Season 1 Episode 1

Wax Lion

Aired Thursday 9:00 PM Mar 12, 2004 on FOX

Episode Recap

We begin with a humorous narration about the Maid of the Mist, an Indian who was sacrificed by her people to calm an angry waterfall god. She surrendered to destiny, and the god blessed Niagara and kept it enchanted for centuries, or so the legend goes. We cut to the young woman telling the story, Jaye Tyler, speaking to a boy in the Wonderfalls giftshop. She tosses him out when she realizes he's not buying anything. Jaye then gets back to "work", doing nothing while pretending to be with a customer. An EPS man comes by and delivers packages to the shop. Suddenly, a ditzy young blonde woman, Gretchen, rushes into the store. She knows Jaye from high school, but hasn't seen her since. She married a Jewish man and converted for love, and is curious to find out how Jaye is doing. She's surprised to hear that Jaye went to Brown, got a philosophy degree, and ended up just working retail in the Wonderfalls gift shop.

Gretchen then asks Jaye if she's happy. Jaye avoids the question. Gretchen asks if she's at least the manager. We then cut to Peggy, who is in fact the manager of Wonderfalls, giving the position of assistant manager to Jaye's high school co-worker Alec, the "mouth-breather", instead of her, as he's more of a people-person. Most of Peggy's dialogue plays in slow motion as Jaye watches angrily. We then see Jaye eating a sandwich on the edge of the Maid of the Mist fountain in the courtyard outside the store, watching the mouth-breather greet customers. She begins choking, and no one notices. She finally coughs up her bit of food, and a man drops his quarter. She glares at him, and he lets her keep it. She tries to toss it into the fountain, but it bounces off of the statue and hits her in the back of the head.

We then see a red-orange wax lion figure being made inside a machine. A Texan woman then presents it to Jaye at the register, complaining that it's defective (the lion's face is smooshed) and demanding a discount for an earlier purchase. Jaye tells her that her discount coupon can only be used at the time of purchase. She curses at Jaye, and the mouth-breather comes by and gives the woman her discount anyway. As Jaye reaches into the register to give the woman her money back, the wax lion in front of her astoundingly opens its mouth and tells Jaye not to give the woman the money. Jaye stands shocked for several moments, and then gives the money to the woman. The woman walks out of the store, and immediately afterwards has her purse snatched. The wax lion tells Jaye, "Told ya." Jaye's mother calls the store to talk to her, and Jaye barely starts to talk before fainting.

Cut to the High and Dry trailer park, where Jaye lives. Inside her trailer, Jaye's in her bedroom, and her family is in the rest of the trailer trying to get her to come out and talk to them. Her mother, Karen, and father, Darrin, are quite obviously concerned, while her sister, Sharon, and brother, Aaron, just seem annoyed. Sharon brings up things Jaye has done in the past to upset her. Karen asks Sharon if she thought the paramedic who inspected Jaye was attractive, and Sharon is annoyed that she asked. Aaron says that she's clearly disturbed. Karen suggests Darrin prescribe anti-depressants for Jaye, and Darrin instead decides to ask Jaye about when she last had an orgasm, which mortifies Jaye. He then suggests she see Karen's therapist, Dr. Ron. Jaye looks at the wax lion, which she has taken home.

Later, Jaye is at a session with Dr. Ron. He asks about her family. Jaye is confused by his somewhat contradictory questions. Then, a brass monkey bookend on his desk tells her that what she's feeling is perfectly normal. Dr. Ron asks about Jaye's attitude towards Sharon, and Jaye states that her hate for Jaye makes her feel like there's one less person to worry about. He asks if she ever tells Sharon she loves her, and Jaye says that she wasn't raised that way. We go next to The Barrel, a restaurant and bar where Jaye is sitting at the bar talking to her friend, Mahandra. The brass monkey from Dr. Ron's office is in front of her. Jaye explains that she stole it because it told her to. Jaye is quite stressed. She tells Mahandra about her meeting with Gretchen, and they recall some of the horrible things Gretchen did in high school.

Jaye then brings up her fainting, which she says is because of stress. She also mentions the mouth-breather's promotion and her mother's shock that he was now her boss. She says she enjoyed telling her mother, and Mahandra responds, not surprised, by explaining to Jaye how spiteful she is and that she loves disappointing her family. Jaye says that they work hard and aren't satisfied, and she only has to barely work and isn't satisfied. Mahandra shouts to the bartender for more drinks. He's slightly confused, and Mahandra explains that he's new. His cellphone rings, but he doesn't answer it. When Jaye asks him why, he gives her a free drink and tells her that he hasn't answered it since his very recent marriage, which he then elaborates on. He married his college sweetheart, Heidi, and thought their Jersey wedding and Niagara honeymoon were like a fairytale, until he caught her having oral sex with the bellman. He came to the Barrel and cried for days until he was given a job.

Jaye gives him the drink he gave her, and he drinks it. She thinks it's awesome that instead of notifying his old job, he's just going to let them figure it out when he doesn't show up. He offers to start something on the rebound with Jaye, but she denies him, saying she may be insane. He claims that someone saner wouldn't be as interesting. We see Jaye at work again the next day, doing nothing as usual, when the package man shows up again. The wax lion demands she ask him about the ring he doesn't wear, but she refuses and tells him to shut up. He starts singing to annoy her, until she breaks and finally asks him. He tells her about his divorce, unsure what he did wrong, and even begins crying before eventually leaving. Jaye's upset with the lion for making her upset the "poor bitch".

As the delivery man leaves, he tosses a quarter in the fountain, and the lion tells Jaye to retrieve it. She tells a girl who criticizes her for stealing to piss off. The eagle on the quarter vocalizes, and Jaye, startled, drops the quarter. It rolls and bounces, eventually falling into a bag, which is then picked up by a bicyclist. Jaye chases him, but he doesn't notice. He drops the bag in a trash can and continues. She digs in the trash for the bag, and finds the stolen bag of the rude Texan woman. Back at her trailer, she talks to the lion, monkey, and quarter, recounting the events that led her to finding the empty purse. She starts asking if they're God, or perhaps Satan, but stops herself, realizing disappointingly that she's probably crazy.

She returns the bag to the woman at her motel, but the woman accuses her of working with the snatcher. She also curses at Jaye who, having worked very hard to find the woman, is terribly offended. The woman punches Jaye, and they begin fighting. Sharon receives a call at her house, and shows up to pick up Jaye, who is sitting with the Texan woman in her motel room with the police. Sharon is very upset with Jaye, and they argue, giving us a glimpse at their poor relationship. As Sharon drives away, the Texan woman's child thanks Jaye for finding their mother's purse. Back at the Barrel later that night, Mahandra asks Jaye what happened to her, and Jaye tells her she was accosted during an act of kindness. When asked why she was being kind, she says she just wanted to see what it was like.

Jaye asks if crazy people know they're crazy, and tells Mahandra about the wax lion speaking to her. Mahandra doesn't seem too weirded out, and explains that Native Americans (whom Jaye promptly reminds her to call Indians) believe everything, including the wax lion, has a soul. Mahandra then suggests that Jaye seeing the lion talk was a psychological response to the repressed belief that everything has a soul. Jaye asks if that means she's not crazy, and Mahandra says she doesn't know and leaves. At the Wonderfalls gift shop, Jaye is watching the same Maid of the Mist video for the third day in a row instead of working. Her family stops by. Karen tells Jaye to give Dr. Ron's monkey back. Jaye says she didn't do it, but admits when she hears he had a video camera installed after a patient stabbed herself and accused him of trying to kill her.

The EPS delivery man tells Jaye he thinks Sharon is hot. The wax lion comments on this and says, "Make me a match." Back in Jaye's trailer, the wax lion sings songs about Sharon and the delivery man's relationship all through the night, until Jaye agrees to set them up. Then, at the Barrel, Sharon meets Jaye at a table, and Jaye asks what she thought of Thomas, the delivery man. Jaye is upset that she didn't think he was cute. Thomas shows up and sits down, and Jaye leaves, saying she has to go to the bathroom. She arrives at the bar and tells Eric, the bartender, to get her drunk. Back at their table, Thomas is making small talk, when Sharon says nothing is going to happen between them, because she didn't actually want to come for a date with him.

At the bar, Jaye rants to Eric about just wanting to get her sister laid to make the lion shut up. Eric asks if she's kidding about the lion, and she says she is. Thomas continues questioning what it is about him that makes Sharon uninterested in him. She tells him she's a lesbian, but he doesn't believe her. Jaye tells Eric that she thinks the universe is plotting against her. She and Eric flirt, and Jaye goes back to the table. Thomas asks if Sharon's a lesbian, and Jaye thinks he's assuming it because she's not into him. Suddenly she notices an enormous goiter on Thomas' neck, and he asks if there were peanuts in the salad. As they rush him to the hospital, Jaye asks if Sharon actually is a lesbian, and that if so, it's not that surprising. They realize then that Thomas can no longer breathe, and perform a tracheotomy on him.

At the hospital, Thomas is on a bed being treated for his allergic reaction and "stab wound". Sharon is outside the room, and a woman comes in and introduces herself as his ex-wife, and asks if Sharon is his girlfriend. Sharon accidentally blurts out, "I don't have a girlfriend." The ex-wife smiles, and then licks her thumb and uses it to rub ink off of Sharon's chin. Back in Thomas' hospital room, he and Jaye see his ex-wife and Sharon checking each other out and smiling at each other. Sharon has to leave, and Thomas' ex-wife offers her a ride. Jaye comforts Thomas by telling him that he at least knows that it wasn't his fault his marriage failed. A highly attractive nurse comes by, and Thomas appears very into her. Later that night, she gives him a sponge bath, smiling at him throughout.

Meanwhile, Jaye arrives back at her trailer to find Sharon already there. Jaye tries to be supportive about Sharon being a lesbian. Sharon wonders why Jaye's being nice. Jaye doesn't know why, and begins to rant about how she's been trying to make something happen and the events that occurred as a result. Sharon puts her arm around her. The brass monkey whispers for Jaye to say "I love you," and she does. Sharon says she loves her too. Jaye expresses surprise about not feeling dirty about it. They decide to say it more often. Back in front of the Maid of the Mist statue by Niagara Falls late that night, Jaye runs into Eric. He wonders why the Maid of the Mist didn't just save herself, and Jaye mentions how she was surrendering to destiny. Eric talks to her about destiny and fate.

Actually doing some work the next day, Thomas comes in and tries to talk to Jaye. He can't talk though, so he writes. He writes that it was the worst date but best night of his life. He looks over at the nurse, who is also in the giftshop. He writes that he's going to marry her. Then they notice her looking at another woman's behind, but Jaye tries to reassure him that she was probably just looking at the label on the jeans. He and the nurse leave, laughing and smiling. A woman throws a quarter into the fountain, and a stuffed bear in a plastic barrel tells Jaye to pick it up. It mentions toilet paper, which the woman who threw the quarter has stuck to her shoe. It begins singing when Jaye does nothing, so she grabs it and runs after the woman to help her.
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