Everyone in the interpol.
After last episode’s hour long dream sequence that somehow combined David Lynch, Federico Fellini and Akira Kurosawa, the Lance & Landis show got back in action with all uzis blazing.
The last episode had Lance wandering in a desert dreamscape of allusion and illusion but this week, it was gritty international crime. God, why are we so blessed?
The show opened up with loyal Lance domestique Yaroslav Popovych harmlessly signing autographs in Austin when the Feds nailed him, served him and interrogated him. Yes, one minute he’s giving fans his John Doevych, the next he’s got his hand on a English-Ukranian bible promising to tell whatever truth he can fabricate.
Popovych was about to head home to Italy when a Fed armed with subpoena accosted him at his rental car in the parking lot outside Mellow Johnny. How’s that for going deep into enemy country? Popo got popped with paperwork and now a euro canary sings or doesn’t.
The scene was classic Lance & Landis: in your face, raw with tension, laced with black comedy and totally unexpected. A quick time lapse and slam, whip pan, we’re suddenly in Europe having lunch with Interpol. This is drama with a 60 foot capital D, the must-see Doping Con-Tro-Ver-See.
Yes, who’s that leaving the tired, dull and grimy Fed offices and stepping onto the ecstatic streets of Paris but the three wise men: bald headed badass Novitzky, federal prosecutor Doug Miller and US Anti-doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart. They’re not here for the Eiffel tower, a few glasses of Bordeaux and a feathery lap dance at the Folie Bergere.
No, this is business and personal and Lance. The only tour they got was of the French anti-doping agency fridges and file cabinets. Eh qui! One day you’re an underpaid, hard working Fed gum-shoeing a bunch of steroid gyms in Norcal and a few years later you’re in France on Uncle Sam’s dime.
After the intense dream-driven psychosis of episode 6, the show stayed close to the action. Viewers had to laugh at the pointless search of Popovych’s Italian digs. The Boss thinks rings around you people! If there was anything to be found, he would have had the Ukrainian pc wiped months ago. You want to beat the man, out-think the man, Dr. NoVitzky.
The show was crazy with subtitles as first the French paraded in the meeting room in Lyon with knotted sweaters and cigarettes, then the Italian police filed in carrying fresh evidence and proscuitto. Minutes later, the room got comedy-crowded as the Belgian police joined the party, with a case of Trappist ale. Novitzky will get somebody to squeal and he doesn’t care what language they use: English, French, Italian or Dutch.
Things only got more hilarious as the whole multi-lingual congregation visited the French Anti-doping Museum. They spent an hour in the Armstrong Wing where they picked thru the medical waste fished out of various dumpsters during Lance’s tour parade. Viewers hit the floor laughing when the Belgians actually hopped over the velvet rope to climb into a dumpster — it’s a display, fellas, not the real thing!
Back at Le Hotel Des Feds, things only got more outrageously funny as they argued about how to pack up the old US Postal blood and urine samples from 1999. FBI special agent Olivier Faraole, making his first appearance on the show, rescued the situation by padding the urine samples with his spare underwear. A nice stylish touch.
Some Armstrong fans may feel like the sharks are circling but no, the only shark was in a lycra jersey and riding far away in New Zealand. Still, the show worked the symbolism. Floyd Landis, the mad mennonite, was riding the Tour of the Southland — yes, “going down” — and doing a guest gig for Orca Velo. A sweet contrast.
Is Juan Peloton angry? You bet your last Michelob Ultra he is — that’s Lance’s lifestyle beer of choice. The show creators ramped up the drama by having the Livestrong organization shift mission, dropping cancer to destroy an even uglier, life-threatening disease — Floyd Landis. The yellow rubber band became a hangman’s noose.
Radicals within Livestrong hijacked and renamed the organization Litigate Strong and turned vigilante. Viewers were caught off guard when a Lance mob descended — or rather climbed — to Landis’ remote Idyllwild wood cabin and burned it to the ground.
There’s no other way to describe that sequence but searing, searing hot. It’s just pure luck that Landis mother-confessor and ESPN writer Bonnie Ford wasn’t asleep on the couch. Collateral damage.
Bang, match cut of cabin flames to Armstrong spin master Mark fabulous Fabiani lighting a cigarette and easing back on his leather coach. A long day, shoes off, he scans the news of the Fed Raid in Italy. A weary “no comment.”
What? Is the man out of spin, completely devoid of mind-altering nonsense, creative reframing, media manipulation? Allusion, illusion — the Lance and Landis show toys with us — no spin for the spinning two wheels of the Boss? This is a sub-plot ready to explode: the unmasking of an exhausted spin doctor.
Then, as per brilliant, the Lance & Landis show shifted gears more effortlessly than Shimano Di2, moving to the man himself, in quiet, high level conversation with Dr Harold Varmus, head doc at the National Cancer Institute. Glaring subtext: Can anyone see this man Armstrong is a saint and everyone should let go of their useless and naive views of cycling right and wrong?
Just another example of the powerful ethical and philosophical questions the Lance & Lance show forces us to confront. As in, maybe Jesus didn’t always bathe as much as he should but look at his beautiful message. Maybe Ghandi should have eaten more cheeseburgers so he wasn’t as emaciated as Dane Michael Rasmussen but my God, he changed the world. Yeah, that, in spades.
Which might have been enough creative astonishment for one episode of Mad Men or The Sopranos, but not the for writers of L & L. No, they went deeper and showed the most famous endurance athlete in the world in the most human of ways. His knee hurts. He’s at the park with Anna and the kids. He’s talking with the Texas lieutenant governor about a smoking ban.
What human being do we know trying to get more good life-affirming bidness done than Lance? The tonal transformation left us guilty and ill at ease with every bedrock opinion we’d formed. Genius at work and another reason this show is head and Giro helmet above anything else on screen.
Episode seven was a transitional one, setting several stages around the globe and prepping us for shocking events to come. Yes, we wept, we laughed, we tore our old Postal jersey to pieces, then sewed it back together.
Like most viewers, we were a cauldron of conflicting emotions. We were as blind-sided as Yaroslav Popovych in Texas. The Lance & Landis show has rocketed out of the mundane orbit of Laurel and Hardy, Tony and Carmella Soprano, Don Draper and Roger Sterling.
We have two breath-taking and complex characters pitted in a death cage match fought from Austin to Los Angeles, from Lyon, France to Idyllwild, California. Stay tuned.
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.
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.