Life on Mars

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Tuesdays With Mopey

Hunt emerges and tells Sam that a direct line will soon be set up with the hospital. In the meantime, they'll use the most sophisticated tool at their disposal to reach the hostage taker -- a phone booth. Hunt bums a dime off Sam and dials up the hostage taker. "Are you even prepped?" Sam demands. Hunt concedes that he is not -- he produces a hip flask out of jacket and takes a swig. Preparations concluded. Let's get to some hostage negotiating. Sam cautions Hunt to keep the hostage taker cool and calm, and gets an OK sign from Hunt as the phone rings. The hostage answers, and their conversation is short, but to the point. "If you don't come out now," Hunt says, by way of introduction, "I'll send the hammer of New York's Finest UP YOUR PAIL!" Then he slams the phone. Well... ball's in your court, Mr. Hostage Taker. Nice knowing you, Sam.

Naturally, Sam is aghast at all this, but Hunt has a method to his brusque madness: since the hostage taker is doubtlessly crazy and has probably killed all the hostages anyhow, there's no need to pursue any course of action that doesn't involve him on the business end of a police sniper's rifle sight. But if Sam thinks he can do better, he's welcome to reach out and touch someone on the pay phone. Well, of course, Sam thinks he could do better -- could any English-speaking person do worse? He dials up the hostage taker, introduces himself as Detective Tyler, and apologizes for his friend's rude behavior. "You have to do something," the hostage taker says. "You're running out of time, Sam. Two o'clock." And then he hangs up. Of course, you're probably thinking the same thing Sam is: of all the phones in the hospital, how do they know they're dialing the right one? Oh, and also, how'd the hostage taker know what Sam's first name is?

Before Sam can panic more about the sands of time dribbling out of his hour glass, Skelton shows up with the results of his having thought outside the box. Naturally, it is a box. Actually, it's what inside the box -- an EEG machine like the hostage taker asked for. Skelton's plan is to fit it with a false back and put in a covert recording device "like what they use on Candid Camera." Great thinking, Chris -- perhaps we underestimated you. So where's the camera and the transmitter to beam those images out? Well, Skelton didn't say there weren't some holes in his plan. Anyhow, back to the drawing board. Annie's got some intel on Dr. Schwan, the noted psycho surgeon and renowned hostage: he apparently likes to "cure" people by removing chunks of their brain. Well, that method would certainly do away with many abnormal behaviors -- as well as most normal behaviors, come to think of it. The hostage taker does not have nearly as extensive and horrifying a CV. He signed in with the hospital registry as Michael H. -- that narrows it down to 50 people with that name who either visited the hospital or were admitted as patients in the last six months. Sam frets that there's not enough time to run down all of those leads. Annie points out the armed shock troops assembling under Carling's direction and helpfully notes that it looks like the hostage crisis will soon be drawing to a distinct if somewhat bloody conclusion.

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Life on Mars

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