Our scene opens on a close up of a sign on a van:
Dillon Electronics – wasn’t that the outfit that Meecham’s pencil-pusher told him to diversify into?
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.
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.)
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.
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 …
… 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.
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:’
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!
(though not before the intruders did a fair bit of damage to the property. That would seem to be a design flaw.)
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.