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Recap / Columbo S 09 E 04

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Episode: Season 9, Episode 4
Title:"Rest in Peace, Mrs. Columbo"
Directed by: Vincent Mc Eveety
Written by: Peter S. Fischer
Air Date: March 31, 1990
Previous: Agenda for Murder
Next: Uneasy Lies the Crown
Guest Starring: Helen Shaver, Ian McShane, Edward Winter, Teresa Ganzel

"Rest in Peace, Mrs. Columbo" is the fourth episode of the ninth season of Columbo.

The episode opens with a shocking scene—the funeral of Mrs. Columbo! As a grief-stricken Lt. Columbo stares dumbly at his wife's coffin, a woman among the mourners stares at him, her face full of rage, exulting in how she killed Mrs. Columbo and she'll kill him too. Cue flashback...

The murderous lady at the funeral is revealed to be one Vivian Dmitri (Helen Shaver). Vivian is a real estate agent who specializes in selling enormous mansions to the nouveau riche. After selling a house to a couple of suckers for six million dollars, Vivian makes a date with Leland St. John (Ian McShane), a married businessman that she has a Friends with Benefits relationship with. She then goes back to the office to meet her boss at the real estate agency, Charlie Chambers (Edward Winter).


After having a drink to celebrate the deal, Vivian pulls a gun. It seems that a decade ago her husband Peter worked for Charlie, and was Stealing from the Till. Charlie reported him to the police, and Peter panicked and killed the client he was embezzling from. Peter went to prison but died eight years into a ten-year sentence. After reminding Charlie of all this Vivian shoots him to death.

Vivian filches the ATM card from Charlie's pocket and zips off to her date with Leland. She excuses herself from the table to use the ladies' room, but instead makes a quick exit from the restaurant and uses Charlie's card to get $200 from a nearby ATM. Dinner is followed by sex with Leland, providing Vivian with an alibi; after leaving Leland at 2 am she goes back to the office and plants the money and ATM card on Charlie's body.


Enter Lt. Columbo of the LAPD as the investigating officer. As it turns, out, Columbo was also the investigating officer on Peter's case ten years ago...


  • As You Know: A lot of this in the scene with Vivian and Charlie, as she reminds him of the circumstances behind her husband's imprisonment and death, telling him a bunch of stuff he knows from ten years ago.
  • Batman Gambit: Columbo, believing that Vivian will try to kill him, but not before she gloats about her guilt, devises an elaborate trap. Mrs. Columbo isn't dead and the funeral was a fake. He then pretends to eat the poisoned marmalade, leading Vivian to gleefully boast about her crimes—while Sgt. Brady is recording everything from another room.
  • Cathartic Chores: After Mrs. Columbo's funeral, Columbo says he spent five hours cleaning their place, even though it hadn't been needed as his wife was a very tidy person. He was going crazy and started washing their house, even the walls. Vivian is sympathetic and claims she kept polishing silver over and over when her husband Pete died. It's not clear if she was honest because she's the murderess and she's trying to play Columbo (though considering the emotional mess she was left in after Pete's death, there's probably a bit of truth to her story). Columbo is definitely bullshitting her though: Mrs. Columbo is alive.
  • Chalk Outline: A chalk outline around poor Charlie's body as he lies on the carpet of his office.
  • Double Take: Columbo does a humorous double take when he goes into the skeezy transient hotel and sees a bum dressed identically to him, complete with rumpled raincoat.
  • Downer Beginning: Starts with the funeral of Mrs. Columbo, as Lt. Columbo grieves while Vivian exults in her crime.
  • Flashback Effects: The hoary old blurry waves effect is used to transition from the funeral scene to the various flashbacks from the POV of different characters.
  • Flat Character: Sgt. Brady. He's shown to be incredibly naive for an officer, and that's about it. His character is no different to that of Detective Sgt. Remy/John J. Wilson, Columbo's temporary partner in earlier seasons.
  • Framing Device: The funeral serves as one. As the ceremony is underway, the story is told in a series of flashbacks from the POV of Vivian, Leland, and Dede the secretary (Teresa Ganzel).
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: Mrs. Columbo, as was true throughout the 35-year run of the series. Lampshaded at the end of the episode. Vivian sees framed photos of Lt. and Mrs. Columbo, and the viewing audience thinks that, at last, Columbo has shown Mrs. Columbo's face—until the closing conversation reveals that the framed photo was a shot of Mrs. Columbo's sister.
  • How We Got Here: Starts with the funeral of Mrs. Columbo, as Vivian exults in how she killed Mrs. Columbo and got away with it. Then the story jumps back several days to the day Vivian murdered Charlie.
  • Inner Monologue: The flashback sequences are introduced by the inner monologues of the various characters—Vivian and her rage, Dede and her grief, and Leland wondering why he was summoned to the funeral in the first place.
  • It Always Rains at Funerals: Just to make things a little sadder it's pouring rain as Mrs. Columbo is laid to rest. (Can Columbo make it rain?)
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: At the very end of the episode when Columbo calls back to his sick wife, she's apparently talking about a TV series she likes to watch but she ended up missing an episode and is upset about it, to which Columbo replies "so what if you missed an episode, don't worry, you'll catch up to it later, believe me, they make them that way", most likely referring to the fact that all Columbo episodes have little to no consistency with each other besides an occasional Call-Back, the current episode would've been a major turning point for the series if his wife actually ended up being killed and the events that led to Vivian targetting him and his wife were never actually shown in any previous episode.
  • No-Tell Motel: The Alton Hotel, a very ratty-looking place where transients stay and bookies meet clients. An obvious prostitute says goodbye to the desk clerk while Columbo is standing there. The desk clerk tells Columbo "People come here for a good time."
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: After pulling the gun and explaining just why she's doing it, Vivian says "See you in hell, Charlie!", then shoots him.
  • Revenge: Vivian kills Charlie for his part in her husband's downfall. Before she does she makes sure that Lt. Columbo will be the detective on duty that day. She then sets out to make sure Columbo knows she did it, but leaves him unable to prove it—and then she kills Columbo's wife (or so she thinks).
  • Uriah Gambit: Back in the day, Charlie tipped off the police about Pete's embezzlement scheme, not so much for the client's sake, but to get the latter out of the way so the former would be free to get into his wife's pants. Though while Pete just so happened to die eight years into his ten year sentence, this was more a coincidence than Charlie's end goal.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Vivian doesn't react well to being tricked into confessing by Columbo, slapping him across the face and screaming "You bastard!" before she's led away.
  • The Watson: Sgt. Brady, the young detective who works the case with Lt. Columbo and gets everything wrong (he falls for the frame-up of a real estate client), allowing the lieutenant to demonstrate his brilliance as he explains things to Brady.