Houdini Recap: Part 2
“Houdini” Miniseries “Part 2” aired on History on Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014, at 9:00 p.m. The final part to this miniseries touched on Houdini’s life and career after the death of his mother. Read on to learn more about what happened.
Previously in “Part 1,” Harry Houdini (Adrien Brody) remained trapped in an icy lake. He was doing a stunt to win the crowd over when his popularity was waning. In the opening scene for “Part 2,” he said via the voice over that he envisioned his mother in the cold, icy water with him, and this was the very same thing he told the press when he successfully emerged from it later. It made for good publicity.
He told this story to his mother many times over, and it was clear she was so proud of her son. They were having lunch with her that day, along with his wife and his brother, who was also a magician. His brother casually asked — upon learning that Harry was set to conquer San Francisco — what could he possibly do to shake the crowd there? He cannot top San Francisco’s earthquake.
But he once again topped his other acts and surprised everyone else by trapping himself using a straitjacket, while he’s hoist from above the ground. The trick was in knowing how to properly dislocate his shoulders so that he could escape from this. But when his wife Bess (Kristen Connolly) saw the whole act, she got mad and accused her husband of tricking her too.
Bess was mad that he was endangering himself. When was he going to stop this madness? Was he trying to get killed? Why can’t they have a normal life and stop living in suitcases and trunks? Harry Houdini was only too happy to be trapped in a box. He defended himself from his wife’s tirades and said that she was the one putting him in a box by disallowing him to do his tricks. The couple fought, and he took his frustration out by sleeping with a prostitute. However, they got back together when Harry swore he won’t risk his life again.
At his next show in New York, Houdini did a different trick: to make an elephant disappear in front of a crowd. It wasn’t as dangerous as his other tricks, but it was still as exciting, and it made his wife really happy.
Later, Harry got word that Washington wanted him back on a mission to Europe. He didn’t want to do it anymore, perhaps because he really didn’t want to disappoint his wife. But because the assignment was easier than his last, he went ahead and did a show in London as a cover for his spy mission.
There, Harry met Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of “Sherlock Holmes,” who was so impressed with his magic trick, where he walked through a brick wall. Doyle was convinced he had spiritual powers. The idea wasn’t alien to Doyle because his wife, Lady Doyle, was apparently a psychic. But Harry doesn’t believe in psychics and insisted to the Doyles that what they saw him do on stage was not because he had powers; they were simply magic tricks.
Harry was still in London when he received a telegram about the death of his mother. Devastated, he canceled the rest of his shows and went home to Brooklyn to bury her.
Harry Houdini: “I escaped death, again and again. But my mother’s death was a sucker punch I never felt before.”
He became obsessed with wanting to find out his mother’s last words, so even as he doesn’t believe in mediums, psychics and clairvoyants, he enlisted their help to contact her. But these psychics all failed him and fooled him. No one can get pass Harry Houdini, who knew all the tricks. So he became angrier at mediums and exposed their secrets by releasing a book about it. He also announced that he was going to give $10,000 to any medium who can convince him and prove him wrong. He needed to talk to his mother.
Houdini made a lot of enemies with what he did. But he remained friends with the Doyles, who offered to help him contact his mother.
Before the séance started, Lady Doyle told him that she does things differently. She writes the messages from the beyond while under a trance, and she has no control over the spirits. With a pen and paper ready, Lady Doyle was able to contact Harry’s mom. As she was writing her words, it brought tears to his eyes.
But once the Doyles were gone, Harry carefully examined the written content and noticed two peculiar things. First, his mother did not know how to speak English, but the words written on the paper were the English words of an educated woman. Second, they did the séance on his birthday, yet his mother’s “spirit” did not even acknowledge that. Therefore, Lady Doyle was, like all other psychics he has met, a fraud.
He attacked the Doyles on the radio and the press and then challenged the psychics again. He was willing to give $25,000 to anyone who can convince him he’s talking to his mother.
One of the world’s most renowned medium, Margery, performed a séance for Harry, but he busted this again. Later, Margery charmed her way into his hotel room. Afraid that he was going to expose her, she offered sex. But Harry turned her down. She, however, reminded him that during the séance with her, her deceased brother put a curse on him.
Houdini was thinking about the curse during one of his performances. Perhaps distracted, he hurt himself while trying to escape from the cuffs and chains. The doctor advised him to rest because his feet needed to be cast. But he didn’t want to cancel all his shows. He was going to perform with a limp.
This caused Bess to get mad at him again. More so, when she learned about the curse. Her anger later turned to worry. What if the curse was true?
While waiting in between performances, Houdini had guests in his room, mostly his fans. But one man went inside and started asking him about what he thought of Lady Doyle and psychics. This man then attacked Harry by punching him in the stomach. Now, the great magician was always proud of his stomach muscles and would even ask people to punch him to show how strong this was. This time, however, he wasn’t prepared for the attack, and so he seriously got hurt. Pressing on with his performance even as he was in pain, he collapsed on the stage.
Harry was immediately operated on. When the doctors sliced his stomach, it bled green. It was infected. The doctor said it was a ruptured appendix. The press got wind of Houdini’s condition, and his brother was told about it too. Even the Doyles made peace with Harry, and the whole time this happened, Bess was at his hospital bed.
In Harry’s final hour, he saw the face of his mother at the hospital, who kissed him and smiled at him.
Harry Houdini died at age 52. The final scenes showed the actual footage of his funeral, and later, Bess was seen in a séance group with mediums, trying to contact Harry. Bess lived on for 17 more years. At which point, she was never able to make contact with her husband.
So there you have it for the culmination of “Houdini” miniseries “Part 2,” which aired on History on Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014, at 9:00 p.m. Did you enjoy this show? Sound off in the comments!
Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons/David Shankbone