“Want to know the best thing about a box of Cracker Jacks? The secret surprise inside.” Lucien is rather pleased, as he looks into the trunk of the car, which Milo and Stu have returned to his garage. Lying uncomfortably, side by side, are Emma Frost and Troy Killkelly. Now it’s official, thinks Emma; she’s met someone more evil than her father. They are removed from the confines of the vehicle at gunpoint. Lucien, the crime boss, asks them to call it a trust issue, but he suspected Troy and his girlfriend might try to skip town. He put a tail on them to prevent them from scampering away, like cockroaches. He wants to know where his five thousand dollars is.
After a failed evening at the casino, Troy doesn’t have the money. He needs more time but Lucien is unwilling to provide him with any. He tells Milo to fetch the sheet and Troy’s predicament has him quaking with fear. Thinking quickly and in desperation, he tells Lucien that he can get the money; more money than he ever imagined. Lucien asks Stu to hold on and asks how exactly. Emma looks straight at Troy and says, “Troy - don’t!” Her quiet plea has no effect and Troy turns to Lucien and informs him that Emma’s dad is a guy named Winston Frost. He’s loaded.
Lucien strokes his goatee and tells Emma to stand up, though he calls her ‘gams,’ after her shapely legs. He holds her by the shoulder and runs a finger through her hair, and asks her if this is true. Emma is creeped out by him but reluctantly replies that it is. Lucien smiles and asks why, if she’s so rich, she’s hanging out with a loser like Troy. More importantly, why didn’t she just get the money he owed from her old man? Emma replies that she and her father aren’t exactly on speaking terms. Lucien loses patience quickly and asks why then are they having this conversation, and calls for Stu to continue.
Troy once again steps in and tries a different tact. He asks Lucien, if Emma and her dad were on good terms; say, she just asked him for the cash up front. How much does he think he’d give her? Lucien asks what Troy thinks he is; an accountant? Troy explains that he figures it’d be a couple of thousand dollars, right? Beans! Hardly worth asking for. Emma is unsure where all this is leading. Troy continues to explain that if they pretend to hold Emma hostage, just pretend, then they could send Winston a ransom note and get hundreds of thousands of dollars for her ‘safe’ return. They could split that amongst themselves. Lucien would get more money than he dreamed of, he would be square with him and Emma gets back at her dad. Everybody wins!
Lucien doesn’t take long to persuade himself that this idea has legs. He replies that they could use a video instead of a note. Troy puts his thumb up, his other hand being on Lucien’s shoulder and says he’s in charge. Emma says they should hang on a second and Stu appears to be in agreement. This plan is pretty sketchy. Milo agrees with his friend. Stu continues to point out that they’re in the loan shark business. Now they’re supposed to be blackmailers and kidnappers all of a sudden? Lucien turns on them angrily. He reminds them that they’re whatever he tells them to be. If they got paid to think, they wouldn’t get five cents between them.
While they argue, Emma has a quiet word with Troy. She asks him if he’s lost his mind. He says that, right now, this plan is the only thing keeping them alive. If it works, she could use her portion of the money to get her brother out of that mental institution her father put him in. This surprises Emma but she thinks that he may be right.
Lucien has brought in another colleague to assist in this new development. Petal, a woman with short, pink hair taps away at her laptop, as Milo and Stu sit nearby, superfluous at this point. She tells Lucien that she’s run ‘Daddy Warbucks’ name through every search engine on the web and it seems like ‘Little awestruck Annie’ there is telling the truth. Her pops is as rich as they come. He’s worth close to seventy-five million dollars, and that’s strictly in assets. Lucien runs his finger down her hairline and says that he’s not interested in his assets; only hers, looking over at Emma. Emma replies, “How crude.”
Lucien tries to make light of the whole situation. He wants to apologize for the way he had Milo and Stu behave earlier. Now that they’re all partners, he wants to kiss and make up. Emma thinks that she’d prefer to bury the hatchet - in his back. Troy appears ready to dissuade him from getting physically close to Emma before Stu mentions that Bazz has arrived. The CCTV shows Bazz has, indeed, arrived.
(thirty minutes later)
Bazz, it turns out, is a cameraman. He has his camera set up on a tripod facing a small metal cage. Bazz isn’t impressed with the scene and says that, with those bars and that background, they’re simply gonna scream ‘plaid.’ Emma asks Troy what the cage is for and he swears it wasn’t his idea. “A cage, Troy,” she queries. Troy tells her that Lucien says it’s the surest way to prove to her dad that she is really in danger. Bazz, meanwhile, comes across the sheet that Stu had earlier. It’s perfect; just what he was looking for, and he asks Lucien’s goons to help him with creating a backdrop.
Emma continues to verbalize her uncertainty at the whole scenario. She already is in danger and doesn’t need a cage to prove it. Troy knows but, if they play their cards right, they can get through this alive, together. Lucien and Petal return having popped out for pizza and Lucien asks Bazz if they’re ready. He says they can start taping any time. Just say the word. Lucien asks Troy if their ‘star’ is ready to get in the cage. Reluctantly, Emma says yes.
Lucien is eager to begin and asks Milo to stop stuffing his face and grab the handcuffs. He assures Emma that they’re just for effect and she shouldn’t get any ideas. Troy says he’ll put them on himself and again tells Emma that they’re gonna get through this.
(Frost Technologies, Boston)
Winston Frost is at his desk, with Adrienne sat on the edge of it, checking her nails. Looking at his laptop, he reminds Adrienne that, no matter what she does, he will find out if she’s been embezzling company funds…again. Adrienne smiles and asks how many times she has to tell him that she’s changed? At that moment, one of Frost’s employees appears with a package. Adrienne takes it and asks her father what it is. Winston doesn’t know and doesn’t really care either. She opens it, remarking on the creative packaging and discovers a videocassette inside. It is labelled ‘Dil-Emma.’ This piques Winston’s interest.
Before long, they are watching the tape. The camera pans out from the pair of handcuffs locking Emma’s wrists together and shows her sitting in the cage, looking as miserable as sin. “Our hos-tage has a first name. It’s E-M-M-and-A. Our hos-tage has a se-cond name. Well, you get the message, right, Winston. Cool.” The voice continues to say that, as he can see, they have his daughter, Emma, here. In a Hollywood nutshell, it’s going to cost a quarter mil for her safe return. It calls for him to leave a written response in the P.O. Box marked on the envelope. This way, they’ll know that he’s willing to play long. He has two hours. If they don’t hear from him, they’ll take that as a cue to execute her. Call the police and she gets hung.
Winston is stone-faced, as he turns off the television. Adrienne glances over at him and he asks if this is her doing. The question surprises her and she vehemently denies it. He says that, if she isn’t involved in it, then he has to move immediately. Adrienne can’t believe he’s taking this seriously. She points out that it could be a stunt, staged by Emma and her friends. How do they know it’s for real? He asks how they could know that it’s not. “Call it a hunch,” she replies. Winston says that these people have given him two hours to respond to a very serious threat; he doesn’t have time for a hunch. Adrienne clearly knows more than she is able to let on.
(three hours later)
Milo and Stu deliver Winston’s response, contained in an envelope. It’s kinda heavy and they think that he sent back the tape. Lucien takes it out but notices it’s a different tape, labelled ‘Just for you.’ He inserts it into the video player and turns on the television. Winston’s face appears on screen. He greets whomever he is speaking to. They have his attention and he applauds them. To have managed a minor miracle where so many others have failed, well, bully for them. He followed their instructions and responded within the time allotted. He also refrained from contacting the police, as per their order. But really, he continues, two hundred and fifty thousand dollars? Do they really think his daughter is worth that much?
He says that it is the same daughter who turned her back on him and told him his money wasn’t good enough. Well, they want to know how much he thinks she is worth. The camera focuses on his lips. “Nothing!” Everyone, especially Troy, appears shocked at Winston’s response. Winston adds that, as for hanging her, he hopes they brought a long enough noose, because she’s already dead to him. Listening to this is particularly painful for Emma.
(WBOX News Broadcast Studio, Boston)
Producer Samuel J. Sampat is on the phone, relaxing behind his desk when Adrienne opens his door and enters. He is speaking with his mother and cuts the call short, as Adrienne tells him that she’s the best friend he has in the world right now. He asks what now. Why now? Not another publicity stunt? She leans over his desk and holds up the original tape produced by Bazz. With a glint in her eye, she says “No Sammy, jucier.”