Tempered Steele – 9

Following Laura’s cryptic remark about Wallace turning up …


We find ourselves in a morgue, where an attendant opens a body locker.


Steele and Laura are present, looking grim. Laura wants to know, “Where did they find him?”


“Where they find most of ’em,” notes the not-very-sympathetic morgue attendant. “On Main Street. Needle still in his arm, five grand in his sock. He must have been celebrating his good fortune.”

Steele ain’t buyin’ it.


“He wasn’t an addict,” he says, looking down at his dead friend. The morgue attendant disagrees, suggesting “you could run the Southern Pacific on those tracks.”

Steele insists the needle marks are at least three years old.


“When is the autopsy?” Laura wants to know. The morgue attendant asks her if she’s ever heard of Proposition 13.

funfacticonCalifornia Proposition 13, passed in 1978,  limited real estate taxes in the state. Among its effects were loss of revenue to cities, resulting in budget cuts for public services, such as those provided by the county morgue.


“We don’t have the budget to cut up every junkie who pigs out on smack.”


He tells Steele and Laura that if they want an autopsy, they’ll need to “get this stiff to their own pathologist.”

Mr. Steele takes exception to his attitude!


“That stiff once made 27 straight passes in a crap game. He had a daughter he put through college, he liked to fish off King’s Point and he read the Wizard of Id.”



“That stiff was my friend.”


The morgue attendant appears chastened.

behindthescenesDon Dolan, who played the morgue attendant, had minor supporting roles in many television series between 1975-1994. He often played policemen or other law enforcement types. He was another of many Remington Steele guest stars who also played roles on “Scarecrow & Mrs. King.”



Laura watches a furious Steele stalk away. What do you think she’s thinking?


Next we see the limo speeding down a highway.


We see (barely; the lighting is terrible) Steele and Laura in the backseat of the limo.


“Harry,” Laura remarks suddenly. “Tonight you look like a Harry.”

spoileralert emoticonThis is remarkably prescient of Laura. We’ll be hearing the name Harry connected with Mr. Steele again!


Mr. Steele is feeling guilty. “He didn’t want to do this job. I soaped him into it.”

Laura reassures him that Wallace’s death wasn’t his fault. Steele insists that someone planted the money on Wallace to make it appear he stole the papers, then killed him.


“I’m gonna find that someone.”


“Well do it together,” Laura says gently.


Steele looks at Laura …


… then places his own hand over hers on his shoulder.

That’s the end of this segment. We see a different side of Steele here, and of Laura. The heretofore calm, cool and collected Mr. Steele is shown to be capable of great passion – even violence. And Laura shows a tender, nurturing side. She doesn’t question Steele about his association with a former heroin addict. She doesn’t argue with his conviction that Wallace has been set up. She is just there for him. I think it’s an important moment! Your thoughts?



Filed under Season 1

9 responses to “Tempered Steele – 9

  1. eaz35173

    I agree. I think it’s a turning point in the way that Laura sees Steele. He’s not just a conman anymore. He’s a person … with feelings. He has friends that he really knows (all that stuff about Wallace’s daughter and knowing his favorite comic strip). And he has a conscience (feeling guilty about Wallace’s death). So he must have some ethics that he lives by. I think this is eye-opening for Laura. And seeing all of this brings out her compassionate side. She is letting her guard down. He showed his vulnerable side to her and she, in turn, is sharing some of hers. I think for the viewer, we both get a glimpse into the “real” them.

    I still don’t think he looks like a “Harry”. Why she picked that name out of a hat, I don’t know. Do I have a better name for him? No. Like him, I’ve grown used to the name that Laura created.

    And on a side note, I also like “The Wizard of Id”!

  2. Ines

    I think Laura was playing the game as she ‘d planned it, until she saw him out of himself, advocating a friend, who can no longer defend itself. He wasn’t playing any con against her. He had been trying to do a good job, without tricks, and ended with a friend dead.
    About her calling him Harry, I’ve read somewhere that Harry means “the man who is not afraid of anything”. When she is talking to him in the car, after his demostration of his own himself with fury, she called him Harry because she ‘d just saw him as a brave man, asking for justice for his dead friend.A noble,caring and brave attitude. She hadn’t had the chance to see him like that yet.
    It’s a very important moment. They have both lowered their guard, and allowed themselves to show to the other the inside part that is always hidden: they have feelings!

  3. Daph

    Yes they bared their souls to each other. It is wonderful that she gives him her support so soon after he told the waiter that she may be the last who receives his name plate. They are on the same page concerning each other. Now if they could just find each other while groping in the dark…

    I think Steele went to look for Wallace and changed clothes before their date. (He looks so fine in a suit.) He was smart to meet her at the restaurant where they could talk and not scream. He wanted her to stop being mad at him and save his job. No con, he wanted to prove he could be an asset and be respected in the agency for his talent by Laura. He knew Laura would never fall for a mindless playboy. Future episodes show respect (and to not be arm candy) to be important to him. He understood intimately her struggle to be respected as an underdog in a man’s world. Besides can you imagine the argument they would have in the limo going to the restaurant if he picked her up? Our Steele is very clever.

    • eaz35173

      Excellent point about having her meet him at the restaurant in order to avoid and fight and just talk. And I think you’re right about him wanting respect from her – earning her good graces – and proving he is up to the task, not just the pretty face. It’s really a role reversal. Because in this show, RS was the window dressing trying to prove himself, as much as it was Laura proving herself in a man’s world.

    • Ines

      You have a point here. He certainly knows how to choose a battlefield.

  4. This is the second episode in a row (and it’s only the second episode!) where Mr. Steele is indirectly responsible – or at least contributory – to someone’s death. In License to Steele it was Ben Pearson, whom Steele told to keep an eye on Mustache and Switchplace .. and he wound up dead.

    This episode it strikes even closer to home, with someone who is clearly a friend of Steele’s taking the fall. Steele is less culpable in this case, as he couldn’t have imagined that installing a security system would get his friend killed (while he might have suspected that he was sending Pearson into danger. In that case, however, his guilt is mitigated by the fact that Pearson also surely knew the risk he was taking).

    Here again we see Steele experience a moment of remorse that his actions have set into motion the tragic event. It seems likely that in his previous career there were many such situations – probably the reason Steele is very cautious about becoming emotionally attached to anyone.

  5. steeleinterested

    Laura is clearly torn in ‘License to Steele’ and this episode between who her gut says he is–trustworthy and worth taking a risk on, and who the rational facts of his behavior say he is–a con artist. (I don’t see anything about him as he is presented at this point that gives credance to the cut-rate part, lol) It feeds right into one of the central conflicts of the series. Is it more that Laura doesn’t trust him or that she doesn’t trust her own instincts.
    Also, In order for us to still view Laura as strong and not easily taken, not just a woman who’s head is turned and brain is lost when presented with a pretty face and a bit of charm, we (the audience) need her to have reasons to believe in him. And we need to want to believe in him, too. Otherwise we end up siding with Murphy. Hmmm. how would that have worked out???

    And yes to all of the comments above…

    • eaz35173

      Good point about being able to see Laura as strong, but also finding reasons to like Steele. The writers did a great job of this and the chemistry of the actors while playing these things out is wonderful to watch!

    • Ines

      Good point about Laura being strong. I think that if she had not been able to believe in him, as we the audience did, Laura Holt would had been the secretary that almost every client in the series thought she was, and no the character she did. She had to put things clear a lot of times because the others were lost with his pretty face and charme.

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