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Recap / Murder She Wrote S 4 E 5 The Way To Dusty Death

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CEO Duncan Barnett calls a special weekend meeting of the company's board with the promise of an announcement, which raises the hopes of many of his staff, who hope to succeed him. However, when Duncan announces he has no intention to retire, someone registers a complaint that rings the businessman's death knell . Now Jessica, in over her head in the world of business, must sort out whose vaulting ambition pushed them towards murder.


This episode includes examples of the following tropes:

  • The Bard on Board: The entire plot is a modernized homage to Macbeth. A fortune teller stands in for the witches, predicting the rise of a man whose name starts with the letter "M" (Macbeth/Morgan McCormack), much to the delight of his scheming wife, but warning him to beware a determined foe (Macduff/Jessica). A leader named Duncan (who in the episode is the head of a corporation rather than a king) gets murdered, seemingly as a result of ambition. A few twists are added, however. Duncan, unlike the benevolent ruler of the play, comes off as something of a jerk, and the attempt on his life that killed him wasn't due to the Macbeth stand-in.
  • Lady Macbeth: Ginny McCormack serves as a stand-in for the Trope Namer. When her fortune teller gives them favorable predictions, she's ecstatic and keeps trying to raise her husband's hopes. Upon Duncan's announcement that he has no intention of retiring soon, she brings up the possibility of helping his coming death along. Ultimately, she's the one who plants the brandy glass when her husband loses his nerve.
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  • Lotsa People Try to Dun It: Downplayed; For much of the episode, it seems that Mr. and Mrs. McCormack killed Duncan with a fatal dose of digitalis in his bedtime brandy. However, it turns out he never drank the brandy and died from another attempt. Mr. McCormack still removes the glass, as it could give away his intentions.
  • High-Voltage Death: Mrs. Dutton goes to Duncan privately to plead for a chance for her husband to act as chairman for a change. When he flippantly dismisses her, she pushes his television into the hot tub, electrocuting him.
  • Red Herring: For much of the episode, it looks like Duncan died of a heart attack brought on by digitalis-spiked brandy. However, it turns out he actually died from electrocution.

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