Season 1, Episode 10
Date of airing: December 7, 1996 (CBS)
Nielsen ratings information: 15.1 million viewers, 10.0/18 in Households
The show started with the inexplicable separation of Gary and Marcia. It was fascinating, because either the writers never cared to give a reason why the divorce happened or they didn’t give a reason on purpose, because every once in a while, not having all the information is better. Also, maybe Gary didn’t even know why he was divorced, and this was all just a plot to get into the head space of the character during the pilot? Yes, the throwing out of Gary’s belongings in the pilot doesn’t fit into the narrative at all, but at least now you could think about how Phil might have been the reason for the divorce. Who knows, maybe Marcia and Phil had a thing going during the last few months of her marriage with Gary, or the fact that she fell for Phil was the reason to divorce Gary and go with Phil. Or that might just be me bullshitting here, and there still isn’t a reason why Marcia and Gary split up after three-or-so years, but this episode gives you a few bullet points and you can form your own thoughts about what really happened here. Even if EARLY EDITION is clearly something of a show not giving a damn about a timeline or character-based mythology.
This episode was quite good. Instead of Gary Hobson, guardian angel, this episode was all about a character arc for him, and considering how the show started, it might have even been necessary and important, although the divorce didn’t really come through and made Gary unhappy or confused or distraught or sad every time the writers didn’t mention Marcia or the divorce. What currently screws up his life is the paper, which means he has a good chance of getting over Marcia immediately, while still being emotional about being the recipient of the paper, as well as being lonely because he doesn’t have a wife (or anyone else he could be in love with) to fallback on when things get a little too hard every once in a while. Still, it was a good-enough hour of television to just have Gary get over Marcia and maybe turn her into a forgotten character after this. After all, she has been a recurrence in the show and in Gary’s life since the premiere, and maybe the writers planned something with the character, yet the show turned out to be a little different, so the character needed to be retired properly. The fact that the writers care this much shows you how good the show actually is. Normally you wouldn’t waste an entire episode just to write out a recurring character who hasn’t even had more than three minutes of screentime before this. Then again, all of this could have been on purpose, to show the viewers that the writers still care about Gary’s character arc every once in a while, and that he isn’t saving lives in every episode without moving forward with his own life. Does it mean a new job will come soon, as well as a move out of the hotel room?
Phil Pritchard was a terrible character though. I’m drawing a blank as to what Marcia would see in him, and I have no idea why the guy needed to be like a Nazi around his staff. One can only hope his entire staff was making it like Harrison and quitting after this, otherwise Phil will have to watch over his shoulder eight hours a day for the rest of his life. It was fun to see Gary handling the gun at the end, even pointing it at Phil, and seeing the car explode, although it’s pretty much getting weirder when it becomes clear that Sam wasn’t the only one interested in offing his boss. Hell, two staff members had thoughts of murdering the hell out of Phil – the guy should be running out of Chicago, not looking back ever. But yeah, it was obvious that Harrison wasn’t the one about to murder Phil. The “anonymous” part of the news clipping prepared the story, especially after Harrison was already predicted to jump to his death, and since the episode only introduced Sam as another character in the office, there was no surprise at all that he was standing above Phil and ready to put bullets into Phil’s body. I guess you could file that under “lazy storytelling,” but is it really when the majority of the episode was about Gary moving on?
I would have hoped for Gary and Marcia to have had a talk at the waterfront instead of Gary and Phil. Maybe with Marcia it would have made the story more permanent for the both, especially since it was Marcia who was involved in Gary’s life and Phil was just here for the episode. Who knows, maybe with Marcia by his side he would have been abler to move on from her, but then again, it might have just been another moment on purpose. Maybe Gary was supposed to have a guy moment with his greatest enemy? Even when his ex-wife turned out to be something of an enemy in this episode as well?
Best part of the episode: Wonderful, there was no B plot that had Chuck involved in any kind of shenanigans. I suddenly feel much more refreshed, sort of like Sam after deciding he would quit the job as day trader and forever be freed from the Nazi that is Phil Pritchard.
Worst part of the episode: Seriously, how did Marcia see something in Phil to consider marriage? Phil is anything but a desirable bachelor in Chicago – does Marcia have certain standards that took her away from Gary for some reason and then pushed her to Phil of all people?
Weirdest part of the episode: It was just a vision thingy, but Phil’s staff celebrating his death with his body in his office chair was freaking morbid. I am not so sure if a scene like that belongs in a family show like EARLY EDITION.
Player of the episode: Marcia wins, simply for the reason of not having to marry the guy that is Phil. She got lucky. Or who knows, maybe her standards just weren’t ready to go down for a guy like Phil. Maybe Phil is the player of the episode?