Wheel Of Fortune

Episode Report Card

So, Terry "McManus" Kinney directed this episode, and while it would perhaps be misguided to cast aspersions on his directorial abilities based on his character's shortcomings, I just did.

Hill sits in front of a Wheel of Fortune, which starts spinning when he waves his finger in the air. People love to get their fortunes told, says Hill; they get cards read, palms read, even bumps on their head read. Ooh, look, I made a rhyme. Then Hill goes all cutesy-pie jive turkey and says, "If that card ain't credit, why read it [well, because maybe it's a verse-riddled wallet card from your grandmother with a crisp five-dollar bill tucked neatly inside, even though it's 2002. Ever think of that, smartypants]? If that palm ain't holding something, let it go. And shit, if you got bumps on your head big enough to read, forget about your future, yo [God, that is so ghetto. I'm all wet], 'cause your problems are in the here and now." And then the wheel, which boasts mug shots of all the inmates, stops on Said, whose black-and-white picture gradually fades into the real full-color thing, droning on about Ahmad's murder at hands of Robson, and we see a sepia-toned flashback of Robson letter-opening Ahmad, and I begin to feel completely justified for doubting Terry Kinney's directorial instincts as I get a queasy stomach at a full, commercial-free hour of excruciating torture stretching ahead of me.

Said, with professional tattletale Arif, is thundering to Leo about Ahmad's death by slicing. Oh, Arif must be there because there aren't any witnesses -- he's developing a nice niche as a snitch. Leo wants evidence, but Arif instead explains that Robson may not be the actual slicer, but definitely masterminded the slicing plot. Maybe from a grassy knoll? More flashback. Said wants to know what will happen; Leo assures the somber twins that he'll continue investigating, which I think means sitting behind his desk and acting fed up. So does Said, who accuses Leo of dragging things out, "hoping that everyone's gonna forget. We won't forget." More flashback, which sucks because I really want to forget. Arif, necklace swinging vehemently, follows Said out of Leo's office, adamant that Ahmad's "death must not go unpunished." Said promises that Robson will enjoy a day of reckoning soon. Muslims and retribution: two great tastes that taste familiar together.

"Slice Me" Robson delivers the mail; Slowmar approaches and asks if he's got anything for Minister Said. Instead of answering, Robson reveals that he's got something common with Said: they both believe in slavery. For Robson, sadly, slavery no longer exists, but according to a book he read in the library (and here I thought Robson only entered the library to mock and belittle), the Muslims still practice slavery. In Africa. Slowmar looks dazed and confused by the sheer number of words escaping Robson's mouth. Robson says Said must know this as well, since "he went and got himself one." And who might that be? A befuddled Slowmar, of course. Who summons his wits to deny that he's anyone's slave, as Robson does his best minstrel impression, complete with jig, and calls Slowmar Said's "house nigga." Take that, Omar "Stepin Fetchit" White. While I might have phrased this slightly differently, it's high time someone acknowledged the culturally dubious aspects of Slowmar's general vibe.

Slowmar goes off on Robson, as Said yells, "Omar, come here!" Slowmar knows he's not supposed to fight, he says, but he doesn't really appreciate the way Robson addresses him. Said yells again, louder and with more emphasis (who knew such a thing was possible, but Eamonn Walker pulls it off), and a few of the gathered inmates go, "Woooooooo," and Slowmar suddenly realizes that it's true, all of it, that he is a slave, he is, he really is, and moves his hand around his head like he's brushing away the flies, knocks over a chair, and flails his way up the stairs, as Said glowers in Robson's general direction and everyone else stands in folded-arm disinterest.

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