by Veruca Salt and L.T. Milroy
Well, the naysayers said it would never last, but here we are in week four of The Mysteries of Laura. Seems that rumors of this show’s quick demise have been greatly exaggerated. The network has even added three additional episodes to its original order. It hasn’t been given the green light for a full season yet, but since many critics thought it would be gone by week two, it’s got to be considered an accomplishment that it’s still alive and kicking.
And now for this week’s mystery…
LT: A Congressman Jameson is on TV, talking about how he won’t talk about the allegations of his affair with a staffer.
A sniper is seen putting a rifle together while watching the news story.
V: Jake stops by Laura’s place to pick up the kids, who are supposed to be in costume, as they have a Guess What I Am presentation for science class, but we learn later, the school stuck this little tidbit at the end of a long-ass email. Jake guesses tumor, but the correct answer is octopus.
The other kid is a hedgehog.
If it really is a Guess What I Am contest, then they should win!
LT: Jake is forgiving of the whole thing, considering he’s about to ask Laura for a favor: to take on an assignment for work, even though it’s her day off. Wait, didn’t this happen last week?
V: It most certainly did.
LT: Apparently the precinct can never spare Laura’s services, because it’s happening again.
V: The department would collapse without her.
LT: Jake asks Laura to follow the staffer who’s supposed to be Jameson’s mistress. He says he needs a woman to do it, to which Laura replies that she shouldn’t have to work on her day off, particularly since it’s not a tough assignment: “Even Meredith qualifies”. Hee!! Don’t insult Meredith, she’ll look all bitchy and ill-tempered; at least, more than she always does.
V: Is that possible?
LT: I’d rather not find out. Jake insists Laura has to do the job because, “You’re my best detective.” Interesting that he says this to her in private, when he’s always berating her abilities in public.
V: You speak the truth. Though he says it the first time only to butter her up. He follows the compliment by belittling her and says that Laura can follow the staffer to the bathroom, and he can’t.
Oh, look. Laura is eating food that’s bad for her.
And like always, she eats only one bite of it before she has to do her job. By my estimation, the way she stays so skinny is that she eats nine bites total, all day, of food with no nutritional value.
LT: Laura waits for Caitlin, the staffer, outside her home, as do a whole group of paparazzi.
She then follows Caitlin to the train station (with more of that crazy, swervy camerawork this show is becoming known for).
V: Seriously, why do they film it this way, every time Laura has to follow someone?
LT: Laura guesses correctly that she’ll try to ditch the press and spots her exiting the train station by another set of stairs in different clothes.With Laura tailing on foot, Caitlin goes shopping.
V: OMG. It’s a warehouse sample sale. Those things can be brutal, as Laura even says, “Welcome to the Hunger Games.” And nice surveillance there, Laura. I can see why you’re the best.
When Laura tries to claim the whole rack, she’s accused of hoarding. A bunch of women all scream and rush to take the stuff off her rack, which causes all kinds of attention Laura doesn’t need.
LT: The two have a brief conversation inside the store.
Caitlin seems nice.
V: She does. I thought it was a great way to feel instant sympathy for the character.
Then Caitlin leaves, and Laura follows her out to Times Square. Laura backs when her phone rings.HA! It’s Jake.
Okay, that’s funny. Anyway, it’s a good thing Caitlin is just standing there at the corner not moving, because Laura is too far away at this point to be able to follow her. Caitlin looks up at one of the neon billboards…
Because she sees this…
LT: As Laura tells Jake she’s “not very Paula Jones-ey,” Caitlin gets shot then dies as Laura holds her.
V: This sleazebag reporter comes up to Laura and says how Caitlin died in her arms and wants to know if she has anything to say.
Laura wants to know his source, but he isn’t giving up anything, even when Billy threatens him with obstruction of justice, due to the Journalist Shield law.
LT: Caitlin was shot at close range. There are cameras all over Times Square and the cops know they have a lot of video to watch.
Laura questions Jameson, who denies an affair with Caitlin. It’s weird that Jake is there supporting the Congressman. I can understand the need to practice discretion in such a matter, but Jake is practically sitting in his lap.
V: Seriously. You’d think Jake is the one he had the affair with.
LT: As proof of no affair, Jameson goes all TMI and says it’s physically impossible. As Laura puts it, he has “equipment problems.” He liked Caitlin and says she was a good person.
Caitlin’s friend Heather says Caitlin worked at the Justice Defense Fund for a Mr. Walters. Correction, Heather and Caitlin went to law school together and were best friends, and Heather says she’d do anything for her.
Smart information to impart to the cops.
V: Yeah, right? And it appears Caitlin bombed her LSATs and SATs but managed to graduate magna from Fordham Law.
LT: Hey, it’s Wallace Shawn! Inconceivable!!
Actually, the first time I saw him was way back in “My Dinner with Andre”, and that’s still the first thing I think of whenever he shows up. That’s even though I’ve seen him in a million movies and TV shows since then (believe me, I’ve counted, it’s a million). It’s always a pleasant surprise to have him turn up, he’s never disappointing. This time, he’s Mr. Walters, and was Caitlin’s boss.
V: I loved how he and Laura bond over debate team, and Billy calls her a nerd…while sitting across from Wallace Shawn.
LT: Walters met Caitlin at Fordham and immediately hired her at Justice Defense. She was their rising star. He let Caitlin go and work for Jameson, because he’d worked on Jameson’s previous campaign and was on the short list for a judgeship. He liked Caitlin and can’t believe she’d have such a high-profile affair. He says a reporter named Store, who will “do anything for a headline,” was possibly the one who started the rumor. Sure, blame it on the reporter.
V: That was the guy who gave Laura the “died in your arms” line and was a jackass earlier. I wouldn’t rule him out, either. Plus, as Billy and Laura point out, he was the first reporter there after she was shot.
LT: I’m a little biased, but I’m really tired of the sleazy reporter trope. They’re always ethically challenged jerks on these shows. Give it a rest, already.
V: It had looked to Laura like Caitlin was meeting someone, and it could have been Store.
LT: The detectives dig into the 411 on Store and find he spent $350 at Dahlia’s Tea Room twice a week. On a newspaper salary?? How did he swing that, exactly? Laura and Billy visit Dahlia’s.
V: Laura laments over her missed spa Groupon she was supposed to use on her day off she never gets and settles for a couple of teabags over her eyes.
But even though Billy sips his tea with his pinky in the air, this isn’t exactly your traditional tea room.
LT: Turns out it’s a kinky sex club. They wander around amongst the leather and handcuffs until Laura finds Store.
V: Boy does she EVER.
You go, girl. As Devo says, crack that whip! She looks like she might have done this before.
LT: Laura accuses him of fabricating the story on Caitlin and killing her. In his defense, Store plays Laura a phone message from Caitlin, in which she confesses to the affair and wants to set up a meeting to talk about it.
V: But it seems there’s something hinky with the rest of the recording, in which Caitlin says she had sex with Jameson at the El Rey in April, except it opened in May. Then she uses the phrase sub rosa, which is a legal term meaning secretly.
LT: The person with the most to gain from Jameson getting mired in a scandal is his opponent, a buffoon named “Big” Bill McGuire. There’s an overwhelming likelihood that any politician who’s had Big tacked onto his name, is a dirtbag.
V: Jake insists Laura can’t possibly take on Big Bill all by her wittle self, what with him being so uptight, and insists on going with her. Uh, Jake? Did you see her handle a whip? Girlfriend has got way bigger cajones than you ever will.
LT: Laura and Jake go to see BB give a speech, and he lives up to that stereotype. He’s all blustery onstage then rudely abuses a staffer as soon as he steps off it. Laura chats up the beleaguered staffer, who lets loose about how stressed out she is since the campaign manager, a guy named Gold, quit three days ago and left her alone to handle Big Bill. Seems politics got to Gold, who needed some time in rehab for anger management.
The detectives recreate Times Square, only to find that where Caitlin was shot is a dead zone, out of range of every security camera.
V: Heh. Max is jealous Laura is going to rehab, and Officer Pissy Face manages to look pissy!
LT: To get to Gold, Laura checks into Serenity Gardens.
V: She looks at the place like it’s an oasis.
She gains entry by posing as a totally stressed-out mom who needs some alone time, which in her case is more real life than undercover.
I must quote the last part of her little speech:
We had gummy bears for dinner last night, I don’t remember the last time both legs were shaved, and my last parent-teacher conference meeting ended with the teacher leaving…the profession.
Oh, that was priceless and totally played up Debra Messing’s fantastic comedic timing. The pause…the inflection. It was all too perfect.
Looks like Laura is getting her spa day after all.
LT: She finds Gold, who’s been out of touch, without any of his electronic devices, and clues him in to Jameson’s problems.
He’s aware of the TS blind spot, after the Secret Service found out about it the year before. Gold says he would not be involved in the scandal, because McGuire had previously been busted for ethics violations and wouldn’t allow a smear campaign. And if he’d set up the sex scandal, he wouldn’t have killed the girl when it happened. The timing was sloppy. He says the assassination was the work of an amateur and someone who wants McGuire to win.
Jake had asked Meredith to get the security cam video from the surrounding area of the blind spot, since the killer had to enter and exit the area. A TS store called Game Pipe has its own security camera, and Meredith shows everyone the video. Conveniently, it goes dark just before Caitlin’s shooting. She and Billy visit the store.
V: Looks like Officer Pissyface has a reason for that expression at this point, since the geeks waiting outside Game Pipe look like they’ve never seen a pair of bewbs before, except in a video game.
LT: I think that’s a safe assumption. An employee takes off when they ask about the security camera. Then we get more shaky camera work on a chase through TS.
V: I guess Times Square has the same group of weirdos that hang out in Hollywood by the Kodak theater.
LT: When they catch the game geek, he says he unplugged the camera on the request of someone known as The Overlord, a super geek who hacked and blackmailed him that he’d tell everyone about his porn addiction.
V: A nerd with a porn addiction? Would that really be something to blackmail him over? Isn’t that just kind of expected?
We get some more info on Pissyface when she is able to not only identify the game the geek was playing but also about its encryption, and talks source code with the geek. When Billy calls her on being a secret gamer, she tries to play it off that she dated a guy who was into gaming and that he’s the one who told her about God Mode, which is when someone hacks into a game and makes themselves immortal.
Billy has been holding a Shake Weight in his hand and turns it on during the interview. Hilarious.
LT: The detectives think Caitlin may have been about to go public with being blackmailed into lying about an affair with Jameson, which leads them to wonder what The Overlord had on Caitlin.
V: After some jokes about Avatar in which Billy is pro the movie, and Laura, fresh from the best three hours of her life in rehab, is against it, Billy goes to play the game that brought The Overlord into Caitlin and the video store geek’s life. And even though Billy had made fun of Pissyface earlier, he clams his avatar is unbeatable. Only, not so much.
LT: Turns out Meredith has a talent aside from looking sour and being judgmental and unpleasant: she’s a master gamer.
V: HA! I knew it!
LT: She’s also embarrassed about it.
V: Yeah, she’s already tried to pass off her knowledge as coming only from a boyfriend.
LT: That ex-boyfriend got her into it, she says, and Billy can’t tell anybody. So Billy has something on Ms. Bitchface. This should go well.
V: Well, Officer Pissyface threatened his life and gave him one of her best pissy faces. Billy even asked her to lay off the crazy. So, her secret is probably safe.
After that confession, she takes over the controls and engages The Overlord in some high-level gaming.
LT: Laura and Billy search Caitlin’s apartment. They hadn’t thought to do that yet?
V: Seriously. I’ve seen all of the cop shows, and that’s always the first stop. While she’s there, Laura also takes the time to take her second bite of non-nutritional food for the day. Some candy she used to eat when she was pregnant.
She looks under a dead rose, because sub rosa literally means “under the rose.”
LT: Sure enough, under the rose is an ID with Caitlin’s name but Heather’s photo. They go to question Heather, but they’re too late. She’s dead in the street when they arrive.
As Heather had told them, Caitlin bombed her SATs and LSATs but passed her bar exam, while Heather was a crossword puzzle whiz who was confident enough to complete them with a Sharpie. It looks like Heather used the doctored ID to take the bar for Caitlin. Laura even remembers that bright statement of Heather’s about how she said she’d do anything for Caitlin. If she helped Caitlin cheat, Heather must have known about the blackmail.
V: Seems Jake is getting a little too up in Laura’s personal space for her liking.
LT: Meredith is still gaming like a zombie.
V: That’s an incredible look of concentration.
Billy even bought her a strawberry smoothie to keep her strength up.
Billy traces The Overlord’s signal, and Meredith decides to try and get The Overlord to hack them. They’ll do it with her hot level-40 avatar.
LT: Eventually, Mr. Overlord gets curious and asks her to turn on her camera, and Meredith says for him to turn it on for her. Billy realizes king nerd will notice it’s a police station, and he scrambles to de-policify their surroundings. Max inadvertently contributes a One Direction poster.
Hey show, just because he’s gay doesn’t mean you have to give him crap taste in music.
V: Especially since they had him knowing the lyrics to Big Yellow Taxi just last week.
LT: They track The Overlord’s location, and Jake pays a visit.
V: What is AWESOME about this scene is that not only is this gamer, who just sits at his computer all day, able to disarm Jake and get the jump on him…
But even after Jake gets him on the ground, the guy manages to do it AGAIN.
And he has the NERVE to put down Laura’s cop skills?
LT: The Overlord is named Paul, and he was once arrested for hacking the Secret Service. Maybe when this episode was shot that was a big deal, but given what we’ve found out about the ridiculous workings of the SS over the past couple of weeks, hacking this organization probably isn’t such a huge chore.
V: He’s the source of the information about that blind spot, and when Laura redials the number Paul just called when he was supposed to be talking to his attorney, she gets the Justice Defense Fund.
LT: Jake goes to see Jameson where he’s campaigning, and he denies ever nominating Walters for a judgeship. Uh oh. Laura has deduced that Walters is the killer and goes to the JDF offices to arrest him.
Walters says the charges are ridiculous, but Laura tells him that while Jameson had declined him the chance at the bench, McGuire had agreed to nominate him if he won Jameson’s seat in Congress. McGuire and Inconceivable are old friends. They were on debate team together in high school.
Walters knew Caitlin cheated on the bar and blackmailed her. At first she went along and leaked the false affair story, but she changed her mind and called Store to set up another meeting. Walters killed her when she got to be too much of a threat to his plans. He also rubbed out Heather.
V: The evidence she has is that Walters said he was at the immigration hearing, only that court was closed for fumigation. And two, after Walters told Paul to buzz off and he wouldn’t help him, Paul gave up Walters as the guy who got him to blackmail the clerk to turn off the camera.
Then Walters gets crazier and crazier and says Jameson intentionally blocked his nomination, while Laura points out Jameson had no idea who he was. The whole time Laura is egging Walters on, he’s clearly been looking for something, and Laura doesn’t once tell him to stand still. Surprise surprise, he pulls out a gun, and Billy shoots him. Laura is upset Billy stole her thunder.
LT: Jake congratulates Billy and Meredith on their work, and says he had no idea Billy was such a “hard-core gamer”. Meredith shoots him a look.
V: Gee, what a surprise.
LT: Billy keeps her secret…for now.
V: She’s even in a good mood, as Overlord gave her all of the Easter eggs in the game they were playing.
LT: Laura decides she liked the rehab (which she treated more as a spa) experience so much, she’ll continue it…at work. When we last see her, she’s lying in an empty cell in lock-up, in bathrobe with cucumbers on eyes, playing relaxing music as dirtbag perps pass by.
It beats being with those bratty kids.
V: For real. The babysitter is a better mom, anyway.
And we wrap with the Quote of the Week, which comes from Max while he’s standing in fake Times Square:
“Old lefty lawyer turned ruthless killer? I would have said, inconceivable!”
It seems the show has finally found its footing. Officer Pissyface is developing a personality, but it seems to be at the expense of Max, who is becoming more of a running joke. I really like Billy as a grounding influence. I hope they flesh out Jake a little more, and he stops putting down Laura’s cop skills, because he’s one to talk after getting overpowered by gamer dude.
All in all, I’m glad the critics were wrong, and I’d like the show to stick around. It’s just fun to watch.