Written by: Sam Egan
Directed by: Victor Lobl
Aired: December 12, 1994
Log line: There’s more than one new game in town when Maggie embraces her role as mayor, and Phil and Joel play a metaphysical round of golf.
Listen to the podcast of the episode here.
We have had a number of strange episodes in Season Six, and “Realpolitik” is another one of them. Joel invites Phil, as the new doctor, to a round of golf “up river” and Marilyn goes into the dog breeding business, even though she is more a cat than dog person. There’s also the very bizarre crush Chris suddenly develops for Maggie, after she becomes Mayor and hits that gavel. We are at a loss about what to say about this episode, except that it’s very strange and weird, and not in a good way, but a vaguely creepy way.
However the one element that links all three storylines together is the idea of being evaluated. Each story involves some kind of test in which the characters fail, pass, or something in-between.
Joel’s invitation to Phil to play golf is a pretty obvious ploy to meet the new doctor and make sure he’s a good guy that deserves to take care of the townspeople of Cicely. As they play golf, Joel gets to know Phil more and more; in the final stage of the test, Joel abandons Phil in middle of the night. The next morning, Joel finds that Phil has taken the abandonment relatively well (despite a brief flash of anger). Phil has passed the test, and is rewarded by tidbits of medical information and advice about how to treat the residents of Cicely.
Marilyn, going into business as a dog breeder seemed like a good idea. After investing $5000 on a prize malamute, she discovers Chuck is not at all interested in consummating anything with the lady dogs. In her eyes, Chuck fails an important test, and becomes an albatross that Marilyn is saddled with. We can also see in the larger picture that Marilyn has failed the test of becoming a businesswoman, in this particular venture at least. However, perhaps it is Chuck that wins in the end, having a real home instead of staying outside in the cold?
The most prominent test of the episode is Maggie as Mayor. Maggie handily wins the election, but her real test is getting her first order of business done, getting a garbage truck to pick up the town’s garbage. A victory will set the tone of Maggie’s mayoral time and announce that she is ready for action. Maggie tries hard to lobby the council, and even gets a victory in the end, as Chris becomes blinded by lust and lets Maggie have her way. But she realizes that winning is not the be-all and end-all; she realizes that what’s greater than winning is truth, and staying true to principles. She gives back her own victory, and accepts defeat in the name of a greater good.
In the end though, what is victory, and by whose definition is winning defined? In each one of these storylines, characters are tested, but whether they come up passing or failing is open to interpretation.
Songs from the episode’s original airing:
- “I’ll be Around” – Tony Bennett replaced in the DVD version]
Final scene when Marilyn lets Chuck in.
The Good – We do enjoy seeing an anxiety-free Joel and he does have some fun scenes with Phil. Rob Morrow does a great job embodying the new, outdoorsy and open-minded Joel.
The Bad – We felt that Marilyn’s storyline was a rehash of her ostrich business venture with Maurice in “Animals R Us” (3.4). One of us felt that the storyline between Maggie and Chris was a clumsy, mind-boggling mistake by the writers, while the other one of us thought it was laying groundwork for an inevitable relationship between them. We both agreed that Chris was quite creepy here, especially in his bizarre power suit ploy.
The Notable – This is the final appearance of Mr. Le Fleur, the art-collecting, antique-dealing, Sons-of-the-Tundra-membership-carrying, seafood-franchise-owning, husky-breeding enigma.
On’s ratings: 7.0 out of 10
Shane’s ratings: 6.0 out of 10