Every time I say the title of this episode, the music from the Dramatic Hamster video plays in my head. True story.
As you may have guessed, this week’s episode is set in the slammer, and not actual bars as
some of us I hoped. JB is off to the West Barrington Institute for Women (a much more official way of saying lady jail) to substitute teach a class while the regular teacher is off sick. As you can see, there’s nowhere Our Heroine would rather be on a dark and stormy night
JB is met by warden Elizabeth Gates, Deputy Warden Amanda Debs, Official Prisoner Welcoming Committee member Mary Stamm (previously seen here, make your own jokes about going from Washington to jail), and Doctor Irene Matthews, who doesn’t seem to be pleased about anything, least of all the warden for reasons that I’m sure will become clear.
As Mary escorts JB to the classroom, JB praises the short story Mary wrote. Mary confesses she’s always wanted to be a writer and JB tells her it’s never too late, and that she’s living proof. Mary points out that JB didn’t have to get past the parole board and JB pffts at that, asking Mary “Why, what are you in for?”
“I murdered my husband”. Says Mary.
A little anxious about teaching a flock of hardened criminals about how to write, JB comes up with a sure fire way to win her students over.
Job well done, JB tells them how much she enjoyed their stories, and singles Mary out again, but she’s not there. She sneaks out of the class and goes to visit her friend Suzie who is sick in the infirmary. For reasons that I’m sure will become clear later on, Mary has a key to the infirmary, and to the Doctor’s office, where she steals the key to the pharmacy to get some medication for her friend. JAILBREAK FAIL.
Before she can sneak out of Dr Matthews’s office, the Doctor returns, forcing Mary to hide in the next room. A guard walking past the office hears Dr Matthews typing on her typewriter and knocks on the door. In response, the riot alarm goes off and the prison goes into lockdown. (Understandable really, I’ve often wished I could do that to avoid people I didn’t want to speak to).
The warden is called, and she comes running along with her deputy and a couple of guards. Doctor Matthews is on the floor, dead. The warden orders a search of the neighbouring rooms, Mary tries to make a run for it and fails dismally.
Now, for reasons that I’m sue will become clear later on the prisoners of East Barrington Institute for Women are free to just roam about, so when they find out that the Warden has the Doctor’s murder pinned on Mary a riot breaks loose. The prisoners take the Warden, the Deputy Warden and JB hostage, and then proceed to bicker about their demands. Seriously, it’s just like all the episodes of Prisoner that I haven’t seen. Most of the prisoners want the charges against Mary dropped, and for conditions at the prison to improve (which I’m sure we’ve all said about our jobs from time to time), but a smaller group have decided this is a prime opportunity to get the hell out of Dodge.
For the record, here is their leader:
They start fighting over whether they should spring Mary from the prison, before Louise the prison librarian has a brainwave – they need someone the police can trust to resolve this brouhaha.
Our Heroine doesn’t waste time. She goes to the scene of the crime, finds a sterile swab under the desk, guesstimates that the doctor died of respiratory failure after a massive injection of morphine, and convinces Scary Lady to get the vial tested for prints. She asks the Warden how she thinks the doctor met her untimely demise, and the Warden give a long and borderline hysterical account of what she thinks happened. Jess asks her who else came to search the offices after the body was found and discovers the prison cook was one of the first on the scene, so off they all troop to interrogate her.
They find the cook knocking back a beer in the kitchen, which is the first sensible thing any one has done this episode. While the prisoners riot their way through the pantry JB samples the local cuisine.
They ask the cook how she came to be in the locked corridor and after she lies, they investigate the back stairs and find the driver of a grocery truck hiding in the basement. Ah yes, says JB. I saw your truck when I arrived.
The cook tells Our Heroine that she thought it would be safest for Mrs Mimms the grocer to hide, to avoid capture. “She has you to thank for this honey.” says the cook.
The whole riot lockdown mode seems to have the Cook off the hook, so to speak, but Kat the Scary Prisoner has made up her mind. There’s only one person who can get through the riot locks, and that’s the warden. Ergo, the Warden is the killer. (Not a direct quote).
Now we must pause for a moment and BASK:
Scary Kat decides to hold a mock trial to convict the Warden of the murder of the Doctor, but Mary steps in before they can get crazy with the shotguns. A phone call from the outside informs Jess that a) the morphine was diluted and b) there were two sets of fingerprints on the vial – Mary’s and an unknown set. This sets Scary Kat off again, and she orders a cell by cell search to find the killer. JB hurries back to make sure that Mrs Mimms the grocer is safe. On the way to the classroom the lights go out and someone screams. By the time they get there, Mrs Mimms is no more. The Warden accuses Mary, who runs off, Scary Kat accuses the Warden and JB tells them all to chill.
Jess finds Mary in the infirmary with her friend, and demands to know how she got the key to the infirmary. Mary tells her that Dr Matthews gave her the key so that she was able to type up the Doctor’s reports. Apparently Doctor Matthews wasn’t so good with the whole ‘taking care of patients’ thing. Or the not diluting medicine thing it would seem.
Any further conversation is cut short by news that Scary Kat is off her tree again, and planning to shoot her way out of the prison using the Warden as a human shield. JB calms them down
and they burst into song.
JB finally interrogates the Warden, who refuses to explain why she just happened to have the riot key on her, but JB’s worked it out. She was on her way to see Suzie in the infirmary, to talk about the dodginess that was going on in the prison. JB gets on the phone to the outside world to see if they’ve matched the second set of prints on the vial of morphine yet. The answer is no, and Scary Kat arrives to rip the phone from the wall and announce that they’re busting out. Again. Sheesh.
Never fear though. Our Heroine calms them down (again) and explains that she knows what happened.
Firstly, Doctor Matthews committed suicide. Well and good, say the prisoners, but why would someone want to make a suicide look like a murder?
Someone who needed to escape. Because she was about to be found out. For twenty years worth of corruption and embezzlement.
Apparently it all came about after Debs was rejected for a promotion again. But whatever, really.
Until next week…