Merry Christmas Fletcherfans. I hope your presents are shiny, your food is delicious, and your wine flowing. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more shenanigans in 2015.
Life Lessons from the Desk of JB Fletcher
December 24, 2014
Merry Christmas Fletcherfans. I hope your presents are shiny, your food is delicious, and your wine flowing. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more shenanigans in 2015.
December 22, 2014
Our Heroine is down in NYC this week Fletcherfans, at the store of Blackthorn and Sons, hoping to gain inspiration for her next book but instead getting the time-proven comedy routine of Laszlo and Stavros that involves smashing a fake diamond with a hammer and a lot of yelling.
Jess meets the company’s designer, Andrea Dean, but as yet has not met the son of Blackthorn, Hudson Blackthorn, who is tied up in a meeting with his store manager Diane Raymond and his head of security Leo Selkirk about the Queen of Tara Tiara and promises to meet her for dinner that night. It would seem all is not well in House Blackthorn, Diane is in love with Hudson and is worried that Andrea might be stepping on her turf. That old story.
Over dinner Hudson tells JB about his staff, but isn’t too eager to talk about himself. He’s relieved when JB tells him she wants to see the vaults but that Leo was hesitant to let her in without written permission. Hudson and Jess return to the store, Hudson shows off his state of the art 1980s technology but as they get to the vault, and meet the night guard Mr Wilson, the alarm goes off and there’s a loud bang, They rush to the front of the store and find the front door blown open, the Queen of Tara Tiara missing and an envelope full of cash in it’s place.
BOOM. HEIST TIME.
NYPD’s finest arrive in the form of Detectives Bess Stacey and Kathleen Chadwick (and the fact it’s taken til season 5 for there to be two female cops has not gone unnoticed). Chadwick confirms nothing else has been taken and Stacey struggles with fact that the missing item is called the Queen of Tara Tiara.
JB has no time for this “you say tara I say tiara” routine and investigates the front door. She remarks that it’s odd that the door was blown out, like the explosion had occurred on the inside, not the outside, suggesting an inside job. Stacey and Chadwick go to interrogate the night guard Wilson who tells them he didn’t check every office and promptly collapses. This is all too much for Detective Stacey, who starts interrogating JB as to how long she’s been in town and just why she’s so interested in the vault.
JB is free to go – for now – and go she does. Hudson sends her back to the hotel but remains at the store. He’s soon joined by Diane and a pesky reporter by the name of Ken Parrish who has been lurking around the store trying to get more information about the Queen of Tara. Diane and Hudson adjourn inside where Hudson is horrified to learn that the tiara isn’t insured for its full worth. They’re joined by Leo Selkirk who fails at saying I told you so.
(Side note, the acting is pretty good in this episode).
The next morning JB is chowing down on some breakfast at the hotel cafe when Ken Parrish sits down at her table to pump her for information about the Tara Tiara. When she tells him she actually knows next to nothing about it he takes her around to the Siobhan O’Dea Theatre for a lesson in tiaras and recluses.
Are you ready kids? It’s story time.
In 1957 the screen sensation Siobhan O’Dea staged her final big show at the theatre that now bears her name in a show called The Fields of Tara, a play she comissioned herself since she believes she’s descended from the Ancient Kings of Tara. Which I assume means Ireland. At the closing night party she received the tiara as a gift from her then fiance, Winfield Sprock. Before he could become husband number 4, he choked to death on an oyster at the Empire Grill.
JB reacts to this news the same way I would.
After Winfield’s oyster-related demise, Siobhan’s career went into decline, and she sold the tiara to cover her mounting debts. She became a recluse and hasn’t been seen in public for 12 years.
JB thinks this is all well and good, but fails to understand how this has anything to do with her. And there’s the clincher – Ken can’t get in to see Siobhan, but he knows she’s a massive fan of JB, so if JB went to see Siobhan….
Not for nothing, but the actress who plays Siobhan O’Dea was pretty foxy in her time. Fun fact, she used to be married to Howard Hughes, and was a recluse for a time. I can only imagine how dinnertime was in that house.
Meanwhile all is not well in House Blackthorn and JB arrives at HQ just as Andrea Dean flounces out over a pay dispute. JB tells Hudson that she’s going back to Maine until everything calms down, but before she can take her leave there’s a phone call – Laszlo is missing and there’s no answer at his apartment.
Oh yeah, MURDER she wrote, not STOLEN she wrote.
Needless to say, Laszlo has in fact shuffled off his mortal coil and is now an ex-Laszlo. JB orders everyone out of the apartment but not before noticing a ceremonial knife holder on the wall (the contents of which now sticking out of Laszlo) and a picture of Laszlo with Siobhan O’Dea.
That plot sure thickened quickly.
JB goes down to the precinct to inform Stacey that she’s decided to go back to Maine, but Stacey is having her own crisis involving an out of work husband, a backed up sink, a son failing English and a partner that’s off seeing a shrink. “You ever have one of those days?” She asks JB.
JB casually drops it into the conversation that Laszlo was found dead by herself, Hudson and Diane Raymond earlier that day. Stacey is a little sceptical that JB just happened to find Laszlo’s body but is interrupted by an anonymous caller telling her that she saw the killer – Ken Parrish. This lets JB off the hook, until her packing for Cabot Cove is interrupted by a lawyer from Parrish’s TV network. Ken Parrish is requesting her help to prove his innocence.
Never one to turn down a plea for help, JB goes to see Ken in prison. He tells her that yes he was at Laszlo’s apartment that night, noone saw him and he didn’t kill Laszlo.
It’s story time again.
Ken tells JB that he was sitting outside Siobhan’s apartment, trying to work out how to get in to see her when he spotted Laszlo going into the building carrying a brown paper bag that he swears contains the tiara. When Laszlo came out 10 minutes later without the brown paper bag Ken followed him home, parking illegally in the process. Ken went up to Laszlo’s apartment to talk to him but Laszlo wouldn’t let him in. Ken suspected someone else was in the apartment but he couldn’t say who.
Detective Stacey is less than impressed when JB tells her the story a short time later, but agrees that if JB goes into Siobhan’s apartment and finds something then she will investigate it.
JB pays Siobhan O’Dea, Havishaming it up in her apartment across the street from her theatre. JB spots the tiara amongst some mementos and Siobhan tells her Laszlo gave it to her as a present.
Back at the precinct Stacey is contemplating increasingly ridiculous theories about how the Queen of Tara stole the Queen of Tiara Taras when Chadwick gets a call. It turns out, the Queen of Tara Tiara is a Fake-ara. Ye Gods, I’m cracking up.
Hudson of House Blackthorn confirms the diagnosis but is perplexed – where’s the real one? Stacey accuses him of stashing it but he asks what would the point be, since the insurance didn’t cover the whole amount. JB decides that Laszlo made the copy and left the envelope full of cash to cover the cost of the gold and jewels he used to make the copy. That’s fine, says Hudson, but there’s no way Laszlo made the copy, he didn’t have the expertise.
Which can only mean one thing.
In her defence (?) it was an accident. She was trying to get the Tara Tiara Tara Tiara back from Laszlo and they fought and so on and so forth and if I never write the word Tara Tiara again I will be a very happy little hobbit.
Until next time
December 14, 2014
Disclaimer: This wasn’t the best episode. I worked out who the killer was in 9 minutes. You have been warned.
On the road in West Virginia this week gang, where a mining company is celebrating another quarter of productivity by throwing its employees a dance. That might be the most boring sentence I’ve ever written. In any case, despite the big boss guy Tyler Morgan celebrating, not everyone is feeling it. His son Reese is fuming because his daddy is spending his inheritance on a company dance and not on computers to make people redundant (I’m guessing he’s part of the once percent) and he takes his anger out on his mother, who asks him to show his father some respect and is told in response “Like he respected you by cheating on you all these years?”
And then there’s the small matter of the gatecrasher Molly Connors who has returned back to the town to prove that Tyler Morgan was responsible for the death of her father in the mine years earlier.
She introduces herself to Tyler Morgan who declares that she’s turned into a right fine filly since she’s been away, am I right boys? Cue catcalling, URGH YOU GUYS ARE THE WORST. Tyler is less happy to hear that she wants to throw him in jail for the death of her father and orders the sheriff (who once wrote Joy to the World by 3 Dog Night) to arrest Molly for trespassing. At the jail her grandfather Eben turns up set to shoot his way in but Molly calms him down, saying she knows someone who will help bail her out. Her old English teacher, in fact.
Whoever could it be?
JB’s first order of business is to bail a grateful Molly out, but Molly has no time to explain – she informs the Sheriff she’s off to Yancyville to get a subpoena for Tyler Morgan’s business records from 1978, the year her father died. Outside the sheriff’s office they run into Carlton Reid, the mining union rep, who had been coming to check on Molly. He tells her he’s relieved she’s out, he’d been going to pass the hat around at the union meeting in Yancyville that night but that he’ll just tell everyone the good news instead.
Tyler appears out of his car and is less than pleased that Molly is already out of jail and has dragged “a stranger” into the whole business. Jessica tells him they’re hardly strangers, and that she’s looking forward to spending some time with her formal protege. Tyler points out that there’s no room at Molly and Eben’s place but a helpful passerby, Bridie Harmon, offers her boarding house to Jess for 10 bucks a night. For the record I don’t think Bridie’s son Travis likes Tyler Morgan all that much, as his father died in the same explosion as Molly’s father
Later that night JB has dinner with Eben and Molly at which Molly explains how the only possession of her father’s that she took to Cabot Cove was his book of Shakespeare, while Eben oils his gun and acts all crochetty. Guys I think the book is going to be important later on. Meanwhile Tyler gets a phone call and goes out.
Molly drops JB at the guesthouse and says she’d better get home before the storm hits. As JB waves goodbye she notices Bridie Harmon scurrying off into the night. Later, Tyler is shot in his cabin. UGH. This episode must have been written by Grady.
The next morning Jess is walking to Molly and Eben’s house when Reese Morgan appears from behind a bush and points a gun at her. Well that’s rude. He directs her at gunpoint to his father’s cabin where Sheriff Tate is conducting his investigation. He quizzes JB for an alibi but when she says she can’t prove she was in bed asleep at the time of the murder he tells her not to worry, that he doesn’t think she’d have cause to kill someone she’d just met and in any case, “unless I miss my guess you’re about as handy with a gun as I am with knitting needles.”
JB wants to know why he is asking for her alibi when he doesn’t think she’s involved, and the Sheriff says he was hoping she could provide an alibi for someone who needs one.
Cut to Tate breaking the news to Molly and Eben. Neither of them have an alibi, Eben was home alone and Molly had a flat tyre and so didn’t get home until 11:30am. The Sheriff tells them that the gun used to kill Tyler is still missing and Molly tells him to go ahead and search, they have nothing to hide.
In town, JB and Molly run into Carlton who offers to drive them home to avoid the whispers running riot through town. They spot Reese and his mother leaving the funeral home and Molly goes to offer her condolences, saying she wouldn’t wish this on anyone. Carlton offers the suggestion that considering how often Reese fought with his father maybe he was the one who killed him. A brawl is on the cards but Jess diffuses the situation, pointing out that there won’t be evidence to prove Molly killed Tyler. Except the Sheriff appears with the news he’s just found Tyler’s missing gun under the front seat of her truck.
Despite JB pointing out that it seems ridiculous that a lawyer would leave the murder weapon in their car and not hide it in the woods the Sheriff is unmoved. Not even Eben turning up threatening to return with a posse is enough to get him to release Molly on bail. Back at the boarding house Carlton tells JB he will get the miners Legal Aid service on the case. They overhear Bridie arguing with her son – apparently he was out til three in the morning the night before. He yells that he’s not a baby anymore and that if he wants to go out nights he will…after all Bridie does. He storms off. Carlton goes after him and suggests he was a bit mean to his mother and he wouldn’t be getting away with it if his father was alive. Travis says his father is dead, and so’s the man who killed him.
Inside, JB manages to weasel out of Bridie that she was going to see Tyler on the night he died. They’d been having an affair for quite some time but now that Travis is getting older Bridie didn’t want to do it any more. When she went to the cabin to break it off he was already dead. She didn’t go to the cops because she didn’t want anyone to know about her and Tyler. Tyler’s wife had found out once, back in the old days, which had resulted in her and Tyler not seeing each other for a while. Hell, if Mona found out Bridie and Tyler were back together Mona’d probably kill Tyler…
Jess goes to see Mona to try and get her to calm her son down. Inside, she notices a wall full of shooting ribbons and Mona admits they’re hers. When JB admires them Mona says “hell, most people can shoot the petals off a daisy by the time they’re 10 years old…”
On the way back to town JB runs into Carlton who is worried. The Sheriff reckons he’s got a solid case against Molly. JB is outraged, saying that anyone could have planted the gun in Molly’s car, and Carlton agrees saying anyone could have grabbed the gun from the unlocked cabinet by the door, but that Tate has more. A ledger sheet is missing from the business records from 1978, Eben and a posse of pals are on their way to bust Molly out of jail and Reese could be not far behind.
Meanwhile, outside the Sheriff’s office…
The sheriff tells everyone to go home and take a chill pill and the angry (musical) mob disperses. Inside the sheriff’s station JB asks him why Molly would tell him she’s going to subpoena the records if she’s already stolen one? It’s more likely that someone else has stolen it to prevent some incriminating information getting out. The sheriff doesn’t care, he’s lost the key to his gun rack and he needs to get someone to come break into it for him.
That gives JB an idea and she hightails it out of there to make a call and to ask Bridie just what happened the day her husband and Molly’s dad died in the mine. Bridie tells her that Molly’s father claimed to have found proof that dodgy shenanigans were going down at the mine and that he was going to present proof at the union meeting the next night, but the explosion happened that day.
Meanwhile, down on the farm Ebden is kicking back sharpening his axe when he gets a whack on the head. Jess arrives soon after to find the house empty, and takes the opportunity to hunt down Molly’s father’s copy of the collected works of Shakespeare. Inside the cover, hidden in the dustflap, she finds the proof she needs to confirm the suspicions I had nine minutes into this episode.
Carlton’s reaction to being discovered as the crooked murdering miner is to try and kidnap Jess, but is thwarted by dem meddling kids.
Now, case closed and I have a confession to make. If it seems like I was vaguely disinterested in this episode it was because a)I refer you to Carlton’s speech about the gun rack and b) whenever I see Megan Mulally in anything these days the following thing happens in my brain:
Brain: Huh, Megan Mullally is in this.
Brain: She’s married to Nick Offerman.
Brain: Nick Offerman is Ron Swanson in Parks and Rec.
December 7, 2014
I’m going to just come right out and say it – this episode is misleading. From the title I was expecting JB was going to have seven jaunty sidekicks to help her solve the crime BUT IT DIDN’T HAPPEN WHAT THE HELL WRITERS.
And then there’s the summary on IMDB:
A massive storm results in Jessica snowed in at a ski lodge with an Olympic men’s ski team…
Say what now?
…with a murderer on the loose.
Still, I’m pretty sure JB was devastated to be trapped with the American men’s ski team. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
JB is on a ski holiday awaiting the arrival of Grady Failure (who never turns up, classic Grady) and making friends with the aforementioned US ski team and ski shop owner (and recently retired team member) Mike Lowery and his wife Anne who have a convenient plot point hanging in their store.
Sidenote: the actress who plays Mike’s wife Anne was once in a movie with Billy Bob Thornton called Copper Chicks in Zombieland and I would like to know why I’m only finding out about this now?
I’m getting sidetracked again.
Anyway, it turns out it’s actually the trials for the US Men’s Ski Team and noone’s place is secured, except for renowned lothario and recent meddler in Mike and Anne’s marriage, Gunnar Tilstrom, previously seen as Little John in Robin Hood: Men In Tights.
Gunnar is accosted by a woman named Pamela Leeds in the lodge bar who wants know what he was thinking messing around with a gangsters wife in Lake Tahoe, and why is there rumours that he won’t compete in the World Cup. Gunnar is more interested in his beer than answering her questions, even though she’s threatening to tear up the lucrative contract he signed to endorse her company’s product. He’s even less interested in talking to his coach, Karl Andersen who is slightly miffed when he hears via Pamela that Gunnar might not even compete. Gunnar’s response is to shove his coach to the ground and flounce out.
Later that evening Jess arrives to dinner and makes friends with former NYPD cop Ed McMasters and his wife Sylvia. While they eat and Ed talks about retirement the band pause for shoutouts to some of the potential ski team members – Larry McIver, John Dowd (who was in the Irish Riddle Murder She Wrote movie as Irish Pat Cash/fake Bono) and Gunnar, who is sitting with Anne Lowery, much to the disgust of her husband Mike who scowls and leaves the bar. Early the next morning, and despite a snowstorm, Gunnar decides to go for one last run – and is shot to death with a crossbow. How very Walking Dead.
The storm has hit the resort hard and it’s bedlam in the lobby. JB jokingly asks Pamela whether she should take a number and Pamela replies that she thinks it’s women and children first, but this is America so who knows?
Word gets back to Mike that Gunnar has been found dead on the ski slope and is horrified to discover his crossbow is missing. They get in touch with the sheriff via radio but the storm has made it impossible for them to get in. They need someone to work in the meantime to protect the evidence and protect the nervous guests, and there’s only one person for the job.
Jess points out there’s a former NYPD detective staying at the lodge but Anne informs her that they left early and got out before the storm hit. And really, she’d end up doing all the work anyway, lets face it.
JB’s first order of business is to examine the body and recruits the closest doctor she can find to assist. Unfortunately the closest person is a gynecologist and he’s not enjoying himself.
The cop and the gynecologist, recognising the skills, leave the body to Jess, who finds Gunnar’s room key in his pocket and decides to go check out his room. On the way she bumps into Anne who tells her Gunnar received an urgent phone message that morning from someone called Vicki with a Nevada number. Jess tries the number and finds out that the number belongs to a Vicky Tartaglia and whoever is on the other line is not pleased someone is calling.
In Gunnar’s room Jess finds Mike acting shady. It turns out he was looking for Anne’s cigarette lighter that she left in Gunnar’s room the previous evening AWKWARD. He insists that his wife had nothing to with Gunnar’s death, and he knows this because he was spying on her and she didn’t leave Gunnar’s room until well after seven, after the time of death. Oh dear this is awkward.
Downstairs in the bar Gunnar’s teammates are commemorating their friend by getting wildly drunk, much to the disapproval of team member Larry who leaves them to it. Jess has a chat with Pamela, who at first tells her she barely knew Gunnar but then relents and tells Jess of his habit of ladychasing, allegedly including the mobster’s wife in Lake Tahoe. Jess asks if the woman’s surname was Tartaglia but Pamela is not sure. JB suggests that Pamela sounds a little bitter for someone with no personal relationship with Gunnar and Pamela tells her that yes, considering the contract he signed and the fact he was throwing it away due to his philandering, she was bitter and she could have killed him.
Later, the snow is still coming down and Pamela is in the gym having a chat to Larry, who is still unhappy about the wake and is now unhappy that Pamela is sniffing around looking for his signature. Despite her protests that she’s just there working out, he departs to get changed. Pamela is about to do the same when she is accosted by a drunk Viking in the form of Karl, Gunnar’s coach, who accuses her of looking for a way to get out of Gunnar’s contract, and if he finds out she had anything to do with Gunnar’s death, he’ll kill her. Rattled, she goes into the changerooms and finds Larry’s clothes on the floor and Larry hanging from the shower head after being shot by an arrow. Cue Psycho violins.
While Pamela recovers, Ed McMasters provides the update – Larry was whacked on the head in the mens room, then strung up and shot in the ladies. Anne Lowery appears to inform them that the phone lines are down. JB remembers seeing a four-wheel-drive in the carpark with a CB radio and suggests it would be worth trying to get in touch with the sheriff about that. McMasters decides to have a chat with Karl the Viking in the mean time.
Mike and JB have no luck with the sheriff and return to the store. Jess asks Mike if there was any specific reason why he invited his former team mates to the mountain that weekend and Mike shrugs, saying it was good for business. They are interupted by John Dowd falling through a curtain, shot in the shoulder with a crossbow.
To make matters worse, he has a terrible allergic reaction.
Meanwhile, in the hall outside John’s room:
Jess is convinced that the killer is left handed, and that two of the attacks were an attempt to divert suspicion from the main target. But as to who the target was, she can’t say.
Later that night, while the storm continues going about its stormy business, Jess gets a phone call from Ed’s wife Sylvia. Ed got a phone call, grabbed his gun and rushed out, and now Sylvia’s worried, so worried that she’s jangling bells. Jess rugs up and hunts for Ed at the ski shop. She meets him outside and he tells her someone called to say that they had information and to meet outside the ski shop. Jess suspects it’s a trap, confirmed by the arrow that is now sticking out of the sign above her head. They hear an engine rev and see a… sled? One of those motorised ones? I am against cold weather for moral reasons so in this area I am not entirely down with the lingo. Point is, it’s just come crashing out of the shed and Ed shoots off a couple of rounds, stopping the driver with the crossbow in his tracks.
It’s Karl Anderssen. No more drunk viking. Which in my opinion is the best kind of viking so that’s sad.
Ed McMasters feels the case is closed, but JB is not so sure. She enlists the help of the poor gynaecologist to extract the bullets from Karl’s body, as she suspects Karl might have been shot twice. The gyno guy is still not happy.
JB has a quick look in the shed, notices the phone and is about to return to the lodge when she whacks some sleigh bells hanging on the wall. Tis the season, I suppose.
But that triggers something in the old brain palace for our friend JB.
Ah yes. The old “pretend to be a cop and bump off some bloke that had been shagging the boss’s wife” routine.
Until next time.