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S06E10 – Class Act

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Once upon a time, in a magical faraway land called Los Angeles, there was a hobo named Leo Gunderson. Leo was wandering along a beach late one night, looking for somewhere to sleep when he heard a scream on the other side of the sand dunes. When he rushed to see what the matter was, a dark figure slammed into him and pushed him down. After he dusts himself off he goes to investigate and finds the body of a woman lying in the dunes just as the police arrive.

That’s right Fletcherfans. It’s story time with JB again.

A few months after Leo’s arrest the detective in charge of the case, JB’s pal Jake Ballinger is staggered to learn that Leo confessed, when it was obvious that he didn’t do it. His boss tells him the case is closed and when Jake threatens to go over his head the lieutenant says it wouldn’t make a difference – the case is done and Jake’s been reassigned to the teaching position at Freemont University. It would appear someone wants Jake out of the police department rather badly.

Is it me or does this guy look like someone tried to morph Dustin Hoffman and Leslie Nielsen together?

Is it me or does this guy look like someone tried to morph Dustin Hoffman and Leslie Nielsen together?

On Jake’s first day of class it’s already apparent that the course he’s to be teaching is widely recognised as the bludge class, and there are people throwing paper airplanes around to prove it. Paper airplanes? At a university? I mean, turning up to class after just getting home from the pub, sure. Getting to class late because you thought something was about to happen in Passions, absolutely. But paper planes? Honestly, fictional students. Lift your game.

In a move that will be filed under “Things That Would Never Happen On TV today”, Jake quiets the rabble by firing his gun into the air before informing them that there’s a new sheriff in town. He gives them 24 hours to decide whether they want to continue with the course and lets them go. That night  when Jake is chillaxing at home with his daughter Janie, he declares with absolute certainty that there will be no-one at the class tomorrow but his mood darkens when he gets a phone call from the hospital – the mother of Leo Gundarson was just hit by a car and is asking for him. He goes to see her and she tells him Leo only confessed because they told him he would get the death penalty if he didn’t. She begs Jake to keep investigating.

The next morning Jake visits an old friend in the forensics lab to suss out the evidence gathered after the murder, specifically a tyre tread cast, but his friend tells him the case is closed and sealed and there’s nothing he can do about it. Upstairs, his boss reminds him that he’s a teacher now, and that while it’s a crappy deal, Jake is six years away from his pension and to ride it out.

At the university, Jake’s gunshow has had the expected affect:

The guy in the front there grew up to be George Clooney's production partner, and won an Oscar for Argo. #FactBasedReporting #ItFeelsWeirdToBeDoingIt

The guy in the front there grew up to be George Clooney’s production partner, and won an Oscar for Argo. #FactBasedReporting #ItFeelsWeirdToBeDoingItThough

Bernie Berndlestein is nothing compared to Elizabeth Mills sitting behind him though, especially when Jake feels the need to comment on the presence of someone of Elizabeth’s…maturity.

The face of every actress when they're told they're too old to play a part (and my face when someone says I'm really funny for a girl)

The face of every actress when they’re told they’re too old to play a part (and my face when someone says I’m really funny for a girl)

Elizabeth, taking the course to get a promotion at the insurance company where she works as a claims investigator, enquires as to what textbook they will be using, but Jake’s decided it’s going to be more of a practical course.

Cut to the beach where the murder took place. While Elizabeth deals with sand in her heels, Bernie explains to Jake that he’s actually taking the course in order to become a PI.

heh heh heh

heh heh heh

Jake tells them the story of Leo’s arrest for the murder of Janet Carr, and says there’s nothing against a current case being turned into a class project. Is this basically the first season of How to Get Away With Murder? (I only just started watching the first season, Viola Davis is fierce as hell).

While Jake goes back to the university to demand such things as An Office and A Secretary, Elizabeth jumps into the case and begins calling around to find out if the dead woman had an insurance policy. She strikes gold and heads out to the home of the beneficiary of the policy, Jeremy Summerfield. Mrs Summerfield is friendly until Elizabeth asks for Jeremy – Jeremy, it turns out, is the new son of Mr and Mrs Summerfield. Mrs Summerfield takes her son back into the house, but Elizabeth is able to dig up some dirt from the neighbours and calls Jake. Janet Carr is actually Jeanette Cardini, and was the birth mother of Jeremy Summerfield. The nuns at the home for wayward girls where Janet stayed for a time is not willing to divulge any information, but does tell them that Janet made a call to Sacramento the night before she gave birth. Elizabeth, hot on the scent, calls the number pretending to be a wrong number and finds out that the phone belongs to State Senator Andrew Grainger.

Wait, this is more Scandal than How to Get Away With Murder. DRAHMAH.

After stopping in to meet his new secretary and move a bookcase (Why?) Jake heads right on over to the offices of Andrew Grainger. Grainger is more than delighted to meet Jake until the name Janet Carr comes up, at which point he hits the panic button in his desk, summoning his aide Colin Hale. They clam up about any knowledge of the girl, but Jake spots a photo of Grainger’s son on the desk and puts two and two together. Grainger and Hale warn him off the case but Jake’s not having a bar of that. He bids them good day and leaves. Grainger tells Hale to make sure that the record is sealed, neither he nor his son had anything to do with it and he won’t have his son’s future marred by this.

What a lovely bloke. Urgh.

Jake summons Elizabeth to his favourite diner and fills her in on what he’s learned and tells her to try and suss out this Son of Grainger. That night however, while Jake deals with the concept of his daughter moving in with a guy, Elizabeth drops by to report on what she’s learned.  Douglas Grainger was definitely having a thing with Janet Carr, there was a hint of blackmail but then the bad news – both Graingers were in Hawaii at a golf tournament the night Janet died.

context shmontext

context shmontext

Apparently, this nails it for Jake who decides to perform the solution as Richard the Third.

“Dispute not with her, she is a lunatic”: every one of my report cards ever.

While Moira the secretary doesn’t care for Shakespeare’s language, Jake is proving a point – whether he was implicitly told to or not, he thinks Colin Hale killed Janet Carr to make his boss happy. He has a theory of how to prove it, by getting hold of the car Hale hired the night of the murder.

I AM THE ONE WHO POURS

I AM THE ONE WHO POURS

And the cast is a match. The theory is confirmed, Fletcherfans.

I want to see more crimes solved by Shakespearian performance now that I think about it

I want to see more crimes solved by Shakespearian performance now that I think about it

Murder She Blogged is actually taking a week off, but shall return for more wildly inaccurate recaps in two weeks.

But for now, Fletcherfans

BRB, Fletcherfans!

BRB, Fletcherfans!

S06E09 – Test of Wills

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Welcome to a MYSTERIOUS ISLAND Fletcherfans, where Jess is being ferried to by helicopter at the request of Henry Reynard, who has also requested the attendance of his family for an IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT. Henry’s son Jason and his wife Valerie, Henry’s daughter Alice, her daughter Kimberly and Kimberly’s fiancee Preston, and his old pal Doctor Hubbard Dabney have already arrived at the island, leaving Jess to make a fashionable entrance.

As far as Henry’s family are concerned, they’re all there so that Henry can cast judgement on his granddaughter’s choice of husband, while Jess has been lured in with the promise of a large charitable donation. When she presses Henry for more information, he comes clean – he brought her there because someone is trying to kill him and he was JB to find out who it is.

I think we've all made that face at some time or another

I think we’ve all made that face at some time or another

Henry shows JB the evidence of various attempts on his life and begs JB to investigate, but Jess wants no part of it. Henry tells her it’s fine, he knows the guilty one is someone in his family and they’re all there for the weekend (how convenient) and anyway here’s this cheque for a million dollars made out to Jessica Fletcher what do you mean you won’t do it?

Jessica tells him she’s not a trained investigator (modest) and that he should go to the authorities. Henry is outraged that she won’t accept his money but she tells him she doesn’t care about that. He puts the cheque back in the drawer, along with document with the helpfully large heading LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT and a gun. He suspects Jessica might change her mind after meeting his family.

Upstairs, Jessica is unpacking when she gets a knock at the door – it’s Henry’s granddaughter Kimberly who was very excited to find out JB Fletcher was coming for the weekend.  She’s not much of a talker (she says), who doesn’t have a lot to say (according to her mother) but finds it a lot easier to…write how she feels.

This also happens to people when word gets out you have a degree in publishing, even when said people now work at a travel agency because it's basically impossible to get a job in publishing *coughs*

This also happens to people when word gets out you have a degree in publishing, even when said people now work at a travel agency because it’s basically impossible to get a job in publishing *coughs*

Later that night, and wouldn’t you know it, a massive storm hits the island. I mean honestly, what were the odds of that happening? Henry gathers everyone in the billiard room and announces that he’s redrafted his will.

e2 e3 e4

I mean he tried...

I mean he tried…

Side note: I am going to work a 2001: A Space Odyssey reference into this episode even if it kills me.

Just to make a will announcement even more dramatic, the lights go out. They all scatter to look for flashlights and candles,and Henry tells JB to stay with Kimberly while he sorts out the fuse. A moment later Jess notices the thunder sounding more gunshot-ty than usual and goes to the hall.

Preston is on the ground, dead, and it’s obvious what killed him.

Convenient flashlight is convenient.

Convenient flashlight is convenient.

Reactions to the death by smug of Henry Reynard stretch from devastation (Kimberly) to thirst (Jason). While the family go and drink/ cry, Jessica quickly deduces that Henry was murdered and that they need to send to the mainland for help pronto. Unfortunately, the phones are out, as the creepy butler informs them. The body is taken upstairs,  and as the lights come back on Jess asks Dr Dabney if he knew anything about the other attempts on Henry’s life but he says that the Curious Incident of The Pills That Weren’t wasn’t life-theatening.

Downstairs, the grieving family led by Jason have broken into the locked drawer and have discovered the will, with the million dollar cheque made out to Our Heroine…

Oh d-d-dear

Oh d-d-dear

…and the news that the revised will means that everything in Henry’s estate now belongs to Jessica Beatrice Fletcher to keep, donate, or bequeath to Henry’s worthless heirs as she sees fit.

Dat face though

Dat face though

Jessica informs them that she had no idea about the contents of the will, and in fact she doesn’t want the money. She’s more concerned that Henry was murdered. The Doc tells them he will go and get the police from the mainland as soon as the storm clears but that in the meantime they should all get some rest. As the family all troop out, an eagle-eyed Jess spots Kimberly’s fiance Preston slipping a note to her aunt Valerie.

Not suspicious at all.

That night, while Val and Jason bicker about Preston, and Jason reveals that Preston isn’t the blue-blooded aristocrat he claims to be, JB is restless. She gets a knock on her bedroom door – it’s Alice, sniffing around JB’s plans now that she’s a squillionaire (or the 80s equivalent of). Jessica informs her she will be consulting her own attorney on the matter and points out that Alice, Jason and Valerie seemed to have much more of a motive than she. Alice tries cover her tracks by saying that she was with Kimberly at the time of the murder, but Jess points out that she was with Kimberly, not Alice.

Alice storms off. As Jess goes to close the door, she notices a light on in Henry’s room, where the body was left. She tries the door but it’s locked and the light goes off after she jiggles the handle.

The next morning…

**Original lyrics to Sexyback by Justin Timberlake.

**Original lyrics to Sexyback by Justin Timberlake.

…Jess notices a bullet hole in the ceiling. She bumps into the Doc out in the grounds who has bad news about getting a boat to the mainland (it has been disabled) and tells him about the light. He says it was him, paying his last respects to his friend. The conversation is interrupted by a blood-curdling scream from the pool house – the maid has just found Preston Howard dead, the gun from Henry’s drawer next to him.

Word gets out that Preston has shuffled off his mortal coil, and while Alice rushes to tell her daughter the news, Valerie bullies Jason into telling people they were together all night to avoid suspicion. Jess comes back inside and goes to check on Kimberly but is fobbed off by Alice who tells her she has given her daughter a sedative. Jess is about to leave when she hears raised voices coming from the next room. She knocks on the door and…well…

Zombie episodes are up 700% this season.

Zombie episodes are up 700% this season.

The reanimated corpse decidedly undead Henry Reynard invites Jessica in, as the Doc excuses himself to go and get the phones working again. It turns out this was all part of Henry’s cunning scheme to find out how his family would react to his death, to the point where he had a security system set up so he could watch the drama unfold. He tells Jess he’s disappointed she’s not more greedy.

The police chopper on in and are not terribly impressed with Henry’s little charade, but are interested in the news that Preston wasn’t all he claimed to be and that Henry knew it, and even more that an earring belonging to Valerie was just found in Preston’s pocket. JB tells the police about the little shady note passing situation and they decide to take it up with her.

They find Val and Jason having a liquid brunch in the billiard room. Val tells them she lost the earring in the dark after the lights went out and that Preston offered to go look for it when she realised it was gone. Val, naturally, was in her room with her husband the entire evening and the fact that I haven’t worked in an OPEN THE POD BAY DOORS VAL bit into this episode is deeply annoying. In any case, Alice appears to confirm she knew about the Preston situation from Jason the previous evening, and had told Kimberly to protect her. When Kimberly appears, however, she’s leaning more on the never forgiving anyone side. Especially her grandfather, who she declares killed Preston.

Sheriff Brademus is inclined to agree with Kimberly and is all set to do some gunpowder tests but JB points out that Henry did fire a gun – into the ceiling to stage his death. Same for the Doc, who had gloves in his room smelling of gunpowder – he was off shooting clay pigeons. It all seems like a dilly of a pickle until Jess helpfully reminds everyone of the video tapes Henry recorded to see everyone’s reactions to his “death”.

A close examination of the video tapes sees everyone in the family coming and going – special note is made of Preston going downstairs  followed a short time later by Valerie, who helpfully checks her reflection in the mirror to show both earrings – and only one when she returns alone later, as helpfully pointed out by Kimberly who wanders in to watch the footage with them. Brademus thinks that seals the deal and doesn’t pay much attention to the next clip of the butler rifling through Henry’s desk looking for – something? Not the gun presumably since it’s there.

They confront Valerie about the note from Preston and the case of the mysterious earring and she comes clean – Preston was blackmailing her to keep quiet. This closes the case for Jessica.

DAMNIT WHY COULDN'T IT HAVE BEEN JASON I NEED A 2001 REFERENCE IN HERE THIS BLOG IS FALLING APART

DAMNIT WHY COULDN’T IT HAVE BEEN JASON I NEED A 2001 REFERENCE IN HERE THIS BLOG IS FALLING APART

In her defence, it was one of those gun wrestling accidental situations. Her grandfather tries to impose himself on the situation, but Kimberly wanted none of it. She’s going with the police and Jessica, and she didn’t want a bar of him.

Henry gives JB her cheque, which she desperately wants to throw back in his face but instead keeps to give to the children’s hospital. OUR HEROINE IS A BENEVOLENT GODDESS.

And there we leave Kimberly and JB jetting off into the sunset, leaving Henry with his piles of money. And your intrepid writer still trying to fit a 2001 reference in here.

Thus spake Fletcher.

Dun....dun....dun.....DA-DUNNNNN.....)

Dun….dun….dun…..DA-DUNNNNN…..

S06E08 – When The Fat Lady Sings

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We’re in San Francisco this week Fletcherfans, where there’s a dead guy on the pavement, another guy looking close to death on the pavement, a gaggle of theatre people looking very sad/hungry

 

Hodor? Hodor.

Hodor? Hodor.

Also at the scene is Jerry Stiller being a cop, Our Heroine being Our Heroine and a ghost from Christmas past who I will get to in a minute.

The gang all adjourn to the nearest hospital to wait for updates on the condition of the not dead guy, while hurling accusations around about who’s fault it is.

HODOR HODOR HODOR HODOR

HODOR HODOR HODOR HODOR

Meanwhile, JB is chatting to Lieutenant Jerry Stiller Birnbaum who wants answers, and since everyone else is hysterical, it’s up to JB to fill in the blanks.

Turns out, the story only begins that morning, when JB is at her hotel having breakfast when she gets a phone call from a mysterious stranger who turns out to be sitting not far from her.

DENNIS STANTON WHAT EVEN ARE YOU AND WHAT IS THAT MOUSTACHE

DENNIS STANTON WHAT EVEN ARE YOU AND WHAT IS THAT MOUSTACHE

You may remember Dennis the Catburglaring Menace from such times as this one. He’s back, much reformed, and he has PLANS for JB. No, not those plans, operatic plans.  Renowned opera singer Rosanno Bertolucci is in town and Dennis wants to take JB not only to the performance, but to meet the singer himself.

Rosanno Bertolucci is delighted to meet JB and even more delighted to tell her about how Dennis has helped to raise over $200,000 for orphans from the takings of that night’s performance. I only mention this because it never comes up again and I don’t know whether Dennis Stanton is a reformed cat-burglar or a hallucination. It’s too hard to tell.

Rosanno’s wife and aunt appear from a morning’s shopping with a new jacket for Rosanno and the news that the production’s tenor has been badmouthing Rosanno and his protege Maria in the newspaper. Rosanno, it would seem, can take insults directed at him but is outraged that anyone is having a go at Teresa. JB and Dennis, on the other hand, are more interested in the gun they’ve just spotted tucked into Rosanno’s pants (not code).

He really does have a gun in his pants! #OrDoesHe #NoHeReallyDoes

He really does have a gun in his pants! #OrDoesHe #NoHeReallyDoes

Rosanno explains that while they were on tour in  Japan and Hong Kong an unsavoury  gentleman by the name of Faraday was hanging around with some shifty looking associates, and so he got the gun for protection. Rosanno Bertolucci has no time for American gun laws, despite JB’s friendly advice.

Lieutenant Jerry Stiller Birnbaum is rather interested to hear about the gun and the shifty associates but Jessica’s not done yet. That night, she explains, she got to the theatre an hour before curtain and was backstage with Dennis The Menace. The place was a madhouse, with people and sets and props everywhere. Maria the protege was having her hands full trying to keep fellow singer Giorgio’s hands off her while her actual boyfriend, a journalist named Barry, sneaks out before Rosanno can catch him with Maria in her dressing room. While Jessica and Dennis deal with Hodor launching a tirade against critics, a shady character slinks backstage before being caught in Maria’s dressing room – it’s Lou Faraday. Rosanno hurls him down the stairs and tells him if he’s caught near Maria again, Rosanno will kill him.

DISAPPROVING FACE.

DISAPPROVING FACE.

Lieutenant Jerry Stiller Birnbaum is even more interested to hear this, but JB still ain’t done. The show went ahead with everyone performing brilliantly, except Maria. After the performance, JB and Dennis went backstage to congratulate everyone, but are cut short by screaming coming from Maria’s dressing room. Rosanno breaks down the door and finds Maria freaking out that Lou Faraday had been in her room, and had just left via the fire escape. Dennis the Menace orders someone to call the police and goes down the fire escape after them. JB and Rosanno’s wife Sylvana rush to the alley, they hear two gunshots and find  Rosanno on the ground, having a heart attack. He tells them Lou Faraday shot at him so he fired back in self defence.

That’s all well and good, says Birnbaum, except that Faraday was almost certainly shot while he was lying face down, there was no gun found on Faraday, but there were two spent cartridges in Rosanno’s gun. A kerfuffle outside erupts when the doctor informs them that Rosanno wants to speak to his aunt Teresa and that’s it – not his wife and certainly not the cops.

The next morning JB pays a visit to Lieutenant Jerry Stiller Birnbaum to ask him what happened to Lou Faraday’s windbreaker – he was wearing it when he first went to the theatre, but wasn’t when his body was found. Fun fact – some outrageously awful overdubbing happens in this scene, I had to skip back about 5 times to see whether I was going nuts or not. But that’s neither here nor there. JB also asks about the angle of the gunshot – a 45 degree angle. Lieutenant Jerry Stiller Birnbaum is unconcerned about all of that though – he’s got the case pretty much locked down, he just needs proof. He’s keen to find out what Rosanno told her in the hospital the night before but Teresa ain’t talking.

A call comes in for JB – it’s Dennis the Menace, offering to chauffeur her around for the day. He makes plans to meet her at the opera house, hangs up and grunts (trust me, watch the episode). As he leaves, he notices a car tailing him and tries to evade them in a car chase through San Francisco but never mind that because I’VE WORKED IT OUT DENNIS STANTON IS A SHAPESHIFTER.

g2a

I mean what other possible explanation could there be????

I mean what other possible explanation could there be????

Dennis Stanton. Dennis Stand-in. Something something funny.

Over at the theatre JB is filling in Maria and her boyfriend Barry on Rosanno’s condition – he’s much better, but won’t be performing for awhile. JB wonders how Lou Faraday got into Maria’s dressing room again, but Barry tells her the stage guard always watches the performance, so it wouldn’t have been difficult. JB also asks Maria about the windbreaker, but Maria knows nothing, just that he must have changed his clothes – he wasn’t wearing it when he was in her dressing room that night. Jess thinks that’s odd considering Rosanno’s threat. Rosanno made no effort to hid his jealousy. Hint hint.

Maria informs JB that Rosanno is only a friend, nothing more.

 

DISBELIEVING JESS IS DISBELIEVING

DISBELIEVING JESS IS DISBELIEVING

Dennis arrives with the news he’s being tailed and offers to take Jess over to the hospital to chat to Rossano, who has just woken up and is expected to make a full recovery. She runs into Birnbaum and tells him her new theory – that someone dressed as Faraday, shot the real Faraday and made Rossano think he was shooting at Faraday. Birnbaum thanks her kindly for passing her theories along, and that she has an enjoyable flight back home to Vermont.

The sass is strong in this one.

The sass is strong in this one.

Back at his apartment, Dennis has just discovered his home trashed and a customs agent with a gun pointed at him. It turns out that there are some missing emeralds that he believes were smuggled into the country via the opera company, and since Dennis’s record was – noteworthy – he became the target of the investigation, although they are keeping tabs on everyone hoping that the emeralds will be recovered.

Over at the hospital, Sylvana and Rossano are arguing about Maria when the phone rings – and it’s Maria. Sylvana listens in but only hears Rossano say he will take care of it. He tells her he is tired and bids her goodnight. As soon as she leaves, he sneaks out of the hospital (after clocking his police guard on the head and stealing his uniform) and heads to Maria’s boyfriend Barry Sanderson’s apartment. Inside, he finds the apartment trashed, Maria unconcious and Barry lying dead in the courtyard below the fire escape. He goes to Maria just as the police arrive.

My GOD the melodrama.

Down at the police station Birnbaum won’t let JB near him or Rossano, but Dennis has been able to ferret out some information, the most interesting of which is that the missing emeralds were found in Barry’s pockets. The new theory is that Rossano found out Barry was double crossing him and so killed him, which seems plausible until Rossano’s aunt butts in – Rossano, she says, is only guilty of being a devoted father.

UGH SO DRAMA.

Long story short, Rossano had an affair, found out later that a baby resulted, and when that baby turned up on his doorstep with letter from her now dead mother asking for Rossano to put the girl in the company how could Rossano say no? So he didn’t.  Teresa swears Sylvana knows nothing about it.

Birnbaum still doesn’t buy it, but he has time to tell JB and Dennis that they found the missing windbreaker before kicking them out of his office. That seals it for JB as to who the killer is, but hasn’t got a clue how to prove it.

Cue suitably melodramatic trap.

Naturally

Naturally

Through a cunning use of Sylvana being jealous of her husband’s daughter, they get her to reveal she’s not really Rossano’s daughter, she and her boyfriend Lou Faraday had to get the emeralds into the country, blah blah double cross etc.

What I want to know is, when are we going to talk about Dennis Stanton’s shapeshifting ways?

Such drama, very sleepy.

Such drama, very sleepy.