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Recap / Murder She Wrote S 4 E 13 Harbinger Of Death

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Jessica arrives at a science institute to help one of her in-laws, astronomer Arnold Palmer, surprise her niece at their anniversary, only to find he misremembered their anniversary date in his fascination with a comet due to appear any day. However, matters on the ground soon arrest his attention when Drake Eaton, the young assistant of political powerhouse, turns up dead and both he and Carrie become suspects in the investigation. Can Jessica sort out the twisty truth about the murder, or will the comet signal doom for the young couple?

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This episode includes examples of the following tropes:

  • Attempted Rape: Carrie invited Drake (an old boyfriend) to the vacation house to talk. When he turned up, he had been drinking and he attempted to wrestle her into bed. Carrie managed to escape.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Leonard puts his coffee cup down on the program for the telescope. Jessica later uses its absence to argue that the one Fay showed the sergeant wasn't the original.
  • Death by Woman Scorned: Gender flipped. Sgt. Kettler thinks that Drake fell victim to Carrie's jealous husband after he used the telescope to confirm they'd been cheating. While Leonard did fight with Drake, he didn't kill him. Ms. DeHaven shot him for using her as a stepping stool after Leonard had been knocked out.
  • Hypochondriac: Leonard snarks that his wife's Aunt Edna considers disease a hobby. Later, it's subverted, given that Jessica explicitly tells Carrie that she knows Aunt Edna is fine (having visited her on her trip down), making it uncertain if Aunt Edna ever told the Palmers she had any health problems.
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  • Ignored Enamored Underling: Miss Fay Hewitt, Dr. Palmer's secretary, set the telescope to focus on the vacation house where Carrie had been staying (and had invited Drake), in hopes of convincing him that Carrie didn't deserve his love. She considers herself to take more involvement in his life than she does, given how helpful she is at work. Leonard still very much loves his young wife and seems oblivious to Miss Hewitt's attraction.
  • Invented Invalid: Played with; Carrie's Aunt Edna does exist. (Jessica mentions visiting her on her way up.) However, her poor health/hypochondria seems invented. Carrie just gave Leonard that excuse so she could get away.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: Three examples occur during the summation. When she confronts Ms. DeHaven, Jessica reminds her that she said whoever shot Drake would regret it very much. However, she hadn't been told at that point that Drake had been shot. Ms. DeHaven claims Miss Hewitt told her, but Jessica points out Miss Hewitt only said Drake had been murdered, not how it had been done. Ms. DeHaven claims Jessica can't prove her guilty. Then Jessica brings up that Ms. DeHaven had referred to Leonard's blood on the scarf found near Drake's body. Even the police had initially assumed the blood was Drake's.
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  • Married to the Job: Leonard spends so much time staring at the skies that he doesn't see Carrie often. She explicitly tells him she thought she had lost him to his work.
  • May–December Romance: Leonard wed Jessica's niece Carrie, despite being years older than she was.
  • Relationship-Salvaging Disaster: Leonard and Carrie both become suspects in Drake Eaton's murder, and Leonard loses his job as a result. However, it makes Leonard notice that their relationship had become nonexistent. Furthermore, both of them trying to protect the other and expressing their love helps them patch up the marriage.
  • Taking the Heat: Both Carrie and Arnold try to take the blame for Drake's death on themselves.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Played with; Carrie never actually gets into any affairs during the episode (though she seems to imply she may have subconsciously wanted one), but she definitely acts as though she has been unfaithful to her husband, and Miss Hewitt likewise thinks so and tries to show Leonard she's unworthy of him.
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