Sulfuric acid doesn't crop up too often in the course of Richard Kimble's adventures, but when it does, it plays the most pivotal role imaginable. The fateful moment comes in the last-season episode THE IVY MAZE, an acting tour-de-force for one-armed man Bill Raisch. As the end of the road draws nearer, this episode provides a fascinating opportunity to ponder about how Kimble's name can ever be cleared. For, even if he manages to capture the real killer, how could he hope to prove his case, if the one-armed man denies everything?

The answer is so simple, it's brilliant: sleep-deprivation research. When Kimble's old pal William Windom, who happens to be a sleep-research scientist at a university, discovers the one-armed man guising as a cleaning man there, the solution to Kimble's problem would seem to be at hand. Kimble's friend lays a trap for the one-armed man, advertising a need for guinea pigs in his experimental lab. The ad is placed where the one-armed man is sure to see it, and indeed, he does, and decides to volunteer with a mellow shrug of the shoulders that sums up his callous indifference to all human existence.

One-armed man Raisch then is locked in a chamber for days on end and deprived of crucial REM cycles in an effort to break down his defenses and extract a confession from him. In a dopy trance, Raisch describes details of the murder and even remembers confronting the man who has since been falsely convicted of the crime. ``Yeah, it looked just like you, Kimble,'' he says to the good doctor, who is hovering tensely nearby.

Alas, just as it seems that Kimble is saved, the one-armed man wakes up and smells the rat, and bolts out of the lab seconds ahead of Lieutenant Gerard, who, in another feat of amazing police work, has tracked Kimble down yet again. Despite his intense mental depletion, the one-armed man nevertheless has the presence of mind to snatch up all the tapes which Kimble and his colleague were using to record his confession, and, on his way out of the lab building, manages to dump them in a conveniently located vat of . . .

Sulfuric Acid!


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