Push, Nevada
The Amount

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Certified Public Actor

Daytime in Push, Nevada. Jim approaches the front door of the Versailles Casino to the strains of a baroque-sounding piece of classical music I'm sure is, like, Bach's "Suite and Fugue on $1,045,000 in D Major" or some such other clever, clever thing. Jim stops at a service desk in what appears to be a very traditional-looking casino and engages a man wearing an elaborate dickey (hee! But not that that) and speaking with an exceedingly bad French accent quite intentionally, much to my amusement. "Hello, bonjour. Can I help you sir, monsieur?" Jim flashes some ID and restates his business for every trucker, hooker, and non-French-dickey-clad casino concierge who will give him the time of day. The concierge tells him to speak with "the accounting department, who I'm sure will comply with your every wish." He indicates two men sitting at a nearby bar, using a folded-up piece of paper to play that table football game that you play when you fold up paper when you're a boy, rather than that fortune teller game that you play when you fold up paper when you're a girl. All Jim wants to know is who Silas Bodnick is, and we flash to the selfsame Silas Bodnick, walking purposefully in a black tuxedo jacket and a string tie into the safe deep below the casino. Business is conducted, as one of the folks upstairs at DECA Surveillance LLC sneers at a monitor, "What an ass." The spinning wheel of the closing of the safe is quickly juxtaposed against a spinning roulette wheel upstairs, and a disconsolate Steven Soderbergh smacks his forehead in embarrassment and exclaims, "Now that's the visual flair that wins a man an Oscar," before writing his own proposal for Bodnick's Eleven to be his inclusion into the Project Greenlight canon. Bodnick, meanwhile, walks onto the main floor of the casino and barks, "It's Bodnick…what the hell is your problem?" into a cell phone just as he walks past Jim. Dealer? I'd like to put twenty dollars on "Contrivance," if I may. Thanks. Thanks ever so much.

Jim follows Bodnick down hallways and back alleys into his office, where he barks at his secretary, "Ginger, did you log those faxes like we talked about?" Ginger, who would be played by Wendie Malick were that actress not also busy during this exact timeslot, tells him that she did, but did not send any faxes on Tuesday, so "you must have sent the one that you got so upset about yourself." He locks himself in his office and continues ranting into the cell phone, "No, it's business as usual. And one more thing…" He hangs up on the caller and laughs self-importantly. A card among cut cards, he is. I'll bet he ends a lot of important business meetings with the old buzzer in the hand handshake trick. Let's go see!

Surveillance cameras catch Jim walking into Bodnick's office, and after Ginger's utterly convincing and determined rendition of "no no wait don't go in there," Jim opens the door to Bodnick's interior office and finds the man fixing himself a drink. Bodnick does not offer his hand. Nor does he, to my surprise, suggest that Prufrock pull his finger or compromise it in any other way. They tussle verbally a moment, and Jim finally steps forward and does the formal introduction that should carry more dramatic weight than it does: "My name is Jim Prufrock. I work for the Internal Revenue Service." I'm sorry. That line just doesn't kill like it should. No matter what the subject matter of this particular investigation, there are some barn burners ("My name is Jim Prufrock. I am the comptroller!" or "My name is Jim Prufrock. I am the stacker in the frozen food aisle!") that just fail to burn. Nevertheless, it gets Ginger the secretary to take her leave, and Bodnick's attention is momentarily captivated. "So," he smiles, "this fax that I supposedly sent. If I sent it, I sent it to the IRS?" That's right. "Genius," he grumbles. Affleck's words, not mine. Bodnick sighs that he's not going to talk, and suggests that Jim "begin conducting whatever investigation you think you should conduct and I'll get cracking on my end and figure out what story we're going to go with." But this is a series about math, so that's not good enough for Jim Prufrock, President of the PTA. He closes them both in Bodnick's office and begins speechifying us straight into the next commercial: "I know you're crooked, Mr. Bodnick. I knew it the moment I first heard your voice. The money that's evaporated from those accounting statements. I bet you have it and you've cooked the books here to hide it and it's not the first time you've done it, either. But strangely, that's not what concerns me now." That's not what concerns me, either. What concerns me is that this is the first time in the show that we've gotten a straightforward shot of Jim Prufrock from a close enough range to determine that he has really, really, really nice eyes. What concerns Prufrock is, I'm guessing, something else really groovy about math. Yup. What concerns him is that "this kind of money could disappear and no one notices and/or cares." I mean, are they contacts? Do they even make a false shade called "sheer still ponds of verdant perfection"?

If Affleck is cribbing from other TV writers, he shouldn't have stolen from the primary source material of C-SPAN. Finished, Prufrock cedes the rest of his time to the politician from Push, Bodnick mock-trialing, "I'm not threatening you. I'm really not. I'm giving you advice. Now, if you don't take it, I promise you that you're going to look back on this conversation, you're going to understand that I was trying to help you and you're going to wish you had." That was almost fifty words of absolute test pattern. What he needs is some -- what's the expression again? -- oh, yes, "really distracting eyes." Jim tries to tell Bodnick that he doesn't take kindly to threats, but Bodnick launches in full-scale, standing and ranting, "You're an IRS scrub! You wash my floors!" He pauses. He don't want no IRS scrubs. He catches himself, calms down, and continues: "The people who I work for, who I have the stones to…these are the people who own the people who own your father. You're nobody to me. You're nothing! Why don't you be a good little girl and go garnish some teacher's wages who forgot to itemize her Schedule A deductions!" See that? Things were going pretty well…and then, math. And who is his father? And now it's Jim's turn again: "You know how this country works. How it runs. Money. That's how teachers get paid, streets get paved. Do you know why taxes are higher than they should be? Why they are a burden to honest people? Fraud. You. You, sir, are the reason decent people shoulder the albatross of an inequitable tax burden. Wealthy, greedy cheats and thieves. I can plainly see you are one of those." Wait. He's still talking. He wants Bodnick in prison, and he won't stop at using the phrase "my tenacity is infinite" to get there. He hands Bodnick a card and writes his number on it. Bodnick's turn, and I'm getting tennis neck from the constant volley: "You pathetic bastard. You're not even a cop. You can't even cuff me. You want to know where you can find me? In South America, in a pool. Me and your wife. Yeah. Me and your wife and Consuelo the pool boy. Just in case he wants to have a shot at her." Blah blah Blahdnick. He knows Jim's father and his wife? For all we know, Jim might have neither. What's going on? And while we're giving out numbers, is Consuelo the pool boy dating anyone besides Jim's fictitious wife?

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Push, Nevada

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