Apr 132022

“Pirates of the Third Reich” aired February 9, 2006, IMDB

Jerry Stahl returns as co-writer for the third chapter in the Lady Heather saga. The director, Richard J Lewis, also directed “Lady Heather’s Box”.

“Slaves of Las Vegas” normalized Lady Heather in her conversation with Catherine Willows, as a business owner, career woman, and single mother. This episode throws that into ruin. Zoe Kessler, said to be going to Harvard in Lady Heather’s first episode, is found dead in the desert: emaciated, poisoned, shaved bald, branded with a number, and missing her hand. This marks the fifth person in Lady Heather’s immediate circle who is murdered.

Lady Heather, the mother, is called in. This episode makes almost no mention of her work as a dominatrix (or rather running a house of domination). She also tells how Zoe had an affair with her therapist and got pregnant. Heather reported the therapist, which caused Zoe to break off communication and drop out of school. (The result of her pregnancy is unconfirmed.)

Heather: “I appreciate that it would have been difficult to have someone like me as a mother. But if I stressed anything, it was empowerment and independence.”

I’m not faulting Melinda Clarke’s performance. Her scenes, especially with Grissom, are taut. 

Heather: (to Grissom) “You forfeited the right to give me advice some time ago. But thank you.”

She’s willing to risk criminal charges to reveal that a man doesn’t want police poking around his property near where Zoe’s body was found. She’ll even sleep with the man to get his DNA in a condom. She’s walking a fine line between her desire to avenge her daughter’s death and staying within the legal system Grissom represents. 

The problem is the plot of this episode. The killer turns out to be a guy who decides to be a one-man Fourth Reich and perform Nazi concentration camp experiments in his basement. Zoe was kidnapped and gnawed her own hand off to escape. There’s a long sequence of exploring the dark, archaic underground laboratory, complete with Se7en-style journals. If you want a one-dimensional cliched villain, a neo-Nazi mad scientist is an obvious choice. 

That’s just the end point. Along the way there are identical twins, sleep studies, a stolen 16th century etching, flowers that smell like rotting flesh, a transplanted eyeball, internalized anti-Semitism, artificially conjoined twins, and a lobotomy. It’s both repulsive and ludicrous. Grissom mentions the principle of parsimony, or Occam’s Razor: keep it simple. The creators of this episode should have kept that in mind. 

Grissom finally tracks down Heather who has kidnapped the killer, and is bullwhipping him bloody. (Note this is the first time we have seen Heather actually do anything like BDSM.)

Grissom: “Heather, I’m saying ‘Stop’!”

This, their safeword, is enough to get her to stop resisting and collapse in Grissom’s arms. 

As an ending this is hardly satisfactory. Heather did kidnap and assault a man. It also plays into the old idea that women are too emotional and need rational men to rein them in.

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