The Lone Gunmen

Season 1 Episode 4

Like Water for Octane

Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Mar 18, 2001 on FOX

Episode Recap

Jimmy narrates a rather twisted history of heroes as he talks about his admiration for the Lone Gunmen. We see clips of each of the Gunmen as a child. John Fitzgerald Byers, living in Sterling, Virginia, grows up wanting to be a career bureaucrat so that he can "help people." Richard Ringo Langly grows up on a dairy farm in Nebraska, wanting to be a Computer God. Melvin Frohike, already a Man of Action in Pontiac, Michigan, beating up on football players three times his size, expresses his desire to become a crusading publisher and helping people, like his idol who is Hugh Hefner.

Yves sets the boys on the trail of a water-powered vehicle, in hopes of procuring the information for an oil company executive who is paying her very well. She leaks them the information through and unfortunate Freedom of Information office clerk, who dies shortly after giving Byers a box containing a cinder block and a single sheet of paper.

Frohike recognizes the name on the FOI sheet as the inventor of a water-powered car that he met when he was very young. He had, in fact, been taken for a ride with his father in this wondrous invention, a moment that lives in Frohike's heart to this day.

The name leads them to the inventor's daughter, who remembers Frohike rather less than fondly. Despite this, she allows Frohike and Byers access to her father's lab and his papers. While they go through stacks of papers, Frohike once again has a pratfall that leads him to discover a child's drawing of the sea-green water-powered car he so fondly remembers. On the back of this drawing is a photo of the inventor, and his best friend, one J.T. Guthrie. JT was, coincidentally, the chop on the military form that was given to Byers - a shipping receipt for a pallet: the water-powered car. It is stored in a missile silo.

As the Gunmen and the inventor's daughter make their way out to the silo, the tire in the VW van blows out. Naturally, our boys have left the jack at home, "to make room for the night vision goggles." Jimmy has a logical solution for once, impressing everyone. Unfortunately, his implementation leaves a bit to be desired, as he tips the van into a water-filled ditch. Frohike, Byers and the inventor's daughter take care of the van problem, while Jimmy and Langly are left to seek shelter and information with a farmer. The farmer happens to be J.T. Guthrie's son, confusion ensues when Guthrie asks the boys if they're there "for J.T."

"Yes!" Langly insists. "No," Jimmy says, "there's something weird about this." Unfortunately, once again Jimmy is correct, and poor Langly ends up with his arm stuck up a bull's ass -- a living nightmare come true, as he hated the cows during his rural childhood.

Upon return, we discover that the missile silo is just down the road from the Guthrie farm, and of course Yves and the boys make plans to infiltrate the silo and retrieve the car. As usual, there's a problem with this. The silo is about to be destroyed, burying the evidence they need. Despite the imminent destruction of the silo, the Gunmen go into action mode and rappel down into the silo. Yves and Jimmy remain on the surface, among the assembled crowd watching the impending fireworks. Yves tells the boys that they don't have time, and besides, she's spotted the car being driven away on the back of a truck -- it's not down there and if they don't haul ass, they'll be going up with the silo.

Naturally, the silo explodes, and the Gunmen appear to still be in that horrible hole in the ground.

Hours later, into the night, Jimmy is digging through the rubble with a pickaxe, while Yves tries to tell him that his archaeological project isn't going to be useful. Both are upset, but Jimmy is in tears. "I love those guys" he says, and continues to dig. Moments later, out of the mist, Our Heroes appear. They've escaped the explosion through a ventilation shaft that came up some distance away, under a porta-john. Both Jimmy and Yves display relief and delight that the Gunmen are alive and unharmed, much to some of the audience's surprise, as Yves has tended to be of limited assistance to the boys.

Making their way back to the farm, defeated, they find that although the shell of the car is gone, the engine and the frame -- the important stuff -- are still hidden on the farm. The silo information was simply a distraction to keep people away from the miracle invention.

Shelley explains that her father's invention might not use gasoline, but that in her and her father's view, to have "free" energy from water would open people up to even more environmental destruction, resulting eventually in even more roads and even more cars. She persuades the Gunmen that the invention should be concealed. For some reason, the Gunmen agree (although this editor thinks they should have bought the water-powered engine for their VW!) and will not publish the story.

We close with Frohike blissfully driving around in the engine and frame, and everyone else looking on. Frohike has, at least for a moment, found his Campbellian bliss.
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