Ready for some damn, dirty apes? Or maybe just one? It’s possibly the first season’s craziest episode … and we’ve already seen Wonder Woman win a beauty pageant! Strap into the invisible jet … we are heading to Africa to start this week’s Retro Recap!
The captions tell us we are in Nazi-held Africa and Wonder Woman is walking with a whistle around her neck. Sadly, it’s not a magic whistle from Paradise Island that makes you tell the truth or a feminum whistle that deflects bullets aimed at your mouth. It’s just an ordinary whistle.
A gorilla is in the distance and you start wondering … why the eff is Wonder Woman in Nazi-held Africa stalking a gorilla with a non-feminum whistle? Has she gone all Jane Goodall on us?
When the gorilla attacks and lifts her up, she blows on the whistle and the gorilla stops. She pulls off a mask and it’s NOT Wonder Woman … it’s Erica, the Nazi animal behavior specialist. She has programmed the ape (known as Gargantua) to hate Wonder Woman. She knows High Command (which is now my new band name) will appreciate her contribution to the war effort.
I wonder if in the writer’s room, they were like, “How do we visually or through sound show when the gorilla is being controlled? Maybe a cool wrist device like Dick Tracy?” and the prop department was like, “No, do you know how much that invisible jet model cost? Here, you can have a whistle.”
Five months later …
Erica’s Pavlovian response conditioning (which she will start calling it something else later) gives her complete control over Gargantua. They are now in a circus where he is billed as walking and thinking like a man, and she’s a showgirl. With a whistle.
Her mission, along with her buddy Hans, who doesn’t think much of her gorilla-controlling powers, is to recapture a defector (played by John Hillerman – Higgins from Magnum P.I.!) who is giving Americans a bunch of secrets.
Steve interrogates the moustache-less Higgins. Is there anything Steve can’t do? I mean, come on … there were no trained interrogators during the war, so pilots had to do double-duty? General Blankenship and Diana provide a dump of exposition through bad dialogue that is a joy to sneer at.
Steve finishes questioning Higgins for the day and tells Diana it could take weeks to find out everything he knows. Higgins either knows everything in the world, or the Army needs to let some other people interrogate this guy
At a deserted oil refinery that seems to be a favorite hangout for all the Nazi spies in this show, the spies wonder how to get Higgins back to Hawaii – I mean, Germany. Erica is convinced Gargantua (or Gargie, as I’m sure she calls him off-camera) can easily climb up to the fourth-floor apartment, break in, grab Higgins and not drop him as he climbs back down. All she needs to do is whistle. Hans, incredibly, allows her to try.
Steve leaves Higgins in an apartment with some truly hideous wallpaper. A repurposed fire alarm box is Higgins’ panic button, in case anything like a seven-foot tall gorilla should break in and try and kidnap him. There are guards right outside, so what could go wrong?
Hans and his buddy knock out some guards and signal Erica by flashlight that she can start whistling up a gorilla. OMG. Then Hans talks about how violent Gargie seems, like he can’t wait to rip somebody apart. Way to project, there, Hans.
Gargie starts climbing up the wall and breaks in, scaring Higgins half to death. To his credit, he does throw a table at the gorilla. He doesn’t manage to reach the panic button, despite its largeness and redness. An MP comes in and pushes the panic button for him, then gets knocked out by Gargie. Another guard rushes in and instead of pulling a gun on Gargie, charges it.
I’m sorry. I love animals and never want to be violent, but what is this? The first thing you would do when you see a giant gorilla in your apartment would be to shoot at it. I can’t with these people.
The spies are ready to meet their U-boat for a smooth ride home to Berlin. When Steve and Diana investigate, Steve can’t believe the MP that a gorilla did all this. He tells the guy there’s no time for lies. Really, Steve? An Amazon flying around in an invisible jet is totes believable but a gorilla trained to abduct people is a bridge too far.
At the oil refinery, they wait for the U-boat but Erica decides she has a new plan … to capture Wonder Woman. Hans and his buddy are doubtful. To prove Gargie can do it, Erica whistles. Out of nowhere, there is a black and white cardboard cutout of Wonder Woman on the wall next to Gargie’s cage. Gargie grabs it and rips it to shreds. Obviously, if you can rip up a cardboard facsimile of Wonder Woman, you can overpower and kidnap her. D’uh, Hans.
Gargie’s “disappearance” from the circus is front page news and Etta jokes he looks like the guy she went out with last week. HUMOR! Steve still can’t wrap his head around the possibility of a gorilla kidnapping Nazi defectors. Diana suggests a trained one could, and that’s all it takes to turn Steve around on this. C’est incroyable!
They bring Dr. Osmond (no relation to Donnie and Marie, I suppose), a behavioral scientist to the fourth-floor apartment. He finds a hair that, is without a doubt, gorilla hair. Steve wonders if a gorilla could do all this, and Dr. Os (see what I did there) says sure, even though they aren’t usually violent. Dr. Os supposes he would have to had advanced animal training … and the Nazis are working on just that!
Steve files his report, and General Blankenship is afraid he’ll get laughed out of his generals staff meeting for a report on King Kong. Would Steve lie about a giant gorilla, General? Especially after he was so hard to convince? Dr. Os calls. He’s at Beta Research (obviously not as prestigious as Alpha Research) and he has something to show them.
Not only was the gorilla hair covered in crude oil, he stepped in mud and he has a footprint. This is all very scientific, but Dr. Os is convinced that a gorilla COULD be trained if they raised it from a baby and used sophisticated and advanced training techniques … like a whistle. He shows what he’s been able to accomplish with a small (and real) chimp. It’s not impressive.
Steve, who has a great jawline, but not much in the way of brains, thinks these clues are not much to go on. However, the nearby abandoned Gillion Oil Refinery could be a place to start. It’s far too dangerous for Diana, so Steve goes … alone.
Diana spins into Wonder Woman and heads out. She uses her Wonder Strength to break into the refinery and we hear the special music effect for her strength for the first time. Hans wants to shoot at Wonder Woman from the window, and Erica reminds him that will be of no use. I guess Evil John Saxon’s calls to Berlin last episode were listened to!
A wild looking alarm system lets the spies know someone has broken into Gate 2. Wonder Woman busts into their hiding place and sees Higgins tied next to Gargantua. She is appalled at poor Gargie being in a cage and demands Erica tell her what she’s done to the poor animal. Erica garbles on about response factors (no more conditioning, clearly) and they put Wonder Woman in a room with Gargie.
Of course, being an awesome advocate for peace, animals and peace among animals, the Amazing Amazon tries to talk Gargie out of his brainwashing. They “fight” (and by fight I mean dance around and barely make contact until Gargantua crabs Wonder Woman in a bear hug). Steve and his MPs burst in and one shoots Gargie in the arm. Awwww!
Wonder Woman demands they get Gargie medical treatment, so it’s back to Dr. Os. He correctly guesses some neuro-psychobabble trained him to harm only certain people. Dr. Os will try to reprogram him. Wonder Woman wishes everyone could be like they are on Paradise Island and live in peace with “what you call ferocious” animals. Double awwwww!
As the Nazis wait for their U-boat, Erica is pissed Gargie got captured. She knows there’s only one other person besides a scientist in Japan who can train animals the way she can … so she heads to Dr. Os’ lab.
Before she can get there, Steve and Diana are there. As Dr. Os talks about the unbrainwashing process, Diana pulls her glasses down and gives Gargie some Wonder Eye-Juju. Gargie holds her hands through the bars, so now we know he’s on the side of life, liberty and the pursuit of better exposition.
They leave and Erica shows up. They capture Os, and they show Gargie a photo of Wonder Woman winning a beauty pageant. When Gargie doesn’t nut up and tear the photo, Erica knows he has been unbrainwashed – now it’s up to her to re-brainwash him!
Back at their base, Gargantua is chained up and has electrodes taped to his chest. Erica zaps him as Hans shows him the Wonder Woman photo. This looks like aversion therapy rather than brainwashing, but I’m not an evil Nazi animal behavioralist, so what do I know. As the electricity gets amped up, Gargantrua breaks the chains and is on the loose!
Steve gets a tip that the spies are at Pier 19. Once again, it’s FAR too dangerous for Diana to go. She gets a second Transformation Twirl® and heads out after Steve. Wonder Woman pulls a Batman, climbing up the side of the building, even if it is an obvious stunt double.
Wonder Woman crashes through the skylights and Gargantua is choking her. She manages to flip him and then they are friends again. She laments that he has been used as a tool of man, and really, who of us hasn’t?
But we’re not getting a ride on the invisible jet back to Africa, are we? Nope! A few nights later, Wonder Woman breaks Gargantua out of the circus and flies him home. He waves forlornly and at the War Department, Steve is pissed. How can that Diana take a whole afternoon off? She walks in, apologizing … she had to drop off a friend.
BWAH HA HA HA, this episode was crazy fun and SO exposition heavy. I give it 3.5 out of 5 magic lassos. Next week, Mr. Brady is a terrorist who steals an earthquake formula! I can’t wait! Join us, won’t you?