Tuesday, June 6th, 1978: Not a massively infamous day in history. Not much happened. In California - which was part of the United States in those days - they voted in Proposition 13, which slashed property taxes. Nothing else of any great importance seems to have happened anywhere else in the world, and few seem to have noticed the important thing that transpired here. Indeed, there are no monuments to commemorate the day, no one who says “I remember where I was when…”, no flags flying at halfmast, no parades of victory for surviving it, though we certainly deserved them. No one seems to remember that day thirty two years ago as the end of our collective national nightmare, but despite the (typical) historical ignorance of the masses, it was an event of monumental importance:
Man From Atlantis finally ended.
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Billy Barty and an actor pretending he’s missing an arm are on a tour of the outside of a power plant. I don’t pretend to understand this, I assume it’s just a California thing, and who can figure ‘em? The two of them discuss an Olympic-level swimmer they’ve hired to go through a long underwater pipe for some reason. They realize he’s been down for five minutes or so, and presumably he’s dead. Sure enough, his body floats out of the pipe in front of the gawking out-of-towners mesmerized by the sight of electrical lights and prestressed concrete. Billy Barty and the man with the fake arm over his real arm are annoyed that now they have to find another swimmer, but their nefarious scheme continues apace. Whatever it is.
At the curiously-empty Foundation, CW tells Mark about the diver, explains he was working undercover as part of a government sting operation, and that the feds would like Mark to pinch hit for them. CW is uncomfortable with this, but Mark agrees. CW expresses some real trepidation, as Mark is so awkward in society he’ll stick out like a sore thumb, but as they have 40 minutes left to kill in the episode, they decide to go ahead with it.
They stage a fake rescue when they know Billy Barty and the pretend-fake-arm guy are watching: Mark dives in to free a ‘trapped’ diver, and he’s under for about three minutes, just sitting down there amiably, doing nothing in particular, then pops up with the diver and starts to walk away, like it’s no big deal. Billy Barty chases after Mark, and offers to get him a sideshow gig in the carnival they work at. Mark, pretending to be unemployed, agrees reluctantly.
They get him a big tank and have him lay down in it, then show him off to the somewhat-pretty lady who runs the carnival. She’s eventually impressed, though it’s unclear if it’s his water breathing talents, or simply that he’s attractive. She asks him out. That night, they debut “The Incredible Man From Atlantis.” Mark sits in a tank and answers questions from the spectators. Meanwhile, the guy who pretends to have only one arm ransacks Mark’s trailer and finds a note from the Foundation. He correctly interprets this to mean Mark’s a snitch, and sets off to kill him. The guy’s fake arm is electrical, and generates ludicrous amounts of juice. He simply sticks it in the corner of the tank when Mark is doing his act, and fries him.
The Carnie boss lady is freaked out and cancels the show, but Mark recovers fairly quickly. He realizes The Electrical Man - that’s the pretend-one-armed-man’s stage name - fried him, and stomps off. Billy Barty explains it was because of the Foundation stationary, which made him look like a snitch. “You’ve seen how long I can stay underwater - they just wanted to examine me. They paid me 200 dollars!” It’s a good lie, and Billy Barty buys it. He explains that the Electrical Man and him are planning a bank robbery - they need a man to swim through several hundred feet of storm drains to let himself into a bank to shut off the alarms and let the other two in. Mark agrees. Mark informs CW about it.
The next day at the carnival, the boss lady hits on Mark again, and they smooch around a bit. While briefing CW on the heist, he starts asking about women, and the whole ‘kissing’ thing and why it feels good. “Oh, Lord, he wants to know about the birds and the bees.” “No, CW, I want to know about