The Reality TV Guru

The $100,000 Mystery Man with the Briefcase (photo courtesy of ABC)

Welcome back for this fourth episode of Take the Money & Run. This week, we’re in Windy City, where partners Ron Stoczynski and Beau Nolen will attempt to stash the cash where Chicago cops Michele Wood and John Korolis can’t find it. Support the cops are our weekly regular interrogators, Paul Bishop and Mary Hanlon-Stone.

The Mystery Man meets the two guys in the midst of downtown Chicago near the canal, cuffs the briefcase on Beau, hands over the key and tells them to push the button for the usual instructions. You know the routine. Although we saw the guys doing some weight work in the introduction, they don’t appear to be too quick on their feet as they run.

Being smack dab in the middle of Chicago in the middle of the day also doesn’t help, as these guys may not be able to drive very far. But it’s a great city to hide in — and hide things in. All kinds of obscure places come to mind about where the money could be hidden in that concrete jungle. They play the instructions once they’re in the assigned GPS-tracked SUV.

Apparently, just by looking at their look of surprise as they listen to the instructions, they haven’t seen the show yet. As Ron puts the SUV into gear and into traffic under the “L”, they just begin considering places where they might be able to hide the money. Beau’s first idea is to take it to a beach and bury it under some sand, taking care to brush all the sand off of the clothes. His other idea is to take it to a friend’s house, a guy named Michael.

Suddenly, the conversation takes a new turn. Beau says, “I want to be able to celebrate and what I want to celebrate with is my favorite cupcake.” What? You’re in the midst of trying to hide a hundred grand and you’re thinking of cupcakes?! But wait, there’s method to his madness (which we will see more of, just wait). This gives them the excuse to stop and pay for cupcakes (using a traceable receipt) and from there they’ll hoof it to Michael’s house.

The first call goes to Cindy Rezmer, who played charades with the guys and Michael. They want Cindy to call Michael in a conference call. In this way, they hope to hide their conversation with Michael, with Cindy as the conference call go-between. Cute, but will this fool the cops later? Michael picks up the conference call and the Beau tells him that “we’re going to need your help to hide this… sack. Are you home?” Yup, Michael’s home, so this part of the the hiding plan is set and the guys do a high-five.

Beau: “In case anyone calls you… are you ok with lying?”
Michael: “Yeah.”
Beau: “That’s why I love you!”

Sounds like something we’d hear from someone in a tryst!

The guys had started out at Wabash & Wacker next to the canal and made their way over to Lakeshore Drive and up well past the Navy Pier before cutting back westwards into the midst of a residential/commercial area. Their first stop is Bleeding Heart Bakery with 45 minutes to go. They pull over and Beau uses his leather coat to hide the briefcase so that it’s not conspicuous. There, Beau orders four cupcakes, the pick up the order and take off.

The reach the area they want to stop and pull over to park. There’s a sign PAY TO PARK with a symbol of a hand dropping a coin, as if coins were accepted. But, oops, the parking ticket machine won’t accept bills and they don’t have coins. They leave the SUV where it is and go wandering around trying to flag down pedestrians asking for change, four quarters for a dollar. Well, this is Chicago, so you can guess the odds of this tactic working.

And where do they get four quarters for a dollar? In a BANK! While carrying a hundred grand in a briefcase hidden by a leather jacket! You have to wonder what that’s going to look like on the bank’s CCTV cameras (which, as far as I know, the cops in this show don’t have access to). Now, from outside, they do look like a pair of bank robbers as they hustle out of the bank in a run. They’ll be lucky if someone doesn’t call 911. Oh, wait, this is Chicago. Never mind, people see this sort of thing almost every day.

Finally, John gets four quarters in the parking ticket machine and pulls the ticket with 35 minutes to go. They run (or shall way say, lumber) from there to Michael’s house. They hide the briefcase on a bookshelf behind a bunch of what appear to be games and puzzle boxes and stuff. The briefcase is almost too big to fit, being the full height of the shelf. It’s not clear if any part of the briefcase is visible behind everything, but the smallest gap in the boxes and stuff will leave an opening for the briefcase to be seen. A casual camera shot seems to show that it’s hidden reasonably well, but all it takes is for someone to remove a single one of those games or puzzle boxes off the shelf and the ruse is over.

Beau talks with Michael and gives him the low-down on what they’re up to. Michael gets what’s going on and doesn’t look too worried about this unusual behavior (well, there’s a cameraman following these guys around, so obviously this has to do with some TV show or is some kind of gag). Michael knows now to possibly expect some unwelcome visitors and to fend them off.

As they pull out and drive, Beau is worried that the cops will be able to trace the parking ticket they just acquired with quarters. Five minutes remain and they get notice from the handlers that time is about up as they look for another parking ticket machine. They stop once more and get another ticket.

They’re in a hurry now, stopped at a green light (that’s Chicago streets for you) and they reach Loyola Park Beach with a mere minute and four seconds left. They dig around in the sand a bit for show and to collect some sand particles and rush back to the SUV and jump inside exactly as the clock hits 00:00:00. They sure could have used that five minutes or so looking for quarters to make a getaway from the beach, but they’re stuck where they’re parked, where they casually eat their cupcakes as the Chicago cops John & Michele arrive.

The cops do a quick frisk job and take the guys to the Niles Police Department and book them. Ron looks anxious and Beau is already a bundle of nerves and looks like he’s nearly on the verge of tears. Hm… it makes you wonder if these guys will be able to handle what Paul and Mary will throw at them.

The Chicago cops and pair of interrogators meet up and trade notes. One obvious thing they notice are the parking tickets that the guys purchased and had on their possession. Michele and John hit the streets right away, without the interrogators along (unlike last week). Their first stop is the Bleeding Heart Bakery where the guys bought the cupcakes. Neither cashier remembers anybody coming in carrying a briefcase (Beau had it hidden under his coat). They ask if the shop has a video camera! (Smart, but…) There’s no CCTV camera in the bakery. For Chicago, that’s something of a surprise.

The guys are served beans and milk for supper. Probable actual cost: 50 cents. Probable cost to Chicago police: $5.00 with the profits going to the Chicago Mafia and political bosses. The interrogation begins as Paul says they want to see what these guys look like when they’re telling the truth. Ron is being very talkative, albeit cagey, with Paul during the interrogation. He’s being a little too talkative, though, as a single vocal misstep here will lead to a valuable timing clue.

The Chicago cops walk in the area around the bakery and canvass for clues by asking shop employees if they’ve seen the guys, with no results.

Mary interrogates Beau, who seems to be constantly restless inside the cell. Mary, “dead serious” with Beau, starts by having him sing! He’s not bad. Mary is softening Beau up, but also sort of playing mind games with him by “putting a bug in his ear.” It’s a pretty bizarre conversation that I can’t quite make sense of, although it seems to make sense to both of them. Suddenly, Beau breaks down and says, “Please don’t hurt me” as he senses she’s trying to bond and connect with him.

Hmmm, Mary’s probably dealt with some unusual subjects in her career, but Beau has to be one of the more unusual ones. And he’s not a real criminal! Lo and behold, while Mary talks with Paul during their debriefing, fanning herself frantically with tears on the edge of her eyes, she’s the one who’s feeling rattled! Paul and Mary would be well advised to reverse roles in their interrogations. Well, they don’t. Mary is back in to see Beau again briefly. Did I hear him say, “I’m ready to be dead”?

Paul and Mary meet up again and Paul says the need to “determine which of those emotions are real and which ones are acted out.” He might have left out “which emotions are weirded out”. They meet up with the Chicago cops and work out a street strategy for Day 2. With 27 hours to go, John calls up Cindy and gets an answering machine, He tells her that he just got a call from Ron and to call him back.

Meanwhile, Paul and Mary question Ron, with Mary standing up over him and once telling him, “We know that’s a lie.” He’s telling convoluted stories, so it’s hard for them to pick out what’s true and what’s not, although he’s still only one misstep from letting the cat out of the bag, and they know it. “All of a sudden, things start missing” as Paul takes his book and toothpaste out of the cell. “Hey what’s going on”, he thinks and the door slams. They’re giving him the solitary treatment with “nothing but the four walls” around him.

With 24 hours gone and 24 to go, the cops and interrogators trade notes. The Chicago cops don’t have a lot of good leads, but they’ll follow what they’ve got.

Finally, long overdue, Paul interrogates Beau. Paul starts by saying he’s convinced that Beau’s deal with Mary “was not an act”. Beau says, “I’m gonna break it down for you. Beau has left the building. I’m a little tried and I’m a little tired of that. So, what I have left is a lot of rage, so…” Uh, oh, this guy is a walking land-mine. And it doesn’t entirely appear to be an act; otherwise, with his acting, get this guy in Hollywood for the next Silence of Lambs knock-off. Paul says, “I’m not trying to con you, I’m not trying to set you off.” Quickly shifting tack with a crisp question, Paul catches Beau fibbing about wearing his jacket and why he’s wearing it, “That’s a lie.” Beau says in private he realizes he “screwed it up”, but he’s the one looking like he’s lost a screw or two. Yikes.

Meanwhile, near sunset on Day 2, the Chicago cops go wandering off to the beach with a metal detector, looking for the briefcase. Nope, it looks like their legwork won’t win the day in this episode.

Ron privately worries about Beau being able to handle being in jail while he’s having enough trouble himself. It doesn’t look or sound very pretty on those cell cameras. Neither of the guys are holding up very well, even if they’ve been able to dodge the interrogators up to now. Paul and Mary see Ron and he’s on the verge of a breakdown, hyperventilating and in tears. Paul and Mary question him. Paul says, “I know this is real and I know you’re upset. Can you tell me where you hid the briefcase?” and Ron lets the cat out of the bag. Suspect broken. Game over. “Everything’s cool,” says Paul on the way out.

The Chicago cops retrieve the case, high five, and Michele admits “the money wasn’t ours to begin with.” John says they’ll share half of the take with Mary and Paul since they solved the case.

The episode ends with Ron and Beau in jail in tears, sitting on the cold floor hugging each other for emotional comfort.

What a weird, freakish episode, mostly a result of the casting of two emotionally fragile guys that never should have applied to participate in this show to begin with.

One more episode like this one and I’m totally outta here.

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