Etched In Steele – 12

As the next scene opens …


… Laura seems to have taken Tony’s words to heart. She’s lounging on her impossibly hideous couch, perusing a tropical holiday brochure, when the doorbell rings.


Laura smiles and adjusts her clothing as she goes to the door. I think she has an idea who it might be …


Yep. It’s Mr. Steele. Still in work clothes and bearing … gifts?


Both have confessions to make, which they state simultaneously:

STEELE: “Laura, you were right all along. Of course there’s a case.”

LAURA: “I realized you were right. There is no case.”


Um .. what?


Cut to a close-up of the Record-a-Memo machine. We hear a male voice on the tape:

“Prone Positions: Chapter 1 …. okay, okay … chapter 1 …”


As the camera pulls back to Laura and Mr. Steele listening, the voice continues:

“Damn! Damn!”

Mr. Steele must be thinking the same thing, perched in what can only be a very uncomfortable position on the arm of Laura’s couch. Apparently it’s intolerably lumpy as well as hideous.

Laura wants to know what she’s supposed to make of this.


“The Shining!” Steele declares triumphantly.

funfacticontheshiningposterThe Shining. Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Scatman Crothers. Directed by Stanley Kubrick. Warner Bros. 1980. Initially panned by critics and considered a commercial disappointment, its reputation improved over time. It is now considered a classic in the genre. Here’s the trailer:

Mr. Steele wants to know if Laura’s seen it.


“Did anyone see The Shining?”


Well, he’s seen something like it. A few times.


Steele enlightens her: “Jack Nicholson plays a writer who agrees to become the care taker of a lodge that’s inaccessible all winter long …”


“… unfortunately he falls victim to cabin fever, becomes a stark raving looney, wanders around with a hatchet and does a lot of jokes about The Tonight Show,” Steele concludes, doing a creditable impression of raving looney himself.


“You see everything, don’t you?” (Maybe he’s lonely, Laura, and goes to movies to fill his time. DIDJA EVER THINK OF THAT?)


“At one point in the film, he sits down to write.” Steele begins to act the movie out. (Fun bit of physical work by Brosnan here.)


“The camera slowly circles him as he types, and then we see it! All he’s written is one line over and over again: All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!”


Laura looks down at this, a little pouty. Presumably she thinks he’s offering up more criticism of her own lifestyle. But no!


“He was blocked! He couldn’t write anything else!”


Laura is unimpressed. “So maybe, just maybe, our ghost writer had a ghost writer.” That’s no motive for murdering Mitchell, she points out.


“All those people stood to lose by his death.”


“Don’t you see? You were right all along.” That must have been a hard admission for Laura to make. But Steele has changed his mind, too.

“Laura, I know there’s a case here!”


“Based on this tape? OK, he was blocked; maybe they even hired someone else to write the third book. What does that prove?”  Laura is as stubborn trying to prove his original point as she was trying to prove her own.


“It proves they didn’t tell us everything,”  Steele answers. You can see the gears ticking in his head. He KNOWS something is afoot!


He’s getting really worked up now: “These people are creating fictions, foisting frauds on the public, exploiting talented underlings for the aggrandizement of a figurehead who contributes nothing but a winning personality and good looks!”

Well, THAT sounds familiar!


But Steele is serious about this!


“Trust me, Laura. That’s my area.”  (A slightly poignant moment of self-awareness here.) “I know that whoever wrote the third book killed Mitchell Knight.”

Laura wants to know how he can be so sure.


How else? He SMELLS it.


Laura knows when she’s been bested.


 We see a nice little role reversal here, with Laura finally willing to let go, and Steele equally determined now to solve the case. I wonder if he would have pushed so hard if he’d known she was planning to go away with him after all? Again we are reminded of the parallels between Mr. and Mrs. Knight and Laura and Mr. Steele. Mr. Steele’s recognition of the con artist who “contributes nothing but a winning personality and good looks” is significant, I think. Is that why Mr. Steele is so adamant about solving this case? To prove he DOES have something to contribute to their work? If so, why is that so important to him?








Filed under Season 1

7 responses to “Etched In Steele – 12

  1. eaz35173

    I like this little role reversal. Again, I hadn’t equated the “all work & no play” line to what Steele was saying to her in the beginning of the episode, but I don’t get the impression here that he is trying to make a comment on her attitude about work. I get the impression that he is just in the moment and spouting movie dialogue, not realizing that it has relevance to their situation.

    I guess Laura is doing a good job of drumming the mantra of just being a figurehead into his head. He does seem fully aware of the con/situation they are running. And because of that awareness of his role in the organization, I DO think, as you suggested, that he is trying to prove his worth to Laura. He’s only ever really had to prove his worth to himself in his prior career, but now that he wants to win Laura, he is invested in her needing him to stay on. If he can pick up some detecting savvy, he can become more valuable to her and not tossed away by her. I know we don’t know much about Steele’s past at this point in the series, but being rejected or asked to leave may be playing into some of his motivation – along with his wanting to be with Laura romantically.

    Just an observational note … in that last picture of Laura and Steele togeter, what is that darkened doorway behind Steele? I thought it was supposed to be the door he came in, but Laura shut the door after he entered. Prop/set error??

  2. Do you think Steele is aware, at this point, of his own feelings for Laura?

    • eaz35173

      I think he’s aware that he’s attracted to her and wants to get to know her better. I doubt he knows how strong those feelings are yet. I suspect that he has never encountered a woman who “arouses” him in so many different ways – intellectually, physically, mentally. There’s something about Laura that has him captivated. She caught him with his hand in the cookie jar during License, but he doesn’t seem to want to escape. If he did, why would he be trying to gain these detecting skill by paying attention to Laura’s methodology? He seems to want to stick around.

  3. daphgg

    I think Steele is aware of how he feels about Laura. He has given up too much: constant travel, excitement, danger, different woman everyday, party lifestyle, getting up at noon, and part time work, to not know. He says he is aroused but he’s sacrificed too much for just a fling. He wants Laura to approve of him and he’s willing to work to earn her respect and trust. He is even willing to meet her halfway which is why he now believes there is a case. He has considered her point of view and has decided she is right. Yep he knows he’s as goner. He may not be ready to admit it out loud but he knows.

    I love how he painted himself into a corner describing why there was a case and ended up describing his and Laura’s situation. That was hilarious. And he broke open the case.

    Great catch on the door.

  4. Ines

    Interesting insights! 🙂

  5. debilyn13

    Glad to see this blog back! I enjoyed RS when it was on and like this chance to review it deeper. I’m enjoying the insights everyone has.

    I admit, I was dragged to see “The Shining” by a friend. Saw it several years later on TV, too – again, talked into it by a friend. Not really my kind of movie.

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