We open on another crime in progress. Charlie's Angels loves to open during crimes in progress. Four obviously female thieves dressed like thieves break into the Kenyan Security building, order some useless guards to the floor, and grab piles of cash that are laying around on tables for some reason. During the getaway one of the masked thugs gets shot in the back by an overzealous security guard - he pulls off the ski mask, and we are supposed to be surprised that the thug is, in fact, a thugette. We are not.
Later at the office, the dead chick is ID'd as Amy Nelson by her father, who explains that she was supposed to be in Calejo Womens' Prison at the time of her death for writing bad checks. Amy's father can't believe his daughter was involved in the robbery (after all she's a bad check writer, not a thief) and it's decided that an Angel has to go inside of Calejo prison undercover (why?). After an absurd attempt by Tiffany to volunteer, Kris solemnly chooses herself to be the Caged Angel!
Kris (Kristine Martin, now) is introduced to the warden, Ms. Ingrid, and her corrections counselor Lily Burton. “Welcome to prison Kris, call me Lily,” the polite corrections officer offers. Seriously?
As Lily is explaining to Kris that “sometimes in prison you need a sense of humor” Kris runs into Lonnie, a gruff woman who likes to send inmates to the infirmary. In short order Kris encounters the remainder of her prison co-stars including the mountainous Big Aggie (rather inappropriately assigned to the skin search processing de-lousing room) and a perpetually perturbed female guard with a bad perm.
That night, Kris is visited by a creeping Big Aggie who seems to have key to her room...er, cell. Big Aggie proceeds to rob her of her money and make-up. (In prison.) She warns Kris that “it will cost you here” (in prison) and Kris is left sobbing and cowers under her covers.
The next day things get worse as two of Big Aggie's lackeys, Coley and Singer, harass Kris about scrubbing the floor. Aggie runs them off just to remind Kris that she belongs to her. Yuck.
Back at the office, the rest of the team discovers that Amy used to date a driver for Kenyan Security and that was probably the way she ended up being part of the robbery.
Next, Kris is getting a massage (in prison) by a lady who turns out to be her contact, probably one of Charlie's retired bimbos; she tells Kris that Amy didn't know the company layout well enough to plan that robbery all alone. She also reminds Kris that the intel in her file is too good for the other crooks to resist trying to recruit her into the gang.
Later that day in the prison yard Singer, Coley and Aggie discuss Kris. Seems they took the bait, read her file and have learned about how Kris used to be the assistant manager of the Van Dorian diamond company...just down the street! (From a prison.) They throw Lonnie's make-up kit into a puddle of water and blame it on Kris. Despite her protest, Lonnie attacks Kris and after a brief chase, ends up being thrown in the pool. (In prison.) It looks like Lonnie pumps iron better than she swims; after surfacing long enough to gasp "I can't swim", Kris dives in and rescues her. As all this is happening the male guards have to be ordered by Lily to “break it up”. Kris and Lonnie are set to be sent to the hole (which in this prison probably means they can't use the diving board or something) but Kris takes the blame, and Lonnie looks gratefully puzzled.
Later that night, Big Aggie once again proves she can get at Kris, entering her locked cell and threatening her by petting her hair. She explains that she wants to use Kris' knowledge of the Van Dorian security system to pull another robbery.
The next day Lonnie thanks Kris for saving her life, and reveals her sensitive side by explaining that her family didn't talk to her. Seems Lonnie is locked up for stabbing her brother-in-law for hitting her sister with a tire iron. She then pledges her alligence to Kris so that they can act like lifelong best friends for the rest of the episode.
Back at the office, Charlie reveals to a chipper, modelling Tiffany and Kelly that the security schematics Kris has been studying are outdated and worthless. But how will Kelly and Tiffany get this information to her? Dressed as nuns in an awkward, poorly-thought-out scene, that's how. They slip Kris the updated info in a religious pamphlet, explaining in clumsy clues that she needs to get the paper wet and read a hidden message. The warden smiles, oblivious.
Just as Kris is reading the plans in the shower, Aggie interrupts (is there any place this woman doesn't have a key to?) and informs Kris they are going on the job tonight. So Aggie, Coley, Singer and Kris grab a waiting car, change into burglar suits, disable the diamond company's only external alarm, and clean out the safe. Back at the prison, the jig is up when Snitty guard finds Kris's discarded schematics! Charlie calls Kelly in the middle of the night and informs her that the robbery went down early and to get Kris out of there! She looks like she'd rather go back to sleep.
When Aggie and her gang return to the prison, Lily emerges from the darkness and reveals that she is in cahoots and getting a cut of the loot. She also rats Kris out and the gang tries to nab her; she flees to go wake up Lonnie for help. Together they run to the prison power plant with Aggie, Coley and Singer close behind.
In a brief game of cat and mouse, Lonnie takes out Singer and Coley, Aggie shoots Lonnie in the shoulder, and Kris kicks Aggie into a pile of paint cans. Tiffany and Kelly come running in 2 seconds after all the action and don't even get to yell "freeze".
In the wrap up scene, Charlie announces that that the windfall fee the Townsend Agency got will go to Amy's son and that Charlie influenced the court to let Lonnie out early. Lonnie herself then enters the office, with her hair styled and her arm in a sling. The two ex-cons hug and you're left wondering why Kelly, Tiffany and Bosley were in this at all.
• Why is Kris all flinching and wincing at the tick spray? Is Calejo's more caustic than Pine Parrish's? Watch for boom shadows.
• The photo on the drivers license we glimpse while Big Aggie is looting Kris' purse is not of Kris.
• Singer, the dark-haired lackey with few lines, seems like a pretty, puny little thing that Big Aggie should be traumatizing instead of employing as a henchwoman. She better hope nobody notices.
• Why did the lady bother starting to massage Kris before letting on she was the contact?
• Kris was able to learn the whole new security system wiring simply by looking at a diagram in the shower for like 4 seconds? Talk about a quick study.
• When Lily examines the pamphlet Kris had in the shower, the pages are nice and crisp.
• "You're welcome, my child," Kelly references her own scene the way you should not do if it wasn't that great in the first place. Nothing makes a middling joke funnier than bringing it up again later. "Remember when I made that joke earlier?? Ohhh, man. Good times, good times."
• Watch the windows in the building behind Jaclyn Smith and Shelley Hack in habit - you'll notice a few lookieloos watching the filming from inside.
• During closeups of electrical work, check out the large hairy man arms on "Kris".
• Why doesn't Kris simply shut all the crooks inside the Van Dorian safe?
• Why does Lonnie walk all slow past that opening where she knows Big Aggie is watching with a gun? She's supposed to be a diversion, not a target.
• Why do Bosley, Kelly and Tiffany come in and simply stare at Kris and Lonnie? Why does only Bosley have a gun? Why do they all have their backs to the bad guys?
• What kind of sling is Lonnie wearing at the end? Its looks like the kind the Boy Scouts teach you to make if you're ever lost in the woods and break your arm.
• Kris appeared to spend at least 6 days in the cage (probably more, but we aren't told how long she was kept in solitary confinement). Take that, chain gang.
BAD GUYS BEAT DOWN
SHOTS FIRED AT ANGELS
SHOTS FIRED BY ANGELS
DAYS TO SOLVE CASE (?)
PAINT CANS CRUSHED
Kris checks into Calejo with her purse, 2 huge bags of clothes, make up, and cash! In prison!
There is a humongous pool with apparently no one guarding it! In prison!
There is a toolbox in the (unlocked) power plant with tire irons and giant wrenches just asking to be used as murder weapons! In prison!
The inmates seem to have access to / control over the entire prison during the chase at the end, including the apparent freedom to simply get in a car and leave. They said it's minimum security, but this has to be the lowest-security facility in history.
Ok, before we get to that, Tiffany's hair in the early scenes after Kris has gone “inside” looks like an asymmetrical semi-poof. It needed to be said. However, Tiffany did look very nice in red during the office wrap-up. All three Angels actually looked lovely in that scene and it's a good thing too, because the remainder of the episode features Kris in prison drag with minimally-styled hair (realism) and Kelly and Tiffany dressed as bespectacled nuns.
Wardrobe Repeat Kris wore this pink thing in Avenging Angel. For honorary mention, this is the first time we've seen her in a classic burglar outfit since she last stole diamonds (Diamond in the Rough, that is) though thankfully the version Big Aggie provided didn't include sexy burglin' tights and spandex.
B+ PRODUCTION... SOMETIMES
Spelling / Goldberg actually went to the trouble of winding the clock at Kelly's bedside to the correct time noted in her dialogue to Charlie. Noticing this means that we are starved for any level of detail orientation in this program.
Strangely enough, the tiny file photo taped to Kris' dossier and checked by the gate guard at Calejo Prison actually IS a picture of Cheryl Ladd - the one they use pretty much every time we need to see a photo of Kris (see below for images from Angel in a Box, Rosemary, for Remembrance.)
That avenue of detail dissolves quickly, however, when a close-up is glimpsed of Kris' drivers license depicts . . . someone who is not Kris.
DISAPPOINTING POST-DANGER REUNION
When Kelly and Tiff burst in with guns, Kris acts all proud and casual like everything is fine even though she has spent the whole episode shakin’ in her Keds and crying. Then Kelly and Tiff just stand there like idiots, instead of maybe saying they’re glad to see her, or helping Lonnie who’s wounded, or grabbing the henchwoman who’s standing right there, or wrangling the still-armed Big Aggie who has merely fallen into paint cans 10 feet away.
HOW MUCH EFFORT WENT INTO THIS COVER?
Nun! (Sorry) To establish their identities, wouldn't Sisters Tiffany and Kelly have to have stood in the prison yard giving out pamphlets and counselling other prisoners long before and after contacting Kris? Wonder if they actually made any effort to help anyone, or if they just spouted random idioms to pass the time. "Pretty is as pretty does, my child."
SCREEN TIME ANALYSIS
With nearly 4 times as much attention for Kris as for everybody else, this is her most solo episode as well as the third-soloest of the entire series.
- HOW MUCH OF THE EPISODE HAS AT LEAST ONE ANGEL/BOSLEY IN IT 85%
Kris gets in three sorta fights while “on the inside”. Well really, one fight, one flight, and some shoving. As usual the spunky Munroe holds her own against opponents twice her size. The Kris/Lonnie chase ends with Lonnie almost drowning in the prison pool (! ) and Kris fishing her amazonian adversary out of the drink.
When Kris' cover gets blown, she does the good ol' plow-headfirst-into-your adversary trick (also seen in Pom Pom Angels) and bowls over the entire squad (including Big Aggie! either the 99lb Angel is deceptively strong or everyone at this prison has terrible balance). The climatic fight in the prison yard pits Kris and Lonnie against Aggie and her henchgirls, with Kris kicking Big Aggie in the gut. She was sooooo asking for it.
WHO HAD IT WORSE?
Big Aggie is not very subtle and keeps hammering home the lesbian undertones of Kris' situation to the point of nausea. We get it, you're gross and scary. After scaring off 2 other inmates Aggie tells Kris she has to “pay her way..think about it” suggesting sexual favors. “If not me it will be them,” Aggie reasons. Um.. I'll take them thank you very much, Kris was probably thinking. For the yuck factor alone (rather than any actual crimes) we have to vote Big Aggie among the Angels' scariest adversaries ever.
RANDOM ANGEL SKILL
Kris' electrical skills, established in her very first episode Angels in Paradise, are called upon again here. Aside from her amazing memorization skills, she apparently knows her way around all them wires 'n circuits 'n whatnot. Undercover or not, Kris pulled off a decent heist essentially all on her own. Did she double-major in engineering and volleyball?
VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE
We're not saying Kelly doesn't have confidence when Tiffany volunteers to be the one to go undercover but.. oh, who are we kidding, yes we are. Of course Kelly (and we) knew she wouldn't survive an hour in prison, but it still seemed like yet another burn on poor Tiff.
When it's decided that someone will be going in, Kelly looks like she knows off the top of her head that it's been 3 years and 11 days since she's been sprayed. She's rightfully exempt, but it's still funny. She also seems to make the instant decision about who will be going undercover, shooting down Tiff's offer and refusing to volunteer herself... and Bosley's not a woman... who does that leave? Good thing Kris was in dramatic hardass mode and wanted to go anyway.
Sally Kirkland: Lonnie appeared again in the next season as Laurie Archer in Taxi Angels.
Bonnie Keith: Coley, one of Big Aggie's lackeys, also appeared in Disco Angels and Mr. Galaxy.
Tisha Sterling: Singer, Big Aggie's other lackey, later played the client in Angel on the Line.
Walter Mathews: Mr. Nalon played Max back in The Vegas Connection.
Dennis Donnelly also directed Angel Flight, Angels in the Wings, Angel's Child, Dancin' Angels, An Angel's Trail, One Love... Two Angels, To See an Angel Die, Angel in Hiding, Waikiki Angels, Stuntwomen Angels, and Angel on a Roll.
B.W. Sandefur also wrote Cruising Angels, Nips and Tucks, One Love... Two Angels, Waikiki Angels, Moonshinin' Angels, and Attack Angels.
Joann's Rating: This show really loved recycling themes, and being a ratings no brainer, it's time for a return prison stint. An Angel has to go "inside" and it has to be Kris! Actually, it didn't have to be, and all three (Kelly not really) were willing to do it. Tiffany was jonesing the most, but Kelly was internally thinking, "been, done, gone." But then Kris says it HAS to be her, and the writers and producers agree. So Kris is in prison trying to find out what happened to some girl. But did the writers and producers really want her in that sack dress? Anyway, Lonnie, the big dumb inmate no one messes with is saved by Kris from drowning (because prison has a pool), and then takes the rap for fighting so that Lonnie doesn’t have to do solitary. Then there is Big Aggie. Do you need to know more more than the words: B-I-G A-G-G-I-E? As guest stars go, wow! Often enough (because the 70s had versatility), they found pretty good character actors for scariness or criminal effect (guard in Chains with crater face), but Big Aggie takes the cake. She is meaner/scarier/cringe worthier than Zora, Dan Hagggerty, and Papa Mason thrown together.
An interesting note about Shirley Stoler, the actress playing Big A's first film role was as Martha Beck, one half of the real life murderous duo known as the Lonely Hearts Killers, in the movie The Honeymoon Killers (1969). Martha was a ruthless, cold, calculating murderess and Stoler's performance is a tour de force in what Francois Truffaut called his favorite American film. Her cold, stark, calculating performance pales Big Aggie, but it's easy to see where her inspiration derived from. The Martha Beck story was also the source for the 2006 John Travolota/Salma Hayek, Lonely Hearts.
But back to prison. Kris of course, as sister Jill, Kelly, and Sabrina did in Chains, goes through stereotypical scare tactics and abuse new inmates (especially ones as hot as Kris) must endure. Big Aggie visits Kris the first night and rummages through her purse (which she gets to keep in prison) and takes her money and cosmetics (as they are called in the 70s). Finding out that Kris worked for a diamond company, and that she can get them into the safe (these inmates have night passes), makes her even more attractive to Aggie and her underlings (also ugly and who make her swab the floors). Kris plays along to get in on the plan, but spends most of her time scared stiff especially when Aggie presses herself up against her in solitary. IIICK! Meanwhile, that silly yokel Lonnie, seeing Kris in a different light (but not like Aggie does), feels indebted and comes in handy once Aggie finds out Kris is a detective.
I liked this episode a lot growing up because it's Kris centric. I must have thought it was intensely dramatic, being in prison. Today, I wonder about it a little. It's good, sorta, but not campy like Chains, and a bit ridiculous at a few points. Aggie was seriously scary, not typically Charlie's Angels caricature light fare. And Cheryl plays it really real. It's rare that we see an Angel actually frightened. It's one of her better acting turns. But I wonder what they were going for with this episode. I never really knew why Kris HAD to be the one to go and not the others. (Other than Kris looking better wet and in a sack than Tiffany.) Why did she sympathize so much with this girl's plight? And once inside, it's uncomfortable at times. And then it's pretty quickly wrapped up and back to usual when back at the office. Alas, Kelly and Tiffany (thankfully with a habit hiding her Bozo perm) as nuns is amusing, but sometimes solo episodes wind up being too solo.
Greg's Rating: Cheryl Ladd could have done this in a TV movie or episode of One West Waikiki. Another season 4 solo Angel outing, it first feels like a warmed over Angels In Chains minus the sisterhood present in that season one classic. The prisoners working for the prison officials as thieves has been done better elsewhere, and the competent and tough Kris Munroe seemed to fall apart a bit too early after being incarcerated. Still...at least this time her big butch bad gal got some comeuppance from the diminutive detective, as opposed to the epic fail that was Angels In Springtime.
Why does the black security guard shoot poor un-armed Amy in the back? Hey dude, I get it, I'm black too, Michael Richards' comments at that comedy club were uncalled for, but that doesn't give you the right to shoot and kill a young mother out of anger. I don't care if she was supposed to be in prison at the time.
Anna's Rating: It's not bad, but let's be honest, it has a strike against it in all our minds just for not being Angels in Chains either. I give Cheryl Ladd a lot of points for good acting, but I detract points for the inconsistent characterization of Kris, who's written as a shivering, sobbing weakling the instant she sets foot in Calejo. Yes, being isolated in prison is scary, and so is Big Aggie, but Kris is usually tougher than this. Really, you have to pull the covers up over your head and cry because an inmate is stealing the cash you shouldn't have brought to prison? I've given up trying to convince myself that maybe her cowardice was part of the cover.
That being said, I nominate Big Aggie as the scariest bad guy ever on the show (along with Dan Haggerty in Waikiki Angels , of whom she's pretty much the female version).
Holly's Rating: You guys are harsh. I've always given Kris extra-credit for her prison sentence. Angels in Chains was a walk in the park compared to this. Let's do a little comparison for Kris' situation, shall we? Laughin' it up in the potato fields with Jill, Sabrina, Kelly and Kim Basinger - OR - being verbally, physically and sexually abused nightly by a 400 pound lesbian bulldozer AND being robbed of your makeup and cash? That's not fun. Don't know if it would be more fun if Jill were there, but I have a feeling it would. It's also not fun to get the lice spraydown by yourself. When you're with your friends, you can laugh about it later. When you're alone, you're being sprayed down for lice and then probably eye-raped and robbed. Not cute fodder for future road trips to Aunt Lydia's or storytime in the cab of a big rig. Good job, little Munroe, good job.
I'm not done. Seriously - do you see Kelly handling this one solo? I didn't think so.
Kenny's Rating: Caged Angel is referred to in the Charlie's Angels Casebook as Angels in Chains part two. Sure, it takes place in a prison but this episode is much darker. Big Aggie is a creep and looks huge and very threatening to the much smaller Kris. When the Angels first get the case Kris is fast to accept the assignment letting the other two off the hook. Kelly and Tiffany's undercover nun outfits are clever and fun to watch. This is one of my favorite Angel solo outings. I like the bond Lonnie and Kris form after Kris gains Lonnie respect after being set up by big Aggie and her thugs.
Kris is very vulnerable in this episode having to go at it alone. In Angels in Chains the girls had each others' backs but not in this case and that is what makes you really fear for Kris's safety. I love the wrap up at the office when Lonnie shows up to offer her gratitude and thank Kris for her help. A season four favorite for sure.
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