Thou Shalt Not Steele – 19

And here we are at the end of another exciting episode!


We open on a shot of a big old urn and a voiceover from Coxworth: “If Miss Holt doesn’t have it, and you don’t have it, where is the painting?”


“In the museum, where it belongs,” Steele tells him.


He starts to handle the art, which seems to alarm Laura a bit. The agency is already in enough trouble!


Aha! Steele cleverly concealed the painting inside the urn! (When?)


Coxworth examines the merchandise. Yep, it’s the naked ladies, all right!


Coxworth hands the canvas over the Head Security Guy, who inexplicably seems to have retained his job. “Quickly! Get this into its frame. There’s still a chance we could make the opening!”


Steele gives the disgruntled guy a little toodle-oo as he goes off to reinstall the painting in its frame (Are security personnel trained as art curators?) Now Coxworth wants to know why they didn’t just tell him where the painting was hidden.


“Too risky,” Steele explains. “Gutman had to believe the painting was in our possession, or he would never have come forward.”


“For you to capture him,” Coxworth assumes. But Steele gallantly demurs.


“Actually, Miss Holt was responsible for that. I was indisposed at the time.” Technically true, I suppose: Laura did knock Gutman through the wall while Steele was hanging by his hands. Still, Mr. Steele downplays his role here.


Coxworth has the grace to apologize to Laura for being so hard on her at the police station. Then, citing several million things to be done (like hiring a new curator. And assistant curator. And security team.), Coxworth dashes away.


Looks like Laura is feeling a little sheepish, too. “I’m afraid I’ve been a bit hard on someone myself,” she concedes.


“Nonsense!” Steele assures her. “Your mother’s a strong woman. She’ll get over it.”

Droll, Mr. Steele. Very droll.


“You could have kept the painting and disappeared. What made you decide to leave it in the museum?”


“You’re not serious!” Steele answers. “I don’t want the Five Nudes of Cairo. The painting’s got a bloody curse on it!”


Cue the sprightly incidental music and roll the credits!

For me, a key theme in this episode (as it will be throughout the series) is the concept of identity. We are all different people, depending on whom we’re interacting with. Laura has a professional identity that is confident, determined and controlled – but that identity was challenged in this episode by her anxiety about Steele’s motives. Laura’s identity as a daughter, a role that is much more problematic and uncomfortable for her, is on display here. As cool as Laura is under normal circumstances, we see that she is vulnerable and self-doubting in the presence of her mother. Though she’s distanced herself from Abigail to pursue her own path, Laura desperately craves mom’s approval. We see Laura’s own worries about her life and future reflected in Abigail’s disapproval.

Mr. Steele, whose entire life has been about shifting identities, finds two of his in conflict. He is reminded of who he used to be by Felicia. On the other hand, he has established himself in this new role as the upstanding citizen and brilliant detective hero. I think it’s interesting that Steele doesn’t seem at all tempted by Felicia and her implied invitation to return to his old life; we see that Mr. Steele has staked a genuine claim to this new identity, and intends to keep it.

We also see some subtle shifting in Steele and Laura’s identities in relationship to one another. Laura is willing to open herself up emotionally to this man, even to take great risks for him. And Steele shows himself determined to be the kind of man Laura wants her Mr. Steele to be. They are good for each other.

Final thoughts?

Next up, Steele Belted!


Filed under Season 1

15 responses to “Thou Shalt Not Steele – 19

  1. Luann

    You ask when he put the painting in the urn? Right here:
    The painting never left the building!

  2. steeleinterested

    I couldn’t agree more that this is a show about identity–and not only Steele’s and Laura’s. We see Abigail struggle with identity, also. Is that not the primary reason she tells people Laura is a dental assistant? That is about Abigail’s own identity crisis, not Laura’s. I suspect that the enduring appeal or how well the series has held up over time also has a great deal to do with the universal, ageless struggle we all have with our own identity and defining ourselves.

    After Steele’s choice of Laura and their present over Felicia and his past, Murphy’s future is becoming clearer. He has no chance with Laura, personally. Professionally, he is quickly being relegated to the bench. There is little reason for him to stay. I’m not sure he’s figured it out yet but I think Laura and Steele are starting to realize it. More identity issues. You can hardly have a thought without tripping over them 😉

    Thanks, Keri, for guiding us through another episode with insight and humor. I’ve enjoyed the ride!

  3. eaz35173

    Luann is right, that’s when he put the painting in the urn – just before the head guard came in and ordered him to look for the thief. I didn’t realize that when I first saw this episode. It was only on seeing it other times that I picked up on it.

    I agree, that identities and images are at play the entire series. I also agree, that Steele has staked his claim on the Remington Steele identity. He is gaining respect and accolades from the public (and Laura) and I’m sure it makes him feel good. I’m sure that attention and back patting were sorely lacking in his childhood. And, as a thief, there were only a certain number of people who could ever know of his handiwork. The fact that he gives Laura the credit at the end, shows that he knows she gets far less of that than she deserves. He did it in License (although some of it was to save his neck), but as we will see in the series, he truly does recognize her greatness in her job – and he’s really the only one who can totally appreciate what she does. It’s kinda the same situation here as Steele’s childhood – the recognition, the pats on the back – he’s giving her what she’s been missing professionally.

    As for being tempted by Felicia, we (the audience) know that he wasn’t tempted by her. Since Laura didn’t see what we saw, it’s reasonable for her to still have doubts in that category, even if Felicia did practically tell her.

    They are definitely good for each other!!

    • daphgg

      I agree with all comments. Brilliant insight on shifting identities from our host. Never thought of it this way. Yes Steele clearly demonstrates his intentions to become RS for real. I still don’t understand why Laura doesn’t see it.

  4. Thought I’d throw this out there: Steele has now witnessed Laura’s relationship with Abigail, most tellingly in the warehouse. What insights do you think he gains about who Laura is from watching her with her mom?

    • daphgg

      I think Steele witnessing Laura’s little girl relationship with her mother lets him see a softer side and vulnerable side of Laura. He knows now more than ever he stands in a solid position to have a relationship with this woman-girl. After all she choose to allow him to witness that part of her relationship with her mother by accepting his dinner invitation.

      I find it ironic that Laura and her mother lie about Laura’s career. Kinda hereditary do you think?

    • eaz35173

      I think that by spending time with Abigail and witnessing their relationship, it’s easy for him to see where Laura gets her need to be right and perfect – something that Abigail never seems to acknowledge in Laura’s presence. Perhaps it makes him more sensitive to that and to make sure that he shifts the praise to her when possible.

      Also, never really having a family himself, I would think that he is fascinated by the whole family dynamic thing.

      • So in the end, does Steele like Abigail?

      • eaz35173

        Yes, I think that Steele likes Abigail. Steele has the ability to find the good in people. It’s one of his charms. I don’t think there are many people he comes across in the series that he outright dislikes. There are a few that come to mind, tho. He may not like the way that Abigail treats Laura, but I DO think that he likes Abigail. If he didn’t, I don’t think we’d see some of the interaction with her that we will see again this season . Plus, she is a source of information to help him solve the mystery that is Laura Holt.

      • daphgg

        I agree. He’s a sensitive bloke even though he doesn’t let himself show much emotion.

  5. daphgg

    Absolutely he likes Abigail. I think he likes pretty much everybody except those who decide to become his enemies. He is unique in how he separates the person from his or her actions so he can like them. I think he is fascinated how Abigail nags Laura to improve, be more stable. Laura is the symbol of all stability to him so he has got to be wondering what is going on. But he can see the love, concern, and downright worry that Abigail has for her daughter. He can see she wants for Laura to be alright. I agree that the dynamics probably fascinate him and make him sad. And yes I agree he will pump Abigail for information about Laura.

  6. Ines

    As a man always thirsty for knowledge, I think he is very interested discovering a hidden side of Laura. But, as a man who never had the chance to look to the insights of a family, he is intrigued to discover how families are. The chance to learn something else besides his own experience about the female behavior would always come handy; particularly in his relationship with Laura, which has a lot of gaps to solution.

    Witnessing a part of Laura/Abigail relationship shows him A LOT. Some of the things he would probabily discovered was the need to be in control of everything that both woman have. Another thing was that instead of being completely different, they are very similar. They are both strong, caring women, and very brave to defend their beloved ones. Maybe discovering is giving him a clue about where he is standing right now, after Laura trusting in him in this case.

    Sometimes they would be overwhelming, but that was for sure a part of their charm.

    I think he definitely likes Abigail. And maybe he is thinking about her as a possible ally eventually…

    • debilyn

      Oh yes, charming the mother is one way to have an ally in charming the daughter. In addition, he might be able to soften Abigail’s attitude toward Laura. His praise of Laura’s work, and the fact that he is a “lovely” man in her life, will show Abigail that Laura is doing okay for herself. (hopefully)

  7. Ines

    And we use to say here…You will know how the woman you are interested would be in the future just looking at her mother. She will be the same through the years…
    So, Mr. Steele, pay attention!

  8. Ines

    Excellent work as always Keri!!!
    Waiting anxiously for your next one!!!

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