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No. 57 - "The Prodigy" 6/26/98

Cast:

  • Derek de Lint - "Derek Rayne"
  • Martin Cummins - "Nick Boyle"
  • Robbi Chong - "Alex Moreau"
  • Kristin Lehman - "Kristin Adams"

Guest Starring:

  • Stephen McHattie - "Leigh Noir"
  • Chad Willett - "Eugene Kadar"
  • Marie Stillin - "Mrs. Penrose"
  • Victor A. Young - "Milos Kadar"

Executive Producer - Grant Rosenberg
Co-Executive Producer - Garner Simmons
Producer - David Tynan
Produced by - Robert Petrovicz

Writer - John Simmons

Director - Gilbert Shelton


Fourteenth episode of the Third Season.

We owe major thanks for this description to: Valery


Derek and Kristin are attending a concert by young pianist Eugene Kadar, who is playing Franz Liszt's Totentanz (Dance of Death). Meanwhile, outside the concert hall, Eugene's uncle Milos is arguing with Leigh Noir, Eugene's mysterious agent. They disagree about Eugene's career, and Milos points out that Noir's deal was with him, not Eugene. Holding up Milos's antique pocket watch, Noir declares their arrangement terminated. Milos impatiently throws the watch away, telling Noir that when Eugene's parents died he took him in and nurtured his career. Noir reminds Milos that he was also the one who summoned him. Backing the old man into the wall, he places his hand over Milos' heart. Milos suffers terrible pain as his eyes turn red, veins in his face pulse, and his life force is (seemingly) drained away. As Eugene's music reaches its climactic end, Milos dies and Noir calmly walks away.

Noir watches possessively from backstage as Eugene takes his bows. The young man puts on his glasses, sees Kristin in the audience and smiles and nods to her. "Isn't he incredible?" Kristin quietly enthuses to Derek. "Very impressive," he replies. Creepily, as Eugene bows, we also see Noir mimicking him backstage and taking bows himself. The camera then shows Milos lying dead.

Early one morning Kristin accompanies Eugene as he scatters his uncle's ashes in the river. He apologizes that he should have done this alone; it's not what he had in mind for their first date after so many years, but she tells him she's glad he called. He confesses that he didn't like his uncle, that Milos seemed to feel obliged to stage manage his life, something which Eugene had never wanted. He feels relieved now. Kristin comforts him that she'll be there for him. He apologizes for running out on her all those years before, he shouldn't have let his parents separate them, but Kristin assures him that she understood; he needed to devote himself to his music. Besides, they were only 17, what did they know about life? Eugene says he's been thinking about her a lot lately, and hopes they might pick up where they left off.

At the Legacy, Alex remarks to Derek on how early Kristin left, and Derek explains about Kristin and Eugene knowing each other in high school, and the reason for the early morning trip to the river. She plans to spend the day with Eugene. Nick tells Derek that Frances called from the coroner's office regarding Milos' autopsy. Strange bruises on the chest looked like marks from fingers, and were unlikely to be self-inflicted since such marks would take a great deal of strength. Nick suspects foul play.

Eugene and Kristin are shopping and getting to know one another again. When Kristin asks if he likes the superstar life he leads as the hottest classical pianist in the world, he protests that he's not a rock star but a concert pianist. He admits he loves it but it gets lonely; it would have been better if she'd been there to share it with him. Not fair, she protests; he'd never even sent her a postcard after he left, and he reveals that his parents insisted he break their relationship off, convinced that she was the reason he had lost his "edge" as a child prodigy. (All this time, without their realizing it, they are being followed by Noir.) Eugene tells Kristin he "hit the wall" at age 17 after several brilliant years, and his parents saw all their dreams and aspirations flying out the window, concluding that he was being "distracted"–by Kristin. What was ironic was that he'd lost interest in playing before he'd ever met her, and it was she who inspired him to play at all. And he didn't know what it was that made him regain his inspiration later on; he just suddenly wanted to play one day. When he started playing Liszt everything changed. It's like seeing her again: he feels everything looking up for him. He shows her the pocket watch his agent had given him (exactly like the one Milos had). She notes how late it is, but before she leaves he asks if he can see her again. Then they kiss, Noir staring at them, and suddenly it isn't Eugene kissing Kristin but Noir!

After Eugene leaves, Noir comes up behind Kristin–close behind, startling her. He introduces himself and tells her it is important that Eugene not be distracted from his career. She lets him know that he is out of line, pointing out that it is Eugene's decision. She is trying to be polite but it is obvious she is angered by this interference. Noir tells her that Eugene is not always capable of making these decisions, and Kristin (with more diplomacy than sincerity) says that Eugene is lucky to have someone interested in his life. Noir agrees that yes, he's a very lucky guy, as he watches Kristin walk away.

In his studio, Eugene is practicing the Totentanz, having trouble over a passage and getting more and more frustrated . Noir appears seemingly from nowhere. "You stumbled there," he says (is he talking about the music, or Kristin?). Eugene points out bitterly that he's not a machine. Noir goes on to say that his uncle was concerned about Eugene, in case he should die suddenly, and had asked him in such an event to look after Eugene's interests. Eugene counters that his uncle actually wanted him to find another agent, someone more rooted in classical music, that he felt Noir was riding his coattails. Eugene says that he appreciates everything Noir has done for him, but Noir interrupts and tells him that he doesn't appreciate it at all, with heavy meaning that Eugene does not catch on to. He tells him then to play; when Eugene protests that he doesn't feel like it Noir orders him, "Play!" At first Eugene is still discordant in the difficult passage, but when Noir touches his shoulder he can again play brilliantly. Noir gestures, then is suddenly gone as Eugene continues to play beautifully.

Derek goes to the Music Conservatory to talk with Winifred Penrose, the director. She tells him Milos pushed himself and Eugene very hard, wanting to live in Eugene's light. She has followed Eugene's career for a long time and found him to be one of the most brilliant prodigies she had ever seen. But like so many such prodigies he seemingly lost interest in his music at puberty. Astoundingly he found it again later; it is almost unheard of for a prodigy to lose his talent and then get it back–and more. Now that his uncle is dead Eugene's career seems to be run by his agent, Leigh Noir. She is afraid the agent pushes so hard that he may burn Eugene out.

Outside the Conservatory Derek finds Milos's watch, and flashes onto scenes of Eugene playing, the watch ticking, and someone pushing Milos violently up against a wall. Noir suddenly approaches, commenting that he used to have a watch like that but it broke. He introduces himself to Derek, and Derek tells him that by the inscription the watched belonged to Milos. Noir offers to give it back to Eugene, but Derek, with a slight hesitation, tells him that he will take care of it.

That night Kristin and Eugene walk down the street together after a date. He tells her how much he likes the city and living alone after all the years with his uncle. Then he admits to sometimes being lonely, and asks how she likes living alone. She doesn't really live alone, she says, living at the Luna Foundation, but being the only house on the island it is a bit isolating. He invites her up; after some hesitation, she finally agrees.

Kristin looks over his book and music collection as he makes coffee, finding an original edition of the Danse Macabre. A gift from his agent, he says, and she tells him that she met Noir the day before, when he intimated she was a distraction to Eugene. This angers Eugene, who says he had no right to say something like that, and she agrees that she thought it was a bit presumptuous. She tells Eugene not to worry about it, she didn't take it to heart.

She notices the woodcut which inspired Liszt to write the Totentanz that he'd played at the concert. They talk about Liszt, wondering how a man of such passions could take a vow of chastity. Especially, Eugene says, when he loved women so much and they loved him. He plays for her a piece Liszt wrote for his mistress which moves her to remark how beautiful it is. So is she, he says. At this point she makes a half-hearted move to leave, but he stands and kisses her. While affected by the kiss, she makes a mild objection that maybe it's too fast, but he says it feels right and she is persuaded to stay. As they make sweet love to each other, undetected by them Noir is standing in the background, looking on with distinct interest...

The next morning Kristin awakens to the Liszt piece from the night before, and smilingly tells Eugene it's not every morning she gets to wake up to music by the world's greatest pianist. "It could be if you wanted to," he starts to say when she notices how late it is; her friends will wonder where she is, she tells him. "I'm sure they'll figure it out," he jokes. He is pressing her for more of her time, but she says she needs time to sort it all out. "Sounds like a brush-off to me," he half-jokes, but she assures him that if she wanted to brush him off he'd know it.

Derek is sitting in the kitchen at the Legacy House, studying Milos' watch, when Kristin comes in for breakfast. He greets her with a suggestive "How's Eugene?" then tells her that he met the agent the day before and found him "unsettling." Kristin agrees, but says he's generous too, telling Derek about the original edition of La Danse Macabre and the antique watch. Derek is somewhat alarmed. "Like this one?" he asks, showing her Milos' watch, and she tells him it is almost identical and wants to know what significance that might have (kind of a "so what?"). Derek has to admit he isn't sure yet. Kristin half asks and half warns Derek that Eugene is still pretty fragile –a nd a friend of hers – and she would appreciate it if he didn't intrude into his personal life without a very good reason. Derek agrees, but looks thoughtfully at the watch as Kristin leaves.

Eugene is practicing at his studio when Noir appears. Eugene tells him that he'll have to go as he has a meeting. Noir insists they have an arrangement, and he's not going to walk away from all the time he's invested in Eugene. When Eugene points out that he had talent before Noir appeared and he will have it when he's gone, Noir asks if he'd like another demonstration of "who's the puppet and who's the puppeteer, Pinocchio?" Eugene (almost gleefully) informs Noir that Mrs. Penrose has arranged a meeting for him with a new agent, one with an impressive roster. "More impressive than mine?" Noir sneers. "Liszt, Paganini, Mozart, Caruso..." Eugene tells him he's lost his mind and to get the hell out. "Do you understand?" "Yes–completely," Noir says with a smile. When Eugene turns around he's no longer there.

In the Control Room, Alex and Nick update Derek on what they have on Eugene: a prodigy at age 5 who lost his talent at 17; but he came back again three years earlier when he surprised everyone by winning a Moscow Conservatory competition performing the Totentanz (for the first time). They can't find anything on Leigh Noir except that he is a hot classics agent, who gets the big bucks if not the respect in the field. Derek asks them to find out all they can about La Danse Macabre. When Alex suggests that maybe it is time to bring Kristin into the loop, Derek agrees to speak to her.

Mrs. Penrose waits on an outside bench for Eugene, but it is Noir who appears, challenging her over her plan to introduce Eugene to a new agent. She tells him she thinks Eugene has the right to make his own decision; Noir says he disagrees, and suddenly grabbing her he slaps his hand over her heart, and she dies like Milos. He leaves her there, dead, for Eugene to find. The young man is shocked and terrified, and Noir smiles, unseen, in the shadows.

At the House, Kristin is upset with Derek for investigating Eugene, despite their conversation earlier. Derek points out unusual anomalies–Milos' mysterious death, Eugene's suddenly returning talent just when Noir appears on the scene – which Kristin finds logical explanations for. Just then Nick comes in with news of Penrose's death from an apparent heart attack, which causes Kristin to cease her arguments.

She goes to see Eugene, having to bang on the door for several minutes to get him to let her in. He's been chain-smoking, very upset and angry, and starts to rave about having "lost it." Kristin tries to calm him down and get him to explain, and he tells her he thought his uncle's death was an accident. But when he saw Mrs. Penrose he knew it was no accident. And now he cannot play; all his attempts are a discordant travesty. He tells her of the day three years before, with his parents dead and Milos at his wit's end, and he just wanted to quit. But he sat down at that very piano, and from that moment on his hands simply could not make any mistakes. He could suddenly play again from the time Noir came into his life. When Kristin asks him how Noir could do that, he tells her that it is very complicated. "I guess you could say he gave me a certain inspiration–which is now gone."

Back in the Control Room, Alex shows Derek some Holbein woodcuts that appear to have been dropped from La Danse Macabre, among them one showing Death being defeated by a man impaling him with a spear. Nick enters and reports that Frances has found bruises similar to Milos' on Penrose's chest. Just then Derek's cell phone rings: it's Kristin phoning for help. As Derek hears Eugene attempting and continually failing to play the Totentanz in the background, she tells him Eugene is having some kind of breakdown, and Derek tells her they're on their way.

When Kristin tells Eugene, he protests that Derek can't help–and from behind them Noir agrees. "No one can help now except yours truly," he says, and when he remarks that Kristin is "quite lovely," Eugene angrily orders him to get out. He announces his intentions of getting on with his life even if it means never playing a piano again. "That can be arranged," Noir replies with chilling calm, and suddenly Eugene's hands catch fire! The flames die out as quickly as they appeared, and Noir warns him, "First time's the lesson–second time's for real." He explains to Kristin that he's the one who pulls the strings. When she demands why he just can't leave Eugene alone, he says that's not the deal. Eugene gets talent beyond his wildest dreams, and gets everything he wants and more, while Noir gets 10% of the take and "equal share of the sensual pleasure." He tells his horrified listeners that he lives through his charges: "Their fire is my fire, their passion is my passion. Their triumphs are my triumphs, and their conquests...well, you remember the other night when the two of you, well...I have to say that it filled me with a certain rapture." Eugene is very angry. "It's over," he tells Noir. "You want to feel my emotion?...my joy, my elation? How about my pain?" Darting over to the piano, he repeatedly slams the lid on his own hand, and it causes Noir to feel the same pain in his hand. "What have you done?" Noir cries. Eugene tells him it is something he ought to have done long ago. Noir, seeming only mildly disappointed, tells him that he doesn't handle disappointment very well, and too suddenly for Kristin to stop him reaches out to clutch at Eugene's chest, causing him to die as Milos and Mrs. Penrose did. Eugene falls to the floor and dies convulsively in Kristin's arms.

Holding Eugene, weeping, Kristin demands, "how could you do that?" "Well, you saw him," Noir replies calmly. "It was his choice. Fortunately there's no shortage of prodigies out there dying for a break." But he's not about to let Kristin go. Causing the door to lock itself, he comes after her. "I guess it's just you and me."

Derek and Nick drive up as Kristin tries frantically to find a way to escape Noir, who is stalking her through the loft. "You can't run, Kristin," he tells her. "You can't hide." In desperation to keep him away from her, she starts throwing things at him with no effect. Outside in the hall, Derek and Nick have heard the commotion and break in the door. Noir tosses Derek aside; when Nick attacks him Noir throws him violently against the bookcase. Derek notices a decorative spear on the wall, and flashes back to the woodcut of Death being defeated by such a spear. As Kristin rushes over to help Nick, Derek tears down the spear and thrusts it into Noir, who disintegrates in a flash of fire.

Nick picks up Eugene's watch from the piano, and shows Derek that it has stopped, as Kristin sobs heartbrokenly over Eugene's lifeless body. Derek helps her up and holds her comfortingly.

Back at the Legacy House, Kristin sits sadly at the piano: "The promise of love is a seductive force, a heartbeat away from lust. But the greatest seducer of all has nothing to do with love, for nothing is more tempting than the promise of fame and adulation. It cost Eugene Kadar his life, but his music still haunts my soul."


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