You guys, it’s been a while (and yes I did just sing that), but we’re back in the Cove at last. It’s a dark and stormy night, and a certain doctor is casting roles for the town’s newest theatrical production – a retelling of a classic tale where a woman called Rachel Abbott was burned to death for being a witch.
After commenting on one potential witch’s scream as “melting lead”, and gently telling Penelope that while Rachel’s role is bigger, he needs her to play the witch’s mother, Eve Simpson steps up to audition for the role of Rachel. (Fun fact, Eve and Penelope look about the same age, so Seth is clearly up to something).
Eve gives a command performance, but would prefer to update the script a little, make it more hers. “I can do a Blanche Dubois that will curl your hair.”
“Of that I have every confidence.” Says Seth.
Just then, there’s a loud clap of thunder, the doors burst open and Stevie Nicks wanders in.
The woman apologises for her dramatic entrance and introduces herself as Mariah Osborne, aka the chick that apparently shot JR that time. She tells them she’s new in town, she’s just rented the old Walker place (much to the shock of others, no-one has lived there for 20 years) and she’s wondering whether there are any roles still open she might audition for?
Seth can’t believe his luck. It’s like Rachel Abbott herself walked in. Stoked.
While she still has to audition, some of the cast view her audition as a foregone conclusion. Judge Willard Clinton will be conveniently play the role of the judge in the play (method acting), and the role of the prosecutor will be played by Nate Parsons, local insurance rep.
Mariah’s audition is a stunning success…
…so much so that when she shouts a line about the bells tolling to proclaim her innocence, the bells in the church go off. Everyone in the room shivers.
The next morning, Seth retells the story of the casting of Rachel Abbott but is less than enthused with the response from his audience.
Mort’s response is to ask Seth if he’s been hearing voices again, which Seth decides is sour grapes because he wouldn’t cast Mort in the play as the constable. Mort tells Seth if he hears the voices telling him to go off and save France he shouldn’t do it, Mort saw how that movie ended.
Seth tells JB the story of how Mariah floated in to town and rented the old Walker place, which JB finds puzzling – it must be full of dust, just like the court archives which is where she’s supposed to be right now. Seth drops her off and she settles in for some investigating, but overhears someone reading something familiar. She goes on the snoop and finds Mariah reading from the original transcripts. JB introduces herself and Mariah tells her she’s studying up for her role. Jess says the whole town is abuzz with her performance the previous night, and Mariah says it wasn’t her, it was Rachel Abbott. What’s more, she thinks Cabot Cove has a habit of ganging up on innocent people. She excuses herself, saying it was nice to meet JB.
JB doesn’t care right now.
Mariah’s next stop is to the Winthrop house, to return a shawl she borrowed from Lydia Winthrop the previous evening. She finds Lydia’s husband Charles at home, in a wheelchair thanks to a renovating accident, and offers to massage his leg when it gets cramped up.
Lydia Winthrop walks in at that moment, and notices her husband is having another of his muscle spasms. She and Lydia step out to give him some peace, and Mariah returns the shawl. Lydia tells her that her audition was quite extraordinary, and Mariah says she has always had a soft spot for the unjustly accused. Don’t we all, Lydia says but the phone rings. Mariah says she can find her own way out, but has a peek at Charles Winthrop before she leaves.
She watches him put some papers in his safe, and then leaves.
Later that night Lydia hears the sound of breaking glass, and goes downstairs to investigate. She finds the safe wide open, and rose petals flung about everywhere – but as they report later to Mort, nothing appears to be missing. When Mort asks if they’d had any visitors, Lydia reminds her husband about the visit they got from Mariah Osborne the previous day.
But she absolutely isn’t trying to cause trouble though. No way.
Mort thinks it’s odd that a thief would stop to scatter rose petals but not bother to steal anything, and Lydia is reminded of the speech Mariah has to give in the play about rose petals scattered in memory of blood spilled.
But seriously guys she’s not trying to cause trouble.
Mort takes Deputy Andy to go see Mariah at her new ramshackle home – Andy has it on good authority that Mariah is basically a witch but Mort tells him to calm down. Things do not improve when Mariah invites them inside and they spot a black cat and cauldron bubbling away with
dry ice steam billowing out of it. Back at the sheriff’s office they fill in JB on the latest and despite JB telling Andy she saw Mariah buying cleaning products at the hardware store Andy is convinced she’s a witch. Mariah might claim she was home all night cleaning, but Penelope told Lisa Tuttle who told Sharon Goldsmith who told Andy’s wife that she saw Mariah out walking by herself dressed in black every midnight. Clearly, a witch.
Undeterred by all the rumour-mongering in town, Mariah’s next stop is to see Nate the insurance agent (remember him) to ask about getting some fire insurance. It is an old house after all. Nate would be delighted to stop by and assess the property, and maybe afterwards they could get di-
“And a history of the place would be great.” Mariah continues. “Any old fire would have affected the structure of the property.”
Nate would love to help out there, but the company doesn’t like giving that information out, plus no one has lived there for 20 years so any files on the property would probably be in the shed behind his house but like he said, company policy. Mariah thanks him anyway and goes to leave – but finds Lydia Winthrop at the door. She was hoping to have a word with Nate about increasing her insurance after the break-in the other night.
Later, Jess bumps into Seth chivalrously helping Mariah load paint into the back of her car. Seth can’t have his leading lady doing her back a week before opening night, and Jess says she’ll remember that the next time she’s shovelling snow. She asks Mariah what she’s up to, and Mariah says she wants to do it all up like the old photos. Jess asks which photos and Mariah says you know, photos of old Victorian houses.
Flagrant cover-up aside, JB cautions Mariah to store them somewhere safe, they are highly flammable.
Now what do you think we’re going to cut to?
The fire in question is taking hold of – wait for it – Nate Parson’s shed. The next day the fire chief tells Mort that some sort of chemical was involved, and when Mort asks what was in the shed Nate’s wife interrupts to say it doesn’t matter, it was definitely deliberate, she saw a pentagram on the door.
Penelope pops up again to remind everyone that Rebecca Abbott said she would return in storm and fire and death, and that Mariah Osborne arrived in town during a storm, and now there’s been a fire, so unless she’s very much mistaken, Mort’s problems are just the beginning.
That night, dress rehearsals are underway. Seth’s worried Mariah’s forgotten her script but she tells him not to worry, she’s memorised it. So well in fact, that when they rehearse the courtroom scene where Lydia’s character accuses Mariah’s character of bewitching her husband, she manages to insert a big speech about how Goody Butler is a small-minded bitter woman whose soul is as barren as-.
Lydia is outraged. Seth is outraged. That’s not in the script! Mariah tells them she read a transcript of another account of the trial and thought it would add to the character. Lydia storms out, and Seth declares a break. Willard Clinton (remember him?) wanders over for a chat, and they get a bit of a flirt on, much to the disgust of Penelope and Lydia. After rehearsal, Willard finds a note on his car from “Rachel” asking to meet the “magistrate” at 10pm. He returns at the appointed time, and starts looking for Mariah/Rachel. Rose petals fall down from the bell tower so he starts to climb. At the top, he sees a familiar looking shadow, right before it pushes him out the window to his death.
I wondered when we were getting to the murder part of this show.
JB wanders down to see whether Mort had it under control and finds him slightly panicked. He’s starting to worry that the town might have been right about Mariah. He shows JB the letter. Jess reminds him that Rachel Abbott and Mariah Osborne are two completely different people. Mort tells her she knows that, and he knows that but he wonders if Mariah knows that. They visit her at home and she tells them she swears she didn’t kill Willard. She gladly offers a handwriting sample and gets JB to retrieve a notebook for the task. JB starts poking around and finds a scrapbook with a newspaper article about the trial of Monica Walker, and a photo of Monica standing next to a boat.
JB is on the case you guys. She goes to the courthouse to find the court documents but is told all the files are missing. Curious, says JB. She’s also been to the Gazette office and all their records for 1967 are missing – could the trial have happened then. The court clerk tells her it did.
With all the usual sources gone, JB has one card left. After feeding Seth full of homecooked goodness, she pesters him for information about Monica Walker. He tells a sad tale – she was working as a secretary for Charles and Lydia Winthrop but then was convicted of stealing a diamond necklace. She went to prison for five years and then upon release sold the house and left town never to return.
JB decides a call on the Winthrop’s is in order. She finds Charles hard at work on a model boat, sad he can’t go sailing on his own boat until his leg heals. Lydia tells him she did warn him about the builders re-varnishing the stairs. They heard all about what happened to Willard from Nate Parsons, and there’s no doubt in their minds Mariah did it. They won’t feel safe until she’s been arrested and until then they are bumping up security and getting a new safe for Lydia’s jewellery. JB takes the opportunity to ask about the trouble Lydia had a few years earlier, and Lydia says Moncia Walker stole the necklace, she never did get it back why does JB ask?
JB leaves, but returns just in time to find Charles standing up at the fireplace. Passing no comment on his rapid recovery, JB instead asks if he remembers who the prosecutor was on the Monica Walker case. Charles nonchalantly tells Jess it was in fact Willard Clinton, right before he was appointed a judge. Jess thanks him and leaves.
Next, Jess heads over to investigate the crime scene, and is startled to find Nate Parsons doing the same thing. He tells her Willard Clinton was a client of his so he has to investigate the death. JB quickly concludes that there was no way that this was anything other than murder, and spots some long dark hairs caught in a nail. She grabs them to take to Mort, and as she leaves asks Nate if his company did the policy for the Winthrops. He confirms yes, for over 20 years.
JB drops the hairs off with Mort and is interrupted by Deputy Andy arriving to announce that the fingerprints on the Winthrop’s safe belong to Mary Lynn Walker. Everyone is taken aback, but JB obviously is unfazed. She knows why Mary Lynn has returned to Cabot Cove.
At Mariah/Mary Lynn’s house, Mariah comes clean about why she came back to town and admits to breaking into the safe to try and prove her mother was innocent. She didn’t kill Willard Clinton even if she had good reason – back in the day he offered to drop the case if Monica did certain favours for him. Mort doesn’t care and arrests her anyway.
Jess isn’t giving up though. A quick chat with the fire chief reveals that the source of the fire at Nate Parson’s house was a liquid commonly used in floor varnishing and paint removal. JB then stops by Nate Parson’s house to ask for records relating to the theft of Lydia Winthrop’s necklace, and to ask whether he had gone ahead with his planned renovations. He tells her they didn’t but they did get the floors done.
THIS EPISODE JUST KEEPS GOING.
Jess manages to find out via Seth that the hairs she found in the bell tower were from a wig, not from actual hair. This seals it for Jess but Mort is unconvinced. Only when JB manages to get the killer to confess that Mort believes it.
Guys this is what happens when you find out your husband is sneaking around with another woman, and you stage a theft to get her out of the picture, but the prosecutor who helps you stage it gets cold feet when he sees the woman’s daughter years later and so you have to kill him to shut him up really it’s the sort of thing that could happen to anyone.
Ugh. It’s a hot and stormy afternoon in Melbourne and I need a nap.