Lois' Daily Planet

The Pretender

which aired on Saturday, February 6, 1999

The Pretender was created by Steven Long Mitchell & Craig W. Van Sickle

The series stars:
Michael T. Weiss as Jarod
Andrea Parker as Miss Parker
Patrick Bauchau as Sydney
Jon Gries as Broots
with Jamie Denton as Mr. Lyle

The Pretender also stars (although not necessarily in every episode):    Sam Ayres (Sam  the Sweeper), Zachary Browne (Young Kyle), Paul Dillon (Angelo),  Jeffrey Donovan (Kyle),  Willie Gault (Willie the Sweeper),  Pamela Gidley (Brigitte), Richard Marcus (Mr. Raines), Ryan Merriman (Young Jarod), Kim
 Meyers (Jarod's Mother), Jonathan Osser (Younger Jarod), Ashley Peldon (Young Miss Parker),
 Harve Presnell (Mr. Parker), and Alex Wexo (Young Sydney).

Guest Stars:    Jason Brooks (Thomas Gates), Patrick Kilpatrick, Michael Bryan French, Lorna Raver
with Jessica Steen as Rachel

This is EPISODE #54 
Written By:  Tommy Thompson
Directed By:  Michael Lange

The episode begins with Jarod playing poker the back of the ticket booth at the Patriot bus station in Washington DC.   His opponents are the woman from the Patriot lines, who sells the tickets and announces the incoming and outgoing busses, and two young men who appear to be "just passing through."   Jarod pulls off a spectacular bluff in order to win the game and after the two young men have left, the woman asks him how he learned to play poker like that.   Jarod holds up a book entitled "How To Win At Poker"and tells the woman, to her complete amazement, that he just finished reading the book ... and that it was "very interesting." 

Just then, a young woman, obviously distressed, rings the bell to get the ticket masters attention.   She tells the ticket master that she wants a ticket to anywhere ... anywhere at all ... on whatever bus is leaving right away.   Before she can complete the transaction, the distraught woman notices a man entering the station - and her level of panic increases ten-fold!   She asks the ticket master where the restores are and as soon as she receives the information, rushes off in that direction.   From the back of the booth, Jarod watches the scene unfold.

The mysterious man follows the woman into the ladies room ... then pulls out a gun and begins to search the stalls for her, one after another - talking to her the entire time, telling her that she can't run away, shouldn't even try.   She protests as he reaches the stall in which she is hiding and he tells her to come out so that they can talk about it.   Before she can make up her mind whether or not to open the door, Jarod taps that man on the shoulder - throws him neatly to the  ground and knocks him out cold with a punch in the face!

Instead of expressing her gratitude, the woman rushes out of the stall, tells Jarod to mind his own business, pushes past him -- and leaves a mystified Jarod behind. 

At The Centre, Broots is walking with Sydney down a hallway, reading an invitation to Mr. Parker's and Brigitte's wedding.   Part of it says, "join us in our new found bliss ..."  Broots tells Sydney that it's "whacked - with a capital Y."   And Sydney reminds Broots that it is The Centre, after all ... 

Miss Parker approaches and asks Broots if there is anything new from the bus station.   She tells Broots that Jarod was all over the surveillance cameras, but he didn't get on the bus - then waits expectantly for Broots to reply.   Still a little distracted, Broots replies that he as a "team" on top of it.   Then he tells her that he'd like to leave early because he has a date with Charlene Reynolds, from the accounting department.   Sydney interjects that he wants to leave as well ... he wants to go to a reading from someone's new book of poetry.  Broots asks Miss Parker what she plans on doing tonight, but she leaves without answering.

Jarod breaks into Rachel's home (the woman from the bus station) and begins looking around her living room.   He notices the many pictures of her two children, listens to the messages on her answering machine ... but before he gets much farther, he is stopped by the gun that Rachel pushes into the back of his head, reminding him that she told him to leave her alone. 

She wants to know how Jarod found her house and she shows her a picture that has her address, phone number and "M2" written on the back.   He tells her that he got it off of her "friend" at the bus station.   Rachel demands to know if "the company" sent Jarod -- but Jarod professes not to know what she's talking about.   Instead, he tells her that she has a beautiful family and asks her where her children are.   It is a tense moment and Rachel jumps when the phone rings.   Jarod can only hear her side of the conversation, but obviously the call is from the man who pursued her at the bus station.   She repeats the words, "Rock Creek Park ... 10:00 A.M."  ... hangs up the phone and confronts Jarod again. 

"Have you ever felt completely alone?" she asks him.   "Like you're in a dark room and you can't find the door ...."  Jarod regards her steadily and then replies, "My whole life ..."  Cutting the conversation short, Rachel hits Jarod on the back of the head with her gun, says that she's sorry to his unconscious form on the floor, then leaves the house. 

Miss Parker is searching frantically through her desk, looking for a cigarette, when Brigitte and Lyle walk in on her.   She turns on them and demands to know what they want.  Lyle tells her to think of him as The United Nations, holding peace talks to avoid a full scale war.   But Brigitte says she thinks that "baby sister" and he can reach an accord on their own.   Miss Parker gives her a look that could kill and says, "We can die trying."    Lyle tells Miss Parker that she really should get a personal life and Brigitte says that she hopes that someday Miss Parker will find the happiness that she (Brigitte) shares with her father.

Brigitte leaves and Miss Parker hisses at Lyle, "How could you let this happen?"   Lyle tells her that having their father marry Brigitte is just as strange for him as it is for her ... He slept with Brigitte himself, he tells Miss Parker.   He goes on to say that just because Miss Parker hasn't found happiness, it doesn't mean that she should deny it to those around her. 

Jarod awakes to see that it is 9:43 A.M., curses quietly, grabs the picture of Rachel and her kids and heads for the park.   Rachel is already there, buying a ticket and getting on the merry-go-round and meeting with the man from the bus station.   The man tells Rachel to take the case this is under her seat.   He tells her that there is a room reserved for her at the Chester Hotel, in the name of "Andrews" and that she is to check in and wait there.   If Rachel doesn't do as she is told, he'll kill her and her children, explaining the answer to Jarod's earlier question, when he asked Rachel where her children were.   Obviously, this man is holding them, keeping them to making Rachel do his bidding. 

Unknown to Rachel, Jarod made it to the park and watched the exchange that took place between her and the mystery man.   Jarod watches Rachel take the case out from under her seat and then leave the park.

Miss Parker has stopped at a rural gas station somewhere and is standing in front of a cigarette vending machine, obviously trying to decide whether or not to buy herself a pack of cigarettes.   She is approached by a good looking man in a red, plaid, flannel shirt who tries to talk her out of buying the cigarettes.   Miss Parker has had a really bad day ... all she needed to make up her mind was one more person trying to tell her what to do, think or feel.   She inserts nine quarters into the machine and attempts to retrieve her cigarettes by pulling the handle outward.   The handle pulls, but no cigarettes emerge.   The good looking man continues to attempt to strike up a conversation with her.  "Do I know you?" she asks him, in a voice that is filled with venom.   The man shoves his hand toward her and introduces himself ... "Thomas Gates.   My friends call me Tom."   Miss Parker ignores his outstretched hand.

At the Chester Hotel, Rachel waits to hear from her tormentor and the captor of her children.   As she looks around her room, she is startled to find Jarod sitting there, in a chair.   He asks her why someone would want to run away from the people they love (referring to her attempt to leave at the bus station) and tries to convince her that he only wants to help her.   The case that Rachel took from under the seat on the merry-go-round contains a sniper's rifle and Jarod asks her what she plans on doing with it.   Rachel is fighting to retain control of herself, but it is easy to see that she is no less frantic now than she was when he first saw her, trying to buy a ticket to anywhere.   She answers Jarod's question about the weapon by saying, "Get my children back."

Eventually, Rachel tells Jarod about the "M2" project ... about how the CIA recruited several computer analysts right out of college in order to create "covert simulations" for them ... simulations that were supposed to be used for training situations.   But many of the scenarios began showing up in the newspapers, as actual events.   She begged for a transfer from "Renfro", and although he resisted, she eventually got one.   Rachel tells Jarod that he has "no idea what it's like" knowing that innocent people are dying from something that you thought up.   Jarod assures her that he does know, but doesn't explain how.   "That was 10 years ago," she tells Jarod ... and now, out of the blue, her children have been abducted and if she doesn't do if she is told, "they" will kill her children.   Because of the gun, it is apparent that "they" want her to kill someone, but she doesn't know who - she hasn't yet been told. 

Miss Parker is back at the same gas station, this time getting gas for her car.   Although the sign says "full service,"  no one responds to the repeated honking of her car horn.   Thomas Gates walks out of the country-style store that is part of the station, a bag of groceries in his arm and offers to pump her gas for her.   Miss Parker tells him that she'll do it herself, gets out of her car and proceeds to do just that.   Gates tries anew to strike up a conversation with Miss Parker, and mentions that she lives up on "Briar" ... she is not happy with the fact that he somehow knows where she lives.   Gates explains that he is renovating a home that is located near hers and hands Miss Parker his business card.   It says, "Gates Restoration ... Where everything old is new again." Gates tells her that he thought of the logo himself.   "Move over, Hemmingway," says Miss Parker, expecting to get a rise out of him.   But Thomas just laughs as though she has made a joke, and as he leaves tells her to have a nice day, because he thinks that she must need one. 

Back at The Centre, Broots is attempting to make some time with a little blonde ... he's just finishing a joke, telling her the punch line, waiting for her to laugh.   The blonde just stares at him for a moment and then walks away without saying a word.   As Broots ponders aloud why the woman didn't like the joke, Miss Parker grabs him by the face and tells him that she wants him to find out about a man named Thomas Michael Gates.   She wants to know everything about this man ... ASAP.   As she walks away, Broots attempts to tell her a joke, too, but she waves him off and keeps on going. 

Jarod has run a background check on Alex E. Renfro, the man behind the "M2" project.   Jarod tells Rachel that Renfro is suspected in at least half a dozen political assassinations and that he was on the FBI's internal top 10 list -- but Renfro was killed in a bus crash in Honduras in 1995.   Jarod goes on to tell Rachel that all of the other M2 members are dead, too.   All of the deaths were ruled as "accidental" -- all of the deaths included the entire family of the members -- and all of the deaths were proceeded within 48 hours by a political assassination. It is perfectly clear to Jarod what will happen to Rachel and her children if she continues to "do as she is told."   They will all be dead within 48 hours.

Suddenly there is a knock at Rachel's hotel room door.   Hurrying to get out of sight, Jarod slides his case - the one on which he plays his DSA's - under Rachel's bed,grabs his coat and moves quickly into the bathroom.   Rachel answers the door and finds the man from the bus station and the merry-go-round encounter standing there, angry to have been kept waiting so long.   He hands Rachel a manilla envelope that contains pictures of a man, and as he explains to her what it is that he wants her to do, he is methodically searching her room.   The man ends up in the bathroom and Rachel is panicky ... but the man only uses the facility and continues to brief Rachel.   Senator Sandord Reese will be giving a speech tonight ... the man wants Rachel to kill him by using the rifle to put a bullet in his forehead, after the afternoon rehearsal. 

The man leaves and Rachel rushes into the bathroom.   Jarod is nowhere to be found ... but she sees that the bathroom window has been opened. 

Downstairs, Jarod exits through a side gate and begins following the man who has just left Rachel's room.   The man goes to a car and Jarod sees that there is another man in car awaiting him.   The other man is Alex Renfro ... looking very much alive.

At the gas station once again, Thomas Gates finds Miss Parker waiting for him.   He invites her to join him in trying out his new telescope up at "the bluff" later that night ... but before she can answer him a car from The Centre pulls up, the back window rolls down, and Brigitte tells Miss Parker that there is a personal emergency and that she must return to The Centre right away  As Miss Parker hurries to her car, Thomas calls after her ... saying that he will be up by Old Bridge Road -- if she changes her mind.   She assures him that she won't. 

When Jarod returns to the hotel room, he finds Rachel watching the one of the DSA's from his case ... it's the one where Jarod is performing the simulation that sets up the abduction of a witness from the front of the courthouse.   Considering the circumstances, Rachel immediately jumps to the wrong conclusion.   Jarod tries to regain her trust - tells her that he's just seen Renfro outside the building and that he thinks that Renfro is behind everything -- but Rachel says that she will talk to Renfro herself and, holding Jarod at gunpoint once again, locks him in the closet before she leaves the room. 

Knowing that Rachel will be unable to prevent Renfro from killing both her and her children, once she has done what he wants her to do, a frustrated Jarod kicks out a panel in the door of the closet so that he can follow her. 

Miss Parker has returned to The Centre and confronts Brigitte in her father's office - demanding to know what she was doing, spying on her. Brigitte says that she was following orders and shows Miss Parker a stack of 8 x 10 glossy photos of her previous meetings with Thomas Gates.   As Miss Parker looks through the pictures, obviously getting angrier by the moment, Brigitte tells her that "your father and I love you very much and we only want what's best for you."   Brigitte goes on to say that Thomas Gates could be a security risk - or worse - a sexual deviant and her smile as she says this belies her words, implying that it might not be such a bad thing ... 

Miss Parker tells Brigitte that Thomas is only a carpenter, but Brigitte belittles the profession and tells Miss Parker that she is not to have further contact with Thomas until a complete background check can be done on him.   She tells Miss Parker to never, ever, forget where she came from and slams the photos against Miss Parker's abdomen as she (Brigitte) walks by, on her way out of the room.   Miss Parker makes no attempt to take the photos and they fall to the ground. 

Jarod arrives in time to see the Senator finishing his rehearsal.   Claiming to be part of the Senator's security team, Jarod gains access to the cat-walks above the control booth.   There he finds Rachel and after several very tense moments while she keeps the Senator's forehead in the crosshairs of the scope on her rifle, Jarod finally talks her out of killing him.   Rachel tells Jarod, "You just saved his life.   And I just killed my children."

As Rachel and Jarod leave the building,  Rachel's cell phone rings.   It is Renfro himself this time and not the man behind whom he has been hiding all along.   As Rachel pleads for the lives of her children, Jarod takes the phone from her and tells Renfro that there is a "new player" in this game and that he has a tape of Renfro that was taken in front of the Chester Hotel, which would prove Renfro to be alive.   Jarod offers to trade the tape for Rachel's children ... otherwise, Jarod will give the tape to the FBI, who will surely hunt Renfro down because they know that he was behind the other assassinations and the M2 killings.   He gives Renfro 30 seconds to make up his mind and then cuts the connection. 

Rachel goes ballistic ... she is certain that, this time, there will be no way to save her children.   Jarod assures her that Renfro will call back, but his demeanor clearly says that he isn't positive about it -- it's just another bluff, like the poker hand he had played earlier.   Rachel grabs the phone and begins to walk away, but at the last moment ... it rings.   Jarod answers it in a hard voice and Renfro agrees to meet with him and with Rachel to exchange the tape for her children.  After he breaks the connection, Renfro tells his partner in crime that, after the exchange is made, they will simply follow Rachel home and "kill them all." 

Jarod is still reading "How To Win At Poker" -  Rachel video tapes Jarod, apparently playing out all four hands in a poker game by himself - Jarod puts Kevlar vests on both Rachel and himself - Jarod makes a call to the FBI field office.

Eventually, everyone meets ... again at the park ... and the exchange is made.   But as Renfro drives away and begins to view the video tape, he finds that is one that Jarod has made of himself, playing cards, and telling Renfro that he knew Renfro would just let Rachel and her children walk away.   On the tape, Jarod directs Renfro to open an envelope that was included with it.   Inside the envelope, Renfro finds a poker hand of aces and eight's ... a dead man's hand.   The sound of sirens suddenly fills the night and Renfro's car is surrounded by vehicles with flashing lights.  He has been caught!! 

Broots has completed the background analysis on Thomas Gates -- Miss Parker finds it on her desk.  Before she opens it, her phone rings.   It is Jarod.   He tells Miss Parker that he has just recently met a woman who is not unlike herself ... smart, compassionate, tortured, but also a prisoner of her past.   Jarod tells Miss Parker to trust her heart, and not let "them" take away her happiness.

Miss Parker reflects for only a moment after Jarod hangs up ... and then she tosses the background check on Thomas Gates into her trash can, without ever opening it. 

Up on "the bluff,"  Thomas is looking at the stars though his new telescope.   He is surprised, but happy, to see Miss Parker walking toward him.   She continues walking toward him, until she is just on the other side of his telescope.

"Tell me about yourself," she says to Thomas, in a voice that is soft as the sound of the owls that are hooting gently in the trees.   "What do you want to know?" he responds.  "Everything." says Miss Parker ... and then she smiles as ...

The screen fades to black.

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