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S08E11 – Danse Diabolique

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It’s ballet time Fletcherfans! The most excellent of times!

JB is off to the theatre in San Francisco, where a production of Danse Diabolique is about to be mounted. It’s only the third time in history, on account of the lead ballerina dying in the two previous attempts -the first, in Russia over a century earlier, and the second in Paris in the 1920s. The gathered press and JB watch the footage of the Paris performance – the story of two lovers bumped off by death but reunited in the afterlife –  and JB correctly spots cause of death as a heart attack and everyone is rightly impressed.

Solving crimes via television, because that's just how she rolls.

Solving crimes via television, because that’s just how she rolls.

Considering the body count this ballet has produced, one of the gathered journalists asks where they will find someone to dance the role. Producer Geoffrey Presser is delighted to introduce the prima ballerina who will perform the role, mostly because it’s his wife, Claudia Cameron. Another ballerina in the crowd openly laughs while everyone applauds.

The role of Claudia’s love interest will be played by a mullet on legs.

That is one fine mullet.

That is one fine mullet.

The person standing on the end of that photo, basking in the reflected majesty of Damien Bolo’s mullet, is Edward Hale who will dance Death. (He is also Duncan Macleod from Highlander, the tv series that I still can’t believe was ever a think and you should totally watch it on Youtube because the early 90s were a goldmine for ridiculous television and it’s good to remember how far we’ve come).

Introductions over, Geoffrey invites the gathered crowd to stay and watch the first rehearsal. JB plonks herself in the front row, while Claudia asks the laughing ballerina, Lily, what’s so funny – she tells her it’s hilarious to think of Claudia as a maiden.  Calling it early, Lily is a bitch. Meanwhile, Edward is commanding stage manager Barry Carroll (aka the guy with the eyepatch from Days of Our Lives for those playing along at home) to move a flat, but Barry says the pulley system isn’t working. Geoffrey tells him to figure it out and goes to sit down with Jess, who helpfully brushes dust off his jacket because she takes care of the little people. About 30 seconds into the rehearsal Geoffrey notices a flat about to fall from the ceiling and yells “WATCH OUT” just before it comes crashing down. Helpfully, noone was hurt.

Later, back at the ballet company HQ, Barry approaches Lily looking for a dinner date to clearly rekindle something they had previously going on but Lily gives him the cold shoulder. He tells her when he thinks of her with Edward he can’t breathe but Lily just waits for him to release her hand and she sashays away. Over at JB’s hotel room it is revealed that JB is an old friend of Claudia’s, but there was a specific reason she was at the ballet launch – they want her to stick around and be a good luck charm to protect the production from the curse. Not that they believe in it of course, but theatre people are superstitious.

To be fair she literally just solved a mysterious death via a television. Not to mention solving the murder of a KGB agent last week.

To be fair she literally just solved a mysterious death via a television. Not to mention solving the murder of a KGB agent last week.

JB is technically in town for a book tour, but figures sure why not. She’ll be the resident cursebuster, no worries.

The next day Claudia confronts Lily about her behaviour and Lily promises not to act that way in front of the patrons again, but since there are no patrons there right now she thinks Claudia should retire gracefully and leave the roles to people young enough to do them justice. UGH LILY YOU ARE THE WORST.

Jess arrives at the theatre on her first day as official curse-buster and runs into Edward who offers his assistance. JB says he must be excited after being away for awhile and Edward thinks she’s being diplomatic – he’s been in rehab for a pill addiction but now he has a second chance so whatever he can do to help Jess she only has to say the word.

Barry Carroll shows Jess how the pulley system works, and what he thinks went wrong the day before – he’s surprised it hadn’t happened sooner, everything is old and falling apart. He tells Jess he used to be a dancer until a tumble off stage while dancing ended his career. Jess tells him the company is lucky to have him backstage and he is right chuffed.

Back in the dressing rooms Lily and Edward are going at it with their tongues. Lily is trying to convince Edward to talk to Geoffrey about replacing Claudia with another ballerina, say for example Lily, for the good of the company. Edward doesn’t think he can do it, but Lily tells him if he doesn’t, he knows what could happen. Edward nods and Lily beams. Oh piss off Lily you attention seeking cow.

That afternoon in rehearsals Claudia is struggling with the choreography and Edward is losing his mind. Damien is fine with changing the choreography but Edward calls and end to the rehearsal and asks Geoffrey for a word. Lily is delighted by everything. Later, when Claudia is leaving she hears familiar music and finds Lily rehearsing Claudia’s role. Except it isn’t Claudia’s role anymore, as Lily happily points out. This is confirmed by a sad Geoffrey and a solemn looking Edward. Claudia’s out, Lily is in. Claudia tells Lily she hopes there is a curse and that it comes true and Lily dies.

Fair call really.

The next day, Geoffrey finds Jessica backstage and tells her rehearsal is about to start. Jess tells him they need to talk. They adjourn to his office and Jess tells him she worked it out – it was impossible to reach the pulley that controlled the flat that fell without getting chalk dust on your clothes from the blackboard. And she remembers brushing chalk dust off his jacket the day of the accident.  Geoffrey comes clean immediately – he knew it wouldn’t hurt anyone and it would generate some publicity. He hopes Jess can forgive him and that she will still come to preview night on Friday. Jess says she’ll think about it.

Which is worse, obviously.

Which is worse, obviously.

Mullet update:

YOU CAN'T SHACKLE THE MULLET THE MULLET MUST BE FREE TO SPREAD ITS INFINITE WONDER THROUGHOUT THE COSMOS.

YOU CAN’T SHACKLE THE MULLET THE MULLET MUST BE FREE TO SPREAD ITS INFINITE WONDER THROUGHOUT THE COSMOS.

Honestly this episode is ticking so many of my boxes.

Rehearsal with Lily is not going well, as the mullet Damien is pointing out above. Lily is just not as good as Claudia, and a terrible partner. Lily tells him if he’s not up to it they will find someone who is, and Damien says she sounds like she’s taken over the whole company. Lily flounces back to her dressing room saying she’ll be back when they decide to act like professionals. Edward calls a break and screams at them to be better when they come back. Damien asks Geoffrey how he could replace Claudia and he says he had to do it for the sake of the company, and that preview night is almost here, they just need to pull together. Damien says fine, but one more stunt like that and all bets are off.

Claudia goes to visit Jess at her hotel to beg forgiveness on behalf of Geoffrey – they are all under enormous pressure and doing things they don’t mean (like yelling at everyone a-la Edward). Jess tells her it must have been hard to be replaced like that and Claudia says it happens – ballet loves young people, she just doesn’t know what to do now that she’s too old for it. JB reminds her that she wasn’t exactly a teenager when she started writing, and that age and experience are advantages not disabilities (Life Lesson #64).

Thursday afternoon dress rehearsal rolls around and Lily is nowhere to be found. Edward sends Barry to find her, and finds her sans clothes in her dressing room with Geoffrey Presser DAMNIT GEOFFREY WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU. After a bit of a scene Geoffrey delivers his message and returns to the stage, not noticing Edward standing in the corridor.

Preview night arrives at long last, and the scene backstage is chaos. Roses arrive for Damien, while Barry confronts Lily about Edward and Geoffrey and she tells him she’s sorry he can’t dance any more but that’s nothing to do with her and leaves. At the last minute a rose is swapped on the prop table, then curtain goes up. Claudia rushes to her seat just after the performance begins.

Basically the whole ballet can be summed up as follows:

You do an eclectic celebration of the dance! You do Fosse, Fosse, Fosse! You do Martha Graham, Martha Graham, Martha Graham! Or Twyla, Twyla, Twyla! Or Michael Kidd, Michael Kidd, Michael Kidd, Michael Kidd! Or Madonna, Madonna, Madonna!... but you keep it all inside.

You do an eclectic celebration of the dance! You do Fosse, Fosse, Fosse! You do Martha Graham, Martha Graham, Martha Graham! Or Twyla, Twyla, Twyla! Or Michael Kidd, Michael Kidd, Michael Kidd, Michael Kidd! Or Madonna, Madonna, Madonna!… but you keep it all inside.

Of course as Death disappears off the stage, it it revealed that he was a little too good at his job and Lily is lying dead on the stage. The curtain comes down and JB and Claudia rush backstage, but it’s confirmed. Lily is dead.

The police are called…

Any excuse to talk about Ryan Reynolds really (don't even start me on Deadpool 2. )

Any excuse to talk about Ryan Reynolds really (don’t even start me on Deadpool 2)

…and the accusations start flying. JB heard Barry arguing with Lily, which Geoffrey says isn’t a surprise it was Lily that Barry was dancing with when he had his accident at which point Barry says “when did she tell you that Geoffrey? When you were fooling around in her dressing room?”

Geoffrey says she called him to discuss her costume, and she was like that when she got there, dressing rooms are like that etc etc. Claudia looks horrified. Jess suggests they move to a rehearsal space so that Lieutenant Martin Kinicki can continue his questioning. He starts with Claudia and Geoffrey – Geoffrey admits to tampering with the flat that time, but says he had no reason to kill Lily, certainly not for publicity. JB asks Claudia why she was late to her seat when her car was out front, and Claudia says she went to get asprin, she had a terrible headache.

Mullet update:

SUCH MULLET-Y GOODNESS

SUCH MULLET-Y GOODNESS

Damien tells JB he didn’t notice the rose was real, what with being all psyched for the show and all. Jess notices a bouquet of roses in his dressing room and remarks how lovely they are, except it looks like one is missing. People usually order 12. Damien says he was lucky to get them at all – 11,12 what’s the difference?

He doesn't need to math, he has MULLET.

He doesn’t need to math, he has MULLET POWERS.

Jess leaves the mullet to meditate, but hears crying coming from a darkened room. It’s Edward, crying over what might have been – he was in love with Lily, he wanted to marry her. Jess consoles him as best she can.

The next day though, it’s back to work – undercover at a florists trying to work out who sent Damien the roses. Using a quality Southern accent and some bombardment she learns that Damien ordered the flowers himself. DUN DUN.

Down at the police station Damien confesses to swapping the roses, as a payback for Lily being a bitch, but that he didn’t poison them. This is confirmed by a passing detective who delivers the results of the autopsy – Lily was poisoned but no trace of the poison was found on the clothes, the rose, the skull, nada.

HOW ASTONISHING, says JB.

Jess and Kinicki head back to the theatre to examine the costumes. Kinicki wonders what they are looking for, but JB will know it when she sees it. Or in this case smells it – machine oil. Next it’s back to the police station to watch the tape of the 1920s performance in Paris. Between 6 cups of coffee and men prancing in long underwear Kinicki is close to breaking point but JB says there’s something she can’t quite put her finger on…

This isn't as funny as I think it is.

This isn’t as funny as I think it is.

Whatever Jess is pointing at on the television has solved the puzzle, in her mind at least. She tells Kinicki it’s time to go back to the theatre. “Aren’t you sick of that place?” Asks Kinicki.

“There are three things you can never get enough of Lieutenant,” says JB. “Chocolate, friends, and the theatre.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AMEN.

AMEN. (Life Lesson #65)

At the theatre they take an electric lift ride up into the ceiling, until JB says “Say hello to our murderer.”

I LIKE WHERE THIS IS HEADING

I LIKE WHERE THIS IS HEADING

The next day, Geoffrey announces they will go on with the show, but a different show – Cinderella. The company aren’t pleased but Edward says the public love it. He’ll post assignments and they will begin rehearsal at 9:00am. Geoffrey says to make it 2pm – a maintenance crew are coming to fix the pulley system.

Trap set, Kinicki, and JB kick back and wait for the killer to come and retrieve the murderous skull. And he doesn’t disappoint.

YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

Edward, permanently worried that Lily would reveal he was back on drugs, and seeing her with Geoffrey in the dressing rooms, correctly assumed that she would dump him the way she dumped Barry and took matters into his own hands.

So there you have it Fletcherfans! The show will go on and Claudia has decided to teach dance instead of perform dance. Case closed, I’m off to the beach.

Later gang!

Later gang!

 

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S02E09 – Jessica Behind Bars

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Every time I say the title of this episode, the music from the Dramatic Hamster video plays in my head. True story.

As you may have guessed, this week’s episode is set in the slammer, and not actual bars as some of us I hoped. JB is off to the West Barrington Institute for Women (a much more official way of saying lady jail) to substitute teach a class while the regular teacher is off sick. As you can see, there’s nowhere Our Heroine would rather be on a dark and stormy night

Still beats going to see Grady, AMIRITE?

Still beats going to see Grady, AMIRITE?

JB is met by warden Elizabeth Gates, Deputy Warden Amanda Debs, Official Prisoner Welcoming Committee member Mary Stamm (previously seen here, make your own jokes about going from Washington to jail), and Doctor Irene Matthews, who doesn’t seem to be pleased about anything, least of all the warden for reasons that I’m sure will become clear.

As Mary escorts JB to the classroom, JB praises the short story Mary wrote. Mary confesses she’s always wanted to be a writer and JB tells her it’s never too late, and that she’s living proof. Mary points out that JB didn’t have to get past the parole board and JB pffts at that, asking Mary “Why, what are you in for?”

“I murdered my husband”. Says Mary.

APPROPRIATE RESPONSE.

APPROPRIATE RESPONSE.

A little anxious about teaching a flock of hardened criminals about how to write, JB comes up with a sure fire way to win her students over.

Life Lesson #38 - There is never an inappropriate way to win over a group of people

Life Lesson #38 – There is never an inappropriate way to win over a group of people

Job well done, JB tells them how much she enjoyed their stories, and singles Mary out again, but she’s not there. She sneaks out of the class and goes to visit her friend Suzie who is sick in the infirmary. For reasons that I’m sure will become clear later on, Mary has a key to the infirmary, and to the Doctor’s office, where she steals the key to the pharmacy to get some medication for her friend. JAILBREAK FAIL.

Before she can sneak out of Dr Matthews’s office, the Doctor returns, forcing Mary to hide in the next room. A guard walking past the office hears Dr Matthews typing on her typewriter and knocks on the door. In response, the riot alarm goes off and the prison goes into lockdown. (Understandable really, I’ve often wished I could do that to avoid people I didn’t want to speak to).

The warden is called, and she comes running along with her deputy and a couple of guards. Doctor Matthews is on the floor, dead. The warden orders a search of the neighbouring rooms, Mary tries to make a run for it and fails dismally.

Now, for reasons that I’m sue will become clear later on the prisoners of East Barrington Institute for Women are free to just roam about, so when they find out that the Warden has the Doctor’s murder pinned on Mary a riot breaks loose. The prisoners take the Warden, the Deputy Warden and JB hostage, and then proceed to bicker about their demands. Seriously, it’s just like all the episodes of Prisoner that I haven’t seen. Most of the prisoners want the charges against Mary dropped, and for conditions at the prison to improve (which I’m sure we’ve all said about our jobs from time to time), but a smaller group have decided this is a prime opportunity to get the hell out of Dodge.

For the record, here is their leader:

And 98% cliche

And 98% cliché

They start fighting over whether they should spring Mary from the prison, before Louise the prison librarian has a brainwave – they need someone the police can trust to resolve this brouhaha.

Still better than an evening with Grady

Still better than an evening with Grady

Our Heroine doesn’t waste time. She goes to the scene of the crime, finds a sterile swab under the desk, guesstimates that the doctor died of respiratory failure after a massive injection of morphine, and convinces Scary Lady to get the vial tested for prints. She asks the Warden how she thinks the doctor met her untimely demise, and the Warden give a long and borderline hysterical account of what she thinks happened. Jess asks her who else came to search the offices after the body was found and discovers the prison cook was one of the first on the scene, so off they all troop to interrogate her.

They find the cook knocking back a beer in the kitchen, which is the first sensible thing any one has done this episode. While the prisoners riot their way through the pantry JB samples the local cuisine.

(Seriously, what were the odds of getting to do this twice in a row?)

(Seriously, what were the odds of getting to do this twice in a row?)

They ask the cook how she came to be in the locked corridor and after she lies, they investigate the back stairs and find the driver of a grocery truck hiding in the basement. Ah yes, says JB. I saw your truck when I arrived.

The cook tells Our Heroine that she thought it would be safest for Mrs Mimms the grocer to hide, to avoid capture. “She has you to thank for this honey.” says the cook.

WORD

WORD

The whole riot lockdown mode seems to have the Cook off the hook, so to speak, but Kat the Scary Prisoner has made up her mind. There’s only one person who can get through the riot locks, and that’s the warden. Ergo, the Warden is the killer. (Not a direct quote).

Now we must pause for a moment and BASK:

You're welcome.

You’re welcome.

Scary Kat decides to hold a mock trial to convict the Warden of the murder of the Doctor, but Mary steps in before they can get crazy with the shotguns.  A phone call from the outside informs Jess that a) the morphine was diluted and b) there were two sets of fingerprints on the vial – Mary’s and an unknown set. This sets Scary Kat off again, and she orders a cell by cell search to find the killer. JB hurries back to make sure that Mrs Mimms the grocer is safe. On the way to the classroom the lights go out and someone screams. By the time they get there, Mrs Mimms is no more. The Warden accuses Mary, who runs off, Scary Kat accuses the Warden and JB tells them all to chill.

Jess finds Mary in the infirmary with her friend, and demands to know how she got the key to the infirmary. Mary tells her that Dr Matthews gave her the key so that she was able to type up the Doctor’s reports. Apparently Doctor Matthews wasn’t so good with the whole ‘taking care of patients’ thing. Or the not diluting medicine thing it would seem.

Any further conversation is cut short by news that Scary Kat is off her tree again, and planning to shoot her way out of the prison using the Warden as a human shield. JB calms them down and they burst into song.

JB finally interrogates the Warden, who refuses to explain why she just happened to have the riot key on her, but JB’s worked it out. She was on her way to see Suzie in the infirmary, to talk about the dodginess that was going on in the prison. JB gets on the phone to the outside world to see if they’ve matched the second set of prints on the vial of morphine yet. The answer is no, and Scary Kat arrives to rip the phone from the wall and announce that they’re busting out. Again. Sheesh.

Never fear though. Our Heroine calms them down (again) and explains that she knows what happened.

Firstly, Doctor Matthews committed suicide. Well and good, say the prisoners, but why would someone want to make a suicide look like a murder?

Someone who needed to escape. Because she was about to be found out. For twenty years worth of corruption and embezzlement.

Debs of Death is also the reason I never wanted to do the whole Deb Ball thing. True story, probably.

Debs of Death is also the reason I never wanted to do the whole Deb Ball thing. True story, probably.

Apparently it all came about after Debs was rejected for a promotion again. But whatever, really.

Until next week…

You're welcome.

Later, Fletcherfans