Big Middle

Episode Report Card
Sobell: C | Grade It Now!
A sensitive look at weight in America

"I take it you knew him," Grasshopper, Gil's Adopted Son Number Three deadpans. "Well enough to keep my distance. The bastard liked doing fat girls, but didn't want to be seen with them. There are some women who spend all their time and energy giving pleasure because they think they aren't worthy." Grasshopper, Gil's Adopted Son Number Three attempts to relate with, "You don't have to be large to have low self-esteem." The woman smiles as if to say, Fine. And the next time you check the news and you see another article on America's growing health epidemic of spiky hairstyles, you come talk to me. But she keeps it to herself. Instead, we find that Maurice was attempting to set up an assignation with lingerie vendor Regina Owens.

Because there's lingerie involved, Gil has sent Grasshopper, His Adopted Son Number Three to the showers and stepped in for what is clearly a man's work. Regina saunters up, and in a nice nod to her other gig on Carnivale, opens the conversation by silkily cooing, "That's some tickler you got there. [rubs her jaw] You got everything you need to please a woman." Gil is surprised that anyone sees his beard as anything other than a one-bad-mood-away-from-a-cabin-and-a-4000-word-manifesto fashion statement. But he recovers and asks about the lingerie. Regina's sold about nineteen sets. She's wearing the merch; she pulls down her top to reveal a bit of bra and purrs, "Men love purple." "Do they?" Gil squeaks. Regina tells him it's her Purple Reign outfit, and asks if Gil wouldn't maybe like to take some home for the wife. "I'm not married," he replies. "Girlfriend?" she parries. "No," Gil says, almost flirtatiously. "You want one?" she asks, definitely flirtatiously. Gil smiles and winks, "I do." He's charmed! But who wouldn't be? One of my favorite things about watching Carnivale -- since God knows I'm not in it for plot clarity -- is seeing Debra Christofferson imbue her role as Lila with an almost toxic seductiveness; she and Cynthia Ettinger, who plays Rita Sue, are so lushly sensuous, they practically qualify as human hothouses. So it's a kick seeing her here. Anyway, Gil asks for copies of Regina's customer receipts. Regina's all, "This isn't how I like to start a date, but okay..."

Back in the swing shift plot, Warrick's headed to the sports book at the Tangiers, where the manager confirms that there's this guy who laid down the bets. Only she calls him Lou Barnes. Okay, then. I've only been watching each scene a few times, so it's not like I've been paying attention to this plot or anything. Anyway, she says she was hoping the runner wouldn't show up and collect the $23,000 the guy made off his $1000 bets. "That game hit us hard," she says. I'm crying for the casino. Very softly. On the inside. And it might just be tears of laughter. Warrick says, "I heard the book's the only place where casinos actually lose money." "I've worked here a long time and I've never seen anything like it -- not even ASU/Washington in '93," the manager says ruefully. "That's when the players shaved points. Any indication this game was fixed?" Warrick asks. Answer: no. The manager adds, "I figure we just got caught in a good steam play." "A lot of one-way action?' Warrick asks. She replies, "The minute VSL opened the line. It was weird -- those guys usually are right-on. I mean, that's what we pay them for." And then the conversation gets all insider-baseball here, only replacing "baseball" with "gambling," and the scene ends with Warrick asking if he can get a printout of the line action.

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