Another season under the reign of the TWoP empire, another questionably conceived, prospectively low-rated, almost certainly short-lived visit to a godforsaken, nightmarish enclave of the American Dream: Roswell, New Mexico. Twin Peaks, Washington. Boston, Massachusetts. And now -- for those few intrepid souls who think that Will & Grace is "good, but it's no Life with Bonnie, and that winning a million dollars is as easy as not purchasing any magazines as part of the Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes -- Push, Nevada.
A title card reading "The Amount" appears on screen in Microsoft Word font MS This-Is-Your-First-Hint Bold. We pan across a dark room to discover a bald man, a thermometer in his mouth, in a bathtub filled with ice. Under other circumstances I might see fit to observe that he is a Jon Polito-looking character, were I not about to see Jon Polito from every imaginable up-the-nose, from-the-inseam, through-the-back-of-the-eye-socket quirky camera angle in the history of David Lynch's discard pile. This man, though, quakes and grunts with the coldness of it all, and we pan dangerously close to his face as a hand inside a yellow dishwashing glove enters the frame and removes the thermometer from his mouth. Off-camera, a voice with a vaguely Jon-Polito-esque rasp informs Blue Lips McGillicuddy, "You're ready. Let's go." Polito's discipline in failing to fish the freezing man out of the bathtub, hug him, rock him gently back and forth, and whisper "it's not your fault…it's not your fault" over and over and over again (but in, like, a totally manly way) shows a reserve I was unsure the creative team behind this show was capable of. So, really. Good for them. So far.
Cut to who we assume is Ugly Naked Icy Guy (oh, wait. You're here with me on ABC. You were clearly watching Monk or some such thing at 8 PM and decided to forgo the reference), walking in silhouette down a dark pipeline. His calves make up the foreground of a shot in which a giant safe appears, and he approaches it, shaking still (is he cold? I hadn't noticed), and I utter a quick thanks to The Department Of Ass-Obscuring Mood Lighting that you can only perceive Ugly Naked Icy Guy's camera-facing backside, rather than explicitly being able to count the pores. He lays a shaking (why? Is it cold in there?) hand on the combination lock and begins to turn it, and I feel a vague pang of repressed memory that this sequence -- of an out-of-place outsider, shuddering with fear and cold -- could just as well be Gus Van Sant's shot-by-shot remake of the movie entitled Djb Tries To Get the Hell Out Of The Junior High Locker Room. I only hope Ugly Naked Icy Guy possesses the same ability to crack this safe and find some damn pants inside of it and spare us all. A brief cut to a maroon-coated security person of some kind finds him keeping surveillance over the scene and doing as much justice to his "What the holy…" line as humanly possible, and we cut back to Ice-T cracking the safe (pants? For the love of God, IS IT PANTS?) and making back down the metal piping with a different kind of booty than the one we've already seen so amply and unfortunately displayed.
Two more maroon-coated, beige-slacksed men grab guns and run haplessly after no one (I think this is a valuable lesson that if you want your security needs taken care of right, you're probably better served not having your big, big safe guarded entirely by members of DECA…but I'm just sayin'), while Ice Ice Baby makes it safely outside with two suitcases. He makes his way to a red vintage car, holding the suitcases in front of his naughty bits like some modified Austin Powers joke without the irony, the comedy, or a light bulb whose wattage exceeds, like, my age that might allow me to more than guess what's going on right now. He tries the door handle and finds it locked, and then bangs on the window. The window rolls down, and the decidedly Polito-esque voice from behind the wheel demands, "Not so fast…show it to me." Oh, c'mon, Polito! Why not give Polito 2.0 a little of his dignity, for Chrissakes? Polito 2.0 opens the bag and shows Polito stacks and stacks of cash. Polito celebrates from behind the wheel, yelling, "Yahtzee!" And I guess we can celebrate his decision to at least eschew an even more Sinatra-esque exclamation of the "boo-yah!" or "aces, Sammy!" variety, but I'm going on record to say that the conceit of names-of-board-games-as-dialogue is just a little, well, Parcheesi. Or something. The back seat unlocks and Polito 2.0 hops in, his bare bottom and its chance meeting with the leather seats doubtless forming an adhesive so strong it could seal up the Continental Divide. The car peels off. Thrash metal blares. We hold for a moment on an almost pitch-black (surprise!) night-in-the-desert (SURPRISE!) shot, lit only by a red neon sign reading "Versailles Casino." "Loosest slots and least linear plot development in town" is written almost imperceptibly under the casino's name. Scattergories!