Episode Recap #6: The Great Montarro
Original Airdate: November 7, 1987
John D. LeMay as Ryan Dallion
Louise Robey as Micki Foster
Chris Wiggins as Jack Marshak
Graeme Campbell as Montarro
Lesleh Donaldson as Lyla
August Schellenberg as Fahteem
Sylvie Garant as Collette
Martin Neufeld as Robert
Murray Westgate as Monte
Written by Durnford King
Directed by Richard Friedman
We open in Fahteem the Magnificent's dressing room, as he drinks a toast with his new female assistant, Collette. Another assistant, Robert Simpson, knocks at the door, angering Fahteem. Meanwhile, Collette is getting markedly drowsy and quickly passes out.
Later, we see Fahteem performing his act, including his masterpiece, The Cabinet of Doom. Backstage, the passed out woman appears to be locked in pylon-like box. Fahteem continues his act, Robert helping him to play up the real danger of the blades that will pass through the coffin box he will place his body in. Backstage, Collette wakes up, but is unable to free herself from the box.
Fahteem enters the coffin and is locked inside by his assistant. The woman struggles to escapes backstage. Robert pulls the lever and the knives pass through the coffin. But when they are removed, Fahteem steps out, unharmed. Backstage, the box is oozing blood, Collette is dead.
Later, as Fahteem works to cover up his Cabinet of Doom, someone steps out of the dark and pulls the lever, sending the blades down into the magician.
This much have been a pain to get into the vault!
At Curious Goods, Jack reads of Fahteem's death in the paper. He tells Micki and Ryan that those in the magical world like himself were surprised by Fahteem's quick rise to fame. Jack scolds Ryan when he mocks magicians in general, saying that it takes a lot of talent to be a good magician. He tells them about his signature trick, the Pendulum of Death. Jack chuckles when he reads that Fahteem's real name was Harvey Ringwald. That name rings a bell to the group and Ryan finds it listed in the manifest, next to an item called the Houdin Box. Jack explains that the box belonged to a legendary magician, Houdin. Jack reads about Fahteem's assistant Robert, and sends Micki and Ryan to talk to him, while he goes to talk to old magician friends.
Robert says he has no clue about any of Fahteem's old magical props, says he hasn't seen them since the accident. He says he worked FOR Fahteem, not with him. He didn't even know how any of the tricks worked. Last he heard, the items were all auctioned off. But he thinks he should have been the star and Fahteem the flunky. After Micki and Ryan leave, Robert calls someone and tell the person people were looking for the box. He says if they get too close, he will have to handle them, simple as that.
At the Temple of Magic, Jack walks into auditions for an upcoming Magic Star of the Year contest. He meets the man in charge, Monte, an old friend of his. A man named Tommy brings Monte a package and is scolded for entering a closed set. Jack asks about Fahteem and his items. Monte says the items have been dispersed already. Micki and Ryan enter and meet the old man, who invites them all to the show the next night. Micki and Ryan tell Jack about their visit with Robert. They all then witness a fight between a magician and his daughter.
As the trio leave, Monte approaches the father and daughter and the man introduces himself as The Great Montarro. He wants to enter the contest and says he has an act that will stagger the imagination, The Coffin of Blood.
Back at the store, the trio think about how to find the box. Jack comes up with the idea of entering the contest himself, with Micki and Ryan as his assitants, as a way to get back into the Temple of Magic. Micki and Ryan are a bit worried that Jack may be out of practice.
Back at the Temple, Jack tries to convince Monte to let him enter the contest, with his Pendulum of Death act. Monte caves and tells Jack he has to audition like everyone else. He scolds a female magician on stage, Miranda, telling her to get her act together, cause he will be down to watch her audition shortly. The group splits up, Ryan going to unload Jack's gear and search the prop room at the same time.
In the prop room, Ryan finds a huge box like item with a sign that says it belongs to The Great Montarro. He leaves to tell the others. We see the female magician, Miranda, slip a note under Montarro's dressing room door.
Jack is practicing his act with help from Micki. Tommy, the delivery man, watches from the shadows. Jack finally finishes the act, but Micki says his time was not great. Ryan enters and tells them about the box he found and who supposedly owns it. Micki hopes they can get the box back before Jack has to perform his act. After the leave, Tommy steps out, having heard all they said.
While eating in the dining room, Micki and Ryan witness Montarro again fighting with his daughter, Lyla. Montarro is being blackmailed about something and Lyla is worried, but Montarro tells her to stay out of it. He says he won't be denied the chance he finally has now to be a great magician. Ryan follows Montarro when he leaves, Micki stays to keep an eye on Lyla. Jack goes to the prop room to examine the box.
Micki approaches Lyla, asking her if she is okay. On stage, Montarro slips into a magic box. Ryan walks up and sits, waiting for the man to exit. Impatient, he jumps up and opens the box, but Montarro has vanished. Micki listens as Lyla vents about her father. Micki asks about the Coffin of Blood act, but Lyla says she doesn't know much about it.
Jack measures the coffin and realizes it is the one that belonged to Fahteem. Micki lies to Lyla about why they are in the contest, not wanting to spill their cover. Jack hears someone coming and hides in the coffin. Montarro enters and then Ryan, who tells Montarro he is just there to check their props. Montarro doesn't believe him and Ryan admits to following him, but says it is because he is a fan and wants the magician's signature. Jack sweats as Ryan leans on the lever for the blades which could fall and kill him. Nothing happens, and Ryan and then Montarro leave. Jack steps safely out of the box, touching a blade to see how sharp it is and cutting his finger.
Later, Ryan apologizes for scaring Jack but he had no clue the man was hiding in the coffin. The group figure out that the Houdin box is somehow used to make the Coffin trick work, since the blades would kill anyone. They just need to find where the Houdin box is hidden. Micki says they can do that after Jack does his trick for the auditions.
We see someone slip into Jack's dressing room and file the key that he has hidden in the straight-jacket to free himself from the locks. Later, Micki and Ryan dealing with an irate Monte, who wants to know why Jack isn't there and ready to audition. They go off in search of him, but can't find him. When they go back on stage, Jack is there, already in the straight-jacket and mask. Ryan and another man tie Jack up as Micki explains the Pendulum of Doom act. She explains that Jack has 60 seconds to free himself from the jacket as the rope burns. If not he will fall onto the bed of spikes. They hoist him up and light the rope. Jack struggles to free his hand and get the key. As time counts down, he removes the key and slips it into the lock, but the key breaks off. Micki and Ryan panic as the rope burns through and Jack falls onto the bed of spikes.
Yikes! Sad for Tommy, but I am glad it wasn't Jack!
Everyone rushes to Jack's impaled body on the bed. Ryan snaps at Monte and then pulls the hood off Jack and we see that it isn't Jack, after all, but Tommy, the delivery man and wannabe magician. Micki and Ryan are confused and Jack rushes onto the stage. He says Tommy locked him in the closet to have his chance to be a magician. They see the broken key are realize someone wanted Jack dead to get rid of the three of them from the contest. Micki wonders if it could be Miranda, who has been watching them like a hawk.
They head to Miranda's dressing room to confront her, but find her dead, hung from the ceiling. Her wig comes off revealing Mirands to really be Robert, Fahteem's assistant. More confused than ever, the trip bicker about who could be doing all the killing. Micki finds sawdust in Miranda's wig. Robert/Miranda's assitant opens the door and freaks when he sees what is going on. Ryan chases after him, and demands answers. He tells them Robert was blackmailing Montarro. Jack gets the man to admit that Robert knew about the Houdin box and what it could do but couldn't get his hands on it. They entered the contest to find the box, and Robert realized Montarro had it, so he decided to blackmail the man. But Robert never told him where the box was. He does tell them that whenever Fahteem had to perform his act, someone else had to be locked in the Houdin box. Jack realizes that is how the curse works.
Later, before the show is to go on, they plot how to figure out where the box is before someone else is killed. They split up to try and stop all the parties involved from going forward. Micki approaches Lyla, telling her she is worried for her safety. Lyla says her and her father are getting along better. Micki asks her to get her father to stop doing his act. Lyla isn't sure she believes Micki, but tells Micki she knows where the Houdin box is and takes Micki to it. In the prop room, Lyla leads her to the box. Micki opens it and looks inside, finding it caked with blood. Lyla shuts the door, locking Micki inside. She tells Micki that she is the brains behind her father's act and that Montarro doesn't even have a clue about how the box works. She even alludes to having been the one who got rid of Fahteem and Robert. She laughs and leaves Micki to be the victim the box needs for Montarro's act tonight.
The contest goes on and Jack begs Monte to stop the show. But Monte won't hear of it, making excuses for the deaths of Tommy and Robert and basically telling Jack to beat it. Ryan and Jack realize Micki is missing and confront Lyla, but she says she has no clue where she is. Ryan sees sawdust on Miranda's back. They put two-and-two together and realize the box -and Micki - may be in the wine cellar.
Ryan and Jack rush to the wine cellar as Montarro and Lyla begin his act. Montarro is sure his act will be successful, still unaware that Lyla uses the Houdin box and a victim to assure his safety. Micki calls to Ryan and Jack and they find the box and try to figure out a way to open it. Montarro enters the coffin and Lyla closes the lid. Jack uses a broken bottle to try and work the crystal loose from the top of the box. Lyla asks if Montarro is ready, her hand on the lever. Jack continues to work on the crystal and just as Lyla pulls the lever, the box opens and Micki is freed. On stage, the knives plunge through the box and Montarro inside. He is killed instantly and Lyla freaks out.
Back at the store, Jack is tying Ryan up in his straight-jacket. They joke about the act and Ryan tells Micki to make the jacket tighter. He tells Micki to start the stopwatch. She does and he begins to struggle. Micki yawns and asks Jack if he would like some coffee. She places the stopwatch around Ryan's neck and the two of them leave Ryan to free himself.
Wonder how long they left Ryan tied up?
A fun episode, even if the plot is a wee bit confusing at times. We get to see the group working as a team - and undercover - to try and figure out what is going on and just who the bad guys are.
Also love that we get a glimpse into Jack's past as a magician. He has had such an interesting life, they could have done a series just on the adventurous exploits of young Jack Marshak!
I like how upset Micki and Ryan get when they think Jack has died. The group hasn't been together that long, but already they are forming the bonds of true friendship and family.
The twist of magician Miranda being Robert in drag reminded me of the twist in the horror classic Terror Train.
Two notes: The actress at the beginning, who plays the first victim, Collette? Boy, she can't act. She seems more perturbed to be locked in the box than actually scared for her life. And on the opposite side, Lyla's freak-out at the end, when her father is killed, is over-the-top! She screams like a banshee!