Tempered Steele – 7

Our scene opens on a close up of a sign on a van:

Dillon Electronics van

Dillon Electronics – wasn’t that the outfit that Meecham’s pencil-pusher told him to diversify into?

dillonfiles dillonestate

We see men unloading boxes from the van and carrying them into some swank-looking place. There seems to be a lot of activity going on! Meanwhile, inside …


Our Mr. Murphy is looking uncharacteristically dapper – and uncomfortable in a suit and tie.


Murph approaches Wallace, who seems very much at ease in his “dernier cri” duds.

“Your men are very efficient,” Murphy says.

“The best in the business,” Wallace assures him.

But I think Murphy has something else on his mind …


“Tell me, Mr. Wallace, where did you first meet Mr. Steele?”

Wallace says it was in the diplomatic corps, in Paris … in ’77? ’78? No, it was ’79.


“Are you sure it wasn’t Dannemora or Leavenworth?” Murphy demands.

funfacticon Dannemora is actually Clinton Correctional Facility in the Village of Dannemora, New York. Built in 1844, it’s also known as “New York’s Siberia.” Notable inmates have included Lucky Luciano and Tupac Shakur. Leavenworth is a medium-security federal penitentiary in Kansas. Thank you, Wikipedia.)



“Rats!” Wallace counters, explaining that “they have rats in the Seine as big as Volkswagens.”randomalert



Elsewhere, we find Laura expressing doubt over Wallace and Co.’s qualifications.


“Are you sure they know what they’re doing?”

An uncharacteristically casually dressed Steele tells her that between them they have over 75 years of experience.


“Who are you?” Laura asks next. “Where did you come from?”

Steele isn’t impressed with the third degree.


“Humphrey Bogart to Ingrid Bergman, Casablanca, Warner Bros., 1942.”

Laura tells him this is no time to be quoting old movies.


“Then stop asking old questions.” Oh, snap!

Steele walks off just as someone new enters the picture:


“Tea time!” says this woman, who seems a bit overdressed to be a maid. She asks Laura if she wants to “swill some of this.” Classy lady!


“Thank you, Mrs. Dillon,” Laura says. Dillon? What a coincidence – the Steele Agency happens to be working for some outfit called Dillon Electronics. Do you think this woman has something to do with that? She tells Laura to call her Hannah.

funfacticonHannah Dillon is played by Diana Douglas, ex-wife of Kirk Douglas and mother of Michael Douglas.)


Hannah is dismayed at the mess the workmen are making. “Packy’s probably doing a 360,” she says.

Packy, it seems, was Patrick Joseph Dillon, Hannah’s late husband. He started Dillon Electronics 40 years ago.


Dillon Electronics Showroom, circa 1942.


I’m not sure Laura finds the tea to her liking!

“Tastes like raw crude, don’t it?” Hannah says.

I guess that would make it Texas tea, eh? Presumably another one of Meecham’s diversified interests, in partnership with …

jed klampett

… this guy.


Hannah explains that she couldn’t stand Packy’s “special blend” while he was alive, but now it makes her feel close to him (Is it made from his ashes?). Laura comments that their son seems to be carrying on the family tradition.

family tradition

It’s not clear what “tradition” she’s referring to.


“Roger? Oh, he’s carrying on all right.”

Meanwhile, Meecham and Steele are inspecting the ongoing work. Meecham wonders why they’re carting all the sensitive documents into the house. Seems “bush” to him!


“Stop and smell the flowers, Meech,” Steele reassures him. “Santa Barbara is lovely this time of year.” (Judging by the preponderance of sweaters and heavy calfskin coat on display, the Dillon Estate must be in South Santa Barbara.)


Steele informs Meech that Dillon ordered the research kept here at the house.

(We see here Steele apparently picking his teeth. Spoiler alert: We’ll see later that Steele has a toothpick habit. It makes me wonder if he’s trying to conquer an oral fixation – smoking, perhaps?)


Meecham says Dillon might run the company, but “the old lady still runs him.” What a charmer!


“Now, Meech. I am personally supervising this entire operation. What could possibly go wrong?”

We next see things going very wrong:’

grappling hook ski masks glasscutting

Ski masks? Either it really IS cold in Santa Barbara this weekend, or there’s trouble afoot!


Busted! Mr. Steele’s alarm system foiled the intruders!

brokenwindow holeinefloor

(though not before the intruders did a fair bit of damage to the property. That would seem to be a design flaw.)

steele caged

Steele makes a grand entrance!


And unmasks the “culprits!” It’s his pal Wallace and associates!


“If the men who installed this system cannot breach it,” Steele proclaims smugly, “then I’d have to say it’s foolproof!”


Laura is impressed! “You gotta admit, he pulled it off!”

The moment seques into …


… a sharp rap on a door in the night!


Steele is awoken from a satisfied sleep. Who could be knocking? Perhaps Laura was so bowled over by Steele’s security expertise that she’s ready for some outrageously fulfilling teeth rattling!


Well! That’s an unexpected twist! But Dillon the Younger isn’t here for a rendezvous.


It seems the foolproof system has been breached!


The vital research has been stolen!



The next morning, everyone gathers at the crime scene in their jammies.


Meecham dons his … erm … thinking cap. He wants to call the police!


“No!” Dillon, Jr. exclaims. “If this gets out, we’ll lose our government contracts!”


Laura seems disappointed – though whether it’s because the security operation has tanked or because of Mr. Steele’s rather unsexy seersucker PJs isn’t clear.


Meecham explains that somebody turned off the $50,000 system and waltzed out with the research. It was an inside job!


At that moment Murphy, whose own bedroom ensemble is daringly low cut, arrives. “Wallace is gone!” he declares (a little too gleefully, if you ask me).


Meecham’s gonna sue the agency until it comes up as dry as his last oil well! But Steele has a ready answer:


“It seems to me … um …”


Laura is … impressed … by his eloquence!


“We got off on the wrong foot this morning,” Steele concludes, sheepishly.

I’ll stop there for now. There’s some interesting stuff in these scenes, I think. We see Murphy all decked out in a suit, looking very uncomfortable. This high-end job clearly isn’t his milieu, and he seems to be trying a bit too hard to upgrade his professional image. Steele, on the other hand, is dressed rather casually for him. He seems to be in his element here, studying the plans with evident understanding, directing the work, reassuring the client. He doesn’t feel the need for the “costume” of Steele in this situation.

Steele’s self-assurance makes the ending of this sequence all the more poignant. I really feel for him here. He was proud of his accomplishment, having been so determined to prove himself, to impress Laura – even spite her – and now it seems he may be the cause of her losing her agency in a lawsuit. Even worse, it appears his faith in his friend was misplaced, and has thrown his judgment of character into doubt. The Steele image is taking a beating.








Filed under Season 1

6 responses to “Tempered Steele – 7

  1. eaz35173

    Wow, some interesting observations at the bottom. Steele being in his element and not needing the “costume” – I had never put that together before. I did notice how uncomfortable Murphy seemed, tho.

    Love how cool Wallace played the questions posed by Murphy – he’s obviously done this kind of thing before and you can tell that there is that “honor among thieves” mentality with him not giving up any info on Steele. And it mirrors the scene with Laura and Steele with her pumping him for info. “Stop asking old questions” – Ha!

    And don’t Laura and Steele look so cute next to each other in their PJ’s. If only! Why were they all staying at the Dillon house? Is it a hotel or something?

  2. Yeah, the sleepover is a puzzle. They don’t have hotels in Santa Barbara? Up to this point in the episode, Steele has been depicted as, frankly, kind of a jerk. We see him kind of smarmy with Nadine, rude to Bernice and Laura, dogging Laura for sex, giving clients the brush off until money was waved under his nose, ruining an undercover operation … if this episode HAD been the first broadcast, I’m not sure I would have liked Mr. Steele very much!

    However, from this point on in the episode, we begin to see Mr. Steele more sympathetically. I think that moment when he is trying to bluff his way out of the disaster, but can’t think of anything to say, is very telling. We see a guy who suddenly isn’t so cocky, who gets flummoxed. I have a feeling that at this moment he might be contemplating a cut-and-run, getting out when the going gets tough, as one suspects he has done many times in the past.

  3. Wish I could lighten some of these screencaps, but they pixelate when I try. Does anybody know of a really good screen cap program? I’d love to be able to pull razor-sharp single frame caps.

  4. Inés

    I think Mr.Steele is looking casual, because he wants to resemble to his client. he is the important person at the office, and he dress as he wants every day. Murphy is suffering a tie, because he is the employee, and Steele wants to set that as a fact. He is in charge, and he doesn’t need a tie to feel like the boss.
    I love the comments about the hotels in Sta. Barbara!
    And I love them quoting old movies! Makes me feel that they are tuned since the beginning.

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