Steele Belted – 4

We see the agency limo pulling up to a slightly less plush hotel than the one Laura is currently visiting.


Hotel Panama?


It’s a real place! Now it’s emergency housing for homeless people.


We see the distinctive Steele license plate.


Mr. Steele rolls down the window – perhaps to get a better view of the hotel, or maybe because Pierce Brosnan claims the inside of the limo smelled RANK.


He enters the seedy hostelry and approaches a rather dated-looking front desk. That radio looks to date from the 60s. “So this is Eagle Rock,” he mutters disdainfully. Actually, Mr. Steele, it’s 403 E 5th St. Are you sure you gave Fred the right directions?


Steele dings the little bell. It seems the hotel is understaffed.


Getting no response, the intrepid detective decides to investigate on his own. No nosy front desk guy HERE to thwart a determined investigator. Determined, perhaps, but not yet entirely competent. Steele fails to notice the shadowy form that crosses behind him as he heads down the hall.


It’s Rubio, who checks his sexy look in the mirror before moving stealthily off after Steele.


Rubio is followed immediately by Waldo (were they both hiding behind the front desk?) Mr. Church also gives himself a quick once-over in the mirror. It’s sweet that these two are so concerned to look nice for Mr. Steele.


Steele finds Waldo’s hotel room door ajar. That can’t be good. But Steele is dauntless!


Steele discovers a half-smoked cigarette. Uh oh.


Does that mean the REAL villain here is the X Files’ Smoking Man? The truth is out there – and Steele will find it!


Well, as soon as he wakes up, that is. Our well-dressed detective gets conked on the head from behind! (Is this the first of the many, many times Mr. Steele gets knocked unconscious in the series?)


Fade to black!


We next see a heavily-burdened Murphy headed back to the office.


He gives a lady a quick ogle as she passes. Is Murph beginning to see the writing on the wall with Laura and considering other options? Fickle!


Murphy trudges into his office. “Laura, I’m back,” he calls. (At least it wasn’t, “Honey, I’m home!”)


Laura appears from her office (?), wanting to know if Murphy found out anything in San Francisco Nada. “Somebody wanted us chasing Rubio in San Francisco,” he tells her. “If you ask me, he was never even up there.”


“Sometimes this is a very discouraging business,” Laura complains. But Murphy *does* have a little news.


He came up with a piece of information that he doesn’t think he was supposed to find …


A photo of a cheerful couple. And a sombrero.

Laura recognizes the guy as Rubio. But who’s the girl?


“The ex-Mrs. Rubio,” Murphy explains. He’s awfully close to Laura here. A little personal space, Murph? But Laura doesn’t seem to mind … or even notice. Murphy says the photo was taken on a cruise to Acapulco (if Rubio wasn’t in San Francisco, where did Murph find the photo?). Anyway, Murphy figures if they find blondie, they’ll find Rubio.


Laura feigns unconcern. “We’ve got plenty of time,” she notes. “Shapiro’s plane doesn’t leave for five hours.” Meanwhile, in the lobby …


… Mr. Steele arrives, looking decidedly the worse for wear. That doesn’t seem to bother the lady in the hall outside, who gives his posterior an admiring glance. Speaking of posteriors, is that a pig’s butt on Bernice’s desk?


“Mr. Steele! Are you all right?” Bernice seems almost genuinely concerned.

“Hanging by a thread, Miss Wolf,” he answers.

Bernice wants to know if there’s anything she can get him?


“My tailor?” he sighs. I think the potential clients in the background may be rethinking their decision to seek Mr. Steele’s services.


Oh, Mr. Steele. Your dignity is as tattered as your shirt.


Steele seeks out his colleagues.

“What happened to you?” Murphy wants to know.

“I was on the wrong end of a lamp.”


“Sordid past, or jealous husband?” a rather callous Laura asks.

Really? He’s clearly had the hell beaten out of him, and she’s almost gleeful about it?


Steele exits to the executive washroom, where Laura finally shows a bit of concern. She checks his head for cuts and bruises.


She’s found some!

Steele tells them he was lured to some godforsaken place called Eagle Rock. (I bet the Eagle Rock Chamber of Commerce LOVED this episode!)


As Steele goes to his office, he asks if he’s supposed to know someone named Shapiro. Laura is surprised!


Armed with Q-tips and hydrogen peroxide, Laura engages in first aid while Steele grouses about not being in the know. Laura and Murphy fill him in about Shapiro being accused of stealing coins, but claiming they were sold to him by Rubio, yada yada. Suddenly Mr. Steele gets a faraway look in his eyes. Is he going into shock?


Nope. Just accessing his encyclopedic knowledge of classic films.

“D.O.A. Edmund O’Brien, Pamela Britton, United Artists, 1949.”

behindthescenes D.O.A. is actually listed as a 1950 film on Wikipedia. It’s a film noir drama, notable for its opening scene of a man walking into a police station to report his own murder. It features one particularly notable cast member:


Hello, Abigail!

You can watch the whole darned movie, if you want:


Laura isn’t interested in movie trivia. She wants to know about Waldo Church. Steele explains Waldo is in the same position as Edmund O’Brien: he has a bill of sale that will prove Shapiro’s innocence, and someone is trying to kill him for it. Murphy dashes off to the Hotel Saracen to look for Waldo.



Laura, meanwhile, has a mission for Steele: “You’re going to tell Buddy Shapiro exactly what you just told us.”

“I thought I never involve myself directly in a case,” Steele points out, quite reasonably.


“You’re making an exception this time.”

Steele resists; he has a mission of his own.

“I have to change,” he insists.

Laura tells him there’s no time. Ahem. Mr. Steele will MAKE time.


“Remington Steele never shows up wrinkled.”


Frustrated Laura appeals to heaven for patience.

Laura is not at her most sympathetic here. I get that she’s frustrated about the case, but her cavalier attitude toward Steele’s injuries, and lack of appreciation for his having uncovered some pretty vital clues, is off-putting. I’m a little surprised at how easily the baddie sneaked up on Steele in the hotel. You’d think a jewel thief would be a little more aware of potential threats. We seem to be back to the familiar Laura/Murphy vs. Steele dynamic here. I wonder if this episode was meant to precede “Thou Shalt Not Steele”? Or is there another explanation for the step backward in Laura and Steele’s relationship?














Filed under Season 1

9 responses to “Steele Belted – 4

  1. eaz35173

    First off, I love the camera work/blocking in that hotel lobby in Eagle Rock. The use of the mirror instead of the camera movement was pretty cool.

    Poor Mr. Steele – I do think this is the first of many head clonkings he will take. I’m pretty sure this wasn’t in the job description he signed up for. And Laura is pretty uncaring of his tattered state. She does seem to come around when he asks about Shapiro. I love that he takes his image seriously and makes Laura wait while he goes to change.

    OK, what the heck is that metal 3D cube thing hanging from the ceiling in the office?! I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before (or since). And yes, Bernice seems genuinely concerned about him.

    Another thing I like about this scene is when Steele goes to find Laura, he walks into her office and sees she’s not there. He goes to the door to his office to look, and no Laura, then he goes to the door to Murphy’s office. I like it because you can tell the layout of the office space from that little bit… how all the offices are interconnected without having to step into the lobby area to get to each other.

    • Ines

      At first, I would say that Laura doesn’t show any concern about Steele’s injuries because her mind is running in overdrive trying to find a gap in the whole Rubio situation in less tan 5 hours. Professional level comes before than personal level for her.

      Steele runs into the office like a child coming inside the house looking for his mum after being hurt. He needs to find her, and he needs her seeing his wrinkled state, just to show her that he had been in the action as well as she had been.

      About Bernice’s desk, maybe the Agency should think in hiring a more neatty secretary, one spending more time getting the whole place in order, instead of being hurried to use Mr. Steele’s private mirror getting herself ready for a friday night.

      About the Laura/Murphy vs. Steele dynamic here, maybe Miss Holt thought that sending Mr. Steele alone to San Francisco, would be dangerous, and she sent Murphy, shoting at two targets with only one bullet. First, a profesional PI would do the field work in situ; second, she would have the chance to do a closer following about some of Steele’s activities, ‘profesional’ or personal. It was a maneuver to keep him at bay on both fronts, and adding a third one I would think she didn’t want him going alone to SF, the place where he was supposed to follow the Royal Lavoulite route. She still doesn’t know anything about the guy, and what if there was a chance to find a ‘coleague’ there to keep him occupied?

      About Steele and his behavior at the hotel, maybe his mind is occupied developing a strategie to surprise Laura and he decided not to pay attention to mirrors, being fully concentrated in paying attention to find some clues about the case.

      • eaz35173

        Interesting thought about Laura sending Murphy away to follow the case AND be out of her hair where Steele is concerned.

      • I also like your theory of Laura sending Murphy on the field work as a means of taking some pressure off her about Steele. You know Murphy has to spend every minute alone with Laura grousing about the guy, even challenging her decision to keep him on. Also, Laura might (finally) be cluing in that Murphy’s resentment isn’t strictly professional – keeping Mr. Michaels at arm’s length is a way of avoiding having to confront his feelings for her.

  2. daphgg

    I was quite upset with Laurareaction to Steele’s injuries. He is trying very hard to pull his weight. She could at least acknowledge his efforts.

    Yes this episode could be out of order. If I had to vote which it was: out of sequence or they had a falling out. I vote out of sequence. Laura acts like she doesn’t even like him. She is cruel acting. RS is putting up with a lot for a job. This is why I think he has already made the decisio that Laura is for keeps.

  3. eaz35173

    Interesting theory about the order of the episodes. We know that License and Tempered were the 1st two and needed to be in that order (even if Tempered was penned first). I did some digging into the dates of the scripts of the episodes so far, and this is what I found …

    Steele Belted
    Originally written – April 30, 1982
    Last revised – June 24, 1982

    Steele Waters Run Deep
    Originally written – July 29, 1982
    Last revised – September 8, 1982

    Signed Steeled & Delivered
    Originally written – July 2, 1982
    Last revised – July 7, 1982

    Thou Shalt Not Steele
    Originally written – August 26, 1982
    Last revised – September 13, 1982

    So, based on the order the scripts were written and finalized, it looks like the order should be as follows …

    Steele Belted
    Signed Steeled Delivered
    Steele Waters
    Thou Shalt Not Steele

    However, just because a script is written and finalized before another one, doesn’t mean that the producers wanted it aired in that order. They may have just had their writers banging out scripts to have episodes ready to shoot. Obviously, tho, these scripts had to be shot in the order of their last revision date, regardless of when they were meant to air.

    Interesting, tho, to see how the relationship looks a bit different with the scripts in this order.

    • Inés

      I agree with you eaz, that their relationship works different with the scripts following this order.
      But I think that maybe once the first three chapters were ready, the writers noticed that there were some useful gaps between them, an opportunity to insert another episode in the middle. My question if this supposition would be right, is why their first kiss, a very important fact into the series, is in one of those inserted episodes.

    • Thanks for the detective work, Elise! That order does seem to make more sense, based on what we see of Steele & Laura’s relationship. However, Steele will make a comment later in this episode that feels a bit odd if this is still near the beginning of their relationship. I look forward to discussing that!

      • eaz35173

        I think I know what comment you are referring to, and will wait to discuss it. But, as I mentioned earlier, just because the scripts were written and finalized/shot in a particular order, doesn’t necessarily mean that that was the way Michael Gleason intended them to be aired. I’m sure he had some master plan once he saw what he had (or what he ordered to be written by his staff) that would tell his story in a certain way.

        It’s possible that he wanted to really get the sexual tension/will-they-won’t-they vibe going by putting that kiss in Steele Waters as the 3rd episode. And quite often, the beginning of relationships don’t always go so smoothly. So it’s not unreasonable with the will-they-won’t-they tension to think R&L are on a “they’re not” track at any given time.

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