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S11E08 – Crimson Harvest

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Our story begins this week in San Francisco where Paul Grimaldi is taking his lady friend Michelle out to dinner. The next day Paul is taking her to meet his wine-making family but first, he has to go make a last minute business stop. Unfortunately for Paul his business stop (to a jeweller to buy a necklace for Michelle) ends with someone he apparently knows shooting him in the chest.

Cut to Sonoma County (that’s right you guys, I know where the wine is but also there’s a title card) where JB has flown out to console her friend Anna on the death of her son. All is not well at the Grimaldi family vineyard – there are money troubles galore and Lars Anderson (aka Gregg Henry, who pops up on this show on the regular) is looking to buy.

Side note: THIS HOUSE

I mean just look at it.

Jess toasts her arrival with Anna, her daughter and casual bitch Alicia and the family business advisor Edgar Warner. Alicia is summoned by the overseer Henry Wilson to tap the cabernet and she asks Jessica to walk her out. Alicia wants Jessica to help convince her mother not to sell to Lars Anderson. This whole situation has apparently been made worse by Paul’s selfish decision to go and get murdered. She leaves Jess to go find her adopted brother Pete Grimaldi.

Pete, it turns out, has been summoned to a meeting with Lars Anderson and the Sheriff. Lars has a sweet offer on the table for Pete if he helps convince Anna to sell the winery to him but Pete is not having a bar of it. As he jets off on his four-wheeler we see that the whole thing has been overheard by a man and his dog.

Back at the vineyard, Anna tells JB about the mysterious girlfriend of Paul’s that they know so very little about. They have no idea how to find her, but JB is happy to look into it for her. The man and his dog appear, Felipe Paez and his dog Bolivar. Felipe is all set to give Jessica his recipe for rabbit enchiladas (no thank you) when Bolivar announces via Felipe he’s having a vision, a man is dead and there’s a lot of blood.

The mid-nineties were all about telepathic dogs.

That night Alicia hits the roof when she learns Lars has been invited to Paul’s wake, but Anna insists he is a neighbour and must come. Alicia calls him a vulture, Pete points out that she thought enough of him to date him for a year and she tells him to stay out of it, it’s a matter of blood.

Someone needs a wine.

A well-timed doorbell signals the arrival of Michelle and Anna is delighted to see her (as is Pete tbh). Alicia has no time for it, as Anna escorts Michelle upstairs, delighted that her prayers have been answered. Later, as they all have a nightcap (I swear to God it’s 9am in the morning as I’m writing this and it is making me want wine so bad) Michelle demonstrates her knowledge of the Grimaldi clan. Jessica notices the crest ring Michelle is wearing and Anna remembers how she used to wear her husband’s when they first got engaged. Michelle says actually it’s a wedding ring, she and Paul got married about an hour before he was killed.

The next morning Alicia makes her views on the subject of Michelle known.

CALM DOWN ALICIA

Jess heads off on a shopping trip with Anna, Pete takes Michelle on a tour of the winery, Edgar goes off to meet with investors about getting some funds to stave off the wolves and Alicia is Alicia.

Edgar, it turns out, is meeting with Lars to try and buy the Grimaldis more time but Lars isn’t having a bar of it. He tells Edgar to get the deal done or a not so nice alternative will happen – he will buy the Grimaldis second mortgage and they will lose everything. Edgar is horrified but Lars is unmoved.

Pete takes JB on a tour of the bottling plant and grumbles about not being a proper Grimaldi. JB assures him that Silvio never thought that and she’s sure Alicia doesn’t mean it now. She asks to use the phone and walks in just as Michelle tells whoever she’s on the phone to that she will speak to them tomorrow darling etc. She sees Jessica and hurries away. Felipe bobs up and says Bolivar has some thoughts on Michelle and Lars Anderson but when Jessica asks Felipe what he means Bolivar barks and he excuses himself.

That night the wake is held for Paul. Lars works the room like a professional and quickly gets introduced to Michelle who doesn’t seem terribly interested in talking with him. Edgar turns up and Anna walks off on him – Jessica explains they saw him talking with Lars when he was meant to be meeting with the financiers and Anna now wonders where Edgar’s allegiances lie. Edgar swears he does it all for  Anna and walks off. Meanwhile, Michelle gets bailed up in the corner by Lars and it’s clear they’ve met before.

She sees you when you’re sleeping, she knows when you’re awake…

Lars summons the room to silence (don’t know who put him in charge) and toasts to Paul’s memory and to Michelle’s arrival in the family. Weird.

The party over, Edgar bids Anna and Jessica a goodnight and departs. Anna takes herself off to bed, leaving Jessica to peruse the shelves in search of a little late night reading. As she flicks, Michelle hurries down the stairs and out the door without seeing JB. Over in the distillery, Lars asks someone if they’d thought about his offer and gets clocked over the head with Felipe’s walking stick. Bolivar comes running to the rescue but is knocked out for his trouble. #SAVEBOLIVAR

Lars’s body is found the next morning and the shady Sheriff rolls in to investigate. Felipe comforts a recovering Bolivar and announces that St Francis came to Bolivar and told him to forgive the man who killed Lars and whacked Bolivar over the head. Felipe also explains he lost his walking stick the night of the party, and that Bolivar was probably in the shed because one of the cellarmen has a dog Bolivar has his eye on.

GET BACK TO THAT TASTY TASTY WINE TALK

The Sheriff asks JB what she remembers when she heard Bolivar barking the previous night but she doesn’t know much. The Sheriff asks where Michelle and Pete were and Michelle surfaces to say they both went to bed at about 11:30, she didn’t hear a thing.

JB is about to call time on this nonsense.

Outside JB asks the sheriff if whether Lars was whacked from the front or behind, but the Sheriff has no interest in indulging in Jessica’s theories. He seems certain that Lars was killed by a Grimaldi, he just needs to work out which one.

Back at the house, Edgar informs the Grimaldis that with the death of Lars there is to be no more deal to buy the vineyard. This is good news for everyone but Anna, who thinks that it is just delaying the inevitable. She asks Jess to find Michelle so that they may go for a walk, leaving Alicia, Pete and Edgar to quietly agree that whoever killed Lars did them a favour.

Jessica finds Michelle out in the garden thinking about Paul – he had planned to sell his share and had called the vineyard the night he died but couldn’t get hold of anyone. Jess asks her why she lied to the sheriff. Michelle tells her she went out to a bar with Peter, he went to get the car while she waited for him at the time of the murder. She didn’t tell the Sheriff because she didn’t think it was important.

Jessica then asks why she pretended she didn’t know Lars when she clearly did.

“Oh God, Paul warned me about you, Jessica.” Says Michelle.

THAT FACE THOUGH.

Michelle comes clean – when she had her son (the person she was speaking to that Jess overheard the other day) she moved from Seattle to Modesto. Men saw the situation she was in and gave her money to help, including Lars. It wasn’t like “that”, but Lars was going to tell the Grimaldis she had been a whore. Jess tells her that it will be okay, but no more lies.

Alicia and Peter have a quiet conversation in the bottling room about alibis. Turns out neither of them has a good one, but Peter’s is worse – he saw Lars go into the building, followed him and found him dead on the ground so he legged it. They declare a truce. The Sheriff rolls up to return Felipe, cleared of any wrongdoing, and instead arrests Peter. His fingerprints are on Felipe’s stick (which Peter attributes to having found the stick after the party and then leaving it where it was when he couldn’t find Felipe), and a witness saw him leave the bottling room when Lars was killed.

Jess finds Edgar on the phone getting a lawyer for Pete and they have a chat. Jess finds it odd that the sheriff didn’t speak to the SFPD guy when he came down after Paul’s murder but Edgar doesn’t know anything about that. The SFPD detective came and spoke to the family, he knew that much. Jess is trying to find a connection between Paul’s and Lars’s deaths but Edgar can’t help there. He spoke to Paul the night he died and remembers Paul telling him he was going to sell his share but he doesn’t know any more than that.

Inside, Jess is about to cook spaghetti bolognaise when she suddenly has a thought. She knows who the killer is, she just needs to prove it,

That night, Jess gets a call from Felipe – Bolivar has solved the case and says that the proof is in the vats. A piece of cloth from the clothing of the killer.  Jess promises to check it out.

Guys, it’s a set up.

I must have seen this episode before, I solved this crime about 10 minutes in.

Oh Edgar. Silly silly Edgar. Edgar has been madly in love with Anna for years and would do anything for her, including embezzling from his other clients to pay for the second mortgage. Paul found out so Edgar killed him and then killed Lars to prevent the embezzling from being discovered.

Brutal. More brutal, when Edgar gives Jessica the necklace Paul picked up from the jewellers and asks her to give it to Michelle.

Let’s end with something more cheerful. Like this GIANT GLASS OF WINE OMG.

GIT IN MAH BELLEH

 

Later Fletcherfans.

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S04E17 – A Very Good Year For Murder

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Before everything else, I just want to point out JB’s outfit at the start of this episode.

You can't ride a horse without a neckerchief, that's just common sense

You can’t ride a horse without a neckerchief, that’s just common sense

That man giving JB side-eye is Marco Gambini, son of Salvatore Gambini and heir to the Gambini wine empire that he and Jess have been surveying. Jess is in town to celebrate Sal’s 75th birthday, who she appears to know after tutoring his grandson Paul in English so he could pass and get a football scholarship but never mind that because someone’s just pulled up in a fancy car…

Listen to your friend Billy Zane

Listen to your friend Billy Zane

Jess is unmoved.

JB and I made exactly the same face. I'm so happy!

JB and I made exactly the same face. I’m so happy!

Billy Zane is the younger brother of Paul Gambini, and a compulsive gambler (and heartbreaker). His aunt informs him that he’s had a phone call from Johnny in Tahoe and he excuses himself while JB goes in to see Salvatore.

The day I watched this episode was the day he passed away. What an amazing career he had though!

The day I watched this episode was the day he passed away. What an amazing career he had though!

Salvatore has been selecting wine for dinner, and asks JB her opinion.

This is also my reaction to most wines.

This is also my reaction to most wines.

Sal is feeling a bit maudlin in the face of his 75th birthday. He tells JB that soon Marco and his kids will inherit the vineyards but he worries that they won’t appreciate them the same way Sal and his late wife did. JB asks Stella, Sal’s daughter, what’s going on and she tells JB he’s stressed out because a company from back east is trying to buy the vineyard but Sal doesn’t want to sell, and while Marco loves the vineyards, his wife would prefer to live the fancy life in San Francisco. At that moment, Marco’s daughter Michele turns up with her latest man candy, a bloke from work called Ben Skylar who is as dumb as he looks.

After a night of feasting and toasting, Sal is a little bit weary the next morning when Your Friend Billy Zane Tony wakes him up to tell him that he has to go to Tahoe on business but will try to get back for the party. Sal agrees and asks Tony to go down to the wine cellar and decant the 68 Bordeaux. Unfortunately, on the way down one of the stairs snaps and Tony goes tumbling.

It’s okay though, he’s fine. While his aunt tries to dress the cut on his head and he fights with his father about going to Tahoe, Jess goes to investigate the Step of Death, which Paul is replacing. Jess thinks it’s been sawn through. Before JB  can elaborate Tony and Marco argue their way to the front of the house, where Tony is getting in his car and heading to the airport on his way to Tahoe.

That night Sal’s party is in full swing, despite the absence of Tony. While his girlfriend dances up a storm, Ben Skylar tells JB all about his childhood on a farm in Illinois, and how he used to write stories to escape the boredom. He’s been in California writing a thing about lost gold mines, and asks JB for advice on writing a novel and she tells him to “Read, read and read some more.” (Life Lesson #55). Jess mentions that she’s reading a great new novel from PD James and Ben says that he loves his work. JB explains that PD is a woman, P is for Phyllis. Ben shamfacedly goes to find his girlfriend.

While loading up at the buffet table, JB bumps into Thaddeus Kyle, Police Chief and friend of the family (an awesome name if ever I heard one). He’s heard about JB’s theory about the step being tampered with, and asks her if she has any suspects. JB’s got nothing, but is given food for thought when Thaddeus asks her to consider the possibility that someone in the family got annoyed at Sal’s rejection of the sale offer from back East. He excuses himself and goes on his way, leaving JB to watch Michele argue with Ben and flounce out.

The next morning Sal takes JB down to the wine cellar but finds the body of Ben Skylar on the floor. Literally the last person I expected to die in this episode to be honest.

While Thaddeus orders his men to stay on the property, at least for the time being, JB gives Michele her condolences, but Michele says she’d only known Ben for a couple of months. Thaddeus draws JB aside for a quick word and tells her the theory is Ben was poisoned. JB suggests going through Ben’s belongings and finds a receipt for a petrol station in Long Island City, New York which kind of contradicts the whole being in California for the last few months thing although Thaddeus points out that it’s not proof of anything. I hate to say it, but I kind of agree with the Thad to be honest. Thad is sticking to his theory that someone inside the house had something to do with it all, and despite JB’s attempts to prove otherwise, she has to agree.

While she’s investigating outside, Jess runs into Sal and tells him her suspicions about Ben – he wants to be a writer but has never heard of PD James? Inconceivable!

“Sure,” says Sal. “But there are even some people who’ve never heard of you.”

Precisely.

Precisely.

JB is also suspicious of the fact that Ben said he had no money, and yet drove a high-falutin sports car and wore expensive clothes. Sal thinks maybe he had a wealthy family, but JB remembers him saying he grew up on a farm in Illinois, so no. All further theorising is cut short by the arrival of Tony back from Tahoe. While father and son resume their argument, JB gets a call from Thaddeus (seriously, I love that name) to let her know that it was definitely poison, but that Ben Skylar wasn’t Ben Skylar – he was actually Benito Soriano a mob hitman.

Well this has taken a unexpected turn.

Thaddeus invites Michele down to the precinct and she tells him how she only met Ben at work 8 weeks ago when he came in looking for a job and one thing led to another. JB asks her if Ben quizzed her about any of her family but she claims no more so than usual. Marco, fed up with the questioning takes his daughter home and leaves JB and Thad to mull over the situation. Thad is convinced it’s one of the family and has started looking into Your Friend Billy Zane Tony’s interests in Tahoe but JB is starting to think that Ben(ito) was sent by the company trying to buy the Gambini vineyard.

Back at Casa Gambini Paul has received a visit from “investment advisor” Stephen Ridgely and has whisked him off for a chat while inside Sal and Marco are giving Your Friend Billy Zane Tony the third degree – seems someone has been writing cheques his bank account can’t cash. Marco is furious but Sal shoos him out and writes Tony a cheque, telling him he’s the one who should be running the vineyard. As Tony leaves Sal calls Jess in for a chat and yells at her for meddling in Gambini business, and to get the next plane home. Rude.

Upstairs, Jess spots Stephen Ridgely pawing through things and Paul tells her the truth – Stephen Ridgely is a special investigator hired by the football commissioner to investigate match fixing in Paul’s team. When news got out about the mob hitman’s death they panicked that it was related, although it made no sense to target Paul at his grandfather’s house. He was a sitting duck.

Exactly, Jess exclaims. And so is Tony. So they can’t be the target.

Oh dear.

Oh dear.

Salvatore found out his granddaughter was bringing a hitman to his birthday and was going to let Ben kill him, but when Tony was injured instead Sal decides the only way is out. Before Jess can stop him he drinks more of the poisoned wine that he gave Ben(ito) and collapses.  He’s rushed to hospital where the doctor says he’ll pull through, the family commits to keeping the winery and JB informs Thaddeus that if Salvatore confessed to killing anyone she certainly can’t remember it.

The bad guys lose, the good guys win. I think that seems fair enough. Listen to your friend JB Fletcher, she knows what’s up.

Later gang!

Later gang!