The next scene opens, presumably the next day, where we find …
… Mr. Steele soaking his wounded tootsies. Let’s hope he heals as quickly from this as he did the broken hand he got last week! Side note: Mr. Steele has some long, narrow feet!
Just then Laura arrives, looking prim and professional in a gray suit. Mr. Steele reminds her of his Holt-inflicted injury: “Look at that! It’s already twice its normal size. We really must develop a more practical signal for you to use when you wish to silence me.” (Hm. Steele’s use of “already” would seem to indicate this scene occurs immediately after the last one. But surely they didn’t change and go back to the office the same night as the party. Interestingly, his words also imply that Miss Holt may have used this particular mode of communication before.)
Laura, who seems in a good mood, takes a seat next to Steele. “You can smell it, can’t you?” she says.
Mr. Steele is affronted.
“Oh, my humblest apologies. And I suppose your feet have no odor.” Huh. I would expect a man as fastidious as Mr. Steele not to have such issues.
“I mean the murder,” Laura explains, apparently too absorbed in the mystery to bother to apologize to Mr. Steele.
“Murder? What murder?” Steele responds, a bit obtusely.
“The murder of Mitchell Knight.”
“So that’s why you tap-danced on my toes last night! You didn’t want me to cancel that book deal because you wanted to keep your hand in this ridiculous murder business,” Steele intuits. (Still hinting around for that apology, Mr. Steele?)
“Charlotte Knight killed her husband.” Laura seems to have this all worked out. She gets up and starts her customary pacing as she works through the details.
Mr. Steele gets to HIS feet (with some difficulty) and objects to her theory.
“Did you see the look in the man’s eyes? He was seeing a lot of shows that aren’t listed in the TV Guide.”
On the week this episode aired, the mini-series “The Blue & the Grey” was on the cover of TV Guide. Inside, Mitchell Knight would have found listings for such detective fare as “Matt Houston,” “The A Team,” “Simon & Simon,” and “Magnum, P.I.”
Laura will not be deterred. She’s on a roll! “She wrote about it, made it part of the new manuscript, described every detail.”
“Then made sure that her husband saw it, made sure it sent him running for the bottle, and then Charlotte waited. Waited until she had plenty of witnesses to see just how drunk Mitchell was, and then she did it.”
“She pushed or coaxed him over the side.”
Steele ain’t buyin’ it. “Laura, Russell Forsythe told you there is no such murder in the new book.” (It’s a bit puzzling that Steele is so adamant about this. You’d think he’d also be intrigued by the fact that Mitchell told them about the manuscript predicting his death, which the publisher later denied existed.)
“I said she was cocky – not an imbecile,” Laura counters. “Once Mitchell had read that scenario, it would be foolhardy to keep it in there.” Heading for her office, she admits it would make things easier if they could locate that missing scene.
Steele follows her into the office, still arguing his case for no case. “Laura, you haven’t been listening! There is no scene because there was no murder.”
“I have an idea! Business is slow. Why don’t we close down for a week or two? Perhaps all four of us could go away somewhere. The Caribbean! How about it?”
Laura’s not interested. She has work to do!
“Work? What work? We don’t even have a client,” Steele very reasonably points out.
Just then, as Laura boots up what looks like some kind of video game, our pal Murphy appears with a complaint.
“Do you wanna keep it down in here? There are people trying to sleep in the next office.”
Oh, Murph! You’re such a card!
Laura is glad to see him.
“Charlotte Knight. Russell Forsythe. Dennis Baker. Find out everything you can about them.” She starts to hand Murphy some kind of print-out …
… but Steele snatches it out of his hand. “Take it from me Murphy: Don’t waste your time.”
He turns his attention to his most valued associate. “Laura, will you agree that if there is no death scene, there is no murder?”
Murphy doesn’t appreciate Steele interference. He hasn’t gotten his contractually guaranteed 12 lines yet!
“Nothing personal, but all I have is time,” Murphy insists.
“What are you driving at?” Laura asks, a little condescendingly.
“I’m going to get every single scrap of paper ever written by Charlotte Knight,” he declares with inexplicable vehemence.
Murphy wants to know how he’s going to do that.
“My mother. Mrs. Steele,” he answers. (Um, what?) “Always taught me, it never hurts to ask.” He stomps off, in high dudgeon, pausing at the door.
“I’m also going to pick up four tickets to Jamaica. Pack light!”
Murphy and Laura exchange puzzled looks.
For me, the biggest mystery here continues to be why Steele is so set against pursuing this case. Surely he’s not that desperate for an island vacation. He seems to take this situation almost personally. Is there something in his past that makes him uncomfortable with the idea of a wife murdering her husband? Or is he put off by the specter of the pusillanimous Mitchell being so completely dominated – and ultimately destroyed – by his “partner?” And what the heck is with the reference to his “mother,” Mrs. Steele? Obviously all three in the room know there is no such person. Is Steele referring to his own mother, albeit by another name?