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Recap / Murder She Wrote S 4 E 21 Deadpan

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Jessica comes to Broadway to enjoy the first work of an old student and receives an unpleasant surprise when she first gets ambushed by the local sharp-tongued critic, Elliot Easterbrook, and then finds that rewrites have cut the play to pieces. Soon after opening night, the police arrive to find Mr. Easterbrook standing over the body of rival critic Danny O'Mara. Can Jessica hunt through the clues and find the script for O'Mara's murder?

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This episode includes examples of the following tropes:

  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: The desperate Walter originally tried to go to O'Mara to beg him for a positive review so his career wouldn't die at birth, but he was too drunk to find the apartment, which let him know how silly his idea was...and caused another bout of anxious drinking.
  • Became Their Own Antithesis: Mr. Easterbrook used to be a playwright himself, only for Danny O'Mara to give his first play a bad review, leading him never to write anything more. He decided to beat O'Mara at the critic game, being just as harsh on other new playwrights as O'Mara was on him.
  • Caustic Critic: Mr. Easterbrook delivers his every statement in a snide, condescending tone and rarely has anything positive to say about anything (though the initial performance of Mainly Maine did turn out pretty terribly). Jessica asks him point-blank why a critic should focus all his effort on insult comedy.
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  • Chekhov's Gun: A last-minute cast replacement allows Jessica to crack the case. Easterbrook had arrived late, missing the announcement, and had given the wrong name in his review.
  • Framing the Guilty Party: When the police arrive at Danny O'Mara's apartment in response to an anonymous tip, they discover Mr. Easterbrook standing over the body holding the gun. It turned out Easterbrook had very carefully set up the scenario and left enough holes in it to exonerate himself initially, suspecting that the police would rule him out after clearing him the first time. He didn't reckon with Jessica.
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