Anyway, Ben's here playing and sweating in the world poker championship. Mike sensibly points out, "If you just got axed, isn't it kind of risky to be spending twenty grand in a poker tournament?" Ben replies that "I won my seat online. Actually, before today, I never even played in a live poker game. But I'm not going to elaborate on how different it is to play in a game where opponents can check your body language or anything." Ben asked if Mike still plays poker since he was so good at it back in college, and Mike flatly replies, "I quit. Right after I moved out here." You know, having a gambling addict move to Las Vegas makes about as much sense as having a porn addict rent an apartment near Times Square. ["Actually, that last one does make sense. It's the tchotchke and Disney-character addicts that run into trouble these days." -- Sars] Mike makes his exit after inviting Ben to meet him for dinner at Mystique.
Mary knocks on the door of an office where a seated Danny is on the phone. Danny blows off whomever is on the other end and takes a meeting with Mary and Monty McClure, president of the SASSC -- "It's pronounced 'sassy,'" Monty tells us -- and Loretta Harris, vice president. I'm sure you're all on tenterhooks wondering what "Sassy" is; it's the Society of American Swizzle Stick Collectors, and Monty presumably handles its statesman-like responsibilities while Loretta gets packed off to the funerals of high-ranking international swizzle stick collectors. By the by, Monty is played by Kevin McDonald, who seems to making quite post-Kids in the Hall career for himself playing unself-consciously over-serious types. Anyway, the whole scene more or less: a) mocks collectors of esoterica for losing all sense of perspective, and b) sets up the inevitable "someone stole my swizzle stick!" plotline. Mabell, whom we persuaded to leave her cozy Quantico pied-à-terre to come celebrate Christmas Los Angeles-style, is agog.
MaBell: They're going to devote an episode to stolen swizzle sticks?
Mabell: You're kidding.
Me: [nearly sobbing] No.
Mabell: Aren't they reaching a little?
Big Ed comes on down to see what's going on with the Vera-less Vanko. Vanko may be cuckolding Vera with cockatoos, if the presence of Olga in his dressing room is any indication. Olga explains een an ocksent that, "Thees are de famuss cockatiels Horse und Carriage. First pair called Luf and Marriage. Marriage died of gout. Love et Marriage's legs." There's a metaphor in there somewhere. Big Ed mumbles, "Nice meeting you, Olga. Birds." Out of curiosity, how much money do you think they're paying James Caan? Do you suppose it's thoughts of his salary that propel him through these scenes? Anyway, Vanko stokes the adultery fires by smacking Olga's caboose as she chugs on by, and then he talks business with Big Ed. Big Ed asks, "I, um, need to ask you something: when Vera disappears, where does she go?" Vanko asks uncomprehendingly, "Go?" Big Ed is all, "Yeah. Go. Like in, go. I mean, besides thin air. Is there any way she could, I don't know, get stuck someplace?" Vanko's all, "No. No, no, no, no. Vanko and Vera never reveal their secrets to the magic." Big Ed snaps, "What is your problem. We need to find your wife." The conversation degenerates from there, with Big Ed eventually pointing out that the Montecito booked Vanko and Vera, and if Vera's not there, they're going to close down the box office. Vanko announces he will perform solo, with Olga "Eve Harrington" the bird lady helping.
Big Ed obliquely threatens Vanko by pointing out that the cops are sure going to be interested to know that Vanko is all excited to be performing solo, and if Vanko will just spill on how the trick works, he can help investigate. Vanko blah blee blahs about how he has nothing to hide because his magic depends on a pure heart, then bids Big Ed to sit, and explains, "In magic, there are five basic categories: appearance, disappearance, transformation, levitation and sawink." Big Ed ask, "Sawink?" We establish that sawink = sawing. Vanko adds, "And, in this trick, there is no sawink involved." Big Ed gets some sort of insight off that, and heads off.