Title: Do the Right Thing
Written by: Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider
Directed by: Nick Marck
Aired: November 30, 1992
Log line: An ex-member of the KGB visits Cicely to sell Maurice his official Russian dossier; a health inspector surveys The Brick for the first time in more than thirty years; Maggie makes a vow to herself to live each day as if it was her last.
Listen to the podcast discussion of this episode here.
When we think of the title of 4.9, “Do the Right Thing,” we are reminded of Spike Lee’s 1989 film, but we are also confronted with a choice, to do the right thing or do the wrong thing (assuming there is a “right” and “wrong” thing, in any case). We argue that this episode pretty much embodies this choice of good or bad; right or wrong; good and evil.
We are introduced to two strangers: Viktor Bobrov, an ex-KGB spy who wants to sell Maurice his Russian dossier, and Jason, a local health inspector who examines The Brick. Victor is a fast-talker, a born salesman, but is extremely morally ambiguous. He has no qualms about selling possible classified or possibly fake historical documents to local residents, nor does he feel any guilt about milking Cicelians for drinks, food, cigars and even medication. On the other hand, Jason is a virtuous young man who likes the rule of law, who believes in his role as health inspector as doing something akin to saving the public. He is wide-eyed, earnest, young, and innocent. He abhors violence, even the cinematic kind, and his crush on Shelly is pure and untainted.
It is interesting that these two characters would be introduced in the same episode, because they seem to be on either end of the moral scale. Though Viktor is hardly as bad as, say, Jackie Vincoeur was, he is still on the morally corrupt side, targeting ex-astronauts with secrets for money, and is entirely devoted to his own self-interest. He is a charmer, tempting Cicelians with classified material and appealing to their curiosity (rather like the Biblical Snake and Eve story, perhaps?). His character very much contrasts with the character of Jason, who seems to always be in the right. Even physically they are opposites: Jason is clean-cut, lean, and pressed, while Victor resembles a deflated balloon – paunchy, unkempt, a little messy. (However, they do both wear the same coloured jackets.)
Both characters represent the fork in the road, the path to goodness or the path to moral corruption. Interestingly, the storylines of this episode also reflect this choice. Maggie makes the conscious decision to be good, saying “I’m going to strive every day to be a kind and generous and loving person.” She even confesses her crime of stealing one of Chris’ favourite albums, much to Chris’ dismay and surprise.
Similarly, Maurice also needed to make a choice between good and bad. Confronted with his breach of security upon bragging about a top secret rocket to a girl he’d slept with, Maurice at first admits his moral failing to himself (strangely enough, when confessing this incident to Chris, Maurice reveals that he’d never felt guilt before, which reveals his own belief in the inherent goodness of his actions thus far). However, when Chris shows him a document that reveals that one of Maurice’s heroes, General MacArthur, betrayed his country, Maurice is again faced with a decision, and this time he declares the document “garbage” and believes in the rightness of his hero, and the goodness of himself once again.
Both Maggie and Maurice are challenged with a moral crossroad of good and bad. In the end, Maggie fails at being good and returns to her own negativity and maligned view of the world, while Maurice returns to his own unblemished narrative of his own life. Good and evil leave town, and residents are once again left on their own foggy road.
Themes / Recurrences: Death; fate; truth; history
The Good: Both guest actors, David Hemmings and John Hawkes, are great in their roles. We were tickled at Maggie’s attempt at goodness, and particularly love the confession scene between her and Chris (the Jan Garber song “I’ll See You In My Dreams” that is featured in the scene in the original airing makes it even more great).
The Bad: While we can’t pinpoint any fatal flaws in this episode, there is some spark missing in this episode, in our opinion. Perhaps it suffers from being right after an amazing “Thanksgiving” episode.
The Notable: Chris has a new Harley! Huzzah!
On’s rating: 8 out of 10.
Shane’s rating: 7.5 out of 10.