We begin this episode with confusion and betrayal: confusion because I've apparently already joined an episode in progress, and betrayal because I programmed my TiVo to begin recording at 8:59 p.m., so either my trusty PVR is being brought down by Jamie Kellner's minions, or CBS has screwed up the broadcast and betrayed my confidence in their ability to start a 9 PM show at 9 PM. Either way -- betrayal and confusion, and then I look at the screen as a magic act is unfolding onstage to the strains of Dead Can Dance. We see Janet Reno -- or someone who looks a lot like her -- being led to a clear glass booth as "Rakim" plays, and Suspecto the Magician flashes some swords around before instructing her, "Stand in the middle of the box, hands by your sides." The assistant twirls around, conveniently distracting the audience so it's harder to pay attention to what's going on in the box, and then Suspecto the Magician instructs her not to move as the booth fills with smoke. He then runs several swords through the booth as the crowd gasps in awe. Then the smoke is sucked out, and the booth is empty. The magician says dramatically, "Ladies and gentlemen, I assure you she's all right. In fact, she's -- spotlight please..." The assistant runs down the aisle and gestures dramatically at an empty seat. She then demonstrates her lack of improvisational ability by telegraphing her dismay so clearly, blind people in Reno can pick up on it. Wouldn't magicians practice how to handle screw-ups in front of a live audience? Anyway, after a hasty conference, the magician takes off his black cap and mask, revealing a bald pate and pasty complexion that make me wonder if he goes to a makeover team with a picture of Billy Corgan and says, "Make me look like this." He grins wanly and offers an explanation to the audience.
Cut to the now-empty theatre and Gil walking down the aisle as Brass says, "Welcome to the house of illusion. This is bizarre -- you're not going to believe this. Female volunteer goes on the stage, disappears, and then doesn't come back." Gil asks a little testily, "Was she supposed to reappear?" Brass's sentence construction would imply so, yes. Brass indulges Gil with: "The Amazing Zephyr won't say. You know magicians -- they won't reveal their tricks. But we're working on him." Gil walks over to the booth and stoops to get a better look inside. He calls back to Brass, "I can understand why he won't reveal his trick...but would he like to explain this blood?"
And then we go to the credits. First the 8:59 start time, then no snappy line leading into the credits? Has the world gone mad?