stolen police cruiser, and are now in communication with Andrews, ostensibly taking his orders.  The trooper doesn't seem too happy about it, though.  Andrews doesn't seem to be too happy about the trooper not being happy, and when General Crewes walks into the room suddenly, he's not too happy about the fact that Andrews has commandeered the communications room.  Nobody here is in a good mood.  The one possible exception is a new character named Burton, who is evidently going to be taking over the operation at Falco Plains.  Burton is played by Erik King, who later played Doakes on Dexter.
  
Andrews gives the trooper, Captain Marsh, instructions: his mean are to open up on the tires and lower portion of the cruiser, and flush the fugitives out.  They are NOT to hit the old man; they are to "waste" the others.  (Given how focused Andrews has been on Terri, does that seem like an order he would give?  Not to me.)  Marsh acknowledges the order, but tells his horrified men that they will decidedly NOT be following Andrews' orders.
  
Crewes is furious, and calls Andrews a butcher.
  




Andrews informs Crewes that if he wants to, he's more than welcome to knock out a few of his teeth, provided that a drumhead court-martial is an acceptable consequence.
  
Captain Marsh gives his troopers orders for what feels like about twenty minutes, and eventually they all move out to get into position.  The troopers shoot out the cruiser's tires but Captain Marsh makes a discovery:
  
  
   

  
Captain Marsh reports this to Andrews with much hilarity.  Andrews, enraged, destroys some equipment, and then stalks off, saying that he has some thinking to do.
  
You may have noticed that we have been inside scenes deleted from the feature edit for quite some time now.  And while I like the majority of the footage that was cut out, this whole sequence comes close to being a complete waste.  Fifteen minutes spent revealing that Terri, Harlan, and Gina have ditched the cruiser?!?  That's a bit much.  King was not writing with any degree of economy here, that's for sure.  There are two things that come close to saving the scene: (1) I like the actor playing Captain Marsh; and (2) R.D. Call, who is doing his customarily fine work as Jude Andrews.  The brief showdown between Andrews and Crewes is good, too.  Otherwise, this was a massive chunk of wasted time.
  
Note: in the televised version, we cut from this scene to the below-described scene in which Harlan splits off from Terri and Gina.  It is followed by the scene below, with Crewes in Terri's office.]
  
Cut to Terri's office at Falco Plains, where Crewes is playing with her target-practice dolls and obviously wishing he was dead, or at least in a coma or something.  He begins talking out loud to Terri, wondering if she is dead yet.  This isn't as crazy as it sounds; Lewis knows that she has voice-activated recording devices in her office, which is the one office on the base he thinks Andrews may not have a key to enter.  So, in a sense, he IS speaking to Terri; and if she ever gets back, she might even hear what he's saying.
  
Speaking of Terri, she's sitting on the side of the road.  They have evidently ditched the hearse, and she and Gina are going to take a bus the rest of the way to Chicago, while Harlan hitchhikes.  The theory is that since the Feds are looking for two old people and (as Harlan puts it) "a beautiful younger woman," they are more likely to escape attention if they split up.  This is actually a decent idea, especially in the decidedly less high-tech world of 1991.
  
  

  
The bus shows up, and who's driving it, but Stephen King himself.
  
  


  
"Boy, I hate these side-of-the-roaders," King says.  "They're not like this on the Indiana side, lemme tell ya."  He's not sympathetic at all to the tearful parting of the Williams spouses.  Neither am I, to tell you the truth.  Intellectually, I know I ought to care about Gina and empathize with her concerns, but I don't.  She annoys me.  She's just a whiny old lady.  Frances Sternhagen does her best to invest the character with some genuine emotion, but try as she might, she doesn't get the job done.  She and Szarabajka have very little chemistry, which is perhaps not surprising.  So when scenes like this one come along, the two of them can be giving good performances, but have them somehow add up to zero.  That's how I feel about it, at least.
  
"Drive the bus and put your mouth in neutral," Terri tells the bus-driver.  "You can't talk to me like that," he replies, but Terri shoots him a look and he changes his mind quick.  It's a pretty bad scene.  King cameos are fun, but this isn't one of the better ones.  And frankly, I'm not sure I believe Felicity Huffman could intimidate a puppy into piddling on the carpet, so the scene doesn't work for me from that standpoint, either.  [In the televised version, the scene goes on a wee bit longer, and includes Harlan muttering goodbye to Gina as he watches the bus vanish into the distance.  Then, on the bus, the cute little moppet sitting behind Terri and Gina asks why the old lady is crying.  Did she hurt something?  Terri says that she did, and the little girl wants her to kiss it and make it better.  Terri smiles at her indulgently.
  
At Falco Plains, Todhunter is prepping his lab for another experiment.  Bad news: his cables won't meet.
  
  

  
Todhunter gets on the phone and yells at somebody to bring him a cable patch.]
  
Back in his motel room, Andrews is one the phone with his unseen/unheard superior, and he's taking responsibility for the fact that nobody is doing any thinking.  He admits it: Terri has clouded his judgment.  But he wonders where they might be going . . . and who would know how to find out.
  
Harlan, meanwhile, is trying to bum a ride.  He even pulls up his pants and shows a little ankle, which helps him not at all.  This scene is accompanied by a whistled rendition of the song "Golden Years."  Pretty nifty.  I wish the show had a soundtrack, just so I could have all these variants of "Golden Years."
  
Outside Major Moreland's office, his secretary is still sharpening pencils, and whimsical music lets us know that we're supposed to find this to be comical.  The phone rings.  The voice on the other end of the line asks for Major Moreland, but the secretary unctuously informs the caller that the Major is updating his files and cannot be disturbed.  "This is General Crewes, Mrs. Rogers," General Crewes says when the camera cuts to him, "and if I'm not talking to Major Moreland within the next fifteen seconds, you're gonna finish your career as a stamp-liason officer commuting between Cambodia and Iraq."  He sounds like he means it.  I think this series would have been better-served to use Ed Lauter a lot more.
  
Andrews sits in his motel room, playing with his cigarette lighter, thinking.
  
Harlan finally catches a break, and is picked up by a long-haul trucker.
  
[In his lab, Todhunter is interrupted by somebody bringing him his cable.  The guy delivering it wants a signature; Todhunter says he doesn't have time for signatures.
  
  

  
Todhunter signs a couple of forms, then shoves the man out the door before signing a third.  Then, he discovers that the cable has the wrong kind of connection.  Seriously; in 1991, Stephen King spent thousands of CBS's dollars to film this scene.]
  
Andrews thinks, and smokes.
  
  
   
  
Moreland reports to Crewes inside Terri's office.  Lewis orders him to call Mrs. Rogers and send the entire administrative wing home for the day.  Moreland is confused and flustered by this, but he does it.  
  
Cut to Andrews, still thinking, still smoking.  He sits upright, and swings his feet out of bed, an epiphany having struck.  "Moreland," he says to himself; "of course."  He phones Falco Plains and the computer voice directs him to Administration; the phone there rings, and Mrs. Rogers considers answering it, but she's been ordered not to do so, so she vamooses instead.  Andrews calls somebody else at Falco Plains, Burton (whoever that is [we only know Burton if we're watching the televised version]), whom he tells to go to Administration and call him back.  
  
Lewis tells Moreland to get on Terri's computer and connect with Central Records in Washington; Moreland demurs, claiming not to have authorization, but Crewes knows better, and calls him out on it.  Moreland, evidently, is a hacker.  He explains that he might be able to get in, if there is a modem on Miss Spann's computer console.  (Oh, 1991...)  Moreland has brought Lewis all of his files on Harlan Williams, and Lewis looks through them until he finds what he's looking for: the name and address of Williams' daughter, Francesca.  He orders Moreland to locate Harlan's file on the Central Records mainframe, and to delete it.  Moreland turns, horrified, to look at Crewes, and sees him shredding the documents that he has brought the General.  He protests that what Crewes is doing is illegal.  Crewes orders him to proceed; Moreland refuses.
  
Burton, meanwhile, has reached Administration.  He's played [as I mentioned earlier] by Erik King, who played Doakes on Dexter.  Surprise, motherfucker!
  
  
  

  
  
Burton is nowhere near as cool as Doakes.  I mean, if Dokes is a 100% on the cool scale -- and he is -- then Burton is maybe a 16 or 17%.  He looks surprised as all-git-out that Administration is empty:
  
  
  
  
Unless I am mistaken, we have seen Fredericks for the last time.  One wonders if Andrews didn't drag him off somewhere and murder him for eating too many doughnuts and sleeping too much.  Is Burton his replacement?  [Both Burton and Fredericks were present in the scene at the beginning of the episode in the communications room.]  If so, his lack of urgency is not indicative of any great deal of potential as a Fredericks-replacement.  The phone rings.  "HEL-lo?" he answers.  It's Andrews.  "I told you to call me," he says.  "What's the matter Burton, you been taking dumb-pills again?"  It's a fair question, to be honest.
  
Andrews, who seems to have intuited what is going on, wants reassurance that Burton has hard copy on the janitor's file.  "Why would I have hard copy on the janitor's file?" Burton asks/explains.  Andrews is nonplussed.  Andrews tells him that if he ever wants to have children, he'd better get on one of the computers, connect to Central Records, and get Andrews that file.  Andrews hangs up.  Burton hangs up, too, then sighs, puts his hands in his pockets and stares into space for several seconds.  I shit you not, this is how the scene is directed.
  
  
  
  
To make up for how stupid this is, I now present to you two awesome things.  This:
  
  
  

  
  
and this (which cracks me right the fuck up):
  
  

  
 
Don't you feel better now?  I certainly do.  It's going to be short-lived, though, because we've got to finish talking about this scene.
  
  
  
  
"Major Moreland . . . either that file gets deleted or you do," says Lewis.  Moreland agrees to proceed, with the proviso that the General put the order in writing.  Lewis does, and Moreland sits down at the computer.  In Administration, Burton is doing the same.  There follows a "tense" scene in which both men race to a finish line to lock the file out from other users, then complete the orders of the superior officers.  And when I say "tense," I man "lame and ill-executed."  
  
This may have been one of the first filmed instances of computer-users racing each other to get to a piece of information; then again, for all I know, it may not have been.  What is certain is that in 2014, a scene like this looks downright ancient.  The scene doesn't work, and not merely because of the dated aspects; it fails because of how incredibly unenergetic it is.
  
In any case, Moreland is successful; he locks the file out and prevents Burton from accessing it.  Then, he deletes it.
  
What's amazing here is that the scene implies that it took Andrews this long to think about trying to find out if Harlan had any close family or known associates, or any other people to whom he might plausibly be fleeing.  THIS is what I'm expected to believe in as the ideal black-ops field agent?  A guy who lets literally days go by without looking to see if Williams has any children he could be going to visit?  Sheesh.
  
Even more sheesh-worthy: Moreland objects to the idea of going to Chicago with Crewes because it's his square-dancing night, and his wife would kill him.  Actually, that makes me laugh; Stephen Root sells this line.  Crewes disagrees with Moreland; his wife won't kill him.  But Jude Andrews might, when he finds out that Moreland deleted that file.  So they head for Chicago, that toddlin' town.
  
First, of course, they have to get out of Falco Plains, and the last time Crewes tried that, Rick (a.k.a. The World's Least Intimidating Security Guard) refused to allow him to leave.  So this time, Lewis hides out in Moreland's trunk.  Rick finds him there while conducting a trunk search.
  
  

   
  
Rick decides to just turn a blind eye to the whole thing.  "There comes a time in every man's life..." Rick says rebelliously as he watches the car pull away and steel-guitar music plays in the score.  I think we are supposed to find this to be amusing.
 
[I believe we are also supposed to be amused by the following scene, in which the beleaguered guy from earlier is delivering another cable to Todhunter, and painstakingly forcing him to sign about 38 forms.  Todhunter is finally able to make his connection, only to then have an alarm go off and a computer voice warn him about there being an improper connection.]
  
Elsewhere, Gina and Terri are on the bus.  Gina decides it would be a good idea to start chatting to Terri about why her husband is getting younger.  They ain't alone on this bus; they're fuckin' surrounded by people, right behind 'em, right in front of 'em, right across the aisle from 'em.  But this old bat figures, "Hey, sure, why not just start blabbing about something so dangerous that I am literally on the run for my life from it?"  Amazingly, Terri decides to start spilling the beans, talking about how Todhunter's program had to do with regeneration.  Gina allows as to how she just doesn't understand.  Gee, what a shock.  
  
  

  
Terri explains that he found a way to make living tissues get younger.  "And that's what's happening to Harlan?" Gina asks.  At this point, Terri -- or possibly just Felicity Huffman -- actually rolls her eyes and blows out an exasperated breath.  It didn't screencap all that well, but here it is:
  
  
By the way, I don't think the eyeroll/sigh combo is intended as commentary on Gina's iodicy.  I think it's intended to express sympathy and concern.  It doesn't work that way, though.
  
  
This scene is abysmal.  Frances Sternhagen is awful; she seems to be playing Gina as though she has Alzheimer's.  To be fair, King seems to be writing Gina as though she has Alzheimer's, and also as though she was a bit on the dim-witted side even before getting it.  Felicity Huffman isn't any better; I suggest you watch the scene as though she is playing Terri as if Terri has just consumed a soda laced with a powerful sedative, and is having to use all of her powers to stay awake.  That will make it seem like Terri is genuinely achieving something here, which is a feeling you will not otherwise get.
  
The scene is about two women whom we are supposed to like and respect, and King has written them as complete dolts.  The actresses seem exasperated by the whole thing, and I don't blame them one bit.
  
Cut from this woeful scene to Harlan in the cab of the truck he's hitching in.  He's drifting off to sleep to the sounds of country music, and soon the driver's instruments start going crazy.  This probably has something to do with Harlan's whole head glowing green, but the driver doesn't notice that happening.  He looks around the cab frantically, and the actor very pointedly manages to NOT look at Harlan.  Uh huh.  Anyways, the clock start running backwards and whatnot, and eventually the truck pulls over to the side of the road, where the actor playing the trucker does his best to try and seem to have dodged a bullet.  Pretty soon, the sun rises in the middle of the night, and there are yokels standing in the road gawping at it.  Which, to be fair, is an understandable reaction.
  
The truck driver turns to Harlan and finds that his eyes are glowing green.
  
  

  
  
Understandably alarmed, the driver gets out of the truck.  "This guy is full of green light!" he announces to the nearby yokels.  The earth begins to shake, and the ground actually opens up a bit.  Not much; the budget can't afford much.  The truck driver points at Harlan and says that this is all happening because of him.  [This marks the end of episode five.

Episode six begins with Andrews arriving at Administration, where Burton informs him that Williams' file was locked out before he could access it.  He says he can still get the info; he just needs more time.  "You haven't got more time," Andrews says.  He puts his pistol up to one of Burton's eye, and pulls the trigger; it just clicks.  "You think I was gonna kill you?" Andrews says.  "That's against regulations."
  
  

  
This episode was written by Josef Anderson from a story by Stephen King.  Allen Coulter directed.  The music is by Joe Taylor, who, for this scene, decided it would be a good idea to have guitar playing over jungle music.  This sounds like it might be playing while you were at the Magic Kingdom standing in line for the Jungle Cruise.  It does not sound like it ought to be playing over a scene in Golden Years.  Very odd.
  
Elsewhere, Harlan is hitchhiking again.  We are given zero indication of how he got away from the scene which ended the previous episode.
  
Cut from this brief scene to Moreland and Crewes approaching an airplane.  Moreland is talking wildly.  "You know, I only started doing it because my wife insisted," he is jabbering.  "She thought it would help our marriage.  Only once a week; once a week is all we ever did it, Saturday night.  I didn't really mind, because I found out that I could do it and think of other things at the same time.  Data systems, spreadsheets, you know, quarterly projections, things like that, when one night she said she needed to do it more than once a week.  I tried, but you know, I cannot do it three times a week."  Crewes admits that the last time he did it was church camp.  "Yeah, but I feel guilty," Moreland continues.  "I'd rather be here than with her."
  
"Well, if you hate square-dancing so much, why don't you tell her?" barks Crewes.
  
  

  
It's all been a joke, see?  The writer -- and I'm going to choose to blame this on Josef Anderson instead of on King -- wanted to make you think Moreland was talking about intercourse (or, for advanced users, maybe about cunnilingus), when in fact he was only talking about square-dancing!  The joke is on us: we've got dirty minds!  Look at the assumptions we made about such a chaste topic!  Of course, the writer had to contort Moreland's dialogue into something unnatural in order to achieve the effect, so the joke is really on him for thinking there was even the slightest trace of wit in this scene.  
  
Stephen Root and Ed Lauter do their best, but it isn't enough.  "She didn't make you wear spurs, did she?" asks Crewes as a button on the scene.
  
Todhunter, meanwhile, is in his lab messing with some clocks and watches and rhapsodizing about how God is the great Watchmaker, and we are all just ticking away.  Joe Taylor uses this opportunity to have the string section pluck their instruments.  Because it sounds like ticking.  Get it?  Because Todhunter is talking about ticking, so the music makes a ticking noise.  Get it?]
  
Elsewhere, Gina and Terri are at some roadside diner, buying snacks.  Gina wants to call her daughter, and gets close to pitching a fit.  Terri quietly tells her to chill the fuck out, but in less interesting words than that.  The guy at the cash register recognizes their photos.  Crikey, these two are stupid.
  
[Andrews and Burton pulls into a trailer park.  They are there to visit Billy Delois, whose trailer is festooned with Christmas lights.  "God, that offends me," snarls Andrews.  "People who keep their Christmas lights up year-round.  There oughta be a law against that.  And plastic Christmas trees.  There's no accounting for taste, Burton.  Remember that."  Burton looks as if he probably will, but perhaps not for the reason Andrews wishes.
  
  


  
Can I confess something?  I kind of agree with Jude here.  Only a-holes leave their Christmas lights up all year long.  I probably wouldn't legislate against it.  But then again, I might.
  
Andrews tells Burton to wait outside, and goes to the trailer's door.  He unplugs the lights.  "Scrooge," mutters Burton.  "Hey, Mr. Andrews, howyadoon!" says Billy.
  
At Falco Plains, Todhunter gives his team of assistants a pep talk.
  
  

  
The pep talk is short on pep, on account of how Todhunter can't remember anyone's name.  He also says something about how science is achievable only through human sacrifice.  Uh oh...
  
At Billy's, the janitor is showing Jude his stuffed mouse.
  
  


  
Jude tells Billy that Harlan is sick.  Billy wants to know what he has.  Jude says he doesn't know; something with "itis" on the end of it.  He can't remember those big words.  In fact, he thinks people use those big words just to confuse guys like him and Billy.  Billy, sympathetic and trusting, wants to know how he can help; Jude asks if Harlan ever talked about his family.  What follows is a sequence that feels as if it runs for ninety minutes, in which Andrews tries to prod the information out of the simple-minded janitor.
  
  

  
R.D. Call looks as if he wants to kill himself during this scene.  Or maybe he's just pretending, and it's that Jude Andrews wants to kill himself.  Or both.  My money is on both.
  
Anyways, Billy eventually remembers that Harlan's daughter is named Francesca, and that she lives in Chicago.  And that, blessedly, is that.  Andrews does not kill Billy.  By the time Billy's next scene rolls around, you may find yourself regretting Jude's inaction.]
  
When the bus arrives in Chicago, Terri spots a guy who she thinks is Shop waiting on them.  One dude.  One dude in a brown suit with a newspaper.  This is evidently the best The Shop can do.  Anyways, Terri asks a football team who happens to be on the bus with them to help her out, and they accost the Shop goon.  Terri and Gina slip away during the fracas.
  
  
PROPERTY OF ATHLETIC DEPT.  Sheesh.
  
Meanwhile, at an air field somewhere, Burton has gotten the address for Francesca Williams.  Andrews declares that that must be where the Williamses and Terri are going.  And so, he says, are they.
  
Speaking of which, Gina and Terri arrive there to find nobody at home.  Terri picks the lock, and they go right on in.  There's a poster of Lenin on the wall, which is funny both because Francie is blind, and also because that's the show's way of reinforcing the fact that Francie is a leftist radical.  Gina goes and sits in the window, because she's a moron.  Terri goes to sleep on the couch.
  
Cut to Todhunter, who is in his lab being crazy.  His new assistants won't go to full power without consent from Jude Andrews, who is unavailable.  Todhunter makes them leave the lab.
  
[On the road somewhere, Harlan is in a diner.  Margo Martindale is behind the counter, and she's flirting with Harlan like crazy.  He accidentally puts sugar in his coffee, but drinks it anyways, and then compliments the taste.  "You like sweet things?" asks Thelma the waitress.  "Depends on what it is," Harlan says cautiously.  "Well, I've got the best hot-cross buns in town," teases Thelma.
  
  




  
I love Margo Martindale.  Always have, ever since she played the small role of Buffalo Heiffer Woman in Lonesome Dove.  And I love her here, too.  She's gone on to have a hell of a career, ranging from small appearances in movies like Million Dollar Baby to major roles in tv shows like The Americans and Justified (for which she won an Emmy).
 
Her entire role on Golden Years was limited to this one scene, all of which got cut out for the feature edit.  But, oddly, her name still appears in the opening credits on the feature version.  A contractual obligation, most likely.  Fine by me.
  
As the scene here progresses, a big old bucket of cold water gets dumped on the hot flirtations:
  
  



 
Is this latest spell brought on by the flustered randiness Harlan obviously feels?  Maybe si, maybe no.  Either way, you sense that Thelma's hot-cross buns probably just got a lot cooler.  We don't find out; the scene fades out and goes to commercial.  This makes twice now that Harlan has had weird shit happen to his body in a very public place, only for the show to then cheat like mad and refuse to show us any fallout or repercussion to the incident.  That's bad writing, plain and simple.]
  
Back in Chicago, Francie shows up.  Terri points her gun at Whitney the Seeing-Eye Dog, and Gina defuses the situation by making her presence known.  They let Francie know that her father is on the way, and that they are on the run, and that they stole a hearse.  "You stole a hearse?" she asks.  They stole a hearse.  [And a police car.  This line is cut out in the feature edit, since in that edit, no police car was ever stolen.  The scene goes on a bit longer, with Gina beginning to explain their predicament to Francie, but stopping and saying that they should wait until Harlan arrives.]
  
Having arrived in Chicago, Andrews and Burton meet with some Shop goons, who are going to take them to Francie's apartment.
  
[Francie confronts Terri, and asks why she shouldn't call Falco Plains to find out who Terri really is.  Terri says Falco Plains is the last place she should call.  Francie is bluntly distrustful of Terri, and it is only Gina's insistence that prevents her from calling somebody and getting them all killed.]  
  
Harlan arrives at the apartment, seemingly having attracted no attention thanks to his having made the sun rise in the middle of the night.  Makes sense.  Anyways, Francie touches his face, and has not forgotten it at all; she exclaims over it, having noticed something is wrong.  Harlan explains that he is getting younger.
  
  
  
  
This is NOT followed by a cutaway to Whitney raising her head and making a "HUH...?!?" sound, which seems to me like a missed opportunity.
  
[Francie goes to Terri and speaks to her privately.  She's shaken by what she learned from touching her father's face.  She's not reconciliatory toward Terri in the least, however, nor Terri toward her.
  
  

  
Francie says she ought to not be surprised; her father evidently has some sort of history of getting into shit, and she says that "his big ideas" have kept him a janitor all his life.  We've seen zero evidence of any of this through the first five episodes.  "The only thing he was ever good at was keeping my mom married to him," says Francie.  "He was always in things: the Little League, Boys' Club, the P.A.L. Fund for the Homeless."  He was ecstatic when Francie moved to Chicago to join the radical movement.  Terri correctly assesses the situation: Francie is bitter toward Harlan because he gave her nothing to rebel against.
  
Crewes and Moreland arrive at the airport and approach a pilot, who is seemingly trying to talk a stewardess into joining the mile-high club.  Crewes produces a pistol and demands to know who the pilot brought in on his plane; the pilot tells him it was Andrews and Burton.  Is this scene pointless?  Hoo-boy, it sure is.
  
[Speeding along their way to Francie's apartment, the Shop agents attract attention from local police, who begin following them, lights a-flashin'.
  
At the airfield, Crewes marches the pilot and the stewardess into a closet and locks the door.  They don't seem too unhappy to go, and promptly fall into each others' arms.  Crewes tells Moreland he hopes to be back in a couple of hours.  Moreland, the creep, listens through the closet door.  He probably thinks the pilot and the stewardess are square-dancing.
  
  

  
Meanwhile, the Shop agents have been pulled over by the cops for speeding.  The cops have then found a bunch of automatic weapons, which is a problem.  The lead officer is being a real prick about the whole thing, and when it is cleared up by one of the other officers having confirmed Andrews' identity, Jude knees the policeman in the nuts and invites him to file a complaint.]
   
Cut to Francie's apartment, where there is a knock on the door.  It's Crewes, who has somehow gotten there before Andrews and Burton.  [It makes sense in the televised version, thanks to the police pulling the Shop agents over; it makes none in the feature.]  He tells everyone that Jude is on the way, so Terri says they'll go to the parking garage and steal a car.  No need, says Francie; she's got a neighbor's car keys.  
  
[The Shop agents pull up in front of the apartment building.  Andrews says he wants to go up alone, and tells everyone else what positions to go to.]
  
So our gang go down to the parking garage, just in time for a carload of Shop goons to come tires-a-squealin' into the lot.  The goons get out and promptly begin firing every whichaway, because that makes sense in such a situation.  
  
[Burton radios up to Andrews that they've got them pinned down in the parking garage.]  
  
Andrews isn't with the goons; he's evidently been upstairs, and comes out of an elevator.  Whitney the Seeing-Eye Dog attacks him, but he shoots and kills Whitney, much to Francie's chagrin.  Bad form, show; never kill the dog!
  
Terri shoots out the lights so that Francie can lead them to her friend's car.  Andrews takes potshots at them as they move, and eventually wings Terri, and is himself winged.  Terri and company are able to make a successful getaway.  [Although an oncoming car briefly gets in their way, and they have to honk their horn repeatedly to get it to back out of the way.  A commercial truck gets in Burton's way, which causes him to swerve into the obligatory tomato stand.  This slows them down long enough to permit the fugitives to escape.]
  
Andrews tells Burton to have Chicago P.D. alert everyone on the "blue list" (which consists of hypes, whores, and aging hippies) to be on the lookout for the group.
  
Terri tells Harlan that they have to change cars.  She and Lewis go off to steal one; she tells Harlan to give them ten minutes.  If they don't show back up, the Williamses are on their own.  [So endeth episode six.
  
As episode seven -- which is directed by Michael Gornick and written by Josef Anderson from a story by Stephen King -- begins] Terri and Lewis are discussing their options in terms of where they should go and how they should get there.  Lewis wants to make a run for the airport, and figure the rest out in the air, but Francie says she knows of a place where they can hide out, a safe-house.
  
[At the airfield, Moreland is inside the airplane pretending to be a fighter pilot.  He thinks he hears something outside, buts goes out and finds nothing.]
  
Francie's safe-house turns out, of course, to be a nest of filthy hippies.  One of these dirtbags goes by the name Captain Trips.  The average Stephen King fan is sure to think of this as an oblique reference to The Stand, but it feels more like a standard-issue Grateful Dead reference to me.
  
  

  
Francie and one of the hippies, Sybil, talk about how best to get Harlan, Gina, and company to safety.  They finally settle on the idea of using some dude in Wisconsin, and Francie says she will go on ahead to get the ball rolling.   And that is the last we ever see of Francie, who disappears from the story after this scene.
  
I must confess that currently, rather than watch the next scene -- which involves Todhunter recruiting Billy the janitor to help him complete his experiment -- I am typing this sentence.  Luckily, the scene ended while I was typing.  Billy is listening to music on his headphones in the scene, and it may be one of the worst songs I have ever heard.
  
Lewis and Captain Trips go out, Trips ostensibly to order a pizza, but actually to check in with the po-po.  He, evidently, is on the blue list Andrews was telling Burton about earlier.  He sells everyone out right quick, including Lewis, who has disguised himself as a hippie:
  
  
  
  
Lewis calls Moreland to update him, after which Moreland hangs up the phone and goes outside the plane, where he tells a couple of grim-faced Shop goons that he tried to do what they told him to do.  Neither of the goons speak.  See, if you speak, you get paid more as an actor, and nobody wanted to pay these two yahoos, but there needed to be yahoos there to let us know that Moreland had been flipped.  So these two poor bastards -- who were probably stuntmen or something -- got paid (and probably not very much) to just stand there silently while Stephen Root yammered at them.  Pretty bad.
  
Speaking of "pretty bad," there's this, which is significantly worse [and longer in the televised version, including Todhunter telling Billy about seventy times that the janitor should "excited and determined" to see the results of the experiment]:
  
  


  
  
That's Billy the janitor giving Dr. Todhunter the ready-to-go signal.  Motherfucker has a lab coat and everything.  Well, why not?
  
The experiment proceeds, and the clock that Todhunter is observing begins glowing green and running backward.  It's a big old success.  The clock disappears!  "It works!" Todhunter giggles.  "It works!"  He actually capers, he's so happy.  I swear to God, Bill Raymond does the dance move -- I don't know what it's called -- where you simulate riding a horse.  SO WEIRD.

Meanwhile:
  
  


  
  
The phrase "slack-jawed yokel" comes to mind.
  
[Gina is sitting by herself, trying halfheartedly to tune a radio to her favorite program (the old-timey music we've heard her listening to previously).  She is obviously ill, and seems to be on the verge of passing out or something.  Harlan walks in, finds the program for her, and coaxes her into slow-dancing with him a bit.  She is obviously hiding how ill she is from him.]
  
Elsewhere, Andrews has gone to the airfield to spend some time with Moreland.  Jude is trying to toss peanuts into the Major's mouth while the Major tries to explain his actions to Andrews.  Neither of them does very well, although Moreland does eventually catch a peanut.  "Thank you," he cheerfully says to Andrews as he chews it.
  
In the midst of this, Burton walks up and tells Andrews that Todhunter is on the line for him.  He then tells Jude that one of his blue agents has come through and reported the location of the fugitives.  Wouldn't you think he'd mention that first?  Andrews doesn't seem to notice Burton's poor presentation, which tells me that the screenplay didn't ask him to notice.  Andrews tells Burton to get city plans of the area around the hippie house; Burton asks why, but backs off when he sees Andrews' steely gaze.  
  
Andrews tells Burton that he wants to move on the hippie-house at first light.  He says this in broad daylight, seemingly in the middle of the day.  This means one of two things: (1) that the scene was supposed to take place at night but was not filmed that way; or (2) that Andrews wants to wait until the next morning for some odd reason.  Either way, this is dumb.  If you can't film at night, you probably ought to take out lines of dialogue that indicate it is night.  Just sayin'.  And if we're expected to believe Andrews would wait until the next morning, well . . . that's too much for me to swallow, given how gung-ho he is.
  
Andrews tells Todhunter that he wants him to shut the project down until he gets back.  Todhunter initially refuses, but capitulates when Andrews tells him he has the janitor.
  
Back at the hippie-house, Lewis finds Terri cleaning her pistol on a waterbed.  He plops down beside her and falls asleep, but not before he tells her that he didn't like the way Moreland sounded on the phone, and not before she tells him about an access she found to an old storm tunnel.  In case they need it.
  
  

  
[Outside, I guess it's first light already, because there are garbage collectors loading assault rifles into garbage cans, and guys with rifles standing plain as day on top of nearby houses.  Captain Trips leaves the house, and doesn't seem to be surprised to see any of the bustling activity.]
  
Harlan -- looking quite a bit younger -- wakes Gina with a kiss and invites her to "dance."  "Yes; slow," she agrees. Presumably, some dusty intercourse follows this.
  
  
  
  
Captain Trips walks up to Andrews and Burton and takes his payment from them with much amusement.  "It really is great to see my tax dollars at work," he says.  "I love you guys!"  Andrews asks Burton if he has the city plans he asked for; Burton indicates that he has not gotten them yet, and Andrews literally twists his ear until he understands that time is of the essence.
  
In bed, Harlan and Gina have finished "dancing."  Gina asks Harlan to hold her, and she begins speaking somewhat gloomily; Harlan points it out and says he feels as if a goose has walked over his grave.  Not a goose, says Gina; "that man, Andrews; if he's not the Devil's right hand, he's the Devil himself."  This makes me want to cut together a fan video of Nick Cave's "Red Right Hand" using footage of R.D. Call from Golden Years, but I have neither the time nor the skill to do it.  Let's settle instead for the actual video for the song:
 
 

  
  
  
Gina proceeds to ask Harlan how many times they have made love over the years.  "Since 1941?" Harlan asks.  "I don't know exactly, Gina, but I guess if we had a buck for each time we could buy a Mercedes-Benz."  Gina says, in a defeated and inarguable tone, that it was different this time.  She knows Harlan felt it, too.  "You listen to me, now," she says.  "Nothing ever really ends, Harl; I don't know if I believe in the Heaven my mother believed in, but I do believe that: that nothing ever really ends."  
  
  
  
  

We cut from this tender conversation to a scene in which Moreland finally has the nervous breakdown we've sensed was on the way for a while now.  He's sitting at a table, trying to balance a peanut on top of a bottle of soda.  The cap is still on, and Moreland seems to be playing a game with himself: he will only allow himself to uncap the bottle and drink it once he has succeeded in balancing a peanut on top of it.  Which, after a few moments, he does.
  
  
  

  
  
I'm fascinated by this scene, because I'd love to know whether what's going on with the peanut and the soda bottle was written into the screenplay, or whether it was just a bit of weirdo business that Stephen Root came up with.  What's interesting is that balancing the peanut actually seems to be hard work, and yet Stephen Root is able to do it more or less as soon as Erik King's lines as Burton come to an end.  (Burton has been in the background haranguing somebody about his need for the city plans, while Moreland is in the foreground messing with his nuts.)  So . . . was it a fortuitous accident that Root was able to balance the peanut at precisely that moment?  Or was the case instead that Root was simply acting as though the peanut was difficult to balance for the first part of the scene?
  
This may seem like a silly thing to be wondering about, but I don't think it's actually silly at all.  The scene works for me, because the way Root plays the scene is compelling.  He's good throughout the movie/series, in fact, although for the (pardon the pun) majority of it he is also annoying and grating, because that's what he has been asked to do.  But I'll give him props: he does it well.  And in this weird little peanut scene, he's terrific; he seems genuinely like a guy whose seams are coming undone right in front of us.  So, yeah; I think it would be very interesting to find out the genesis of this little business with the peanuts.  Because of it, the scene has a sort of organic, natural quality that is almost wholly missing from the rest of the series.  I suspect we have Stephen Root to thank for this.
  
Regardless of such concerns, Moreland is simultaneously freaking out about how he hasn't seen any paperwork on any of the action going on around him.  His accountant's heart is breaking, and his mind can't handle the strain.  He goes outside and begins hollering at the top of his lungs about the lack of authorization and requisitions and whatnot.  Andrews follows him out and shoots him dead, but it's too late; Moreland's freak-out has alerted Terri and Lewis to the imminent danger.
  
Inside, some of the filthy hippies are upset with Terri and Lewis, not only for bringing guns into their house, but for bringing the police down upon them.  Sybil and one the other granola-heads decide to go outside and negotiate; they tell everyone else to hold hands and chant while they go outside.  "Let's get out here," says Terri to Lewis; "it's going to be a bloodbath."
  
She's not wrong.
 
The representatives go outside, and the guy asks who's in charge.  Andrews says he is.  The hippie asks him what his name is.  "Jude Andrews," Jude replies.  "Hey, Jude," the hippie says; "I'm Tom."  R.D. Call nods ruefully at the "hey, Jude" line, which seems about right for the character.  Andrews tells the hippies to send out the old man; the hippies say they can't do that.  Andrews orders the snipers to aerate Sybil and Tommy, and they do so.
  
Captain Trips has been watching all of this, and he decides to flee the scene.  Andrews has other plans.  He shoots Captain Trips and shoots his car, too: shoots that fucker until it explodes.
  
  
   
  
Andrews then orders his people to fire gas grenades into the house.  
 
[At this point, the television version and the feature version sort of branch off from one another, so I'm going to now follow the television version through until the end, and then circle back to the feature version.  We good?  Good.
  
Inside the house, the hippies begin trying to put out fires that have been started by the gas grenades, which doesn't actually make much sense.  I mean, sure, it makes sense to try to put out the fires; but I'm not sure why any fires would have broken out to begin with.  Also, shouldn't people be passing out or something?  Whatever.
  
Terri finds Harlan cradling Gina, who seems to have passed out in the floor or something. 
  
  

  
Terri checks Gina's pulse and doesn't like what she finds.  She warns Harlan that they may have to leave her, but Harlan refuses.  He screams "no!" at the top of his lungs, and there is an edit to Andrews, outside, stewing; he looks incredibly badass and blows cigarette smoke out of his nostrils like he's a snorting bull or something.
  
  



  
If I live to be as old as Yoda, I'll never get within shouting distance of being that cool.
  
Lewis convinces Terri that they have to be gone before Andrews gets to them.  She tells Harlan that they'll carry Gina if they have to, but he still doesn't want to move.  She kisses him sadly on the cheek, and then she and Lewis hightail it out of there.
  
Gina wakes up just long enough to speak Harlan's name, and then she is out again.  Judging from Harlan's reaction, she has gone to sleep forever.  He carries her body outside, screaming, "You bastard, I'll kill you!"  
  
  

  
Burton sneaks up behind him and injects him with what I assume is a powerful sedative.  Harlan staggers a bit, manages to put Gina's body on the ground, then falls to his knees.  Andrews looks on devilishly.
  
  


  
Andrews crouches down to talk to Harlan, and Harlan tries to choke him out.  Harlan even tries to bite off one of his ears, and is damn near successful before Andrews is able to goad Burton into cold-cocking the "old man."  Burton is about to shoot him, but Andrews stops him.  Burton really is stupid; The Shop must have some sort of a program wherein they offer internships to imbeciles.
  
Terri and Lewis come running out of the other end of the storm drain.  "I blew it," Terri says despondently.   She's not wrong.
  
Andrews reports in, presumably to his Shop superior.  He confesses that Terri and Lewis got away, and you sense that without them, this is not much of a victory for Jude.
  
  


Terri is crying over the situation.  Lewis tries to cheer her up, and suggests that they could find their way back to Falco Plains pretty easily.  Terri understands that he is suggesting a rescue operation; she agrees.
  
And speaking of Falco Plains...
  
  




Andrews wants to know where Dr. Todhunter is; he's evidently nowhere to be found, and Andrews is surprised, since he'd expressed the desire to begin working with Williams as soon as possible.
  
Todhunter has gone to visit his father's grave, to bury another watch and to give his father an update on the Williams situation.  He begs his father's pardon as he leaves; "I have an appointment," he says.
  
Back in the infirmary, Harlan is muttering in his sleep.  Andrews asks Burton what he's saying, and Burton translates: "No more."  Andrews indicates that there will be more; how much or how little is dependent upon Todhunter.
  
Harlan's eyes begin glowing green.
  
  


We zoom in on his forehead, and a dissolve lets us know that we are entering his dreams: we see he and Gina dancing in happier times.  "Golden Years" begins playing, and we push in on a pair of photos of the two of them as young people.  Cue credits.  But not before we see this:
  
  

  
Which, of course, was never to be.] 

And now, we return to the feature edit for its wrapup:
 
Terri and Lewis go to Harlan and Gina and say they've all got to get out of the house, so they run off, presumably to the hidden exit Terri mentioned earlier.
  
Outside, Burton brings Andrews the city plans, and Jude looks at them for a couple of seconds, then figures out what Terri is up to.  He heads off in pursuit.  [It's worth pointing out that in the televised version, these plans never arrive, which perhaps explains why Andrews is not able to track and capture Terri and Lewis.]
 
Cut to Terri, emerging from a storm drainage pipe with Harlan and Gina.
  
  
  
  
Gina more or less passes out, evidently ill, and the escape is put on hold briefly.  Terri is concerned about Lewis's whereabouts, and goes over to the pipe to look for him.  Andrews emerges.  Harlan begins glowing green, and tells Gina to hold onto him.  Andrews yells at her to let him go, and goes over to them to force the issue; the green energy field surrounding them shocks Andrews and knocks him to the ground.  Andrews has disarmed Terri, but, in a moment of unbelievable stupidity, has flung her weapon aside rather than, you know, just hold onto it himself.  So, of course, she gets to her gun, grabs it, and shoots Jude dead.
  
Meanwhile, Harlan and Gina have both disappeared completely.
  
Lewis emerges from the tunnel/pipe thingy.  Terri asks him if he believes people get second chances in life; she says she thinks they have just gotten one.  The two of them walk off together, non-reg, possibly for the rest of their lives.
  
Cut to a pair of photos of Harlan and Gina, young, vital, alive.  Where are they now?
  
  
     
  
Who can say?
  
The opening guitar line of David Bowie's "Golden Years" (an instrumental version of it, at least) takes us into the end credits, and the movie has ended.
  
*****
  
There is plenty to talk about here, and I suppose it'd be permissible to end this review with some bulletpoints wherein I discuss some of the lingering or notable issues.
  • That ending.  That ending, that ending.  I would love to know whether Stephen King had a hand in writing the ending for the feature version, or if this came from someone else.  Neither answer would surprise me.  Either way, it's probably unusual for a television series to have an alternate ending filmed in case of series cancellation.  My take on it, though, is that I vastly prefer the as-televised ending.  The tacked-on ending in which Harlan and Gina vanish and Andrews is killed feels hasty and unearned, and it resolves too little to actually feel like a resolution.  It feels like exactly what it is: a fake, inadequate resolution.  The televised ending is no resolution at all, but personally, if offered the choice between reading an incomplete novel and reading an incomplete novel rendered "complete" by a tacked-on and unsatisfying ending, I'd choose the incomplete novel every time.  This one at least points the way toward what might have happened next; it feels more genuinely "Stephen King" than the feature edit.  To me, at least.
  • Familiar King tropes pop up: the fear and distrust of both government and science; the implication that the hippies were losers; alcohol addiction (Crewes drinks a LOT during the series, though little is made of it); the presence of a retarded character.
  • There seems to be a perception (pardon the pun) out there that Felicity Huffman as Terri Spann served as some sort of direct forerunner for Gillian Anderson as Dana Scully on The X-Files.  Here are the similarities as I see them: both women work for the government; both women have vaguely similarly-shaped faces; both women wear suits; both women possess firearms; both women have semi-bald bosses; both women are present near supernatural or extra-normal events.  And that's it, really.  Unless Chris Carter or Gillian Anderson says otherwise, I say now for the record that I call bullshit on this idea that Scully was influenced by Terri Spann in any way.
  • As you know, I am a huge Stephen King fan.  But I'm no sycophant, and when I think he's off his game, I'm happy to say so.  For my money, one of his absolute worst traits is his sense of humor.  Judging from interviews, he's an extremely funny guy in real life; he tells a good joke, if nothing else.  But when writing "funny" characters, I find King to be somewhat cringe-worthy.  There's a lot of that in Golden Years, from Major Moreland to Billy Delois to Dr. Todhunter.  Maybe it works for some people; but almost none of it here works for me.
  • The biggest problem with Golden Years is the lack of real resolution.  The second-biggest is the shifting set of character motivations, which occasionally become so strained as to be absent.  It feels at times like King is merely moving chess pieces about, and that he assigns motivations to them based solely on where he wants to move them.  This is something he is rarely guilty of in prose, if ever.  But here, he's got a bad case of it.
  • Did I actually get all the way through that review without mentioning the makeup?  I think I did.  Lordy, lordy; that's lousy reviewage, there.  The old-age makeup on Keith Szarabajka is really quite exceptional.  No surprise there, since the makeup design was evidently courtesy of Dick Smith, the Oscar- and Emmy-winning genius who worked on little movies like The Exorcist, The Godfather, and Taxi Driver.  Smith passed away just a few days ago, and the industry lost a legend.  Golden Years might not necessarily be among his finest achievements, but it's strong work nonetheless, and it was aided tremendously by the actor inside it: Szarabajka, who is really quite good in the series.
  • One natural way for the series to have developed during this first season would be to show occasional flashbacks to young Harlan and young Gina, to give us a sense of who they were.  Instead, King wisely opted to only divulge such things by means of the two of them reminiscing with each other.  Part of what motivates the series is a keen sense of loss in terms of the passage of time.  This is something many people will be familiar with; it's a natural, and a profound, human emotion.  Depriving the audience of seeing Harlan and Gina as young people increases that sense of loss; it makes their youth seem like something that is so far gone that it can't even be glimpsed, except in occasional fleeting photographs.  This is like how we know our grandparents, but can never know them as they once were.  If we saw flashbacks of them, it would change the dynamic altogether.  
  • I've been hard on King throughout this review, but I'll say this: there are numerous good scenes, and a lot of good dialogue-based scenes.  I've quoted many of them.  There are also some lousy ones, and I quoted some of them, too.
  • I've seen the question posed elsewhere: what if Golden Years had been a novel?  Well, for my part, I think it could have been a good one.  I love the conceit: there's an accident, and as a result an old man begins growing younger, and begins emotionally growing distant from his long-time wife as a (perhaps inevitable) result.  Though he's given some lousy motivations in the series, Jude Andrews is a fascinating character; thanks mostly to R.D. Call, yes, but you sort of sense that King would be able to do a great job with the character in prose.  The relationship between Terri and Lewis is nice; Francie seems like a potentially good character; there's lots of stuff here that could work.  I'm less convinced by Todhunter and Moreland, but I'd love to see them as directly depicted by King.  Bottom line: boy, I really wish this was a novel.
  • Where do you suppose the second season might have gone?  Well, here are the lingering plot threads as I see them, all of which needed further exploration: Jude's pursuit of Terri; Todhunter's experimentation upon Harlan (which would probably involve Billy having mixed feelings and eventually helping Harlan escape); Harlan's developing powers; the potential romance between Harlan and Terri; Francie's whereabouts; Todhunter's massive daddy issues; Terri potentially using Sheriff Mayo to help her and Lewis; and, of course, Burton's continued idiocy and the continued tardiness of Fredericks.
  • I think it's probably obvious, but I suppose I ought to state it for the record: I would take the televised episodes over the feature edit every time.  In writing this review, I watched both, beginning with the feature version.  I found it quite a slog, to be honest, and found myself growing extremely impatient with it.  This was less the case with the televised episodes, which flow much more fluidly and add a lot of depth; they don't correct all of the problems, but they help massively.  I don't know that you'll have the same experience, but my recommendation is that if you want to watch Golden Years and have access to the original episodes, you watch them.

And with that, I've said more or less all I have to say about Golden Years.  It's not a great show.  I'm not sure I'd even say it's a good show.  But it's got its virtues in addition to its problems, and all in all, I'm glad I gave it the thorough attention I've given it here.  I think I understand it better than ever before, for better AND for worse.

Run for the shadows . . . run for the shadows . . .run for the shadows in the golden years . . . 

5 comments:

  1. 1) First off, kudos on such a comprehensive overview. I can only imagine how long this one took to put together. I've never seen any of these episodes, but - although I lost track of who was who at times, but it was easy enough to backtrack and figure out - definitely feel now like I'm well familiar with what it was about, how it was shot, and just the general feel/ vibe of things.

    2) That "I wear a high-waist pant / wtf" screencap is great.

    3) Almost as great (if not more) than that one of the creepy dolls. If they were a tad to the righter-side of the frame, it'd make a fine cover photo. Hell, still would.

    4) I also like that bloody-eyeball picture. What can I say, I'm strange.

    5) Captain Pike reference? Bryan... approves...!

    6) Good point with regards to the general getting condescended to by the bellhop/ whomever. Suspension (bridge) of disbelief, collapsed. (Compounded by the gate security dude giving him no respect later! This general doesn't do general-ing very well.)

    7) Love that Andrews/ Rainbird cap and in-text. Very nice.

    8) That's cool that they use the Bowie song in so many different ways. I love when such things happen. Robert Altman's underrated "The Long Goodbye" might be the all-time winner for how to showcase the same piece of music in dozens of inventive ways - I wish more movies/ tv would employ this approach.

    8.5) I'm not too, too well-versed in Bowie, but I've seen The Man Who Fell to Earth dozens of times, and I went through a period where I had to listen to Ziggy Stardust every day for months. Just such a fantastic album, that.

    9) That "Surprise, mutha" montage is pretty funny. I might have watched that twice. (EDIT: Make that three times.)

    10) Ditto for that WTF/ Billy's-mouse-trap cap.

    11) The Shop doesn't seem as effective as they once were, in this. They must have forgotten they had snipers, or perhaps all the snipers were fired after "the McGee incident." Internships for imbeciles, indeed.

    12) R.I.P. Dick Smith.

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    1. I have never seen "The Long Goodbye," but being as I am a very big John Williams fan, I do own two different versions of the soundtrack. It's great music. You'd think -- or at least I'D think -- that such a concept would result in something awful, but it didn't for that movie.

      By the way, in case I misrepresented it, the score(s) for "Golden Years" are not composed the same way. Joe Taylor breaks out maybe three or four instrumental versions of the song, but the vast majority of the score is his own music. Some of it good, some of it bad, most of it somewhere in between.

      Thanks for slogging your way through this epic!

      Delete
    2. My pleasure. (And no, you didn't misrepresent it - I probably should have segued better in my comment.)

      Delete
  2. Not too long ago, I rewatched "Cujo," and I noticed something I'd forgotten about when I rewatched "Golden Years" -- the Cambers are played by Ed Lauter and Kaiulani Lee. Lauter and Lee appear together during the final episode of "Golden Years" (she's one of the main hippies at the safe-house).

    Your blogger regrets his inattention to such a blatant example of King-movie trivia.

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  3. Another piece of King-movie trivia:

    Bill Raymond (Dr. Toddhunter in "Golden Years") appears in multiple episodes of "The Wire" playing The Greek. I just realized that was him tonight. Also on "The Wire": future Roland Deschain himself, Idris Elba.

    Now you've surely got all the reasons you need to see "The Wire," right?

    ReplyDelete