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Las Vegas Strangler Part 2

The relationship between Starsky and Hutch gets weird in this half.




As sweetly fond Starsky is of Vicky, it's puzzling that he does't jump right on the fact that she needs a ride to Boulder City to see her daughter, because her car broke down.  Instead, while it's understandable that Starsky desperately needs some sleep, as does Hutch, he needs Hutch's prompting and mild manipulation in order to go help her.  I do wonder if Vicky would have been agreeable to Starsky as her chauffeur if she'd known how many hours it's been since he's genuinely slept.

The hospital scenes are hard to swallow, and I vividly remember when I first saw this episode as a teenager, Starsky and Hutch's behavior toward each other seemed like such a violation of the friendship I'd loved so much the first season.  Granted, this time around, their shortness with each other doesn't seem that severe, but it still feels out of sync.  In the first hospital scene, Hutch is shocked to find out that Jack has a brain tumor.  At that moment, he really needs Starsky's sympathy.  But Starsky is finally getting some sleep, stretched out on one of the waiting room benches.  After the doctor leaves and Hutch swears about Jack's predicament, Starsky rouses and wants to know what's wrong.  Hutch just shakes his head and says, "Nothing."  It's really hard to know if Hutch thinks Starsky won't be sympathetic, or if he's being compassionate for Starsky's need to sleep, and doesn't want to interrupt it by telling Starsky bad news about Jack when nothing can be done about it, anyway.

For that matter, we don't know if Hutch ever even tells Starsky about Jack's brain tumor. Because, a short time later Jack is dead, and then it seems rather irrelevant, except as an explanation for Jack's extreme behavior.

That leads to the second hospital scene where Starsky and Hutch each do something very unusual. They're both focused on their own pain -- Starsky about Vicky's severe concussion and Hutch about Jack's death -- and both want sympathy and understanding from each other, rather than wanting to reach out to support each other.  It even prompts Starsky to say that weird line about Hutch's loyalty to his friends, which prompts Hutch to ask, "Present company included or excluded?"  Thankfully, the guys are able to pull together then, but the scene still leaves a feeling of inexplicable discord.

I don't know why Starsky and Hutch are so worried about losing their money, or giving it back. The department gives them $200 to lose in Las Vegas.  So, if they can't lose it, what's wrong with them taking it for themselves?  It's not harming anybody or taking anything away from anybody, if they pocket their own winnings.  So, it seems weird that Hutch is still trying to lose their money at the slots, and keeps failing.  And then it doesn't make sense that the Department cares about how high the winnings got, because the Department expected to be out the original $200 anyway.  

It does make for a very sweet moment when they mailed the money to Vicky, which emphasizes again that Vicky makes for all the warm moments in the entire two-part episode.  Just sort of puzzling, though, that she isn't more ecstatic about receiving such a (surely unexpected) windfall. (Maybe she'd rather have had Starsky than the money?)

Cameron is a rare, pure jerk.  It's understandable that Starsky and Hutch don't like him, but why is he such a jerk to begin with?  Apparently, he zeroed in on Jack Mitchell as the strangler because he was jealous of losing his girlfriend to Jack.  And then he wanted Starsky and Hutch to help nail Jack, because Hutch was his old high school buddy, and so he used Hutch in particular for that purpose.  

This episode proves that putting the guys in a fancy setting does nothing to enhance the series; but instead, only detracts.