|"Brains, Know-How, and Native Intelligence"|
|Season 1, Episode 2 (?)|
|Airdate||July 19, 1990|
← Episode sequence →
The citizens of Cicely are greeted over the local radio station KBHR airwaves by Chris Stevens, otherwise know as "Chris in the Morning", the local DJ, who has chosen to read the complete works of Walt Whitman. At the same time, Joel awakens in his cabin to find Ed in his room, wanting to make an appointment for his uncle Anku. Joel waves him off, and proceeds to the bathroom, where he discovers that his toilet is broken. Later that morning, he complains to landlord Maggie about the problem, but she dismisses him as a helpless whiner.
Later in the day, Ed is out in the forest with his uncle, who missed his appointment with Joel. Unable to convince his uncle Anku to see the doctor, Ed explains to Joel that his uncle has blood in his urine and Ed invites Joel to dinner at Ed's aunt and uncle's house so he can look at his uncle as a disguised house call.
As Chris continues his readings, he mentions Whitman's homosexual tendencies, which upset Maurice (the radio station's owner) earlier as he was fishing on the lake while listening to a portable radio, prompting him to storm into the radio station and throws Chris off the air, roughing him up a bit.
At Joel's cabin in the evening, Maggie fixes Joel's toilet on her way out on a date. In her argument with Joel, she calls him an "incessant, complaining nag" and a "helplessness junkie", and the first signs are shown of the recurring conflict between Maggie and Joel: Maggie sees Joel as a spoiled, self-centered, egomaniacal New Yorker, and Joel views Maggie as an adversarial backwoods pilot with a strong masculine streak. However, this antagonism hides an underlying attraction, which is only apparent when one of the two rarely lets their guard down.
At KBHR, Maurice is acting DJ, following the firing of Chris. Maurice speaks out against Chris' mention of Whitman's homosexuality, and then plays showtunes from Kiss Me Kate by Cole Porter (who was, ironically, also a homosexual). Joel hears the broadcast from within his shower when, suddenly, the water turns cold and the faucet breaks off in his hand as he tries to turn it.
Joel visits Chris out at his trailer on the lake, ostensibly to examine his forehead, which was injured when Maurice threw him through the plate glass window of the radio station. Joel is surprised to meet Chris' sleepover, a young lady named Mindy, showing Chris' open attitude toward sex. Feigning casual conversation, Joel asks Chris about fixing his shower, but Chris pleads ignorance, since he bathes in the lake.
In town, Joel visits Ruth-Anne's general store, which also serves as the town library. Maggie finds him looking for books on plumbing, and hassles him about his toilet. In a casual joke about Maggie's attraction to him, Joel touches on the sexual tension between them, which provokes a violent response from Maggie. After a half-hearted attempt to fix his shower with Ed, Joel finds himself at Mrs. Anku's home, having Kentucky Fried Chicken for dinner with the Ankus and Ed. Later, in the sauna, Anku claims he doesn't need medical help, since "the body is a self-healing organism". Joel's self-centeredness falls away, and his emotional side shows through as he pleads with Anku to seek medical treatment, to no avail. However, Anku offers Joel metaphysical advice on fixing his shower.
The next morning, Ed convinces Joel to visit Anku again, and Joel reluctantly agrees. In his office, Maggie waits with a hurt knee, which she threw out when dancing. After teasing her about her injury, Maggie storms out, enraged, and Joel smugly knows that he has bested her. That night, Joel visits Anku again, but is distracted from making a diagnosis by Anku's lesson in native dance. Joel later returns to Anku's place and tells him that he will die if he is not treated, pleading with him to sacrifice his pride for his own health. Anku finally relents and goes to see a specialist in Anchorage.
A town meeting is held to discuss the firing of Chris, led by Holling, the town mayor. Maurice goes to speak, but is "boo"ed by people who are sick of showtunes. Maurice refuses to rehire Chris. Later, he discusses his decision with Joel, and Joel tells him that he's no good on the radio. As a result, Maurice agrees to swallow his pride and rehire Chris.
As the episode closes, Joel shows up at Maggie's place at about 11 at night, with medicine for her knee. In a touching moment, Joel is completely vulnerable, telling Maggie that he is homesick. Maggie agrees to come by the next day and look at the shower. Joel leaves and does the little native dance he learned from Anku as he walks back out to his truck.
Joel: My toilet is broken.
Maggie: I know, you've told me.
Joel: No, actually that's not true. It never really worked so maybe not working is its natural working condition.
Maggie: What's wrong with it?
Joel: What is wrong with it? How am I supposed to know what's wrong with it?
Maggie: Common sense, maybe? You're a doctor. You're smart. You're brilliant. Toilets are dumb.
Joel: I think this is a complicated problem. We're not talking about your average toilet malady. There is something very, very wrong with this toilet.
Maggie: You tried to fix it?
Joel: Yeah, I listened to it with my stethoscope and I used a tongue depressor! Now, I asked you three times. I cannot live without a toilet!
Maggie: Holling spent the best years of his life without a toilet. Didn't you, Holling?
Holling: In the bush; didn't bring no port-a-johnny.
Joel: Look, um...uh, I'm not the Grizzly Adams type. I had a friend who joined the Peace Corps and went to the African National Republic and, uh, he had a toilet!
Holling: It's terrible what's happening in Africa. It's one of the reasons why I stopped killing the big guys. (turns around to look at ram's head hanging on the wall behind the bar, pats it, and puts his arm around it before turning back around) Uh, you're welcome to use my john, Joel.
Chris: Months later, as I sat in a juvenile detention home rereading those poems that had opened up the artist in me, I was blindsided by the raging fist of my incarcerator, who informed me that Walt Whitman's homoerotic, unnatural, pornographic sentiments were unacceptable and would not be allowed in an institution dedicated to reforming the ill-formed. That Whitman, that great bear of a man, enjoyed the pleasures of other men came as a great surprise to me...and made me reconsider the queers that I had previously kicked around.
Ed: He is a doctor.
Joel: Oh really? Which kind?
Joel: Which which?
Ed: Which what?
Joel: Which doctor?
- "Another Op'nin', Another Show" by Cole Porter (from Kiss Me Kate)
- "March of the Siamese Children" (from The King and I)
- "This was a Real Nice Clambake" (from Carousel)
- "Wunderbar" (from Kiss Me Kate)
- Chris at age 15 and pal Dickie Heath in the summer of 1976, after stealing a car and while burglarizing a home, Chris across Whitman book which inspires him to become a sculptor; in the juvenile detention home, his jailer informs him Walt was gay.
- Chris' trade in prison was auto body work which inspired him to become a metal sculptor.
- Chris, 29 in this episode ("finds" Mindy, from Boston, in the woods).
- Holling is mayor of Cicely.
- Maggie has a trick knee (Joel brings her Darvon).
- Maurice grew up in Oklahoma City.
- Anku promised Julia Chigliak (Ed's last name; pronounced "Chiglak" by Anku and Ed), red willow bark for her aches and pains migraines.
- Joel had a friend who joined the Peace Corps and went to the African National Republic (Central or South?)--and he had a toilet.
- Chris reads "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd" from The Complete Works of Walt Whitman by Walt Whitman.
- Ed references the film Little Big Man.