Welcome back to the Nowhere Man Rewatch! Previously: Thomas Veil (Bruce Greenwood) was a photographer with a wife. OR WAS HE? With his wife claiming not to know him and his life completely erased, he was confined to Calaway Psychiatric Hospital until he escaped, killing Dr. Bellamy and stealing his ID and credit cards before running away. Now all he knows is that They want the negatives to a photo he took and will do anything to get them.
And now episode two, “Turnabout,” written by Lawrence Hertzog and directed by Tobe Hooper. Watch along if you like.
We begin this episode with what’s called a “Saga Sell”: a voice-over of Thomas Veil saying, “My name is Thomas Veil, or at least it was. I’m a photographer. I had it all: a wife, friends, a career. And in one moment it was all taken away, all because of a single photograph. I have it. They want it. And they will do anything to get the negative. I’m keeping this diary as proof that these events are real. I know they are...they have to be.”
(Saga Sells recap the premise of the show and, in comedies, were often done to music like Green Acres, Beverly Hillbillies, The Nanny, and, my favorite, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. More dramatic shows generally just used voice-overs, like Quantum Leap.)
Tom checks into a motel using Dr. Bellamy’s credit card, only to find a squad of men interrupting his sleep in the middle of the night. (It’s all very X-Files, including the music, since it’s also done by Mark Snow.) He escapes his room, but isn’t fast enough to escape one of the men, who says, “Dr. Bellamy. You’re a tough man to find.”
Tom then finds himself at “Clear Springs Sanitarium,” a mental institution like the Calaway Psychiatric Hospital, only this place is run out of a monastery. The monks, however, are “non-denominational,” an intriguing detail that is never explained. Tom meets with the head of the Sanitarium, the Supervisor (George DelHoyo), who tells him that he is the head of “Western Operations.”
The Supervisor than says that “Dr. Bellamy” is to be considered a VIP and per “the Director,” they are to roll out the red carpet. Tom, playing along, requests to see the file of the subject he was erasing, Thomas Veil. The Supervisor says that it can be arranged, if “Dr. Bellamy” were to help them out with a patient of their own:
Ellen Combs (Mimi Craven) was a wife and mother whose family disappeared during a car wash. They have been trying to convince her that she has no family, but she’s resisted so far. If “Dr. Bellamy” can break her, he can get the Veil file.
That night, as Tom goes over her file, he gets paranoid and realizes that there are bars on all the windows and the door is locked. He yells for someone to let him out...and a monk opens the door, telling him that it sticks sometimes.
Funnily enough, if you pause at Ellen Comb’s files, you might notice that they are actually the lyrics to “Someone to Watch Over Me.”
Then we see Tom/Dr. Bellamy talking to Ellen Combs. She’s in a cage that reminds me pretty much of the one from Shock Treatment:
In any case, Tom/Dr. Bellamy opens up the cage, unstraps her straitjacket, and tells her that he believes her.
Tom/Dr. Bellamy drives Ellen to the school where she says her kids went. She spots her kids and goes to them, but they don’t recognize her and someone else picks them up. She breaks down in tears.
The next morning, Tom goes to Ellen’s room, but it’s empty. Apparently, she is ready for “Phase 4" and has been sent down for ECT or Electro-Convulsive Therapy with Dr. Haynes (Phil Reeves). Tom interrupts them before they can shock Ellen and then wrecks the room when Dr. Haynes objects.
The next morning, Tom talks with Ellen, who says that she could handle anything they sent her...until Tom/Dr. Bellamy came and showed her kindness. And now she is wondering if perhaps she is delusional, having invented an entire conspiracy in her head. Tom clearly looks uneasy, having inadvertently “broken” her with kindness.
The Supervisor congratulates Tom/Dr. Bellamy on his work, saying that everything he did must have been an act to get Ellen to trust him. The Director is very pleased and will send the Veil file the very next day. Now, however, they can actually move on to “Phase 4" and induce amnesia. They move a drugged Ellen into a room and Dr. Haynes begins pumping her full of chemo, while a bright red light goes off overhead.
Ellen, disoriented and drugged, is questioned about her family and she says that she doesn’t have a family. Then the Supervisor says, “Cooperation makes you feel good. Resistance is anxiety.” Then he asks her about “what she saw” and “who she told.” She begins to answer, until Tom can’t stand it anymore and attacks the Supervisor, pulling the needle from Ellen’s arm and pumping it into the Supervisor’s stomach. Tom then grabs Ellen and rushes outside into a car to drive away.
The next morning, both Tom and Ellen wake up in a Bed & Breakfast. Tom tells her that she mentioned the Bed & Breakfast to him last night, but she doesn’t trust him anymore now that he’s telling her that he’s not Dr. Bellamy. When he insists that he’s Thomas Veil and that he was erased, too, she asks for proof. The only proof he can provide would be the negatives of the photo that was stolen. So she asks to see those.
Tom drives to a nearby bowling alley where he has a locker (they have lockers at bowling alleys? and I thought he had them held at the Post Office?). He gets the negatives from the locker and, avoiding the police who found his stolen car, he gets back to the Bed & Breakfast. As he pulls out the negatives, Ellen asks him why he would give up the chance to see his file, since the Director said he would send it over. Tom realizes that he never told Ellen about the Director. Which means, yes:
Tom runs away, avoiding the conspiracy goons by diving out the window and then stealing another car (boy is he lucky that people just leave their keys in their cars).
Back at the Clear Springs Sanitarium, Ellen Combs is back in the cage, crying and screaming about how they said that they would give her life back if she “broke him.” But she didn’t break him, so they won’t.
And Thomas Veil drives away, tossing Dr. Bellamy’s ID and credit cards out the window.
- This episode has a much more Prisoner-esque vibe to it than the first one. Not only does the conspiracy want some unknown information from Ellen Combs (like they did from Number Six), but Number Six often got help from female characters who were later revealed to be working with the Village. Crosses and double-crosses.
- This episode was also directed by Tobe Hooper, although it was just a regular-sized episode as opposed to the 90-minute pilot.
- Seriously, though, what the heck was up with those monks? They just added an extra layer of creepy.
- Mimi Craven, who played Ellen Combs, is actually Wes Craven’s ex-wife and had small bit parts in Swamp Thing and A Nightmare on Elm Street.
- I refuse to believe that the cage was not a reference to Shock Treatment especially since they then included ECT in the episode.