Lois' Daily Planet

The Pretender

which aired on Saturday, February 20, 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).

This is EPISODE #57 
Written By:  Harry Dunn
Directed By:  Fred K. Keller

The episode begins at the Duke of Earl's nightclub in Memphis Tennessee, where Jarod is sitting at the bar, eating Chili Pepper Gumbo with extra pepper sauce. He is chatting with Earl Dupree, the owner of the club when he notices Eddie Fontenot finishing a game of pool with another player. Eddie has won the game and the other player is complaining that he was hustled. 

A young girl, Billie Vaughn, comes in and asks Earl why he let's "that murderer" in here. She is referring to Eddie Fontenot. Earl tells Billie that "sometimes it's better to see the Devil than to guess where he is." 

Jarod watches the exchange with interest and sees Billie taking a gun from behind the bar, then slipping out the back way with it while Earl clears tables across the room. Jarod surmises, correctly, that Billie plans to use the gun to shoot Eddie Fontenot ... so he slips out of the nightclub himself and reaches her just in time to prevent her from pulling the trigger. 

Returning both Billie and the gun to Earl, Jarod learns that Billie and Earl both think that Eddie Fontenot murdered Earl's brother, Marvin. Earl has no proof and Eddie Fontenot is the kind of man who could easily have Earl's place burned down if Earl decided to not let him continue to play pool there - so he says nothing and endures his presence in his club. 

Earl tells Jarod that Marvin was the closest thing to a father that Billie ever knew. Marvin was a pool hustler and after he beat Eddie at the club, Fontenot invited him for a high stakes game at his home. Marvin was looking for a big score to get enough money to send Billie to drama school and get them off the road for good, so he accepted the challenge. When Eddie left the match to close the club for the night, Marvin was up $50,000.00. But the next morning, Billie found Marvin, dead from gunshot wounds, in the alley behind the club, by the dumpster. 

At The Centre, Miss Parker enters her father's office and chastises him, saying that she has been leaving him messages for a week. Mr. Parker tells her that he and "Geete" stole away to Aruba ... "very romantic" ... then seeing his daughter's pained reaction, he reassures her that Miss Parker's mother will always be his first love - for giving him her and her brother - and that nothing can ever replace that. Miss Parker tells him that "she'll" try by starting a second family of Parkers. Mr. Parker tells his daughter that he "never lands at an airport without checking the conditions first" and that he's had Brigitte's medical records checked. She cannot have children, he assures Miss Parker ... and besides, at his age, a baby is the last thing he wants. 

As he is leaving his office, Mr. Parker suddenly remembers that he has a favor to ask of his daughter. He and Brigitte are planning a family dinner for tomorrow night and their home isn't finished yet. Mr. Parker wants Miss Parker to have the dinner at her house. Miss Parker laughs aloud and tells him that she isn't prepared to host a dinner ... but Mr. Parker brushes aside the excuse saying "it's only family." Mr. Parker tells Miss Parker to invite that "new gentleman friend" of hers ... "what's his name." "Thomas?" inquires Miss Parker with surprise. And Mr. Parker says that it is about time that he got to know the fellow that's wooing his little girl. Further protests are fruitless ... Mr. Parker has already left the room. 

Earl invites Jarod to stay upstairs at the club and Jarod accepts. Billie isn't thrilled about any of it, but warms to Jarod when he tells her that he's like to help her find out how Marvin really died. Billie tells Jarod that her father died in an accident when she was a baby and that her mother got sick and "passed" a few years later. 

Marvin was her mother's best friend, so he adopted her. She tells Jarod that Marvin always wanted her to become a singer, like her mother, but that dream died in the alley along with Marvin. Jarod disagrees. He tells her that the dream only dies if the dreamer allows it to. 

In order to help Jarod hustle his way into Eddie Fontenot's world, Billie teaches Jarod how to play pool. Before long, Jarod begins hustling at Earl's club and eventually catches Eddie Fontenot's attention. Jarod allows himself to be introduced to Fontenot but declines to play a "sporting" game of pool with him, saying that he "never plays for sport." During the course of the conversation, Eddie comments that Billie was raised by a "bad element," referring to the fact that Marvin was black. 

Later, alone, Jarod watches a DSA that shows him viewing films of Martin Luther King and the civil rights events of the '60's. In the DSA, the young Jarod asks Sydney why some people hate other people because of the color of their skin. Sydney explains that it's called racism and says that it's important for Jarod to learn what's wrong with the world as well as what's right. Sydney says there is no simple solution to racism, but Jarod says that there is ... just stop hating. Sydney says it takes time and compassion and asks Jarod if he understands the concept. Jarod replies that he understands but that he can't accept it and will never accept it. 

At The Centre, Sydney tells Miss Parker that the anxiety she's experiencing over her father re-marrying is natural. Symbolically speaking, he says, Brigitte is taking her mother's position. Miss Parker tells Sydney in no uncertain terms that Brigitte is not replacing her mother. Sam arrives and tells Miss parker that he has "liberated" certain medical documents from Brigitte's house - per her instructions. Broots is appalled but Miss Parker silences him with a look. Sydney tells her that her father would not be happy to know that Miss Parker had his fiancee's house burglarized. Miss Parker replies, "Then let's not tell him." Miss Parker gives the purloined records to Broots and tells him to dissect the file and leave "no pap smear" unturned. Visibility uncomfortable with the task, Broots nonetheless takes the records and leaves to do as Miss Parker has asked him to do. 

Jarod checks the Memphis City Hall records to find Billie's birth records. He finds that Marvin Dupree was actually her father, but that he requested her last name to be changed to "Vaughn" after Billie's mother died. Jarod confronts Earl with this information and Earl shows Jarod a picture of Billie's mother ... a pretty white woman, like Billie. Earl tells Jarod that Janice Vaughn was engaged to a local boy, but fell hard for Marvin. Days before her wedding was to take place, she ran off with Marvin. A year later, Billie was born. When Janice's parents found out about the baby, they disowned her and her "black baby." When Janice got sick, Earl tells Jarod, she made Marvin promise to change Billie's name, in hopes that life would be kinder to Billie that way. 

At Miss Parker's house, she is directing the housekeeper regarding the order in which she wants the evening to proceed. Miss Parker tells her, " ... drinks first, then dinner, then I'll climb up on top of the roof and jump, headfirst, into the driveway." Clearly, she is rattled and flustered beyond anything that is "normal" for Miss Parker. Thomas tells her to relax, that he will get along "swell" with her father. The use of the word "swell" just served to make Miss Parker more certain that things were not going to go well at all. More flustered than ever, she adjusts her hair and her dress in the mirror ... although it is obvious that she has already done this many times before and is still far from satisfied with the result. Thomas, however, thinks she looks incredible and tells her so. She rewards him with a full body contact kiss that continues until her door bell rings. 

Mr. Parker and Brigitte arrive. Knowing that Thomas is a contractor, Brigitte launches into a tale of her annoyance with contractors in general, calling them "morons with hammers." Miss Parker quickly cuts her off, calling her "Bridge-It" as she introduces Thomas to her father. Thomas jumps right in, offering Mr. Parker his hand and introducing himself as "the moron with the hammer" -- then he tells Brigitte not to worry, he has left his hammer in his other outfit! 

Mr. Parker tells Thomas that he's heard a lot about him. Trying to be funny, Thomas says not to believe everything he has heard. The attempt at humor fails, Mr. Parker nails Thomas with a look, then asks, "Why?" Before the situation can become any more awkward than it already is, Lyle walks through the front door without knocking or ringing the bell. Into the silence he says that he hopes he isn't late. Miss Parker introduces him to Thomas. Lyle says, "So you're the lucky guy who won my sister's heart ..." Thomas, who is now completely lost regarding what is going on, replies, "Yeah, I'm the lucky guy" then looks at Lyle's hand and says, "What happened to your thumb?" Miss Parker can't take any more of this conversation and flees, saying that she needs a drink. Mr. Parker and Brigitte follow, Lyle laughs out loud, claps Thomas on the shoulder and follows them. Poor Thomas is left standing alone, wondering how such a simple conversation could go so far south, so fast. 

Back at Duke's, Eddie Fontenot shows up for the match with Jarod. He wants to play 9 Ball at $500 a rack. Jarod quickly agrees - then beats him handily. Fontenot proposes a re-match, for a thousand dollars a game, at his home. Again, Jarod agrees to the terms. Eddie says that he will send his driver to pick Jarod up at 8 PM but Jarod says he would rather walk. Eddie warns Jarod against it, saying that it is a dangerous part of town and Jarod might end up like Marvin, dead next to a dumpster. 

Mr. Parker tings his glass in order to gain the attention of everyone at the table. He clears his voice and says, "Family," then turns toward Thomas and adds, "and friend"! He announces that he and Brigitte have picked a date for the wedding ... this Saturday! Miss Parker nearly chokes on her wine (champagne? they used flutes, so it could have been champagne - but it looked like wine) Lyle smiles and says, "Outstanding!" Miss Parker gives him a look that should have made his champagne go flat, and then asks her father why he is rushing into this. Before Mr. Parker can answer, Brigitte says, "Because we are in love," and takes Mr. Parker's hand. Lyle offers a toast to the happy couple and as they finish, Miss Parker's phone rings. 

It's Broots on the phone. He has finished checking Brigitte's medical records, but doesn't want to talk about it because of the nature of the subject. Miss Parker hisses a threat and Broots tells her that the doctor that diagnosed Brigitte as infertile doesn't exist. Brigitte faked her records! Mr. Parker calls Miss Parker away from the phone saying that it's time to play charades. 

Later that night Miss Parker tells Thomas that she thought the "dinner party from Hell" would never end. Thomas offers her a cup of something that he made to help her sleep, then pulls out a chair for her at the kitchen table. He tells Miss Parker that he didn't think the party went that badly and Miss Parker raises one eyebrow slightly and replies, "Nobody died." She tells Thomas that she just hates to see her father throw his life away like this and Thomas tells her that if it's making her so miserable that she should stop spending time with him. She replies, "It's my family." Leaving the table, kissing Miss Parker on the top of the head he says, "Maybe you should start to think about making a new one." Miss Parker gives Thomas a mild look of surprise, but does not verbally object to the remark. 

As Jarod investigates the alley where Marvin's body was found, he is attacked and beaten by two of Eddie Fontenot's men. When he awakens, he's at Fontenot's house. Fontenot says his driver "just happened" to come by and find Jarod. 

Jarod's arm is very sore from the beating and he loses the pool games to Eddie. During the course of the conversation, Jarod becomes aware that Eddie Fontenot is a racist, and he notices that Fontenot has laid new carpeting by the pool table and that there are two newly patched holes in the side of the bookcase that are about the size of bullets. On the pretext of using the bathroom, Jarod by-passes the house's alarm system using a magnet from the refrigerator and leaves a window open so that he can return later. He challenges Eddie to another re-match -- for the following afternoon at Earl's. Fontenot agrees. 

Later, Jarod returns through the open window and finds a picture that indicates that Eddie's father was a member of the KKK. He confirms the bullet holes and also finds an article that indicates that the "local boy" that Janice Vaughn was going to marry before she ran off with Marvin was Eddie Fontenot. When he gets back to Earl's, Jarod discusses this with him and Billie overhears the conversation and realizes that Marvin was not only her "adopted" father, but her biological father as well. She runs from the room saying, "No more lies." 

The wedding is about to begin. Miss Parker has a moment alone with her father and tries to tell him that Brigitte has forged her medical records, but finds that she cannot do it in the face of his happiness. Perhaps she is thinking, too about what Thomas said. Lyle comes over and tells Mr. Parker that it's time to go and they leave together ... Miss Parker is left standing there, keeping the truth to herself. 

At Earl's, the re-match has begun. It's all tied up and Jarod needs to "run the table" to win. Eddie Fontenot is cocky and confident that he will win. Jarod tells him that playing for $50,000 isn't enough ... they should put some more on the line ... like playing for honor. He tells Eddie that honor is what he lost to Marvin Dupree, after all ... and as he is talking, Jarod begins to run the table. Still talking, Jarod tells Eddie that being hustled or losing a few thousand dollars to Marvin isn't why he killed him. Jarod says that Eddie killed Marvin because of the color of his skin (he's still running the table) ... that he killed him because he lost his woman to a black man and that when Marvin beat Eddie at pool in his Daddy's house, that Eddie just couldn't stand it anymore and that because of his misguided sense of honor he shot and killed Marvin. 

Rising to the bait, Fontenot says, "That boy deserved what he got." Jarod replies that Marvin was not a boy, but a man ... and what he got was Eddie's fiancee. Eddie has had enough of this and is getting ready to leave when Billie comes into the room with the gun from behind the bar. She threatens Fontenot with it until he finally confesses his crime ... but relents when she hears Jarod's plea to "let the hate die here" and does not shoot Fontenot, but instead hands the gun over to Jarod. 

The wedding begins! Lyle is best man. All is going well until the time comes for the preacher to have Mr. Parker repeat his vows. He does not know Mr. Parker's name! Mr. Parker leans forward and whispers something into the reverend's ear and the ceremony continues. The preacher says, "And do you, Mr. Parker, take ... etc" Watching from her seat, Miss Parker looks shell shocked. Once again she has a chance to intervene ... when the preacher says that anyone who objects should speak now or forever hold her peace. Miss Parker moves in her seat, but does not get up. Even when Brigitte looks over her shoulder and taunts Miss Parker with a look, Miss Parker does not rise. 

The ceremony is ended, it is official. Brigitte is now Mrs. Parker. Mr. Parker raises the veil to kiss his new bride and as they kiss, Brigitte looks ever so slightly to one side, catches Lyle's eye and winks. Lyle returns the gesture with a slight nod and does not look in the least surprised to have seen Brigitte do this. 

At the reception, Mr. Raines offers Brigitte congratulations. Raines seems no happier with the current circumstances than anyone else. 

Miss Parker gets Brigitte alone and lets her know that she is aware of the fact that the medical records were faked. "You get yourself pregnant and that makes it real difficult to trim you off the family tree," she tells Brigitte. Then she asks her "What kind of beast uses the miracle of birth to cement her own position in life?" Unfazed, Brigitte tells her that if there were to be a child, it would really be a miracle. 

Eddie Fontenot has been charged with Marvin's murder and Billie Dupree is singing now at Earl's club. She dedicates her first song to her father and to Jarod. 

Jarod walks off into the night mist to the closing strains of "Someone To Watch Over Me." 

And the screen fades to black ...

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