"A Good Year"
Original airdate: Week of April 17, 2000
by Michelle Erica Green

The World's Most Valuable Bottle of Wine

"A Good Year" Plot Summary:

At the royal palace in Paris, 1792, Marie Antoinette removes jewels from her collection as she anticipates the mob outside. Her lover Jerome Halezan, a former stable boy, begs her to leave, for her son and husband have already been captured. She refuses to flee, but gives Halezan the jewels, asking him to guard them for her son. He hides the jewels in a bottle of wine.

Professor Dupuys from the Louvre arrives to see Sydney with a toy horse that reportedly belonged to Louis XVI's son. It is rumored to hold a clue to the lost crown jewels, in the form of a limerick referring to the Halezan vineyard. In France, Sydney and Nigel discover Chateau Halezan on the market when a delivery girl inquires whether they might want to buy it. Inside the house, the Halezan heir tries to scare them off, but he has his own problems - huge gambling debts which have put crime lords on his tail. While Sydney helps fight off thugs, the delivery girl steals several bottles of wine, including the 1792 bottle with the jewels. Halezan tries to pass off a 1910 bottle as the family treasure, but when Sydney insists that he look for the real thing, he sees that the priceless bottle is gone.

A dropped grocery list leads Sydney to the delivery girl, who has given the bottle to her sister, but crime lord Mischa snatches it out of their hands when they recover it, announcing that he will auction it since Halezan still owes him a small fortune. Halezan has been to Mischa's home in the Rue Madame, and leads Sydney and Nigel into the catacombs under the city which parallel the streets to avoid the criminal's security systems. The group smashes through a new brick wall and through a secret entrance into Mischa's home, sneaking into the library where Mischa's safe is hidden in a closet full of women's clothes. Sydney finds a secret room armed with laser sensors, but uses cigar smoke to sneak past the lasers and find the bottle. But Halezan sets off the alarms and the group gets caught by Mischa, who leaves his thugs to deal with the intruders so he can go to a fine wine auction.

Sydney easily dispatches the minions and steals a dress from the closet so she can sneak into the auction, where she is about to get the bottle for $200,000 when Halezan unexpectedly bids $300,000 to make the family name more impressive. He pours the wine into a carafe, promising Sydney and Nigel that 1792 was a good year, but the jewels are not in the bottle. Halezan cannot understand how it can be possible, since a family legend surrounded the singular bottle: his great-grandfather wanted to sell the bottle to save the winery during hard times, but his wife threatened to kill him and never trusted him again afterwards. Sydney suddenly runs down to the cellar, pulling out the 1910 bottle Halezan had tried to give her in the first place. She realized that the bottle had no seam from a mold, meaning it was hand-blown and probably much older than its label. Sure enough, the rubies and diamonds are inside.

Back at Trinity, Claudia shows Nigel a photo of a tattoo she got on her...ahem...because it's a symbol of Egyptian fertility. Nigel looks at the symbol and says it's actually the Assyrian heiroglyph for "marketplace." Claudia is devastated, but Sydney can't stop laughing because Nigel made the whole thing up.


This funny, charming episode doesn't stand up to any analysis at all. Why would Marie Antoinette have written a limerick in English whose first letters spell out "bijou," the French word for "jewel"? How come the "No Trespassing" signs are in English on the gate to a French chateau? How come a crime lord with cameras above his windows and doors doesn't have a sensor by the secret back entrance to the catacombs, and his hidden safe has a simple three-number combination lock?

As I said, not worth thinking about. It's more fun to think about Marie Antoinette's romantic scandals, not to mention the scandalous behavior Nigel witnessed in the catacombs - helpfully explained by Halezan as a popular place for people to do...things. The best image of the episode was Claudia's offer to pull up her dress and show Nigel her tattoo live and in the flesh; the look on his face was more terrified than when facing armed thugs about to drop the priceless bottle of wine. Who cares about details when one can watch Sydney singlehandedly beat all the bad guys, recall the details of a wine bottle she held for ten seconds, interpret metaphors about the names of former French rulers, and race into an auction in a red sequined dress that's just to die for?

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