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The Game

I just love the line where Starsky calls Hutch "Mr. Hutchinson".

The first ten minutes of this episode are an incredible love affair.  Whether you think they are or they aren't (or they will later), I don't see how anyone can watch the opening, and come away with any feeling other than that Starsky and Hutch are mutually crazy about each other.

The banter is at its best, which is saying a lot for fourth season.  Starsky's declaration in the locker room, with his shotgun delivery of everything he knows about Hutch, while running his eyes along Hutch's body.... wow.

So, with the obvious established, it's more fun to talk about the other stuff.

Hutch is a control freak and has to win.  He loses the pool game to Starsky and walks out without paying.  Geez.  It's actually rather juvenile.  And definitely unsportsmanlike.  There's no doubt in my mind, that had the botulism not happened, and Starsky would have found Hutch by the end of the weekend (which also isn't in doubt), that Hutch would have never paid up.  And Starsky probably wouldn't care.  Certainly, the point of the game wasn't about the money.

I have to think that, regardless of what happened during the weekend, Hutch knew that Starsky would find him.  I mean, surely, he wanted that to be the ultimate result.  Why would he want Starsky not to be able to find him when, so often, his life has depended on that very thing?  So, he was going to win, even if he technically lost the bet.

Still, Hutch has such a strong personality quirk about needing to win and control, he's so leery of being tricked, that it's obviously rough for him when he hears that Starsky's been shot.  If he wasn't so hung up on having to prevail, he would have surely figured out that Starsky wouldn't do something that cruel -- pretending to be shot just to lure Hutch in and win their bet.    Surely, that was an unspoken rule -- that one doesn't use the threat of death as a method of winning.

I love that Hutch signs his hospital note to Starsky "love, Hutch".

Hutch is the one that has the idea for the game, and it's no surprise that he wants to be the one pursued.  The psychology of that is pretty powerful.  His need for love (another hint of an unloved childhood) can't ever be fulfilled, so he keeps upping the ante, in terms of how others need to go about proving it.  At this point, one can be prompted to declare, "Just fuck and get it over with."  Yet, I don't think sex with Starsky would solve Hutch's underlying insecurity that he's not wholly lovable.

In "Hutchinson for Murder One", Huggy refers to Hutch as "one tight closet".  In the tag of "The Game", Hutch chooses the word "closet" to prompt word association from Starsky.  I mean... geez.  Why that word of all words?  Whose idea was that?

I do love the tag in how Starsky just basks in Hutch's attention.  He's so eager for all that he can get from him.  And it's nice that, after Starsky apparently burning the expensive Buddy Holly album, Hutch doesn't look like he's going to get angry.  Meditation suits the guy.

Gina is a sympathetic character.  She's not like a dumb bimbo.  She's somebody with zilch self-esteem that let herself get in a bad situation, and is too scared to get out.  But she tries anyway.

With all that it does, this episode is pretty forgivable for its lack of time for comfort after Hutch is found.  As an aside, I did research on botulism for the story Spoils of War that I wrote, and it's pretty wicked stuff.  Even those that have survived it have had very prolonged hospital stays.