The Hitchhiker – In the Name of Love (04/07/87)

A couple of low-lifes go into a blues club where we hear blues so bad it is giving me the blues.  One of them orders a scotch and drops a $20 bill on the floor.  A stiletto heel stamps on it.  He says to the shapely owner Jackie Dresser, “You’re not my mother” which I don’t understand at all.  He follows her to the 2nd floor which is conveniently located upstairs.

She says a girl likes a little tenderness and says, “Tell me you like my smile.”  He replies, “Yeah, wrapped around my you-know-what.”  I am generally critical of the overuse of profanity but this is a drug kingpin and a whore — no need to be coy.  He cops a feel and discovers she has breast implants that are so bad they are actually on the outside.  While he is gawking at the gelatinous nippled blob in his hand, she kills him.  She puts her floozy wig on the corpse, kills his lackey, and leaves.

Turns out she is a hit-man [1].  The next day she meets with her handler to collect the $25,000 payment for the contract on the man she just killed.  He has another assignment for her, a blackmailer of women, but she says she is going on vacation.  There is literally nothing about the rest of this scene that I understand.

She writes on a piece of paper, and gives it to him.

“What’s this?” he asks.

“The hottest thing since Juliet.  At least that’s what I heard.”

“How do you know?”

“Phone book.  Try her out.”

It would seem that she is giving him the name of a substitute hit-man.  But who is Juliet? The most famous one is Juliet Capulet, but I don’t remember her being a killer (although her shenanigans were lethal to Romeo).  Googling “Juliet the Assassin” gives me nothing, so I am baffled.

Let’s say it is the name of a fill-in assassin . . . she found her in the phone book?  AAAAssassins r Us?  Is that before AAAA Bail Bonds?  And given what happens later, Jackie doesn’t know what she looks like?

Back at her place, she dolls up like she’s going to the prom.  Her bedroom is lined with pictures of a guy.  One of the pictures is signed “Bill Hagerman”.  Is this her boyfriend?  He signs his full name? It probably isn’t a movie star because she is in one picture with him.  I’m baffled.

She fantasizes aloud about going to the dance, then to the lookout where he will do things to her.  She suddenly takes off a shoe and throws it at the mirror. I have no idea why.  She is topless, though, so you make allowances.

She heads for a B&B in the mountains.  Her 1-week stay costs $4,500.  If a B&B charges me $4,500 one of the B’s better stand for you-know-what.  In her room, she makes a call to Bill.  She says she saw a handsome guy, “but not as handsome as you.”

Johnny, the local tennis pro, is massaging a middle-aged blonde when he spots Jackie.  They go out to eat, but the blonde finds them and accuses him of standing her up.  After a scene in the restaurant, Jackie and the Johnny go out to his convertible and she also puts her top down.

That night, she makes a call to Bill and the camera pans across a shrine of photos that Jackie is keeping.  She is on the phone again: “You were so wrong about him.  He’s sensitive and shy and so sexy.  I can’t keep my hands off him.  I swear I haven’t felt this way about anybody since you.”

It takes only seconds to get Jackie’s third topless scene, frankly the only reason to keep watching.  She and Johnny are in bed making out.  I don’t know where he was during that phone call.

The next morning, the blonde pounds on Jackie’s door looking for Johnny.  She is just coming out of the shower, and we almost get another look.  We see more of her pictures.  It appears that Bill cheated on Jackie so she killed him, launching her life of crime.

Jackie goes to Johnny’s room to tell him the blonde is looking for him and admits she isn’t married.  She sees he has a file of B&W pictures of their hook-up last night.  He was going to blackmail her, so she kills him.

The blonde comes back and breaks into Johnny’s room.  She sees a body in the bed, and says, “You slut” which makes no sense.  From her POV, she can only see a little of the person’s head.  Why would she assume it was Jackie alone in Johnny’s room?  She sees someone walking to Johnny’s convertible and uses a remote detonator to blow it up.

This also problematic.  The blonde looks out the window and sees someone walking toward Johnny’s car.  True, Jackie is wearing a hat, but it is clearly not Johnny.  On top of that, as seen in the picture, SHE EVEN TAKES OFF THE HAT AND LOOKS BACK AT THE BLONDE!  You’re thinking, she wants to kill Jackie too for banging Johnny — but blonde says, “Goodbye Johnny” before she detonates the bomb.

Surprise!  Blondie is meeting with Jackie’s boss.  She is dressed more stylishly and is sporting a punky new ‘do that looks good on her.  She is a hit-man too.[1]  She apologizes for taking so long, says she couldn’t shake the bimbo her target was with.  She collects her $25k.  Her handler says he didn’t realize she was an imitator of Jackie.  But she doesn’t even know who Jackie is.

He has a newspaper with a picture of Johnny dead in bed.  As she walks away, he calls after her, “Who was the guy in the car?”  Hmmmm, two guests at the B&B are missing.  One is found dead in his room.  Who could the burnt body be?

This one rivals The Miracle of Alice Ames for making my head spin.  I was repeatedly puzzled by the dialog, motivations, and logic.  That’s too bad because there is a good episode to be had here.  The sub-plot about the old boyfriend is unnecessary.  I guess it is to explain how she became an assassin — it is her boyfriend that she is killing on each contract.  But who cares why she became a hit-man?  The basic mistaken identity twist would have been sufficient.

These problems hobble a nice performance by Lucy Gutteridge as Jackie.  She is believable as the rough prostitute, but when the wig came off she transformed into a lovely woman for the rest of the episode.  And what a smile.  And those eyes.  Susan Tyrrell is also good, making a similar transformation.  I completely bought her as the frumpy housewife, but at the end she was surprisingly believable as the spunky punky hit-man.[1]

On the basis of their two performances, I kind of liked it, but boy did that script need another pass.

Post-Post:

  • [1] I will not be writing hit-woman.
  • Lucy Gutteridge starred in the vastly underrated Top Secret!.
  • It took 3 story credits and 1 teleplay credit to come up with this.
  • The director is responsible for 5 episodes of Ray Bradbury Theater.

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