Etched In Steele -9

Later that morning (presumably) …


… the tiny tape recorder has found a new home on somebody’s coffee table. Not Mr. Steele’s, I think.


No, they seem to be in someone’s office. Charlotte seems to have adopted the traditional garb of mourning. Has she run out of strawberries to molest?


“As I was explaining to my associate, Miss Holt, I’m sure there’s a logical explanation for all of this,” Steele says as Mitchell’s voice drones from the recorder. “From these tape recordings, it would almost appear that Mitchell Knight is the writer.”

“You got us, Steele!”  Publishing Kingpin Russell (PKR) admits with surprising glibness. “Mitchell was the writer. We had this machine made. He could dictate, and then when you played it back on a regular machine, the voice was higher, sounded like a woman –  hopefully like Charlotte. So you got us, Steele. Damn, you’re sharp!”

NOTE: If all these players were in on the scheme, why did they need to disguise Mitchell’s voice? To fool the office transcriptionist?


Mystery solved, Mr. Steele seems prepared to nap (he didn’t get much sleep last night). But Laura looks disappointed. “Then you didn’t write any of the books?”  she asks. Charlotte admits it was all Mitchell’s lurid imagination. Laura is bereft. It’s hard when your idol lets you down.


Suddenly Dennis Baker jumps in with more exposition. “I represented Mitchell Knight for 17 years,” he explains. “If he made three thousand dollars a year, it was a banner year. Then, seven years ago, I sent Russ Mitch’s manuscript for Twice Nightly.”


Russell discloses that the manuscript stained his fingers. Before we’re allowed to let our minds wander deep into sordid territory, he explains it was because the book was garbage. He threw it away. But at a cocktail party, sweet Charlotte used her powers of persuasion (ahem) to convince him to publish the novel.


“Out of his mouth, it sounded like pornography,” Mitchell says as the camera drifts to Mitchell’s alter ego. “But out of her mouth, it was…. erotica.”

Oh, come on. As if anyone would accept blatant porn as “acceptable” literature.





“So you created a fictitious person to sell the books to the public,” Laura intuits.

Hm. That sounds familiar. In virtually every episode, Laura and Steele encounters someone who isn’t who they pretend to be. Something of a theme, eh?


The publisher, agent and widow hope Steele and Laura will keep quiet about what they’ve learned. “Charlotte Knight is more than just a lady who writes acceptably dirty books,” Baker says. “She’s a whole industry. Loose talk could put an awful lot of people out of work.”


“Look, isn’t there something we can do to help you see your way clear to, ah, forget all this?”  Charlotte suggests, suggestively.


Suddenly Tony the Gardener pipes up.

Isn’t this guy a little puny to be a gardener? Given Charlotte’s lusty nature, I’d expect something a little more like this:


Hello, Mr. Greenjeans

Anyway, puny gardener guy has a hypothetical question to soliloquize: “Does it really matter whether or not the Charlotte that we see on television or read in the magazines is the same person who writes the books? Of course not. What’s important is the myth. I’ve heard a rumor that Thomas Edison didn’t really invent the light bulb.”


As Laura begins to look a little uncomfortable, Tony goes on to describe the ideal Charlotte Knight reader: “If lonely people, all over the world, prefer to think that this beautiful, sensuous woman writes those vividly evocative books …”


“… then I say, what a beautiful secret to be asked to keep.”

Aw. That’s heartwarming.


Laura and Steele both listen to this inspiring story  with crossed arms. I wonder if that means they’re TOTALLY buying all this. (Hint: no.) Still, Laura admits that they can understand the position the posers are in.  Still, there’s just one little problem, she notes: “Mr. Steele is convinced that someone murdered Mitchell Knight.” 

Steele seems a bit confused by this. “I am?” he starts to say.


Laura reminds him with another well-aimed stomp to his instep. Ouch!

For me, the most interesting aspect of this scene is the parallel between the Charlotte/Mitchell deception and Laura/Steele. Charlotte is even dressed in a kind of parody of Laura’s look: the tailored suit – albeit rather low cut – and fedora. Once again Laura is confronted with a situation very much like the one she created … and once again, the ruse gives off a rather rancid odor. Does Laura wonder how much she is like these seedy characters she encounters who are playing her own game? Or does she see her situation as entirely different – indeed, the flip side of the coin. Is her subterfuge acceptable because it’s in a “good cause?”








Filed under Season 1

8 responses to “Etched In Steele -9

  1. eaz35173

    Mr. Greenjeans – LOL!!!
    50 Shades – Funny! (and have you read some of the RS fic out there? … very “evocative” stuff)

    It is interesting, the parallels we have been seeing in the Laura/Steele relationship (both personal and professional) over the past few episodes. It does make things a bit easier for them to spot the fraud. The Mitchell/Charlotte relationship seems to be the closest thing to their relationship, except for the intimacy part. I do think that Laura sees her ruse as one of serving a good cause and not seedy at all.

    It is interesting to see how Laura seems deflated by finding out that Charlotte didn’t really write the books. And they probably did have to disguise Mitchell’s voice for the transcriptionist. Imagine if word got out in the steno pool that Charlotte’s erotica was really written by a man – it probably WOULD be considered pornography.

    I have to say, that I don’t like that Laura stomped on his foot or poked him in the leg in front of the group. In fact, I don’t like that she does that to him at all. I find it very childish and an inappropriate way to get him to do what she wants. But I will admit that it is funny (on a physical comedy level) at times.

    • I don’t like the foot stomping, either. What if the situation were reversed, and it was Steele doing the stomping (although, an upcoming episode suggests even that might have been played for laughs in the early 80s). I find Laura’s state of denial about the con she’s perpetrating to be fascinating. Sometimes I think Steele knows her better than she knows herself.

      • eaz35173

        Oh, I definitely agree, that Steele knows her better than she knows herself. As a professional conman, he has to be very good at reading people. Laura is “in too deep” on several levels – this con of the RS Agency and her relationship with her “boss” – both of which cause her to be in denial.

  2. daphgg

    Interesting how distasteful Laura and Steele both find the Charlotte Knight ghost writing to be. They both have their arms crossed at the same time. I love it when they are on the same page. I always wondered why Laura finds it necessary to lie that Steele thought the victim was murdered. Could it be that Steele has more influence with these people than she does? She certainly is playing into the stereotype of women being powerless. I do not like the foot stomping at all either.

    Steele does know her better than she thinks she knows herself. Laura is deceiving herself about her agency and what Steele means to her personally and professionally. She is being overly cautious because he is a thief and can find no records on him. She refuses to accept him at face value which makes for a difficult contentious relationship all around. Plus I think she is wanting to date him but is not ready to loose face by reversing her rule. Could this be threal reason why she treats him so awful? She would never stomp on Murphy; I think he would leave if she did. But she doesn’t hestitate to break Steele’s toes.

    I love the Mr Greenjeans reference but my, how he has changed from when I was a little girl. LOL

    • eaz35173

      Why didn’t they ever have an episode called “Steele Toed Boots”? 😉

      You’re right, Daph, Murphy would never stand for the foot stomping. But Laura has always thought of Murphy as an equal … something Steele is not, in her eyes (or in Murphy’s for that matter).

      Laura still has to do the “Mr. Steele thinks …” routine for the same reason she had to invent him in the first place – no respect for women in this field. Remember, Russell came to Steele to write a book about his most famous cases. He didn’t want Laura Holt’s most famous cases. Even tho Steele consistently introduces Laura as his associate or most valued associate, the men tend not to see her as anything but an assistant or a secretary.

      • Steele-Toed boots. Heh.

        I’m not sure I agree about Murphy not standing for being stomped on, or Laura treating him as an equal, for that matter. It seems to me that Murphy is content to defer to Laura, presumably in the hope that she will see him as a potential romantic partner, if not a professional one. However, I can’t imagine a scenario in which Laura would need to stomp on Murphy’s feet; he’s not likely to say anything to contradict Laura in front of clients.

        As for Laura thinking of Murph as an equal – she gives the orders, and he follows them. I can’t recall her asking him for his opinion or allowing him to take the lead in any investigation.

        Mr. Steele tolerates Laura’s corporal punishment because he sees it as part of their game they play with each other, the jockeying for power. Steele feels no insecurity or intimidation around Laura as I think Murphy occasionally does. Remember, he reminded Laura at the party that “These people think I’m your boss.” She might be able to make him toe the line in private, but in public he is seen to be very much in charge. I think it amuses him greatly to tweak Laura with that fact.

      • eaz35173

        I see your point, Keri. Perhaps “equal” was the wrong word. “Competent” may be a better choice for what I was trying to express. Laura trusts Murphy with HER business, she dosn’t trust Steele in that capacity, however, when she allowed him to assume the role, she got herself more than she bargained. You’re right, out in public, “they” think he is the boss (which, as we will see later in the episode, has some complications to that). And he certainly does like to push Laura’s buttons for amusement. The game is fun to watch.

  3. daphgg

    Steele toed boots. LOL.

    Although Laura is in charge or at least tries to keep Steele in line, she has admitted (while itchy) that was hard to do. I guess she is now resorting to brute force with foot stomping. He gives her so much rein. I love how he does what she wants but doesn’t become a whipped puppy. I guess Laura has yet to learn how to trust that.

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