Rusty Dobson’s mother is dropping him off at a boy’s school to build character; and wrist muscles. They meet with headmaster Peter Donat (Mulder’s father in The X-Files). He assures Ms. Dobson that Milgram Academy can straighten his ass out. Many of their graduates “have gone on to great careers in the Fortune 500”. And there is no cheating or deception going on there.
Rusty complains that no one cares what he thinks, and tells his mother that she can’t just “buy a good son like she buys everything else”. Frankly, kids resenting parents who try to buy their love has always baffled me.
After his mother leaves, he is given a shot which knocks him out. He awakens in his room with roommate Harrison Taylor. He tells his roomie that he is going to go over the wall as soon as possible. Coincidentally, at just that second, there is a commotion down the hall as another student has also decided to go over the wall — in this case, it is a wall surrounding the 3rd floor balcony. He says his goodbyes to Donat and falls backwards from the roof. No one makes a move to stop him.
In his first class, Rusty is surprised that the lesson being taught is that it is OK to murder in the support of big business. After offering a dissenting opinion, he is hauled off to Donat’s office. He makes a break for it, but finds the doors and windows locked. He makes it to the balcony of death, but opts for the more subdued sliding down drain-pipe as opposed to leaping to his death. Sadly, only to be stopped by an electronic tether device in his head that inflicts agonizing pain as he tries to break the perimeter of the campus.
In gym class, he meets another student, Charlie Walters, who also isn’t “with The Program.” Walters instructs Rusty to mimic the others, to pretend to be “with The Program.” That Charlie is the only one talking in class and is speaking freely in front of 2 dozen other students is not exactly clandestine, but no one seems to notice.
Donat is meeting with a group of Faculty? Donors? The Consortium from the X-Files? — that’s sure what they look like. Donat is assuring them that the current “crop” of boys is awesome.
Rusty figures out that someone from “The Program” is going to assassinate an executive at a local firm. Sadly, by this time, as in all stories like this, Charlie has gone over to the dark side. Still, Rusty is able to break out using key-cards stolen from Donat’s office. That plays out about as you would expect.
Was there anything particularly original here? Nope. Any surprising twists? Nope. Any stunning performances? Well, Ryan Phillipe was very good as Rusty. Robert Donat is just death-warmed-over in both this and The X-Files, though.
I am at a loss to say exactly why, but I found this episode to be very enjoyable. A girl’s school would have been better, but you work with what ya get.
- Look out! Dutch Angles!
- I was surprised that the executive being assassinated did not work at Ms. Dobson’s company. I guess they wouldn’t risk disrupting that revenue stream until Rusty’s tuition check cleared.