Welcome to Gila Junction Arizona Fletcherfans, where apparently nothing ever happens except that’s a total lie because there’s a Masked Bandit roaming the desert and he’s just held up a poker game.

Also that an extremely lying lie a) a car just got shot off the road and b) the Queen is in town for a visit.

*tumbleweed, low key country music etc etc*

After being brushed off by the local man-who-fell-down-a-hole-as-a-boy-and-was-never-the-same-again aka Tiny Kerns, Jess meets the Sheriff who is also the town gas station attendant and explains her friend Norma Shey was supposed to meet her but hasn’t shown up. Sheriff Spencer, who has no need for a surname, tells her Norma probably got distracted on the kiln, but let’s go give her a call. There’s no answer but soon another call comes in – someone has found Norma’s car out in the desert but there’s no one inside.  They head out into the desert to see what’s up, and JB explains she’s not worried. Norma was once a prisoner of the Vietcong for a day before escaping – she was an AP reporter and could get out of any tight spot.

Meanwhile, over at the general store, local douchebag, Whitey Deaver, returns home to berate his wife Marge for not having a clean shirt ready for him so she takes off to meet her secret boyfriend Pete Menteer. She’s mad at him because he wasn’t around last night but he was apparently winning big at a craps game. He tries to give her some of his winnings but she won’t take it and they start making out instead. Tiny spots them and runs away, and Marge is worried word will get back to Whitey. Pete tells her not to worry about it, Tiny listens to him. Marge is sick of Gila Junction and wants to bail on it all but Pete says soon. Marge threatens to go without him, but in the short term goes to see her dad Cal Harding, bartender at the Grand Hotel, to mope. He feels bad about it all, but he’s got money problems of his own.

Over at the reception, Native American George Creech is checking in, a government employee sent to survey the road north of town for some potential widening. Pete manages to work in several mostly racist jokes including “How! Long you going to be in town?”

Classic early 90s racism.

“As long as it takes,” says George., and then snarls “You got a problem with that Pilgrim?”

“Who does he think he is?” Pete mumbles to himself as George walks off. Tiny wanders in to show Pete a banknote he found while he was digging for long lost treasure (TRAYSURE!) in the desert. Pete tells him the banknote is too new to be from Tiny’s mythical thirty-year-old treasure horde he apparently found when he fell down a hole and takes the banknote for safekeeping. Douchebag. Upstairs, George Creech studies a map for a while, circles Gila Junction and then tucks a gun into his pocket. This road must be intense.

Out in the desert, Spencer and his fiance Dena Harding (Fisheries and Wildlife employee, sister of Marge, daughter of Cal, oh god I sound like my mother), investigate the car. Dena explains she drove past, saw the footprints but lost the tracks in the hills. Jessica spots a bullet hole in the car tyre but before she can say anything a car rolls up containing Norma. “Looks like you called it, Mrs Fletcher!” Spencer says.

The look on her face needs to be bottled immediately.

Norma hobbles out of the car and is super apologetic, she got distracted looking at the scenery and went straight into a ditch. Jessica tries to mention the bullet hole but Norma shushes her. Back at Norma’s, JB gets a tour of her pottery studio but is more interested in who is taking potshots at her friend. Norma is convinced that there are shady shenanigans happening at the old army base on the outskirts of town, locals being poisoned, long abandoned chemical warfare research etc but she can’t get a straight answer out of anybody. Jess tells her it sounds serious, and she’s happy to stick around a few days and help run errands and cook and things but Norma wants JB’s help on the research. JB says OH HELL NO, so Norma says fine, she’ll do it herself, and starts to limp over to her desk. UGH FINE I’LL HELP, says Jess.

Unrelated but Charlie Sheen is doing an ad for an Australian car repair chain and it is so stupid.

Out in the desert, George Creech finds a car hidden away in a shed with some red dust on it. He is pleased with this. I think the road widening thing might have been a lie, you guys.

That night the entire town adjourns to the Grand Hotel (a situation I can relate to). Dena Harding gets a letter with a promotion and a job offer up near Seattle. Norma tells Cal she’s put Jessica to work but also she’s not going to move in. Cal’s creditor wanders in to assess the place, having decided Cal’s never going to find the money to keep himself afloat. Whitey wanders past Pete flunk out of his pinball game and declares “That’s what happens when you cheat, buddy boy!”

Outside, George finds some familiar red dust on Pete’s motorbike, while over the general store Tiny explains the Entire History of his Traysure hunt to JB. Whitey orders him back to work and then chats to JB about his army days until she starts asking him about being stationed at Fort Rosalyn, the old army base outside of town. He very swiftly hands over her change and tells her to have a nice day.

She sees you when you’re sleeping, she knows when you’re awake…

Back at the hotel, Cal warns Pete to stay away from his daughter, to which Pete asks which one. George Creech wanders in and Pete says “We’ve got a thirsty Native American! Or maybe we can’t sell firewater to redskins?” WAY TO BE A DICK PETE. George gives him a look and asks Cal for change for the jukebox and a glass of merlot, which presumably was also meant to be funny?

Out in the hallway, Spencer is begging Dena to let him come with her to Seattle but he just needs to sell the gas station. Pete wanders past and congratulates her on her new job and Spencer death stares him into oblivion. Later, George gets on the phone and tells his boss that things are progressing and he should be able to terminate matters in the next couple of days. Yeah, I really don’t think he’s terminating the road.

Later that evening Pete meets Marge out in the desert and tells her he can’t see her that night, he’s got things to take care of. She thinks he’s taking up with Dena again but he swears he isn’t and drives off into the sunset. Cue another crane shot.

Norma is very pleased with JB’s sleuth work that Whitey was connected to the old base. Jess thinks there’s something about Tiny’s story worth investigating but Norma has no time for that and has drawn up a plan of attack for tomorrow. Jess begs off and heads to bed. Norma receives a fax, and takes off into the night, just as Jess comes back to ask to borrow a thing.

The next day Tiny continues the Great Treasure Hunt when at last, success!

SO MUCH TRAYSURE

Tiny finds a suitcase full of cash dollars and receives a whack on the head from Whitey for his trouble. But things don’t end up too great for Whitey either because THE FIRST RULE OF THERMODYNAMICS IS DON’T BRING A KNIFE TO A GUNFIGHT*

Make a noise and make it clear = gunshot. Look I made myself laugh and I’m not going to lie I needed it.

 

*This might not be true, I’m not a doctor.

Gas Station Spencer swaps hats and starts investigating, but Tiny can’t tell him much – he found the treasure, got whacked and woke up with George Creech standing over him. George explains to JB that he was heading up to his survey site when he saw the pickup trucks and wondered if they needed help. The doctor informs them that it was most likely Whitey was killed by his own knife after struggling with his attacker. Spencer asks him if he’ll do tests, DNA that sort of thing and the doctor witheringly says, of course, Spencer, it’s standard procedure.

Spencer is not dealing with the pressure of murder in town but JB tells him he’s doing fine and she should know. It turns out Tiny hasn’t found his traysure, the banknotes are too new, but Jess thinks they’re onto the loot of the Truckstop bandit. They find a balaclava underneath the suitcase – it has a name tag stitched into it, it’s Whiteys. Whitey is the Truckstop Bandit. As they realise this, Marge drives up wanting to know if Whitey’s okay.

Back at the hotel, George calls his boss – one of the victims of the Truckstop Bandit at the poker game, who was relieved of his pinkie ring. George tells him about the murder, and they argue. Downstairs Pete eavesdrops on the whole thing. Over at Norma’s JB decides to review the incoming fax log, while Norma visits Cal at the bar and wants to know where he was the previous night. He tells her he drove out into the desert, sad that his daughter would be moving away – he didn’t know Norma would be coming over. She tells him she was coming over to tell him what JB has just discovered via the wonders of fax – there’s no such employee as George Creech at the roads department.  DUN DUN. Jess noticed that pesky red dust on George’s pickup truck matches the colour of the clay Norma uses and Spencer tells her that can only come from one place, near the army base. He’s on it.

Over at the general store, Marge and Pete talk it out – Marge thinks Pete killed Whitey and wants her cut of the money, but Pete tells her she’s a great girl but no. They argue, Pete storms out, Marge is furious.

JB decides to investigate George’s room but is forced into the closet when he returns unexpectedly.

Cunning plan is cunning.

Except he spots her.

Missed it by that much.

Spencer arrives to save the day but there’s no need – George is a private detective on the hunt for the Truckstop Bandit so he can retrieve his client’s ring, among other things presumably. It turns out he’s already spotted the ring – on Marge’s ring finger.

Over at the general store Marge tells them she found the ring among Whitey’s things with a big wad of cash but she still can’t believe he’s the bandit. Cal thinks it’s ironic that after all the risks Whitey took he didn’t get away with it. Marge agrees, saying all he managed to get was a pinky ring. Jess spots a gun on the wall and thinks it might be the gun that fired the warning shot before Whitey was murdered. Spencer later catches Pete about to leave town with a saddlebag full of money, which he confiscates.

Norma wants to get back to the coverup at the army base, but Jess has bad news on that front too – the only scandal to occur at the base was a payroll robbery that remains unsolved. Jess thinks Tiny found the money, then the thieves moved it and he’s been looking for it ever since. Norma gives up, but her clay covered hands give Jess an idea and she gives George a ring. She thinks she knows who the real Truckstop Bandit is.

Sure enough, she heads down to the general store and gets a confession.

GODDAMNIT MARGE

I must admit my estimation of Marge has gone up with this news. Jess tells her that only the bandit could have known that the stolen ring was a pinkie ring, not a regular ring (long bow, but I’ll allow it).  Marge admits to everything but swears she didn’t kill Whitey. Jessica agrees when she opens the blind. She knows exactly who it was and it’s all thanks to a twisted cord and a twisted seatbelt.

Part time sheriff, full-time killer. Coming soon to a theatre near you, if you’re unlucky.

Spencer, hot on Whitey’s tail, followed him to the desert, killed Whitey when he attacked him, and then took the money in the hope he could leave town with Dena.

And with that, Jessica gets back on the bus but not before the driver asks her if he was right about nothing ever happening in Gila Junction.

Later gang!

Advertisements