And at last we come to the tag! I have some ambivalence about tags … sometimes they serve as a nice coda to an episode, other times they feel forced. Let’s see how this one rates, shall we? We open the scenelet on a “sexy” version of the theme and ….
Ingalls Holt, looking lovely despite her bun and ruffles. As she did in the tag of “Tempered Steele,” she thanks her “boss” on behalf of his “excellent staff.”
Mr. Steele, in full-on Bond mode here, gives her a suave look. Is he going to seduce her?
No! He’s going to eat some humble pie. “That’s very gracious of them, considering how badly I misjudged Albie.”
It is interesting that Mr. Steele, the consummate con man himself, didn’t see right through Albie. One would expect someone in Mr. Steele’s (former) line of work to be an unerring judge of character. Is that true most of the time for Mr. Steele? Is this an aberration?
The camera pulls back to reveal an intimate setting.
Laura and Mr. Steele are at his apartment, on the floor (no bearskin rug?), with a bottle of champagne between them. Romantic!
“Pity, really,” Steele continues between sips of bubbly. “He seemed to have such a genuine concern for George.” Speaking of George, Steele is curious!
“How exactly did I crack the case?”
“Just by being you.” She explains that she knows how troublesome a fictitious man can be.
Steele ain’t buyin’ it.
“You didn’t seem to have much trouble on the dock.” Touche!
“Ah, but then I was merely posing.” Riposte!
“To posing, then.”
“To posing.” *clink*
Just when things are warming up …
… the doorbell! Who can it be?
Steele uses a single digit to express contempt for whoever is interrupting this tender moment. “That will be the dinner I ordered,” he explains. (Funny, somehow I have the feeling Mr. Steele might be a good cook in his own right.)
Hey! That’s no pizza delivery man! It’s our old pal Emery Arnoch.
“I just couldn’t do it, Steele. I stood on that airport ramp and I thought to myself, ‘Emery, this has been the most exciting 48 hours of your life!'”
He’s a fool to waste his life on unit pricing and shelf strategy! He’s selling out!
Laura and Steele think that’s … awesome?
“Millicent will be arriving with the children in a few days!” (Children? Millicent must be a younger woman. Why Emery, you old dog!)
“So tell me … what’s our next case?”
Somehow I get the feeling Laura is prepared to let Mr. Steele handle this one …
So what’s your verdict on this tag? The episode as a whole? I remember cringing at the beginning of this tag, because it just seemed so over-the-top – like those scenes of James Bond seducing the hot babe.
But then the scene turns as we see a slightly different attitude from Mr. Steele, compared with the similar tag from “Tempered Steele.” Then, he was happy to accept the accolades and toot his own horn, if in a tongue-in-cheek way. Here he freely admits that he blew it (not entirely justified, IMO) and Laura knew what she was doing. I do wish Laura had acknowledged his contributions to the case, but I don’t think she’s ready to open herself up like that quite yet. We see in their flirty jousting that each knows the dock incident was no pose … but it’s safer to pretend it is for the time being.
It’s interesting that Laura chose to celebrate the conclusion of the case alone with Mr. Steele – not a Murphy in sight. Already we see a comfortable intimacy between the two of them – uptight Laura sitting on the floor? She even undid the top button of her blouse (ordinarily, I wouldn’t approve of Albie influencing her fashion choices, but here it seems right).
The insertion of Emery is a funny way of bringing us full circle. Now Mr. Steele is confronted with an over-eager amateur whose enthusiasm may be charming, but could also wreak a lot of havoc. Sound like someone else we know?
As for the episode as a whole, I can’t say it’s one of my favorites – apart from the dock scene. But it did move us further along in the evolution of Laura and Steele’s relationship. It showed how they work together, reinforces that Steele wants to be more involved and feels he has something other than a pretty face to contribute. By the end of the episode, I think Laura is beginning to see that may be true.