The Big Clam-Up is the ninth episode of the second season of Captain Planet and the Planeteers. This episode alternates between the usual style of a Captain Planet episode, and the style of a noir narrative (with Ma-Ti as the narrator).
It was written by Doug Molitor.
People in San Francisco are falling ill to dozens of different poisons. The Planeteers are sent to investigate. Ma-Ti is caught up in reading Dash Raymond detective novels, and he's finding it hard to separate fantasy from reality. He takes to the latest Planeteer mission with Dash Raymond style, much to the exasperation of the others.
Their mystery leads them down to the docks, tracking down the mysterious 'Mr. S.'
The episode opens in black and white, with Ma-Ti narrating in the style of someone straight out of a noir film. He is shown in an office with 'Dash Raymond, Private Investigator' printed on the windows, the voice-over lamenting that he should never have taken "the caper" from a woman who turns out to be Gaia.
Gaia interrupts Ma-Ti's daydreaming, and the episode cuts to its usual format, with Ma-Ti reading a Dash Raymond detective novel, his feet propped up on a huge stack of similar books. Both he and Suchi are wearing hats appropriate to the genre. Gaia startles Ma-Ti out of his chair and says there is an eco-emergency.
Joining the other Planeteers in the Crystal Chamber, Ma-Ti is briefly teased by Wheeler, who exclaims the books he's been reading are 50 years old. Ma-Ti happily replies that the books are new to him.
Gaia shows the Planeteers of people lying hunched in hospital beds, and explains that they have been poisoned. They are showing symptoms of several different kinds of poisoning, which include bacteria, heavy metals and pesticides. She asks that the Planeteers travel to San Francisco to investigate. Ma-Ti excitedly informs them that San Francisco is Dash Raymond's city, and that he will "take the cake" - which Gaia interprets as "take the case."
Flying over San Francisco, Linka asks where they should begin. Ma-Ti says Dash Raymond would begin by looking for the guy with a motive, and he would then start 'barbecuing' suspects. Gi corrects him, saying 'grilling', and Kwame and Linka decide to start by doing a pollution scan. Muttering good-naturedly that nobody ever listens to him, Ma-Ti turns back to his book.
Wheeler suddenly spots one very green lawn as they fly over the city, and says it looks suspicious. Linka agrees, remembering that nitrates were one of the poisons Gaia listed, and "one major source of nitrates is inorganic fertiliser."
As Ma-Ti reads his Dash Raymond novel, the episode becomes black and white again, and shows Ma-Ti as Dash Raymond. He explains that in the detective game, sometimes you need to play a hunch. He knocks on a door, which is answered by Linka, described by Ma-Ti as having "a lot of inches". Talking to her, Linka leans forward and breathlessly, seductively, says, "fertiliser".
Ma-Ti snaps out of his daydream to find Linka yelling at him. "Fertiliser! Inorganic fertiliser! You are standing in it!"
Ma-Ti dances on the lawn, apparently not having noticed where he was walking while his daydreaming engrossed him so. Linka pulls him back onto the lawn, complaining about the harsh smell of the chemicals. Kwame states how grave the situation is, explaining that when it rains, excess nitrates will run off the lawn.
Ma-Ti claims to have solved the case. Talking in his Dash Raymond voice, he starts up the steps to the house, explaining that whoever owns the house is clearly the one poisoning the city. Just as he says their suspect is going to take the fall, a woman staggers from the house and teeters over the steps, clearly ill and distressed. Linka hastily uses her ring to catch the woman before she truly does fall.
Kwame and Wheeler lay the woman down on the ground while Gi runs inside to call the paramedics.
Ma-Ti leans over to comfort the woman as she writhes in pain. He discovers that she is wearing a lobster bib, and excitedly states he has found a clue. He asks who the woman got the bib from, but she is in so much pain, all she can manage is, "Mr. S."
The paramedics take the woman to hospital, but Kwame has chatted to them and discovered that the ill woman is suffering the same symptoms as everyone else. Linka states they should check the nearest factories, but Ma-Ti claims the bib is the biggest clue of all, and that it was left by 'Mr. S' as a sign for the woman to "lobster up". Gi, Linka and Kwame all sigh with exasperation and start heading down the street. Wheeler pauses only long enough to inform Ma-Ti the expression is "Clam Up".
As Ma-Ti hurries after his friends, a mysterious figure shrouded in black hovers by the side of the house: "I'll make those Planet Snoops clam up - permanently!"
Captain Planet: I want you to join me and the Planeteers in saving our planet!
Planeteers: Go, Planet!
Captain Planet: You can fight oil spills and air pollution by encouraging your family not to waste gasoline and other fuels.
Gi: Turn off the lights in your house when you don't need them.
Linka: If you can carpool, do it!
Ma-Ti: Better yet, if you're only going a short distance, walk, or ride a bike!
Captain Planet: It's healthier for you, and our planet! So don't be a Greedly! The power is yours!
Did You Notice?
- This episode is in the style of film noir.
- Upon showing the Planeteers visions of people ill in bed, Gaia lists oil, nitrates, bacteria, heavy metals, solvents and pesticides as causes for their sickness.
- Linka pilots the geo-cruiser to San Francisco.
- Both Ma-Ti and Suchi wear fedoras during this episode.
- Kwame talks to the paramedics and shakes hands with one of them as the other Planeteers look on. The ill woman is, presumably, inside the ambulance.
Ma-Ti: It had just rained, and the city 'round the bay looked like the ring around a bathtub. Maybe I never should have taken the caper. Maybe I should've just clammed up when that doll knocked on my office door. Instead, I said, "Come on in." She was tall, dark, and semi-transparent.
Wheeler: You're reading another Dash Raymond book? Ma-Ti, these things are 50 years old!
Ma-Ti: They are new to me!
Gaia: I want you to go to San Francisco and investigate.
Ma-Ti: San Francisco? Dash Raymond's city? Gaia, I will take the cake!
Ma-Ti runs to the geo-cruiser, and Gaia sighs.
Gaia: I think he means he'll take the case.
Linka: Where do we begin looking?
Ma-Ti: Dash Raymond says always look for the guy with the motive. And he would start by barbecuing some suspects!
Gi: You mean 'grilling' suspects.
Ma-Ti: Oh, right. Grilling.
Ma-Ti: Sometimes, in the detective game, you have to play a hunch. This one paid off - when she opened the door. The blonde dame was every inch a lady - and she had a lot of inches.
Linka: Are you aware you are having a monkey on your back?
Ma-Ti: Nobody's perfect, sister!
Kwame: This is bad! When it rains, excess nitrates will run off this lawn.
Kwame: She had the same symptoms as everyone else.
Linka: We should check the nearest factories!
Ma-Ti: But I have the solution! This 'Mr. S' silenced this lady! The bib is his warning! He is telling her to lobster up!
The other Planeteers all loudly disagree in exasperated voices.
Wheeler: Great theory, Ma-Ti. Except the expression is 'clam up'.
Ma-Ti: Ohhh, right. Heh. Clam up! I knew it was some kind of shellfish!