Fun fact, Fletcherfans – if you look up the word ‘cringe’ in the dictionary, you will find a picture of me watching this episode. There’s a lot of casual racism flying about in this episode, so you have been warned. Also, a disclaimer: as I am Australian, I feel like I should point out that everything I know about Native American history is from the movie Dances With Wolves.
JB is at home in the Cove this week, celebrating Founders Day by belting out a rousing rendition of America the Beautiful. As always, Seth helps out in his own special way.
Mayor Sam Booth is just getting started on his Long Nostalgic Trip Down Memory Lane Speech when a man wearing Native American gear rides up on a horse and hurls a spear into the podium, before riding off into the sunset. Oh lord.
The mayor, not knowing what else to do, immediately forms a barbershop quartet and begins another iconic anthem.
It’s up to JB to spot the note attached to the spear. The Mayor reads it, then distracts the crowd with some opera while he, Seth and Amos leg it out into the countryside. Turns out the note is a photocopy of an old document, granting Algonquin Chief Manitoka and his heirs in perpituity all lands ending at the see that can be seen from the hill of the god that grants rain. Including Cabot Cove. Oh Good!
The Mayor freaks out and appoints Seth and JB (whom I note WASN’T INVITED on the boys trip to the hill) as committee of two to sort out whether the document is real. Seth and Jess visit the city college to ask the opinion of Professor Crenshaw and his daughter Donna who tell them that without the original it’s impossible to tell whether the land grant is genuine or not. JB tells them that she suspects the possessor of the document might show himself again, given the right amount of attention.
Cut to Cabot Cove town hall, where the Mayor is telling the boys of the press (and the girls, but he seems to have missed them) that they aren’t allowed in. On the steps of the hall local banker Norman Edmonds (previously seen as a Dentist of Death) is chatting with potential investor Harris Atwater on the effect of the land claim on the planned resort development, while local drunk Addison Langley tries to set up a meeting with Harris Atwater, fails and is yelled at by his brother-in-law Tom Carpenter (who is being played by Gary Lockwood who I saw a couple of weeks ago introducing 2001: A Space Odyssey and I LOVE THAT MOVIE).
Erm. Anyway. Inside, the Mayor is opening the meeting the only way he knows how:
Inside, the audience is restless and has no time for the mayor’s singing. They demand to hear from the “half-naked savage” (Not kidding. The 80s, ladies and gentlemen) himself, and he happily obliges.
The “half naked savage” goes by the name of George Longbow, and he informs the people gathered what the Mayor, Seth, Amos and Jess already knew – that the document granted the land to the descendants of Chief Manitoka (i,e George) as a reward for helping to defeat the French. In short, that the meeting was taking place on his property.
As the audience begins to upgrade itself to angry mob, JB steps in and asks George if the document is real – emphasis on the if – then what does he plan to do about it? Evict them all from the Cove?
Au contraire, George basically says. But there is the small matter of rent.
At this, Addison Langley erupts, informs George that he’ll get his land over his dead body, the filthy redskin. At this George explodes and a brawl erupts. Once it dies down, and the angry mob disperses, George, JB, Seth, Amos, the Mayor and Professor Crenshaw gather to examine the real document. George tells the professor he’s a great admirer of his work, and of his daughter.
This is news to Professor Crenshaw.
They are joined by Norman Edmonds, who demands that George prove his claim, which George does, happily. He shows them the original document, along with validation reports from some colleagues of Professor Crenshaw. The Prof can’t argue, and tells the others that if it all checks out, George owns Cabot Cove. This is not what Norman wants to hear, and a fight nearly breaks out again until JB steps in to ask George what he plans to do. He tells them that he will assess all the land in town and charge the land 0.5% of the worth – no more than $200 a year for most people. The Mayor shrugs and thinks that seems reasonable. “Yes.” Says Seth. “It’s like being mugged, but it’s okay because the mugger only took five dollars.”
George departs, informing them that he will be in contact with them again. As Seth and JB leave the meeting they find George confronted by the remains of the angry mob, led by Tom Carpenter asking George to demonstrate his dance. A couple of swift briefcases swings to the face and the fortunate arrival of Donna Crenshaw in her car and George hightails it out of there before the angry mob becomes a lynch mob.
After Donna drops George off at his truck (as George doesn’t want anyone to know where he’s staying and lets face it fair enough), she returns to the hotel where she’s staying with her father. Her father wants to know why he never knew about George and she says she told him twice but he wasn’t listening. After an argument she tells him that she and George are just friends, and that she didn’t help him with the land grant research. Her father accepts this, and leaves her hotel room. Instead of going to his room though he wanders off into the night.
The next morning JB is walking the streets of Cabot Cove (and rocking the double denim) when she sees Addison’s wife Helen Langley talking to Harris Atwater outside her house. As he departs, she trips over walking back inside. JB swoops, noticing the bruises on her arms, and helps her inside for a cup of tea. She compliments Helen on the renovations (by which she means the newly painted chair) which Helen says was her handiwork. JB asks her about Harris Atwater and Helen tells her he was there looking for Addison, but that she hadn’t seen him since after the meeting.
Later, JB heads down to the Sheriff’s office for a meeting with the brains trust, who is in a flap after the sudden departure of Professor Crenshaw after a phone call from Norman Edmonds. The Mayor is on it, saying he is expected to do something and by gum he’s gonna do it, just as soon as he works out what it is he’s supposed to do, but his train of thought is interrupted by a phone call. There’s trouble at the town hall. Something about Addison Langley.
That something turns out to be a complete lack of pulse, on account of being stabbed with the spear George threw at the Founders Day celebrations. Oh good. That won’t stir up more racism.
Seth informs JB that Addison definitely wasn’t killed at the town hall, there wasn’t enough blood. JB wonders at the location of the body, saying that most killers hide their bodies, not display them. She wonders whether Addison’s body being dumped at the hall was symbolic. Seth points out that it makes you wonder about George Longbow, but JB says he mightn’t be a lot of things, but George Longbow isn’t stupid. Amos asks Seth if there’s anything else about the body and Seth says apart from some varnish on his hand, there’s nothing more. Addison Langley died around midnight.
Suspicious about the timing of Professor Crenshaw’s sudden departure, and the knowledge that a lot of people stood to gain from Addison Langley’s demise, JB goes to see Harris Atwater, who admits that he went to see Helen Langley to try and get her to use her influence over her husband, and that he certainly is better off now that Addison is dead, but that he didn’t kill him. With that, he flounces into his limo and drives away.
Meanwhile, outside of town, George has fallen foul of the angry mob, which has very much now upgraded to a lynch mob once again led by Tom Carpenter. They finally capture him trying to leg it, and tell him that he’s in a world of trouble now.
JB’s next stop is to see Norman Edmonds, who is also convinced of George’s guilt. Jess asks him about his phone call to Professor Crenshaw, and he finally tells her that he offered the professor fifty big ones to find proof that George Longbow isn’t who he says he is. As they talk, a ute full of lynch mob drives past hooting and hollering, a battered George Longbow restrained in the back of the truck. JB jumps on her Fletchmobile (bike) and hightails it to the Sheriff’s office, where the lynch mob are gleefully showing off their catch. Amos ushers them all inside past the press pack and orders George be taken to the cells. While JB scolds the mob for the condition George is in, Tom Carpenter arrives driving George’s truck. He dumps George’s personal effects on the desk – a wallet and a hotel key – and goes back outside to have his picture taken.
THIS EPISODE. UGH.
JB goes to see George in his cell and tells him that she’s the only person in the whole town who knows he is innocent, but that she can’t help him until he starts telling the truth starting with why he really came to town. Tom tells her that he wanted to get the money so he could start a scholarship program for Native American kids who wouldn’t otherwise have had the means to go to college. Next JB asks him for his alibi, and George admits that he didn’t get back to his hotel until after 11:30pm but that no one saw him arrive. Amos wanders in to tell JB that the Mayor wants to see them, that Professor Crenshaw has turned up again, and she tells George she’ll do what she can to help. Outside, Amos tells JB that they found sand in George’s pickup truck, sand that matched the sand they found on Addison Langley’s body.
At the Mayor’s office, Professor Crenshaw tells them that George Longbow can’t possibly be the direct (and proveable) descendant of Chief Manitoka, as almost all of his descendants were wiped out in the flu epidemic of 1918. Oh, well, that’s a relief then. JB asks him if, in his haste to collect on Norman Edmonds’s offer, he may have overlooked something and both the professor and the mayor are equally offended. “Just whose side are you on?” Demands the Mayor.
“The side of right.” Announces JB.
The Mayor and Professor Crenshaw decide to go and have a talk with George. Amos decides to go with them but JB says it might be more productive to go and search George’s hotel room.
Amos spots George’s shoes on the floor, covered in sand. Case closed! But wait. JB points out that there’s no sand on the soles of the shoes, which are gumsoles, and therefore get everything stuck to them. What’s clear to her is that someone is framing George for murder, and she has a fairly good idea of where to get answers.
It had nothing to do with Native American land rights, and everything to do with an abused wife fighting back and getting her redneck brother to cover it up. The good news is, Donna and George are back on, JB is going to find the money to set up George’s scholarship, and Seth rents his house so the whole business didn’t affect him in the slightest.
And with that, I bid this terrible episode goodbye.