Of Freedom and Pleasure
We begin episode 3 of The Hardy Boys with Joe and Frank contemplating exactly where Ern is. Given the crazy Tall Man that’s after him, Joe believes he may well have skipped town. For now this remains on the backburner as Frank heads to Wilt’s and begins working, complete with an apron and hat.
Back home, Joe finds a rogue screw in the hallway and realizes it’s from a vent nearby. Hidden within is that golden idol we’ve seen before. Now things are starting to get interesting.
Back at the shop, Callie and Chet arrive and find Frank struggling with the coffee machine. Eventually he decides to show them what he’s found with the book, including the ripped out chapters surrounding the “Strange Tales Of Bridgeport.” This seems to hint toward the carnival, prompting the pair to excitedly ask him to tag along and go.
Frank’s not the only one going though. Joe continues to play with the idol in his room but Aunt Trudy wants him to go the carnival. As she calls him from the other side of the room, Joe smashes the idol and uncovers a strange artifact inside.
Before he goes, he meticulously glues the idol together but Trudy bursts in and sees it. Thankfully, Joe brushes it off as an art project he’s working on. When they eventually leave to go to the carnival, our fugitive breaks in to capture the idol for himself.
At the carnival, Joe teams up with Biff and wins at coin toss. With the artifact in his pocket, could this be the key to Joe’s good luck and fortune?
Elsewhere, Frank follows his clues to a fortune teller called Anya Kowalsky. Inside her tent, Frank is told to cut the deck to get a reading. The teller explains about the cards being part of our “state of being” and tells Frank to draw 3 cards.
He does so, and immediately draws the Death card. This represents change and metamorphosis in his life. The second, the world inverted, means a lack of closure and need for answers. The third card is the “two of cups” which means a connection and a new partnership. Thankfully it’s not upside down. If it was, that would symbolize total chaos.
Eventually Frank asks the woman outright about the “Tragedy of Demon Paw” that she wrote. The teller explains that the ground is cursed and if they’re not careful, they will be too. Having heard enough, Frank leaves but on the way out, sees a theatrical reenactment of this very tale taking place in a tent nearby. Within this story, a demon was allegedly released after miners excavated the area.
This gets Frank thinking, as he mulls over the story and what happened. He catches up with Callie and Chet, telling them about the miners and how the one in charge must have been related to Anya Kowalsky, specifically to her Father. Given how close to home this story is, it may explain why she didn’t want to mention anything before.
Frank heads back to see Anya with this new knowledge and apologizes to her for what happened. He explains that he’s recently lost his Mother and misses her every day. Eventually she decides to hear him out and reveal the truth.
It turns out the miners found a box and when they opened it, the tunnel collapsed and the ground shook. Apparently this miner saw something truly evil and it apparently cursed the town – and still curses it to this very day.
Back at Trudy’s house, our fugitive arrives to find the idol but the Tall Man gets there first. He uses a strange tool to analyze it before eventually turning, grabbing a picture of the two brothers, and leaving the house. He heads straight for the carnival too, where Joe happens to be on quite the winning streak.
Biff tells Joe that the Tall Man is after him and the pair decide to split up to try and lose him. Joe’s good luck continues and he heads into the Wacky Shack – a makeshift funhouse – to try and get away form the Tall Man. Well, he follows Joe in and grabs him.
Thankfully, Joe manages to squirm free thanks to some help from our fugitive. This skirmish ends with shocking consequences – quite literally – as he shocks the Tall Man and shuts off power across the carnival as a result. At least for a little while.
Frank and Joe finally catch up at the carnival after their individual endeavours and find the Tall Man passed out on the ground. Realizing it’s the same guy as that from the hotel, Chet realizes that the carnival is cursed and that “it’s happening again.”
While paramedics arrive to take care of the Tall Man, Joe heads back home where he reveals the truth about what the Tall Man is after and believes this could be linked to his good luck at the carnival.
The familiar symbol on the artifact happens to be the same as that from the box and Laura’s sketch too, clearly showing that everything is connected. As we cut across to Anya at the carnival, she finds the two of cups card on the floor upside down – out of balance.
The Episode Review
With the entire episode revolving around this carnival, there’s a nice ebb and flow to this 40 minute slice of drama. Allowing Frank and Joe to have individual plot lines is a smart move and it’s helped along by a decent pace and performances from all involved.
All of this builds up to a big reveal at The end about the artifact and what their Mother has been working on. Clearly it’s something big but without all the puzzle pieces, this remains a mystery for now.
The tone of this series is very clearly geared toward families and kids, backed up by the corny and oftentimes rushed characterization – like the moments between Callie and Frank alone at the carnival which feel contrived and rushed.
Still, it’s a very easy show to watch and I’d imagine this isn’t the last we’ll see of the Tall Man either. And what of Fenton’s quest? Hopefully we get some answers sooner rather than later but for now, The Hardy Boys leaves plenty of questions hanging over this one.