Mister T “Cape Kennedy Caper” (part 6 of 7)

Inside the space shuttle, Robin is using her flash to illuminate the room in tenth of a second intervals. Because it’s completely dark in the space shuttle. Whatever was keeping the light out of the darkroom, NASA seems to have employed the same technology to the windows of the orbiter. By the way, Steven Wright had this problem. He went to make a sandwich and took 60 pictures of his kitchen.

It should also be pointed out that Robin is shown standing on the floor. Of course, to the extent that the room has an orientation, she should be shown standing on the wall. How is it possible to be able to read and not know that?

It’s not clear what Robin is thinking, but luckily, she’s taken to announcing her thoughts. “There’s the hatch,” she tells nobody, “Now, if I can only open it before takeoff!” 15 minutes, one door, and Robin. My money’s on the door.

Caption contributed by Jordon

Could you open this door in fifteen minutes? Let me rephrase that: Are you awake and do you have at least one arm?

It is at this point that the episode lets go of its admittedly tenuous grip on reality, and takes off for parts unknown. Wherever Mickey Rourke went between Barfly and The Wrestler, wherever conservative radio hosts live, wherever those people at Jimmy Buffet concerts go when there isn’t a Jimmy Buffet concert—that’s where this episode is about to tread. Just remember, I warned you.

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The complete lunacy starts, as it usually does, in a warehouse. It’s a vastly more interesting warehouse than the last one. This one seems to house various tractors, rovers, and what appear to be Soviet T-34 tanks.

Despite there being a huge, empty space, the entire team is grouped together very tightly on what looks to be a large, silver spatula. The spatula is only part of a vehicle that I will try, but fail, to adequately describe. Start with a lunar rover. Now, remove the wheels and attach those big, orange inflatables that you sometimes see on dune buggies at the beach. Then, for the front end, imagine a tractor excavator, except replace the big bucket with the spatula. Then, imagine that the tractor also has a crane-like piece along with the spatula. The crane is holding what looks to be a huge, metal spider directly over whatever you call the part of the spatula that isn’t the handle—you know, the spat.

Caption contributed by Jordon

Reagan’s 1987 military budget called for building 14,000 of these.

It is on top of this spat that Mr. T and his entire team, including the dog, have chosen to stand. Mr. T tells everyone, “Move out!” Before they can, the spat starts to rumble and lifts them into the air. Jeff exclaims, “We’re moving up, not out!” Thanks, Jeff.

And the next thing that happens is the big, metal spider starts to unfold. It becomes the bars and roof of a cage. It meets the spat and forms a giant jail cell held twelve feet up in the air. I kid you? I kid you not!

Cruela hops out of the cab of the lunar rover/jail/dune buggy/spatula trap and runs out of the warehouse. As she does, she yells out for no particular reason that by the time they get out, she‘ll be long gone, “and so will the shuttle!”

And this is how challenging the trap turns out to be: Mr. T reaches out, bends the bars and hops down. Seriously. That was the whole thing. It took Mr. T less time to escape than it did for me to type that sentence. This is what you get for contracting your lunar rover/jail/dune buggy/spatula trap to the lowest bidder.

And forget trying to think up any set of circumstances where NASA would need an LRJDBST. Forget trying to think of any reason why any person ever born in all of human history would need one. What plant or animal can you imagine that is huge, exceedingly dumb, needs to be put in jail, and can’t be allowed to touch the ground? There’s only one answer: Mr. T. And maybe Tom Sizemore.

So, T and everyone else jump down. The cell now appears to be twenty feet off the ground. It doesn’t matter because everyone, including Spike and the dog, jump out, stick the landing, and walk away without shattered ankles. Well, almost everyone. Ms. Bisby ends up getting her dress caught trying to jump down. She just dangles there, like a worm, but with a hat on.

Caption contributed by Jordon

Tonight, the part of Ms. Bisby will be played by a Remington Steele-era Stephanie Zimbalist.

That comes to nothing, too. Mr. T commands the children to help Bisby. “Dozer and I got a lady to catch!” If I ever go back to college, those words will ring through my dorm every monkey-fighting night.

Question: How much time is spent on the phone explaining to anyone at NASA what the hell is happening? Answer: None. Nobody works at NASA.

Cut to a small motorboat sitting on a dock. Cruela and her accomplice are already aboard. Cruela is sitting at a desk [?]. Yeah, there’s a desk on the little boat, complete with an office chair. I assume she’s radioing the launch code and vector coordinates, but who knows? She may have already radioed the stuff, and is now taking the typing test from Thoroughly Modern Millie.

They pan past the boat to a sign reading “Cocoa Beach Boat Club Lagoon”. Let’s type those words into Google and see what happens. There actually is a Cocoa Beach Yacht Club on Cape Canaveral. It’s 16.1 miles, door to door. And it really is the closest public landing to the launch pad.

Next, let’s type Cocoa Beach Boat Club Lagoon into Bing and see what happens. First result: Download Microsoft Office. They’re off to a great start.

So, at t-minus 15 minutes, Cruela left the warehouse, ran to the boat, and the boat is now 16 miles away.

Cruela and the bad guy… actually, he gets a name. Cruela uses it at least twice in the episode. And that name is “Chad”. He may in fact be the first terrorist in history with the name Chad. I typed “terrorists named Chad” into Google and just got a bunch of articles about the country of Chad (population: 11 million, principal export: sand). I typed the same thing into Bing and my monitor exploded.

Caption contributed by Jordon

No kidding, Bing’s top three results for “Terrorists Named Chad” are a soccer player, the President of the United States, and Ronald McDonald. Tell me we aren’t living in the end times.

So, Cruela and Chad start to pull away from the dock. This requires them to motor past a long line of docked boats. As they do so, Mr. T and Dozer come running after them, and T jumps from boat to boat. He does so even though there’s a perfectly good dock running parallel to him about four feet to the right.

At the end of the row, T and Dozer each leap and land on the deck of Cruela’s boat. She sneers, “You again?” Lady, the guy just ran 16 miles and jumped onto a moving watercraft. Don‘t be so dismissive.

Chad launches himself at Mr. T, screaming, “Bon voyage!” I’m not sure what series of events could have transpired in his life to make him think he could win a fight against Mr. T. And, as you’d expect, T just grabs him by the foot and hurls him into the ocean. While he does this, T says, “It’s time to even our scorecard. Know what I mean?” I do not. When did we start using sports metaphors? Wouldn’t a rocketry or boating metaphor be more apt? It’s like my father always said, “If you can’t quip, don’t try.”

Caption contributed by Jordon

‘Round about this time, Chad began to suspect he was starting to lose control of the situation.

Cruela gets knocked down by Dozer. She just lies there, defeated. Didn’t she have any sort of plan when she was sneering? Or a gun?

Mr. T ties up Cruela and then he fishes Chad out of the drink. And, let me tell you, Chad honestly looks overjoyed to be rescued. This is even though the dock is about ten feet away from him, and dry land maybe fifteen.

Cruela and Chad are still looking pretty smug. Cruela, how can you still not think much of Mr. T? He’s at least proven himself to be more competent than you two. She decides the time has come to just perform a massive infodump of all of the things we, the audience, can’t know and Mr. T, the hero, doesn’t have time to find out. This is a time-tested law of villainy. They tell you, step by step, exactly how to defeat them. It even applies to gumballs.

“You’re too late,” Cruela says, as bad guys often do. “We’ve completed our mission. We sent the necessary information to our employers so they can blow up the shuttle. They’ll be here to get us and you’ll be history.” Chad, seizing an opportunity to help dismantle his own work, adds, “Just like that meddlesome redhead of yours!”

Mr. T takes this to mean that Robin is aboard the shuttle. I don’t think that’s a logical conclusion. I would have taken it to mean that Robin is already dead. But T is right, so whatever the rules of his universe are, he’s learned to adapt to them. He looks meaningfully at the space shuttle, which he can see clear as day. Mr. T has super-eyesight. And he can fly.

As he’s being tied up, Chad taunts T with, “You’ll never save her!” Mr. T responds by growling, awesomely, “Wrong.” He takes control of the boat, points it straight at the space shuttle and floors it.

The question I have is: What would Mr. T have done if Robin weren’t aboard the space shuttle? With nobody picking up the phones at NASA, would he have chosen fatherly affection over the lives of seven astronauts and the symbol of American technological greatness? Or would he stand there like Val Kilmer, a retarded statue stuck between two choices he neither likes nor particularly understands? That‘s not from a movie; I just really hate Val Kilmer.

Caption contributed by Jordon

Through trial and error, Mr. T eventually learned the definition of “boat”.

Mr. T jumps the boat onto the sandy shore, crushing the remains of a ramshackle wooden fence. The entire team is there to meet him. How they knew to meet him here is left to the imagination of the viewer. The writer certainly has no idea.

And once again, the dialogue here is so far outside normal human experience, that I can’t describe it. Just enjoy the ride.

Woody: You’ve got a definite style about you, Mr. T.
Mr. T: They’ve shoved Robin into the shuttle.
Jeff: The one ready to take off?
Mr. T: You got it.
Spike: [punching the air] I pity those fools. Let me at ‘em. [four second pause] It’s my sister they got, T.
Mr. T: I know, Spike. And I’ve got a plan.

Oh, thank the Seraphim and Cherubim! Thank the Hashmallim and Malachim! Mr. T has a plan! Mr. T has a plan!

(On an unrelated note, I just found out that I believe in something called the Hashmallim and Malachim, despite the fact that I’ve never heard of them before. I wonder what other beliefs I have that I don’t know about.)

Jordon Davis

B.A. Political Science, SUNY Albany - 1991
Master of Public Administration, University of Georgia - 1993
Juris Doctorate, Emory University - 1996

State of Georgia - 1996
State of New York - 1997

Fields Medal (with Laurent Lafforgue and Vladimir Voevodsky) - 1998

Follow Jordon at @LossLeader on Twitter.

Multi-Part Article: Mister T "Cape Kennedy Caper"

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