Special thanks to Wing Chun for the index page poll.
This episode begins with a startling degree of verisimilitude -- loud, guitar-heavy music blasting as a car tears down the highway. Who hasn't been there, done that? The car -- a SUV, really -- then pulls onto what looks like a surface street, swerves wildly to hit one parked car, then swerves again to hit another. It's like watching someone play San Francisco Driver, only with real cars instead of pixilated ones. And it's not going to be anything like watching me play until this guy starts swerving to hit bicyclists on purpose. The cops want to prevent that sort of misanthropic misfortune, so they've put a few cars on the tail of the SUV, and a helicopter. Everyone's having an adventure as the car slices across a parking lot, decides to drive through, rather than around, a culvert, goes through another just for kicks, and eventually ends up on a two-lane road. Don't ask me where: my Las Vegas road skillz include finding such far-flung destinations as the county offices, my wedding photographer's office, and the In 'n' Out by UNLV, but otherwise, I have no idea where anything is. I usually just aim for the nearest neon sign and improv from there. This guy seems to be adopting the same strategy, but he's eschewed observing such niceties as lane lines, stoplights, or even roads -- he eventually ends up parked at the entrance of the Plaza Casino. Not just on the curb by the door -- at the door. Detective Lockwood, who was apparently in charge of making sure that this car chase dragged on long enough to cost millions of dollars in damage, gets out of the police cruiser, gun drawn. He orders the driver to roll down the window and fling the car keys out, but the driver's listening skills seem to be about on par with his vehicle-handling finesse. The detective repeats, "Cut the engine and throw the keys out the window!" The driver decides to cut the engine and stagger out of the car instead. As he slowly turns around, Lockwood is taken aback -- the driver has a giant wooden stake protruding from his head. Lockwood stares down, perhaps wondering if the man was victimized by a particularly inept vampire slayer, or if this is some new form of body modification gone awry. The man doesn't provide any answers, preferring instead to drop to his knees, then fall over.
Cut to Gil making his way through a gaping crowd; even in Las Vegas, a guy with a stake in his head is more compelling than a casino advertising the most liberal "21" in town. Lockwood's with him, and as the two of them finally fight their way to the actual scene of Stakehead's death, Lockwood tries for a Chandler-esque world weariness with, "Death -- the cheapest show in Vegas." I get the feeling he was shooting for Raymond Chandler, but he ended up at Chandler Bing. Gil actually does manage to sound jaded when he replies, "That doesn't surprise me -- you remember the MGM fire? We found people burned to their slot machines because they wouldn't leave the action." What an ignominious way to die. On the other hand, it does provide support for those Darwinists among us. Lockwood replies, "Only in Vegas." Or Atlantic City, should any of those casinos begin burning. Now I'm nitpicking. Anyway, Gil and Lockwood finally get to the body, and Gil whips out the flashlight to verify that yes, there is a stake sticking out of the guy's head. He says as much: "This guy's got a piece of wood sticking out of his head." What, you were expecting fine china? Lockwood tells us that Stakehead is Alex James, age 42, if the wallet ID and SUV registration are anything to go by. Lockwood asks how James was able to drive; Gil replies, "I once saw a guy walk fifteen blocks with three bullets in his face." So what you're saying is that the human body is a mysterious thing? Lockwood tells us the victim was traveling west on Flamingo Avenue, presumably to head to nearby Desert Palms hospital -- the only hospital in all of Las Vegas, if its many references on this show are anything to go by. I'm betting Western Las Vegas University sends its medical students there for their residencies. Gil replies, "I don't much care where he's going. I want to know where he's been."
And then, we go to credits. Wow, that was kind of a non-tagline. I can't believe there was nothing about "I'd stake a bet that he was in trouble" or some other belabored pun meant to showcase Gil's detached and superior way of looking at a gruesome and cryptic scene. Not even a homonymic "Would that I knew how where he came from" crack? I feel so...let down.