Recap / The Wild Wild West S 1 E 12 The Night Of The Human Trigger

Various towns in Wyoming are being devastated by earthquakes; even more unusually, most of them received a warning beforehand. West and Gordon are tapped to find out who is behind all this. An unsuccessful attempt on their lives leads them to the lair of rogue geologist Professor Cadwallader. The professor has discovered a way to cause earthquakes and, resentful over his treatment at the hands of rich local landowners, plans to blackmail the government into giving him the entire state.

Tropes present in this episode:

  • Bathtub Scene: Faith goes into the next room to take a bath while her brothers dispose of Jim and Artie. It doesn't take long before the fight spills over into that room.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Professor Cadwallader's calculations failed in the case of Fordís Junction. He dismisses the incident as a simple mistake caused by inexperience. In the end, this tendency of his toward miscalculation is what actually saves the day.
  • Deus ex Machina: The only reason that Jim, Artie, Faith, Professor Cadwallader and a lot of people in Sawtooth don't end up dead at the end is because the professor happened to make an error in his calculations. The agents did everything they could to avert the tragedy and failed.
  • Dumb Muscle: The Cadwallader brothers. Their father doesn't even permit them to talk while carrying out an assignment for fear it will muddle their brains (unlike most episodes, this has a fairly high quotient of comedy - though not to the extent of the reunions or that movie).
  • E = MC Hammer: At episode's end the professor is writing on a blackboard, trying to figure out where he went wrong. There are a few meaningless equations scrawled about... plus E=mc2. All this occurs a few years before Albert Einstein was even born. At least the writers avoid the two standard mathematical errors and instead have Artie point out that one equation is based on a false assumption.
  • Idiot Ball: This seems to bounce briefly into Artie's court at the end. Unless you're very sure that the mad scientist is going to be locked away forever, it's not terribly smart to point out exactly where he made his error and then give him the tools to work on correcting it...
  • Mad Scientist: Professor Cadwallader, complete with the declaration that "they thought I was mad."
  • Soft Glass: Jim and Artie make their escape from the Cadwallader brothers through a window apparently made of this, with Artie going first. Neither agent is very much inconvenienced.
  • Take a Third Option: For the act two Commercial Break Cliffhanger the two brothers give Jim what they think is an Impossible Choice - they have him trapped between them, and he can shoot one but the other one will take him down. After the commercial break, Jim plugs them both simultaneously with his regular gun and his Derringer.
  • They Called Me Mad!: Yes. Yes, they did. And they were 100% correct, professor.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The Cadwallader brothers. Ironically, the only time they do something clever (see Take a Third Option) it doesn't work out for them.