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S09E06 – Night of the Coyote

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Fletcherfans, remember that time Murder, She Wrote did that Native American episode and it was horrific? The good news is this episode is MUCH better than that episode, and it mostly contains Native Americans messing with dumb white people, which is a little hit and miss. I’m still an ignorant fool when it comes to Native American culture and depictions thereof, so let me know what you think about it.

BECAUSE WE’RE IN NEW MEXICO BITCH!

Guys I really think I should binge Breaking Bad again.

But even if I hadn’t yelled that at you, Jessica’s outfit at the start of this episode would be a Useful Guide.

I endorse that jacket completely TBH.

Jess is in Chaco Springs visiting her artist friend Susan Lindsay, who has taken her to see the main street reenactment of That Time What Cutter McGee Robbed A Bank And Got Caught By Navajo Indians. Once the show is over, Susan introduces JB to the brains behind the rebooted ghost town, Max Teller. He tells them to check out the museum before being called away by his secretary, who reminds him he has a meeting with a dude by the name of Ben Judson. Judson, it turns out, wants to buy the town of Silverville from Max but Max isn’t selling.

Jess and Susan adjourn to the Susan’s house in Chaco Springs, where Susan is showing off her work and JB is getting into the margaritas.

MARGARITAS FOR EVERYBODY

While Susan runs to check on her lasagne JB chats to another writer, Charles Strickland, who is in town researching the silver strike, but he assures Jessica that it’s no best seller. Max wanders past and says he hopes it will be so the tourists come running, and goes off in search of dinner. Jess tells Charles that she noticed Cutter McGee never lost his sea-faring ways, his sextant and things were kept immaculately. Charles tells her that he used them to navigate the desert – he also recommends JB doesn’t get Max started on the lost treasure of Cutter McGee.

JB has stopped listening.

Me, usually drinking tequila. Or coffee. Or pretty much anything really.

Later that night, Susan and JB are cleaning up after the party and Susan asks JB what she thinks of “him”. JB assumes she means Max, on account of the way Susan’s eyes never left him. Susan is embarrassed to think she was that obvious – she had sworn she wouldn’t get involved with another man after her divorce.

“Love’s sneaky like that. It blindsides you, just when you don’t want it and you think you don’t need it!” Says JB. (Life Lesson #67 right there)

Is she talking about Frank? Is she talking about someone else? I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS.

The next morning Max heads in to work and finds his old pal Tony kicking back with his feet up. Tony just wants to buy Max some breakfast and also demand his share of the contents of an off-shore bank account – Max knows which one. Max doesn’t want anything to do with Tony but Tony thinks he just needs some more time, something he knows all about. He tells Max not to bother with the cops, he’s clean now. Max on the other hand…people might be interested to know how he got the money to buy Silverville…

Meanwhile, JB is out in the desert looking for Heisenberg’s money communing with nature and lamenting the loss of her favourite pen. Jess decides to go for a wander while Susan paints, and has a chat with some coyotes before being startled by the sudden appearance of a Native American man sitting on a rock.  He tells her the echoes make it confusing up there, and that if you hear it at night you will understand why the shamans believe that the spirit of Coyote brings evil into the world. He introduces himself as Sam Keeyani, and warns her the track gets pretty dangerous up ahead with loose rocks and whatnot. Also there’s skinwalkers/witches, which he totally doesn’t believe in but you do think you see weird things in the shadows. Jess peers up the mountain and when she looks back, Sam is gone – in his place, her missing pen.

Back in Silverville, Max calls in Earl – one of the stuntmen/workers in Silverville – for a meeting. Turns out Earl has been shorting Max on his hay deliveries, and so Max fires him. Earl tells him the job stinks, he’ll just take his money and be gone, but Max says he doesn’t owe Earl a dime.

Earl wigs out.

Fun fact – I saw Point Break for the first time last week and it was excellent except I had Patrick Swayze’s haircut in 2007 I am not good at fashion.

Later that night, while Max wraps up his work day, someone sneaks into Silverville and burns down the museum. The next morning, Jess and Susan come to see if Max is alright, and Sheriff Sam Keeyani rolls in to take charge of the scene.

I legit have no idea why Susan is pulling that face but it amuses me greatly.

While appropriately mystical music plays, the Sheriff picks up a handful of dirt and watches it blow away before breathing in deeply. He asks Max if he has any enemies and Max tells him about firing Earl the previous night. Sam says it wasn’t Earl, does he have any others? Max says it was definitely Earl, but Sam says he’ll look into it but he needs a full list of enemies. Max departs for his office, closely followed by Susan. Sam offers Jess a ride back to Chaco Springs, and the promise of the best cup of coffee in town. At Max’s office, Susan tries to offer her help and money restoring the museum but Max is shutting her down and out, saying there’s more money in Cutter McGee than just a story for tourists. She gives up and tells him to keep his secrets to himself she’s not interested any more, and storms out.

Over a damn good cup of joe (OMG Twin Peaks though), Jess calls out Sam’s performance outside the museum, and he admits to smelling for gasoline and working out which way the wind was blowing. He also admits that someone handed in JB’s pen and he figured there’d only be one person in town with a fancy pen like that. Sam tells her he does it to lure suspects into a false sense of security.  Jess wonders how he’s so sure that Earl didn’t do it, and he tells her that the tracks he found show that someone wearing sneakers was the culprit, and Earl wears boots. Sam gets distracted by the arrival of local babe Alice Chee, who Sam is quite keen to know better if you know what I mean. Charles Strickland pops in with a list of items that were out on display at the museum, but he says there were boxes in the back he never got round to. Sam says he’ll check it out and goes back into his office. Charles offers to give Jess the Charles Strickland Historical Drive back to Susan’s house and she gratefully accepts.

Sam goes to see Earl at his ranch, who didn’t know Sam knew about it, or that the whole town was talking about it. Sam says he’ll have to read him his rights, but Earl says all he did was punch a guy at the bar. Turns out he was there all night, has witnesses and definitely didn’t burn down the museum.

The next morning Max’s secretary arrives for work and finds Max dead on the floor shot in the chest. Sam goes to inform Susan of Max’s murder, but she doesn’t seem terribly affected, telling Sam that they’d only been out a few times, she had no idea what he’d been up to the previous evening and she has work to do. Jess follows her to her studio, and she says she had wanted to kill Max the previous night, after the fight. She’d been back to see him to apologise, later that night but had found him and Betty together. She left before they saw her but she was too upset to talk to Jess about it the previous night.

Jess tells Sam about what she’s found out, and the two of them go to see Betty. She tries to bluster her way out of it, but cracks and admits she stayed and had some drinks with Max, she listened to how he was about to get rich, they got down to business (nudge nudge wink wink) and she left around 8:30 when Max said he was meeting someone. She didn’t know who it was, but she tells them about Ben Judson’s offer to buy Silverville earlier that week. Maybe that had something to do with it.

A deputy pops up to tell Sam that a man has been picked up driving Max’s car – it’s Tony Sable, Max’s sketchy friend from California. At the sheriff’s office he tells them that he and Max once had a mail order business going – Tony got greedy and so Max turned states evidence against him. Tony got four years, Max conveniently forgot to mention the offshore bank account where most of the money ended up, and when Tony got out of prison the money was gone.  He hadn’t seen Max since the previous afternoon – Max told him he had some money coming, and he would buy him off.

Jess notes that this is the third person Max told about his imminent windfall. Sam figures this is proof he was about to sell Silverville, but Jess thinks differently.  Max told Susan it was to do with Cutter McGee, maybe he had a line on the treasure? She decide to investigate at the library but before she goes, Sam asks her if it’s possible to meet someone in a dream – his uncle Ashie swears he has met Jessica many times in dreams. Jess says she doesn’t remember the name but there’s no way she’s turning that invitation down.

At the library she discovers that copies of the Silverville Gazette are missing from right around the time of Cutter McGee’s robbery, but the librarian tells her Charles Strickland already reported it. The only information left from that time are some misc bills of sale, a postcard and an old worthless bond from a company that went out of business in 1905. Disappointed, Jess is about to leave when she bumps into Charles Strickland. When he hears she’s wanting to find out more info on Cutter McGee he reaches into his briefcase to pull out a book on celestial navigation, inside which is the only known photo of Cutter McGee. Jess asks Charles if anyone knows how much Cutter stole, but Charles says he’s heard everything from gold bullion to bags of silver dollars. Whatever it is, he thinks it’s worth millions now.

Sam goes to visit Ben Jurnow, who wants to apologise for campaigning against having Sam as mayor. Times have changed, and we have to change with them, says Ben, and comes out with it – when his great grandfather moved west, he was attacked twice by Indians.

“I guess we have something in common,” says Sam. “Being as my great grandmother was murdered by a bunch of boozed up white settlers.”

No comment.

Jurnow tells Sam the sheriff’s department has never been so well run, how can he help? Sam asks about Ben’s offer on Silverville, and Ben says yes – he wanted water rights for his herd, Sam would have gotten the money and the bank (which he happens to be president of) would have avoided a foreclosure. He had no reason to kill Max though. He tells Sam that the bank has frozen Sam’s assets, bank accounts and a safety deposit box and Sam tells him he will send a deputy around for the box.

Later that night Sam takes Jess to see his uncle Ashie, who wants to repay Jess’s kindness in his dreams. Jess asks him (through Sam) if he knows the story of Cutter McGee and long story short, Cutter McGee hid out for a couple of days, but when he came out for water the Navajo found him and took his horse. McGee was killed by his own people a short time later.

Jess asks him if there’s anything she can do for him, and he says hell yeah sign this copy of your book.

I mean, at least they have managed to cast actual Native American’s this time (although I think the guy who played Sam is Canadian. Still, closer than Sri Lanka)

Back at Susan’s Jess finds Susan gazing into the fireplace, mourning Max. Jess tells her that with all the things she’s gotten to do since she’s become famous, she just wishes that Frank had been there to share it with her. Still, she’s made a lot of lovely friends along the way.

NAWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW.

At the Sheriff’s office the next day Sam shows Jess the autopsy report – traces of sand in the bullet wound and Max’s hair seem to suggest that Max was killed somewhere else and moved to his office. Sam also shows Jess the contents of the safety deposit box – Cutter McGee’s diary. Jess wonders at it not being on display, but then wonders if Max had held it back because he thought it contained directions to the treasure.  Some random numbers on the first page of the diary give Jess an idea about where the treasure is hidden, and where Max was killed. A map at the library gives them the general area, but it’s big. Jess remembers that Uncle Ashie said that his relatives were looking for rabbitbrush when they found Cutter McGee and Sam says there’s only one place that grows – Coyote Canyon, aka the place Jess was the first time she met Sam. THE CIRCLE OF LIFE YOU GUYS. They find traces of blood and so Sam calls in a forensic team. He points out a cave up the hill that the Anasazi used to bury their dead in, and Jess thinks she has a pretty good idea of how to catch the killer.

Back at the police station Sam returns the now empty safe deposit box to Ben Jurnow, while Jess calls Charles Strickland with her discovery. She offers to meet him at the canyon so they can find the treasure together.

Later that afternoon, Jess is wandering through the cave when Charles Strickland arrives. Jess is disappointed. She was waiting for Max’s killer. She shows Charles Cutter’s chest and he throws it open – it’s full of bonds for a certain company that went bust in 1905.

“Yup,” says JB. “You killed him for some worthless paper”

 

I have no opinion about this.

He didn’t mean to shoot Max, he swears – Max was pissed that Charles was going after Max’s treasure so when Max followed him to the canyon and confronted him Charles shot first and asked questions later.

Case closed!

Drink up Fletcherfans!

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S02E11 – Murder Digs Deep

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After last weeks depressing episode I’m quite keen for something a little more upbeat, how about you Fletcherfans?  How does JESSICA FLETCHER AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM sound? If you answered “Unlikely” then you’re mostly right and clearly have a firmer grip on reality than I do.

Our Heroine is New Mexico, volunteering on an archaeological dig with her purely platonic friend Doc Hazzlitt (seriously, does anyone actually believe that?) being overseen by Gideon Armstrong, or as he’s better known, this guy:

You might know Robert Vaughn from The Man From U.N.C.L.E or his recent work on Coronation Street. Or, you’re like me and you know him from BASEketball and now you’re saying “I hear your Mom is going out with Squeak” and giggling to yourself.

Jess is there to help out, and to research a book. Although I think she may be having second thoughts…

EW.

Seth and JB aren’t the only schmucks out digging up bones in the desert. There’s Karen Parkes and Steve Gamble, two postgrad interns looking for extra credit (we’ve all been there, amirite?), their supervisor Doctor Steve Garfield who thinks they’re digging for a lost city of gold, fame-seeker Doctor Aubrey Benton who thinks he can make the most money if they find the lost city of gold, Raymond Twocrows, the expert on Native American stereotypes tribes, and Gideon’s newest model wife Cynthia.

Later that night when they are all sitting around eating dinner they are rudely interrupted by a Native American standing on the hill above them, dancing and chanting. Karen informs JB that he appears at the same time every night, trying to scare them away from the dig, but by the time the guards get up to him he is gone. Forget Indiana Jones, this episode is a Great Dane away from becoming an episode of Scooby Doo.

The next morning Seth decides to get the jump on JB (heh heh) and does a little detecting of his own by asking Raymond what Anasasi means and where he was when the Ghostly Spectre of Doom. Raymond responds with “The Great Builders”  and with skulking off, which are both incorrect answers. JB has no time to scold Seth for stepping on her sleuthing territory, she’s just uncovered a – thing. Honestly, I’m not sure what it is, lets call it the Panflute of Destiny, based on the music when she finds it. Oh, it’s not a pan flute, its a prayer stick. Anyway, Doctor Garfield and Doctor Benton are beside themselves, Gideon is more concerned with how much he can make from it.

It’s a very subdued dinner that evening, despite JB showing everyone how to find things in the ground like a boss. The Ghostly Spectre of Doom appears right on time for his nightly performance, which a drunk Cynthia Armstrong takes exception to, and so decides to bring the curtains down on the whole thing by shooting at him. Much to everyone’s surprise, she actually hits and he falls out of view. They run to the scene and find the body of Raymond Twocrows. Awkward. Seth helpfully points out that Raymond wasn’t shot, but  presumably died after falling from the top of the hill.

Gideon calls an emergency dig meeting, to try and put aside any vicious nasty rumours about his wife killing Raymond accidentally or otherwise. To get them on-side he offers them all a share in any profits made from the treasure they dig up. SMOOTH MOVE GIDEON! When Doctor Benton goes to radio for the police, however, Gideon gently removes the plug. He doesn’t want reporters crawling over the site until they have something to show them that isn’t a corpse.

The following morning JB and Seth team up for a little sededuction which I will reenact with some helpful screenshots:

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After that little reenactment (that amused me way more than it ought to), JB sends Seth off to look at the body again, since clearly he didn’t die from falling three feet, while Our Heroine has breakfast with Doctor Benton to suss out some information on Raymond. She has little luck – it turns out Gideon hired him, not Benton, who has an indecent proposal of his own – he would like JB to ghost write his memoirs.

Direct quote: “I’m speechless”

JB runs into Seth back at the dig, and he has news: Raymond didn’t die from falling , he died from drowning. Which, in a desert, makes him either very unlucky or an extra in an episode of CSI I remember.

Jess reacts well to this news:

You’re welcome!

Jess bets Seth that the police haven’t been called, and decide to drive into town themselves but are thwarted by Armstrong’s minions who tell them that Armstrong has ordered that no one is to leave the site.  When they go to confront him about it he brushes them off, but is surprised to hear that Raymond drowned and that the fall was staged. He tells them he was with Doctor Benton at the time, but is interrupted by Doctor Garfield rushing in to announce they’ve found more gold.

JB has a quiet word with Doctor Benton and he finally admits that he wasn’t with Armstrong. A search of Raymond’s belongings reveals books on Native Americans borrowed by Raymond DeMarco – “One of those Indians from Naples!’ says Seth – from the same university where Karen and Steve study and Doctor Garfield teaches. They also find Raymond’s boots covered in mud, giving Jess an idea. She hightails it out of the tent, followed by a very confused Seth, and heads out into the desert. While Seth pontificates on the existence of tumbleweeds, JB disappears. Seth finds a cave entrance and goes in, hesitantly calling Jess’s name. Suddenly he hears Native American chanting.

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So…the Ghostly Spectre of Doom was really a tape player, eh? Not only have they found where Raymond was murdered, but they also find crates of Native American artefacts from the university. Say what? Don’t panic, Our Heroine is starting to figure it out…

Back at camp JB overhears Karen and Steve fighting. It turns out Karen was trying to get away from Armstrong at the same time his wife was taking potshots at the “ghost”. JB goes to see Armstrong and brings him to the dig site to prove her point. He’s been “flim-flammed”. (Life Lesson #41 – People aren’t conned, they’re flim-flammed). The artefacts were put there to be found, to jack up the price of the land that Armstrong was hoping to buy before anyone else could find out what he’d found.

But by who?

To be fair, the hair was a bit suspicious...

To be fair, the hair was a bit suspicious…

Turns out Cynthia killed Raymond after he threatened to expose her little plan to bleed her husband dry. Fortunately for her she had Doctor Garfield to help her drag the body up the cliff, dress up as the Ghoulish Ghost of Doom and then throw Raymond off the cliff. And they would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for them meddling kids.

And by meddling kids…

Later gang!

Later gang!