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Recap / Murder She Wrote S 3 E 19 The Cemetery Vote

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Jessica breaks her schedule to comfort recently widowed friend Linda Stevens, only to discover that the dead man's father, Harry, suspects Jim's death had more to do with the corruption in the town legal staff than mere accident. Jessica digs into the rot infesting the town's ruling infrastructure, but with red tape and secret keeping hindering her investigation, how can she obtain the evidence to take down the corrupt politicians?

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This episode includes examples of the following tropes:

  • Deliberate Injury Gambit: Carroll has Deputy Beeler ram a car and run it off the road while he and Jessica are in it. When Carroll asks why he would have done that when he could have been hurt, Jessica answers that it was exactly that — if he were "attacked", nobody would suspect him of being involved.
  • Determinator: Both father Harry and son Jim Stevens are described as iron-willed to the point of bullheadedness. Jessica brings it up as a reason Linda shouldn't blame herself for talking Jim into the position; she couldn't have talked him into anything without his consent. The episode also deconstructs it in that Harry keeps raising unwanted questions about his son's death and being very blatant about it. He dies for it.
  • Feed the Mole: Jessica suspects Carroll of being the mole in Jim's office who tipped off the gambling ring before the last raid. To confirm this, she tells him about a planned raid in two hours. After she leaves the room, he makes a call to Mrs. Gunnerson, who helps run it — and gets Caught on Tape by the state police.
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  • Give Me a Reason: When Carroll tries to make a break for it, one of the other staff members steps in his path and tells him he'd enjoy the opportunity to knock him flat if he'd like to try running.
  • Illegal Gambling Den: Mrs. Gunnerson and others run a gambling ring, which the local officials tend to ignore.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: Jessica figures out David Caroll's involvement by remembering he demanded the ring among Harry's other personal effects. By his own statement, Harry hadn't worn a ring in years. He tries to weasel out of it by claiming Linda told him, but Linda says she wasn't in the room when he put on the ring.
  • It's All My Fault: Linda doesn't want to believe Jim's death was murder because she talked him into running for office, thinking of the glamor of a political career. She says she couldn't forgive herself if he died for doing the job that she nudged him towards in the first place. Jessica reassures her the stubborn Jim couldn't have been coaxed into something he didn't want. He decided to take the office and to fight the corruption.
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  • Morality Chain Beyond the Grave: Jim, Linda's late husband, took the mayoral office to do some good and ran with it until one of his corrupt staff murdered him. At the end, Linda tells Jessica several of the locals think she should run for mayor. When Jessica asks if she'll do it, Linda answers that she's a Stevens.
  • Vote Early, Vote Often: The episode centers around a corrupt sheriff who was rumored to have carried 'the cemetery vote' (in other words, picked up fraud votes from people who were dead prior to the election).
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