Sunday, February 11, 2018

Friday the 13th: The Series -- Season 1 Episode 6 (The Great Montarro)

It seems amazing how easy some things are on Friday the 13th: The Series.  I’ve noticed that in the first six episodes, the crew has gone after five items.  In each case, the item was easy to locate in the ledger.  If it’s not on the page they open the ledger to, it’s usually on an adjacent page.  It’s also usually easy to find someone connected with the item, even if the original owner is deceased.

Take The Great Montarro.  The episode opens with a magician named Fahteem drugging a woman and placing her in a container of some sort.  Next, he’s performing what would seem like an impossible trick.  He gets into a coffin that has blades that will fall into it, ostensibly slicing him up.  He demonstrates with a dummy filled with sawdust.  He also offers $50,000 to anyone who can replicate the trick with successful results.  He gets in, gets the daggers and walks out unharmed.  The drugged lady?  Not so lucky.  No one can figure out how it’s done.  That night, someone kills him by making the knives fall on him.  Since no one is in the other box, he dies.

Several months later, Jack is reading about it in the newspaper.  He laughs, not because of the gruesome nature of his death, but because of Fahteem’s real name.  Micki, Ryan and Jack all say that the name sounds familiar.  They go to the ledger and, of course, easily find the name and the associated item.  (In this case, it’s the houdin box.)

They quite easily track down his former assistant, who really didn’t like the guy.  The assistant is just a little rude, but mentions that the items from the act were sold off.  This means that they have to find out who bought it.  They visit a local magician’s guild, where it just so happens a competition is being held.  Jack, being a bit of a magician, is able to enter, which would allow him to snoop around with the help of Micki and Ryan.

It takes a while and a few people get murdered along the way, but they do manage to find the houdin box.  It’s owned by a magician going by The Great Montarro.  Lyla is his daughter and assistant, setting up the box that her father gets into.  She leads Micki right to the houdin box, in fact.  I know I shouldn’t be surprised after the previous episode, but Micki steps in to it.  It wasn‘t Mr. Montarro that was going to murder people; Lyla was going to have to eventually find an unwitting victim; Micki will do just fine.

Jack and Ryan manage to find Micki and get her out in time.  Unfortunately, The Great Montarro is at the crucial part of his act.  Because no one is in the houdin box, he dies a gruesome death on national television.  They manage to get the box to the vault back in Curious Goods.

The TV series is quickly establishing itself as a show aimed more for adults than children.  I suppose the title would hint towards that.  I think this is the first episode to show a lot of blood.  The show begins and ends with someone being impaled by blades due to the act.  Also, someone falls on a bed of nails, dying instantly.  We also see a hanging.  I think this has the most actual deaths, per capita, so far.

Another thing that bothers me is that it didn’t seem like Montarro knew what was going on.  Fahteem certainly did, but it was Montarro’s daughter that was procuring the victims.  It’s not clear that her father was complicit in any of it.  It’s possible that he was, but Jack and Ryan are left with a dilemma similar to the trolley problem.  In saving Micki, they have to risk Montarro’s life.  I imagine that in the heat of the moment, they weren’t even thinking of this.  If it were my friend or relative in there, my only thought would be getting them out.

There are still a few weak points, but I’d say that the series is getting stronger.  It’s still focusing on getting items back with very little explanation on how they work or how people mysteriously know how they work.  This doesn’t seem like the most intuitive setup to me.  I’m not sure how someone figured out that having someone in one box spares someone in the other.

Fortunately, as long as you understand the basic premise, it’s possible to skip certain episodes without affecting other episodes as much.  I think this is the first episode I could reasonably maybe recommend watching.

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