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S03E21 – The Days Dwindle Down

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Greetings and salutations Fletcherfans!

JB is California this week, staying in a fabulous hotel paid for by her publisher while she works on promotion for her new book, although her publisher is starting to think that her sideline solving mysteries is a bigger draw than her books (I can’t believe it took them that long).

A woman named Georgia Wilson overhears their conversation and later knocks on JB’s hotel room door begging for help. Her husband Sam has just come home from prison, where he’s spent the last 30 years in prison for a crime he supposedly didn’t commit. The crime…OF MURDER.

*DUN DUN DUNNNNNNNNNNNNN*

Because JB is the Supreme Goddess of Kindness, Benevolence and Being A Boss, she goes with Georgia to talk to Sam about his story. In a stunning coincidence, his story coincides with a movie he was in in 1949 called Strange Bargain, which allows for some helpful and surprisingly accurate flashback sequences.

As she hasn’t seen the movie, Sam tells Jess the story. Back in the day,  when he was a struggling actor assistant bookkeeper, he went to his boss Mr Jarvis for a raise. Instead, Jarvis fired him, saying that the firm couldn’t afford to keep him and he couldn’t afford to put more money into the firm – he had ten thousand dollars to his name.  That night, they met for a drink and Jarvis told Sam his scheme to fix his financial situation. He was going to kill himself but in such a way as to make it seem like murder, so that his family could receive his life insurance payout.

That night, Jarvis called Sam and told him he was going through with it, and sooner than he’d planned. Sam drove over there to talk him out of it but he was too late. So, like anyone would do, Sam took the gun and envelope with the money and hightailed it out of there, only just remembering to fire the gun into the house to make it seem like murder.

I think we can all guess where this is heading.

The next morning when Sam and Georgia go to pay their respects to Mrs Jarvis, Lieutenant Richard Webb tells Sam that they pulled three slugs out of the wall. Unfortunately for Sam his gaze goes straight to the wall in question, a fact noticed by Lieutenant Webb.

Speaking of…

WHO IS THAT?

WHO IS THAT?

In any case that look, coupled with Sam burning the letter from Mr Jarvis, meant that he was put away. Got all that?

(I kind of want to. To Google!)

(I kind of want to. To Google!)

Naturally, JB takes on the case because she is awesome. Sam and Georgia’s son Rod warns her that it’s a wild goose chase, but he has bigger problems. I’ll get to that later.

The next morning, after a raging night of reading through Rod’s case notes, JB kicks off her investigation with tacos and tequila for everyone a trip to the scene of the crime. Mr Jarvis’s son Sydney still lives in the house, and while he didn’t think Sam killed his father, he is suspicious of the new interest in the case. JB asks him about him telling Sam about seeing Mr Jarvis’s business partner Mr Hearne at his house that night, but all Sydney says is that there might have been other suspects but Sam was the one convicted.

Sidenote: Sydney is being played by Richard Beymer, and that sound you just heard was my mind exploding with the realisation that Tony from West Side Story and Benjamin Horne are the same person.

Seriously though, mind = blown.

Seriously though, mind = blown.

Sydney bows to JB’s persuasive powers of persuasion and agrees to let them “snoop” around the house. Jess asks him if she could speak to his mother, but he tells her that she passed away. Clearly noone told the postman, judging by the letter on the desk.

JB’s next port of call is the offices of Jarvis & Hearne, now run by Hearne’s granddaughter Dorothy. Dorothy tells her that the reason why her grandfather was at the house was to arrange for the transfer of Mr Jarvis’s share of the company to him. JB tells her that Mrs Jarvis told police that the sale happened after Mr Jarvis’s death but Dorothy tells her that isn’t true.

Next on JB’s hitlist is Thelma Vantay, Mr Jarvis’s former secretary. JB is eager to talk about the case but Thelma is more interested in other things. Like her ex-husband who never worked a day in his life but who had many other excellent qualities.

LIKE. A. BOSS.

THAT FACE. MY HERO.

When JB finally gets her onto the subject of Mr and Mrs Jarvis, Thelma is dismissive. Even though Edna Jarvis came home early from a weekend away to find her husband dead, Thelma is convinced she had nothing to do with his death – she simply didn’t have the guts. After JB drives off in her taxi-chariot Thelma gets on the phone to alert A Mystery Person that someone has an interest in their “problem”.

Anyway, remember when I said Sam and Georgia’s son Rod had bigger issues? Well his wife, it turns out, will make several future appearances on Murder She Wrote. As Grady’s wife.

Ugh. He's not even in this episode and he's annoying me.

Ugh. He’s not even in this episode and he’s annoying me.

Rod comes home to inform JB and his parents that Edna Jarvis is still alive, and JB decides to pay a call on her first thing in the morning.

That night, someone tries to shoot JB in the head but misses. The police roll in and pull a .38 bullet out of the chair, similar to the ones found in Mr Jarvis’s home. JB is convinced they came from the same gun but Rod’s boss is unconvinced. He agrees to compare them.

The next morning Georgia and JB pay a visit on Edna Jarvis, who has recovered nicely from being dead but is suffering from dementia. JB tries to question her about her husband but gets nowhere, and is soon interrupted by Sydney who angrily throws them out of the nursing home. JB asks him about Dorothy Hearne’s claims about the night of his father’s death but he tells her that Mr Hearne got control of the business way after Mr Jarvis’s death, and to question Dorothy about why she’s lying. JB informs him that Dorothy isn’t the only one misrepresenting the truth and storms off, taking his advice and going to see Dorothy who continues to denies her grandfather had anything to do with Mr Jarvis’s death.

Back at the hotel JB gets a mysterious call about the case, with orders to come alone. It turns out to be from the mysterious Lieutenant Webb who may seem familiar…

Am guessing he's going to be the first MASH cast member to not kill someone in this show.

Am guessing he’s going to be the first MASH cast member to not kill someone in this show.

He tells JB that he never really thought Sam killed his boss, and gives her the original police report, complete with ballistics report on the bullet retrieved from JB’s hotel room. Despite the fact that Sam threw the gun in the water off Santa Monica pier as per his instructions, it was used again 30 years later. JB asks him about Mr Jarvis’s insurance policy and he agrees that he found it suspicious but he couldn’t do anything more. He tells JB he considered the possibility that someone else knew about the life insurance policy and expected to get money out of it but the only other person they found who knew about it was Themla Vantay but despite Webb’s suspicions Thelma wasn’t having an affair with her boss.

Jess and Rod go to confront Thelma about what she knew about the death of her boss. She is reluctant to talk but when JB tells her the statute of limitations has expired on blackmail she comes clean. Thelma put two and two together about her boss’s death and the insurance policy and blackmailed his family to keep her mouth closed about it. Sydney eventually cut her off, and even when she called him a few days earlier to tell him about JB’s questions about the case he still refused to give her money, saying he was broke. “Can you believe the nerve of that guy?” Says Thelma.

Thelma's a teeny bit cray-cray

Thelma’s a teeny bit cray-cray

Rod is eager to go and tell his father that they can prove it was suicide but JB is unconvinced. There had to be a reason why someone fired her, and to cover up a 30 year old suicide just didn’t make sense. Rod points out that also seemed kind of dumb to use a 30 year old gun that can be traced back to the original case and this gives Jess a brainwave.

Eureka!

Eureka!

The trouble is, everyone assumed that Mr Jarvis killed himself or someone killed him. The truth was not quite so clearcut. The gun was retrieved from the water by Sydney, to remove fingerprints. Not from the handle, but from the barrel.

Wait. It's Murder She Wrote and noone has been murdered? I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO

Wait. It’s Murder She Wrote and noone has been murdered? I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO

Mr Jarvis had the perfect plan, but he didn’t count on his wife coming home and trying to stop him. She tried to take the gun off him, it went off, and that was that. Everything that happened since, including Sydney firing at Jess, was done to protect Edna.

But lets not focus on the depressing. I’m giving massive points to the Murder She Wrote writers for this episode, it was pretty clever the way they used the original movie as flashbacks. And never let us forget: OUR HEROINE IS A BOSS.

Stay tuned for the season 3 finale next week!

Later gang!

Later gang!

 

 

S03E05 – Corned Beef and Carnage

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Fletcherfans! Remember these guys?

What do you even call that style?

Last time we saw Vicky and Kernickie they were in LA being stiffed by Martin Landau. Now they’re in New York, where Kernickie is a struggling actor and Vicky is working for a high-falutin’ advertising agency with Charles Winchester from MASH that looks nothing like Mad Men and is clearly a front for a meth lab. And I’m not just saying that because I’ve watched 3.5 seasons of Breaking Bad in two weeks.

Vicky is a teeny bit stressed out. Her boss Larry Kincaid is trying to pimp her out to Grover Bart (proprietor of Corned Beef Castle and previously seen as a foreman here), whose signature he is eager to get. He insists that Vicky blow off her lunch with her aunt and Howard. Howard is not terribly impressed with this news, but JB doesn’t mind a bit. Unfortunately it gets worse over lunch, and the sleazy baron of the corned beef empire gets all Indecent Proposal-ish.

Back at the office Larry K is being harassed by his brother Myron who is concerned about the lack of money, and Charles Winchester Aubrey Thornton who is concerned about the fact that he wasn’t invited to the Corned Beef Castles presentation. After he tells Vicky that she’s having dinner with Grover Bart and he’d better come in the next morning with a big smile on his face or else, she quits. GO VICKY!

Kincaid’s mood improves with the arrival of his 4 o’clock appointment, a rival ad exceutive.

There's some 80s power dressing right there...

That’s some 80s power dressing right there…

d2

Of course, Christine Clifford isn’t just there to demonstrate the power of a pastel suit – she’s on a mission to steal the Corned Beef Castle account away from the Kincaids and hand it to her boss, in exchange for All The Things. She cleverly “forgets her purse” and returns to retrieve it and a folder of potential pitches that Vicky has put together for the campaign.

After returning home to find a load of bills and an answering machine message with another audition rejection for Kernickie, Vicky decides to go back to the office to suck up to Kincaid, so that she might get her job back. But alas, when she walks in to the office, Larry K is suffering a terminal case of being dead, bashed to death with his own award.

Lieutenant Spoletti is called to the scene, takes one look at the murder weapon, and says “For excellence in the field of advertising: Larry Kincaid. Well, like they say – this one had his name on it.”

We won't get fooled again! Won't get fooled again! (Sorry)

We won’t get fooled again! Won’t get fooled again! (Sorry)

Spoletti proceeds to interrogate Vicky but is soon interrupted by Kernickie 9who is concerned for his wife) and JB (who has just spotted a corned beef sandwich that’s been left unsupervised on Kincaid’s desk)

*not pictured: sandwich

*not pictured: sandwich

JB subtly hints to Spoletti that the presence of the corned beef sandwich might establish time of death. They ask the security guard (previously seen as the Coach in this episode)  for a list of people who visited the office after hours, and apart from a visit from Grover Bart and an interior designer named Mary Jo, there is no record of anyone coming to the building, let alone delivering a sandwich.

MYSTERIOUS SANDWICH IS MYSTERIOUS.

The next morning Vicky is clearing out her things when she gets a visit from Aubrey and Myron. They tell her they looked over her ideas for the Corned Beef Castle account and they want her to stay. Yay Vicky! She goes to celebrate her good fortune with JB, but is soon interrupted by Christine Clifford with a job offer and Spoletti with an arrest warrant.

Is anyone else feeling a bit dejavu-y?

Is anyone else feeling a bit deja vu-y?

Down at the precinct JB and Spoletti have a raging argument (largely about sandwiches), and Spoletti gives her 24 hours to prove her point that the time of death was much earlier than he thinks. Not wasting time, she goes straight to the Kincaid office to ask Myron and Aubrey about the interior designer but they know nothing about it, saying that the office had only been redecorated a year before, JB also asks about the sercurity guard, who had apparently been fired. Aubrey says that was him,  that since he let the boss get killed he probably needed to be replaced. That’s logic I guess.

After a brief stop at a Corned Beef Castle opening to ask Grover Bart about his after hours visit to Larry Kincaid (he knew nothing, especially about any proposals of the indecent variety), JB then goes to see the newly unemployed security guard to ask about the interior designer. He tells her that that he didn’t think that she was an employee, she was tall, blonde, and kinda liked him.

h2

JB confirms that the mystery interior designer is in fact Mary Clifford, and to celebrate goes home for lunch where Kernickie is full of beans – he has an audition for a TV commercial…organised by Mary Clifford. HOW CONVENIENT. JB tags along, smelling a pastel wearing rat, and she’s right – Kernickie only gets to be the face of Slumberland Funeral Homes (!?!?)  when Vicky joins the agency and brings the Corned Beef Castles account with her. BASTARDS.

Jess pipes up, and asks Christine about her second visit to Larry Kincaid, disguised as an interior decorator. She tries to bluff her way out of it but admits to stealing the file earlier in the day and replacing it before Larry K knew it was missing. She swears up and down that Larry was already dead when she returned the file. On JB’s advice she goes to the police station and tells Spoletti the same information. Spoletti is disinclined to believe her.

Spoletti: Why is it I always figure gorgeous blondes are lying to me?

JB: Adolescent trauma, lieutenant.

Christine Clifford’s boss, Leland Biddle, arrives to check on his employee. He tells JB and Spoletti that they are no longer interested in the Corned Beef Castle account  after he learned that the Barts were filing for bankruptcy. JB asks him if he knew about that before Kincaid was killed and he gets uppity, but he has an alibi – he was dining with Aubrey the night of the murder, although conveniently at the restaurant at the foot of the Kincaid office building but he swears that he never left the restaurant.

Jess goes home to tell Vicky and Kernickie about it, but they’re a little busy right now.

Ugh, JB I know how you feel...

Ugh, JB I know how you feel…

JB decides against the floor show, and goes hunting for the origin of the Mysterious Corned Beef Sandwich Of Mystery. She finally tracks it down to a deli near the Kincaid offfice, but the owner tells her that the order was cancelled the night of the murder.

Spoletti orders the security guard in for questioning, but he can’t figure it out either. JB asks him what the delivery man was wearing – gloves, a beanie, a moustache, and sunglasses, according to the guard. JB correctly points out that it would be weird for a delivery man to be wearing sunglasses at night.

But it wouldn’t be weird, if he was trying to disguise himself so that the security guard wouldn’t recognise him .

Not for nothing, but that's two for two MASH actors that have gone on to kill people on Murder, She Wrote. Think I'll be keeping an eye on them...

Not for nothing, but that’s two for two MASH actors that have gone on to kill people on Murder, She Wrote. Worth keeping an eye on *ominous music*

Poor Charles. All he and his bowtie wanted to do was work in advertising, but since Kincaid was such a dick he just couldn’t get ahead, So, through the cunning use of disguises

CUNNING.

CUNNING.

And he would’ve gotten away with it, if it hadn’t been for the Mysterious Sandwich of Mystery – and JB Fletcher, of course. But the sandwich helped. God I’m so hungry now.

...

Can’t talk, eating.

 

ETA: Thanks to Kell for pointing out that it’s CHARLES Winchester, not Frank. The moral here kids, is don’t write things when all you can think about is the buttermilk pancakes you’re going to eat when you’ve finished.

For the record, they were tasty as and I regret nothing. (Thanks Kell!)

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