by L.T. Milroy
As of this week, we’ve entered a baby-free zone for the first time this season. Jane’s high-risk shenanigans have expectedly resulted in the loss of the kid we never saw any evidence of, because the show never bothered to give Jane a bump. Or put her in maternity clothes. Or show her setting up a nursery or debating various baby names. Or looking forward to being a mother at all. What was the point of this storyline? Let’s hope next week we’re back to normal, and it will never be mentioned again. One can only hope.
On to the recap! A guy puts a foreclosure sign in front of a house then walks takes a walking tour. He’s filming it on his phone and describing any possible problems therein. The lights don’t go on in the basement, but he ventures down there anyway (did he never hear of the film “Don’t Look in the Basement??”), and in the wine cellar finds a mummified body sitting in a chair next to a table with a wine glass on it.
Jane wakes up in the hospital in pain. Maura is there at her bedside, of course, and the first thing Jane asks about is Tasha. Maura says she’s doing well. Maura says her liver, kidneys and spleen are bruised (liver and kidneys and spleen, oh my!).
Then Jane asks about the baby, and Maura just says “I’m so sorry.” Jane looks sad but not devastated. I’m glad there isn’t a big Sturm and Drang scene of Jane wailing in grief, because from the very start of this pregnancy she’s never shown much interest in it. In fact, one could argue successfully and without much effort, that judging by her behavior this season, she’s been trying to miscarry. She not only refused to go on desk duty but put herself and the fetus in harm’s way time and time again. Not exactly a top candidate for motherhood, if you ask me.
They’re both silent for a bit, neither knowing what to say before Maura tells Jane that everyone has been by to visit. Ma Rizzoli has been there pretty much continuously but went home to take a shower; Maura says she’ll be upset that Jane woke up when she wasn’t there. Jane promises to feign sleep just for her. Then Jane notices a bowl of baseballs on the table, which is from Jack. A baseball bouquet, as it were. They’re all signed by that phony player from last episode, Grover Verben. Turns out, he’s Jack’s great uncle and Jack has hundreds of his signed balls. So that expensive gift he gave Jane last episode wasn’t expensive, at least not for him. Maura says Jane can give out balls as “visiting gifts.” Maura comforts Jane by holding her hand. Awww
Maura’s phone buzzes, and it’s the office calling for her to report to the mummy house for the crime of the week. Jane says to go, but Maura wants to stay around a little longer and that the body will be no less dead if she’s a few minutes late. Little does she know, that body has been waiting around a long time for our favorite ME to show up. But work-obsessed Jane will have none of that and again tells her to go.
Ma arrives, carrying a huge stuffed panda. As promised, Jane tries to pretend she’s sleeping, but she’s horrible at it. Ma knows she’s faking. She calls the bear a Hug-Me-Tight Teddy. She also has a sandwich for Jane, who would prefer hot wings instead. They start to play gin rummy, and Ma comforts Jane by telling her it’ll be fine and she’s been there. Turns out she had a miscarriage of her own a year before Jane was born. She kept it private but says she felt sad and confused that she had a sense of loss for something she never had in the first place. She says Jane should share her feelings, but Jane’s not ready for that yet.
Maura and Korsak are at the crime scene, and Maura is simply enchanted by the corpse. I don’t think that word is misplaced, as she goes on about how beautifully preserved it is.
Maura gets up close and personal with the body back at the lab. She says it’s been dead more than two years, less than ten, and the style of clothing worn was popular “in the mid-aughts.” The internal organs have disintegrated, but the maggots present have also died of poison. That leads Maura to make what she calls a maggot milkshake to get at some evidence. Mummies and maggots. Maura’s in gross heaven today! As the ‘milkshake’ swirls around, Korsak cracks that he hopes she didn’t bring the blender from home, but Maura is too busy having fun with maggots to notice the snark.
Frankie is at the hospital, making bad small talk with Jane. He says he’s sorry about the baby, but Jane says she’s okay. She wants to hear about the case. Frankie says the victim’s name is Fran Clark, and that she’s been dead about four years. No one noticed because all her bills are on auto-pay, the lights are on timers, and her gardener has kept the place up. There are messages on her answering machine from her stepfather, and apparently Fran and her mother were estranged.
Jane says she’d love to hear those messages, and Frankie knows his sister all too well. He brought the audio and plays it for her. In one of the messages, the stepfather tells Fran to patch things up with mom “before it’s too late.” Then there’s another message left after the mom’s funeral. Frankie says he’s called the stepfather in for questioning. Maura shows up and says that hemlock was the poison that killed Fran. Per her request, he’ll inquire about Fran’s mental health. Jane thanks them for keeping her in the loop, but Maura, who also knows Jane pretty well, wryly says they had no choice.
At the station, Korsak talks with the stepfather, Howard, who says he doesn’t know why Fran and her mother weren’t on speaking terms, but he does say he never liked Fran. She was mean and difficult and broke her mother’s heart. Since he had no use for her, he lost contact with her after her mother died. He’s not surprised Fran is dead. She never left the house, had no friends, and didn’t look after herself very well. Last he knew, she worked from home, writing computer code for banks. Howard bets that not one person even misses her.
Jane, holding her huge panda, and Maura are at the hospital desk asking for Tasha’s room number. Since Tasha is underage, the nurse says she’s not allowed to give out that information. After Jane shows her a business card without her picture on it or any other form of identification (plus, she’s in a robe and clearly a patient), then says Tasha is a witness, the nurse relents. They can go, but only for a few minutes. Jane thanks her by giving her a piece of the baseball bouquet. The nurse recognizes Grover’s name and is happily admiring the ball as Jane leaves. The nurse also tosses the ball in the air, and can I take a moment here to express how appalled I am that Jane last week, and nursie this week, feel it’s perfectly all right to get their smudgy fingers all over an autographed collectible? It’s making my eyes hurt. It’s also clear Jack doesn’t know how to preserve a collectible.
Jane introduces Tasha to Maura, and Jane gives her the Hug-Me-Tight Teddy. Tasha says she’s not really a hugger, and that’s not really a bear. Then Tasha does her best pedantic Maura impersonation and spouts off arcane information on pandas. Maura answers with more useless info, which encourages Tasha to also continue, and she goes on and on, cementing her rep as the Most Awesome Street Kid Ever. She knows way too much about pandas, IMO.
She and Maura are kindred spirits, which Jane notices. Then Jane tells Tasha the guy who was trying to kill her is dead, and she’s out of danger. The nurse interrupts to say Tasha needs her rest. Wait. If the nurse is on the same floor as Tasha, because she appears to be Tasha’s nurse, it means Jane knew the floor Tasha was on. Tasha doesn’t have protection outside of her room, so basically Jane and Maura could have moseyed around for a couple of minutes and spotted her. The door wasn’t even closed. Sigh. As they leave, Tasha calls Jane back to thank her.
Frankie and Nina have been going through Fran’s auto-pay accounts. Nina has discovered that the gardener, Joe, got a raise six months after Fran’s death. Korsak observes that hemlock would be something a gardener might use.
Korsak questions Joe the gardener, who isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer. He says Joe’s fingerprints were found on Fran’s computer. Joe admits he knew she was dead, but he didn’t kill her. He found her as she was in the basement four years ago. He knows he should have reported it, but he was low on cash and needed a place to live, so instead he moved into the room over the garage and gave himself a raise. It wasn’t a big raise.
Apparently Fran, who works with computers and you’d think would be smart enough not to do this, just left her password sitting out in the open, right next to her computer. Is she forgetful? As we’ll learn, she has the same password for EVERYTHING, so it’s not like she had to remember a lot of them. Joe says he didn’t take any more money, even though he had access to the computer, and that proves he’s not guilty of murder. Innocent of being a sleazeball, not so much. He says he saw a guy at the house a few times before Fran died. He was a skinny white dude with a beard. Joe then asks if he can leave, but Korsak wants to keep him around to see if anyone tries to find him.
The nurse (her name is Gwen), brings in Tasha’s social worker, Kathy. It’s obvious she did this as a favor to Jane, considering Tasha is a “witness” and all. Kathy says that due to Tasha’s age and years on the street, it will be hard to place her with a family. She says it’s a complicated situation, but Gwen says it’s not all that complicated. Tasha just needs love, guidance, and some rules to live by As a matter of fact, she has one just like Tasha, who is a thriving college student. Kathy talks about the realities of the system, and Gwen makes a face. Looks like that ball really got her on Jane’s side. Kathy says a group home is most likely where Tasha will end up, and Jane says that sucks. When Kathy leaves, Jane asks Gwen how long Tasha will be in the hospital. The answer is a week to ten days, tops.
Back at the station, Frankie tells Korsak he’s spoken with some of Joe’s other customers, and they all seem to like him. Korsak doesn’t like the guy but seems to agree with Frankie he’s not the killer. Maura has tested the wine residue in the glass by the corpse, and there are no traces of hemlock. It was also found to be cheap wine. The theory is that someone gave her wine with the hemlock, then cleaned it out and replaced it with cheap wine the killer brought with him. Frankie wonders why the guy would bring his own wine, when there’s a whole wine cellar to choose from, but Maura says wine collectors keep an inventory, and it would be obvious if a bottle was missing.
Jane stops by Tasha’s room to see how things are going with her and the bear. Tasha calls the panda lumpy, anatomically incorrect, and highly flammable. Hee, Tasha is kind of funny/ I bet it was just as much fun to give gifts to Maura when she was that age. Jane tells her about the social services situation, and Tasha doesn’t like it at all. She says she can take care of herself. Jane says that’s not an option any more, but Tasha says she doesn’t need Jane’s help. Then she gets weepy and says no one wants a kid like her, but she won’t go to a group home. She’ll run away first.
Nina says the password Joe used to gain access to Fran’s computer also worked on her smartphone. On it there’s a video of a skinny white dude with a beard, like Joe described. The guy is yelling and decidedly pissed off. He complains that Fran has locked him out. From off-camera, she answers that “the firewall is for my protection, Bill.” Bill complains that nothing is getting done, and Fran answers that maybe now he’ll listen to her. Bill threatens to kill her if she doesn’t take the firewall down.
Maybe it was just a big misunderstanding. At the station, Korsak and Frankie play the video for Bill, who says he didn’t mean “kill” kill, but the funny kind. Another guy in need of a knife sharpener. Bill says he and Fran worked at the bank together. She wrote code, and he had an idea for an app. At one point, she locked him out of the program, and when he went to confront her about it, he found her dead.
That surprises Korsak, and Bill backtracks. He says he offered Fran royalty payments in exchange for notes on code, but after a while, she stopped sending notes. After four months of that, he went by her house and found her dead. He says he reported it by making an anonymous call to the police, but nothing came of it. He also says Fran didn’t need money, because of her inheritance.
Nina confirms that Bill did call the police, but they left after finding nothing. Fran’s mom left everything to the stepfather, so no inheritance there, but Fran’s father had died seven years previously. There’s no record of a will, and the dad’s lawyer is dead, but he left almost a million dollars’ worth of property. Korsak says someone must have known about it. He must mean besides the guy she worked with. If he knew, it doesn’t seem like she was keeping it a secret.
Jane and Ma are playing cards when Maura stops in for a visit. Jane proudly says she’s won thirty times, and Ma says she must be cheating. Jane’s phone rings. She listens then says she’ll be right there and starts to get out of bed. Maura and Ma protest that she shouldn’t get out of bed (except for the other fifty times se did just that in this episode, including going to see Tasha with Maura). Jane takes off down the hall.
Back at the station, Nina says Fran bought a plane ticket two months after her father’s death. She went to the Cayman Islands but only stayed for twenty-four hours. The room was comped by the Grand Cayman National Bank. Frankie wonders how to get a subpoena for an off-shore bank. As she picks up the phone, Nina asks if it’s wire fraud if you don’t actually send money. She gets Grand Cayman bank on the line and says she wants to know her balance but forgot her account number. Instead, she gives Fran’s address and password and learns the account contains over $870,000. Pleased with herself, Nina hangs up and says that’s why you shouldn’t use the same password for all accounts. I’m starting to warm up to Nina. She’s kinda spunky. And, unlike Lou Grant, I like spunk.
It turns out, Jane was headed for Tasha’s room, which is empty. Couldn’t see that coming from a million miles away. She said she’d run, but Jane took no precautions. Jane talks to security, who says there’s no sign of Tasha. Jane blames herself, as she should, then tells Maura she should get back to work.
As Jane tries to figure her next move, she spots the security cameras. That leads her to go downstairs, like, into the hospital’s basement. Are patients allowed to just wander down there? Doesn’t seem likely. But at least two did today, because Jane finds Tasha hiding there. She says she knew Tasha would know all the exits were being watched and go downstairs instead. Tasha says Jane is good at her job, but Jane says she wasn’t so much today, with the whole social services situation. Tasha says that while living on the street she kept her grades up, and if she keeps doing that she can get a job or go to college, but she doesn’t think any of that will happen if she’s put in a group home. Jane says she’ll help, but Tasha has to trust her.
Frankie says he can’t find anyone who knew about Fran’s inheritance. Korsak tracked down a neighbor who said that Fran’s mom’s health looked to be improving right before she died suddenly. Maura says she had stage four lung cancer and went on an experimental drug trial. She went into remission but died two weeks later. Since she had cancer and was under a doctor’s care, there was no autopsy, and her husband, Howard the stepfather, had her cremated. Is an autopsy really scuttled if a patient was ‘under a doctor’s care?” Aren’t all patients? Seems strange to me, but what it does is cast severe doubt on Howard’s innocence. The detectives conclude he likely murdered both Fran and her mom.
Nurse Sassy, aka Gwen, returns Tasha to her room and scolds her for trying to run away. Jane leaves and calls Kathy to inquire about how a single woman can become a foster parent.
In Jane’s room, Frankie, Jane, Maura and Korsak discuss the case and eat pizza. Well, Jane wants pizza but can’t have any, because she’s not on solid food yet, and Maura says no pizza until the doctor says so. Did they bring the pizza into the room and eat it in front of her to torture her? Jane protests that she had a sandwich already, and Maura is distressed she even had that. She says that’s dangerous, because it could cause a blockage. Jane looks longingly at the pizza then seems to realize something and says “I got it.”That is, how to foil Howard’s plans.
Korsak and Frankie bring Howard back to the station. Korsak tells him Fran was poisoned, but there was no evidence of foul play and it was most likely a suicide. Their investigation is done, and Howard will be contacted by Grand Cayman National Bank. Korsak says Cayman law requires a clear cause of death before transferring assets to an estate, so they’ll be sending their own investigator to look for that hemlock. Korsak says he’s sorry for Howard’s loss.
On her way out after being released from the hospital, Jane goes to visit Tasha. She has good news. She’s found an alternative to a group home. Gwen has agreed to take her in. Tasha seems happy as Gwen lays down the law about how things will be at her new home. Tasha thanks Jane, and as Jane leaves as Gwen continues to list her rules
The set-up of Howard is complete when he shows up late at night at Fran’s house hauling some incriminating hemlock. The cops are there to bust him.
Jane is at Maura’s house, where she’ll stay for a while as she continues to heal. Maura tries to make her feel at home and even gets some of Jane’s favorite shampoo with the fruity-smelling chemicals. Jane is enjoying a beer for the first time in months (I assume. Who knows how long she was pregnant. She never showed), and Maura decides to join her.
Jane is a bit nervous about that, not wanting to be responsible if Maura turns into a degenerate suds-chugger. We all know that’s unlikely for supremely responsible Maura.
Maura asks how Jane is doing. Jane says she doesn’t know. There’s a knock on the door. Maura has invited the gang over, but Jane is tired and just wants to relax. Maura says she’ll get rid of them, but nothing doing. As soon as she opens the door, they come piling in, bearing pizza. So Jane graciously accepts their good intentions. Frankie even got her anchovies to put on her pizza. They all sit on the couch to watch a baseball game.
I wonder if Grover Verben is pitching.
So, Jane becoming a foster parent was a red herring. I wonder if Ms. Tasha Williams will appear again. Aren’t we going to see her grow up and join the army, fall in love with Alice, and hang out with Alice’s crazy WeHo lesbian friends? Sorry, wrong show…