Gift of the Wheelman is the tenth episode of Due South's first season.
Storyline: A gang of bank robbers disguised as Santa Clauses are double-crossed by their own getaway driver, who intends to leave the stolen money for his son's future.
Original Air Date: December 15, 1994
Written by Paul Haggis
Directed by Jerry Ciccoritti
On Christmas Eve, Benton Fraser and Raymond Vecchio are doing some last-minute Christmas shopping when four men dressed in Santa Claus suits rob a nearby bank. The robbery goes awry when the wheelman, who is posing as a Salvation Army collector outside the bank, enters the foyer and sets off the fire alarm. As the other robbers make a run for it, the wheelman tricks the bagman into throwing him the money bag before he runs off in the opposite direction. Fraser runs after him until he collides with a teenage boy coming out of a gift shop down the street. The wheelman escapes in a second car, while Fraser and Ray bring the boy downtown as a witness.
Also brought downtown is every Santa Claus in the city as the detectives try to ferret out the robbers, much to the chagrin of Lieutenant Harding Welsh, who is drawing heat from every direction from department stores to the mayor's office. Fraser and Ray theorise that the wheelman double-crossed his partners; however, their witness, Del Porter, denies seeing the wheelman's face in any of the mug shot books. Elaine gives them an I.D. on the bagman, who is a known associate of James and Cameron Donnelly - a notoriously violent pair of bank-robbing brothers. Realising the dire threat to the wheelman's life, Fraser casually converses with Del and figures out why he is less than cooperative: the wheelman is his father, William Sidney Porter, an aspiring novelist who has a prior count of armed robbery on his record.
Not understanding why William would double-cross such dangerous partners and leave Del to fend for himself, Fraser and Ray stake out Porter's apartment. Fraser sees the ghost of his father in the back seat of Ray's car; Bob Fraser (who at this point is visible only to Benton) announces that he has come back to help his son sort out the case, but most of his advice is absurdly useless. Meanwhile, in an abandoned apartment building nearby, James Donnelly coldly murders his bagman for allowing Porter to escape with the money, and he and Cameron then head for Porter's place with heavy weaponry. Fraser and Ray cut short their attempt, bringing Del downtown again to try and convince him to help them find his father; when he still refuses to cooperate, Welsh orders Ray to tail him. To Ray and Fraser's surprise, William comes straight to the police station to pick Del up, leading them and two patrolmen on a high-speed chase halfway across town before they lose him. William tries to explain that he returned to his life of crime for Del's sake, but wanting to hear none of it, Del cuts and runs.
Fraser is left once again trying to figure out William's intentions, until it dawns on him that William doesn't intend to get away with the double-cross at all - he intends to leave all the stolen money with Del and destroy himself and the Donnellys with him. Discovering the meeting place from Del, Fraser and Ray head to an abandoned distillery, where Fraser attempts to talk William out of his suicidal plan by telling him that he still has something to offer Del - a good example of how to live a man's life. When the Donnellys arrive, William floods the distillery with gasoline and prepares to set it ablaze, until Fraser gives him the choice of whether or not to remain a part of Del's life. William relents and forces the Donnellys to disarm. While Ray places them under arrest, William is sent to prison again; there, in one last meeting with Del, he laments that he didn't get him anything for Christmas - but Del tells him, "Yes, you did."
- Ryan Phillippe as Del Porter
- James Purcell as William Sidney Porter
- Tom McCamus as Jimmy Donnelly
- Gordon Pinsent as Robert Fraser
Memorable Quotes Edit
Lt. Welsh: Detective Vecchio, Huey, Louie! Join me for some eggnog. In the last half hour, I've gotten calls from seven department stores, the Salvation Army, two parade officials, and the director of the children's pageant. This was further augmented by calls from four city councilmen, the deputy mayor, and the police commissioner. They're all curious as to why we're detaining all the Santa Clauses in the city on Christmas Eve. The police commissioner was especially irked, since his daughter was sitting on Santa's knee in a department store when said Santa was cuffed and thrown into a paddy wagon! In our zeal to solve this case, I can't help but wonder if we haven't been...I don't know, how do you say it...excessively stupid?
Fraser Sr.: So fill me in on the case.
Benton Fraser: The case?
Fraser Sr.: The case. The case you're working on. Something bothers you about it.
Benton Fraser: Well, in a nutshell, there was a bank robbery today. Now we've identified the perpetrators, but the wheelman - that's the driver in Chicago parlance - double-crossed his partners. Now what we can't seem to figure - is there any insanity in our family?
Fraser Sr.: No, not that I'm aware of.
Benton Fraser: Good.
Fraser Sr.: Well, there was your Uncle Tiberius who died wrapped in cabbage leaves, but we assumed that was a freak accident. Go on, go on.
(after sending the Donnellys running for it)
Fraser Sr.: At least you've found the villains, son. There's something to be said for that.
Benton Fraser: Thank you.
Ray Vecchio: (giving him a puzzled look) Any time.
Louis Gardino: (as a group of Elvis impersonators are herded past him) Hey! I said ELVES, you morons! ELLLLVVVVES!
Benton Fraser: Drive, quick! Before he comes back!
Ray Vecchio: Who?
Benton Fraser: My father. Drive, go!
Ray Vecchio: Fraser, your father's dead!
Benton Fraser: I know, and I don't mean to speak ill of him. It's just that he's driving me nuts.
Ray Vecchio: Your father?
Benton Fraser: Well, he's not really here, I know that. It's just all in my mind. It's just that he refuses to stay there, or rather, he refuses to leave there...I don't really understand it, but I'll tell you, it's beginning to wear a little thin. I mean, does he think I'm completely ignorant? Next thing he's going to do is try to show me how to start a fire. You know, Ray, I've got half a mind just to tell him to pack up, move out!
Ray Vecchio: Of your mind?
Benton Fraser: Yes.
Fraser Sr.: Hello, son!
Benton Fraser: (muttering) Oh, God, he's back.
Fraser Sr.: What's that?
Benton Fraser: I said, uh, glad you're back, Dad! (aside to Ray) Not a word, all right?
Ray Vecchio: Hey, no problem, Benny.
William Porter: All I wanted was three dollars. Three dollars for the whole year, and I'd have made it. I was standing at the counter with his gift in my hand. Girl says to me, you're three dollars short. I started laughing. I laughed so hard, I thought I was gonna have a heart attack right there in that department store. I suddenly realised that if I died right then and there, I'd have left my son sixty-two dollars, some lousy manuscripts, and a lot of excuses, and that's not good enough! That's - that's not enough to leave your son!
Benton Fraser: You know, William, I think there's only one thing a father needs to leave for his son, and that's a good example of how a man should live his life. Anything else, the son can learn for himself. The greatest gift my father ever gave me was the courage to trust my own abilities, and I learned that through his example. You know, you can give your son anything you want. But if you don't leave him a good example of how to be a man, you leave him nothing. That's what you'll leave Del: nothing.
Gift of the Wheelman is a Christmas-themed episode and the first appearance of Robert Fraser's ghost.
William Sidney Porter was the real name of the well-known short-story author O. Henry, author of "The Gift of the Magi", one of the inspirations for this episode. At the beginning, Del is searching for a pen for his father in a shop called "O. Henry's Gifts."
- "Rumbolt" by Figgy Duff [album: Weather Out the Storm] (gun battle scene)
- "Steaming" by Sarah McLachlan [album: Touch] (car chase scene)
- "Henry Martin" by Figgy Duff (album: Weather Out the Storm] (William's preparation)