Reconvo: The Mysteries of Laura S1 Ep. 7 The Mystery of the Art Ace

by

L.T. Milroy and Veruca Salt

This week’s episode serves largely to reacquaint us with the legendary Robert Klein, who has a guest role as Laura’s father. It’s always good to see a living legend. Kids, this guy was redefining stand-up when your parents were still in diapers. But I digress.

LT: A bag lady finds a corpse in a dumpster. I think that’s my most succinct summary of an opening scene ever.

V: I don’t think she’d appreciate you calling her a bag lady. She was wearing a sweater vest. And a lovely flowered shirt.

LT: Laura is screeching Janis Joplin’s Piece of My Heart in the car as she drops the kids off at school.

 01-piece of my heart

Along with a love of junk food, this can be added to the list of traits common to Debra Messing characters: a love of singing, loud and badly. Grace Adler also loved to do this, often while simultaneously pounding junk food.

V: Of course, she also teaches her kids good manners, when she refuses to move forward so the other parents can drop off their kids, just so she can finish her song.

02 finish the song

But at least the lady who got the kids out of the car told her she was flat.

Looks like Laura is teamed up with the ex, aka the c-blocker.

03 working the case together

Billy is taking care of his sick mother. I echo Laura’s sentiments when she says she hopes Billy hurries back.

LT: The victim found in the dumpster is David Sarkesian, of Sarkesian Galleries.

V: The ME at the scene can’t identify the murder weapon.

 04 the ME

But the last time Laura passed the gallery, they had a huge neon chocolate bar in the window. The gallery is a chocolate tease. That’s upsetting.

LT: Laura immediately notices a lump in the victim’s crotch.

05 happy to see me

It turns out to be a big wad of bills. Apparently this wasn’t a robbery.

V: Jake further endears me to him by mentioning the wad of bills is a good dating strategy. HURRY BACK, BILLY!

At the Sarkesian Gallery, Laura and Jake can agree on something. The art is “crapola.”

06 crapola

LT: I have to agree, I don’t always get art. A huge chocolate bar would do it for me, though. Keep it simple.

V: As they wonder how this horrible artwork wound up in an upscale gallery, Jake notices a well-dressed woman kissing a guy much less well-dressed.

07 sleeping with the boss

Jake surmises the crapola producer is the grubby dude, while the well-dressed woman is the owner, and that answers the question.

The well-dressed woman turns out to be Angela, David’s sister. When they tell her he died, she falls apart.

08 sad

When they inform the father, Julius, he’s rather cold.

09 cold dad

LT: He says with the way David lived, this was bound to happen. Back in her office, Angela calls David a “sweet screw-up” who was never good enough for dad. She says the reason he was in Koreatown is that he hung out in a karaoke bar there.

Jake and Laura visit the karaoke bar, where Jake gets into it with the nasty owner.

10 beeyotch

V: He does the traditional, “Or I’ll call the health inspector,” but she pays her taxes, dammit, and she will not be pushed around.

LT: Laura has other plans. I figured she’d be onstage singing along to Janis eventually, but she’s up there immediately, within a minute of arriving.

 11. yet another piece of my heart

V: I’m thinking she cut someone off mid-song, she was up there so fast.

LT: Jake continues to verbally tussle with the owner beeyotch. He shows her a photo of the dead guy, but she says she doesn’t know him. Jake notices Laura onstage and tells the owner she needs to cut off alcohol to the drunks.

Laura continues to warble.

V: She’s doing air guitar! Soooo embarrassing.

LT: Jake pokes around and finds a poker room in the back. No warrant necessary, I suppose.

12 poker room

V: What I find hilarious is there was a big guy standing guard in front of this tiny velvet rope that led to the room, and he walks away from it. All Jake had to do was throw a leg over it to wind up in there.

LT: Once they catch him in the room, he threatens them and asks the owner again if she recognizes the dead guy. She comes clean and says he was there the night before. Jake wants a list of the people who attended, but the owner says she doesn’t keep a list. She just gets ten grand in an envelope every month. Jake finds a crumpled-up piece of paper, which turns out to be a seating chart with nicknames on it.

13 list

The owner admits there’s a game the next night, Jake threatens her not to tip anyone off, and takes the list with him as he leaves. For once, he did all the work while Laura goofed off. Was she purposely serving as a plausible diversion? It worked. She spent the whole time singing.

V: Looks like it was a beautiful duet.

14 karaoke hell

LT: Then she finishes by dropping the mike.

V: Back at the station, Officer Pissyface says there was nothing weird on the security footage, unless you counted a gaggle of schoolgirls not texting. She surmises 4G must have been down in Chelsea. I’m sure that won’t be important later. She and Jake agree they need to put someone in the poker game the players won’t suspect is a cop, so they’ll open up.

LT: Apparently, Laura is an old card shark, so she’s put on the assignment of infiltrating the poker game. Her skills are a bit rusty, though, so Jake suggests she might go to a certain someone to help her brush up on her skills.

V: Laura does not look thrilled about this prospect.

LT: It turns out to be her father. Enter Robert Klein as her kvetchy old dad.

15 dad in his natural habitat

It looks like they have some issues to sort through first, though. They haven’t seen each other in some time, and it all centers around last Thanksgiving. He agrees to help if she’ll apologize, and she thinks he should apologize. Then his comment that she’s acting crazy like her mother pisses her off, and she leaves.

V: I was surprised how realistic they played this. I thought they’d be campy and silly about it, but his comment pissed me off, as well. Great exchange between the two actors. I think Klein makes everyone up their game.

LT: From googling the forty-seven info from the seating chart, Max has come up with a name: T.J. Cantrell, a football player. He’s currently injured and has been in some trouble with the law lately. Through his social media post, Billy and Meredith track him to a strip joint to question him.

16 douchebag

He turns out to be a huge jerk.

V: Detective Pissyface knows how to deal with douchebags like this. He threatens to beat up “Tiny” and says for them to hurry it up, because he’s about to get a whipped cream dance. Pissyface comes and puts her hand on his shoulder, sweet talks him about giving him her own whipped cream dance, then jams her thumb into his torn rotator cuff.

17 torn rotater

After he’s done wailing in pain, she puts him in handcuffs.

That’s right. The woman getting it done.

LT: I liked how Meredith told Billy she worked her way through college as an exotic dancer, then took it back. I can see Det. Bitchface doing very well in that line of work, charming the customers with delightful banter, like “Waddaya lookin’ at? Lap dance? I got yer lap dance right here!”

V: At the station, Cantrell says he wasn’t at the poker game the night before. He was taking his mommy to her church bingo game. But after Billy threatens him with sending mom his Page Six escapades, he agrees to get Laura into the game. That’s the threat? Sending mom a public newspaper? Okay!

LT: Laura tracks down dad in the park.

18 dad in the park

Now he has different terms: he says he’ll help her if he can spend a day with his grandkids. That’s his price? Isn’t that the booby prize? I’d let him spend the rest of his life with those little terrors, if that’s what he wants.

V: Who would claim those kids as a prize?

LT: Laura says he can come over the next day. We also learn dad is a disbarred lawyer. Real nice scenery here, with the river and bridge in the background.

In place of money they use Halloween candy, despite his fear that hippies opened the package and put acid in the candy. Like some hippies are going to share their stash with kids.

19 playing for big bucks

They bicker as dad gives her poker pointers.

V: He starts off on the wrong foot by saying she used to be so smart and wonders what happened. Then they argue over how dad doesn’t believe Laura can make her own decisions, and when he taught her to ride a bike, he put on headphones and listened to the Yankees the entire time.  In the end, she wins, and he takes credit for showing her how.

LT: Laura is wired up at the game that night.

V: And look how well she’s doing covering up that she’s wearing a wire as she holds her finger to her ear and talks to herself in a normal voice!

20 good job

And they find another reason to dress up Debra Messing in a plunging neckline. Listen, show, if you’re trying to sell me that Laura isn’t comfortable all dressed up, you need to stop dressing her up. And I notice she had no trouble getting a dress for the poker game, but she needed a team of people last week just to find an appropriate one.

LT: Jake and Meredith listen in a van outside. Dad is there too, for some reason.

V: Jake says he brought dad along just in case she needs help, but I don’t think she wants that man’s voice in her ear. “Play the math, not the cards” is his tip o’ the day.

LT: Laura chats with a few players and comes up with a few red herrings.

V: Dad is at first a HUGE help, when he tells everyone a “virgin” is someone who’s never played before. Thanks, dad! But then she uses the term maniac, and dad lets the van people know that means a guy who makes a lot of aggressive moves.

LT: He’s indispensible. She sees a nonverbal exchange between the waitress and the maniac, so she goes to get a drink refill and talks with Bridget, who seems to be a waitress, but Laura suspects she runs the game.

21 bridget

V: Laura goes back to the table and asks everyone about David, the victim. When that doesn’t work, she goes “all-in” with her badge.

LT: Maniac flips the table and chaos ensues, but when Jake and Bitchface enter the room and try to arrest Maniac, Laura says he’s not the guy, since he just flipped the table and stayed there, but Bridget bolted the moment she heard David’s name.

Meredith takes off after her, sees her on the street, chases her down, and tackles and cuffs her.

22 takedown

I’ll just say there was lots of wrestling around and leather and handcuffs in this scene, and it was way too short.

At the precinct, Jake asks Bridget about David. She had recently begun using him to launder money from the poker games. She had previously been using a guy named Titus Bosch. He’d take the cash and buy paintings with it, which she’d resell at auction. The paintings came from the Sarkesian Gallery. But he took twenty percent off the top, and David agreed to just ten percent. She says she had a good working relationship with him and had no reason to want him dead. She also has an alibi.

V: Funny that the painting guy was named Bosch, since that is a famous painter, and the only reason I know that, is because I read Michael Connelly. I was also unhappy with my girl Bridget for flashing boob at Jake, so he’d go easy on her, especially since the women were really kicking some ass this episode.

LT: Meredith says the cash found on David was Bridget’s. He’d laundered over $300,000 for her. Max pulls up a photo of Titus.

24 dude I don't know

Meredith recognizes him from a security cam video at the Sarkesian Gallery. Then Max says there’s a major auction going on that day, and Titus will be there, so Jake sends Max and Meredith on a field trip. Max is stereotypically thrilled.

V: As they walked the halls and talked, I got a distinct West Wing vibe.

23 West Wing

LT: I don’t think Aaron Sorkin is writing this show, but wouldn’t it be interesting if he were? I’d like to see Det. Whineypants do The Jackal.

V: I think Max is just excited to get out of the station, where pretty much all of his scenes take place. He also wanted to stop by the auction to purchase some stuff. I guess they’re accentuating his family’s wealth, now that the cat is out of the bag on his trust fund.

LT: Max is even more excited when he gets to the auction, but Det. Sourpuss is glowering at everybody.

25 glower

Golly, what a mismatched pair! They spot Titus and sit on either side of him. Meredith identifies herself and asks about David. He says he knows nothing and starts bidding on a painting he came for.

V: Seems as if Max is using his trust fund to put a little pressure on “Mr. Grumpy Pants” so he’ll talk to them, and keeps outbidding Bosch.

LT: As we learned last week, money is no issue for him, so he’s a formidable bidding foe. Meredith continues questioning Titus as the furious bidding rages.

V: Holy smokes. Max wins the bidding at 300K but is willing to sell his lovely new acquisition if Mr. GrumpyFace will answer Officer PissyPants’s questions.

LT: He says he was at dinner when David was killed. He admits to laundering money for Bridget and says he didn’t appreciate it when David took over his turf. He says he mentioned to Julius how unhappy he was with his son’s behavior. Meredith calls Jake and tells him Julius is now a suspect.

V: See, was that so hard? Could have saved himself a couple of hundred thousand if he’d just said that in the first place.

LT: At the gallery, Laura and Jake question Julius, and he denies any involvement. As proof, he pulls out a book to show they write down every transaction. Jake and Laura spot some framer’s glue, which ties to the substance found on and around David’s body and ask Julius about it. He says he wants to talk to a lawyer and is arrested.

Julius quickly tells Jake and Billy he’ll sign a confession to avoid a public trial. When he found out what David was doing, he confronted him about it, but he refused to stop. They got into an argument and Julius hit him with a brick but didn’t mean to kill him. When asked where the brick is, he says he threw it in the dumpster.

V: Good job, evidence-gathering team. If he’s telling the truth, that means they missed a brick with blood all over it. If it’s not true, they should know, since they should have gone through the entire dumpster looking for something called evidence.

LT: Laura’s dad and rambunctious kids stop by the station.

27 kids

The kids are sugar-rushing because grandpa gave them ice cream even though Laura specifically told him no sweets. So a five-pound sundae called a kitchen sink counts as sweets all of a sudden? Who knew? The matter of Thanksgiving comes up again. He said she made a scene and stormed out. She says he invited Jake even though she found out he was cheating on her. Wow, dad, that is rather obnoxious of you.

But he defends himself by saying he was hoping Laura and Jake could work it out and be happy again. He says he was just acting like a father, wanting to fix things for his child. That gives Laura a revelation. She tells Jake she doesn’t believe Julius is guilty, that he confessed to cover for Angela. You know, to try to protect his kid.

V: Gee, I totally didn’t expect that at all, what with the show not being over and dad just confessing all over the place too easily.

Also, also, Laura’s dad said the one thing she’s ever done right is marry Jake, but she screwed that up. Dad, I’m no longer talking to you. To take Jake’s side over your only daughter’s and not see the hurt and pain it caused her, coupled with the disrespectful comments you made about your ex-wife, means I shall no longer be listening to anything you say.

LT: That was kind of shocking. Has he, you know, met Jake? Because if he had, he’d know he’s not great husband material.

V: He doesn’t seem THAT senile. Anyway, Laura pulls out the piece of paper upon which Angela had written her phone number, and the handwriting matches to what were supposed to be David’s figures, in that book Julius had shown them earlier. This proves that Angela was in on the money laundering.

When Laura tries to compare what Julius did to what her dad did, in that dads will do anything to help the child they feel did something wrong, I want to scream. It’s not the same thing. One is the father doing something selfless, while the other involves the dad completely disrespecting his daughter and not caring about her feelings. Please do not compare the two, Laura.

LT: There’s an opening at the gallery, where Laura eats immediately but regrets it. That innocent-looking appetizer she just scarfed down turns out to be raw meat with lard frosting.

V: She mistook the artwork for food. The piece was called Let Them Eat Cupcake. The artist just used stuff to make it look like a cupcake.

LT: She tries to find a place to get rid of it, winds up spitting it into her hand, rolls it up in a ball, puts it back where she found it, then gargles with champagne.

28 gargle

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. She’s one classy broad.

After recovering from her unexpected meat adventure, Laura makes some small talk while Jake pokes around. In an office he finds a bowling pin that also seems to be a work of art. It has some glass glued on it, but some also looks to be missing.

29 blood

V: And I’m sure Jake going on a search mission without a warrant is totally fine, and that bowling pin will be admissible in court, no problem.

Jake comes back with the bowling pin he found behind some office furniture inside a closet, inside a wrapped towel, and asks Angela how much the piece is.

31 the weapon

She is clearly flummoxed but tries to play off like Jake is interested in buying it and says it’s not for sale.

LT: Angela confesses to helping David launder money. It was a way for him to do something on his own and get out of his father’s shadow, she says. But Julius wasn’t happy when he found out about it. Angela says she and her boyfriend Will told David to stop, but he wanted to make one more deal.

V: When Jake says she took matters into her own hands, she gets insulted. Sure, she’s a money-launderer, but she would never kill her own brother.

LT: Laura notices Will by his sculpture-type piece, which is a bunch of beer bottles called 99 Bottles of Beer Not on the Wall.

30 bottles of beer

Clever. Since there are just a few minutes left in the episode and attention is focused on the BF, it’s obvious at this point he’s guilty, but I call BS, since we were just introduced to him five seconds ago. Really, show? One short scene at the beginning of him kissing Angela, then he disappears for most of the episode and not one interview? Rather anticlimactic.

V: Laura remembers that she’d noticed an empty beer bottle from what she used to drink in college, plus a bunch of beer labels. That’s how he’d passed the time while waiting for David to come out of the poker game. Collecting beer bottles for his collection.

The piece Will tried to get David to sell to Bridget was the bedazzled bowling pin. Really? That was the piece you chose? A third-grader’s art project? Anyway, David was only selling one more piece and he was out, and since he wouldn’t buy the bowling pin, Will figured he’d put it to good use and make it a murder weapon.

LT: And just to prove he’s a crappy BF as well as human being, when Jake tries to arrest him, he grabs Angela and holds a broken bottle to her throat.

32 bottle to neck

He’s startled into dropping his grip when Laura smashes his dumpy piece of art, and Jake cuffs him.

Back at Laura’s place, the kids are playing zombie when grandpa arrives. Can I just mention here that I have exactly zero interest in anything zombie related and am really sick of having zombieness shoved in my face constantly? So glad to get that off my chest.

Dad tells Laura he only meddled in her marriage because he didn’t want her to end up alone, like him. While she’s still pissed about Thanksgiving, she seems to have made peace with it, and him.

V: At least he really apologized to her and said “That’s my girl” when she said she solved the case, but he’s still on my S-list.

Ugh. And he gave her the head kiss.

 33 head kiss

Okay, Dad. Let’s see how things go.

LT: Dad then settles in to teach his grandkids the finer points of card playing. I suppose as long as they’re sitting and listening and not running around screaming all over creation, that’s a plus. So what if they turn into degenerate gamblers? It’s better than incorrigible brats.

So it looks like The Mysteries of Laura is sticking around. They pulled through. I guess Debra Messing has worked up some goodwill and made people stick around, even after a lukewarm pilot. Congrats, Debra!

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2 thoughts on “Reconvo: The Mysteries of Laura S1 Ep. 7 The Mystery of the Art Ace

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