14/21 Season Four, Episode One: Stemwinder I

So Billy interrupts Amanda’s ‘interrogation’…and we cut to some serious activity. Let’s play war!
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 Male Agent Voice: Enemy submarine-based launch. Key map grid coordinates 2-2-4-6.
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The war games seem to have an audience..
(We see Billy and Amanda enter the room)
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Female Agent Voice: Stemwinder war game elapsed time: one hour, 22 minutes, 30 seconds.
(Billy and Amanda join Francine in the back row as she follows events.)
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Amanda: How’s it going?Stem I.avi_001712412
Francine: Huh. Into the dumper. We just lost the downlinks from the HP-1 over the USSR… the land links from Pavepaw’s radar and, uh… their secure frequencies.Stem I.avi_001715415
[Hmm interesting, Francine tells Amanda how the war games are going, and doesn’t seem to mind that Amanda is in the room. If she really truly believed that Lee and Amanda were traitors this is not how she would have responded no?]
(We see a close-up of a map)
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a big X is drawn on Baltimore!Stem I.avi_001722222
Francine: Or, they were.
Billy: That’s it. Twenty kilotons from a Vlota class sub off Maryland just turned D.C. into hot confetti…
[lol- hot confetti!]
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A sub launch is supposed to give the President eight minutes to make up his mind—eight minutes. But our communications fall out after the first blast. We didn’t respond. We lost.
[Okay, can we pause here a moment and consider this plot all? Umm.. help??!! I always feel like I’m missing something with this whole premise! I mean, what am I missing here?
lol this is not rhetorical by the way, really – if I’m missing something help me! Smile They know the radio frequencies were stolen from Dart – I’m guessing all frequencies were stolen, not just the ones that Lee was supposed to hand over to the Russians. Otherwise this plot really doesn’t make any sense!
So anyway, I’m thinking – if this is all just a game they are doing to simulate a nuclear attack.. and they know secure frequencies have been stolen, um why don’t they just not do the war games?
They were extremely confident these war games were going to go well if they had planned on Lee giving some frequencies to Sonja so the Russians had a window through which to watch them succeed at their war games and basically brag about how great they are. When that’s all compromised – why go ahead?! Me confused.. but oh well.. it’s clear they’ve decide to go ahead.. so I’ll go with  it! Maybe they were sooooo confident that they didn’t care about the murder and security breach. but.. it’s certainly blown up in their faces.. Hot Confetti- ouchie!
Any insights into this plot would be greatly appreciated!  I guess the take away here is – US security is in deep do doooo… which means Lee and Amanda are in even deeper do dooooo.]
Francine: I thought Dr. Smyth was gonna… get off his rump for once and put a stop to this?
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Sitting up the front of the darkened room.. we see Dr Smyth get up off his rump Winking smile as he replies…
Dr. Smyth: The National Security Council told the President we lacked proof.Stem I.avi_001747847
[Ohhhh so this is supposed to be the explanation for why the war games went ahead? So a dead body isn’t proof?!
err wasn’t the cost of this game not worth the pay off?! Anyone else thinking this? ]
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Billy: Well, we’ve got it now…
[Billy looks seriously worried! eek!]
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…Fools. The Russians are jamming six or seven of our frequencies.Stem I.avi_001757457
[Whooo okay so that’s probably the frequencies that were stolen, as opposed to the frequencies Lee was always supposed to give the Russians – err yes?]
Dr. Smyth: So—Scarecrow did sell out.
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[Ugh. they failed. Proof scarecrow is guilty: Fools!]
(Dr Smyth lights a cigarette..)
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[Whoooo smk code for bad guy.. only.. this bad guy is high up in this scary place Amanda works at called IFF!]
Amanda: No, Sir! Sir, if you’ll excuse me-
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Dr. Smyth: I will not excuse you…
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[Phew! Amanda is courageous to speak up.. but.. part of me also wonders if she’s also being naive! this is not Billy she’s talking to! Winking smile ]
…  You’re the housewife turned agent, huh?
[Yes! she is an agent in this madhouse! Gah!!! whose idea was it to give her an agent badge?! I mean, I was perfectly happy with that guest pass! She did just fine with that! could fly under the radar, and never had to deal with this ominous Dr Smyth! Bring back the guest pass!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Rofl. Okay I’m just making fun of myself.. but really this agent badge isn’t so great right now Smile ]
Amanda: Yes, Sir.
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Dr. Smyth: I think you’re just as much a traitor as Scarecrow.
Amanda: No, Sir. Lee and I are not traitors. Now, I don’t know what’s going on… but it seems as if everybody’s asking alotta questions and pointing a lot of fingers and being awfully rude, when Lee’s out there somewhere, risking his life for his country and we should be looking for him!
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[Amanda does a great job of being assertive here, but not getting too emotional- when, she’s gotta be feeling it! I think she’s really professional here. And LOL- it’s so Amanda that she mentions people are being rude Winking smile ]
Dr. Smyth: Oh, we are… rest assured….
[LOL it’s not reassuring to hear Dr Smyth is looking for Lee!]
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(Dr Smyth calls Billy over to him for a private conversation.. not involving Amanda) [But lol she can still hear it]
(Quietly): …Damage estimate?
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Billy: Total. We won’t be secure again for several weeks.  [Yup. Not protected for several weeks was way too high a price to pay to find out if Scarecrow betrayed them. lol when it doesn’t even actually prove that Winking smile ]Stem I.avi_001800400
Dr. Smyth: And the President just lost his bargaining chip for the peace talks. He’ll want to kick a dog, and I don’t plan to be it….
[Blame the president! He wanted the ‘proof’!]
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(Amanda’s looking a lot more worried!!)
… Sweat the housewife and bring me Stetson’s beating heart…
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(Dr Smyth walks past Amanda.. Amanda doesn’t make eye contact with him, instead she looks past Dr Smyth and meets Billy’s eyes. Stem I.avi_001814014
Dr Smyth opens the door and looks back at Billy, Stem I.avi_001814314
and finally meets Amanda’s eyes to add the following..)
: ….Hot confetti.
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Great line!
Then, it’s all non-verbal here!
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Thank goodness for photos! Billy glares at Dr Smyth.
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Dr Smyth glares at Amanda..
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He gives Billy a last glare.. and then leaves.
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Amanda looks at Billy.

Oh boy!!! We’re in a lot of trouble!!!
We can hear the war games hot confetti continuing on in the background –underlining that things are looking ominous!
Male Agent Voice: Registering direct hit; Andersen’s Base.Stem I.avi_001821021
The scene ends there.
Phew!!! Dr Smyth is a great bad guy, he totally adds tension and suspense to things! Maybe he’ll be a contender for the Season 4 golden teacups?! Smile

I can’t wait to hear what you all think! Especially of the last moments in this scene where there is no dialogue..
I’m getting the vibe that Amanda is feeling connected to Billy… and empathising with him that they (The USA, Billy, Lee and Amanda!) are in lots of trouble. I’m not getting the vibe that Billy is falling into line with Dr Smyth, who I guess is his superior. Billy stays professional, but he isn’t throwing Lee and Amanda under the bus either.
I guess we are left to wonder if Billy is going to sweat the housewife, and bring Dr Smyth Lee’s beating heart. But, the vibe here is that Billy will be looking for an  alternative! Just my vibes.. do tell – what are yours?

Interesting also that Francine stays out of this once Dr Smyth is revealed to be present. She’s going to be interesting to watch. Lastly, Amanda does Lee proud here. She’s keeping things under control, in a really scary and highly emotional situation, pleading Lee’s case (for his innocence and his current safety)- and her own! Amanda doesn’t know what she is dealing with yet with Dr Smyth- and maybe she is only now beginning to learn how ruthless the agency can be – even with it’s own.. [maybe, especially with it’s own?]
….but Amanda seems to me to be assertive and professional. I think she does pretty well here all things considered!

Soooo what do you all think? LOL Do you think Lee and Amanda are really dirty? haaaaaaa… 

13/21 Season Four, Episode One: Stemwinder I

Back to the agency..
Quidd: She’s struggling with a post-perceptive avoidance reaction.
[Ugh. Yep. We have another kooky psych moment in smk world!]
Billy: Spare me the psychobabble.
Quidd: That’s not babble; I could give you babble.
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Billy: Don’t.  I need something solid now; this is Amanda King in here. I know her. I can get through to her.Stem I.avi_001617450
Quidd: Just my point. You have a bias…
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…You side with her and Scarecrow.  You owe it to her, Billy, to let us be as rigorous as possible. I don’t like it, but… there could be questions later on.Stem I.avi_001629863
(Billy considers this.)
[Billy owes it to Amanda? Oh purlease!
I’m going to call Quidd half-Quid. This probably doesn’t translate for Americans.. but in Australia when someone is half quid they are stupid! ‘Quid’ being another name for a pound (money not weight). Or, some say someone is ‘not the full quid’- get it?
So… Quidd is half-Quid! I usually avoid aussie slang – but it’s so appropriate for half-Quid I have to use it!]Stem I.avi_001630764
Quidd: Murder and treason do raise them.Stem I.avi_001633667
(Billy doesn’t answer.
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Instead he turns and switches the speaker on so he can hear Amanda’s errr ‘interview’)
Operator: Now, Mrs. King, concentrate, please.Stem I.avi_001635669
Amanda: I’m concentrating, but I should be out looking for Lee.
Operator: Mrs. King, please, just answer the questions.
Amanda: All right.
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Operator: Now, Scarecrow found himself in a dynamic situation… yet you say he set a time limit, correct?Stem I.avi_001645378
: He felt he could attain his objective by then.Stem I.avi_001651685
(We see a close up of what I guess is a lie detector.) [eek!]Stem I.avi_001655088
[There’s a few lines there off the page! lol that doesn’t look good! Must have been an earthquake 😉 oh wait.. no something is not right here! 😉 ]
Operator: Mrs. King, I know what his objective was.
I’m looking for a yes or no answer here. Did you believe him?

Amanda answers firmly: Yes!  He promised.
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Quidd: ‘Promised.’ That’s a noodle we can work on…
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…Field agents trust facts, not promises. Stem I.avi_001669502
[What the heck is this half Quid going on about?! Field agents are human beings. Not robots. And, why is Amanda being interrogated about whether she ‘believed’ him? I thought only facts were important.. Seems bias is present in these questions!]
Billy: Noodle? [lol!]Stem I.avi_001670103
Billy turns the speaker off.
Quidd: Put the pressure on her. Come on, Billy—you know how it goes… [No! that would be bias! Winking smile ] …Better we succeed now; compared to what comes later, this is a pat on the back… [Why is the assumption that she is lying? and that Lee is dirty? They haven’t even done a proper investigation yet! It’s early days!! Plenty of bias here – close minded half quid!]
…First, the debilitary drug series, then… sensory deprivation… and, finally, induced psychotic phobia.
[What the heck is this agency Amanda has gotten involved with??!!!!!]Stem I.avi_001686519
(Well. Half-Quid’s threats jolt Billy into action! He storms into the interview room.)

Amanda: Sir! Any word on Lee?
(Billy sets to work unplugging Amanda)
[Phew. Billy puts a stop to this, to avoid what Half-Quid described is ahead for Amanda… unless she gives the responses they are after because….. they have no bias! Winking smile ]
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Operator: Uh, just a minute—we’re not quite finished.Stem I.avi_001695528
[Billy doesn’t respond to her. He just continues to unhook Amanda]
Quidd: Maria…Stem I.avi_001696529
(Half-Quid motions to Maria to stop..)Stem I.avi_001696629
Billy: Nothing, yet.Stem I.avi_001698231
Amanda: Thank you, Sir.
Billy: Come on.
(With Amanda unhooked, Billy rushes her out of that room and out of the clutches of… Maria and half-Quid!)
Who doesn’t love papa Billy in this moment?!!!

Phew! this episode is really starting to get intense.. We’re off to see the wizard intense! Everything is on a knife’s edge intense! I don’t remember there being this ominous tone in this ep.. but then, earlier viewings all I probably cared about was Lee and Amanda lol.

Half-Quid’s reasoning that Billy is unsuitable to talk to Amanda is some strange logic. Half-Quid seems to regard ‘relationship’ as all liability and no asset… It’s automatically assumed that if you know someone you will be biased [which in itself is biased] and okay maybe you could be… But that doesn’t mean the relationship would be of no assistance when seeking the truth! This is rather black and white thinking for a trained psych, who is supposed to be a character who understands the nuances of the human psyche [even the Lisbon variation Winking smile whooo]. I’m thinking this is likely the agency’s view of relationships – they are a liability/complication /weakness. Unless they are being used to pull off some kind of operation. Maybe this is how Francine views relationships too? It fits IMHO.

The pseudo relationships and genuine relationships on display in this episode so far are interesting to me. I wonder if that whole idea that one must be careful because one doesn’t know what is real and what isn’t is a big part of this story being told.. There seems to be a contrast developing – between real relationships and fake.. at an interpersonal level, and an organisational level! This is fascinating to me! I’m looking forward to exploring this!

Billy seems to be banking on his relationship with Lee and Amanda.. Francine seems to be open to anything.. maybe they are dirty. IFF? Seems to automatically assume someone is dirty – there seems to be zero concern for Lee and his well-being so far. Cold!! I remember this came up in the Pharaoh’s Engineer.. I was not comfortable with the concept of the agency being ‘family’ –this is a pretty ruthless ‘family’ – okay maybe it’s like being in the mafia! lol.

One last thought, interesting that in reach for the sky, Amanda and Lee work outside the agency to rescue Billy from his own interrogation by Cyclops..

I wonder if Amanda has a mantra!
Was Billy at the psychotic phobia stage when he was rescued?!

Okay now I’m just rambling! I better pause here.. Can’t wait to hear from you!!

12/21 Season Four, Episode One: Stemwinder I

Things are getting serious! Brace yourselves again! Billy, having just got off the phone from talking to Amanda, is joined by Francine out in Dart’s hallway. Stem I.avi_001507774
Francine: Billy… Dart wasn’t expected home, so his body wasn’t found until Stemwinder countdown began…
[Okey Dokey.. dead body wheeled by was Dart. Uh oh uh oh uh oh!!!!
I thought stemwinder was the operation to leak the radio frequencies. Not the name of the war games that everyone was assuming would be a success! Did anyone else get confused by this?!]
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…I just talked to the medical examiner; he said his neck was broken, probably late yesterday afternoon. Lee and Amanda were the last ones on the log to see him alive.
Billy: What about the Stemwinder frequencies?
Francine: Well, they’re still in the safe—but they could’ve been photographed.
Billy: Or not!
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[Hmm Francine seems pretty open to their guilt! I’m curious to see if Francine will side with Lee and Amanda and help and protect them (from the agency I guess)– she’s never actually done that-or has she? help? And.. has Billy ever done that?]
Francine: We found two different sets of prints on the safe; we’re running them, but, uh… would you care to hazard a guess?
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[Wow. I might be getting the answer to my question pretty quickly here!
I kinda hate Francine right now! I get that she’s an agent and needs to be objective etc.. but this is less like objective and more like – I’m not fooled by Lee! ugh!]
Billy: Francine, would you stop with the looks!..
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…I put my money on Lee and Amanda. They can explain! [oh bless him!!! Go Billy!]Stem I.avi_001537904
Francine: Maybe, [Maybe?!] but you are going to call off Stemwinder, aren’t you?
Billy: You give me too much credit… [and Lee and Amanda not enough!]Stem I.avi_001542609
[LOL why would Billy be running stemwinder?! he’s running the side gig to create a window and make the Russians work for information so they believe it. This dialogue seems pretty clunky to me.. However, it has been successful in taking my breath away at how easily Francine believes Lee could have killed Dart and photographed stemwinder frequencies!]
…Let’s just say: I’m gonna make a suggestion… and hope like hell that somebody listens.Stem I.avi_001544611
(Billy starts violently tapping on that brick of a telephone of his…) Stem I.avi_001546913
The scene ends there.

We move on to a warehouse district..
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Uh oh… Lee is rolling around in the trash.. he comes to… At least he isn’t dead!!!
Lee mumbles: Amanda.  [Awh!!!]
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There’s a street dude watching Lee.. [Uh oh.. lol at the 80’s breakdance portrayal of gangs!
Kudos to KC for getting the homie’s names!]
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Dupe: Hit him upside the head with his bottle, man. He’ll wake up. If a wino grabs you, it’s like a vise.
(Another dude moves closer to Lee.. who seems to be waking a little more)
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Howler: I been rolling juicers longer than you, Dupe. [Err I guess Lee is a juicer?!]
(I’ll again go with KC’s description here:
Lee kicks his feet upwards and hits Howler on the head.
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Howler falls backward (probably howling as he falls 😉 ) and Lee stumbles to his feet groaning, he puts his back to a wall, and looks around.
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[Hey everyone – it’s West Side Story Time! Lee’s not liking being in America!
Not okay by Lee in America!
Not everything free in America!
*slap* snap out of it iwsod. This isn’t west side story. Focus!]
Dupe launches himself down the stairs that he was sitting on. Lee throws a large piece of litter and makes an attempt to escape past another young man with a knife.
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[Stunt] Lee ducks back as the knife is thrust toward him then grabs the man’s arm and punches him in the face. Lee ducks behind the stairs to avoid another youth who swings a metal chain at him then kicks the youth in the stomach and starts to run away.)
Howler: Grab him!
(Lee pulls a runged piece of metal away from the wall and topples it toward the youths then begins to run and trips over a wino sleeping on the sidewalk.
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[The graffiti throughout is umm interesting PG – hilarious!!! I see ‘Billy Be Bop or something there.. is this about Billy the bopper?! He’s famous with the homies?!
Err yep.. that’s how riveted I am by this fight scene! Oopsie..Focus Iwsod.. will Lee be okay?!!]
Lee scrambles up and runs down the alley.
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One of the youths runs after him and knocks into the wino who’s stood up. The five youths chase Lee; there are muffled sounds of shouting. Lee throws himself over a wooden gate buried under cardboard boxes and an upended sofa. Thanks KC!)

Okay, I’m gonna summarise the end of this scene: Lee runs, the homies chase him. lol!
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The scene ends with them still pursuing him but we didn’t see where Lee went. Go Lee!

We’ll pause here..
Things are looking pretty grim for Lee.. The Russians didn’t kill him at least, but… seems they must have some pretty awful plans for him! uh oh!!!
Any thoughts you’d like to share??

I don’t know why, but I thought Francine would be less cold that what we see here. Maybe because of the events of the end of season 3.. With Friends like Francine, who needs enemies.. Not much loyalty shown for two people who were instrumental in rescuing you from the Russians! (…Twice? were they Russians in Double agent? Magda was Russian wasn’t she? I can’t remember and don’t have time look – help?)
I guess this is only the start of a long journey in this two-parter.. Finally all the set up is starting to play out!

I’m looking forward to seeing how Francine’s loyalties play out here..
I’m impressed Billy stood by Lee and Amanda at least to start.. we’ll see if that holds – being the boss I am guessing he can’t take sides.. but maybe he can help Lee in other ways. Or maybe he will choose a side? We’ll see!

I also found the whole idea of Lee stealing frequencies when Dart was to voluntarily hand them over to give them to the Russians quite convoluted! The only explanation I can come up with is that Lee was to share some, but some were to remain secure. The initial dialogue didn’t make this clear.. Anyone else grapple with that confusion?

Lee can really use a friend about now..
And thank goodness Amanda is now an agent in her own right – he needs her!
So sweet how her name was the first thing he mumbled as he came to..
Can’t wait to hear from you!