506 Magic Show

A magician who disappeared.  Isn’t that what’s supposed to happen …

Summary: The FBI investigates the disappearance a magician during her performance.

Original air date: November 7, 2008 (US)

Written by: Sean Crouch

Directed by: John Behring

Opening numbers:

396.40: Gallons
21,916: Rose petals
4: Micro-thin wires
1,2,3,4: Illusions

Family Concepts: (character development)

  • Charlie does not like magic, he doesn’t see why people want to let themselves be fooled.
  • Amita loves magic, the mystery, trying to figure out what might be happening.
  • Don hasn’t been in a temple since Margaret’s funeral.

Episode Quotes:

  • Larry: Charlie is still determined to predetermine the results.
  • Larry: My own quest for god has been inextricably intertwined with my work.
    Don: Does that help you sleep?
    Larry: No, it keeps me awake.
  • Nikki: No, girl, you are not playin’ chicken with the FBI.
  • Colby: Magicians have something against track lighting or what?
  • Alan [to Don]: Don’t look at your phone like it’s gonna ring and save you.  Just do the dishes.

Episode Synopsis:

David and his date Sarah are at a magic performance when the trick appears to go wrong.  The magician, Talma, is supposed to be in a tank of water, however at the end of the trick she is gone.  Her assist Susanna swears she has really disappeared and doesn’t know what to do.  David calls Don to the scene; and Don along with Charlie and Larry listen to what Susanna says.  Charlie then points out there is a trap door under the Aquarius prop and demands Susanna open it.  When the doors are opened, the space is empty, but covered with blood.

Nikki does some digging and finds out Talma and Susanna have tried this stunt in the past in Boulder, Colorado and Fairbanks, Alaska.  Both times an illusion appeared to go wrong only to have Talma miraculously reappear. Nikki and Don both think it’s happening again, but this time David’s presence has dropped the FBI into a potentially embarrassing position. David goes to Sarah’s apartment to apologize for leaving her to investigate Talmah’s disappearance only to discover Sarah lied to him.  He doesn’t know who she really is or where to find her.

Charlie meets with Penn Jillette to learn more about the business of magic.  Penn explains that artisans make their money by selling the initial illusion, once it’s out in the public domain, anyone can copycat the trick.  He also tells Charlie finding the artisan will be difficult.  Charlie points out they can reverse engineer the Aquarius prop to figure out who made it. Colby and Nikki take a more traditional route and question Garland St Michael, another magician who knew Talma.  St Michael claims Talmah would do whatever was necessary for the spectacle of an illusion but that he doesn’t know anything about her current whereabouts.

Charlie, Amita and Larry work out the Aquarius illusion is really done very differently from the version David saw with Sarah.  Instead of rose petals turning into water with fish, the fish should be there first, lessening the pressures a body must withstand and then the trick ends with Talma flying in the rose petals.  Charlie also figures the glass needed to withstand the pressure of 400 gallons of  water would need to be special ordered. Nikki tracks down a delivery of glass as well as an address given to two different party rental shops in Hollywood. She and Colby go to the address and find Talma dead in a second Aquarius tank.

Charlie, Amita, Larry and Penn Jillette meet with Gage Jones, the artisan who made the Aquarius illusion.  Jones doesn’t know where Talma is now and expects she will reappear when she wants to.  He seems surprised when told Talma has been found dead.  Nikki does some more digging into Talmah’s past and discovers she was on stage when one of her previous partners died during a water illusion.  David seeing a picture of the entire trio recognizes his date Sarah, her real name is Jenny Calandro.  Jenny is arrested and tells David she was doing a favor for an old friend by bringing him to Talma’s show. Jenny doesn’t blame Talma at all for her brother’s death.  David believes her.

Charlie, Amita and Larry work out the second tank was not designed correctly, and that Talma’s death was an accident.  Someone else was in the room with her when she died who tried to get the fail safes to work and when that failed tried to break the tank.  The only person who knew the trick well enough to help Talma with it’s setup was Gage Jones.  When he is arrested Jones admits it was an accident but that he didn’t want to tell anyone for fear it would ruin his career as an artisan.