As Sonny Averona sings "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas", we see a gun laying on a table. It's picked up by a man wearing a Santa Claus suit, who stuffs it into his waist before fastening the oversize belt and admiring his reflection.
At the offices of Remington Steele Investigations, the decorated reception area is filled with people. Mildred is carrying a plate of Christmas cookies. "Merry Christmas," she tells a couple as they leave, then grabs another man's glass. "Here. Let me fill that for you," she says, taking it to the punch bowl.
A man asks, "Who made the eggnog, Mildred?"
"I did. From my mother's recipe."
"Apparently Mom was a teetotaler. A little bit light on the rum."
"We wouldn't want to send anyone home half-gassed," she replies.
"Well, I'll just finish this up and be on my horse," he tells her. "Judith and the young ones await."
"Thanks for stopping by, Jack," she tells him. "Merry Christmas."
"Merry merry," he repeats, lifting his cup.
Mildred taps on Steele's door and opens it. "Boss," she says, finding him at the window, looking outside. He turns, a dour expression on his face. "Come on out and join the fun."
"It's obscene, Mildred," he remarks, turning to the window again.
She comes farther into the room. "What is?"
"I tried to play tennis this morning," he informs her. "It was too hot."
"Well, yeah, it is a little warm for December," she admits.
"Ninety seven degrees is more than a little warm. Ninety seven degrees on Christmas Eve is obscene. Should be big fat snowflakes, falling. Jack Frost nipping at your heels. Speaking of things nipping at your heels, where's Miss Holt?" he asks, pacing.
"She had some errands to run."
"What?" He glances at his watch. "It's a quarter past four. Has she forgotten that this is a place in which we conduct BUSINESS?" he says, raising his voice so that those in the other room will hear.
"We don't have any business to conduct," Mildred reminds him. "This is goodwill towards men time. Crime's on a holiday."
"Well, even if a client did wander in here, she would probably be trampled to death with all those freeloaders out there."
"Oh, ho, I know what's the matter with you," she tells him.
"Yeah, you're grumpy cause you haven't done your Christmas shopping."
"I am not grumpy," he insists. "As for not doing my Christmas shopping-"
"You haven't done it. Men always wait til the last minute. Well, Miss Holt did hers in August."
"Probably bought us all mufflers," he guesses glumly.
The phone rings, and he jumps away from it, leaving Mildred to pick it up. "Remington Steele Investigations. Happy Holidays."
Laura is at her loft, wrapping presents. The room is decorated to the hilt for Christmas. Laura even has a sprig of holly in her hair. "Merry Christmas, Mildred. How's the open house going?"
"Oh, we're a smash,-" she sees Steele's glum expression. "For the most part."
"Is Mr. Steele in?"
"With bells on." She hands him the phone. "It's Miss Holt."
"Oh." He takes the phone as Mildred steps aside. "Ah. The lost patrol!"
"I'm on my way in. Be charming to our guests. It's the season to be jolly, you know," she reminds him, looking at her tree.
"Ho ho ho," he tells her and hangs up.
"I'll get you some eggnog," Mildred tells him.
In the reception area, Mildred gives a cup of eggnog to a dark haired young woman. "Here."
"I can't stay long," the woman says. Mildred starts toward Steele's office, but he comes out. "Oh. I'd like you to meet Eva Wilson, Chief. She's our plant lady."
"I can't stay long," Eva tells them, shaking Steele's hand.
"Yes. I know the feeling."
"Here's your eggnog, Chief," Mildred tells him.
He takes it. "Thank you, Mildred. I have to go out for a few minutes, okay? Nice to meet you," he tells Eva.
He starts toward the door, but Jack stops him. "Hey, Steele,-"
"You wouldn't have anything to give this a little more Christmas spirit, if you know what I mean, would you?"
"Miss Krebs is in charge of the spirit, okay. Excuse me, will you?"
"I can't stay long," Eva says again.
He waves, nods, trying to get to the door. "Okay." He's hailed by a woman and turns to greet her.
"Cohen, Campbell and Carstairs on 22?"
"Oh, yes, of course. Excellent attorneys."
Allison fades a bit. "We're an advertising agency."
"I'm sorry. I got my Cohens confused. Well, it's always delightful to meet ones neighbors. I suggest you talk to the plant lady. She can't stay long." He shakes her hand again and turns once more toward the door. A short little man stops him.
"Psst! How are your feet?" he asks.
"Dr. Scabbard," he says. "S. Wilson Scabbard. On eight." He pulls out a card.
"A pleasure to meet you, Dr. Scabbard."
"I am a podiatrist. And I couldn't help noticing, but you seem to be favoring your left foot. What is it? Corn? Bunion? Ingrown toenail?"
"New shoes," Steele informs him.
"'There's language in her eye, her cheek, her lip, nay, her foot speaks.' Do you know who said that?"
"No, but I'm sure I'm gonna find out."
"Shakespeare. Troilus and Cressida. Act Four, Scene Five."
"'Feets, don't fail me now,'" Steele quotes. "Do you know who said that?"
"I can't say that I do."
"Charlie Chan's chauffeur. Shanghai Cobra, Monogram, 1945. I've always felt those words to live by. Good day, sir." He glances at the business card and turns toward the doors once more.
A Santa Claus enters the office. "Ho ho ho," he says without feeling.
"Couldn't have said it better myself," Steele comments.
Mildred glares at the man. "Pardon my French, but where the hell have you been? You were supposed to be here at two. It's after four!"
"Hey," Mildred warns, "Mind your mouth, buster. I'm not paying 25 bucks an hour for a surly Santa."
Steele is amazed. "He's getting paid 25 bucks an hour?"
"It's the going rate, Chief," she explains.
"You Steele?" the Santa asks.
"Have some eggnog, Santa, I'm sure it will cheer you up."
"What's your hurry, pal?" Santa asks.
"Stick around, pal. The party's just getting started."
"Not with you, it isn't," Mildred tells him. "Go back to your reindeer and sit on an antler."
He pulls his hand from his coat. "Sit on this!" he tells her, hitting her in the stomach.
Steele grabs Mildred. "Mildred, Mildred," he says, then sees the gun in Santa's hand.
"You want the next dance, pal?" Santa asks him.
Laura exits the elevator, her arms filled with presents as another Santa comes from the other elevator. He stops her. "Hey, which way is the Remington Steele office?"
"You're a little late aren't you? Weren't you supposed to be here at two?" Laura asks him with a frown. "Come on." She leads him into the office. "Merry Christmas, everybody, how's the party-" she sees the first Santa's gun. "Going."
The second Santa pushes her toward the others. "Donner?" he asks.
"Dancer," the first Santa replies. "Prancer?"
"Get everything taken care of?"
"Just like you told me."
Laura asks Mildred and Steele, "What's going on? Why is Santa holding a gun?"
"We haven't found out yet," Steele informs her.
"I TOLD them I can't stay long," Eva insists. "I haven't finished my rounds."
"Oh, yes," Jack says, looking at his watch. "My, my, look at the time. Kiddies are waiting for me. I have to decorate the tree and all that. Christmas Eve and all. They'll be wondering what happened to Daddy."
Dancer points his gun at them. "Take one more step and they'll be READING about what happened to Daddy," he warns.
"Is this a robbery?" Allison asks. "Because if it is, I have nothing. I have absolutely nothing of value." She sees them glance at her. "Oh, this isn't a real Cartier watch. No, no, it's a knock off. Like they make in Hong Kong?"
Another Santa enters the office. "Donner?" Dancer asks.
"No, no," Prancer explains. "I'M Prancer, he's Dancer."
Donner comes in and Dancer asks, "Make your deliveries?"
"Right on schedule."
Scabbard makes a break for the door, but Dancer shoots him in the foot. Laura and the others start toward him, but Dancer turns the gun back toward them. "Damn silencer," Dancer declares. "It throws off your aim, you know? You're lucky, Pop. I was trying to hit you in the gut!" Scabbard is holding his foot. "Lock it," Dancer tells Donner.
"Let me get this straight," Laura says, confronting them. "We're being held prisoner by a bunch of Santas?"
"You got it, Pretty face," Dancer confirms.
"What now?" Donner asks.
"We wait," Dancer tells him.
"What- exactly are we waiting for, gentlemen?" Steele asks.
"Blitzen," Dancer says.
As we hear the refrain of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," Dancer tells the others, "You know what to look for."
Donner goes into Steele's office, where Steele and Laura are helping the injured Dr. Scabbard to the sofa. "Sit yourself down there," Steele says. He starts removing Scabbard's shoe while Laura goes to the bathroom under Donner's watchful eye.
"Sorry," Steele apologizes as Scabbard groans. He removes the sock. "Doesn't look too serious," he declares as Laura returns with a towel and first aid kit. "Think it only grazed the foot."
"It is kind of ironic, though," Laura says.
"What?" Scabbard asks. "What's ironic?"
"A podiatrist being shot in the foot," she explains as she cleans the wound.
"I don't find it to be ironic. I find it to be very-painful."
"You really put your foot in it that time, Laura, eh?" Steele asks.
"What kind of confidence are my patients gonna have in me if they see me walking around with a limp?" Scabbard asks. Donner heads toward the desk.
"Without appearing to pry, Prancer-," Steele begins.
"Sorry. You all look alike under those beards."
"That's the general idea. Christmas Eve. The city's lousy with Santas. Nobody looks twice."
"I should have gone straight home," Scabbard tells them. "I don't even celebrate Christmas. It's not fair. It's not fair, getting shot on a holiday that you don't even celebrate. I got a good mind to sue you," he tells Steele. "After all, this happened on your premises. It's your legal responsibility."
"What makes you think you're gonna be alive to sue anybody?" Donner asks.
"What? What do you mean? Look, I can't afford to die. Not now. I just opened up a branch office in Encino. I'm very highly regarded in my field," he tells Steele and Laura. "I have been called the Podiatrist to the Stars."
"Where is it?" Donner asks.
"What?" Laura asks.
Laura glances at Steele. "This may sound lame, but we have trouble locating it ourselves sometimes."
"You can't kill me!" Scabbard insists. "Who would take over my practice? I'm a one man office!"
Prancer comes in. "Find any?"
"Uh uh," Donner replies.
"Well, Dancer says to keep looking." He goes back out.
Donner tells them, "Listen, let me tell you for your own good. Come up with the hardware. Now, Dancer likes to use that gun. You saw what he did to the doc. Give him an excuse, and he'll do worse to all of you."
Steele starts to get up. "It could be in the reception," he says.
"Hey. Stay put," Donner orders. "You go." Laura points to herself. "Dancer likes to look at pretty girls."
"This is the most bizarre Christmas Eve I've EVER spent," Laura tells Steele, then leaves the room.
Steele smiles at Donner. "Well, uh, perhaps I can assist you in here, eh?"
In the reception area, Mildred is nibbling on a cracker when Laura comes out.
"Where are you going?" Dancer asks her.
"You want the Agency gun? It might be out here."
"No, why don't you sit down?" he suggests. "Take some weight off those lovely ankles of yours." She sits. "You look, Brunhilda," he tells Mildred. She glares at him, looks as if she might tell him off, then starts going through the files.
"Excuse me," Jack asks, "Do you mind if I get some more eggnog? My throat's parched."
Dancer waves him over, then approaches Eva, who's watering a plant in the corner. "You're going to DROWN IT!" he accuses.
She turns to him. "It's dying! Don't you understand? It needs food and water. And sunshine." She's almost in tears. "It shouldn't be locked away here in this fluorescent dungeon."
"What are you? One of those hippies? You got a peace sign tattooed on your butt?"
"A plant's a living, breathing thing!" Eva insists.
Laura comes over and gives her a hug. "It's alright, Eva. It's all right." She leads the crying girl away. "Everything's going to be fine. Come on."
"Hey, Eggnog," Dancer asks Jack, "You one of them peaceniks too?"
"ME? No, I'm just a stockbroker."
"Was you in the Army?"
"Um, actually- no. I was 4F." Mildred finds the gun and stuffs it into the front of her dress. "I had rheumatic fever as a child."
"Bet you had a note from your doctor," Dancer sneers as Laura joins Jack.
"Were you in the service?" she asks.
"See any action?"
Mildred comes around behind Laura and Jack, her hand on the gun, waiting for an opening.
"Enough. Enough to get a Silver Star. They don't just hand them around, you know. You gotta waste a lot of slugs to get a Silver Star."
Mildred's about to make her move when Allison comes up and blocks the way. "I have had JUST about enough of this. Now my secretary knows I'm down here. And if I don't return, he's going to get very suspicious."
"You got a GUY for a secretary?"
"Well, sure, we're an equal opportunity employer," Allison assures him.
"You see?" Dancer says, "the world is upside down! A broad who's a dick! A guy who's a secretary. Somebody oughta drop the bomb so we can start all over again!"
Donner comes out of Steele's office, "Clean as a whistle," he announces," and then Mildred pulls out the gun and grabs him, holding the gun to his shoulder.
"Okay, Dancer," she says, "Drop your gun or I swear I'll let Prancer have it."
"You drop him," Dancer says, "I drop you. Or I may just blast right through him, and then when he goes down-"
"Hey," Donner objects. "Come on, Dancer."
"Shut up. Now, either way, I'm gonna use you for target practice, Brunhilda," he promises.
Mildred sneers and pulls back the hammer. Suddenly Steele jumps them from behind and grabs the gun. He rises to his feet, gun in hand. "Get up," He tells the other Santas. "Move." He stands there, holding the gun on Dancer.
"Go ahead, pretty boy," Dancer says. "Take your best shot. You get me before I get you, all these nice people can go home."
"Do it, Steele!" Jack calls.
"Pull the trigger," Allison tells him.
"What's the matter, pretty boy? Ain't any of these slugs worth dyin' for?"
Steele stands there for a moment, then releases the hammer on the gun. "No," he says.
"Boss." Mildred looks up from the floor, upset and disbelieving as Steele lowers the gun to the floor.
"Kick it over here," Dancer tells him. He does, and Dancer picks it up, putting it into his belt.
Laura looks at Steele as we hear "Deck the Halls."
Later, Steele and Mildred are sitting on the sofa in the main room. She's fanning him as he sits there. The others are scattered around the room, as if they don't want anything to do with Steele now. "Oh, don't blame yourself, Chief. I don't know what anyone would have done in that situation."
"Perhaps it was more of a risk than you think, Mildred," Steele tells her in a soft voice. He stretches, putting his hand into his pocket to show her the bullets he's got there. "I found them in my office."
"You mean the gun wasn't loaded?" she whispers. "You knew that all the time?" He smiles. "I could have gotten my head blown off for nothing."
"Well, maybe I can find a use for these later."
"What do you think they want?" she asks.
"One thing's for certain," he tells her, still whispering, "they chose this building for a reason." He looks at her. "And they want me." Mildred gives him a concerned look as Prancer speaks.
"Where is Blitzen, huh?" he asks Dancer. "When are we getting on with this thing?"
"Relax," Dancer says, sitting as he watches the others, polishing his gun. "Everything's moving right on schedule."
"What schedule?" Prancer asks. "You're the only one who KNOWS the schedule!"
Jack, cup of eggnog in hand, says, "You know, if you look hard enough, there's a silver lining in every cloud."
"Oh yeah?" Dancer asks. "What's yours?"
Jack lifts the cup to his lips, drinks. "Well, I'm here. And Judith's in Sherman Oaks!" He laughs. "Do you know that for the past thirteen years, that harpy's told me how to decorate the tree? 'The star's crooked, Jack.' 'Watch the lights, Jack.' 'Don't let the them touch the carpet, Jack.' 'Do you WANT to start a fire, Jack?'" he mocks. "Damn right, I want to start a fire. Under her." Dancer laughs softly. Jack lifts his mug. "Here's to captivity. Long may it last."
Dancer shoots the cup, shattering it. "I like you, Eggnog," he says, getting up and approaching Jack. "Even if you are one of those dirty draft dodgers."
"Oh," Jack insists. "I WANTED to go. Desperately. But the old ticker. What could I do?"
"What every other smart guy did," Dancer accuses. "Stay home and rake in the bread, while I was up to my elbows in slime!" The phone rings.
"Answer it," Dancer orders Laura.
She picks it up. "Remington Steele Investigations. Happy Holidays," she says with a slight sneer. She listens, then holds the phone to her chest. "It's the Shrew of Sherman Oaks," she informs them.
"He left," Dancer says.
"I'm sorry, Mrs. Dendra," Laura informs Judith, "Jack left hours ago."
Eva tugs Dancer's sleeve. "Sir?" she asks in her shy, quiet voice, "may I please be excused?" Laura hangs up. "I have to go to the bathroom. Please? I'm going to embarrass myself if I don't get to the bathroom."
"I thought you flower children let it all hang out? Why don't you go behind the plant?" she suggests. "Like we had to do in the jungle?"
Eva looks upset. Steele says, "There's a bathroom in my office. No windows. No way out."
Dancer looks at Eva. "Okay," he decides.
She hugs her oversize bag and starts to pass between him and Jack, but he won't move, so she is forced to go around.
The phone rings again. "She's relentless," Jack insists. "She'll call back every fifteen seconds. She's probably terrified I'm having a good time."
Laura answers again. "I told you, Mrs. Dendra, there's no one here-" she stops, and tells Dancer, "It's for him," as she nods in Steele's direction.
"Take it," Dancer tells him.
Steele slowly rises and takes the phone from Laura. "Steele here Albert-Hastings?" he questions, looking at Laura.
"He owns the building," Laura tells him quietly.
"Uh, yes, Mr. Hastings, I-uh- I-" He looks concerned, and lowers the mouthpiece to ask Dancer, "By any chance, did you deliver a Christmas present to Mr. Hastings in my name?"
"Tell him to shut up and look out his window," Dancer orders.
"Um-Nothing personal, Mr. Hastings, but could you shut up and look out the window? Yes, sir, that's what I said. Shut up and look out the window." He tells Laura, "He says he's gonna break our lease. Never wanted a private investigator in here in the first place. They attract the wrong sort of people to his building. Hmm?" he says into the phone. "He's at the window," he tells Dancer.
"What does he see?" Dancer asks.
"What do you see?" he pulls the phone away from his ear as Hastings answers. "He sees this building."
Dancer checks his watch. "Tell him to keep watching."
"The advice I get is to keep watching," Steele tells Hastings.
We see the side of the tower- and suddenly an upper floor explodes in flames. The lights dim in the office, the building shakes as if struck by an earthquake. Once things settle, Dancer hands a paper to Steele.
"Here. Read that to him," he says, joining his two partners.
Steele looks at the note. "I've just been handed a note to read to you. 'Unless I receive two million dollars with non-consecutive serial numbers, by 7:00 tomorrow morning, your building will be blown up, one floor at a time.'" He hangs up, looking at Dancer.
"Merry Christmas, everybody," he wishes. "May we all live to see the New Year." He starts laughing.
The next scene begins with "I'll be Home for Christmas". Prancer is pacing before the doors, and Mildred, eating, frowns as she hears someone chanting. Turning, she sees Eva sitting cross-legged, chanting.
Mildred moves past Jack, who's in the eggnog again, looking sad. Dancer watches them all.
In Steele's office, Donner is at the window, and says, "It doesn't make sense. Nothin's stirrin' out there. Not a car, a person, nothing. I mean, that wasn't exactly a firecracker that went off."
Laura and Steele are with Dr. Scabbard across the room, changing the bandage. "Doesn't anybody know what's going on around here?" Scabbard asks.
"The Taking of Pelham, 1-2-3," Steele mutters.
"What?" Scabbard asks.
Laura glances at him, then resumes her first aid. "Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw, United Artists, 1974."
"We're all gonna die like dogs and he's talkin' about a movie?" Scabbard asks Laura.
"Movies often help Mr. Steele clarify a situation," Laura informs him quietly. "That is what you're doing, isn't it?" she asks.
"Four men take a subway train hostage," he explains. "They demand ransom or they'll kill all the passengers. The only problem is, once they get the money, how do they get away? In a subway? The train's movement is electronically charted from up above."
Donner comes over. "What are you guys talking about?" he asks.
"Subway trains," Scabbard informs him.
Donner nods, not understanding, and goes back to the window.
"It seems our captors are in much the same predicament," Laura tells Scabbard. "The explosion draws the police, the police seal off the building- how do the Santas get out?"
"Perhaps- Blitzen holds the key to that," Steele suggests.
"Well, I'm in no mood to sit around and wait for him and make fools of us," she tells him.
"Dancer has a gun," Steele reminds her.
"Two, actually," she says, looking toward the other room.
"It might be helpful to learn if the other Santas are armed."
"One way to find out," she decides, releasing Scabbard's foot and starting to rise.
Steele grabs her arm. "Um, that little escapade with the gun---didn't lower your estimation of me, did it?" he asks.
"In my opinion," she informs him, "both you and Mildred were far too reckless." They lean toward each other and he gives her a kiss on the cheek as Scabbard watches. They look at him, and he laughs nervously.
Laura pats Steele's hand on Scabbard's leg, then takes a deep breath. She stands, and acts distraught. "This is crazy," she insists, as Donner comes over to her.
"Sit," he says.
"This is cruel and inhuman and crazy," she continues. "Why are you doing this to us? Why are you keeping us here? What do you want?" she demands to know, shrieking.
"Sit down!" he says, taking her arm.
She pulls away. "I can't sit down! I can't stand it anymore! The heat, the fear!" Steele and Scabbard exchange amazed looks. Laura throws her arms around Donner, sobbing. "Oh, please, please, please let us go! Please!" she begs, searching him without his knowing it. "We won't tell anyone, we promise! We swear!"
He pulls at her arms. "Lady, Lady, I'm not too happy about things myself, now don't make it any worse!" His beard is coming loose. He pushes her toward the sofa, where she sits next to Steele, her head on his shoulder as she pretends to sob.
"He's clean," she says between sobs.
"Well," Steele tells them, "that worked once. I don't think Prancer's going to go for an encore."
"Perhaps I can enlist Mildred," Laura suggests, again between sobs. She gets up and goes to Donner, ignoring his finger pointing her back to the sofa. "Listen. I need a drink. Can I get something to drink?"
"Yeah," he says. "And bring me one, too."
Laura goes out to the lobby, the holly that was in her hair hanging askew as she finds herself confronted by Dancer's leering stare. Eva is still chanting. Laura goes to Mildred and sits down.
"Judy," Jack says tearfully. "Judy. Judy!" He's obviously imbibed too much eggnog. Dancer turns to him. "Shh," Jack agrees. "She's not a bad woman. Really. She's not mean intentionally. She doesn't even know she's nagging me to death. She just wants the best for me. And the kids." He's crying. "She stays at home. And cooks, and cleans. There's always a fresh pie in the oven. Does the kids homework for them," he really starts crying. "God, I miss her."
"I liked you better when you didn't," Dancer tells him.
"Oh, please. Let me call her." He gets down on his knees. "Let me tell her how much I love her. She deserves to hear that. I haven't said that to her in--five years." He starts crying again.
"No, I'm sorry, Eggnog, gotta keep the lines open."
"Oh, Judith!" Jack cries. "How can I make this up to you?"
"Hey, you really wanna do something for your old lady?"
"Come here," Dancer says, pulling him to his feet. "How much insurance you got?"
"Why?" Jack asks.
Dancer points to the end of his gun. "One pill," he puts his hand at the back of Jack's head, "back of the head. Quick, painless. A great Christmas present. Everytime she spends a dime, she thinks of you."
"I don't love her THAT much," Jack tells him.
Mildred and Laura are in shock.
Prancer goes to Eva, who's still sitting, chanting. "Put a lid on it, will ya?" he asks. When she ignores him, he hits her shoulder. "Hey, you, girlie! Shut up!"
"I'm not here," she says in a sing-song voice. "I'm in a green space. The sun is warm on my face a cold breeze rippling my hair. Peace and contentment far away from this foul, vicious place." She starts chanting again.
"Leave her alone," Dancer tells Prancer. "She's a flower child. Filled with peace and love for all mankind, ain't that right, dipsy?"
Eva pauses in her chanting, then resumes, this time with her hands over her ears, and her chant is louder.
"Hey, I bet you used to run around sticking flowers in guns, huh?"
Eva stops chanting, lowers her hands and glares at him. "If I had a gun now, I'd know where I'd stick it," she declares and moves away.
Dancer turns to Laura and Mildred. "You see? It don't take much to push even the most peaceful soul over the edge."
Laura stands up to confront him. "I bet you enjoy that, don't you? Pushing people over the edge?"
"Everybody's gotta have a hobby," Dancer tells her as Mildred tries to pull Laura back.
"Yeah, well," Prancer announces, sounding nervous, "mine ain't dying!" Dancer's attention turns to him. "Look," Prancer points out, going to the doors, "we're trapped in here! Any minute, they'll come blasting through the doors. This isn't what I signed on for!"
"Then what DID you sign on for, Donner?" Laura asks as Mildred continues to pick at the snacks from the plate she'd holding.
"PRANCER!" he declares. "I'm Prancer, for God's sakes!"
"Sorry," Laura apologizes.
"He said all I had to do was sit on some people for five hours, I'd walk away with five grand. Five grand on Christmas ain't nothin' to sneeze at. I been out of work for eight months, they cut off my unemployment. My kids- they walk around with newspapers in their shoes like it's the damned Depression or something! I don't care about the dough now. I just wanna walk away with my skin." He goes to the doors and looks out.
"You know," Dancer says, going toward him, "I had a lieutenant like you in my outfit once-I fragged him."
"The joint is probably crawling with cops," Prancer tells him. "At least give me a piece. You got two. I don't even got a pen-knife."
Dancer tosses the agency gun to him. "Careful you don't shoot off a vital organ," he warns menacingly.
Laura tries to remove the sagging holly from her hair as she tells Mildred, "Great. Now they're BOTH armed."
"Not really," Mildred tells her. "The Agency gun doesn't have any bullets in it. The Boss has them."
Laura looks shocked. "Did he know that when he had the gun?"
"Mm-hmm," Mildred confirms. "He saved my life."
"Quite an actor, our Mr. Steele." Mildred nods in agreement.
In the office, Steele sits beside Scabbard and shows him the bullets. "Tell him you have to go to the bathroom," Steele tells him.
"But I don't have to GO to the bathroom," Scabbard insists.
Steele sighs, sits forward, and deliberately hits the injured foot, causing the man to cry out. "Ow!"
Donner turns to look at them. "What's the matter with you?"
"I have to go to the bathroom," Scabbard tells him quickly.
"I'll help him," Steele offers, assisting the man into the bath.
"Now that I'm here, I think I DO have to go," Scabbard decides.
"Later," Steele tells him. "I'm gonna try and maneuver Prancer out of the room."
"Donner. That one is Donner."
"Whoever it is, once I get him out, build a fire in the wastebasket. It has to be absolutely white hot, so use as much paper as you can possibly find." He pulls out the bullets. "Then throw these in."
Scabbard looks at the bullets. "What for?"
"If we're living right, they should explode. Hopefully diverting Dancer long enough for me to get his gun."
Scabbard is frightened. "I don't think I can do that," he says.
Steele puts his hands over Scabbard's shoulders. "Ordinary men, in extraordinary situations, often find courage they never knew they had. I think you're that kind of man, doctor. And if that appeal doesn't sway you, then think of your branch office in Encino."
"Give me the bullets," Scabbard tells him.
Steele hands them over and leaves. Donner is outside. "He's alright?"
"Sure, it's just nerves, like the rest of us. Shall we see what's keeping Miss Holt with those drinks?"
"Yeah," Donner agrees, but pauses. "I don't know how I got roped into this. Well, that's not true. I wanted the money."
"Think you'll live to spend it?" Steele asks.
"I wanted it to hire a lawyer. I go to trial next week, you know, a little job that went sour. Three years in the slammer don't look so bad right now."
"You could help us," Steele suggests.
Donner pauses. "Go against Dancer?" he asks, scared at the thought. Steele nods. "I'll take my chances with the cops," he decides.
They go out to the main room just as the phone rings. Dancer answers it. "Yeah It took you guys long enough to get here Hey, hold onto your pants. He'll be out in a minute." He hangs up and tells Steele, "You go talk to the guys in blue. Let em know how serious we are. And tell 'em to make way for Blitzen."
Prancer unlocks the door for him, and Steele opens it, hands in the air. He goes down the hall to find a SWAT team waiting- along with an angry looking man in a suit.
"Steele?" the SWAT team leader asks.
The suited man asks, "WHAT are you doing to my building? Now, you march right around back in there and tells those-those hoodlums that the authorities take a very DIM view of the destruction of private property."
"What about the people in there?" Steele asks, angry.
Hastings shrugs. "Well, them, too, of course."
"How many hostages?" the leader asks.
"Seven, including me. Then there's Dancer, Donner, and Prancer."
"Reindeer?" the leader asks in a serious tone.
"Code names. They're all dressed up as Santas."
"How apropos," Hastings sneers.
"Only one's armed. He's the most dangerous."
"The bomb squad's going through the building now," the leader tells him. "So far, nothing."
"You wanna have them check anything wrapped as Christmas presents. Santa delivering Christmas gifts on Christmas Eve wouldn't arouse any suspicions."
"How the hell do they expect to get out of here?" the leader asks.
"They're waiting for another Santa- Blitzen. He's the one with the escape plan, so you'd better send him on through."
"What about tear gas?"
"First whiff, he'll shoot anything that moves."
"Alright, we'll come up with something."
"Come up with two million," Steele tells them.
Hastings hedges. "Well, I have to make a few phone calls, first, to see if my insurance covers this sort of thing-"
Steele grabs Hastings' shirt and presses him against the wall. "I don't care about your insurance company, MISTER Hastings! The one in there they call Dancer is a road company Rambo. If he doesn't get the money, everyone's gonna be a casualty. Do you understand that?"
"If I have to take it to the Supreme Court, I am going to break your lease!" Hastings declares.
The sound of gunshots fills the air, and Steele groans. "Aw, dammit, doc!"
IN the offices, Dancer heads toward Steele's office to investigate the gunshots, and falls over the chair that Eva had been sitting in. He falls, and the gun goes flying. Laura grabs it as Steele runs in. Prancer tries to shoot him with the Agency gun.
"It's not loaded," he realizes, and Steele sends him down with a right cross.
Eva, standing behind Laura, rushes toward the door, crying, "I have to get out of here!" She pushes Laura aside, causing Laura to fall, losing the gun. Dancer falls on it as Steele gets to him.
When Dancer turns over, the gun is pointing at Steele's chest. "I'd love to splatter that pretty face all over this room," he declares.
Scabbard comes to the door, smiling. "Hey, Steele! How did I do-" He notices what's going on and his smile vanishes.
Dancer stands up. "One blink, one twitch, one sneeze that I don't know about, and none of you people are gonna be around to read about what a terrifying time you had."
A Santa knocks on the door, and Prancer runs over and opens it. "Blitzen! Thank God!"
"Sorry I'm late," the new Santa declares, his speech slurred by drink, "but what the hell. The party's still goin' on."
"Blitzen?" Prancer asks.
"Felix Creedle," he replies. "I wanna ask you a question. What's goin' on here? I know I'm a little bit late. But is that any reason to hire three Santa Clauses?" he asks. "Besides, I have been entertaining kids all afternoon, and I needed a little something to steady my nerves." Steele crosses his arms in consternation. "HEY! Lighten up! Didn't anybody tell ya its Christmas Eve?" When no one laughs, he sits back on the desk. "Boy, this is one tough room."
The next morning, as we view the burned out side of the building to the strains of "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas", the SWAT team leader joins his group on the eleventh floor to ask, "Any word from Hastings?" His man shakes his head no. The leader looks at his watch.
Laura is sitting on the ledge of Steele's office window. "Christmas was always one of my favorite holidays," she tells him as he sits at the desk. "It was the one day of in year when everyone seemed to get along with everyone else. Even my mother." They smile. "And my father. He'd always give me a box of parlays."
"What's that?" Steele asks her.
"Candy," she replies. "It's my favorite candy in the whole world."
"Christmas doesn't hold any special memories for you, does it?"
"I remember one," he tells her. "I saw this father and his son. They were walking in the snow, hand in hand. The boy was about my age. Ten or eleven. He had a sled, and- I don't know why I followed them. I told myself it was for the sled, I was going to snatch it from the boy-sell it for a couple of quid, see if I could buy myself a place to kip that night. But that wasn't it at all," he confesses. "I just wanted to see-"
"They went up the steps. Small house, nothing fancy. If I hung over the railings, I could look into the front room." He tilts his head and looks as if he can see the scene in his mind still. "There was a Christmas tree. Presents. Not a lot. People. Smiling. All warm and loving."
"What did you do?" Laura asks.
"Threw a rock through the window and ran like hell," he tells her, and laughs. "Oh, dear."
She comes over to him as he puts on his watch. "One flexible flyer coming up," she promises.
Steele puts his hands on her head and pulls her to him for a long kiss, then another one.
In the reception area, Allison is sitting on the sofa, Felix's head in her lap. He's practically passed out. Allison looks tearful. Jack is sitting at Mildred's desk, head down. Mildred and Donner come in. "I made some fresh coffee," she announces. Donner puts a tray with cups on the desk.
"Hey, Eggnog," Dancer asks, "What time you got?"
"Twenty to seven," Jack responds with a look at his watch.
"One way or another, it won't be long now," Dancer tells them.
Allison stands up, sending Felix to the floor as she announces, "I want a baby!"
Felix, lying on the floor, mutters, "Just one more, chick. I gotta entertain some idiots in Century City."
Allison looks down at him, then steps over him. "I know what you're thinking. Allison Green's got it made! She's the perfect woman of the eighties! And why shouldn't you? I do all the correct eighties things. I read 'Cosmo', shop Bloomingdale's, drive a Beemer. So you tell me, can ANY of you tell me WHY am I so unfulfilled?" she concludes on a teary note. "Why do I feel so empty? So meaningless? I was going to work at home today. Christmas Day. I was going to eat my three hundred calorie frozen noodles Romanoff, and try to come up with a new way to sell feminine hygiene products to people who don't want them! And don't NEED them! I'm warm. Loving. I want to give. Nurture something that has some- meaning in life. Something worthwhile. And now I'm gonna die before I even have the chance! I want a baby."
"Come over here, sweetie," Dancer offers. "I think I can help you out."
She's horrified at the idea. "Yuck!" she declares.
The SWAT leader looks at his watch again. "Alright, men, saddle up!" His men cock their guns.
Dancer checks Jack's watch. It's 7:00. "Well, children, looks like we all get a free trip to the Promised Land." The phone rings. "Yeah? Well, you got in just under the wire, pal." He hangs up. " The money's here." He looks around, then points at Eva. "YOU. You go get it."
"Me? Why me?" she asks. "I don't wanna go out there."
"I'll go," Steele offers. "I was the one who established contact with them."
"No," Dancer insists. "She goes." He grabs her and lifts her.
"My purse!" Eva cries. "Everything I own is in it!" Dancer carries her to the door, and the other two shove her out, while Dancer turns to keep the gun on the others. "Don't shoot!" Eva yells. "Please don't shoot!" She walks toward the SWAT team.
"Okay," Prancer says, "We got the dough, now how do we get out of here with it?" he asks Dancer. "Huh?"
"That was Blitzen's end, wasn't it?" Laura asks.
"How was he gonna do it?" Donner wonders.
"Plastic explosives," Dancer suggests. "Tie em to the slugs. Pressure point detonators. You know, like hand grenades without a pin. The cops drop us, they blow sky high."
"Change of plan seems to be in order here, doesn't it?" Steele asks.
"Hey," Donner says, "Come on, Dancer, you're running this operation, give us our marching orders!"
Dancer steps forward. "Wait a minute, I'm thinking, I'm thinking."
"Oh, come on, give it up, mate," Steele suggests. "The string's run out."
"You know, I hope you like Santa. Yeah, pretty boy," Dancer tells him. "Because it's the last thing you're ever gonna see," he threatens, pointing the gun at Steele. The phone rings. "Answer it," he tells Laura.
She picks it up. "Laura Holt What?"
"What is it?" Dancer asks.
"Eva said she was instructed to take the money down to the lobby."
"What? I didn't tell her to do that!"
Laura says into the phone, "She was supposed to bring the money back here."
"What the hell is going on here?!" Dancer yells, furious at the change in plans.
In the elevator, Eva presses the button for every floor, then gets off and carries the case full of money to a Maintenance closet, which she opens with a key after looking around. She goes inside.
Back in the office, they empty Eva's bag onto Mildred's desk. It's filled with some unusual items. Steele picks one, a metal box with an antenna up and tells them, "Remote control detonator."
"She set off the explosion," Laura realizes. "When she went into the bathroom."
Mildred turns on the tape recorder. We hear a man saying, "When the money arrives, select the plant lady, no matter how much she protests."
Laura looks at Dancer. "Is that Blitzen?" she asks.
He nods, and Allison asks, "Why record something you're going to say on the telephone?"
"Unless," Steele says thoughtfully, taking the recorder and making a speed adjustment before rewinding the tape. He presses the play button again.
This time, it's Eva's voice. "When the money arrives, select the plant lady, no matter how much she protests."
"You'd record it so you can change the speed of the tape to sound like something you're not," Laura informs Allison. "A man."
"She's Blitzen," Mildred realizes.
The phone rings, and Steele answers. "Steele here Hmm?" He holds the phone down to tell the others, "She never reached the lobby. For your information, Captain, the little lady with the two million dollars is also the author of this Kafkaesque drama Yeah, keep in touch Yeah, okay." He hangs up. "They're starting a floor by floor search," he tells Laura.
She looks at the Santas. "You've been had, pal. She never intended for any of you to escape." Looking at Mildred, she wonders, "But how is she gonna do it? I mean, there is a sea of blue down there."
Steele gets an idea, just as Laura gets the same one. They turn to each other. "That's IT!"
Eva comes out of the Maintenance room, now dressed as an LAPD motorcycle cop, replete with helmet and sunglasses. She's put the money into a canvas bag, and starts down the hallway to the stairs.
Laura picks up the phone, and starts dialing. But Dancer lifts his gun. "Put it down."
"She'll get away!" Laura insists.
"I WANT her to," Dancer says. "If it's the last thing I do, I'm going to hunt her down, and then I'm going to squeeze that two million out of her, penny by penny." He grabs Allison. "Hello, sweetie. Now let's you and me see if those 300 calorie dinners can stop a bullet."
"NO!" Allison cries, breaking away from him.
Mildred grabs the coffee pot and tosses the hot liquid into Dancer's face, causing him to drop the gun and put his hands to his face, falling to the floor, screaming.
The other two Santas make a break for it, but Steele hits one, and Laura elbows the other. Mildred grabs the gun and holds it on Prance and Donner. "Okay, one blink, one twitch, one sneeze I don't know about, and you'll be home for Christmas in a box."
"Nicely put, Mildred," Steele says, then steps over the still whining Dancer, Laura right behind.
"Mildred," Laura says, "Call the lobby, tell them what to look for."
Eva walks through the lobby, unnoticed, seconds before the elevator door opens and Steele lifts his hands with a nervous smile. "I'm Remington Steele!" he tells the officers who point their rifles at he and Laura.
Arms also raised, Laura says, "I'm with him."
They come out and hear a motorcycle starting. "How are your instincts?" Steele asks Laura.
"Same as yours."
"Let's go," he says, taking off.
Outside, Eva pulls her bike out onto the street. Laura and Steele come out and jump onto a second LAPD bike, and take off after her.
They catch up to her, and Laura jumps from one bike to the back of the other. She and Eva struggle for control of the bike, winding up crashing into a Christmas tree stand. As Sonny Averona sings, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," Laura grabs Eva and tosses her into a fake snowbank, where she lays, stunned.
Laura lifts her hands and gives her the "peace" sign.
Back at the office, Jack is getting ready to leave. "You know, all things considered, it wasn't such a bad Christmas party. I wouldn't mind making it an annual event." Laura laughs, Steele grimaces. "But next year," he adds, "I'm gonna bring Judith."
"Good, good," Steele tells him, shaking his hand. "Take care, Jack. Bye-bye."
"Good bye," Laura says, giving Jack a kiss on the cheek.
Felix is writing something on a paper, then tears it off to give to Mildred. "What's this?" she asks.
"That's my bill," he informs her. "But don't worry. Since I was late, I only charged you for the time I actually spent here." Mildred's jaw drops in surprise.
Allison tells Laura and Steele, "Well, I have some things to clean up in my office."
"You're still going to work today?" Laura asks in disbelief.
"Not on your life. I'm going upstairs to type my resignation. Hey, there's a whole world out there that has nothing to do with deodorants! Thank the good lord! Merry Christmas."
Steele chuckles. "Take care, Allison," he wishes, giving her a kiss on the cheek. "Bye-bye."
Laura takes her hand. "Bye," she wishes, exchanging a kiss with the other woman.
Laura, Steele, and Mildred turn to address the camera. "Joyeaux Noel," Laura says.
"Feliz Navidad," Steele adds.
"Merry Christmas, everyone," Mildred finishes.
With a smile, Steele throws a kiss.