Fade up on a clichéd stock footage satellite shot of the planet Earth, an image which, in my pseudo-hippie collegiate experience, was most often hanging as a dog-eared poster on a dorm room wall with a stern eco-warning of the "Reuse, Reduce, Recycle" or "Be Good To Your Mother" variety written just below it. Because the director of this episode is way too enamored of the opening credits sequence of The Thomas Crown Affair, each shot following takes us closer to the surface of the planet, and finally to a skyline of New York City, a turn around the top of the Empire State Building, and inside of an elevator containing King Max "Vulcan of Brunei" Evans and the King's too-faithful blonde bride, Tess "Rodham" Harding. Because New York is the center of the universe (well, that's true) and so is Max Evans (whatever the exact, undebatable antithesis of "true" is). As the floors of the elevator climb through the 50s, Max palpitates that "this is a mistake." Tess reassures him, "You've been looking forward to it all day," but Max clarifies loud enough for the packed soundstage marked "Genuine New York City Elevator" to hear, "I mean this whole thing. Coming here. The City. Rath, Lonnie. It's a mistake." Who? Um, who again? I went a little nickname crazy last week, I'll admit, and I seem to have eliminated the doppelgangers' actual character names from my short-term memory. Hopefully the creators of this show will have realized by now that it's time to metaphorically push the rest of these misfiring "Dupes" in front of a slow-moving truck and be done with this whole silly, campy plot altogether. I'm not kidding, here. If it gets any campier on the Roswell set, I think the only big scary war the aliens all have to be concerned about is "Color War."
Scaredy Max continues his tirade: "What do I know about war and peace and politics?" Max turns to come face-to-face at close range with an elderly African-American man, who nods his head noncommittally and does his best to ignore Max's lingering "I've read about people like you in my history books!" glare. Welcome to New York, Max. Multiculturalism's a bitch, ain't it? But, in fairness, the New York segments of this two-parter have already featured more extras-of-color than the cumulative run of Jack & Jill and Seinfeld combined. Max continues for the benefit of the sullen and disaffected New Yorkers (whatever. It's a tourist attraction. Like one person in that elevator isn't also from New Mexico), "I'm gonna blow it. I'm gonna sit down at this meeting and I'm gonna meet these people and they're gonna look at me and they're gonna see this kid from New Mexico who doesn't have a clue, and…" The elevator begins to slow down and Max freaks out anew, but Tess again reminds him, "We're almost there." The elevator doors open on the eighty-sixth floor, and as a native New Yorker who expresses his love for his city by not taking the time to learn anything about it, I have no idea whether or not if that's the top floor of the Empire State Building, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it's not. I'm also pretty sure that, as befits the observation deck at the top of every tall building I've ever gone to the top of, the elevator does not spill directly out onto the observation deck without the visitor first having to walk through a museum detailing the construction of said building and a hilariously overpriced gift shop where you can pick up a Statue of Liberty foam finger or a ten dollar set of "I Heart New York" shot glasses for your loved ones back in the sticks. Max and Tess walk to the railing that overlooks one of New York's many beautiful blue-screen skylines, and they stand apart as Tess observes, "This is where you belong, Max. Up here with the world at your feet." She pauses a Royal Pause. "Like a king." Max stares silently over the non-city for a moment, then smiles (Drink! Shudder!) and notes, "I'm the King of the World." James Cameron begins the process of filing an intellectual property suit, then stops himself when he remembers the humiliation of putting that dialogue in Leo's mouth, or himself uttering such an inexcusable line at the Oscars to begin with. Which he should feel. And which he should continue to feel. Tess observes, "Yes, you are. Just not of this one." I'll never let go, Max. I'll never let go.
Down on location, Evil Michael "Mr. Tee Hee" Guerin (Rath) and Evil Isabel "Isa-Hell" Evans (Lonnie) enact some mad crazy vengeance, yo, walking past an outdoor café (because al fresco dining is totally all the rage in New York City in the last week of November) and bustin' up some mad crazy shit. Isa-Hell tells Mr. Tee Hee, "When he gets here -- if he gets here -- we're puttin' him in his place. I'm sick of getting attitude from him." Mr. Tee Hee stops by a table and picks up a sandwich containing massive amounts of fishcakes, and he begins wailing at a nearby waiter about putting mayo on pastrami. Gross? Yes. His sandwich? Not so much. Pointless? Do I even need to tell you? Is there not enough fat content in a pastrami and mayo for you, Mr. Staypuft Marshmallow Superman? What would you prefer, a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a Crisco glaze with a side order of ANOTHER FIVE SANDWICHES? Isa-Hell takes the high road, plot-development-wise, interrupting this display of sheer "ACTING" and informing Evil Michael, "He's here." Mr. Tee Hee throws the fishcakes at the waiter and skulks away, and he and Isa-Hell walk away from the eatery. They walk past a street sign correctly reading, "E. 51st Street" and stop at the glass-covered E, F, 6 subway stop in front of the Citicorp Building. Which is extremely near my old apartment. Shout-out? I was so close to commenting on how proud I was of the director of this episode for designing a pretty accurate simulation of midtown New York, had they not walked past a sign for "Edward Street" on their way to the subway stop. Edward Street? Like it would have been that hard for someone to have shelled out the six dollars for a "Streetwise" map, much like the one I am currently holding in my hands to confirm that there is no such "Edward Street" on the entire island of Man-NOT-an. Anyway, standing in front of the stop is the almost-forgotten Gage, doing a poor job of folding a large map he should instead have been sharing with the director and asking, "Do you see an Edward Street anywhere on here? I mean, DO YOU?" Isa-Hell snarks at him for being late, and he responds with a snarling, "God, I hate this town." Well sorry, World's Smallest Independently Traveling Tourist, but if you really want to take in what New York has to offer, you simply have to get out of midtown and away from Edward Street, where there's really nothing to see. And I do mean nothing.