by Cary O'Dell
It is Saturday morning now. ("Morning in America"?) Still the rigid formality of the television of the times wins out: Dad is no longer in his suit but is in a neatly pressed V-neck sweater over a dress shirt buttoned up to the very top. Meanwhile, Margaret is attired in yet another far from functional house dress. Notably, both have forgone the lighter hues of yesterday and are both sporting black.
At 5 am, Bud is rudely awakened by Mr. Anderson pounding on a metal tub with a wooden spoon. "Maybe you could sleep in on Saturday back in decadent America, but in Tyrantland...," Dad says as he rips off the covers and heads into the rooms of Betty and Kathy.
At the breakfast table, all the kids are wearing their number signs and are moping over their lame breakfast of only one whole carrot each. Bud tries to distract himself by reading the morning paper. That is until the Leader snatches it away, "You only read what we want you to read."
Margaret/Mom/Deputy has the work orders for the day and she reads them off her official-looking clipboard: "117 will clean the garage and the basement...then in the afternoon, mow the lawn. 112 and 120 will clean the whole house."
120, er, Betty looses her cool, "If we have to do all this work, we demand to be paid!"
Dad responds, "You have been paid, $18.75. Wanna give up?"
Betty wonders aloud about forming a union. Of course the leaders of Tyrantland quickly squashes the idea: "In Tyrantland, we create the unions, we run the unions. What do you think this is? A democracy?"
Later, their numbers still around their necks and wearing red bandanas (often a symbol of the working class) tied around their heads, Betty and Kathy are seen at the stairs cleaning and polishing. Betty is talking on an illegal phone call about a teenage hayride planned for later that night. It's suppose to start at 6:30 but Betty explains that she can't leave the house until one minute after 8. "Ah, I'll explain it all later," Betty says into the receiver.
Determined to get to that hayride, Betty starts to plan a "Midnight Express"-type escape from Tyrantland. Betty, far from the good girl/good student she has always been depicted as throughout the run of the series, now turns rebellious and dishonest; life in Tyrantland has made her de-evolve. Betty considers having her friend Ralph call her father, disguise his voice, and set up a phony meeting downtown "about some insurance" at "about 6:30."
Betty's plotting though is halted when Bud comes up from the basement carrying the equipment of the great American past time: a baseball glove and bat. He is conspicuously not wearing his number around his neck.
Unfortunately their leader had other ideas. Like Orwell's all-knowing Big Brother (Betty: "It's like he has eyes in the back of his head!"), Mr. Anderson is waiting just outside the front door. As Bud attempts to exit the house, Dad literally lassos him with his number tag. "Going somewhere, 117?"
Bud blunders through some lies as his father interrogates him about his attempted escape. As punishment, and quite roughly, Dad drags his son back into the house and sentences him to the dungeon (i.e. the garage).
But before the Tyrant leaves, he turns to Betty and asks, "And how did you plan to sneak out of the house, 120?"
Betty's plan now thwarted, she asks her father how he knew about her trick. Mr. Anderson says he might have informants--"perhaps right in your own ranks." The idea of dissension has been planted, paranoia and mistrust ensues. Betty glares at Kathy as Kathy shakes her head vigorously "no!" Then again, Mr. Anderson says, Tyrantland also monitors all incoming and outgoing phone calls on the extension in the kitchen.
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