Written by: Michael Angeli
Directed by: Tim Van Patten
Episode Number: 106
Original Broadcast Date: November 5, 1999
Guest Stars: Chip Zien (Gerald Misenbach), John DeVries (Ward Lomax), Bruce MacVittie (William Fox), Joyce Van Patten (Psychiatrist), John Bedford Lloyd (Richard), Timothy Devlin (Special Agent #1)
Below, two firefighters struggle to hold back a panicked man. "You got to help her!" he cries. "She's scared to death of heights. She can't even change a light bulb; please help her!"
The woman looks down, laughs... and lets go.
Meanwhile, in his psychiatrist's office, Gerald Misenbach is expounding on why he thinks he's miserable - despite his success and stable life, all he sees are missed opportunities. He thinks he should just chuck it all and start over. His shrink, however, knows better: "This is really still about that woman... that Lisa, isn't it?"
Irritated at the questions, Misenbach sighs and tells her to just give him her professional opinion. She does, quite bluntly and in no uncertain terms - that he's stuck in an unhappy marriage and too afraid to either try to mend it or accept that it's over. "I think that you are a cowardly little man with a lot of money and no gumption who would rather sit here and whine to me rather than do something really difficult like trying to actually save your marriage or do something really painful and admit that it doesn't work and end it and go after this Lisa. That's what I think. And... I think it's pathetic."
Misenbach is taken aback. "Boy, we sure covered a lot of ground there, huh?"
The townhouse. Michael is straining to bench-press an unbelievably heavy amount of weight, begging Dr. Theodore "Theo" Morris to just "say when." Morris is lost in his own thoughts, and Michael finally puts the weight back himself. When Theo absentmindedly tells him to do 35 miles on the treadmill, Michael refuses - finally getting the scientist's attention. "You have been on another planet all day and I'm tired of killing myself and not getting any brownie points for it," he tells Morris, suggesting that they do "mental things."
When Dr. Morris asks what he's talking about, Michael offers up some brain teasers. Theo is not impressed. "Let's just call it a day."
Sighing, Michael gets up as Morris starts to leave, but then the scientist stops and turns back. "Okay. A woman absolutely terrified of heights according to her husband climbs a 300-foot-high tower on Coney Island. She sees the rescue team coming to get her... and lets go."
"And the punch line is?" Michael asks after a moment.
"I don't think you understand how these work."
"The most disappointing thing," Theo adds, "is that the impact of the fall was so great there's really not enough of her brain left for any meaningful study." Michael's not all that impressed, but Theo is fascinated by the chemical and electrical changes in the brain that would allow someone to completely bypass the natural inhibitions of fear.
Lisa is getting dressed up for a date. "How do I look?"
"Like a lamb to the slaughter," Heather answers. "It's not too late to get out of it."
Lisa doesn't know what her daughter's talking about - she's looking forward to the blind double date that Roger set her up on, and Heather has been urging her to get out of the house. Besides, not only is Roger one of Michael's best friends, Lisa suspects he had a lot to do with the insurance money. Heather is undaunted, offering to pretend she's sick so Lisa can get out of the date. "What about that guy with the egg - the one you said kissed you?"
Surprised, Lisa wonders where this came from. Heather shrugs it off; he seemed like fun, and she thought her mother liked him. "I - I don't know anything about him," Lisa protests.
"He lives on 63rd and Madison, he works for the government, he looks like he was made by Mattel," Heather tells her. "What else do you need to know?" It's a losing battle, and Lisa heads off for the blind date anyway, telling Heather not to answer the door.
Meanwhile, Roger is getting ready for the dinner as well, bickering with his wife, who's offscreen as usual. He cautions her against ordering the escargot, and she reminds him about drinking. "You order more than one cocktail," Ruth tells him, "and I'm getting up and walking out."
Roger tries to remind her what happened the last time Ruth had escargot, but that allows Ruth to bring up an incident with Roger and their daughter's college roommate, accusing him of ogling her and being a little too eager to help when the girl choked on a chicken bone. "That's not true," Roger protests.
"And you don't clear a blocked airway," Ruth snaps, "by applying pressure to the breasts!"
Roger sighs, defeated. "I'm dressing in the other room."
At a singles dance, a man is longingly watching a beautiful girl on the dance floor, but he remains seated on the sidelines. Another man sits down next to him, introducing himself as Ward Lomax. "I'm in pharmaceutical research," he adds, looking around with interest. "Never been to one of these."
The first man introduces himself as William Fox, saying he's in "recreational and... leisure property management." They strike up an odd conversation, and Lomax observes that Fox is too afraid to ask the girl to dance. Lomax offers to buy Fox some punch, trying to guess the other man's weight. When Fox finally tells him the right answer, Lomax grins and goes over to the punch bowl. Unobserved, he slips something into the punch before stirring it and pouring a fresh glass.
Misenbach knocks on the Wisemans' front door, only to be confronted with a very suspicious Heather through the window. He introduces himself as Lisa's old lawyer, slipping his business card under the door to prove it. Heather doesn't let him in, saying Lisa's busy with a dinner party. Seeing right through the fib - but understanding the reasons for it - Misenbach backs off. "Just please ask her to call me and tell her that I heard about the house and the insurance money and I'm very excited for her," he tells Heather. "And you could also tell her that some things have changed in my life and I'd really like to talk to her."
At Artoni's, Ruth and Roger have mysteriously disappeared, leaving Lisa and her blind date, Richard, alone for the moment. Richard admits that after the date was set up, he met someone. "I probably should have canceled, but I thought I'd feel bad about ruining everybody's plans," he tells her. "But now that I've met you, I feel worse about having wasted your time."
"It's not a waste of time," Lisa assures him. "So... where'd you meet her? What's she like?"
Richard admits that he's seeing a student at the university where he teaches. At that moment, Roger comes back to the table; Ruth has succumbed to the escargot. Upon hearing about Richard's new girlfriend - and that she's 22 - Roger immediately orders another drink.
Somewhat embarrassed, Richard admits the age difference was daunting, and that he was absolutely terrified to ask her out. "But I did it," he says. "I, uh, found the courage somewhere and, uh... I did it."
"And so you two had coffee?" Lisa asks.
"Yeah," Richard replies. "For three days."
Roger takes the waiter aside as he brings the fresh drinks. "Don't rush off."
Back at the singles dance, Fox has had some punch, and is staring at the dance floor intently. "What are you afraid of?" Lomax prods. "She's right there. Right across the room. You're not afraid of rejection, are you? Not afraid of the other men? Then why..."
Fox cuts him off. "Shut up."
He gets up and cuts in between the woman and the man dancing with her, saying that they need to dance. She's impressed by his forthrightness, but he's not the only one. All around the room, people are bypassing their inhibitions left and right, dancing madly, taking off their clothes, making out right then and there on the dance floor. Sitting on the sidelines, Lomax watches the chaos with undisguised glee.
The next morning, Heather and Lisa are having breakfast. Heather is considerably more chipper than Lisa, who admits that her date was less than stellar.
"I'm sorry," Heather says. "But all's not lost." She hands Lisa the business card from Misenbach. "While you were gone, you actually had what my English teacher refers to as a gentleman caller. He said he used to be your lawyer. That he heard that everything worked out with the house and the insurance money - that he wanted you to know how happy he was for you... Oh, and something about his life being different now and how he'd love to speak with you."
Lisa's impressed. "That took a lot of guts coming out here."
"See? He did it and you admire him. What's the difference between that and driving into the city and knocking on what's-his-name's door?"
"The hottie with the egg, yeah."
"Why would I do that?"
"To thank him," Heather answers.
"Didn't you say if it wasn't for him stopping by that night, you would have accepted the offer and now the house would be gone - insurance money or no insurance money?"
"It's not like he bought it or anything."
"It's an excuse, Mom, and that's all you need."
Lisa sighs. "Heather, darling, I don't even know the man. And besides, you have to admit that the contact that we have had with him has been... odd. Besides, people my age just don't do that. You don't run around ringing men's doorbells."
Shaking her head, Heather finishes her breakfast and grabs her things for school. As she reaches the door, she stops and turns back around. "What are you afraid of, Mom?"
Fox is busy at his job - driving a retrieval cart across a driving range - when, suddenly, he stops. He cuts the engine and gets out of the cart, walking across the center of the driving range, his arms outstretched. He barely flinches as a golf ball hits him, then another, then another, letting himself be pelted into unconsciousness.
The townhouse, later that afternoon. Michael is killing himself at the bench press again while Theo excitedly recites the details of the driving range incident. This time, though, the doctor has a pretty good idea of what caused this behavior. "Because his body contained a vaccine designed specifically to block the mind's natural responses to people and situations that pose a threat." The vaccine, he adds, was found in the Coney Island woman and 37 other people who'd wound up in emergency rooms because they were completely unconcerned with their own safety. "One woman was found walking naked down Sixth Avenue."
"And you're saying this is a bad thing?" Michael jokes.
Theo determines the connection - all 37 people went to the same singles dance with the same spiked punch. "Look at you," Michael sighs. "You'd think it was Christmas. A woman died and a man is in a coma. All you can think about is, 'Whatever the stuff is, why didn't I think of it first?'"
"I know. It's terrible. But damn, whoever created this vaccine has created the biochemical equivalent of the New World." Theo starts to go off on the potential of a drug like this when suddenly, the doorbell rings. "What was that?"
"Sounds like a doorbell," Michael says. "But I can't really tell since I don't think anyone's ever really rung it before. Well, what should we do?"
"I don't know," Theo replies. "We're not really set up for visitors."
When Theo opens the door, Michael is delighted to see none other than Lisa standing there. Dr. Morris is taken aback, and the resulting conversation is fairly awkward. To keep from having to invite her in, Theo tells her that they're fumigating, although that doesn't explain the strangeness of the situation entirely. Lisa gets to the point and invites both of them to dinner to thank them.
To Michael's utter shock, Morris accepts. "That would be lovely."
"Lovely," Michael repeats, amazed. "That's the word I'd use."
At that moment, Theo's cellphone rings. As the doc fumbles for his phone, turning away from the door, Michael can't help but grin. "Don't take this the wrong way, but you look great," he tells Lisa.
"Well, don't take this the wrong way," she replies, "but all that sweat... kind of works for you."
"Oh, well, I'll make it a point to wear some of it to dinner."
Dr. Morris shuts off his phone and returns to interrupt them. "Duty calls." He hastily ends the conversation, setting up a time to meet, and then Lisa leaves. Michael, however, stands there, watching her go, and Morris sighs. "Close the door."
Michael reluctantly does so, but once it's closed, he can't contain himself. "Yes!"
In the limo, Theo informs Michael that Fox has woken from his coma and that they're going to talk to him. Michael is barely paying attention, distracted by happy thoughts of his wife. But the doctor is quick to burst his bubble, saying that he'll probably call the restaurant; it's the nicest way to deal with it. Michael is upset at that, but Theo is equally upset that Lisa knows exactly where their top-secret project is living. "Mr. Wiseman, your widow just paid a visit to the residence that the United States Government has spent several million dollars to obtain for you to help me keep who you are and what you do a secret. These are not visits I like to encourage. Now, I've got three choices. I can kill her, I can kill you or we can stand her up tomorrow night in the hopes that she gets so angry she no longer seeks you out. You pick."
Fox is lying in a hospital bed, bandaged up like a mummy. He's able to speak, however, and is surprisingly lucid: he remembers Lomax' name, profession, and recalls the pharmacist's attempts to guess his weight. As Michael and Theo turn to leave, Fox sits up in bed. "Listen.... you find Mr. Lomax... he turns out to be the guy that got this drug in me... could you ask him if I could have some more?"
Back in the limo, Theo calls in the information, telling his team to get whatever they can on Lomax, although it's likely that he used an alias. Michael is staring straight ahead, not bothering to hide his frustration. "Don't you have another call to make?"
"I don't think so."
Surprised, Michael turns to look at him. "Change your mind?"
"No, just my strategy," Dr. Morris responds. "Since the object of this is to raise Mrs. Wiseman's ire, perhaps the best course of action is no call at all. Let her go to the restaurant. Let her sit there, letting her anger and humiliation build. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I think it's important that she get on with her life, too. Every time we intrude, we thwart that process. Don't you think?"
Michael shakes his head and turns away, angrier than before.
Lisa is sitting in her real estate class, but as the teacher lectures, she finds herself daydreaming about her conversation with "Mr. Newman." Her bubble is burst, however, when the guest for the evening turns out to be none other than Misenbach.
He meets her after class, pleasantly surprised to find her there. Lisa awkwardly tells him she would have called, saying she's been busy, but Misenbach doesn't need an excuse. "Lisa, you had no intention of calling me and that's just fine. I just, um... I wanted to apologize for that night and I wanted you to know how pleased I am that your insurance situation worked out." He hands her a piece of paper. "Also, uh, I'd like to give you my new phone number. I strongly suspect that you're not going to want to use it but should you ever change your mind... here you go. Okay?"
Lisa sighs. "Fine."
He grins and turns to go. "Oh, hey, by the way, you'd never know it to look at me, but... I'm separated."
The limo pulls up in front of the address that Theo was given: a small corner pharmacy. Michael and Theo stare at it for several moments. "This has got to be a mistake," Theo says, disbelieving.
"Well, this is convenient," Michael jokes as they enter the pharmacy. "After we find our terrorist we can pick up some cough drops."
Theo asks for a Ward Lomax at the counter and gets none other than the man himself. When Theo introduces himself, Lomax is quite impressed: "Not the Dr. Theodore Morris who pioneered the human construction sciences movement in the late '80s then dropped completely out of sight?" The doctor looks rather nonplussed at that.
In the alley behind the pharmacy, they resume their interview and Lomax lights a cigarette. "Aren't you afraid of cancer?" Theo inquires casually.
"I'm not afraid of much," Lomax answers. "I'm certainly not afraid of you two, but that's not what you came here to ask me."
Michael's attention is drawn to a tabby cat in the alley. Sitting on its back, calm as anything, is a small white mouse, seemingly unperturbed by the proximity of the potential enemy that's sniffing it curiously. Theo puts it all together: Lomax cooks up the stuff himself right in the pharmacy, without the benefit of funding. The problem is the dosage. Lomax can't figure it out, so he's doing human trials, guessing people's weight before he spikes their drink. "What happened with the woman in Coney Island? She just kept coming back for more?"
"I'm completely baffled by what you're saying," Lomax insists cheerily. "But... casualties are an inevitable byproduct of experimentation. How many lives were lost in the discovery of penicillin? Insulin? X rays?"
"But to what end?" Theo presses. "Don't you need manufacturing plants? Salespeople? A distribution system?"
"Again, only if you want to make money; not if you want to be... ubiquitous."
Michael finally speaks up. "Ubiquitous?"
Lomax smiles. "Like the iodine in your salt. Like the fluoride in your water. Again, there's no profit motive - just the certainty that everyone will benefit. If you'll excuse me... I have a business to run."
The minute they're back in the limo, Theo's back on his cellphone. "Good news," he tells the agents on the other end. "I think we found our man, but hear me - I want this loon watched round the clock. He so much as takes out the garbage, I want to know about it."
Heather comes home from school and is surprised to find her mother sitting on the bathroom floor, painting her nails. "Nail polish, Mom? What's up, the pope coming to town?"
Lisa chuckles. "I have a dinner date."
"Oh, yeah? With who?"
"I will be supping with that hottie with the egg and the nice man that he works with."
Impressed, Heather tosses her backpack aside, kneeling down beside her mother. "They asked you?"
"Oh, better than that - I asked them."
"I'm seriously impressed," Heather says. "Was it hard? Was it scary?"
"Scary?" Lisa echoes. "Ha! I... fear... nothing. I am afraid of no one. I will ask anyone out to a meal at any time."
"God, I've got so much to live up to."
Back in the townhouse, Theo and Michael are waiting to hear anything from the surveillance team. Well, Theo is waiting; Michael is doing upside-down sit-ups, punctuating each one with a plea.
"I'll be your best friend."
"I am your best friend. In fact, what you don't seem to understand is that I am your only friend... and that is as it should be," Theo informs him. "That's why I'm not calling Mrs. Wiseman, we're not going to that restaurant and I'm not discussing it any further."
He is saved from further pleading when his cellphone rings. On the other end is one of his agents - the one from "On the Town" - who's been watching the pharmacy from the TOYS B FUN truck. Lomax has just pulled up in a tanker truck, which isn't exactly a good sign. Theo orders him to keep on Lomax's tail; they're on their way.
Meanwhile, Lisa arrives at Antoine's around five-forty - she's twenty minutes early - with a reservation for Wiseman. The maitre'd escorts her to her table.
In the limo, Theo is still talking to the agent, who is faithfully tailing Lomax in the tanker truck. Lomax takes an exit towards the Takaponak watershed, and the agent can't follow him up there in the truck without being spotted. Theo acknowledges the call, and they take over from there. "So where's he headed?" Michael asks as Theo hangs up.
The doctor has figured out Lomax's plan - he's going to contaminate the drinking water. "Ubiquity."
Lisa is still waiting at the restaurant. Still no sign of Dr. Morris or Mr. Newman. She sighs, starting to get depressed.
The limo slows within sight of the reservoir, and as soon as it stops, Michael is barreling out of the limo and dashing up the hill at top speed, leaving Morris behind. On the bridge above, Lomax has parked the tanker truck and is extending a hose over the edge to expel the drug into the water. But before he can turn the valve, the tanker truck starts moving away and the hose can no longer reach to the edge. Unbeknownst to Lomax, Michael is pulling the truck by its front bumper. As Lomax moves to climb into the cab, Michael moves to the back, holding on to the rear bumper of the truck this time. Confused, Lomax guns the engine, trying to go forward, but Michael hangs on. Lomax puts the truck into reverse, and Michael has to drop to the pavement and lie flat so the tires don't crush him. When the cab of the truck passes over him, Michael leaps up and grabs the front bumper, literally pulling the truck to a stop. The tires squeal against the friction of the engine pushing one way and Michael pulling the other, and under the stress blow out completely - leaving Lomax stuck.
As soon as he's sure the truck isn't going anywhere, Michael leaps up onto the hood and punches his fist through the windshield to apprehend a very startled Lomax.
At Antoine's, Lisa decides she's waited long enough. When the maitre'd tells her that no one has called the restaurant, she gets up to go, but he urges her to stay; it's beginning to rain. Lisa sighs in frustration, and the maitre'd asks if she'd like to call someone.
On a whim, she dials Gerald Misenbach's number, but gets his machine. "Well... Gerald Misenbach, this is Lisa Wiseman and you have no idea how close you came to having dinner with me tonight."
In the limo, Michael winces in pain as Theo bandages his newly-injured hand. He urges the doctor to call the restaurant. "She's been sitting there for over an hour. How much angrier can she get?"
"What makes you think she's still there?"
"I know her. She'd wait forever for me."
Theo finally relents and calls Antoine's. After a brief conversation, he hangs up without leaving a message. Lisa left the restaurant 15 minutes ago. "What you have to remember," Theo tells Michael, "is that she wasn't waiting for you." He turns to the driver. "Let's get this man home."
Michael stares out the window as the limo turns down the road, heading home through the pouring rain.
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