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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
…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.
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…
…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…
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.
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.