Genius, there is no other word.
The Lance & Landis Show reached deep into its creative soul and delivered genius.
Episode six presented us with one long 45 minute scene with not a single cut, a vast dreamscape to rival anything famous directors Federico Fellini or Akira Kurosawa have ever conjured or imagined.
The show opened with Armstrong walking across the desert scrub of the Texas hill country. He appears lost, disorientated, naked except for a worn U.S. Postal bib short with the suspenders down. Holding a floor pump in his left hand, he wanders.
He turns and sees UCI President McQuaid who holds out a pen and blank check, beseeching the Texan. Lance shudders — McQuaid’s eye sockets are black and empty — and a carnival monkey sits atop his head with its fuzzy fingers plugging the Irishman’s ears.
Armstrong continues across the strange landscape and there is Tyler Hamilton, holding a bag of blood. Hamilton squeezes the bag over his head and the blood gushes onto his face only now it’s the face of his dog Tugboat who barks viciously at Lance.
Further on, there are three women standing on a small rise. Armstrong smiles — they look like the 7o’s Charlie’s Angels. They beckon seductively but then two angels disappear in smoke and the third Angel played by Kate Jackson morphs into Betsy Andreu. She laughs derisively at Armstrong and throws a burning bush at him.
There’s a sudden rainstorm and Armstrong takes shelter under a large oak tree. A ghost appears and who is it but Dr. Michele Ferrari holding a pitcher of orange juice. Armstrong knocks the pitcher over and runs off, dropping the floor pump.
He fords a shallow stream, stopping halfway across to watch a copy of David Walsh’s book From Landis to Lance. Inside the American doping Controversy float past. He kicks it downstream as he screams aloud in anger.
He hears a voice calling him, offering shelter or hope or redemption. It’s big George Hincapie who hands him a warm blanket and a toasty Honey Stinger waffle. Lance hugs his old friend but then recoils in horror. Hincapie has two faces, front and back. “No, no, no, no,” the Texan shouts.
He scrambles up a small hill and slips, rolling down the other side. There’s an old road in the near distance, covered with potholes, almost reclaimed by the desert. But wait, he sees a pickup truck, salvation, kicking dust and headed toward him.
He flags it down and rushes around to the man at the wheel. “I gotta get out of this place,” says the Boss. But the man smiles, a bald man, so tall his shiny dome touches the roof of the truck. It’s Federal Agent Jeff Novitzky.
Armstrong is on the run now, as fast as he can go in this surreal desert landscape. He passes two teen boys with baseball bats smashing a Nissan Leaf while they drink Michelob Ultra, Lance’s lifestyle beer of choice.
Then he runs past a crazy man in dirty white robes preaching while holding a white dove in one hand and a black dove in the other. A terrible flash of recognition: it’s Greg Lemond and suddenly Lemond bites the head off the white dove and spits it out. The bloody birdhead stares at Lance and chirps the word “Trek” before shutting its eyes.
He hears dance music and scrambles past a ravine to see Michael Ball, ex-CEO of Rock Racing dancing with a beautiful Asian woman in a wheel chair. She’s paralyzed in the arms and legs and spins her chair wildly back and forth with her joystick as Ball does an awkward jig to a Lil’ Wayne rap track.
Breathing heavy now, Lance discovers he’s on a sand dune, pure white sand that feels cool to his feet. Two bedouins on camelback wearing old T-Mobile jerseys wave at him. One man is heavy-set and has tears in his eyes. It’s Jan Ullrich. They disappear like a mirage.
Armstrong follows the line of the dune as it descends toward what looks like an oasis. Suddenly there’s a furious roar as a killer in a biplane last seen in Hitchcock’s North by Northwest tries to terminate Armstrong. In seconds the plane is gone.
He draws near the oasis but cannot open an iron gate that runs across the desert, seemingly without end. A voice. “Whatchu want, man?” Armstrong feels a hand on his shoulder and turns to see Rahsaan Bahati holding an empty Coke bottle. His body is covered in graffiti like his old Cannondale Bahati race bike. “Whatchu want?” demands Bahati.
“I want this to go away,” begs Lance. Bahati laughs, but no, it’s not Bahati, it’s the cool black dude in the Old Spice commercials and now he’s covering his entire body with shaving cream and laughing maniacally. The strange character runs off, shouting for his horse.
Armstrong sinks to his knees and looks up at the merciless sun. For a moment he blacks out. When he regains consciousness, he sees his seven Tour de France yellow jerseys hanging on a line like faded, shredded Tibetan prayer flags. They are hung upside down and suddenly there are tears and Lance is crying like a baby. So many miles, so many, many miles.
He enters the garden oasis and a glorious pool of shimmering cool water awaits. He gets on his hands and knees to drink but is kicked on his side. A man dressed in nothing but a filthy loincloth stands over him. A tongue comes out of the man’s mouth like a long snake and wraps itself around Lance’s throat strangling him. Then the tongue is gone and the man is now Floyd Landis in an old Phonak Kit, swigging a bottle of Fat Bastard Ale.
At his feet is a naked Sheryl Crow and she’s licking Landis’ calf like an erotic puppy. The Mad Mennonite pats her head and she slinks off without looking at Lance. Landis kneels down and says in an exaggerated drawl, “How you doing, brother?” The word brother begins to echo and becomes louder and louder until Armstrong covers his ears in pain. Then nothing, silence, everything gone but the sand and the cry of a baby.
Armstrong snaps awake in a chair in a hospital delivery room. A doctor hands him his fifth child, little Cinco. He shudders, then smiles, taking the baby in his arms. Thank God, it was all just a horrible dream.
That was the latest episode of the spell-binding and magnificent Lance & Landis show. A show many critics hail as perhaps the greatest black comedy drama in television history — bigger than the Sopranos and Mad Men put together.
At the end of this astonishing opus, Twisted Spoke was emotionally drained, our Kelme jersey soaked, our mouth parched dry, our mind warped by so many visions and apocalyptic symbols and strange messages. It was a cathartic religious experience, like my mind snapped from too much growth hormone.
Where does the Lance & Landis show go from here? Who could possibly out-guess the brilliance of the show creators — whoever these exceptional writers are and whoever is directing this thing. Simply give thanks, because Operacion Puerto was a good show, but cheap costume jewelry compared to this dazzling and heavily doped diamond.
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”
Disclaimer: Twisted Spoke makes no claims of guilt or innocence or the validity of legal testimony or arguments. This is strictly a wildly imagined 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.