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Episode: 4.13

Title: Duets

Written by: Geoffrey Neigher

Directed by: Win Phelps

Aired: January 18, 1993.

Log line: Ed’s spiritual guide leads him to his natural father; Maggie and Mike share their first kiss; a traveling piano tuner visits the Brick to adjust its ancient upright.

Listen to the podcast discussion of the episode here.

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The idea of couples, of two people working together is at the forefront of 4.13 “Duets,” as all three stories feature couples: Ed and his father, Ed and One-Who-Waits, Holling and Arlen, Arlen and Marilyn, along with Maggie and Mike. The pairs we see are paternal, friendly, and romantic. We open the episode with Chris emphasizing the theme, as he speaks of “cosmic couples,” “significant others,” and a “warm gravitational embrace.” Two bodies are attracted to each other, but sometimes the path towards togetherness is a rocky one, filled with hesitations and wrong turns; but they are invariably drawn to one another and come together, if only for a moment.

Although this theme is obvious to the audience, this episode is a great example of how the show often reinforces themes throughout the various scenes.  When we examine of the idea of “duets,” it is astonishing how many moments remind of this idea.

The cold open mentions badminton, a game often involving pairs of rackets.

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One-Who-Waits goes through five pairs of moccasins while Maggie wonders if Mike should be wearing a pair of gloves.

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Ed orders two burger specials and later we see Shelly carrying two burger baskets.

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It takes two to tango and Ruth-Anne tells the story of dance partners.

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Maggie tells Joel she and Mike are going away for a couple of days, and later Mike shows Maggie a satellite image taken two days ago.

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Strangely, the number 250 appears a couple of times:

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Two (and a half) hours, two years, twenty years ago.

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Pete tells Ed he has two sons.

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Maggie tells Mike that she’s had dead boyfriends ever since she was 21.

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Visual pairs: two bowls of soup, two boxes of saltines, two glasses of beer, two lights above the piano.

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Twin gestures in back to back scenes with Mike and Ed.

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A pair of eyes and two hands.

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Fittingly, we end the episode with a literal duet, two sets of hands on the piano, as Chris conjures famous pairings:  “Romeo and Juliet, fish and chips, Ben and Jerry, Gilbert and Sullivan, Mutt and Jeff…”

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Songs from the episode’s original airing:

[*Thanks to Chris Valley for the music identification, **Thanks to the talkclassical.com forum for the identification.]

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Themes / Recurrences: Pairings; family; time; work.

The Good: We thought the scenes between Ed and Pete were wonderful, especially their moving final scene together. It was great to see One-Who-Waits once again.

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The Bad: We didn’t love the Maggie-Mike storyline. The reminders of One-Who-Waits’ previous appearance in “The Big Kiss” (2.2) weren’t really necessary. (Okay, we admit that in real time the episodes would have aired almost two years apart, so this is understandable.)

The Notable: Two of the films that Ed mentions to Pete include performances by actors in this episode: Powwow Highway (with Floyd Red Crow Westerman, a.k.a. One-Who-Waits) and Black Robe (with Gordon Tootoosis, a.k.a. Pete Jarvis).

On’s rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Shane’s rating: 7 out of 10.

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