Hoping to tame the Hulk, David works at a racetrack and seeks out a trainer who has successfully used a vitamin formula to calm a troubled horse.
In the previous episode of The Incredible Hulk we had the show tackle the issue of the mentally challenged, to ill effect, so you can imagine my nervousness when I realized this next episode would portray David (Bill Bixby) going to a Native American to find an herbal cure for his Hulkism. Attitudes towards Native Americans have changed drastically in 30 years, and I was very worried that here we’d see stereotypical headdresses, peace pipes, sweat lodges, and more. After all, in Married the writers were happy to portray cancer as Indians slaughtering pilgrims.
I was half right. Rainbow’s End does have several moments of poor taste, but, like Ricky, was not as bad as I’d feared. I will explain why throughout the review.
The episode begins with David relaxing with a beer in a random bar. It’s good to know that despite being on the run from the law and the media, having no reliable source of income, and having a giant green rage monster inside of him, David can still enjoy the finer things in life like a cold beer on tap. I do find it amusing though that David is a paying customer at the bar when most episodes would show him working at the bar.
As an aside, have you ever seen such a clean, well dressed homeless man in your life as David Banner? While he may sometimes have to scrounge for money for a pay phone he can always pay for his pilfered clothing, cab rides, and beers.
The television in the bar is turned to news of horse races, featuring a story on Rainbow’s End, “the meanest horse in racing” who has now been tamed by Thomas Logan (guest star Ned Romero). As pharmaceutical solutions such as tranquilizers would bar Rainbow’s End from racing, Logan was able to concoct a natural alternative using vitamins and herbs.
Poor Indian Stereotype #1: We find out about this partially from a newspaper headline which reads “Indian Hocus-Pocus Rocks Racing World.” Accompanying the headline is a picture of Thomas Logan, a Native American, wearing a feather warbonnet. As this is our first view of Logan I did fear David would Hulk-out in a sweat lodge before the night was through.
David wonders if Logan’s herbal cure can help him repress or control the Hulk (Lou Ferrigno), so he hops a bus and heads to the race track.
Poor Indian Stereotype #2: While on the bus David is reading the newspaper article about Logan. The boorish man seated next to David takes this as an opportunity for a conversation with such lines as “That Thomas Logan sounds like one crazy Indian!” and accuses Logan of giving the horse “firewater”. The man doesn’t trust Logan’s medicine, saying “the chief doesn’t know his herbs from his elbow” and that he’s betting against Rainbow’s End in the upcoming race.
Now while I list that as “Poor Indian Stereotype #2” it was the first time this episode that I wondered if the writers were trying to dispel Native American stereotypes. The man seated next to David is obnoxious, but I cannot tell if he’s supposed to be, thus showing the loathsome nature of those who view Native Americans in such a way, or if I am reading this character as repellent because of what he’s saying and the writers considered him just a neutral character. Even after the episode ended I am not sure.
Despite the man’s views, David decides he will bet on Logan, continuing on to the race track for the cure. He arrives and is somehow able to walk right into the closed racetrack to see Rainbow’s End doing practice runs on the track watched over by Logan.
Happily, Logan is dressed like an ordinary person with no moccasins, no headdress, no face paint. He also speaks proper English. Whew, crisis averted! After the picture on the front of the paper I expected the writers to portray Logan as a Tonto-like character, and I’m happy to see a more realistic portrayal. Logan even overtly confronts Native American stereotypes.
But for that step forward, there is also a step back. Logan is an isolationist, not trusting David thinking he is a reporter trying to sneak out word about Logan’s methods. More, it cannot be denied that while Logan is acting like a normal person the writers have cast him in the role of “medicine man”, using a special blend of seven herbs and spices to create a medicine that science cannot.
Logan tries to send David away, but their conversation is interrupted when Rainbow’s End starts to buck and rear, throwing the jockey. A woman tries to grab the horse’s reins and is knocked down. David puts himself in front of the girl and calms the horse. I think. Obviously Bixby was a bit nervous being around a bucking horse, so all we see is the woman on the ground and some looped lines of Bixby saying “whoa, whoa, calm down” and then we cut to David petting a perfectly calm horse.
The owners of Rainbow’s End, Jimmy Kelly and Laurence Henry Carroll the third (guest star Craig Stevens, star of Peter Gunn), rush out and thank David for his quick work. The girl David saved was Kim Kelly, Jimmy’s daughter an an aspiring jockey herself. For saving the girl Laurence offers David a job at the stables, which David happily accepts. No discussion is had about David’s duties or pay, but a mention is made of him shoveling hay.
Of course, David took the job as a way to stay near Logan, and keeps asking Logan about the medicine given to Rainbow’s End. Logan is still worried, asking David “Are you sure you’re not a reporter?” David laughs and says “Honest,” and Logan replies that if David says “honest injun’ I’ll deck you.” Again I wonder if the writers are trying to put forth a positive, realistic view of Native Americans–one where they don’t appreciate the stereotypical media view of their culture. Then again if that’s the case why did Logan agree to pose with the headdress?
Logan’s fears about David are quickly put to rest when David realizes why Rainbow’s End went wild at the track. It wasn’t that Rainbow’s End was just a bad horse or that Logan’s medicine didn’t work, someone replaced the saddle oil with acid. When the acid mixed with the horse’s sweat from running it caused so much pain that the horse reacted wildly. It’s a contrivance that makes about as much sense as the heart-attack potion in Final Round, but it clues us off that there is a saboteur at the racetrack.
Logan and David take the acid to Jimmy who seems unworried. When they say they want to alert Laurence, Jimmy snaps they’re “not to bother Mr. Carroll over a bad can of saddle oil.” Neither one bothers to point out it’s not bad saddle oil, it’s acid. Corrosive acid that someone intentionally burned a horse with.
David discovering the acid causes Logan to trust the newcomer and start to share details of the compound he uses to calm Rainbow’s End. After a time, David asks Logan if the compound has been used on a human. Saying he has hyperactivity followed by blackouts, David asks Logan to try it on him. Logan initially resists afraid of the risk, but David persists. Meanwhile, I wonder what the risk is of using herbs and vitamins on a human, but I don’t hang out at The Vitamin Shoppe.
The focus returns to the primary plot of who’s trying to hurt Rainbow’s End. At this point I know from his reaction to the acid that Jimmy is the villain, but I am hoping the writers are more clever than that. Perhaps he is just stupid and our red herring? No, I gave them too much credit, Jimmy burned the horse and has a lot more dirty tricks up his sleeve. We find out the entire back story on Jimmy, as told to David by Kim.
Jimmy developed a new radar device that will track horses as they race on the track (and kudos to the writers for being able to foresee that races would soon have computerized results). As Jimmy didn’t have much money he sold the patent to Carroll to fund the development. As Kim puts it, it was “fair and square.” But once Jimmy had a working prototype he became enraged, thinking he’d been swindled by the rich man. Jimmy wants the patent back but everyone, including Jimmy’s own daughter, thinks he should be grateful Laurence believed in the device enough to invest with it.
It’s an odd, convoluted story that I couldn’t quite follow. Laurence is shown as a kindly fellow, befitting of the actor who played good guy Peter Gunn. He does not come off as a harsh businessman with a “you made a deal, you have to live with it” ethic. More, Laurence only gets rich if Jimmy’s device works. Jimmy is close to perfecting it, but he hasn’t yet. There must be some financial incentive for Jimmy to continue his work. Even if he sold the entire patent to Laurence, either he must be a paid employee performing work-for-hire, or a business partner with some cut of the profits. I think the writers have no clue what words they’re putting in the character’s mouths. The writers aren’t contract lawyers and in the end it’s supposed to be “Jimmy thinks he’s getting a raw deal but he’s not.”
I’m also confused by the course of action Jimmy takes during this. Instead of sabotaging the sonar device, or refusing to work on it, he burns a horse with acid? I don’t see the direct link between Rainbow’s End’s and the sonar, but the rest of the episode will be Jimmy attempting to assassinate the horse.
Oddly, I believe Kim is telling David this story as some type of flirtation, as she then invites him to a dance being held that night. I suppose it’s like a team-building exercise, having all the track workers come together and dance. At the dance Jimmy blows up at Laurence shouting “Do you really think I’m going to stand around and watch you make millions off my invention?” and “you don’t just steal money from me and walk away.”
Jimmy storms off and David follows “to make sure he gets home okay.” But Jimmy doesn’t make it home okay–he goes and sets a major fire to Rainbow’s End’s barn.
David goes to save the horses, setting several of them free, but Rainbow’s End is too skittish and violent. David gets a leash on him but the horse bucks and kicks at David. They have made little progress when the fire causes structural damage to the barn, and a flaming beam falls on David.
Hulk-Out #1 Rainbow’s End is no match for the Hulk. Hulk grabs the reins, knocks aside some bails of hay, and punches through a wall to lead out the panicked steed. It’s a funny scene and, like Bixby before him, you can see Ferrigno break character a bit, dealing very gently with the horse. Seeing the workers coming, Hulk runs off with Rainbow’s End, and I wonder why he doesn’t just let the horse go. Sitting still with the horse Hulk begins to transform back into David while the worrkers extinguish the blaze. But one worker, Logan, was out looking for Rainbow and witnesses David’s metamorphosis. Now Logan is one of the small number of people who know David’s secret.
With the reverse transformation it’s another step backwards for the series as the bad eyebrows and green glow are also evident, but as the plot demands Logan see David transform I can forgive it this one time.
In most episodes after David transforms into the Hulk for the first time he is hounded by National Register reporter Jack McGee (Jack Colvin) and David has to continue running, but something always keeps him there just a while longer. But in the majority of episodes the Hulk was actually seen by bystanders who call the police or the media. That is what alerts Jack to the Hulk’s presence. In Rainbow’s End however Hulk rescued the horses and was only seen by Logan; everyone else was too fixated on the fire. No one is talking about a large green man, and no one was hurt. As such, I’m very confused in the next scene where David tries to leave, but Logan talks him into staying.
Poor Indian Stereotype #3: We also get a dropped reference to McGee, not in relation to the Hulk but to Rainbow and Logan’s miracle drug. Logan receives a call from the reporter, and Logan again says he doesn’t want to talk to the press. It ends with Logan calling McGee “Kemosabe” in a way that does not come off as ironic. More, McGee never struck me as especially bigoted or racist except against large, green men with a poor grasp of the English language.
That done, Logan and David look to using the drug as a cure for the Hulk. There is some truly great dialogue in here between Logan and David.
Logan: My grandfather’s tribe would have treated you like a god. If you could control it you’d have great power.
David: I don’t want that kind of power.
Logan: You posses a powerful force!
David: No, it possesses me! I can’t control it. Even in my sleep.
The two actors really sell this scene and it is a standout. The debate ends simply with Logan saying “We begin the treatments today.”
But before treatments can begin David tells Logan that Jimmy started the fire. Kim, working outside, overhears this and confronts her father. He doesn’t deny it, he just sits there with his face scrunched up like a five-year-old throwing a temper tantrum. It’s an astoundingly silly facial expression that doesn’t even change when Kim engages in some emotional blackmail, invoking her dead mother, saying she loves him. She says she’ll try to make things right with Mr. Carroll. I’m not sure how she can “make things right” for her father committing arson, attempting to kill Rainbow and half a dozen other horses, and generally being an ass. Despite how kindly Carroll has been so far I strongly suspect any reasonable person would respond to this information by calling the police.
But we have to wait a while to see what happens to Kimmy and Jimmy, as we see David and Logan try to cure the Hulk.
Poor Indian Stereotype #4: In this stereotype I have to fault Joe Harnell, the composer of the score for The Incredible Hulk. While I love Harnell’s title themes for Hulk, and in most episodes his score is perfect, sometimes he plays a scene wrong. This is one of those times. In montage form we see Logan make the formula for David. All the actions, all the things the actors are doing, are completely normal. But in scoring the scene Harnell took inspiration from the same Cowboy and Indians movies that were referenced in Married. The score is a slow, moody rendition of the Native American ceremonial music used in thousands of films and cartoons, filled with mystic overtones and wood instruments. While Logan is wearing jeans and working in a building, as far as Harnell’s score is concerned he might as well have the headdress on and be in a tepee. The music tells me Logan is a medicine man, while the script seems to mock those who hold such notions of Native Americans. I am disappointed in the lack of imagination the score shows, but I have to remember it was a different time and a television show on a tight schedule.
David drinks the liquid from a large stein. Will it calm him? Will it transform him? Will he get stoned? Will, as David jokes, he turn into a horse? Instead it seems to put him to sleep. This doesn’t surprise me as the drug has often been called a tranquilizer. I’ve never been entirely sure how it would cure David of the Hulk unless it just kept him so sedate that he’d never get angry again.
David goes to bed and has memories/visions of his second wedding, and his marriage to Caroline in the season opener. I’m pleasantly shocked to see these scenes. Not once since Married aired has David mentioned his second wife, and it’s nice to see Dr. Caroline Fields lives on in David’s memories. It even includes scenes of Caroline having her seizure, and the hurricane during which she died. That said, as David didn’t mention it this episode either, these scenes would be very confusing to someone who skipped the season opener, it’s trusting the audience to have seen it. I suspect the script just said “David has a nightmare” and, in editing, they decided to add these scenes to show the audience the dream. I also think they needed to stretch the episode out a couple more minutes as this goes on longer than it really needs to. Either way, a series with as little continuity as The Incredible Hulk maintains should not have this type of reference with no set-up.
In this scene Harnell proves himself once again. I may not have enjoyed the Native American score for Logan, but I love the score during this dream. It is a perfect mix of melodies and fear as the dream transitions from good times to bad.
David’s sleep gets more restless, he’s tossing and turning. Will this be the third time that a dream turns him into the Hulk? He shouts “Carol” in the half hulk voice in his dream, and wakes up…his eyes aren’t white. He’s not changing. It seems as if he may have found his cure.
But if he has, who will stop Jimmy? Kim’s talk must not have taken hold as the grumpy old inventor is oiling his rifle, with a sharpshooter’s scope on it. The next day is the race that will prove Jimmy’s device works, and Jimmy refuses to let that happen so he is going to shoot Rainbow’s End. And he’s practicing his aim by watching Rainbow’s End race on TV. I hate to tell him but the cameraman is already keeping the horse in the center of the screen so being able to keep the video in your crosshairs is not a sign of your ability to hit a moving target.
The next morning David tells Logan that he feels the best he has in a long time, calm but alert, and I’m wondering where I can score some of what David’s drinking. As the topic changes to the workplace drama David asks if Jimmy’s troubles will hurt Kim’s racing career. Logan says “not if she’s good. Which she is.”
She’ll have to prove how good she is, though, as Andy the jockey isn’t feeling well and David diagnoses that Andy sustained a concussion when he was thrown from Rainbow’s End during the acid incident. David says if he rides again he could be killed (though David fails to mention it would require another blow to the head, which seems unlikely). Not wanting to risk Andy’s life, kindly Laurence has Kim saddle up to ride Rainbow in the race.
Of course Kim’s dad Jimmy is going to shoot the horse, and may kill his own daughter by accident in the process! Oh the suspense.
Logan watches from the stands with Mr. Carroll. Jack McGee shows up to continue his investigative journalism into Logan’s potion. David watches in the standing-room-only area. Above them all Jimmy takes up position on the roof.
Much like the last episode we set up the race with lots of obvious stock footage showing a crowd far larger than the show’s budget can afford. We see close-ups of David standing in the bleachers with a few people around him but in wide shots it appears to be a sold out crowd.
But somehow in the chaos David is not looking at the race or at flirty Kim’s big moment, but at the roof. Maybe his Hulk-sense is tingling because while I see nothing he keeps staring at the roof. Finally Jimmy takes aim and David sees Jimmy with his scope. David tries to get to the roof working through the crowd, but the race is on and the very small crowd is refusing to step out of the way for David. He trips on someone’s foot, someone else steps on his hand, and then some real jerk pours hot coffee poured on David’s back. Oh the indignity! There was no warning on the cup saying “The beverage you are about to spill on a fugitive from the law may be hot” so I smell a lawsuit!
Logan’s formula must have worn off as we get white eyes.
Hulk-Out #2: We see little transformation here, just a shirt tear then a shot of the crowd and, like he’s on a spring, Hulk jumps up in the middle of it. With a roar he does what David couldn’t, parts the audience and runs through the crowd.
We get a reaction shot from McGee who can’t believe his luck to have Hulk come to him, and a shot from Logan who knows David’s first dose was not an instant cure. They both race after Hulk.
Now in the past we’ve seen Hulk do super-leaps, but here Hulk must feel he needs more cardio as he chooses to take the stairs, smashing through a glass double-door in the process. He knocks down the door to the roof just as Jimmy was taking aim. Unable to cross the distance of the roof before Jimmy can pull the trigger, Hulk pulls off the entire railing of the roof, dislodging it, a section of it knocking Jimmy down. Hulk runs up to Jimmy and chucks the rifle far away, and I hope it doesn’t land and hit poor Andy in the head, killing him.
The police soon arrive and then when police come on the roof Hulk runs away. Having gotten his workout in, Hulk takes the short path, leaping from the high roof to the ground, while the police tend to Jimmy.
Hulk runs out the parking lot while Kim enters the winner’s circle having set a world record time riding Rainbow’s End to victory. But she wants to share her success with David, who is nowhere to be found.
We see later that David has come to get his tan coat and say goodbye to Logan. Logan wants to try altering the dosage or the ratio, but David says it could take weeks and with McGee around he can’t take the chance. Logan understands and tells David “all things do pass.”
Then he stops to say goodbye to Kim, who says Mr. Carroll is going to help her take care of her father. I say never quit your job as Mr. Carroll is the single kindest employer ever.
Kim asks why David wasn’t in the winner’s circle, and he says it was hard to get through the crowd, but there will be lots of winner’s circles. She says she will be looking for him in every one, and David walks off as a faster version of The Lonely Man theme plays.
Rainbow’s End is another uneven episode of The Incredible Hulk. It seems the writers cannot find a good balance when there is David’s personal story as well as a criminal plot for Hulk to fight. Sometimes the pendulum swings too far one way and we get Married with no villain at all. Other times it goes the other direction and we get episodes like The Antowuk Horror. Here the dual plots never seem to mesh, and neither is entirely satisfying.
For David’s story I find it frustrating that David comes close to a cure, or at least a path worth exploring, but he is easily scared off by McGee. It’s McGee’s purpose in the show, but to make it work I’d have liked to see McGee have a greater presence. Sometimes finding Jack Colvin in an episode is as hard as finding Waldo on a page.
I also found Jimmy’s horse-assassination plot to be muddled. I could determine no logic behind Jimmy’s anger, and Laurence is such a nice freaking guy that even after Jimmy sets fire to the stables and tries to shoot the horse he still wants to help take care of the man. He’s a saint! Even Kim sees it and she’s Jimmy’s daughter. I understand they say the sonar device is the reason, but if that’s the case why’s he killing the horse? It’s all very confusing and unsatisfying.
As to the handling of Logan’s being Native American I do think this episode may have been an attempt to apologize for Married‘s metaphorical Indians killing David’s wife. But despite the show being very progressive about exposing Native American stereotypes, perhaps a make-good for Caroline’s cowboys-and-Indians visualizations in Married, it’s not consistent in its delivery of the message. They give us a caricature of a man discussing “firewater” but in the same scene show Logan wearing a headdress. They say “Don’t say ‘honest injun'” but give us a musical score full of melodies taken from the most obvious of Native American themes. It’s a very odd aesthetic that I blame on the fast production of television episodes; it’s obvious that not all parties were quite on the same page with this episode’s “message.”
Finally Hulk’s scenes were a bit lackluster. I enjoyed his appearing in the middle of the crowd, and laughed that it was hot coffee that pushed David over the edge, but from the calm way Hulk rescues a horse to the fact that Hulk’s ultimate goal is to beat up an old man, I fail to be excited.
All that said, I love two scenes in this episode, the scene where David and Logan discuss if Hulk is a blessing or a curse, and David’s dream sequence. Those two scenes alone elevate this otherwise unspectacular episode. I feel those are scenes every Hulk fan should get a chance to enjoy, so I recommend Rainbow’s End.