Mask is the sixth episode of Due South's second season.
Storyline: Constable Fraser and his Native friend Eric track thieves who took rare Tsimshian masks from the Field Museum of Natural History.
Original Air Date: January 19, 1996
Written by Jeff King (story by Nancy Merritt Bell, Michael McKinley and Jeff King)
Directed by David Warry-Smith
Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History is about to close for the night, and Constable Benton Fraser and Detective Raymond Vecchio inspect movement detectors around the museum’s most recent acquisition: two rare Tsimshian masks worth over a million dollars originally confiscated by an Anglican priest in 1879; sold to separate countries, the masks have been reunited a century later. These masks have an important religious significance for the Tsimshian people, and as Fraser and Vecchio head for the parking lot, two Native thieves enter the museum through an opening on the roof. One of the thieves is suspended in midair and accidentally hits the piece of glass he has cut out to retrieve the masks. The movement detectors are activated. Fraser and Vecchio run back to the museum and arrest the thief still hanging from a rope above the glass case. The second thief runs away and Fraser pursues him on the roof. The thief manages to hide and pushes Fraser over the edge. As Fraser hangs from the roof, he looks up and recognizes his old friend Eric. The man runs off and a raven comes flying above Fraser’s head, making the mountie lose his grip and fall into the museum's dumpster.At the police station, Civilian Aide Elaine Besbriss finds a record for the thief she identifies as David Kitikmeot, a Tsimshian teenager from Nakina, British Columbia. Vecchio attempts to force the teenager to talk, but David insists he has come to Chicago for a Blackhawks hockey game. Lieutenant Welsh calls Fraser and Vecchio to his office where French government representative Michelle Duchamp and Canadian government representative Daphne Kelly reveal they have both received demands from the Canadian Aboriginal people for the return of the masks. Duchamp snaps that this is irrelevant since the masks have been legitimately purchased from the Tsimshians. Constable Fraser responds it appears to be a matter of considerable dispute. Upon states attorney Louise Saint Laurent’s pressures, David Kitikmeot is released because he is a minor and he is taken in by social services. A small paper bird left behind by the thief is found in the interrogation room. Fraser and Vecchio follow the young man who is accompanied by a social worker. They go on stakeout as the pair enters a restaurant. David punches the social worker in the face and runs away. Fraser gives chase as the teenager heads to the subway, but David manages to elude him.
Fraser returns home where he finds Eric sitting in the dark with Diefenbaker by his side: “I was wondering when you’d get here, Mountie,” the Tsimshian says. Fraser declares it was him on the roof, but Eric affirms the runaway thief is Joshua Springer, one of his nephew David’s friends. Fraser shows Eric the paper bird David left at the police station. Eric explains that this thunderbird symbolizes a warrior society that is calling the First Nations youth together; as the youth feel the power of the spirit, they are not patient and not willing to leave things to the elders and proper authorities. They take things into their own hands. Eric intends to find his nephew and return the masks. Fraser replies they are both seeking the same thing.
Fraser wakes up in the morning to find Eric’s entire family has taken up residence in his apartment. He, Eric and Diefenbaker join Ray Vecchio on a search for David and the masks. Their first stop is a car rental business where David left an address and a credit card number. The rented car is found without wheels or doors by the lake, but Fraser finds a piece of hamburger and traces of David’s favourite special sauce. Eric notices mukluk prints on the ground and these clues lead the party to an apartment where Vecchio finds the masks hidden under the bathroom tiles. The masks are returned to the museum. Fraser thinks it was too easy and is beginning to suspect the masks are fake.
The party heads back to Fraser’s apartment where the Tsimshians have built a sweat lodge and invited all tenants to use it. Vecchio is not interested in taking his clothes off and going through this spiritual purification ritual, but Patty, a pretty Tsimshian girl, is looking for a partner. “Where do I change?” Vecchio asks. Fraser and Eric enter the sweat lodge together. They talk about Fraser’s first sweat experience as a boy and Eric pours water onto the burning rocks. Fraser receives a vision in which a masked man is dancing at the beat of the drum. A raven is cawing, and as the mask falls to the ground and is shattered to pieces, Eric is exposed as the masked dancer. Fraser believes his suspicions are confirmed; Eric is the mastermind behind this whole mask scheme.
Fraser urges Vecchio to finish up on his sweat lodge experience so they can look for the forger who made the fake masks. “You robbed me of a very important spiritual moment back there, Fraser,” Vecchio responds as they drive away in his Buick Riviera. Vecchio takes Fraser to a forger of his acquaintance and they find the man dead in his workshop. A door closes behind them. The partners give chase and intercept a mysterious individual wearing a knit cap who is revealed to be Michelle Duchamp. The French representative is taken away to the police station and David Kitikmeot is seen watching from a distance. Ballistics show Duchamp’s pistol was not the murder weapon. Fraser concludes Canadian representative Kelly is the culprit. “That is so uncanadian!” Vecchio exclaims as they make their way back to the museum.
Kelly, who is secretly working with the museum curator, puts the masks away in a briefcase. “This time tomorrow we’ll be rich,” she says. The two are about to leave when they come face to face with David Kitikmeot holding them at gunpoint: “You have something that doesn’t belong to you!” he states. A wild hunt through the museum follows as Vecchio and Fraser join the chase. Vecchio succeeds in stopping Kelly who dropped her briefcase to avoid one of David's bullets. Eric emerges from the shadows holding Kelly’s briefcase and another in which he has placed the museum’s masks. The Tsimshian tells his nephew to give him his gun and aims at Fraser. Fraser reminds Eric he once saved his life. Would he shoot now? Eric leaves both briefcases on the floor and slowly walks away with David. When Fraser opens the briefcases, one of the two is empty.
Eric’s family is later seen celebrating the return of the masks to the Tsimshian people around a campfire.
- Rodney Arnold Grant as Eric
- Nathaniel Arcand as David Kitikmeot
- Denise Virieux as Michelle Duchamp
- Deborah Tennant as Daphne Kelly
- Lindsay Merrithew as John Robinson
- Lee Purcell as Louise Saint Laurent
Memorable Quotes Edit
Ray Vecchio: So you fell.
Benton Fraser: Yes, I fell.
Ray Vecchio: You fell.
Benton Fraser: Yes, Ray. I fell.
Ray Vecchio: Now see, that doesn't make any sense, because Mounties don't just fall. They leap, they bound, they grand-jeté - but they don't just fall.
Ray Vecchio: Fraser, there's black smoke coming out of your apartment.
Benton Fraser: Not to worry. Let's go.
Ray Vecchio: Not to worry?
Benton Fraser: It's a cooking fire, Ray. It's completely harmless. Believe it or not, there's an entire family of Tsimshians living up there.
Ray Vecchio: Yeah, what are they, tryin' to elect the Pope?
Ray Vecchio: (driving and reading a restaurant brochure) Ah, Belardi's. Thank you. (takes the wheel back from Eric) Nah, I go there too often. If it doesn't work out, I won't be able to go back there for a couple of weeks.
Benton Fraser: What do you mean, if it doesn't work out?
Ray Vecchio: Well, you know how it is with women. When they say nothing fancy, pick me up at eight, dress casual - what they're really saying is, you better do it up first class and break the bank at every turn, or they're gonna stick you with goat's horns. You know what I'm sayin'.
Eric: Remind me to ask you later.
Benton Fraser: I have no idea what he's talking about.
Ray Vecchio: Here, Benny, do me a favour. You pick one out.
Benton Fraser: (reading the brochure) Crabs 'n' Things.
Ray Vecchio: Would you give that to Eric, please?
Eric: (reading the brochure) Hey! How about The Loose Moose?
Ray Vecchio: Just gimme that. You guys know nothing about wining and dining women! Eric, hold the wheel.
Eric: Special sauce!
Benton Fraser: It's him.
Ray Vecchio: I don't believe this! We're trackin' a Happy Meal!
Ray Vecchio: (seeing white smoke coming from Fraser's window) Well, well, looks like we got a pope!
Ray Vecchio: They've built a sauna in your living room.
Benton Fraser: It's a sweat lodge, Ray.
Ray Vecchio: Like there's a difference?
Benton Fraser: Actually, there is. You see, a sauna eases tired muscles. The purpose of sweat is for spiritual purification.
Ray Vecchio: Well, there's no way I'm gettin' purified. I'm not gonna take my clothes off and sit in hundred-degree heat surrounded by other people's sweat.
Patty: Sarah's going with Albert...and I need a partner. (smiles)
Ray Vecchio: Okay, so where do I change?
While most Due South adventures are purely fictional, the Mask episode is based on a true story. Writer Jeff King explains: "I got the idea for Mask after reading an account of how a very rare aboriginal transformation mask -which comprised two pieces that are attached- had been separated and the two parts each sold to a different museum by European missionaries. The mask was significant to the culture and religion of the West Coast peoples who originally made it, so I imagined a story about someone retrieving it."
Eric's relatives, Victoria and Albert, are named after Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and her husband, Prince Albert.
"Ragged Ass Road" by Tom Cochrane [album: Ragged Ass Road] (mask theft/foot chase scene)