Reconvo: The Mysteries of Laura S1 Ep. 3 The Mystery of the Biker Bar

mysteries of laura

by Veruca Salt and L.T. Milroy

Time for more of the Mysteries of Laura! Some mysteries to be pondered this week: How is it that Laura has the eating habits she has, yet looks the way she does? Why would a couple go through the effort and expense of divorce, when they’re not even sure they don’t want to be a couple any more? Can a middle-aged woman who’s lived in NYC all her life still be sharpening her New Yawk accent? All this and more, this week!

As we open…

LT: A guy is fishing off a pier when a shot rings out and he slumps over. Was it stated where he was fishing? Is that the East River? If so, does he intend to eat his catch? Eating East River fish…I don’t know whether that’s more brave or stupid.

V:  If that’s the Brooklyn Bridge, he indeed is fishing in the East river. So if the bullet hadn’t killed him, that fish might have.

001 east river

And in my version, the fish he just stuck a hook into and let flail on the dock, sent a telepathic message just before he died, and a member of the ASPCA or something, took revenge for him.

LT: Surprise, Laura’s kids are being bratty again.

the boys

They threw a baseball through a neighbor’s window, and he’s at the door, ticked off. Two disturbing things about this scene: The brats continue to be obnoxious when, after being told by mom, “Don’t move!”, as she goes to the door to talk to the neighbor, they proceed to move immediately, keeping their record of disobeying her pretty much unblemished. Then she straight-up lies to the neighbor and says it couldn’t have been her kids because they don’t have a baseball, when she knows they do. Way to set an example, super mom.

V: Yeah, the part where they moved was to go into their blanket bunker and hide, but definitely what could have been a teachable moment was wasted. The kids apologizing and having to pay for the window with their allowance or some other punishment, was totally missed.

LT: Ain’t no wiggle room in Don’t move! The kids are obnoxious. The less they’re in the show, the better. But I guess since being a mom is part of who Laura is, we’ll have to suffer the insufferable brats.

V: That she later comes back and tells them to pay for the window, is still not that great, because it took Ned really pushing the issue to make it happen. Plus, the kids didn’t have to apologize.

And did you hear the part about how dad bought the little monsters slingshots? More examples of good ol’ Jake as a nominee for father of the year.

LT: Laura is summoned to work on her day off, because the dead guy, Jerry, had her card in his pocket.

V: Not just Jerry. Saint Jerry. Patron saint of the downtrodden of lower Manhattan.

LT: Turns out he’s an old friend who owns a bar she used to hang out at with Jake, in the old days before they were married. It’s sad when Laura realizes she’s lost an old friend but a little creepy when she bends down and promises the corpse to avenge his death. That was weird.

V: Not for Laura. And she didn’t get that close. She wasn’t even within corpse-whiffing distance.

02 making a promise

Also, she mentions he’s a pack rat, which I’m sure will totally not play into the plot at all.

Wow. She’s so distraught, she even shares a long, warm hug with the ex. It’s one of the few truly sweet moments between them, where I felt some chemistry.

03 the hug Jake says, “There wouldn’t be an ‘us’ if it wasn’t for Jerry,” and I expected Laura to come back with a nasty comment, but it remains a nice moment between the two of them.

Then Laura spots some kids taking a selfie with Saint Jerry as the background, and she kinda does what she does best: screams at them.

 04 screaming 05 selfie with the corpse

 LT: Laura breaks the news to Ruby, Jerry’s wife.

06 the wife

They’ve been together thirty years, and she takes it hard. She says everybody loved Jerry, except for a neighborhood homeless guy, crazy Eddie, who sometimes hung around. (Those who didn’t live in the NY-metro area in the 70s and 80s are likely unfamiliar with this, but here’s an example of what that name meant to post-eleven p.m. TV viewers in that era. These ran at night constantly on the local channels: Crazy Eddie

Crazy Eddie, who is extremely paranoid if not actually crazy, is interviewed by Laura and Billy.

07 crazy eddie

 V: Yeah, after the subdue him and take away his gun when he tries to shoot at the helicopters spying on him. And he’s muttering to himself.

08 crazy eddie 2

But Laura has a plan.

 09 list 10 bunker

Now that they’re in the safety zone, and the jammers are on, Eddie is a lot more calm as Laura tells him a story about how Jerry accepted her when her dad didn’t. Eddie can relate, of course.

LT: Crazy Eddie liked Jerry. Who he didn’t like is someone he calls codename: birdman, who is evil and hated Jerry.

V: I loved this scene. They really stopped and let the characters breathe for a moment. Saw the scene to the end. The way Laura connected with Eddie was great. Brought a tear to my eye. Perhaps the series is finding its footing.

LT: There’s an intensely annoying subplot that involves the bratty kids, the new babysitter, and Max (I finally learned his name!). The babysitter is the teenage rebel chick from last week. The first time we see her, she’s trying to teach those little monsters about Harriet Tubman.

11 harriett tubman

Hee! Considering many her age would be ignoring the kids and watching the Kardashians, this scene earns her big points, in my book. Her coolness factor just went way up.

V: But notice how the kids were good. They participated and listened to her. They were learning and loving it.

LT: Soooo, does that mean their parents never take the time to do what rebel sitter is doing? It’s already been established that Jake is a crappy father, is Laura an equally bad mother? That’s a big problem I have with this show. It seems to give an approving wink to lazy parenting. Like those two are so busy with their jobs that neglecting the kids is excusable.

V: I really hope they’re trying to show that Laura AND Jake are crappy parents, because they are so permissive, while the person who takes control and engages them, manages to rein them in.

LT: But Laura’s police cynicism won’t let go, and she dispatches Max to the house to check up on the new sitter. Max comes up with a lame excuse as to why he’s there, and the babysitter might be young but knows she’s getting hosed. When he comes back for another check-up later, it pisses her off enough to quit. Good for her for standing up for herself, much like those labor leaders she admires so much. But now she won’t get the chance to teach Laura’s kids about all that stuff. Pity.

V: Apparently Ned the neighbor didn’t take Laura’s word for it and went to Jake about the baseball.

11 baseball

 I’m really hoping he knew Jake was the dad, and the big-time homicide captain or whatever, isn’t handling this stuff.

Anyway, Ned has a list of grievances, including dirty chalk drawings, but Laura insists they’re hot dogs and doughnut holes.

LT:  The kids drawing hot dogs and doughnut holes on the sidewalk??? Whaaaa???? I won’t even comment…

The birdman Crazy Eddie talked about, turns out to be a nerdy guy named Cyrus, who runs a bird website and lives across from Jerry’s bar.

12 birdman

He’s quite annoyed by the bar and has kept a ledger of the time and date of every code violation he’s seen, which Laura takes.

V: It’s nice when someone provides you with a virtual security camera.

LT: Now Laura crudely eats beef jerky and drinks diet soda at her desk. What a lovely picture. Healthy, too.

 jerky and soda

 V: It’s the obligatory “Remember how Laura eats a bunch of junk food that’s really bad for her” scene. If she’s the poster child for eating food with no nutritional value, I may just take it up myself. Her skin is flawless, she looks amazing for her age, and her figure is to die for.

LT: Reminds me of Dagwood Bumstead, who does nothing but eat huge quantities of food and nap, and is stick thin. I want his metabolism, or Laura’s.

V: I’m about to make my second Scooby Doo reference in as many weeks, but Shaggy had the same metabolism.

I guess it’s Jake’s job now to just show up and put down Laura’s detective skills right before she shows him up. I think I need to watch the hugging scene again.

LT: The birdman’s ledger leads the detectives to a 911 call where a woman can be heard in the background threatening Jerry.

V: But how hilarious is it that Detective Pissy Face was able to pull up the call in less than a minute?

LT: I think that’s the kind of thing we’ll have to accept without question on this show. Ruby tells Jake it’s Faith, a waitress who was fired for stealing.

V: Oh, goodness, Polly. Laying that New Yawk accent on a bit thick, aren’t we? “Becawse Jerry nevah told me he went awf on heh loik theat.”

LT: Laura and Billy go to talk to Faith.

V: You could see her bruises from space, so at least Laura the cop notices them and correctly assumes she copped to the stealing to cover for the controlling, abusive boyfriend who sits at her work and watches her all day.

13 faith

I’m guessing abusive losers like this don’t have jobs and depend on their girlfriends for support, which is why he can spend all of his time creepily staring at her. When Faith kind of looks nervously over at the bf, Laura catches it and sees him, so he takes off.

LT: Billy gives chase, but the guy slugs him and runs. Laura commandeers a motorcycle.

 14 comandeer motorcycle

 V: The lure of going as fast as he wants to without repercussion was a good motivator.

LT: They pursue the bf, but he eventually crashes.

V:  And again with the really weird close-up angles of random stuff and herky-jerky camera action, to try and make me toss my cookies.

 16 weird close-up

Hey, abusive jerk, you look like you got hit by a bus. Oh, wait. You did.

15 hit by a bus

 

LT: Then Laura puts a maxi-pad on Billy’s bleeding face. It’s hard to describe this stuff, but I think that’s pretty accurate.

 17 maxi pad

It takes Laura all afternoon to squeeze into her old leather pants for Jerry’s biker wake.

18 getting into the pants 19 getting into the pants 2

V: Once a (size) six, always a six? Okay, first of all, that just isn’t so. But second, show, please stop trying to sell me on this woman eating stale burritos, okay? Seriously, I’ve seen her in the leather pants. The gig is up.

LT: Well, Grace Adler was always stuffing her puss with candy and pastries and fast food and she weighed a hundred pounds soaking wet, so DM definitely has a history with this. Kind of weird, isn’t it? Does she insist on having that written into her roles? The woman who has the dietary habits of a billy goat yet is thin and seems healthy?

V: Yeah, especially if you realize that she never takes more than a bite before something happens to drag her away or distracts her.

Jake goes to see the abusive BF in the hospital, and we get to see why he and Laura are a match made in heaven, when he tells the guy he’ll cut off the morphine drip until the BF says where he was when Jerry was murdered.

20 nick saline drip

 The BF freaks out and admits he was boosting a Range Rover in Jersey, and Jake can go and talk to the nice chop shop owner to verify. So, it looks like the jerkwad will be going to jail anyway, and maybe Faith will be safe for a few years. Jake admits he’d cut off the saline drip, takes the address of the chop shop, and leaves.

Heh. Laura is forced to bring the boys to the wake after the babysitter quit.

20 bring kids to a wake

If this was an ordinary wake,that would be fine.But

it’s filled with boozed-up bikers, one of whom is undeterred by Laura holding the hands of her two boys, and slaps her on the ass.

21 booze hounds at wake

OMG. One of the worst songs in the history of music that sends me to the dial in two seconds flat, Jewel’s You Were Meant for Me, is Jake and Laura’s song. Maybe this is why the marriage ended in disaster.

LT: Laura’s such an 80s music nerd, I’m surprised their song isn’t something by Culture Club or the Thompson Twins.

V: Please. Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors or Madonna’s Crazy for You.

LT: There’s no way she could wear those pants for hours if they were that tight. And certainly no way she could dance with Jake like that. Why do they keep shoving these two together when they just had their divorce finalized in last week’s episode?

V: Because it’s twoo wuv. He loves her and wants her back. Why, even Saint Jerry’s widow is trying to get them back together. Though I do have to admit that I see chemistry between them. I just wish they hadn’t only made Jake a cheater, but a serial cheater.

LT: If they wanted to leave the door open for them as a couple, then why not just have them separated. Why finalize the divorce? That’s when I thought their ‘ship’ had sailed, as it were, and they’d be moving on and start dating other people. Instead, it looks like they’ll be stuck in neutral, with each other.

V: Oh, I’m a veteran of these shows, so I knew the moment he started the campaign to win her back, we’d be seeing this dance for a while, despite the divorce. They may have done the divorce thing, so they could show Grace dating and make Jake jealous, but those two will be back together at some point. Sorry.

I do find it hilarious that everyone is sort of “dressed the part” of biker dude/babe, and Jake made a big deal of getting Laura to dress in her old getup, while he arrives in a button-down and jeans.

 22 dancing

LT:  Crazy Eddie shows up.

23 crazy eddie at wake

He’s in a suit Jerry gave him and in one of the pockets, Laura finds a napkin with Miguel’s Billiards printed on it and on the back, Flaco. It refers to Flaco Navarro, and he’s a loan shark who’s skirted two murder prosecutions.

24 migue's billiards 25 flaco

V: Yep. Jerry’s “pack rat” tendencies have helped Laura solve the case, as I so didn’t suspect when she first mentioned it.

LT: Billy goes to question Flaco.

flaco

He first establishes himself by their mutual Cuban heritage then learns that Jerry had been behind on payments but had acquired a silent partner and paid up.

V: Wifey’s accent gets more and more New Yawk as the show progresses, when she says she does the books and would have known if Jerry had taken on a silent partner. There are a bunch of yuppie weekend warriors who come to the bar, so she doesn’t know who Flaco could have been referring to.

Seriously, nobody else having that strong a New York accent, or much of any accent at all, makes the wife really stand out.

With help from that book the birdman put together, Laura finds the license plate of the limo probably owned by the silent partner, and it produces a name: Lloyd Kramer.

lloyd kramer

He’s the “billionaire suit from the wake.” According to the article, he’s singularly responsible for turning lower Manhattan into a playground for the uber-rich. He bought and demolished a boys and girls club and turned it into a luxury high rise. Laura’s “He paved paradise and put up a parking lot” gets Max singing the tune, even though he is way too young to be that familiar with it.

LT: Well, it is a timeless classic. But I hated the way Jake immediately shuts him down. Jake doesn’t treat anyone else in the office with that kind of nasty dismissal, and his behavior is starting to look really homophobic. This week, it almost looked intentional, like the show was laying the groundwork for a ‘very special episode’ where Jake will learn just how hurtful careless words and actions can be.

V: Hmmm… I agree that his whole thing last week where he didn’t remember Max’s name was rude, since he took the time to remember and be nice to everyone else. In this instance, Officer Pissy Face was giving the “Oh, please shut up” face, and they were in the middle of putting clues together that would help with a murder.

Also, I would have done the same thing, because it was annoying.

LT: You don’t interrupt a gay man when he’s singing. You just don’t. It’s accepted protocol.

V: Point taken. But what I’m more pissed off about is how Jake belittles Laura YET AGAIN and condescends to her about how she’s too emotionally invested, when he’s been pretty emotional up until now. While he’s done almost nothing to solve the case, and Laura has come up with all of the clues, he has the nerve to berate her about evidence? Shmuck.

And to prove my point, Laura again comes up with the motive for the billionaire to kill Jerry. Apparently you can only build one high rise apartment building per block, so he needs to go to the other businesses and buy their “air rights,” which costs ten times more than the actual buildings are worth. But Laura is convinced Jerry wouldn’t give up his “Sunday brunch in the sunshine” for all of the money in the world. Really? Okay.

The cops use outstanding warrants against Lloyd’s usual driver to get Billy behind the wheel of Lloyd’s limo.

billy limo driver

Laura confronts Lloyd, who immediately condescends to her. It’s an epidemic.

 lloyd condescend

They take a little ride to the waterfront, where Laura and Billy lay out their case to Lloyd.

Lloyd says he bought half of the air rights, so Jerry could pay off the loan shark, but he found out afterward that only half wasn’t worth anything.

Wait. This is a BILLIONAIRE? Seriously? Not one of his advisors told him to check on that before he agreed to the deal? Did he find his billions on the side of the road somewhere? Because he certainly couldn’t have made the money on his own.

LT: He apparently he has all the business sense of his Harley. No matter how successful he managed to become, I guess you can’t take the biker out of the banker.

V: The theory is that Lloyd killed Jerry to get the other half of the air rights, but they are tied up in his estate. Laura realizes “you can’t have three halves” and goes directly to wifey, who admits she was really pissed off.

wifey pissed off

 Jerry didn’t even give her a portion of the money he received. She put in decades of blood, sweat, and tears, and she deserved something. But it doesn’t appear she did it for money. She did it out of revenge for him giving away their future for nothing.

LT: I figured New Yawk wifey did it, but her callousness surprised me. Yikes. Yeah, Jerry should have discussed selling off the shares with her, absolutely, but gunning him down in cold blood because he didn’t? So much for them thirty years. Some great communication going on in that marriage. Twu wuv, indeed. Those two make Laura and Jake look like a cute couple.

V: I think he did tell her, and she tried to talk him out of it, but he did it anyway. Plus, he sold for ten thousand dollars, not a penny of which she saw, what could have been worth millions. As she said, that was their future, and he just gave it away. For a patron saint of the downtrodden, taking the ten thousand dollars out of your business without thinking of your wife of thirty years, to pay a loan shark, seems really selfish. At least if it had been her debt, it would have meant something.

Except for the gunshot to the back of the head, I’m kinda siding with the wife on this one.

LT: As the ep closes, the babysitter agrees to come back when Laura pre-pays for the next six months and promises she’ll try to learn to trust. As she’s leaving, the sitter says she’ll be needing glue for the next day’s project, collages of slain civil rights leaders. If those kids go from bratty to militant, this show has real potential.

Ain’t holding my breath, though…

And so ends another episode. Will we see a full season of Laura? Will Jake ever stop being a jerk and do something to solve a case? Will Laura’s kids ever stop being obnoxious and actually get punished for their bad behavior? Will Laura ever gain weight from her junk food diet? Let’s ponder these, and other questions, as we head into the next episode.

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