The Hunger Artist

Episode Report Card
Sobell: D+ | 1 USERS: A+
Out of the mouths of babes

We open with shots of the MGM Grand and the Excalibur (huzzah!), then flash to a woman's bare back as she wraps a towel around her torso. Ethereal music plays in the background; the camera pulls back, and we see that the woman, her back still turned to us, is standing in a lavishly appointed bathroom. There's a nearly full bathtub with suds, several candles burning, and the general impression that she's ten minutes from a Calgon experience. We see the woman slide her underpants down (she's covered by the towel) and kick them off; I'm getting the impression that we're supposed to notice how attractive she is. The water continues to fill the tub, the music continues to play, and we see her hand pouring some scented oil into the tub. The camera switches to an impressive manicure kit in a leather case -- there are implements here that those dentists-cum-torturers on Alias wouldn't be able to identify -- and then we see her sit down and pin up her hair. Again, this is all from the back. She then selects a pair of scary-looking tweezers. The camera switches to a now-full bubble bath, and we see a copy of Vegas magazine lying on the floor next to the tub (and oh, how I want that tub; it's the proper claw-footed kind, not the crappy little rectangle thing in most apartments). We switch back to the view of the woman as shot from the back, and we see her plucking intently. Back to the tub and the magazine -- you think this will be important later or what? -- and the water begins to overflow.

Cut to my closed captioning saying, Phone begins ringing. We see Gil sitting in what looks like an office chair. My closed captioning says, Phone continues ringing. At this point, a receptionist looks up with concern. We finally hear the cell phone ring and Gil starts, then gets the phone. After assuring the party on the other line that he'll be right there, he crosses the office lobby to tell the receptionist, "Please tell the doctor I have to reschedule my appointment. Thanks." The receptionist protests that the doctor won't be a moment, but Gil's already heading toward the door. The viewers' interest sufficiently piqued -- what doctor? Why must Gil go to a doctor? -- Gil strides off. His work here is done.

We're then at a highway underpass outside Vegas; the sight of a man huddled over a burning trashcan provides the visual indication that this is where Las Vegas's homeless population lives. We see Brass and Gil meet by a shopping cart; they're hemmed in by a perimeter of yellow police tape marking off the area surrounding the cart. Brass dons the cape of his alter ego, Captain Exposition, and tells Gil that the body hasn't been ID'd. The body in question is a woman, blonde, wrapped in a blanket and stuffed into a shopping cart. Her face is covered in open sores of various sizes. There is literally no information about who this woman is and how she came to be resting in a shopping cart under a highway overpass. Brass says, "Whoever she is, she's not talking." Gil focuses the flashlight, then leans in to study the face. We get a close-up -- some of the wounds appear to be recent, some of them are scabbed over -- and then her mouth begins moving around, accompanied by wet, muffled sounds. Gil watches as the skin around the woman's mouth ripples and bulges, and then a dry, clean-coated rat emerges from the woman's mouth. Gil leans back, but keeps his eyes trained on the rat; Brass starts in disgust. As the music shrieks in a minor, discordant key, the camera returns to document the rest of the rat's exit, and lingers on the sight of the rodent's naked tail slithering across the woman's lips, just in case you're not sufficiently grossed out yet. Gil then turns to Brass and says, "I think she just ratted herself out." Brass looks back at Gil, his face mirroring disbelief. And maybe, just maybe, relief that this is the last time he'll be on the end of one of these pre-credit punchlines for the season.

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