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S3x20 – The Gas Man

April 26, 2010

The season finale takes shows a quirkier side of H:LOTS and is framed entirely from the perspective of an embittered recently paroled con – masterfully played by the late Bruno Kirby – nicknamed “The Gas Man” who has it IN for Pembleton. Meanwhile Pembleton carries on his day to day activities which include: meeting Mary Pembleton in shady motels and trotting his little swimmers over to the fertility clinic. The music is fantastic and includes: Boogie Wonderland by Earth, Wind & Fire, Heart of Glass by Blondie and one of my faves – the wildly inappropriately appropriate – Working My Way Back To You by The Spinners. Executive Producer and director of this episode Barry Levinson close the book on the tumulteous season three with cheek, elegance and wit. See y’all on the other side!


  • Pembleton trots along his marry way having hot passionate loving in the afternoon with Mary – his wife – much to the annoyance of a bitter ex con who is hell bent on killing him. In this game of cat and mouse, Pembleton is the effortless Road Runner to the ex con’s hapless Coyote. Even when fortune smiles on The Gas Man in the form of a severed head and a murder weapon, somehow even this manages to enable Pembleton to come out ahead. What’s is most fascinating here is observing Pembleton from an outsider’s perspective. I really felt I saw Pembleton more fully realized when I didn’t have the usual squad room or Bayliss to serve as my lens from which to examine him. Deft story telling by master craftsman Levinson, whose film Diner is effortlessly evoked in this episode. I don’t think this is intentional, but this is the second time a Levinson theater player stars in the season finale of H:LOTS (Robin Williams was in Season Two’s Bop Gun)

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 27, 2010 7:04 am

    I love this episode, which stands alone as a kind of mini-movie. I think Richard Edson (who I recognized as the garage attendant from Ferris Bueller, and who looks to me like John Tuturro’s and Eric Roberts’ love child) gave a standout performance as the pal whose loyalty and patience get tested over and over again.

  2. April 27, 2010 10:54 am

    It was brave choice for a finale. Opting to leave the Chilton case unexamined, the state of the Pembleton/Bayliss partnership on uneasy footing – until the final moments – made for some incredible television.

    Also, it is so shocking that Beatty’s last moments on H:LOTS is barely even noticed.

  3. hsofia permalink
    May 9, 2010 8:42 pm

    I couldn’t remember how this episode ended so the tension really got to me. Bruno Kirby really turned it in on this one, and Edson is great – so much body language.

  4. May 10, 2010 7:46 am

    @Hsofia – Yeah, the ending, while totally at odds with the narrative arc, was totally completely in alignment with what we’ve come to know of H:LOTS storytelling. Bruno Kirby was just amazing in this role. Very different side of him and of course, he always does extremely find work while under the direction of frequent collaborator Barry Levinson.

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