Episode 1.1: "Pilot".
We open with an older, but by no means old, man stomping purposefully about in the snow. He investigates, scrapes snow from the ground with a knife, finds a dead guy. Suddenly, he hears a noise. He turns, doesn't see the source, and calls out to no one in particular: "You're going to shoot a Mountie? They'll hunt you to the ends of the earth." Gunshot.
Caption: "Two Thousand Miles To The Northwest". Shots of someone driving a dogsled, interspersed with the staff of a RCMP depot talking about a crazy Mountie named Fraser who has gone out into the storm after a criminal. In the middle of this, a dark-haired guy enters the depot with another man slung over his shoulders. He dumps his passenger onto a cot in a cell and announces with satisfaction, "That's the last time he'll fish over the limit." This is our first look at the series' protagonist, Constable Benton Fraser. That one entrance, plus the line and the satisfied look, tells you about 80% of what you need to know about him.
Fraser is called on the carpet by his Chief, who wants to know how much over the limit the guy could possibly fish that would justify the use of manpower and resources to chase him down in a storm. Fraser, "Four and a half tons. Sir." He goes on to explain that the guy was dynamiting the rivers and scooping up the salmon from the ground. So Fraser destroyed the explosives, confiscated the fish and donated them to a hungry Inuit village. This is the first of many, many times on this show that Fraser will react to an aggressive superior by deliberately playing innocent. However, as we'll see later in this episode, he doesn't always do it the same way.
Fraser with bedhead in his dress uniform, looking stunningly hot, muscles jumping in his jaws to not cry in front of his superior, Girard.
Fraser encounters a bunch of dead caribou and a nameless native hunter who, for all Fraser's woodscraft (snowcraft) says, "You want meat, Mountie? Go to a supermarket." He hauls away a caribou who, according to him, wasn't killed by hunters--he says they drank too much.
Fraser Sr.'s funeral. Bad picture of him with a mustache. "Amazing Grace" on bagpipes. Girard sitting behind Fraser, lots of very very young Mounties, another superior officer eulogizing him. Lots of red uniforms.
Song as plane comes into airport: "From A Million Miles", Single Gun Theory.
Vecchio: "Okay, who let the Mountie into the holding cell?"
Fraser meets his new superior at the Consulate. He is still being as innocent, almost insolently so. He respected his superior up at the depot, and was polite, but Inspector Moffat is a self-important weasel and Fraser is amused and contemptuous at the same time.
Moffat: "You'd be surprised at how many people underestimate me."
Fraser: "I really don't think I would."
Oh my Godzilla, their computers are so old!!
Vecchio: "They think I'm complete scum. And down here, your reputation is everything."
I'm glad they got rid of the police lieutenant Vecchio reports to in this episode. His sardonicness (sardonism?) crosses the line into nasty and stays there.
Song as Fraser puts his female co-worker into a cab and, later, reads through his dad's logbook: "Superman Song" (Counting Crows)
Vecchio: "You don't have hunches. I have hunches."
Fraser: "Well, I had one of your hunches, Ray." Pause. "It felt good."
Paul Gross (Fraser) has the most amazing facial expressions sometimes, and we get one in this episode. He's attacked by a perp in a parking garage. Perp has a gun. Fraser grabs the gun and gives the perp this look, like, "Nope. Nice try, but nope."
Fraser goes back North and meets the Inuit hunter again. The hunter tells him, "...sometimes the rivers run backwards. This whole [place] becomes an ocean. The caribou drink too much and they die." This is how we learn that there is environmental badness going on re: a recently built dam. Fraser Sr. was murdered to keep the secret. Girard tries to convince Fraser that Fraser Sr. was on the take, and he doesn't buy it. Girard tells Fraser all of this, and Fraser responds by doing two things he won't do in America: drawing his gun and calling him a son of a bitch. I think, when fans and fanwriters get caught up in the idea of Pure-As-Driven-Snow!Fraser whose head would explode if he said a bad word, they forget this episode.
After an exciting snow chase, Fraser's all by himself out in the snow just as his dad was at the beginning of the episode. He can't see Girard, but he hears him rack the shotgun. Fraser: "It's all over, Girard. You can't cover this one up. You shoot me, and they'll hunt you to the ends of the earth." Diefenbaker, the wolf/husky cross whose pet human Fraser is, has been shot, oh noes! But he is okay. And the Inuit hunter comes back and shoots Girard, albeit not fatally.
Girard goes to trial and Fraser gets to stay in Chicago because now the entire RCMP is pissed at him for turning in a fellow Mountie.
Fraser's superior officer guy: "I spoke to the supervisor at your last job. He suggested transferring you further North."
Fraser: "That would put me in Russia, sir."
Fraser, to Diefenbaker: "I'm not carrying you. I'm not." Dief doesn't respond. Fraser droops his head, says "All right," and picks up Dief.
They are back in Chicago, yay!