The Sunday Intertitle: Puddle of Dissolution

Episode eight of THE MASTER MYSTERY…

Last we saw, Harry Houdini lay bound in barbed wire on a cement floor while a Spreading Puddle of Dissolution (nitric acid to you) oozed inexorably towards him. It’s rather like the nitrate decay which has swallowed up whole episodes of this serial — at last, the movie with an internal metaphor for its own print damage! Meanwhile, Harry’s ladyfriend, Marguerite Marsh, faces almost certain abduction at the clammy hands of the ubiquitous Thug in the Tartan Cap.

This is one of the villains’ more pathetic traps — Harry simply uses the acid to melt through his barbed bonds, and escapes before it melts through him. It’s all about the timing with Harry — split-second is just the way he likes it. Bashing Tartan Cap with a chair (the two of them trade concussions practically every week) he rescues MM and ~

Somebody must have felt the need to thicken that plot some more, because now we get a completely new character from out of the blue — which is where she disappears to after her single scene. Maybe somebody had an aging relative in need of work. Given the wealth of imagination and cheek displayed elsewhere in this serial, it’s disappointing that they couldn’t come up with more use for a fortune-telling crone.

Boardroom shenanigans! Further confirming the place of THE MASTER MYSTERY as the DARK KNIGHT RISES of its day, we get an attempt to wrest control of the patents company away from rightful heir Marguerite, with the villainous Balcomb claiming that his secretary is really the lovechild of the company’s founder. He produces Meg the crone again to back up this implausible yarn.

And now Harry, seeking to investigate this yarn, has been clonked again, bound hand and foot, and left beneath a descending elevator, as somewhat confusing montage attempts to convince us he’s about to be crushed. Waitaminute, this is almost identical to the previous cliffhanger, only less good! Tune in next week ~

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