Maria infuriatingly tells us to forget about all of this. "Something happened a few weeks ago," she reveals. "I didn't think it was important to tell you at the time, but if you watch closely, it contains the key to everything." Majandra Delfino speed-talks her way through these lines, as if she herself recognizes the colossally contrived stupidity inherent in this feeble attempt to gloss over the scheduling disaster her bosses brought down upon their own heads. [spoiler] Being held hostage with your panicky mother and injured cousin at gunpoint by a deranged millionaire who thinks he's an alien during a city-wide blackout [/spoiler] isn't "important"? Pull the other one, missy. What happened is this: Messrs. Katims and Company planned to air this episode a month and a half ago. They jettisoned said plan in favor of diving right into the season's closing story arc, hoping no doubt that ratings would rise and they could continue to cling precariously to their place on the WB's roster of programming -- not unlike Eva Marie Saint clinging precariously to Mount Rushmore at the end of North by Northwest. The ratings rose not, and the WB stomped on the fingers of Messrs. Katims and Company until the gang dropped from the WB scheduling cliff onto the rocky wasteland of UPN. For reasons known only to the production staff and the minion of Satan assigned to promote their demonic cause on Earth, they decided to dump what even they themselves consider to be substandard material -- which is saying a lot, given what they apparently consider to be "standard" material -- into the middle of sweeps. Memo to the boys at Regency Television: You offload crappy episodes in July, when no one will notice. Morons.
Anyway, the opening exposition closes with Maria looking so very sad at the memory of the events about to unfold. Someone needs to explain that to me, because nothing that happens this evening justifies this particular reaction to the memory of it weeks later. Then again, maybe you should ask me about this episode in five weeks. I might have the same expression on my face. Fade up on an establishing shot of the UFO Center at night. Deep within its bowels, Max Evans whistles casually as he lopes over to Brody Davis's office. Max's right arm swings disjointedly from his shoulder, and the effect is not unlike watching one of society's differently-abled youngsters approaching the short bus for the first day of school. Pipe down, you. I was well on my way to hell long before I typed that sentence. Max raps his knuckles on the door, and, presently, Brody pops his head out, grinning like a fool. Max reminds Brody he was assigned to "reorganize the crop-circle files" that evening. Brody, for some reason acting like he's been caught masturbating to reruns of Petticoat Junction, stutters and stammers and blurts out something about Max taking the rest of the evening off. Max insists he stay: "I still have three hours left on the clock." "Work, work, work," Brody replies a little too jovially. "Don't you have a life?" Brody, dear. It's Max. Do you need to ask? Brody, jonesing for some more scantily-clad Meredith MacRae, suggests Max do something or other with a weather balloon instead. Max raises his eyebrows all, "Dude. Saltpeter. Look into it," and leaves. Brody unbuckles his pants and scuttles back into his lair. Okay, forget the unbuckling and just go with the scuttling.