Lance & Landis show episode 9. Fire and water.

Landis cabin burns to ground.

Somethings burning! It’s the Lance & Landis show, in a tour de force of dramatic storytelling.

Barely seconds into the story, the arson began. Floyd Landis inside his ramshackle Idyllwild cabin looking like a raving street person. He’s dumping a gas can, wearing an old Livestrong jersey with the letter v cut out — Lie Strong — and a pair of filthy boxers.

He’s grinning like a drug fiend as he empties the rest of the gas onto a race bike on the floor. A lit match. FLAMES. He turns on a boom-box: Jim Morrison singing Light My Fire. Landis dances manically around the fiery bike as the shabby drapes catch fire. HARD CUT.

GASPING FOR BREATH, RUSHING WATER.

A man in suit, face down in a toilet-bowl. Another man –oh my God — it’s Lance Armstrong shoving the man’s head back in the toilet and flushing. It’s Mark Fabiani, Lance’s damage control PR expert. Armstrong jerks Fabiani’s head up, the man’s eyes popping, seconds from drowning. “You like this spin! Is that what I pay you for?” Armstrong shouts. Uber agent Bill Stapleton holds out the damning Sports Illustrated magazine. “You like spin?” The Boss shoves Fabiani back in the toilet and flushes.

Landis and Lance. Fire and water.

Jesus and Mother Mary and Patrick McQuaid!  This was too much, the brilliant writers of the Lance & Landis show threw every log on the bonfire, leaving us gasping and choking. Then tossed us, still smoking, into the rip-tide waters, our lungs bursting, passing out from lack of oxygen. Fire and water. The great flood, the biblical fire, the End of Days.

Much has been written about the thematic genius of the Lance and Lance show, the archetypal good versus bad, David and Goliath, heroes and goats, a show that somehow channels Shakespeare’s Macbeth and the Three Stooges. A murky world of lies, loyalties, vengeance and vendetta, black humor and raw drama, legend and myth, an Able and Cain on bikes.

The midnight scene of a drunken Landis standing outside watching his cabin and life burn to the ground was searing. The moment where Fabiani begs for mercy from Lance as the failed spin-master drowns in a toilet bowl haunts us a week later.

Yet that is the singular genius of the Lance & Landis show. One moment we face the fires of Apocalypse and the raging waters of the Great Flood. Then, suddenly, the world changes, a new dawn arises and everything we suspect and fear and hope is turned inside out.

The dizzying climax of the show pulled us back from the brink. Like battling a cancer that has metastasized out of control, this story is about ultimately about survival, great loss and painful redemption.

There was Landis suddenly smiling again in a Hollywood production company conference room, spinning crazy Tour de France stories as three writers laugh and take notes. There is Lance Armstrong, the greatest endurance athlete in our history, holding little Cinqo close as he reads her a story about a brave princess and a cowardly dragon.

Life it seems, despite the fires of Hell and the sin-cleansing Flood, goes on.

What did we really understand, after all? How are we, the drive-by gawkers, the superficial judges who live our own small lives, to comprehend this rich tapestry? Who is saint and who is sinner? What defines right from wrong, good from evil, legend from reality?

These are the primal questions that insist we return again and again to the Lance & Landis show. One thing we know: There will be no end to the fire, no end to the flood.

Lance & Landis Viewing Guide

Episode 1 “Hot Air and Sour Lemonds”

Episode 2 “Half Tattoos, A Ball and Designer Jeans”

Episode 3 “Spin, cocaine and conspiracy”

Episode 4 “Betsey and the Onion”

Episode 5 “Cabo & Waffles”

Episode 6 “A surreal nightmare”

Episode 7 “Interpol Party”

Episode 8 “This is War!”

Disclaimer: Twisted Spoke makes no claims of guilt or innocence or the validity of legal testimony or arguments. This is strictly a wildly imagained piece of creative writing. No actual events used in the making of this post. We’re just enjoying the best show that isn’t on TV.

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  • T.R.

    Jeez Matt great visuals. You should really consider cranking out a screen play. The based-on-reality movie could top 127 Hours & Social Network. Wonder who'd play who in the pic…

    • http://www.atwistedspoke.com TwistedSpoke

      TR, you have no idea how close to reality that is my friend. Matt

  • Laura Weislo

    It's BILL Stapleton, not Bob who is Armstrong's agent. Just FYI.

    • http://www.atwistedspoke.com TwistedSpoke

      Thanks Laura, you have no idea how bad I need an editor. My wife doesn't care about cycling at all and refuses to help. Should I re-marry? I'll fix it now. Matt