Aquaman “Pilot” (part 7 of 11)

Establishing shot of—hold the phone, it says Tempest Key Hospital! Those morons, they got the dialogue wrong back in the rescue scene, after all. And don’t tell me there are two hospitals, because we’re about to find out that John “I’ll show you my glowing seahorse if you show me yours” Doe from the raftwreck is here, too. This show not only doesn’t know what it’s about, it doesn’t even know where it takes place.

Inside, A.C. is pouring Torres a glass of water (see? He is Aquaman! Or possibly Busboyman). She wakes up and says, “It’s you!” Well, she’s got him there.

He tosses some quips at her, which drop to the floor with a thud, and then asks if she remembers anything. She remembers a flash of light, and then flying through the water, being carried by A.C. “We were going so fast,” she murmurs blissfully with her eyes closed, making me wonder if being rescued by A.C. actually made her experience the Big O. Not even the movie version of Mary Jane Watson is this into being rescued.

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So anyway, the grin that A.C. flashed before chasing the jet, and also that one scene with Eva are, so far, the only indications we’ve gotten of how A.C. feels about his powers. I think the producers deliberately chose to move away from the teen angst thing that weighs down other UPN/WB/CW genre shows. Unfortunately, they’ve replaced the angst with nothing at all. Like here: This scene would be a good opportunity to let us in on A.C.’s true feelings a little more, but unfortunately, all we get are more hints and evasions. At least Lt. Torres is persistent enough not to let him get completely away with it. Hey, you don’t take a lot of crap when you’re half-Klingon.

A.C. tells her that oxygen deprivation was probably making her hallucinate, and tries to bail on her. But she challenges him, asking if he thinks she’s crazy. He says he’ll reserve judgment until the pain killers wear off, and starts to leave again. She pulls him up short to ask his name, but he says it’s not important. Man, is he seriously trying to ditch here.

You know, if he really wanted anonymity, maybe he should have left the hospital while she was still unconscious. But instead, he waited for her to wake up, just so he could be evasive and make her more suspicious. Just like how Clark’s constant, self-conscious evasiveness has made everyone in Smallville… well, okay, it’s made them all completely oblivious to Clark’s powers. So maybe A.C. is onto something, after all.

Caption contributed by Mark

“Did you send me this lame get-well card? It was you, wasn’t it?”

So Torres pries his initials and a dazzling smile out of him, and he finally makes good his escape. But as he walks down the hall, he notices his seahorse is starting to glow again. (Why does that sound dirty every time I write it?) It’s not enough for him to notice that it’s glowing, of course; He has to actually pull it out from under his shirt and hold it up so that he (and the camera) can get a better look.

A.C. then looks to his left, as if sensing something, and sees a young man lying in a hospital bed. His chest is also glowing, so either he’s got a seahorse pendant too, or he’s E.T.

A.C. goes into the room and walks slowly up to the guy, reaching out like he’s going to cop a feel. But he’s actually reaching for the seahorse, which he has to fondle for some reason. (Hmm, maybe there is something dirty about this. Except Dad did the same thing on the rescue chopper, and I’m not sure I really want to go there.) Apparently, this seahorse doubles as an “on” switch for Raftwreck Boy, because for the second time, as soon as somebody touches it, he snaps awake and start babbling.

“Orin!” he gasps, grabbing A.C.’s hand. Why does everyone keep grabbing his hands, anyway? Until shown evidence to the contrary, I’ll just assume he uses Palmolive, and people can’t get enough of how soft his hands are.

Raftwreck Boy cries, “They know you’re here! They know you survived!” But all A.C. wants to know is why he called him Orin, and where he got the funky necklace. As we’ve already seen, this show has a strict rule forbidding any straight answers during the first half, so the guy simply murmurs, “They’re coming.” That’s alarming. I hope they don’t have a cave troll. (And if you’re wondering what happened recently to cause “them” to learn that A.C. survived and where he is, keep wondering. We’ll never find out.)

Before A.C. can badger the guy any further, a cop interrupts, and I swear he’s the twin brother of the guy who interrogated Chekhov in Star Trek IV. When A.C. asks who he is, the cop only says smugly, “This badge means I’m the only one asking questions.” And he’s clearly the type of character who, even if someone were allowed to ask him questions, would invariably respond with “Bite me.” Look, Mr. Screenwriter, I promise you’re allowed to provide some straight answers. Please?

Caption contributed by Mark

“I’m Brigman. This is my wallet.”

Two flunkies enter and roll Raftweck Boy’s hospital bed away. A.C. demands to know where they’re taking him, but Mr. I’m-Asking-The-Questions just gives him a sour look and stalks off. A.C. stomps after him. “Where – are – you – taking – him?” I am totally not buying Justin Hartley’s Butch Voice here. But after trailing them just a short ways down the corridor, he gives up and wanders off in another direction, with a “geez, what a gyp” expression on his face. Here’s an idea, A.C.: Try – following – them! People always say Aquaman is completely useless on land, but I never knew it was quite this bad.

As our hero valiantly abandons chase, he passes a hot girl who looks like an extra from Beach Babes 2. On second thought, she’s way too hot to be an extra in Beach Babes 2. Or one of the leads.

She’s looking very pleased with herself, like she just lifted A.C.’s wallet when he brushed past her. She heads in the direction of Raftwreck Boy and Bite Me Guy, all the while still staring after A.C. with a sly grin. Psychic closed captioning, if it existed, would definitely say “Mwahahaha!” here.

Beach Babes Girl is played by Adrianne Palicki, who can currently be seen on the NBC drama Friday Night Lights. But most Smallville watchers will remember her as the girl who thought she was a Kryptonian and wandered around naked all over the Kent farm and stuff. Turns out she was just a human who was being punk’d by Jor-El, as a part of his plan to trick Clark into climbing into the cave wall with his dad. No, seriously.

Caption contributed by Mark

“That Aquaman guy is the cutest thing since little pointy drinking cups!”

The next we see of Raftwreck Boy, he’s being held in a room somewhere, with Bite Me Guy and a matronly black aide observing him through one-way glass. (We find out later this is the infirmary at the Bad Acting Naval Base, so Bite Me Guy must feel right at home.) They establish that Raftwreck Boy isn’t displaying violent tendencies “like the others.” So while most people get majorly pissed and aggressive when they’re kidnapped and locked away for observation, Raftwreck Boy is pretty cool with it.

Bite Me Guy looks over a file from the Navy archives. It seems Raftwreck Boy’s dental records match those of Ensign Gus Thompson, who disappeared along with the rest of Flight 19 on December 5, 1945 [!!]. There’s so much stupidity packed into this revelation, it’s going to take serious effort to be brief about it.

First of all: Dental records do not work that way! (“Thank you, Morbo.”) Yes, dental records are useful in identifying the bodies of crash victims, because the set of victims is small and finite. With a plane crash, you know who got on the plane. You can then compare a body to the small set of dental records you’re working with, and use the process of elimination to identify who’s who. But dental records are not unique. They’re not like DNA. If someone didn’t come physically out of the wreckage, and anyway looks, you know, multiple decades too young to have been in the crash, in terms of positive identification, dental records are about as useful as a crystal ball.

And second: Flight 19 is the old famous warhorse of Bermuda Triangle legends. It’s a Navy training flight of five torpedo bombers that ditched somewhere off the south Florida coast with fourteen crew aboard. Charles Berlitz used a half-fabricated version of the story to help launch himself as an expert on the Triangle, and the circumstances have been much embellished ever since. But from what I’ve read, it’s pretty clear that it was all a massive screw-up. The inexperienced flight instructor, who was unfamiliar with the area, thought he had gotten lost but hadn’t, and the planes ran out of fuel at night as he pursued a course based on his mistaken understanding of their position. Come to think of it, if I were the Navy, perhaps I’d rather believe in the Bermuda Triangle and belligerent mermaids than cop to this level of incompetence.

Of course, Bite Me Guy, as sour and pissed off at the world as he is, accepts all this as blandly as if he’d been told that Yankees players get paid rather large salaries. He holds up a 60-year-old snapshot of a Navy flier next to Raftwreck Boy and says, “Welcome home, Ensign Thompson.” Hope your grandchildren can put you up somewhere, ’cause you’re definitely past retirement age.

Caption contributed by Mark

The lesser-known mystery of Fred Earhart is finally solved.

Mark "Scooter" Wilson

Mark is a history guy, a graphics guy, a guy for whom wryly cynical assessments of popular culture are the scallion cream cheese on the toasted everything bagel of life. He spends his time teaching modern history at Brooklyn College, pondering the ancient Romans at the CUNY Graduate Center, and conjuring maps and illustrations for ungrateful bankers at various Manhattan monoliths. Readers are welcome to guess at reasons why he’s nicknamed Scooter, with the proviso that all such submissions are guaranteed to be rather more interesting than the truth. Mark lives in the Midwood section of Brooklyn with a happy-go-lucky, flop-eared dog named Chiyo who is probably, at this very moment, waiting patiently for her walkies.

Multi-Part Article: Aquaman "Pilot"

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