THE GILLIGAN'S ISLAND CONSPIRACY -- REVEALED!
GILLIGAN'S ISLAND. We've all seen it, even though most of us hate to admit it. By setting its inane shenanigans on an island peopled by stranded archetypes, it plugs into mythic resonances that cannot avoid how compelling they are even as they wallow in the Just Plain Stupid.
But why are we so fascinated? Can it be that part of recognizes the story behind the story? Can it be that part of us knows it's not just the idiotic sitcom it seems to be -- but a fiendishly plotted crime drama so subtle in execution that we don't see the evil conspiracy at play? Operate from that opening assumption, and the rest falls into place almost immediately.
The clues are so obvious a child can see them -- and, in fact, many children have; they just haven't recognized what they were seeing as clues. Take the millionaire, Thurston Howell III. We know he's a spoiled, selfish aristocrat, with nothing but disdain for his social inferiors, and an innate belief that his fortune entitles him to everything. He maintains this stance even while stranded on an uncharted desert isle without a single luxury. One of the glaring questions that's bothered us for a quarter of a century is: Since the snobbish Howell can presumably afford to buy his own yachts, why would he be interested in a "three-hour tour" aboard a dinky little charter vessel owned by two ex-navy men? And why would he take along a briefcase filled with thousand dollar bills, when one of the perks associated with great wealth is unlimited credit?
Up until now, we responded to such questions by saying that the show was Just Plain Stupid. But let's assume that creator Sherwood Shwartz knew what he was doing, and that there's a believable explanation for Howell's insane behavior.
Hold that thought, while we move on to the next seeming inconsistency.
What was this supposed to be a three hour tour of? Certainly not the local reefs, since there's no scuba equipment aboard. And certainly not the local shoreline, since when the weather started getting rough, the tiny ship was not only unable to make it to port, but was blown outside Hawaiian territory. It must have been an unusual distance from shore to begin with. And still, no normal tourist site, let alone one miles from shore, can possibly explain the amount of money Howell brought with him. Especially since there aren't any aquatic shopping malls anywhere near Honolulu. But three hours provides just enough time for a boat the MINNOW's size, travelling at top speed, to travel a discreet distance from shore, rendezvous with another ship, collect a highly valuable cargo in return for a large amount of cash, and return as if nothing unusual had happened.
The inevitable conclusion: Howell chartered the MINNOW to make a multi-million-dollar drug buy. He'd paid off Gilligan, and the Skipper too. He'd brought along the necessary cash. He even brought along an extensive wardrobe, just in case the coast guard showed up and he had to leave U.S. territory in a hurry. And just to make sure he wasn't ripped off, he brought along an expert to evaluate the merchandise he was getting.
Who was that expert? Well, look that things from Howell's point of view. Where could he find a man with the capabilities he needed? Obviously, the criminal community. Somebody known to be involved in illegal drug trafficking. Somebody who might have already had a criminal record. Somebody whose obvious intelligence and highfalutin vocabulary would have stood out like a sore thumb in prison. Somebody who would have been given the kind of nickname such convicts are usually given in prison. The Professor.
There's plenty of other evidence to support this theory. Fans of GILLIGANS ISLAND trivia know that the enigmatic and vaguely sinister Professor claimed to have held doctorates in several disciplines, though anybody even marginally literate in science can recognize several of his learned pronouncements as the nonsense they are. It's easy to see that he must have been lying about who he was and why he was aboard. Moreover, he not only brought along a surprising number of test tubes and beakers for a guy on a three hour tour, but he also after the shipwreck turned out to be incredibly adept at synthesizing valuable chemicals from the local flora.
There's more. At least one of the passengers aboard the MINNOW must have been an innocent bystander with no connection to Howell's planned drug deal. We know this because Howell and The Professor stuck by their cover stories, in the face of all available evidence, for years after the MINNOW was shipwrecked. But who?
It couldn't have been Mrs. Howell, since she, like her husband, came with enough clothes for an emergency flight to South America. She had to have known everything that was going on. Indeed, if we discount her "dumb rich bitch" act as the pose it was, we're forced to recognize her as a conniving dragon lady in the tradition of Imelda Marcos.
And it couldn't have been Ginger Grant either, since she also brought her entire wardrobe, and, as a big-time movie star, seemed to have no other convincing reasons for being being aboard. Besides, her Hollywood drug connections, a natural gold mine for Howell, provide strong circumstancial evidence for her membership with the conspiracy.
And we already know it couldn't have been either Gilligan or the Skipper. Because they were running the boat, they had to know what Howell was planning.
Therefore, by process of elimination, the innocent party must have been Mary Anne, a Kansas farm girl who had won a Hawaiian vacation in a contest. Howell and his cronies must have let her on board because failing to do so would have raised undue suspicion among harbor authorities; they probably intended to dump her body at sea. But (and this is where the storyline's real brilliance begins) they failed to see that she wasn't who she was pretending to be, either! She couldn't have been! Vacations given away in contests are always for two people, not one! And Mary Anne, who claimed to have a fiance back home, had no real reason to be travelling alone. Therefore, she must have been maintaining a false identity as well --- and since everybody else on the MINNOW was frantically putting on a show for her benefit, she must have been putting on a show for theirs.
The conclusion is inescapable. Mary Anne was a Fed. If the series was a movie made in the 1980s, she would have been played by Debra Winger. But it wasn't, and her very presence on the boat, presumably wearing a wire, tells us that Howell's scheme was doomed to failure before it even began. The governemnt already knew what he was planning. It had managed to place an agent right next to him. And she wouldn't have been there unless her superiors were within surveillance range, poised to bail her out the second she'd gathered all the evidence they needed.
The intrigue continued with the shipwreck itself. Everybody knows that the island was visited way too often, by too many people from too many walks of life, to be truly uncharted. And vital supplies washed up on the beach just about every week --- which, as everybody also knows, is way too often to be a coincidence. And people capable of building huts and bicycles out of bamboo should certainly be capable of fixing a three-foot tear in a boat. Once again, everybody responds to such inconsistencies by saying the show was Just Plain Stupid. But since we now know that this is not the case, there has to be an alternate explanation. And there is.
Assume that the shipwreck, as depicted, was real -- an actual complication screwing up Howell's plans. Also assume the radio transmitter did work. Assume that Howell and his cronies found out from one of his agents on shore what we already know --- that the federal government was after them for conspiracy to commit a felony. How would they react? Simple. They'd talk it over when Mary Anne was not around, and agree to wait out the statute of limitations on the island...pretending to be stranded, for her benefit. They'd surreptitiously radio away for any supplies they really needed, arranging for it to "wash up on shore" during the night. And they'd work hard to ruin any genuine opportunity for "rescue". Any visitor who couldn't be bribed into silence by Howell would be subtly manuevered into a situations where he would prefer to leave the castaways alone. And any escape routes that seemed inevitable would be sabotaged by any means possible, by the castaways themselves, even if that meant they had to act like a bunch of ninnies. And since Howell must have handsomely rewarded any conspirator who successfully foiled an inevitable "rescue", we're forced to conclude that the most brilliant, cunning, criminal genius of them all was...yes...Gilligan himself.
Meanwhile, poor Mary Anne's life would depend upon successfully hiding her own secret from the den of thieves surrounding her. For years on end, she'd have to stay in character, baking literally hundreds of coconut cream pies as she pretended to be fooled by the desperate playacting of six ruthless drug mugglers.
Watch the show with this knowledge in mind, and you'll recognize it for what it actually is: the single subtlest mystery and suspense series in the history of television. But unfortunately, no last episode, where Mary Anne would succeed in arranging a "rescue" despite all of the mastermind Howell's attempts to stop her, was ever filmed, so the show keeps its undeserved reputation for being just plain stupid. And lovers of great television mourn.
|Home, Bio, Gallery, Fiction, Movies, New, Random, Links, Contact||
© Adam-Troy Castro. All rights reserved.