May 9, 2017
Mister T “Cape Kennedy Caper” (part 5 of 7)
The darkroom is bathed in that low, red light that darkrooms are always bathed in. Robin opens the door a crack, and sees the bad guy developing film, and her camera on the table. Just then, Cruela grabs her from behind. What happens next is… confusing. And insane. At long last, something that’s flat out insane!
Robin is in a hallway on the left, the door to the darkroom is on the right. Cruela suddenly grabs her from behind. The door to the darkroom flies open. For reasons not entirely grounded in physics, the darkroom stays dark. None of the hallway photons cross through the open door. The film is not instantly ruined the way it would be in a rational world. Mr. T pities the universe where cause and effect are in any way related.
Robin jumps from Cruela’s grasp to the left, away from the darkroom. She does a front handspring, launching herself to the left and landing on a table in… the darkroom. The hell? It’s definitely the darkroom. It’s all red and stuff.
Cruela jumps up on the table, sneering, “I don’t have time for your playground gymnastics!” Seriously, Cruela, give her some credit. You’re not going to see a forward handspring that rips a hole in the fabric of space on your average playground.
Robin, up to the challenge, does a back handspring. The male bad guy grabs her feet. Since he’s far heavier than Robin, this should bring her to the ground in a heap. Instead, it’s like he caught the reins of a moving horse. He gets whipped around, pulled up in the air, and lands on his face with a thud.
So, I think I figured out Robin’s power. She can vary her density. If she wants to do all sorts of gymnastics things, she can become exceedingly light. But then she can become super-dense—like, black hole dense—if she needs to create a wormhole or flip a bad guy into the air. And, also, somehow this power makes her a complete cold sore.
Whatever her power, it doesn’t help to explain what happens next. Cruela grabs Robin and subdues her by… twisting her arm behind her back. That’s it. That’s Robin’s weakness. She becomes powerless once her left thumb touches the small of her back.
Cruela asks, “What do we do with this Nancy Drew?” Wow, I wish Cruela had been talking like this the entire episode. Saying stuff like, “The acid I spill will still make them ill.” That would have been cool.
The male bad guy says he knows the perfect place, and slaps some duct tape over Robin’s mouth. I’m with you on at least half of this plan, Male Bad Guy.
Cruela hands Robin over, saying she’ll finish developing the film “that has the launch code and vector coordinates.” It’s nice to see the bad guys are cross-trained. They can both develop film. I assume they can both drive the tram. Too often we see bad guys that don’t take the time to properly prepare. And that’s about standards. That’s about the craft.
By the way, I have no idea what “vector coordinates” are in this context. It certainly sounds like nonsense.
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And not to harp on an old subject, but what exactly is the launch code supposed to do? Does it convince the shuttle’s computers that it’s t-minus 30 seconds, and they need to take over the launch? If so, all that’s going to happen is the computers are going to check if everything is ready for launch, find out nothing is ready for launch, and shut themselves down. It’s happened plenty of times. On July 13, 1985, the shuttle’s computers scrubbed a launch three seconds before liftoff.
Even if the code caused the computers to ignore all their programming and barrel ahead with the launch, what good does that do Cruela? It’s clear she has no plans to launch the shuttle earlier than its actual liftoff time. It’s less than t-minus 30 minutes, and she’s still developing film.
But other than all that, this is a great plan. It cannot fail. NASA and the shuttle crew will be powerless. I mean, it’s not as if there’s a big, giant button on the flight deck that aborts the whole launch. That would just be stupid.
As he leaves, Cruela’s accomplice pretends to tell her where to meet up later, but it’s really just a flimsy excuse to talk to the audience. “I’ll meet you at the boat so we can radio the information to our employers.” Booooring. “Then they can blow up the shuttle!” Boooor… Jiggawha??!
This episode is about a plot to blow up the space shuttle? Jesus, Mary, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt! That’s what I’m talking about! I promised you an astonishingly stupid coincidence, and by John Lithgow’s Oscar, I delivered. Mr. T—the real one, not the cartoon—has actual, God-given psychic powers! He predicted the Challenger disaster. Nostradamus didn’t see that one coming.
The Space Shuttle Challenger exploded on January 28, 1986. “The Cape Kennedy Caper” debuted on October 19, 1985, a mere 102 days earlier. That’s the kind of coincidence that saves an episode. “Your lucky numbers are 9, 15, and 32. That’s a guarantee… from Mr. T.”
I do have to say, however, that this episode has strayed pretty far from the definition of “caper”. A caper is stealing the other school’s mascot. This is basically international terrorism.
Cut to an elevator going up some kind of framework structure. Pull back to reveal it’s the gantry. The elevator door opens, and the male bad guy shoves Robin out, pushes her through the hatch of the space shuttle, and slams it closed.
Dude, that’s your plan? You couldn’t find anywhere less suspicious to stash her than the one place every single person is looking at right now? Did the Cardinals not have an opening in their rotation? Was Ronald Reagan’s lap occupied?
And even granting the fact that somehow, somehow, he can get Robin through the hatch of the orbiter, all that does is put her face-to-face with the three crewmembers sitting on the mid-deck. I realize they’re only mission specialists, but I can only assume that one of them would have the presence of mind to make some sort of audible noise into the microphone.
It’s t-minus 24 minutes and counting.
And we’re back to the warehouse, because that’s way more interesting than space travel. Dozer is still in the sack. The tripwire is still rigged to spill acid all over the place. Mr. T and whomever’s left are running towards the dog.
Spike—of course it would be Spike—sets off the tripwire. This causes barrels of acid to tumble to the floor. I have no idea what the wire would have to be made of, or how hard Spike would have to hit it to dislodge a stack of 55-gallon drums. I just tell you what happens, not why.
The drums begin leaking acid. Strangely, all of it is in the form of a green gas. There are plenty of acids that are gaseous at room temperature. But. Then. They. Wouldn’t. Be. Stored. In. Barrels. I’m getting a drink. Does anybody need a drink?
Kim yells, “Scatter tactic!” Everybody does, indeed, scatter. And it turns out to be a great tactic. They all regroup out of the way, and watch the acid swirl through the air in front of them. They’re safe, but Dozer is still trapped in the sack with the acid closing in on him fast.
Commercial! Here’s a cool product I found at IKEA that you can use to play “Cape Kennedy Caper” whenever you want:
Back from commercial, Mr. T orders everyone out because “those fumes are poisonous.” I’ll say. They were in big drums with the word “acid” and big skulls and crossbones all over them. Also, Cruela said the acid would burn them. So I see no possible way for them to save Dozer.
Mr. T grabs a gas mask that was hanging on a nearby wall, walks through the fumes, picks up Dozer, and walks out. Dozer and Mr. T are unharmed.
What?! That was it?! That was the whole thing with the acid? A gas mask defeats acid? And why is Dozer okay? He wasn’t wearing a gas mask. This is stupid. It’s just stupid. I finally understand what Kathy Bates was talking about. If James Caan were here, I’d break his ankles myself.
Dozer barks once and then takes off running. Mr. T deduces, “He’s got a scent.” Spike agrees, saying, “Dozer wants us to follow him.” That… would not have been my guess. I would have thought Dozer wants out of the episode. But I’m not Mr. T. I know this because when I wear a gas mask, acid still burns the rest of my exposed skin.
It’s t-minus 17 minutes. The timing doesn’t really work out, because the scene we just saw was taking place at the same time as Robin’s battle for her camera. But I’m sure all of the Mister T fanatics, better known as T-baggers, have already retconned an explanation for this over at Memory Beta Alpha Baracus.
Dozer runs into a building and begins scratching at a door. Mr. T opens the door to find the darkroom. And you’ll be glad to know it’s still dark. Even with the door open and the team walking through it, light will not cross through this doorframe.
Mr. T declares, “It’s time to start putting the pieces of the puzzle together.” What puzzle? There are bad people running around on the day of a shuttle launch. (Spoiler alert: obligatory pun ahead.) It’s not rocket science. (Told you.)
Step one of Mr. T’s process is to yell, “Robin, you in here?” This fails to elicit a response, and they conclude Robin is not, in fact, in here. They don’t open any of the cupboards, several of which are large enough to fit a drugged, unconscious, and very bendable teenager. I like to think it’s because one of them has x-ray vision, and not because they’re morons.
They find Robin’s camera, which looks like a generic camera. It doesn’t say “Robin” on it, and they’re in a darkroom. But they’re convinced it’s Robin’s camera. Jeff even finds negatives, which he promptly declares to be Robin’s. He notices that the last few shots in the roll are missing. And actually, Cruela did tear them off a couple of scenes ago. I don’t know why she didn’t just take the entire strip, but hooray for continuity.
Dozer now follows his nose to a partially opened door at the other end of the room marked “Exit”. Now, the last time I was in a darkroom was in summer camp in 1983, but aren’t they usually closets with a muslin curtain blocking the door? Do they often have two doors, one of which leads directly outside? For that matter, don’t they usually obey the laws of physics?
Woody, who passes up a chance to fondle Robin’s camera, surmises, “So, it appears that whoever snipped the photos left in a big hurry!” Mr. T replies, “And so are we!” Yes, we are. We are left in a big hurry. I realize Mr. T isn’t necessarily that literate, but shouldn’t the screenwriter be fluent in the language? Janis Diamond’s Law & Order scripts weren’t like this, were they?
Briscoe: We know you’re the bad man who is the crime-doer!
Suspect: I was in Atlantic City that night. Call the Tropicana, they’ll remember.
Green: And so are we.
Suspect: I was in Atlantic City that night. Call the Tropicana, they’ll remember.
Green: And so are we.
The gang all takes off running. Spike asks, “Where we going, Mr. T?” And T responds, “After her.” It’s a little confusing, until they pan slightly to the right and show Cruela running maybe six feet ahead of them. And that’s as far as she got in the time the team entered the dark room until now? Six feet, Cruela? I guess you’re not so tough without your tram.
Mr. T, while running, soliloquizes, “That gal’s got a lot of explaining to do. To begin with, where Robin is.” This is good; you’re supposed to be able to keep up a conversation while doing cardio.
Mr. T yells, “Cut her off!” Instantly, the three gymnasts and Spike hit the afterburners and just fly forward. There’s even a “whoosh” sound effect. Woody takes the time to do a front handspring, for whatever reason people do front handsprings.
Wait a minute. “And Spike”? Yes. Spike just whooshed off with the rest of them. Just about the only consistent thing this show ever bothered to establish is that Spike is a normal kid. Or, if not normal, at least not a gymnast. And here, in the last minutes of the last episode, he shows gymnastic aptitude? It’s like this is an episode that rewards you for not watching it.
Robin and Spike fall from the sky and land in front of Cruela. She makes a hard left turn, only to have Woody and Jeff practically land on top of her. How did they know she was going to head left? She always turns to starboard in the bottom half of the hour.
Cruela, despite being knocked to the ground, springs up and runs away. Woody and Jeff just land in a heap and lay there. That happened in the last episode I recapped, too. Woody and Jeff each have exactly one tackle in them. Then, they’re all out until the next episode.
Cruela runs into a warehouse. Another warehouse. My entire life, I’ve never even been in a warehouse. This woman gets to go to three inside half an hour.
It’s t-minus 15 minutes, and still counting.