Season 1, Episode 8: “Last of the Two Dollar Bills”
Original airdate: Jan. 8, 1977
Muskan: Nirajan, let’s begin with this.
GIVEN THE CURRENT ECONOMY.
I’ll make an effort not to repeat this phrase throughout our conversation about “Last of the Two Dollar Bills,” although it kept playing in my mind on a loop.
I thoroughly enjoyed this episode—the first one in a while has truly captivated my interest. I noticed that the episode had a more pronounced noir atmosphere, akin to some of the earlier episodes I found appealing.
The presence of the sinister Nazi top agent, Wotan, was genuinely eerie, and there was even a scene that gave me David Lynch vibes.
Now, we’ll need to discuss the feasibility of the central plot, but on the whole, I found the episode highly enjoyable.
What are your thoughts?
Nirajan: I share your enthusiasm for this episode! It’s been a while since an episode didn’t feel drawn out, and the storyline unfolded at an exhilarating and rapid tempo.
I must admit, I couldn’t help but geek out a bit when Wonder Woman threw her tiara like a boomerang. I wasn’t certain if the show would incorporate that, and I genuinely cheered when it happened. I guess I’m a bit of a nerd.
Regarding Wotan and the Lynchian vibes, I’ll gladly share my perspective. At first, I didn’t notice them either, but upon reflection, perhaps I’ll be able to pinpoint them.
Muskan: Agreed! I think that was one of the reasons why I liked it–the narrative was good and well-structured.
I was SO EXCITED when she used her tiara, too! She hadn’t yet, right?
The Lynchian vibes were derived only from the scene when Wotan’s plastic-surgery-enhanced (SO CREEPY) pair of Nazis were made to look like the dude in charge of the money printing and his girlfriend.
Just when they were all looking at each other, coupled with being in the diner, just screamed Lynch to me.
I thought Wotan was interesting–I mean, he was by no means a complex villain (I won’t get into lady villains again; we all know my stance)–but he seemed more evil than a lot of them we get and almost like he could potentially beat Wonder Woman.
And that weird eye thing the two of them kept sharing with the noise, so weird and creepy.
Nirajan: No, I don’t think Wonder Woman had used her tiara like that before. And we got to witness four twirls in this episode! Four! You must have been toasting to that. 😉
I understand what you mean. I didn’t pick up on it initially, but I can totally see it now, especially in that diner scene.
I found it quite amusing how the episode played with narrative in-jokes by involving plastic surgery-enhanced doubles (and Wontan’s penchant for disguises) in the theft of the plates for two dollar bills, a subtle nod to the phrase “Phony as a two dollar bill.”
It all had that comic book flavor, but it wasn’t overloaded with the “and this and a little of that and then this!” approach we saw in last week’s episode with the earthquakes, plague, and atomic reactor.
The subtlety and the sinister aspect, as you’ve noted, contributed to that noir vibe.
True, Wotan wasn’t a very complex character, but like Fausta, I think his strength lay in his straightforward approach.
While others have elaborate gimmicks or suffer from excessive arrogance, Wotan executes his plan flawlessly.
If it weren’t for Replacement Miller’s toothache and his steel filling (I loved that a dentist ultimately unraveled the whole plot), he likely would’ve successfully carried out his plan.
Speaking of the plan’s plausibility, what are your thoughts?
Muskan: So many twirls, indeed! Cheers all around!
The subtlety really worked in its favor. Your comparison of Wotan to Fausta is spot on—most of the villains we’ve encountered since Fausta have tended to overcomplicate their plans.
This made me contemplate the plausibility of the plan and its logistics more than in any other episode. It felt like it could actually happen, unlike everything else that’s often blatantly unrealistic.
The scene with the dentist was a great touch! Once again, a small, subtle element added to the intrigue.
Now, let’s shift our focus to Wonder Woman and Steve. Their relationship seems to be taking on a more romantic tone as we progress, and in this episode, it even seems like they went on a “date.” What are your thoughts on that aspect?
Nirajan: It did seem like they went on a bit of a date! (And let’s not forget her affectionate gesture of caressing Steve’s hair while he slept!) I was delighted to see Diana dressed in her formal, diplomatic representative attire for the tour.
Generally, it was fine in that regard, though I found her subtle attempts to guide him toward the potential plot’s conclusion a bit puzzling. I couldn’t quite grasp the motivation behind it.
On the other hand, Steve tends to downplay his accomplishments in his report about the incident, highlighting Wonder Woman’s contributions. What are your thoughts on that?
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Muskan: She even had a special cape for the occasion! You’re right, she does guide Steve like that in almost every episode, so it didn’t come as a surprise.
I was equally pleased that Steve highlighted Wonder Woman instead of himself. It was about time. I do wonder if Wotan recognizing Wonder Woman’s feelings for Steve might become a plot point later in the season, potentially used against her.
And yes, it did appear as if Etta recognized that Diana had a crush on Steve, didn’t it?
Nirajan: I did not pick up on Etta sensing an attraction to Steve…Elaborate?
Muskan: Right at the start of the episode, as they were walking before Wotan took their picture, Etta made a passing comment that seemed like an acknowledgment of Diana’s feelings for Steve.
When they were discussing Steve’s beach fight, Etta mentioned something like, “You would have loved that,” and her tone made it seem like she had noticed Diana’s occasional glances at Steve.
Nirajan: It does appear that Etta is quite perceptive, although I’m surprised she picked up on it, given that it wasn’t related to food or money. How did you feel about it being called out like that?
I don’t mind it, and it at least provides Etta and Diana with something other than work to talk about, even if it’s all about how hunky Steve is.
How did you feel about the brief tribute Steve paid to Wonder Woman at the end of the episode? “She is a wonder. Strong and fearless, yet compassionate. She embodies all the virtues of femininity without any of the vices.”
Muskan: Absolutely, I’m glad that Etta picked up on it. It adds depth to her character beyond her usual role as the comic relief focused on food and money.
Calling it out was the right move, and not having Etta notice would have been a disservice to the character.
I completely agree that it’s refreshing to see Etta and Diana share something outside of the office, even if it’s all about Steve.
I also took note of that quote while watching. It was intriguing, but I share your curiosity about what he meant by “vices.”
It’s a bit unsettling to think about what Steve might consider the vices of femininity. What are your thoughts on that aspect?
Nirajan: Hah, that’s exactly what struck me! “Vices, Steve?” I couldn’t help but wonder. “What vices could you possibly mean? Maybe you should move in with Wonder Woman first before claiming she’s free of feminine vices.
Perhaps she leaves magazines all over the place? Or is her cooking dreadful? Or she won’t let you listen to the game on the radio and insists you do lawn work instead? Does she cry uncontrollably during that time of the month, and you hide out at the bar for a few days?”
It felt like a strangely tacked-on notion meant to emphasize how wonderful Wonder Woman is, but it came across as odd, especially following a) the discussion about Wonder Woman in his report and b) the complimentary things he had just said.
Muskan: Nirajan, you’ve hit the nail on the head. This is absolutely perfect and on point.
It did come off as odd and strangely appended, but well, Steve can be quite oblivious.
Perhaps he didn’t even realize how problematic it sounded after all the nice things he had just said. Maybe he could use some sort of feminist training to be more aware.
Nirajan: I believe Wonder Woman’s mere presence in Steve’s life is intended to serve as his feminism training, but sometimes I wish Diana would figuratively whack him on the nose with a newspaper when he makes that statement.
It’s a bit of a tangent, but it’s one reason I often prefer Diana without a secret identity to worry about. It allows her to be herself, the Amazon she was raised to be, rather than a meek, mild-mannered Diana Prince.
Unlike the dual identities of Batman/Bruce Wayne, Clark Kent/Superman, and Peter Parker/Spider-Man, Diana is Wonder Woman, and Wonder Woman is Diana.
There’s no need for a mask or a distinction between the two. Sorry, I got carried away there.
Muskan: I completely agree with that. So, why do you think she even has a secret identity? What’s the purpose of having it? And is this always the case in the comics?
Nirajan: From a narrative perspective, the secret identity allows her to actively engage in the plot rather than being summoned into it, like a Batphone call.
It also provides a way for her to learn about man’s world firsthand: Diana Prince is treated differently than Wonder Woman, shedding light on the dynamics of man’s world.
However, I can’t say the show always effectively challenges this dynamic. Diana’s charming smile at the end of each episode doesn’t always come across as a commentary on the quirks of man’s world.
As for her secret identity in the comics, it comes and goes. Most of the time, she has one, but I prefer the period when she operated as an ambassador for Paradise Island (roughly from the late ’80s to the mid-’00s) without a secret identity.
Strangely, she found the lack of a secret identity to be a burden after a major crisis (as DC Comics is all about crises), prompting her to adopt a Diana Prince alter ego once again.
Currently, in her own comic book, she doesn’t have a secret identity, but she’s experimenting with one in the Justice League book.
Muskan: Absolutely, it seems like it doesn’t really challenge the aspects of the “silly man’s world,” especially with those endearing smiles.
An ambassador for Paradise Island? Wow, that sounds fascinating. Does it delve into politics?
Nirajan: Yes, it does at times. It’s understandable, given that Paradise Island doesn’t always have the best relations with the outside world. It’s somewhat like Aquaman and Atlantis dealing with the surface world.
As a friendly reminder, next week is the two-parter “Judgement from Outer Space.” We’ll discuss the pair of episodes in a single entry, like we did with “The Feminum Mystique.”