Apologies for the delay in posting this; it’s been a crazy couple of weeks. Anyway, when last we left our detectives, Mr. Steele had just secured a few locks of Hunky Barry’s hair, presumably for the locket he wears around his neck. He’s a sentimental guy, our Rem. The next scene opens …
… back in Mr. Steele’s office, where Laura, Murphy, Hunky Barry and their client, Buddy Shapiro, are discussing the case. HB is outlining his courtroom strategy: if necessary, he’ll ask for a change of venue. (Because Buddy is super famous, like OJ Simpson, I guess.) There seems to be one party missing from this tete-a-tete. Whither Mr. Steele?
Ah. Here he comes. He seems brisk and confident, albeit a bit miffed:
“Sorry I’m late,” he explains. “No one informed me of the meeting. An oversight, no doubt.” It does seem a bit unfair that Mr. Steele, who after all has been pretty involved in this case, was purposely left out of this meeting. Murphy and Steele were working together just a scene or two ago; wouldn’t he have known Steele should be present? But perhaps it was Murphy who tipped Steele off to this meeting. In any case …
… as Steele divests himself of his trench coat, HB explains that they were going over the plan for Buddy’s preliminary hearing.
Mr. Steele suggests it might be more profitable to try to identify the real guilty party.
Just then Bernice arrives, showing a surprising amount of leg for an office environment. Presumably she spied Hunky Barry and paused to unbutton her skirt before she entered.
Mr. Steele takes a large notepad and pencil from Bernice (as we know, he doesn’t keep office supplies in his own desk), and offers them to Laura. “Would you be good enough to jot down some thoughts, Miss Holt?”
She protests, but he will not be gainsaid.
gainsay: to contradict,” c.1300, lit. “say against,” from O.E. gegn- “against” + say. “Solitary survival of a once common prefix” [Weekley], which was used to form such now-obsolete compounds as gain-taking “taking back again,” gainclap “a counterstroke,” gainbuy “redeem,” and gainstand “to oppose.”
Sorry for the detour. I’m a logophile (lover of words).
Mr. Steele is insistent. “Jot.”
Bernice, apparently miffed at the fake boss’s treatment of the real boss, stomps out.
Mr. Steele goes into full Sherlock mode. The game is afoot! “Now. The first requisite for our killer is, of course, a relationship with James Rubio.”
HB points out that Ivy Shapiro qualifies.
Steele agrees that’s an excellent choice!
“Are you saying Ivy killed Rubio?” Buddy doesn’t seem convinced.
Hm. It appears Mr. Shapiro is wearing a gray flannel suit identical to Mr. Steele’s.
The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (Gregory Peck, Jennifer Jones, Twentieth Century Fox, 1956) was a film based on a popular novel, and depicted a businessman’s search for meaning in the dog-eat-dog world of business. It has nothing to do with this episode.
Laura is also doubtful. “She was planning to marry him,” she notes. “That’s hardly an ideal motive for murder …”
“…SIR.” Oh, Laura. So smug and condescending. I wonder if you’ll be sorry.
Mr. Steele reacts to Laura’s snarkiness with an enigmatic smile. I think he may have something up his sleeve!
Creighton, meanwhile, suggests that Ivy and Rubio may have had a falling out. HB seems all on board with this theory!
But it turns out Ivy was a red herring. (Funny, I would have called her a ham. Well, herring at least is kosher.) Steele explains, “We need someone who knew Rubio a long time ago. So there was no visible connection.”
“… An old college classmate, for instance.”
Inexplicably, Creighton suddenly turns on his own client. “What about the murder weapon? It’s Buddy’s.”.
Mr. Steele affects a pose of … insouciance? Confusion? Intestinal upset? “That only means our killer was somebody Buddy trusted. Someone with unquestioned entrée to his home,” he insists.
Mr. Steele pauses to make sure he’s not moving too fast for Miss Holt.
“Well, you could slow down JUST a bit, sir,” she answers. Hm. Is she finally beginning to see that Steele is on to something?
“Wouldn’t want you to get lost.”
Mr. Steele appreciates her support.
Creighton points out that Buddy’s fingerprints were the only ones on the gun. (Gee, with advocates like this, who needs enemies?)
Murphy finally speaks up. “Plastic gloves would have taken care of that.”
Why plastic gloves?
Don’t killers usually wear black leather gloves?
Hunky Barry wants to know what this “mythical killer’s” motive is.
“Money’s usually at the bottom of these things,” Steele shrugs.
“Unless it’s a crime of passion, in the case of extreme, unendurable jealousy brought on by an unfaithful partner.”
Well played, Mr. Steele.
“I think we can rule that out, sir,” Laura responds.
Steele hopes so!
(The subtext in this exchange is interesting, no? Steele seems to be implying that Laura becoming romantically involved with someone else would constitute a betrayal of her relationship with him. And Laura makes a point of indicating that’s not the case.)
Incidentally, we are given a nice view of Mr. Steele’s chin dimple here.
“You know, Ivy Shapiro stood to lose a great deal of alimony money when she married Rubio,” Creighton interjects.
Well, he’s just like a dog with a bone, isn’t he?
But Shapiro ain’t buyin’ it. “Would you stop trying to pin this on my ex wife? She’s a little flaky, maybe. Rotten taste in men, but she really wasn’t a bad broad.”
“And certainly not a killer,” Steele agrees. There’s that dimple again!
Buddy wants to know who’s left on the suspect list.
“A very frustrated and disappointed fellow. You see, he counted on being made a partner in his law firm.”
I think Laura is beginning to catch on!
Not to mention Murph! (I just noticed that Murphy, like Laura, is wearing red. I wonder what that means? Is Murphy trying to align himself as Laura’s partner by mirroring her attire?)
Looks like Buddy’s getting a clue, too.
Steele continues his spiel.
“When that didn’t come to pass, he decided to strike out on his own,” Steele says. “But where would he get the capital to lease offices, hire a staff, purchase a suitable residence in which to impress potential clients?”
“Wait a minute. I gave him my power of attorney before I was set up,” Buddy makes the connection.
Hunky Barry turns a sinister eye on his client.
Buddy rises slowly to his feet. “You were stealing me blind, weren’t you?”
He lunges at his attorney (who seems curiously unconcerned).
Murphy, earning his salary as the “muscle” of the agency, drags Shapiro off HB.
“You thought I’d serve the whole five years, didn’t you? But I only did eighteen months. And you didn’t want me to look at my books. Is that why you were so hot to get me back inside? Huh?”
Laura’s mind = blown.
A still-unruffled Creighton gets to his feet. “Won’t wash, Steele,” he smirks. “Nothing ties me to those murders.”
Hey, look! Hunky Barry has a chin dimple, too. Battling dimples!
Here are some more!
Mr. Steele and his dimple advance on his opponent. “You know one of the first things I noticed about you, Creighton? May I call you Creighton?”
“No.” Hunky Barry wields his dimple vehemently.
“Your hair. Thick, lustrous, incredibly healthy.”
Takes one to know one, Mr. Steele.
The detective produces a little baggie. “I’m sure the lab will have no problem matching these strands with your own.”
Barry seems to believe he’s busted. “Where did you get those?”
“The victim will often clutch a piece of evidence that ultimately traps the murderer.”
Wait a sec … I thought the only thing in Rubio’s cold, dead hand was his long lifeline! Surely Mr. Steele isn’t .. bluffing!
Even Barry seems impressed with Steele’s investigative brilliance. Or is he?
He begins to turn away, then …
… he swings!
Steele has no idea what’s coming … or does he?
Steele dodges the swing!
And retaliates, more successfully than his foe.
Hunky Barry goes reeling!
He’s down for the count! Fortunately he didn’t knock the coffee cup off the table; that carpet is hell to clean.
Laura scrambles out of the way of Hunky Barry’s flying carcass. Something tells me they won’t have a second date, even to a cotton candy factory.
“That was most rewarding. Except for one thing,” a slightly disheveled Steele says.
Laura looks at Mr. Steele with a combination of shock, awe and … admiration? “What?” she asks him.
“I think I broke my hand.”
Okay, this scene-closing gag always irked me, even before a later episode revealed Mr. Steele’s pugilistic experience. After solving the case, it seems a shame that Mr. Steele’s triumph is blunted by this suggestion that he’s a bit of a wussy.
This episode is notable for me because Mr. Steele essentially solves the case entirely on his own, based on his instincts. There is no indication that Laura or Murphy suspected Hunky Barry. I do wonder if Steele would have discovered Creighton’s dirty dealings if he hadn’t been interested in Laura. Mr. Steele certainly WANTED to find some skeleton in HB’s closet to discredit him with Laura. Perhaps it was just his luck that his rival turned out to be the villain. Still, good for Mr. Steele for putting the puzzle pieces together. It shows that when he is very motivated – in this case by jealousy over Laura – his sharp mind is a force to be reckoned with.
Next up, the tag.