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"Like Water for Octane" is the fourth episode of the first season of The Lone Gunmen.


While searching for a water-powered car, the Gunmen encounter missile silos, rude government clerks, and... cows.


Jimmy Bond delivers a somewhat inaccurate voice over of historical events with his main point being the rise of

Frohike 1967 Langly 1982 Byers 1974

heroes. Then a glimpse of other heroes, the Lone Gunmen, as far younger men appears.

In Sterling, Virginia, a 1974 John Fitzgerald Byers tells his classmates he is going to be a career bureaucrat when he grows up, spreading democracy.

In Saltville, Nebraska, a 1982 Richard “Ringo” Langly grumpily explains to his father that he hasn't milked the cows because he is busy with his computer, a technology which will one day change the world and make him ludicrously wealthy.

While in Pontiac, Michigan, a 1967 Melvin Frohike leaps on the back of the captain of the football team demanding he admit the Cutlass 442 is faster than the Belvedere GTX. He is reminded by this meathead that he will always be a shrimp but Frohike claims that doesn't matter since he will be a crusading publisher like Hugh Hefner.

Bond explains these three men, in the present day, will get to change the world.

Byers shows up at the Freedom of Information Office and encounters the abrasive clerk who wonders why Byers even bothers making requests. Byers shows him a letter showing one of his requests has gone through and he is there to pick it up. He gives Byers a large heavy file box.

Frohike passive aggressively demonstrates the use of the paper shredder to Jimmy Bond, as Langly plugs away on his medieval empire building game, showing him that coffee filters don't go through the machine. An excited Byers arrives with the heavy box and quickly deflates when they open it and find a cinder block. Bond notices there is one document that was stuck in the box though. Heavily redacted, it has only a few bits of information on it: Someone's initials (J.T.), a pallet number, and the mention of a prominent scientist, Stan Mizer.

Langly is coronated King Langly to the eye-rolling of Frohike. Frohike tells Jimmy to shred the document until he hears the name Stan Mizer and then he charges over, sliding to the electrical strip and unplugging the shredder and Langly's computer.

Scanning the shreds of the document.

They scan the shreds of the document and as they wait for a computer program to rebuild the document from the pieces, the Lone Gunmen recount who Stan Mizer was to Jimmy Bond. Mizer was a legendary scientist who created a car that ran on water instead of gasoline. It is of particular importance to Frohike who actually rode in the car that Mizer made. A 1959 Studebaker Lark. Mizer died in the 1970s and the car disappeared long before that since the genius scientist was most likely threatened by the oil companies. The document reveals a pallet number for where the car might be and has the initials J.T. on the form as someone who signed for the pallet. Frohike is intensely set on finding the car.

In New Jersey, Yves Adele Harlow meets with a representative of the oil companies. He learns that she hasn't found what they hired her to look for just yet. He cryptically asks her about dinosaurs.

“It’s amazing, to think that our entire world’s economy is based on them, you know?”
“As in the last one hundred million years their remains have been geologically transformed into crude oil. I suppose that’s true.”
“Actually, when I say dinosaurs I’m referring to the oil companies. As in, though huge and lumbering, we have sharp teeth.”

Byers and Frohike go in the van to see the daughter of Stan Mizer, Shelley Mizer. Frohike admits to causing a scene the last time he was there but hopefully she won't remember him.

They go to the door and knock. As the mailman approaches, Frohike gets paranoid he is an assassin and bursts

Paranoid Frohike, calm Byers, frightened Shelley Mizer

in with Byers the second that Shelley Mizer opens the door. As the mailman delivers a few bills through the mail slot, Byers tells Frohike to calm down. Mizer immediately figures out who Frohike is and starts to call the police. They manage to convince her to call that off after showing her the document.

Back at the offices of the Lone Gunmen, Langly is clueless as to where the pallet mentioned on the document could be located, despite an extensive search of various government databases. However, he and Jimmy figure out that the document was a plant in the box given its lack of a stamp of the Freedom of Information offices.

At the FoI offices, Yves Adele Harlow seduces the clerk for information on the car, but just outside, the

Yves Adele Harlow and the FoI clerk.

representative of the oil companies waits for her to leave. He goes and asks the troublesome man for any information the clerk told the woman. The man is his usual unhelpful self as a dark smile forms on the face of the oil companies’ minion.

Dead FoI clerk, stuck in the stamping machine.

Shortly there after, Langly and Bond find the clerk when they go to confront him. His tie still stuck in the stamping machine and his lifeless eyes staring off nowhere.

Langly calls Byers to relate this revelation but Frohike disagrees with Langly's assumption that Yves Adele Harlow murdered the clerk. Frohike stumbles onto a child's watercolor painting that is framed down among Mizer's papers in the basement. As Shelly Mizer and Byers watch, he opens it up and flips the painting. It was on the back of a photograph of Stan Mizer with his best friend: J.T. Guthrie.

Following their lead, the Lone Gunmen and Shelly Mizer head out in the van to find Guthrie. Frohike tells them glowingly about when he was a kid in 1962, how he and his father took a ride with Stan Mizer in his water powered car.

“He takes his water glass, opens up the hood of his car and pours the water right into his carburettor. It was the damnedest thing.”

They hear a loud bang as the VW van starts to veer around the road. They assume they are being shot at but

Jimmy Bond shouldn't act as a jack.

then Shelly goes outside and shows them the flat tire. Their jack isn't there so Jimmy lifts the van a bit so Byers can put a log underneath as a jack. He lifts it a bit too far and the van rolls down into the water of the gully.

Their van is towed to the farmhouse of the Guthries. Frohike, Byers, and Shelley Mizer head off with the van while Langly and Bond speak with the farmer. They say they are there for J.T. but the farmer seems to be talking about something else, a bull named J.T. rather than a man named J.T. So they try to pretend to be the cattle experts there for the bull J.T. when the farmer seems a bit too unfriendly towards trespassers. Langly finds himself in the unfortunate position of checking the bull for disease by rectal palpitation. Jason Guthrie soon realizes they have no idea about cattle as Jimmy asks about J.T.’s “one big udder,” so he draws his rifle on them. The situation is diffused with the arrival of Shelley Mizer.

Speaking with the farmer, Jason Guthrie, they learn that his father, the late J.T. Guthrie who the bull is named after, was the quartermaster for the space wing at Biznot Air Force Base down the road. The missile command. The guys know now where they need to go but have to do it with some stealth.

With Jimmy Bond posing as a soldier, he slips into the file room, and manages to find the unredacted version of the document. Unfortunately, Harlow shows up and gets into a fight with him. Torn in half in the struggle, she leaves with part of the file, while he gets the rest.

Back at the farmhouse, they speak with Yves about her involvement in this whole affair. Once again she has used them to lead her to her quarry by planting information they would receive from the clerk. She admits to having been hired by a Henry Farst but he now knows that she took his money but is not really working for him, hence the murdered clerk. She agrees to share the wealth in this instance and gives them the other half of the document. Guthrie suggests that the silo mentioned on that half must be one of the missile silos on the base.

Jason Guthrie meets with Farst in the barn. He tells Farst where the car is for a large check that will save his farm.

Blowing up the missile silos. With the Lone Gunmen in them.

The next morning, the three Lone Gunmen rush to the Biznot base where the silos are being blown up that very day. They rappel into the silos and find the storage room. As the silos are about to detonate, they find the crate that held the car. Inside is a cinder block. Yves tries to warn them to get out as she sees Farst leaving with a tow truck carrying the car but the radio signal is cutting out because of all the concrete the silos are made of. The silos are blown up with the Lone Gunmen still inside. That night, Jimmy and Yves are still there at the silos. She watches him futilely try and dig through the concrete

Byers, Frohike, & Langly marching out of the fog.

rubble. Out of the dark walk the Lone Gunmen. They crawled out of a ventilation shaft after being buried alive down there. They return to the farmhouse when they conclude that Guthrie must have told Farst about the car's location.

They confront Jason Guthrie with his betrayal and he confesses to it. He refused to deposit the check though, rethinking what he had done. Shelley Mizer confesses to something herself. She found the car on the farm.

Out in the barn, they find the core components of the car as junk under a sheet. The other car in the silo was apparently a decoy. Shelley Mizer explains that the car must be destroyed given what it would do to the world. Essentially the car would make an industrial development boom and the world would become even more overdeveloped than it is now; more consumption, not a utopia.

Gathered around the water powered car's remnants.

Then Farst enters the barn. He doesn't want to destroy the car, he wants to use the technology. Oil is running out and a water-powered car would prevent going back to horse-drawn carriages. Now he has to eliminate a lot of witnesses though. Harlow mocks him and his plan of just killing all of them.

“That’s your plan? You actually believe you’re going to shoot every last one of us?”
“Well, for what it’s worth, you’re the only one I’m going to enjoy.”

As he points the gun at her, Jimmy Bond lunges and touches J.T.’s “one big udder” and the bull kicks Farst through the wall. Yves Adele Harlow seems a bit enamored with Jimmy after this.

As the paramedics are leaving with Henry Farst, Shelley Mizer takes the hand of Jason Guthrie. They had played with each other often as children and clearly there is a spark between them.

Trying out the water fueled car after repairs.

Closing with another Jimmy Bond voice over, we learn that they did not destroy the car but did accept that Shelley Mizer and her father had been right about concealing the technology. They were wise enough to wait for a good time for the technology of a water-fueled car to be revealed to the world at large, a time when it would be used smartly and not cause a disaster.

Before they leave however, they reassemble and repair the car, and Frohike gets to be the first to take it for a joyride in the Guthrie yard with a big grin on his face.

Background Information[]

Cultural References[]

  • The opening sequence with the Gunmen as students is a reference to Broadcast News, including some of the camera shots & backgrounds.
  • Frohike's reference to chanting "Attica" comes from the 1975 film Dog Day Afternoon, in which Al Pacino's character uses the chant to evoke memories of the Attica Prison riot. The chant has been used in several media since, even by children's characters such as Casey Jones in the 2003 animated series TMNT.
  • When the three Lone Gunmen came out of the Fog it is possible that it was a reference to the John Carpenter film, the Fog.  The shot is very similar to shots from that film in lighting, framing, and pacing.


  • It's a little strange that Frohike would pull the wrong plug when trying to turn off the shredder, since he pulled that same plug in the pilot to keep Byers from using the computer.

Other Episode Notes[]

  • The title is based off a novel written by Laura Esquivel, Como Agua Para Chocolate; or Like Water for Chocolate.


Cast and Characters[]



Guest Starring