Mission Rejected

309: Six Characters in Search of a Murderer

Episode Summary

The cast of the cult TV show "Acquaintances" has reunited on New Year's Eve...and Bowden Montcrief has been murdered.

Episode Notes

The cast of the cult TV show "Acquaintances" has reunited on New Year's Eve...and Bowden Montcrief has been murdered.

Written and Directed by
Pete Barry

Starring
Chris Klaniecki as Skip Granger
Nazli Sarpkaya as Mackenzie McGrath
Dave Stanger as Bowden Montcrief
Paige Klaniecki as Gloria Kovak
Faith Dowgin as Section Chief Zelda Anders
with Kirk White as Chet Phillips
and Kevin McGrath as The Mission Voice

Also Starring
Ashley Banks as Athena O'Brien
Jill Ivey as Connie St. Stevens
and Bob Killion as Security Guy and The Admiral

Guest Starring
Leslie Gideon as Kate Delgado
A.R. Oliveri as Zack Brannigan
Tim Sniffen as Ethan Burns
Ruben Ortiz as Diego Ortez
Jordan Cobb as Harper Guillaume
Samantha Gordon as Tiffany Moran
J. Michael DeAngelis as Larry Hastings
Eric Werner as Balthazar Montcrief
Pete Barry as Kristatos O'Brien

A complete transcript of this episode can be found here.

Music, sound editing and mixing by
Pete Barry

Created and produced by
Pete Barry & J. Michael DeAngelis & John P. Dowgin

Sound effect attributions below. All other sound effects by Pete Barry.

Episode Transcription

MUSIC: NEWS FLASH!

NEWSCASTER CONNIE
The cult TV series Acquaintances may be getting a second chance at life. The 2004 show, which at the time notable TV critics called “PBS’s shameless and cash-grabby ripoff of Friends”, was infamously cancelled mid-episode during its season finale, replaced with a human interest story about a baby manatee. The show’s stars, Kate Delgado and Zack Brannigan - who played lead characters Raquel and Chris - have since disappeared from the limelight. But due to the slightly rising star power of actor Bowden Montcrief, who played Raquel’s nameless boyfriend, a reboot may be in the making, and fans may finally get to know just what was supposed to happen in that mysterious final episode.

CHANNEL CHANGE NOISE!

INT. STUDIO SET OF ACQUAINTANCES
Taped in front of a live studio audience! THE ACQUAINTANCES THEME MUSIC PLAYS!

KATE (RAQUEL)
House meeting everyone!

The cast groans “RAQUEL!” The audience LAUGHS!

KATE (RAQUEL)
We’re all taking advantage of poor Chris with this rent arrangement! We’re going to pay our fair share!

ZACK (CHRIS)
No, no, it’s fine! Like I always say, mi casa es all of your casas!

Everyone except Raquel heartily agrees that this casa is definitely also theirs. Raquel draws Chris in close.

KATE (RAQUEL)
Chris, what did we agree on?

ZACK (CHRIS)
You and I...need to be more... asssssssss

KATE (RAQUEL)
ASSERTIVE!

ZACK (CHRIS)
Yes!

KATE (RAQUEL)
SAY IT!

ZACK (CHRIS)
I’LL BE ASSERTIVE DON’T HURT ME!

ETHAN (RANDALL)
Point of order! You expect me to pay rent and take my three girlfrirends out to restaurants where they’ll never meet?

ZACK (CHRIS)
I can see Randall’s point -

ETHAN (RANDALL)
Thank you! Defense rests!

DIEGO (JIMMY)
Can we arrange to fairly share Randall’s three girlfriends?

HARPER (VERONICA)
Gross, Jimmy.

DIEGO (JIMMY)
If we start to pay rent, can we fix that floorboard I always trip over?

ETHAN (RANDALL)
No, that’s just hilarious.

HARPER (VERONICA)
Look, Raquel, when I drop out of medical school because I can’t afford it, and you get a brain tumor, and I’m not your doctor, and your whole brain ends up in a jar and you live out your life with a jellyfish in your head, don’t come crying to me.

TIFFANY (SELENA)
That could be a good thing! I heard jellyfish were really smart.

ZACK (CHRIS)
I think that’s octopi, Selena.

TIFFANY (SELENA)
Them too? It must be all the legs.

ETHAN (RANDALL)
Ugh, can you just imagine Jellyfish Brain and Selena discussing global economics at breakfast while living under the same roof?

DIEGO (JIMMY)
Hot!

HARPER (VERONICA)
(hushed, to Raquel)
Raquel, will you shut up before you ruin this sweet deal? I know you’re in love with Chris, but -

KATE (RAQUEL)
What?!? No! I’m in love with my boyfriend!

ZACK (CHRIS)
What are you all talking about?

HARPER (VERONICA)
Oh, sure you are. And what’s your boyfriend’s name again?

KATE (RAQUEL)
(nervous)
Pfft! Of course I know my own boyfriend’s name! What kind of person would mishear someone’s name when they met and then never clear that up before they started dating -

Bowden bursts into the room as THE BOYFRIEND!

BOWDEN (THE BOYFRIEND)
Hellooo Raquel, my love, my smoochypants, my rocking Raquel!

KATE (RAQUEL)
Oh hi...Boyfriend!

Raquel CRINGES! The AUDIENCE ROARS WITH LAUGHTER...and are cut off by an ominous THUNDERCLAP.

INT. THE HOUSE ON MULHOLLAND DRIVE

A KNOCK AT THE DOOR. FOOTSTEPS inside, and the DOOR OPENS WITH A CREAK.

SECURITY GUY
Warner Brothers sent me.

KATE
Hi! Um, happy New Year’s Eve! You got here very quickly! Wait...how do I know you’re -

SECURITY GUY
I know the cast of Acquaintances is in the house. I know you’ve all gathered to discuss the potential comeback show. Right, “Raquel”?

KATE
Well, my name’s Kate -

SECURITY GUY
I know.

KATE
Oh, right. And you are...?

SECURITY GUY
A fixer. I fix small problems before they become large problems.

KATE
Yeah, so...that’s still a little vague? Do you have, um, a resume or personal mission statement -

SECURITY GUY
I have been sent here tonight, to investigate the murders...of Zack Brannigan...and Bowden Montcrief.

Thunder BOOMS! The MISSION: REJECTED THEME SONG PLAYS.

MISSION VOICE
Mission: Rejected. The story of the world’s most secret agents...the backups. Tonight’s episode: Six Characters In Search of a Murderer.

INT. THE “SET” ROOM - MOMENTS LATER
A door SQUEAKS OPEN, and Security Guy and Kate enter the room, where DIEGO, HARPER, ETHAN, and TIFFANY are seated. The storm continues to thunder in the background.

KATE
So, uh...here’s the susp...cast!

SECURITY GUY
Oh my. This room...Mr. Brannigan had a copy of the Acquaintances set built inside his house?

ETHAN
Right down to the broken floorboard.

SECURITY GUY
Ethan Burns. You played Randall, sleazeball attorney. Your acting career has stalled for years and you have more liquor in your cabinet than money in the bank.

ETHAN
But it’s great to see the studio still loves me enough to keep an updated file on my life.

SECURITY GUY
Harper Guillaume.

HARPER
Yes?

SECURITY GUY
Played Veronica, medical student. Quit acting to become a real medical student, but your college debts have all mysteriously vanished.

HARPER
I should’ve stayed on my shift; pulling a nail out of a guy’s head would be a better night than this.

SECURITY GUY
Tiffany Moran.

TIFFANY
Present!

SECURITY GUY
Played Selena, waitress. Your modelling career eclipsed your acting career, but your rivals in both fields have a habit of falling off catwalks.

TIFFANY
Just lucky, I guess. Or maybe I’m cursed!

SECURITY GUY
And Diego Ortez.

DIEGO
Mmm hmmm.

SECURITY GUY
Played Jimmy, the freeloader. Also the creator of and head writer for the show. My file on you is strangely...blank.

DIEGO
That’s cause I know how to keep my mouth shut, you studio goon.

SECURITY GUY
And this unfortunate fellow on the carpet with the knife sticking out of his back...

KATE
That was Zack Brannagin. He played Chris.

SECURITY GUY
Hmmm. Stabbed from behind...broke that chair on the way to the floor. He would have had to lose weight for this reunion special.

HARPER
I think we can safely say that the Acquaintances reboot is dead, too.

SECURITY GUY
Why don’t you tell me what happened this evening?

FLASHBACK - EXT. THE HOUSE ON MULHOLLAND DRIVE

Thunder RUMBLES. The cast bangs on the front foor.

KATE
Zack! Zack! Why won’t he let us in? Guys! Don’t peek in the window!

HARPER
He must be in there! The lights are off but he’s playing the goddamn show theme music on repeat!

ETHAN
Power play. I fly coach across the country, just so I can grovel on his doorstep.

DIEGO
He’s probably waiting until we’re all here. If Tiffany would ever show up to call on time -

TIFFANY
Hi guys!
(everyone yelps)
Sorry! I caught a ride with Boyfriend, he’s coming.

DIEGO
You’re late! As usual!

TIFFANY
I couldn’t find my contact lenses! Don’t worry I don’t need them - ow!

Tiffany stumbles into everyone. Kate moves away from them. Another set of footsteps approaching from the drive.

KATE
Oh, what a mess.

BOWDEN
Hey you. Am I late to the party?

KATE
Oh! Hi there, Bowden. You’re, um...looking good, Boyfriend.

BOWDEN
Thanks, you too.

KATE
I heard about your brother -

BOWDEN
Oh, yeah, no, don’t worry about it. What’s going on? Is Zack inside?

KATE
I...think he locked himself in his house? We tried to call you.

BOWDEN
There’s a cell tower down. Tiffany and I had no signal in the hills.

HARPER
Hey! I didn’t drag my ass out here for an evening on Zack’s porch.

TIFFANY
I got a signal now, I’m calling him...Zack? Can we come in?

ZACK (ON SPEAKER)
Like I always say: Mi casa...is all of your casas!

Click.

ETHAN
Okay, he’s spouting his catchphrases from the show, he’s clearly had a nervous breakdown.

KATE
Ethan’s right, something’s wrong.

DIEGO
This place has a dozen entrances, let’s find a way in.

BOWDEN
Maybe he’s got a storm cellar.

TIFFANY
I’ll try the chimney!

KATE
Fan out!

Everyone RUNS AROUND the house. The music keeps PLAYING, distantly. RATTLING DOORKNOBS. BANGING on WINDOWS. FOOTSTEPS everywhere.

The BACK door OPENS.
Then a LOCK TURNS, and the FRONT door OPENS.
Someone BREAKS DOWN A SIDE DOOR.

ETHAN
GAHD! Someone turn on the -

In rapid succession: Glass SMASHES! An OOF from Diego! A DOOR OPENS, and the MUSIC SWELLS slightly. A LIGHT SWITCH FLIPS. Tiffany SCREAMS!

TIFFANY
He’s dead! He’s dead!

COMMOTION! Kate RUNS INTO SOMETHING! The MUSIC STOPS! Everyone bustles into one room and reacts in horror!

INT. ZACK’S ACQUAINTANCES ROOM - CONTINUOUS

BOWDEN
Great Scott!

ETHAN
...oh...my...god he built a replica of the set? That’s the most deranged thing I’ve ever seen!

KATE (entering)
Omigod don’t touch him, there’s a knife in his back!

HARPER
I’m trying to get a pulse!

TIFFANY
Everything’s blurry, I’m gonna faint! Oh no wait, I forgot, my contact lenses.

HARPER
...he’s dead!

KATE
Oh god. We have to call for help.

DIEGO (Turning on his phone)
I’m on it.

KATE
OK. Tell the police -

DIEGO
I’m not calling the police I’m calling the studio!

KATE
WHAT?

DIEGO
This doesn’t look good for any of us, and I don’t trust the cops!

ETHAN
You trust the studio?

DIEGO
No, but they’ll look out for their own interests, including this show! No one is calling the police!

BOWDEN (on his phone)
Hello, police?

DIEGO
Boyfriend!

KATE
Bowden, are you sure about this?

BOWDEN
Kate, trust me, I got this.
(to the phone)
Yes officers, there’s been a murder on Mulholland Drive. Incidentally, by placing this call, am I granted the IP rights to that title?

KATE
What are they saying?

BOWDEN
...will do. Let me just...ACK!

KATE
Bowden?

TIFFANY
What’s wrong with him?

But Bowden collapses into Kate’s arms. Tiffany SCREAMS AGAIN!

BOWDEN
Can’t...breathe...

HARPER
Lay him down!

DIEGO
Do CPR!

ETHAN
Get him a whiskey!

BOWDEN
...the phone...poison...right in the ear...just like old Hamlet...

KATE
Oh god!

BOWDEN
...if thou didst ever thy dear boyfriend love -

KATE
I mean, you’re not my real boyfriend but -

BOWDEN
Revenge his foul and most unnatural...murder!

Bowden drops to the floor, dead! Everyone gasps!

KATE
No no no no no!!

THUNDER! Their VOICES BLUR TOGETHER, TIME PASSES. A POLICE SIREN. Kate, in shock, talks to a police officer - who sounds suspiciously like MACKENZIE MCGRATH - while Bowden’s body is removed by an EMT - who sounds suspiciously like Sam Eagle.

KATE
Thank you for your help, officer.

MACKENZIE
Don’t worry, ma’am, we handle this sort of thing all the time.

HARPER
Yes, we know, that’s your job.

DIEGO
Their job is upholding the fascist order and eating donuts.

MACKENZIE
Those are vicious stereotypes.

DIEGO
You’re eating a donut right now!

MACKENZIE
(Mouth full)
Am not.

Skip grunts heavily. He is struggling with the stretcher.

HARPER
Hey, you okay there, buddy?

SKIP (SAM EAGLE)
Uh, yes, thank you, ma’am. I just have to get poor Mr. Montcrief’s remains out into the ambulance -

MACKENZIE
Hey, other EMT? Little help?

LARRY
Rughuhrhugh, good evening! I am a humble ambulance driver!

ETHAN
Didn’t I see you in King Lear?

LARRY
You saw my Lear? A fan!

TIFFANY
Good old LA. Everyone’s an actor!

ETHAN
You called “line” sixty-seven times in a row and then fell into the orcehstra pit.

LARRY
(sad noise)

SKIP (SAM EAGLE)
Uh, officer! His next-of-kin has arrived to identify the body!

GLORIA
(dead inside)
That’s me.

Gloria comes in, bravely fighting to keep her composure.

KATE
Oh. Oh, you’re his, uh, girlfriend?

HARPER
They found you fast.

KATE
I. I’m sorry for your loss. He was a friend, and a really good person.

GLORIA
You know, I loved your show. It’s the first time I ever saw him.

KATE
Oh.

GLORIA
(close to Kate, menacing)
I’ll find out who did this.

KATE
Um. Good?

MACKENZIE
Okay people, clear out!

KATE
But wait! Can we leave?

SKIP (SAM EAGLE)
Uh no no, you all stay, we’ll need - I mean this police officer will need your...statements.

MACKENZIE
Later.

SKIP (SAM EAGLE)
Later!

LARRY
Rughhugh!

MACKENZIE
Don’t leave.

SLAM. They’re all gone.

KATE
Happy New Year’s!

HARPER
You mean, don’t leave town? Or...the room?

KATE
(to the others)
Did anyone else find that incredibly strange?

TIFFANY
They didn’t even take Zack. They just took Bowden.

KATE
...huh.

THUNDERCLAP! AND BACK TO PRESENT

KATE
So we stayed put. And Diego called the studio for help.

DIEGO
Your PR machine better distance my show from this double homicide. You got here quick, you must’ve hauled ass here from Warner Brothers.

SECURITY GUY
I got the call driving through the hills, on my way to a New Year’s countdown party at Elijah Wood’s house. So whichever one of you killed Brannigan owes me big time.

TIFFANY
I didn’t kill anybody! I’m just cursed!

ETHAN
My money’s on the doctor.

HARPER
What?

ETHAN
“Checked his pulse.”

HARPER
You don’t exactly look broken up over him!

A huge argument breaks out. Suddenly:

KATE
Oh my god. I can’t believe it, but...I know who did it!

EVERYONE ELSE
What? How?

KATE
It was so obvious! It’s the plot of the original sitcom!

TIFFANY
You mean Acquaintances?

ETHAN
You mean Friends?

HARPER
You mean Living Single?

KATE
No! The original murder sitcom plot! Diego, you remember how old sitcoms used to steal plots from each other all the time? The Jeffersons and Benson basically did exactly the same murder episodes!

HARPER
Jeez, spoilers!

DIEGO
Sure, they recycled their plots...

KATE
And what was the murder story?

DIEGO
Two murders...

KATE
Yes!

DIEGO
...the second one’s always poison...

KATE
And! The murderer turns out to be...one of the victims who faked his own death!

ETHAN
Are you kidding me?

KATE
One of the victims...

SECURITY GUY
Uhhh wait -

Kate RIPS OFF SECURITY GUY’S MASK! Everyone GASPS!

KATE
...wearing a mask!

BOWDEN
Uh...hi everybody!

DIEGO
The boyfriend!

TIFFANY
He killed Zack!

HARPER
How did you know?

KATE
Bowden said you can’t get a signal in the hills, but then the fixer said he got a call while he was driving here!

HARPER
That’s right! That’s how he got here so fast - he was already here!

KATE
I’m sorry Bowden...I really wanted to be wrong.

DIEGO
Get his ass!

BOWDEN
No wait I can explain - gah!

But everyone ATTACKS BOWDEN AND TIES HIM TO A CHAIR!

KATE
There! He’s not going anywhere now ...wait, Diego! Put down the fireplace poker!

DIEGO
He’s dangerous!

KATE
He’s tied to a chair!

DIEGO
Look at that disguise, it’s like a Game of Thrones human face! He’s some, I dunno, man-in-black!

BOWDEN
I am not! I’m a humble movie star1

ETHAN
You play dead a little too convincingly. Just like his brother Balthazar. Didn’t his brother go from playing “Dead Body Number Three” on CSI to “Lord Nero”, somehow, Illuminati Illuminati.

HARPER
Oh shit! The EMTs would have known he wasn’t dead. They were his people! That’s why they left Zack’s body! They only came to make it look like Bowden was never here!

KATE
But we’re all witnesses, what were they gonna do if we talked...oh that doesn’t sound good now that I say it out loud.

ETHAN
Look at this! In his ear!

BOWDEN
No no no - Ow!

TIFFANY
Ooo it’s an Airpod!

ETHAN
No, Einstein, it’s some kind of listening device!

DIEGO
Well listen to this, whoever’s on the other side - we got your hitman tied up here, and if you come in guns blazing, I’m gonna make sure he’s really dead this time!

KATE
Diego, calm down!

DIEGO
You know what? I read a rumor that your brother didn’t even play Lord Nero, it was someone in disguise!

HARPER
Wait, didn’t his brother die, too? Some weird suba accident?

KATE
You think he killed his own brother?

DIEGO
And faked his Lord Nero movie!

BOWDEN
These are all totally insane made up charges! I deny them all!

ETHAN
You’re saying your brother was good enough to play Lord Nero?

BOWDEN
Ahhh...okay look. I didn’t kill Zack.

KATE
Then why did you come back to play detective?

BOWDEN
I work for...a company...that I can’t talk about. I faked my death because they ordered me to get out, but I convinced them to let me come back in disguise.

KATE
I don’t believe this!

BOWDEN
Kate, I’m the same Bowden, the same Boyfriend you all knew. I was so excited when I heard we might get the show back together...but that’s not why I came tonight. Because none of us came here tonight just to revive the show, did we?

DIEGO
Uhh...

BOWDEN
Somehow, Zack found out about my company. He said he would expose us if I didn’t agree to do the show. He blackmailed me into being here tonight. The same way he blackmailed each of you...but one of you killed him for it.

HARPER
I...don’t know what you’re -

BOWDEN
I don’t know what he was holding over each of you. But I bet he kept the evidence in the house somewhere. If the police show up now, it’s bad for all of us.

Tiffany SCREAMS!

ETHAN
Jesus!

KATE
What’s wrong?

TIFFANY
I got a Google alert...for Acquaintances!

DIEGO
Oh my god, IS THAT ALL?

TIFFANY
It’s Zack...he’s all over the internet!

KATE
WHAT? What about him?

NEWS MUSIC!

NEWSCASTER CONNIE
This just in...TMZ reports an anonymous leak of a fifteen-year-old voice message, left to PBS management by Zack Brannigan, the actor who played beloved character Chris on the cult TV show Acquaintances.

CHRIS (RECORDING)
Lemme just say what everybody’s thinking about Jim Lehrer: MEDIUM. TALENT.
(beep)
Hey Kevin, you know what your wife calls you? This Old Spouse!
(beep)
Tell Julia Child I’m gonna stuff her bird.

NEWS MUSIC

ETHAN
Well, there goes our big comeback.

HARPER
At least now we’re not the only ones in the world who know what an asshole he was -

TIFFANY
Wait! There’s more! It’s been reported that WE’RE ALL GONNA BE HERE AT HIS HOUSE AT THE STROKE OF MIDNIGHT ON NEW YEAR’S, TONIGHT!

KATE
What? Are the police coming?

TIFFANY
Worse! THE PAPARAZZI ARE COMING!

TOTAL PANIC.

KATE
WAIT! We have to calm down and figure this out!

ETHAN
I’m doing nothing! I’m leaving!

KATE
If Zack had blackmail material on you, Ethan, the paparazzi are going to find it when they get here! And if you run from a murder scene, it’ll look worse!

BOWDEN
May I make a suggestion?

EVERYONE BUT KATE
NO.

KATE
Ok, sure, what, Bowden?

BOWDEN
We should work together, find any blackmail evidence in the house, and determine who killed Zack.

Silence.

KATE
Okay.

DIEGO
Okay?!?

HARPER
Kate, he’s some kind of operative!

KATE
Bowden’s right. Zack blackmailed me into being here. I assume he blackmailed the rest of you. So c’mon, gang! Let’s figure this out!

HARPER
Are you seriously trying to channel “plucky Raquel” right now?

KATE
...maybe.

ETHAN
Ugh, fine, let’s start looking for this “evidence against us”.

TIFFANY
Well I’m coming with you.

ETHAN
Stay away from me, you absolute murder suspect!

TIFFANY
I’m not the killer! This just happens to me, I’m cursed!

ETHAN
Oh that makes me feel a whole lot better!

HARPER
Oh everyone just stay together and no one gets stabbed, Ethan!

DIEGO
Ladies first. I’m not walking through a murder house with a surgeon behind me.

KATE
Guys, wait for us!

They all go except Kate and Bowden.

KATE
Ugh. I’m really taking a chance here that you’re not still lying, Bowden. Don’t let me down.

BOWDEN
I won’t, Kate. All right, untie me.

KATE
Ehmmmmm

BOWDEN
What, you want me to just hop along, tied to this chair?

KATE
mmmmm

BOWDEN
(sigh) Fine, let’s go.

They hop away.

INT. THE HOUSE - THE BROKEN WINDOW ROOM - CONTINUOUS
Footsteps hurrying everywhere throughout the house. Bowden’s chair hopping. CRUNCH!

HARPER
This house is a death trap! The floorboards are rotting!

DIEGO
I guess the money from Zack’s residuals was running out. No wonder he resorted to blackmail to get the show back.

The CRACKING of CRUNCHED GLASS!

KATE
OW! Wait! Watch out Bowden!

BOWDEN
(hopping behind her)
I’M COMING! GAH!

DIEGO
There’s glass all over the floor!

TIFFANY
The window’s broken!

KATE
Yeah...I remember hearing yonder window break.

ETHAN
That’s...really torturing the reference.

KATE
Who broke the window?
(silence)
Look, someone reached through to grab this door handle, to get inside. Who was it?

ETHAN
It wasn’t me, I came in through the dining room. I wrenched my shoulder breaking the door jamb.

TIFFANY
Really? I just opened the door.

ETHAN
You found an UNLOCKED door?

DIEGO
So did I.

KATE
So did I.

ETHAN
Well color me stupid.

KATE
Harper?

HARPER
...okay I broke the window, happy? I’m trained to respond to emergencies, we thought Zack was in trouble, right?

ETHAN
Who cares? What does it matter?

KATE
It’s opportunity! The first person to get into the house, and find their way to Zack in the dark, killed him! So who was the first person in the room?

TIFFANY
I was! I found him dead!

ETHAN
Well if he was dead when you found him, Tiffany, you weren’t the first person in the room, were you?

TIFFANY
Oh.

DIEGO
How’d you get in, Boyfriend?

BOWDEN
I...used a skeleton key.

DIEGO
Well, that certainly seems like the fastest way in!

BOWDEN
Now hold on, where was this open door you three came through?

TIFFANY
Right here!

Footsteps, over glass, through a door.

INT. THE REAR ENTRANCE ROOM - CONTINUOUS

KATE
Yup, this was where I came in!

DIEGO
Same here.

KATE
How did you find the one open door?

DIEGO
Same way you did, I’m guessing - I heard it open.

TIFFANY
Yeah, me too!

ETHAN
Well, someone’s lying. One of you opened the door first and the other two heard it.

KATE
Or someone else did and they’re not saying.

TIFFANY
It was all dark when I came in and I almost ran right into this safe!

KATE
Oh yeah I did run into that cabinet - wait what safe?

TIFFANY
This one in the cabinet, with the sign that says EVIDENCE on it.

KATE
That’s it!

DIEGO
Open it!

KATE
How?

DIEGO
Ask Boyfriend, he’s the secret agent!

KATE
Bowden? Can you...open this?

BOWDEN
This isn’t really my department but...I’ll try.
(hops to the safe)
It’s ticking.
(Everyone BACKS UP!)
Ethan, I need my earpiece back.

ETHAN
Why?

BOWDEN
Unless you’re going to let me bring someone else in here -

EVERYONE
NO!

BOWDEN
Then I need to talk to an expert.

KATE
Give me the earpiece, Ethan. We’ll all listen together.

ETHAN
Fine, but if he’s disarming a bomb, then I’m heading for the hills and the paparazzi can hunt me down.

BOWDEN
(to his earpiece)
Laertes? This is Hamlet, come in.

MACKENZIE (ON COMMS)
Laertes here, Hamlet. They didn’t send you to England yet, huh?

DIEGO
That’s the cop’s voice, isn’t it?

BOWDEN
I have to open a safe.

MACKENZIE (ON COMMS)
Stick the earpiece to the locking mechanism and I’ll scan it.

BOWDEN
I don’t have hands right now. Uh...Kate?

KATE
Um, like this?

BOWDEN
That’s perfect. The lock on this safe is a time release mechanism. It’ll open at the time Zack set.

MACKENZIE (ON COMMS)
Hey Hamlet, this timer’s set for all zeroes. Second, minute, hour, and day.

BOWDEN
That’s midnight, of New Year’s!

KATE
Wait. Zack...timed the safe with the evidence that would ruin us all...to open just when the paparazzi caught us here together? But how would he know someone was going to leak our location -

BOWDEN
...unless he was the one who leaked it!

HARPER
You mean, he scheduled it to post on the internet before he died?

ETHAN
Screwing us from beyond the grave.

DIEGO
That’s why the safe’s right by the unlocked back door, so they could find it easier.

KATE AND BOWDEN
...huh.

KATE
Oh. Sorry.

BOWDEN
Oh no, please, you go.

HARPER
WOULD YOU TWO PLEASE SPIT IT OUT!

KATE
Sorry! It’s just that...Zack blackmailed us into coming here, the house is falling apart, he clearly needed the show back -

BOWDEN
...but then he invites the paparazzi to the scene, to ruin everyone involved with the show.

KATE
It’s like he wanted two completely contradictory things.

BOWDEN
Right. Good sleuthing Kate!

KATE
You too, Boyfriend! So did Zack want to save the show, or ruin it?

HARPER
Obviously, he picked spiting us over fixing his indoor plumbing.

KATE
I don’t know -

ETHAN
Oh, for god’s sake, Kate, speak ill of the dead if they deserve it! The man was a bully and serial abuser. He harassed you every day on set. He was poison and wanted destroy the show and all of us.

Silence. Bowden's ear piece beeps.

MACKENZIE (ON COMMS)
I’ll have this open in five minutes, Hamlet.

BOWDEN
Thank you, five.

KATE
We have to look through whatever’s in that safe.

EVERYONE
WHAT? LOOK THROUGH IT? WHY?

KATE
Motive. Whoever killed Zack had the most to lose because of whatever’s in that safe. So when we get it open...we have to all look.

ETHAN
Well, if you’re so eager, Nancy Drew, we don’t have to wait. You can go ahead and tell us what he’s got on you.

KATE
...um, okay. I’ll put my cards on the table. During the run of the show...Bowden and I were sleeping together.

BOWDEN
Ehh, well...

HARPER
Seriously, that’s it?

KATE
Zack said he had pictures of us and now that Bowden might become a big name...I can’t let my family...get -

ETHAN
Dragged mercilessly through the tabloids?

BOWDEN
Well don’t make it sound tawdry!

TIFFANY
Was it romantic?

BOWDEN
It was...special.

KATE
...thanks, Boyfriend.

BOWDEN
I mean don’t get the wrong idea -

KATE
Oh yeah sure I’ve moved on, I have a husband and kids now.

BOWDEN
Sure sure, water under the bridge.

KATE
Okay. That’s my secret. Who’s next?

TIFFANY
Hi! My name is Tiffany -

ETHAN
It’s not an AA meeting, Tiffany -

TIFFANY
...and I also slept with Bowden.

KATE
What?!?

BOWDEN
Okay, now, it was one time -

TIFFANY
Two times.

BOWDEN
Two?

KATE
Did you lose count of how many times you slept with another cast member?

MACKENZIE (ON COMMS)
I’m gonna get some popcorn if this keeps up.

BOWDEN
Laertes!

ETHAN
Wait a minute - I just realized I could bolster my career by telling the tabloids about you and me, Boyfriend!

KATE
ETHAN?

BOWDEN
Yeah well -

KATE
You slept with Ethan.

BOWDEN
That was definitely only...

ETHAN
mmmmmm

BOWDEN
...thhhhrrrrfour times?

ETHAN
MMMMM HMMM

MACKENZIE (ON COMMS)
Is there anyone over there you didn’t sleep with?

General “no’s”.

KATE
WHAT?!?

BOWDEN
Look it was a different time - free love was in the air -

HARPER
During the W Bush administration?

BOWDEN
And I want it on the record that I did NOT sleep with ZACK.

ETHAN
Well at least he has some taste.

BOWDEN
Well how about you, Ethan? You had plenty of reasons to hate Zack.

ETHAN
I don’t have to answer that question.

HARPER
I know what you did.

KATE
How?

HARPER
You hear things when you actually attend an institution of higher learning in this town. And you learn about who they let in...

BOWDEN
Wait - was Ethan was involved in one of those college admission scandals?

DIEGO
You mean where you get rich kids into Berkeley for hefty bribes?

TIFFANY
But you don’t work for a college.

ETHAN
No, but I played a sleazy lawyer on TV. It’s amazing how many people blur the lines between fiction and reality.

DIEGO
So it’s true?

ETHAN
What you’re not hearing, honey, is that part where I didn’t bribe any kids into college. I told their spoiled, rich Hollywood mommies and daddies that I could, and then took the money and ran.

DIEGO
Then why didn’t they go to the cops?

ETHAN
And say what? I gave Randall from Acquaintances bribe money for my child’s education? You pick the right suckers and embarrassment does half the job for you.

BOWDEN
So you admit it.

ETHAN
You can’t prove any of it.

KATE
Obviously Zack could.

HARPER
And get you prison time.

DIEGO
I’d say that’s worth killing for.

ETHAN
Oh you think so, Diego? Well what’s waiting for you in that little metal box? Distasteful political ties?

DIEGO
I don’t hide my politics.

ETHAN
Why didn’t Bowden’s “company” have anything on you but a blank file?

KATE
Yeah! I’m sure they could have manufactured something!

BOWDEN
Hey!

DIEGO
You morons! I wasn’t getting blackmailed! Zack claimed he had a copy of the LOST FINAL EPISODE!

TIFFANY
Wait, the one that got cut off when they switched over to the story of the baby manatee? Oh, I loved that baby manatee.

DIEGO
He told me: show up and you get the tape. Don’t, and it goes in the fire pit.

ETHAN
And oh, how the world would weep.

DIEGO
They should! My show was a Foucaultian critique, lampooning tropes that were running rampant in situation comedy!

ETHAN
Yes, just what everybody needed: another parody of a beloved IP.

DIEGO
Why do you think we were on PBS? I was skewering the faux-hipster decadence of affluent urbanites.

HARPER
Oh, you definitely murdered Zack.

DIEGO
WHAT?!?

HARPER
You’re like two steps removed from the Unibomber.

DIEGO
Oh sure, Harper, you would know better than anyone.

BOWDEN
What, why?

DIEGO
She knew the season ending, which was going to send shock waves through the sitcom world!

ETHAN
The season’s “shock ending” was Raquel spurns Chris and leaves with “the boyfriend”, big whoop.

DIEGO
Yeah, that was the scripted ending. But we shot material - Kate, you remember I had you and Zack lying on the ground in that one shoot?

KATE
Oh yeah, you said we were doing yoga.

DIEGO
YOU WERE MURDERED!

EVERYONE
WHAT?

DIEGO
The season ended with Chris and Raquel dead in the apartment! And season two was going to be the acquaintances trying to hide the bodies and solve the murder because they all looked guilty!

Eerie silence.

ETHAN
Is anyone else’s skin crawling right now?

KATE
You were going to...write me off?

BOWDEN
And Zack, apparently.

DIEGO
And only Harper knew!

HARPER
I mean, look -

KATE
You knew I was getting fired?

HARPER
I thought maybe there would be flashbacks!

TIFFANY
But you didn’t tell us! We were your best friends!

HARPER
WE’RE NOT GODDAMN FRIENDS, TIFFANY.

TIFFANY
We’re acquaintances?

HARPER
This over-identification of the actor with the character is what drove me out of this crazy business and back to medical school!

ETHAN
Then why come back?

HARPER
I paid off my school debt by signing a draconian NDA with PBS about that goddamn twist ending.

KATE
They paid you off.

HARPER
Well, their lawyers are still ready to sue if one word leaked, ever. Zack said he’d leak it himself, and make it look like I did it. So I agreed to come back and do this STUPID FREAKING SHOW.

KATE
...well look at that. Zack wanted to ruin anything this show meant to us. Mission accomplished.

Bowden, shockingly, starts LAUGHING.

KATE
Uh, Boyfriend? Bowden? You okay?

BOWDEN
Diego I...I thought...I was the one killed the show.

KATE
Why?

KATE
Fans rave about your performance! You -

BOWDEN
Zack didn’t leave that phone rant that was leaked. I did.

EVERYONE
WHAT?

BOWDEN
I left the message for the PBS brass all those years ago.

KATE
How?

BOWDEN
I mimicked Zack’s voice.

DIEGO
That’s ridiculous. I know you used to do little cute voices, but you’re not good enough to -

BOWDEN
(as Zack)
“Kevin Smith is a hack!”

GASPS!

HARPER
What??

BOWDEN
I could do any of your voices,
(as Ethan)
men
(as Tiffany)
or women.

TIFFANY
He could be any of us right now!

BOWDEN
I waited until he was blackout drunk one night. He never knew he hadn’t done it himself.

KATE
Why would you do that?

BOWDEN
Because it’s like Ethan said, he was a monster. And in 2004, he was the kind of monster whose crimes got rewarded in this town. And I saw the way he treated you on set.

KATE
I -

BOWDEN
He was going to hurt you, or someone else, if someone didn’t stop him.

ETHAN
So you stopped him.

BOWDEN
Yes. My job...is to save people.

HARPER
Was it your job to kill him?

BOWDEN
No! But I thought they canceled the show because of that phone call. And I didn’t care, as long as Zack Brannigan was never heard from again.

DIEGO
Uh, I think you DID get the show canceled, Boyfriend -

BOWDEN
If the PBS heads knew Zack was getting written out anyway, why cancel the show because of him?

DIEGO
Well, SOMEONE at PBS erased that final episode from existence. So who did it, and why?

A small BANG. Everyone JUMPS a little.

KATE
The safe! It’s open!

MACKENZIE (ON COMMS)
Yup. I reprogrammed the clock so it’d open early. You got maybe twelve minutes, guys, before the paparazzi show up, so you better burn whatever’s in there.

Kate pulls out an object.

KATE
It’s just...this hard drive.

HARPER
You think all the evidence is on it?

ETHAN
Break it first, ask questions later.

DIEGO
No! The show could be on it!

TIFFANY
What’s it say on the bottom?

KATE
Where?

TIFFANY
It says “OB EMF NOC LIST”.

Diego grabs Bowden and CRUSHES THE COMMUNICATOR!

DIEGO
Gimme that!

BOWDEN
Hey! My earpiece!

KATE
Diego!

DIEGO
We’re done with “Laertes” and “Polonius” and “Osric” and whoever! I know what a “NOC” list is, it’s a list of undercover spies, right?

TIFFANY
Oh, like in that Mission Impossible movie!

HARPER
HEY! No spoilers!

DIEGO
What’s “EMF”? What’s “OB”?

BOWDEN
Okay...did any of you get...zapped into Oceanology by that wedding broadcast?

General annoyed murmurs.

ETHAN
Yeah...who can get into this right now?

HARPER
I’m trying to forget. So mortifying.

ETHAN
It wasn’t my first year in a fugue state. I spent most of 2016 yelling about Jill Stein.

HARPER
For, or against?

ETHAN
A little of both.

BOWDEN
"OB” is “Ocean Bureau”. I assume this is one of their hard drives.

KATE
The Oceanology terrorists? How did ZACK get this? Was he an Oceanologist?

TIFFANY
He never said anything.

HARPER
Would you admit you were an Oceanologist?

ETHAN
Well, not now. But back when did we the show, they actually had some power in this industry. Even PBS had their share in management.

DIEGO
Yeah, but even then they were always a little secret handshake-y. People got excommunicated if their Ocean-ties got made public.

HARPER
How do you know so much about this?

DIEGO
It doesn’t matter! This spy’s hard drive was all Zack had. So the only person here who he could blackmail, Boyfriend, the only person with a motive to kill him, was -

RAQUEL AND BOWDEN
WAIT!

RAQUEL (At the same time)
I know who killed Zack!

BOWDEN
I know what Zack was after!

KATE AND BOWDEN
Wait, wait?

HARPER
You know who killed Zack?

DIEGO
Really? I was literally in the middle of solving it, it’s Bowden.

KATE
It’s not! And I can prove it. Everyone get back to the room!

TIFFANY
What? It’s almost midnight!

KATE
I know. Tiffany! Gimme your phone I need to see Zack’s Reddit leak!

TIFFANY
Um, okay -

KATE
Now go, quick!

ETHAN
You better know what you’re doing.

They all run.

BOWDEN
I guess I’ll start hopping -

KATE
Bowden wait!

Kate CUTS BOWDEN LOOSE!

BOWDEN
...thanks.

KATE
What do you mean “you know what Zack was after”?

BOWDEN
I know why it seemed like Zack had two different motivations. Why it seems like he wanted both to destroy the show, and save it. And I can prove it.

KATE
I’m trusting you, okay? Don’t make me regret it.

BOWDEN
Kate. Whatever happens next, you can trust me.

They RUN back to ---

INT. ZACK’S ACQUAINTANCES ROOM - CONTINUOUS

ETHAN
Will you hurry up, Kate? The paparazzi will be here any minute!

KATE
Then we’ll start the new year by handing a double murderer over to them and clearing our names!

HARPER
What do you mean, “double murderer”? There weren’t two murders!

KATE
There were! Because the person who killed Zack...also killed Acquaintances!

EVERYONE BUT KATE
WHAT?!?

TIFFANY
Isn’t that still Bowden?

KATE
Let’s start with Zack. It was dark in the house when we came in, so I’ve been trying to remember the things I heard. But I wasn’t thinking about what I didn’t hear.

BOWDEN
And what didn’t you hear?

KATE
I didn’t hear a struggle. I didn’t hear Zack cry out. And I didn’t hear this chair smash when he fell on it! Did anyone else?

BOWDEN
Great Scott, you’re right!

ETHAN
So...what are you insinuating?

KATE
I think...Zack was dead before we ever got here.

DIEGO
That’s not possible!

KATE
One of us got here hours before the others -

ZACK (In flashback)
Hey, who's there?

KATE
Found the door Zack left unlocked -

ZACK (In flashback)
You? You're early.

KATE
Broke into his house -

ZACK (In flashback)
Come back later with the rest of those losers.

KATE
...and stabbed him.

ZACK (In flashback)
ARGH!

KATE
They fled the premises, and then returned later!

HARPER
It would take a couple of hours before the body got cold...

TIFFANY
But why come back?

KATE
If they didn’t show up, they’d be the obvious murderer. But since they showed up with the rest of us, we’re all suspects, and they have a better chance of getting away with it.

BOWDEN
Kate? The paparazzi are coming in five minutes, so “they” might get away with it if you don’t say who did it!

KATE
One of us came here earlier today, looking to find and destroy the evidence against them.

BOWDEN
Who?

KATE
When they came back and joined the rest of us, they knew the layout of the house. They were the first person to get to the room.

EVERYONE
WHO?

KATE
And somewhere in here, on the floor, I’m sure we’ll find...their contact lens.

GASPS!

TIFFANY
What?

KATE
Care to confess...Tiffany?

TIFFANY
It...it wasn’t me! Why would I -

KATE
You never did admit why you came tonight, Tiffany. Was it because Zack discovered back in 2004 that you were in deep with Oceanology?

BOWDEN
She’s an Oceaonologist?

KATE
Did he threaten to have you excommunicated unless you pulled strings with the Oceanologist PBS brass?

TIFFANY
Why would I do that?

KATE
To yank the second half of the show where his character died?

TIFFANY
That's not true!

KATE
Maybe to buy time between seasons to force Diego to rewrite it?

TIFFANY
That's impossible!

KATE
...for someone without her contact lenses you read “OB EMF NOC LIST” pretty well. I didn’t even see it at first. So how could you read it?

BOWDEN
Because she must have seen the hard drive before!

TIFFANY
No!

BOWDEN
When Zack emailed her a picture of it to blackmail her into coming!

TIFFANY
There’s nothing illegal about being an Oceanologist!

HARPER
But the Ocean Bureau, those are the terrorists, right? Is your name on that NOC list?

DIEGO
The fashion industry is distancing themselves from that brainwashing cult after being in bed with them for years.

ETHAN
And your rivals do have a nasty habit of disappearing. That’s not Christmas-and-Easter Oceanologists, that’s cloak-and-dagger stuff.

KATE
Zack threatened to expose you with that hard drive, you were trapped. You showed up early, broke into this house, and when you couldn’t get into the safe...

ZACK (In flashback)
You think you're gonna break into my house and save your ass?

TIFFANY (In flashback)
(Cries)

ZACK (In flashback)
Forget it!

KATE
...you killed him.

In the flashback, we hear Tiffany stab Zack, who hits and breaks the chair as he falls to the floor dead.

TIFFANY
All you have is circumcision evidence!

HARPER
That’s...not the word you want, Tiffany.

TIFFANY
There’s no proof!

KATE
You left his iPod on repeat on a song he couldn’t stand. You lost your contact lens in the struggle with Zack, and didn’t have time to replace it before grabbing a ride with Bowden.

TIFFANY (In flashback)
Hi guys! I couldn't find my contact lenses!

TIFFANY
It’s still not proof!

KATE
You managed to avoid bumping the safe that Diego and I ran into on our way in.

HARPER
Because she found it when she broke in earlier!

KATE
You knew the layout of the house, so even in the dark with no contact lenses you were the first person to return to the scene of the crime.

TIFFANY
You still don’t have one piece of hard proof.

KATE
I do. You handed it to me. Your phone.

Beep!

KATE
You “called” Zack earlier on the porch. We all watched you do it. But there’s no call logged. There is, in your browser history...a clip of an old Acquaintances show.

She plays it!

ZACK AS CHRIS (ON SPEAKER)
Mi casa...is all of your casas!

KATE
Sorry, Tiffany. Get her, gang!

Everyone grabs Tiffany!

DIEGO
We got her!

ETHAN
She’s not going anywhere!

KATE
Okay! Okay. So...Bowden? You’re the authority here. What do we do?

BOWDEN
...we let her go.

EVERYONE
WHAT?!?

KATE
But...no! Bowden! She killed Zack.

BOWDEN
Zack was an abuser, a bully, and a criminal. Tiffany killed a monster. Let her go.

HARPER
That’s cold, Boyfriend.

TIFFANY
I think he makes a good point!

KATE
But Bowden, what about justice? She killed a person!

BOWDEN
You think I’ve never killed a bully before, Kate? I let my own brother drown.

KATE
What? No!

BOWDEN
I had tried to save him, but at some point it was either him, or both of us. So I left him. And I was so happy. He tormented me for my entire life. He was a terrible person, a terrible brother, and above all, a terrible, terrible actor.

ETHAN
Strange ordering. Okay...

KATE
Bowden!

BOWDEN
He was a hack. And I am so glad that I will never have to witness him chew the scenery through some overwrought, underdeveloped, half-baked unconvincing performance -

THE BODY
ENOUGH.

Shocked gasps and screams as THE BODY stands up!

TIFFANY
AAAH THE BODY’S STANDING UP IT’S A ZOMBIE!

DIEGO
Zack?

KATE
Zack, you were alive this whole time?

HARPER
I CHECKED HIS BREATHING!

ETHAN
You’re literally the worst medical professional, Harper.

BOWDEN
No. That’s not Zack.

THE BODY
So you’ve figured it all out, detective?

THE BODY RIPS HIS MASK OFF!

KATE
Oh my god Bowden is that -

BOWDEN
Everyone. Meet my brother, Balthazar.

BALTHAZAR
Yes, it is I!

KATE
Omigosh he was playing the dead body the whole time, just like the killer in Saw!

HARPER
SERIOUSLY people SPOILERS!

BOWDEN
I knew you were here somewhere and you couldn’t stand a bad review.

BALTHAZAR
“Unconvincing”? I believe I had you fairly convinced this entire time!

BOWDEN
You showed up at Zack’s door with this cockamamie blackmail scheme and this hard drive you stole from the Ocean Bureau. But he didn’t know that your REAL plan was to ruin him and all the rest of us.

KATE
So Zack wanted to save the show, but your brother wanted destroy it!

BALTHAZAR
And it was going swimmingly until this bimbo showed up and stabbed Zack to death. I had to improvise. He’s down in the meat locker.

KATE
You maniac! Get him!

GUN CLICK!

BALTHAZAR
Uh uh uh! In my estimation, “murder” and “accessory” amount to the same thing, so I won’t hesitate to shoot you all.

BOWDEN
How did you survive the submarine sinking?

BALTHAZAR
I followed that rat Fletcher out of a hole in the hull to a secret subterranean cavern!

BOWDEN
Wait, the ADMIRAL is ALIVE?

BALTHAZAR
Oh yes. But he didn’t see me follow him up the muddy banks to an old abandoned house...

FLASHBACK: We hear the Admiral in the house, SMASHING the statue!

BALTHAZAR
...he smashed the statue of Neptune, freeing the meteorite inside, and then...I saw something. I felt something. I smelt something. And he began speaking to...Mister Doe.

BOWDEN
He was hallucinating Chet Phillips.

BALTHAZAR
I thought so too...but then...I wasn’t sure if it was only in my own mind...the stone glowed brighter, and the air around me grew darker...and then I felt them...tentacles...

FLASHBACK: We hear inky, oozing tentacles wrapping themselves around Balthazar.

KATE
What?

TIFFANY
Oh my goodness!

BALTHAZAR
...tentacles like those of a giant squid, grasping for my mind...and then I was swallowed in a cloud of darkness...a cloud of black ink.

BACK TO PRESENT - THUNDERCLAP!

TIFFANY
You were touched by His Holy Tentacles!

BOWDEN
Hold on Balthazar, I thought you didn’t believe in any of that Oceaonologist nonsense.

BALTHAZAR
Oh, Oceanology is nonsense, to be sure...but I saw it...I felt it...the black ink all around me...

DIEGO
And they say I came up with ridiculous plots.

BALTHAZAR
It doesn’t matter! There’s a monster coming to end the world, and before it does, I had one aim only - to destroy you, little brother, to knock you off that Hollywood pedestal you so -

HARPER
You could have just shot him.

BALTHAZAR
Heavens forbid! If humanity is truly to face its final curtain, my swan song must be nothing less than the most elaborate, show-stopping twist-filled murder plot ever devised! I could see the Variety headlines: Acquaintances Reunion Murders - Boyfriend Bowden Brings Bloodbath to Burbs!

ETHAN
Have you read Variety since 1939?

BALTHAZAR
Plus the joyful bonus of exposing your illustrious intelligence agency. But since you’ve unraveled my little plan - I’ll have to settle for a more...hackneyed conclusion.

He COCKS THE GUN AGAIN (for emphasis)! GASPS!

KATE
Wait! If you were a real actor, you would have researched the show to play Zack’s dead body!

BALTHAZAR
How dare you! Of course I did!

KATE
Did you watch every episode?

BALTHAZAR
It was a sacrifice I was willing to make for revenge.

KATE
Well, you missed one small detail!

BALTHAZAR
Which is...?

KATE
The broken floorboard!

Kate JUMPS on the FLOORBOARD! The other end pops up and SLAMS into Balthazar’s crotch!

BALTHAZAR
OH! Right in the Academy Awards!

BOWDEN
Get him!

The cast members pounce and POUND BALTHAZAR! The door opens!

LARRY
Excuse me?

BOWDEN
Larry!

LARRY
There are a number of revelers at the front door who wish to join you. Happy New Year!

The PAPARAZZI SWARMS IN! CAMERAS FLASH! The CLOCK STRIKES MIDNIGHT! Zelda, Skip, and McGrath follow in behind the crowd.

PAPARAZZI
It’s them! / The whole cast! / Tell us what happened!

NEWSCASTER CONNIE
Kate, Connie St. Stephens, News at Six. Where's Zack Brannigan?

KATE
Murdered, by Tiffany Moran! And she was driven to do it by a man you all believed was dead, Balthazar Montcrief!

BALTHAZAR
...whaaat...

NEWSCASTER CONNIE
Tiffany, would you like to make a statement?

TIFFANY
I’m not saying anything until I talk to a lawyer!

ZELDA
Works for us. Come with me please.

TIFFANY
Who are you, lady? Get your hands off me!

Zelda drags Tiffany out.

NEWSCASTER CONNIE
Bowden! Any truth to the rumors that Zack Brannigan coerced you and the cast into agreeing to rebooting Acquaintances?

EVERYONE
Uhhhhh...

BOWDEN
Of course not! This wasn’t about the show! The non-murderers among us just wanted to reunite for a New Year’s Party!

KATE
That’s right! Isn’t it, gang?
(singing)
Should auld acquaintance be forgot - everyone!

At Kate’s behest, the cast starts singing, and then she gets the paparazzi to join.

DIEGO
You, play the piano!

One of the paparazzi starts playing the piano. Zelda, Skip, McGrath, and Gloria slip in.

ZELDA
Good work citizens! We’ll take these two culprits into custody!

SKIP (SAM EAGLE)
I’ll load them into the ambulance, officer!

GLORIA
(overdoing it)
Oh, boyfriend, I’m so glad you’re alive!
(sotto voce)
Less so about your brother.

BOWDEN
(sotto voce)
Tell me about it.
(out loud)
I’ll help you load this maniac into the paddy wagon!

BALTHAZAR
Uggh...Bowden...happy New Year...it’ll be humanity’s last...

Balthazar begins to laugh maniacally.

GLORIA
Uhhh we better get him in a straitjacket.

BOWDEN
Yeah. I’ll be right back, everyone! Make way folks, for my big brother Balthazar, the richest man in town!

BALTHAZAR
Very well! I come, my adoring public! I’m ready for my closeup! I speak for all mediocrities! I am their patron saint! I absolve you!

He’s finally wheeled away. Under the singing:

HARPER
I can’t believe Tiffany killed Zack.

ETHAN
I can’t believe none of us got to it first.

DIEGO
At least it’s the final nail in the coffin of this show. It can’t ruin any more lives, including my own.

KATE
I don’t know that we ruined lives. I think we inspired people. Diego, you wrote a template for smart sitcoms and you were ten years ahead of your time.

DIEGO
Well, I am an unrecognized genius.

KATE
Harper, you inspired the early 2000s generation, at a time when there wasn’t any representation on TV for young black neurosurgeons!

HARPER
Did you just blame me for Ben Carson?

KATE
Ethan, you...prevented a lot of kids from going to college.

ETHAN
Well, if I could teach children any life lesson, it would be to settle. And what about you, Kate? What did you inspire?

KATE
Oh...I don’t know if Raquel and her Boyfriend inspired anything.

Gloria and Bowden re-enter.

GLORIA
Well, I guess you all will be happy to forget that auld acquaintance.

BOWDEN
Gloria?

GLORIA
Yes?

BOWDEN
I...all those things I said about Balthazar, about how I left him to drown and what I was feeling...I...

GLORIA
Hey. We all have thoughts we wish we didn’t.

BOWDEN
I love you so much.

They smooch.

KATE
You know, you two make a really good couple.

GLORIA
I think we can thank Raquel a little for that.

BOWDEN
Yeah. Happy New Year, Kate.

KATE
Aw, shucks. Happy New Year, Bowden.

MUSIC: AULD LANG SYNE CONTINUES ON PIANO AND VIOLIN

MISSION VOICE
Mission Rejected was created and produced by Pete Barry, J. Michael DeAngelis and John Dowgin. This episode was written and directed by Pete Barry.

It starred Chris Klaniecki as Skip Granger, Nazli Sarpkaya as Mackenzie McGrath, Dave Stanger as Bowden Montcrief, Paige Klaniecki as Gloria Kovak, Faith Dowgin as Section Chief Zelda Anders, with Kirk White as Chet Phillips and Kevin McGrath as The Mission Voice

Also Starring Ashley Banks as Athena O'Brien, Jill Ivey as Connie St. Stevens and Bob Killion as Security Guy and The Admiral

Guest Starring Leslie Gideon as Kate Delgado, A.R. Oliveri as Zack Brannigan, Tim Sniffin as Ethan Burns, Rubin Ortiz as Diego Ortez, Jordan Cobb as Harper Guillaume, Samantha Gordon as Tiffany Moran, J. Michael DeAngelis as Larry Hastings, Eric Werner as Balthazar Montcrief and Pete Barry as Kristatos O'Brien

Music, sound editing and mixing by Pete Barry

Are you an "Acquaintances" super fan who wishes they'd made more than twelve and half episodes? Well, maybe if you had actually given to your local PBS station during their pledge drive, it would still be on the air. Don't make the same mistake twice. Join our Patreon for behind the scenes blogs, mission dossiers, bonus audios and more. We even have tote bags. Vist www.patreon.com/missionrejected for more.

This has been a Porch Room production, copyright 2021 Extraordinary Missions Limited.

EXT. THE WILDERNESS
A harsh wind blows across a vast plain. A cell phone beeps.

CHET (On voicemail)
Hey killer. Maybe it's the fact that I'm sipping champagne alone on a freight barge to Hong Kong or maybe I've spent too many months chasing the Admiral around the globe. I don't know what I think...I just wanted to call...for old time's sake. So, happy New Year, Athena O'Brien! Oh, and just a little professional advice? Do not get involved with Muldrake.

INT. MULDRAKE’S SANCTUM
A huge metal door rolls away. Athena steps into the chamber. The PA CLICKS ON.

MULDRAKE (OVER PA)
So you finally made it.

ATHENA
You didn’t make it easy for a girl to get here, incognito or with any kind of flair.

MULDRAKE (OVER PA)
Can you do flair and incognito at the same time?

ATHENA
I’m not gonna dignify that with a response. Where’s my dad?

MULDRAKE (OVER PA)
Right behind door number one.

Another stone door opens.

KRISTATOS
Athena!

ATHENA
Dad! You’d better appreciate everything I did to get you out of...what in the name of god are you wearing?

KRISTATOS
Oh. I was just in the sauna.

ATHENA
The SAUNA? Pack your bags, we’re outta here.

MULDRAKE (OVER PA)
Not just yet.

...and the front door SLAMS SHUT.

ATHENA
Nonononono, I didn’t drag my ass here just to be kept prisoner in your freaking Fortress of Solitude!

KRISTATOS
No no, Athena, you have to listen to what the voice in the ceiling says.

ATHENA
Dad, listen up. I literally spent two years on a ship putting people in saunas and brainwashing them EXACTLY the way Muldrake is doing to you right now.

KRISTATOS
You also stole all my money.

ATHENA
Your Cayman Island account password was SPUDMASTER! You were begging to be ripped off, you’re just lucky it was family!

KRISTATOS
Athena. Darling. My brain is fine. But there are things you don’t know.

MULDRAKE (OVER PA)
If I could brainwash anyone, do you think I’d have spent a year arguing with you and Philips?

ATHENA
Screw you, Muldrake! Let us out!

MULDRAKE (OVER PA)
I’ll make you a deal, O’Brien.

ATHENA
You want to deal? Show your face so I can rearrange it.

MULDRAKE (OVER PA)
I’ll let you and your father go... you just have to hear me out first.

ATHENA
There is literally nothing you could say to keep me here.

MULDRAKE (OVER PA)
What if I told you there’s nowhere you could run where you'd be safe?

ATHENA
I’d say come at me, bitch.

KRISTATOS
Not from Muldrake, sweetheart. There’s something...coming.

ATHENA
Uh huh. Which would be?

Another stone door slides open...

MULDRAKE (OVER PA)
Step into my parlor, Ms. O’Brien. Let me tell you all about Project Black Ink.

Athena steps through the door and it closes behind her.

MUSIC: STINGER