Thou Shalt Not Steele – 5

The scene opens with Laura …


… getting ready for her dinner with mom and Steele. Her dress is very 80s, with the tie neck and ruffled sleeves, but it’s a pretty color for her.


She heads toward the bathroom. We see a photograph on a small bureau – it looks like a man with a little girl on his lap. Could be young Laura and her dad?


Turns out the bathroom is already occupied – by Abigail, leaning over the tub and scrubbing furiously.


Laura is embarrassed. “Mother, you don’t have to clean my bathroom. It’ll aggravate your asthma.”


“You know how I hate mess,” her mother responds. Funny, I would have pegged Laura as a neat freak – she’s so precise in everything she does. And her house looks immaculate to me. Could it be that mama is finding fault where there is none to be found?

Abigail wants to know if Laura has spoken to Frances lately.


“I called her on her birthday.”


“Your sister has done very well for herself, Laura. You could take a lesson from her.” She informs Laura that Frances’ husband Donald’s company now owns 12 athletic footwear stores. She asks Laura if she knows how far the jogging shoe has come in the last five years?

spoileralert emoticonHere is the first of two statements Abigail makes in this episode that will be problematic, continuity-wise, in the future. This one will be given an explanation (albeit kind of a lame one) in a future episode.


Laura is saved from having to answer by the doorbell. “I have to go answer the door now, mother,” she says, a little peevishly.


“Always running somewhere,” Abigail mutters. One senses that there may have been many such scenes in these two women’s history together. Is it possible that our strong, independent Laura has felt the need to run away from her mother’s disapproval?


It’s Murphy at the door. “Hello, partner,” he says, rather overstepping his bounds again. He’s got the background information on that painting that Laura asked for.


“So where’s your mother?”

“Cleaning the bathroom.”

“You made your mother clean the bathroom?”

Laura doesn’t find this funny.


She and Murphy sit on the couch and get down to business (Not the same sort of business she and Steele would get down to on a couch, I’ll warrant.)

Murphy reports that the Five Nudes of Cairo have been through a lot of hands, and most of them are not around to talk about it.


“But get this,” he says, a little gleam beginning to appear in his eyes. “Six years ago the painting was stolen from a private collector by a woman and a guy calling himself Michael O’Leary.”


“Ring any bells?” Oh, you’re just a little too smug, Murphy.



At first Laura can’t place the name. Then it dawns on her: It was one of the aliases in the five passports they discovered among “Remington Steele’s” belongings, way back in episode 1!

“But you’re not seriously suggesting-“ she protests.


Oh yes he is! “Think about it: If he really is a thief, what better place for him to watch for a big score to come along than in a detective agency.”


Laura reminds Murphy that Steele didn’t even want to take the museum case.


“Less interference that way,” Murphy gloats. He tells Laura he’s sure Steele has been waiting for an opportunity like this, and there’s nothing to keep him from stealing the painting and leaving “OUR agency to take the rap for it. He’s stolen it once already.”

OUR agency, Murphy? I don’t think so. Mr. Michaels seems very determined to position himself as Laura’s equal in their work and the business.


Laura thinks he’s jumping to conclusions. “I know him better than that.”

“No, you don’t.”


Laura says they both need to keep open minds. She orders Murphy to run a check on the museum’s employees (sounds like an equal partnership there, Murph.)

Murphy urges her to call him if she needs him. (Hm. Bit of foreshadowing here, perhaps?)


At the door, he cracks wise again: “Is your mother really in there cleaning the bathroom?”


Laura is not amused.


The scene shifts abruptly to Laura’s cute little car pulling into the drive in front of Steele’s apartment building. We hear Laura and her mother discussing Frances’ wonderful life in voiceover.


Except as they pull up, we can clearly see that neither woman’s mouth is moving, even though we hear Abigail say, “Why is it so awful to settle down with someone like Donald?” (Perhaps mother and daughter have a telepathic bond?)




Laura informs her mother (using her vocal cords) that she doesn’t want to marry a pair of jogging shoes.


Abigail doesn’t like your attitude, missy! She tells Laura she’s not asking her to marry footwear; there are other alternatives. Laura can’t believe what she’s hearing. Then she can.


“Take your Mr. Steele, for instance. I bet THERE’S a catch and a half.” (I can’t say I disagree, Mrs. Holt.)


Laura breaks the painful news: “Mother, men aren’t fish any more, and my line isn’t out there to hook a big one and reel him in.”


“Well, your line has to be somewhere,” Abigail snaps.


“I’m a licensed private investigator.”

Abigail professes not to know what that means. What, she didn’t watch The Rockford Files in the 70s? Mannix? Barnaby Jones? Cannon?


Laura seems discouraged. “Are you coming with me upstairs?” she asks, a little timidly.


Nope. Abigail prefers to wait in the car and “collect” herself.


Laura heads off to fetch Mr. Steele. Something tells me there’s a bumpy night ahead!

I’ll stop there. I have to feel for Laura in these scenes. Mom is a piece of work, no? And yet somehow I can’t really dislike Abigail (maybe because I associate her with the much more sympathetic Dotty West.) I believe Abigail really does want the best for her daughter, but her worldview and idea of what constitutes “best” is very different from Laura’s. And on top of the stress with her mom, now Laura has to deal with the possibility that Steele is preparing to betray her. What a lousy day! Do you think Murphy has shaken Laura’s belief in Mr. Steele?


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14 responses to “Thou Shalt Not Steele – 5

  1. eaz35173

    Whew, no wonder Laura has stress where her mother is involved!! But you’re right, there is something endearing about Abigail, as well.

    You can tell that Murphy has been over to Laura’s house before. I imagine that before “Mr. Steele” stepped into their lives, he and Laura probably did some brainstorming from her house or he would stop by on the way to a stake out. There is a comfort level here with both of them. But still, poor Murphy has no clue.

    So, Michael O’Leary was involved with the Nekkid Ladies before! I think Laura doesn’t know what to think at the moment. I believe that she really wants to believe he has nothing to do with this painting at the moment, but she has her doubts and will need to investigate them. This, along with her mother, must have her stress level thru the roof!!

    • I think it’s interesting that Murphy, who has surely met Mrs. Holt before, makes no attempt to greet her. Would Abigail think Murphy is a worthy potential hubby for Laura? If so, you’d think he’d be eager to curry her favor – unless he knows that appearing chummy with Abigail would be a turn off for Laura.

      • eaz35173

        Like Laura, I think Abigail doesn’t see Murphy in that way (if she “sees” him at all). I would thing that Murphy has met Abigail before, because Bernice has. As nice as Murphy is, I think he could only be polite to Abigail. Steele, on the other hand, has the capacity to cast a spell on her like one of those snake charmers, and change her behavior. Laura might find THAT trait appealing in a man 😉

  2. steeleinterested

    All the continuity issues aside, I like that we are getting to know Laura better in this scene. I think one of the challenges in writing and acting Laura was to make her strong and independent while still three dimensional and sympathetic. Steph does a wonderful job with it.

    As for Laura and Abigail, I am almost surprised that Laura doesn’t live in a hovel since there is clearly no pleasing Abigail with her domestic skills–it would be a common response. Perhaps Laura’s natural bent for order and the fact that Abigail lives elsewhere help.

    Does anyone else find it odd that Murphy baits Laura about her mother and the bathroom? Either he isn’t privy to the mother-daughter relationship dynamics or he is careless of Laura’s feelings. Neither fits with the ‘they were close friends for years before Steele and Murphy is always trying to protect Laura’ back story I feel like we are given. I want to smack him and Abigail both!

    I do think Murphy manages to shake Laura’s belief in Steele for a minute or two. BUT… she’s already thrown her lot, her agency, her belief in her own judgement, ad infinitum in with Steele, so I think it just makes her dig her heels in that much deeper where Steele is concerned. She might doubt him somewhere deep down but by Jove, she is going to do everything in her power to makes sure that she is right and Murphy is wrong, even if she has to manufacture the outcome herself.

    I love that color on her, too.

  3. daphgg

    Poor Laura, her hook and line is totally gone according to Abigail. If only she knew the real deal brewing between Laura and Steele, she would have absolutely nothing to say about Laura’s hook. Actually I don’t understand why Laura doesn’t act more assertive and tell her mother to back off. Her non-confrontive attitde seems out of character.

    Laura is giving Steele the benefit of the doubt despite his past and Murphy’s findings. I think she recognizes how hard he is trying to be useful and possibly a detective.

    Murphy needs to quit while he is ahead of embarrassing himself. I agree he is trying very hard to establish himself as Laura’s partner both professionally and personally. Too bad Murph, that spot is taken.

    I admit Laura amazes me that she is so oblivious to Murphy’s intentions. Funny how even Mom doesn’t recognize Murphy as a potential for Laura. Then again Murphy doesn’t have a shoe store or a dental practice.

    • eaz35173

      >>Actually I don’t understand why Laura doesn’t act more assertive and tell her mother to back off. Her non-confrontive attitde seems out of character.<<

      Family dynamics are a funny thing. I've witnessed many times in my in-law's family how strong, independent women become submissive little girls when around my MIL. It's bizarre to watch it happen. I think it's the criticism that was heaped on them so plentifully in their youth that makes them that way around their mother. So, for me, this behavior from Laura when Abigail is around is not much of a surprise.

      • steeleinterested

        I agree. And I don’t see Laura as confrontational when she knows she can’t win. I suspect that they have had those days when Laura was younger. Also, with her father out of the picture, I think Laura would be concerned about the possibility of pushing back too hard and severing ties completely with her mother. Choosing not to call home is very different from not calling home because your call wouldn’t be accepted. And perhaps Laura’s gratefulness that her mother didn’t abandon them, too, helps her just keep her mouth shut until Abigail returns from whence she came. It’s a short term issue that will resolve itself when Abigail goes home. Just thinking ‘out loud.’

    • I thought Abigail was less dazzled by Mr. Steele back in the office than I would have expected her to be, but we see in this scene that the wheels were already turning. I wonder if Laura really is as blind to Murphy’s feelings for her as she appears? Of is she purposely pretending not to notice so she doesn’t have to address the situation. I suspect old Murph would be content to maintain the status quo forever, never pressing his case, if Steele hadn’t arrived on the scene.

      • steeleinterested

        So we are, at least in some sense, back to the question of how Laura addresses interpersonal situations–or doesn’t address them. Perhaps at some point, we can look at that in a broader context as it seems to be a recurring theme.

  4. Steeleinterested, would you like to head up that discussion? I’m happy to welcome guest moderators!

  5. steeleinterested

    “Steele, on the other hand, has the capacity to cast a spell on her like one of those snake charmers, and change her behavior. Laura might find THAT trait appealing in a man ;)” LOL!!!

    I don’t think there is any question about that–his ability or it appealing to Laura 😉

  6. Inés

    Remarkable discussion!!!!

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