Episode 81: Ballad for a Blue Lady

Hutch becomes involved with a blues singer whose brother has connections to an underworld crime boss.

Marianne Owens: Jenny O’Hara, Harry Owens: Sandy Baron, Joe Fitch: Malachi Throne, Chicky: Stack Pierce, Casey O’Brien: Arell Blanton, Stanton: John Karlen, Charlie Baron: Dominic Barto. Written By: Sidney Ellis and Paul Michael Glaser, Directed By: Paul Michael Glaser.

QUESTIONS AND NOTES:

This is a very perplexing episode, almost abstract its content and direction. All the action has already happened: we come in after the crimes have been committed, the bullets have flown, and the perpetrator has been arrested and is facing a grand jury investigation. This is the aftermath, and the atmosphere is largely hushed, almost mournful, with bits and pieces laying on the ground. Viewers have to infer from those pieces what has happened, and what is now happening, and make sense of it all.

Both this episode and Season One’s “Lady Blue” are inextricably linked. Both have very similar titles. Both involve the loss of a lover through cruel means. Both Linda Davisson and Marianne Owens have slipped into the seamy side of life for very good reasons, both are innocent victims. There is a sense – overtly here, less so in “Lady Blue” – that Starsky and Hutch feel culpable in some way, both personally and professionally.

One would think that an episode written and directed by one of the stars would tend to concentrate on the relationship of the two detectives, the most important element in the show. Unfortunately this is not the case. Starsky and Hutch spend most of this episode as virtual strangers, Hutch refusing to share information with his partner or to even call in, and Starsky barely registers when Hutch arrives late, having been beaten up. Starsky ends up trying to do both their jobs by himself and cover for his partner, while Hutch gets too involved with the person he should be investigating. It’s “Rosey Malone” all over again, this time with Hutch, but without any of the sparkle or wry humor between them.

The Tale of Rosey and Marianne: both men go undercover to get information from women connected to someone who is living a life of crime. Both men fall in love and sleep with these women. Both men need reminders from the other that they are cops who are supposed to be doing a job. Both men get discovered as undercover cops and face the wrath from the women, and both men feel bad about the duplicity, but justify it to themselves and the woman by claiming powerful feelings of love and protection, that the process is ultimately for their own good. In both episodes the family unit itself is the cause of ruin, ethically, legally, and morally, a ruin Starsky and Hutch attempt to amend by separating family members.  And most importantly, and ironically, both Starsky and Hutch fail in their efforts, as Rosey flees to Mexico with her father and Marianne refuses to give up her brother.

We catch a glimpse of Glaser’s wonderful flair for directing in the first scene, in which the shadow of the killer plays on the wall.

Notable is the extreme amount of smoking in this episode. The four major characters, Fitch, Casey, Marianne and Harry, are all desperate for a cigarette. Lighting a cigarette and inhaling is a useful device for all of them: it allows time to think, slows down the moment, fills a terrible void, calms the nerves, and in Marianne’s case it provides a tiny frisson of power in that it creates a need for a chivalrous gesture from Hutch. For Casey here in the opening scene it is as a cruelly casual response to the fatal beating going on only a few feet away.

There is an unusual instance of Dobey himself at the initial crime scene. However he offers nothing of substance other than the irrelevance of the victim’s height. Because the script is so vague we are forced to assume the anxious, bad-tempered Stanton is the DA gathering ammunition for the grand jury investigation.It is typical in Glaser-directed episodes that the first scenes are chaotic and jumbled, often in darkness, with a lot of muttering and half-heard dialogue, which makes the viewer feel lost for about five long minutes. Here, and particularly in “Deckwatch”, Glaser has the patience and the confidence that we will hang in long enough to eventually understand what he is getting at. It’s a risk in the notoriously fickle world of television but it always pays off.

It’s a great scene with the intense confrontation with Stanton and Hutch, and again a director’s flair for framing: we only see Hutch’s hands grasping Stanton’s collar.

The casting of Jenny O’Hara, the queen of unshed tears, is a triumph. Trembling, fragile and intelligent, her continual smoking and drinking suggests a deep psychic discomfort. The only time in the entire episode we see her smiling is when she’s giving a blistering rendition of “High Flying Bird”. When she confronts Hutch later in the episode and cries out that she’s a person, and that his actions hurt, her voice breaks in a truly heart wrenching way. In fact she uses her voice very creatively throughout: it breaks in pain, soars in song, raises in anger, and drops to a whisper. Does she do her own singing? It’s very good and it sounds like it could be her.

Brother-sister relationships are always fascinating and they’re rarely depicted in film or television. This one is especially good, with Harry alternately tender and dominating, cruel and helpless. And in the end, risking it all for her. They also look a lot alike, with the same long face and prominent cheekbones, dark hair and large eyes.

Part of Soul’s song “1927 Kansas City” is recited when Hutch shows his lyrics to Marianne, which is a lovely detail. Stack Pierce, who plays Marianne’s accompanist, is a professional pianist.

The music in this episode is well-chosen, subtle, sophisticated, and always advances the plot. In the beginning we see Marianne singing “High Flying Bird”, its lyrics indicative of her situation: the character in the song longs for the freedom of a bird while lamenting her situation. “Lord, look at me here, I’m rooted like a tree here”. (The words notably, change the gender of the bird from the traditional female to a “he”, no doubt reflecting a woman’s longing for the freedom and power inherent in men.) Later, she is practicing with the low-key but loyal accompanist Chicky, attempting to master the difficult “Nature Boy” by Eden Abez with its echoes of Dvořák, which has become a jazz standard. Again, like “High Flying Bird”, this is a song about someone longing for freedom and independence, and the assuredness that the greatest achievement is to be loved by someone who loves you in return. Significantly, Marianne can’t get this right and quits in frustration, signaling to us that she is unable to be free, or loved. And then she sits listening to “Nobody’s Heart” while sitting alone in her room following Hutch’s betrayal: “Nobody’s heart belongs to me, heigh ho, nobody cares. Nobody writes his songs for me, no one belongs to me.” This echoes her bitterness about her revelation that Hutch, although ostensibly having written her a song, is only interested in using her for a larger, more complicated means of justice. Then, right after, we see her gorgeously silhouetted in gold, in the dark of her club, singing Hoagy Carmichael’s extraordinarily beautiful “Baltimore Oriole”. Again with the bird theme, she laments “no life for a lady, to be dragging her feathers around in the snow”. This music is not predictable, is sensitively chosen, perfectly reflects the action without hammering home its point.

Hutch is undercover, hoping to get close enough to Marianne to get to Fitch. He’s been in this position for less than a week, and has known Marianne for less than three days. Why, then, does he force her on the dangerous dash through the streets to shake loose Fitch’s henchmen? He even pulls her into a hiding place and puts his hand over her mouth in an aggressive, frightening manner. This is an antagonistic move on his part and doesn’t make sense from a policing standpoint, or a moral one. Fitch immediately pegs him as a possible undercover cop, and what woman would put up with that sort of behavior? (Marianne does, apparently,which is part of her problem.)

The sparring between Starsky and Hutch regarding duty is another tiresome repeat of an argument we have heard many times. It’s depressing to watch. Unlike other episodes (“Rosey Malone”, “Bindfold”) there is no escalation into cleansing and possibly redemptive shouting, and no culminating gesture of affection either (“Lady Blue” and “Pariah”).

Nice direction again as the morning sun is reflected off Starsky’s badge as he wakes Harry.

Marianne is listening to Joe Pizzarelli’s “Nobody’s Heart” when her brother comes to visit. Marianne may be the most depressed person in the series, but she still has the get-up-and-go to have fresh flowers in her room. From a fan, perhaps?

Harry says, “the two of you shared a bed and not a word was spoken?” He is assuming a sexual encounter that we not only don’t witness, but see no evidence of. Marianne doesn’t correct him. Assuming Harry is right, when would this have happened? After their hair-raising run down city streets? And if it didn’t happen, why wouldn’t Marianne put her brother at ease and tell him he’s exaggerating? Is this a matter of pride with her, or does she just not care about the details? Another clue as to something sexual taking place between them is later in the alley, when Hutch says “I’m sorry” and Marianne says bitterly, “About what? It wasn’t too bad, was it?”

When Hutch and Marianne have their revealing conversation in the alley, how much does Casey overhear, if anything? And why talk knowing Fitch’s loyal soldier is so close? Hutch is very aware of him, but seems to wait until Casey has walked out of earshot, but there is no way Casey would let this golden opportunity to eavesdrop go by.

Marianne tells Hutch he is as interested in what happens to her as the “man on the moon.” Later, Hutch’s answer to her about who beat him up is “the man on the moon.” Is Hutch slinging it back at her, remembering her earlier comment? How hostile is this, anyway?

It seems impossible Hutch has genuine romantic feelings for Marianne. She’s so hard she’s in danger of shattering, like a frozen twig. Hutch is normally turned off by brittle, clingy women, and Marianne is both: even her powerful contempt is mired in a desperate neediness. He may have protective feelings but he’s very distant and careful. He has two very subtle moments in which the door is open to a more substantial relationship and he fails to walk through both times. The first is when he is pleading with her to help. She tells him she will marry him, and they can go away forever. All Hutch has to do is say, “Yes,” echoing what he is asking her to do. Hutch hesitates in his answer, and then says, “That’s not the point.” Later, Marianne tells him she can’t do it alone. Hutch says, “We could do it.” Marianne replies, “You really believe that?” It is Hutch’s second waffle-answer, “I’d like to,” confirms the fact he isn’t entirely sure and can’t be counted on. Both of Hutch’s hesitations, while entirely human, are not what Marianne wants to hear.

Marianne telling Hutch the solution to her sticky situation is to get married strikes me as peculiarly old-fashioned, and not very practical. Only in Jane Austen novels is marriage ever the solution to anything, but perhaps she’s being ironic.

The station seems all a-buzz in this episode, unusually so, possibly reflecting Starsky’s whirling mind. Phones are ringing, people rushing around, voices fill the background. It’s quite sad when Starsky asks other cops if they have seen Hutch around. Not too long ago, the opposite would be the case: Starsky alone would know the whereabouts of his partner. Now, he is as clueless as everyone else.

One of Hutch’s character mainstays is he has never worn a watch, in part because of his contrary, conspiratorial loathing of modern conveniences. But now he is wearing one. He looks at it, and then asks Marianne the time. Is his because his watch was broken in fight? Is his vision blurry? Or is he trying to engage her to stay longer?

Let’s get this straight (and in this hazy, backward episode getting something straight is not easy): Casey snaps a photo of Hutch in the alley, then one or more of Fitch’s men grab and beat him. Even though they have discovered somehow he’s a cop, the beating isn’t fatal, but rather violent notification of Fitch’s fury and nothing more (why not? Wouldn’t they be tempted to dispatch him permanently? Fitch has no problem committing multiple murders, and right now he’s so far into it one more couldn’t make a difference). Hutch escapes and goes to Marianne’s, either to warn her or shock her by his appearance into doing the right thing. Fitch, frustrated by the escape, then puts a hit on him by using the photograph (although, having snapped it long before assaulting Hutch, one might think Fitch had been planning something all along, because why else would he take the photograph in the first place? As a means of identifying your future victim? A ghoulish souvenir?).

I don’t care how rushed Starsky is, surely he could have actually stopped the car to talk to Huggy, who has some very important information to impart. However, the scene is visually arresting, and Huggy’s panting jog adds to the sense of anxiety.

Thank god for that tag. Without that tag I could shoot myself, the show is so depressing and dour. This is one time the jokey, relaxed element of the tag is welcome. Hutch is allowing himself to be all goofy with Starsky, talking happily to his plants without a hint of self-consciousness. He seems relieved, nearly giddy, to be rid of this case (and rid of Marianne). However, nothing can quite overcome the bleakness of this episode. Nothing is solved: Marianne has lost her brother, the case against Fitch is pending, the bitterness of Hutch’s failure undercover lingers. Even the joke at the end has a sour aftertaste: the police don’t get their raise, and Hutch’s plan for a greenhouse is doomed.

Clothing notes: Hutch once again wears his signature moon-and-stars necklace, and with it the tusk pendant. He’s also a standout in a buttery-soft caramel fringe jacket that looks so right on him it could be his own.

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18 Responses to “Episode 81: Ballad for a Blue Lady”

  1. Daniela Says:

    I will have to look at this episode again, with your comments at hand, because all I remember from seeing it was that it was very dark, a lot of singing and quite confusing…
    Thanks for your post and happy new year!
    Daniela

  2. Lynn Says:

    Hi Merle,
    great review as usual. I totally agree that this is a difficult one to watch and figure out for many reasons. I was not impressed with the repetitive theme of cop goes undercover, falls for needy lady with criminal connections, comes clean about being a cop, feels rotten about it, and fights with partner. I enjoyed the music and some of the directing, but was disappointed in how disconnected the partners were. Don’t you think Starsky could have commiserated with Hutch about the risks of going undercover with beautiful needy women and how he got through it? I would think that Hutch would look to Starsky for some advice too, seeing how troubled he was when Starksy was having the guilts over Rosie Malone. Many times in Season Four I feel that the appeal of the series, the relationship between S&H is lost. There are more scenes where they are working solo than in past seasons. I believe that if Season Four had been Season One there wouldn’t have been a Season Two. The chemistry is just too scarce there.
    Lynn

  3. Lynn Says:

    Oh, just a little PS. I’m surprised that smoking wasn’t more integrated into this series, i.e. with the stars. The few times there are ciggies around you can almost see David Soul inhale more deeply just to catch a taste. I think you mentioned once that the role model thing may have come into play, but a lot of people smoked in the ’70’s, and it does seem to lend itself to the police drama. Did you ever notice how much Don Johnson smoked in Miami Vice? Non- filters at that.
    Lynn

    • merltheearl Says:

      Yes, so many scenic touches were missed by the leads not smoking. I still think it was because of the many young impressionable fans of the show causing the producers to be squeamish about the issue of smoking (but not promiscuity, apparently). And I am in total agreement with your thoughts about “if Season Four had been Season One there wouldn’t have been a Season Two”. Perfectly put.

  4. Survivor Says:

    You write, ‘Thank god for that tag.’ Hear-hear! This is a difficult episode, although it is interesting to see the ‘shoe on the other foot’, insofar as it is Hutch with the problem of duping a woman in the name of undercover, and not Starsky.

    Hutch’s reaction of withdrawing from his partner is similar to Starsky’s, and I too (like Lynn in her post above) wondered why Starsky could not draw on his own experience to better relate to Hutch when talking with him in the darkened corridor. Instead he curtly reminds Hutch of the job he is to do. Starsky is right, but he knows from experience it’s a lot more difficult than that, and it would have been nice to see some empathy.

    But the connection wasn’t there between the partners any more than it was with the electricity at Metro. (What is it with the darkness at Metro in this episode – had the police department’s budget been cut and they hadn’t paid their power bills?)

    • merltheearl Says:

      You make an interesting point about why Starsky wouldn’t use his own experience to help Hutch. Very often throughout the series the writers treat each episode as a seperate entity from the whole, divorcing it from all other episodes. Sometimes it’s irritating non sequitirs, such as Hutch saying in “Las Vegas Strangler” that he’s afraid of heights when the opposite is true, and sometimes it can be seen when both make similar mistakes over and over again. Starsky could have said, “hey Hutch, remember when you became over-involved with Anna?” or “remember when I let my feelings for Rosey get in the way of an undercover operation?” But no, apparently these instances do not exist, allowing the writers to frequently recycle plots in which feelings get in the way of results. (Not that Hutch is likely to listen; he has a very poor record of taking Starsky’s advice, and vice versa). Contemporary television series are much better at acknowledging and keeping track of previous activities, leading to more realistic character growth and development.

      That’s a funny observation about the low light at the station. The director’s film noir-inspired quirk, most likely.

  5. Survivor Says:

    P.S. Oops, I meant to say ‘thank you’, Merl, for another great analysis.

  6. June Says:

    I was then and now disappointed to see that this fizzer was co-written by Glaser. IMO, he wouldn’t have written this – had he been given the chance – two or three years ago and all this ep said to me was that Glaser didn’t give a hang then about the show and he might have been tired of working with Soul by then. If I were giving a report to his parents, I’d have written, “Paul has become sullen and withdrawn and needs to apply himself to his work more diligently.”

    • merltheearl Says:

      I probably wouldn’t call this episode a fizzer – I think it has redeeming qualities – but yeah, I’d agree young Mr. Glaser needs to stay behind and write “I will put more effort into my endeavors” a thousand times.

  7. Dona Says:

    First of all, happy New Year! may this 2013 bring you many precious creative moments.
    Then, about “Ballad”: this was a special episode for me, for more than one reason. I understand that my appreciation might be isolated, but I can’t help posting some comments of mine.
    I liked the dark atmosphere, the music, the slow pace, symbolic of a no return journey (I agree, an unusual oppressive mood), and I loved David Soul acting, giving Hutch the right torment of a mature man torn between different feelings.
    I did really like the female character, pretty unusual in the series, a woman coming from a past of fights and suffering, leaving under her skin cynicism and disenchantment. A not young woman who has decided to give up an own life to protect all what is left of her family.
    The romantic involvement with Hutch and the consequent inner conflict, between the fragile rise of a possible love and the forced wariness, show her great maturity. Very far from Rosey Malone character, who seemed to me just as a little spoilt girl, changing her mind so quickly and taking an unnecessary unbelievable final decision.
    Comparing the symmetrical episodes “Ballad” and “I love you RM” (I assume that the series have no sequential nature) I always thought that this was the most important difference, making me prefer “Ballad”.
    This is not Starsky, often light-heartedly attracted by young girls, and handling Hutch I think it was nice to make him almost fall with a mature woman, whether for truly impossible love or just for protection and care. This is not Starsky, the solid man of resolute decisions, and I liked Hutch’s hesitant responses to Marianne, the evidence of imperishable inner struggles and of an undisguisable honesty.
    I also think it was nice to create around Hutch that unusual loneliness. In sadness, when we gradually realize that there is no way out and that even our best friend is in no position to help, don’t we also try to run away and look for loneliness?
    I also quite liked the quiet reproach by Starsky, who could have hit harder, and the only possible reaction by Hutch, a harsh nervy escape, as it is his way especially in a very bad mood. Yes, there is no escalation, no gestures between them (just for a change…), not even time to “listen”, but that was the sharp reaction we would expect from Hutch and I felt that Starsky’s subtle patience (not lenience) here was something more than simple affection for his partner.
    Things are dealt differently in “I love you RM”, but that’s because characters are different. I would also compare this scene with the similar scene in “Blindfold”, but maybe in a different post.
    Thanks
    Dona

    • merltheearl Says:

      Dona, thank you for your lovely and extremely perceptive response to this moody, often difficult episode. You’ve managed to make me like “Ballad” even more than I already did. As well, I am reminded of a beautiful quote from Rainer Maria Rilke that I nearly put as a subtitle on this blog: “Works of art are of an infinite solitude, and no means of approach is so useless as criticism. Only love can touch and hold them and be fair to them.” I think your comments are the perfect embodiment of that approach.

      Now I’m inspired to write a post comparing the three instances of Confrontation and Accusation in “Ballad”, “Rosey Malone”, and “Blindfold”. I look forward to the challenge!

      • Dona Says:

        The quote from RM.Rilke is really beautiful and so appropriate. As a subtitle of a blog apparently so focused on the “analysis work” it would have been very intriguing … perhaps, a suggestion to seek what is hidden between the lines, or an invitation to reply simply following the notes of emotions.
        If you talk about comparing “Ballad”, “Rosey Malone” and “Blindfold” … I’m ready, I issue a challenge here and now and I promise I’ll follow you (eventually I might even understand why the third one always frightens me more than the other two).
        But before that, we are still waiting for the two last Life Lessons. You said the best and most powerful would have been the last, and considering the first three I can’t imagine what could be left.

  8. King David Says:

    I, too, find this episode hard to sit through. Dark and sinister in places, edgy and restless in others. Can’t fathom that mad rush; it was inevitable the papers would go flying.
    Starsky can break into anywhere, it seems.
    And that scene in the station when he says “Well it’s all you’re going to get.” He looks good, but it’s not a good situation.
    And I agree that logic dictates that Starsky should’ve stopped the car to speak with Huggy; it’s strange. What was on Glaser’s mind I wonder? At least Starsky looks suitably serious. It would’ve been better with a mad, tyre-screeching pull away from the kerb.
    It’s so desolate, with no overt friendship gestures. I tend to avoid this episode.

  9. King David Says:

    Oh thank you! It was heart-breaking by the time we got to series 4, with none of the camaraderie and rapport. They were both good actors, so not unreasonable to ask that they acted as close as always, even if not strictly true.

  10. Sweet Alice Says:

    I am shocked to find that my reaction to this episode differs so much from others. While I do agree the episode suffers from not enough camaraderie between S & H, it is utterly GORGEOUS! Firstly, the lighting is extraordinary in each scene and feels more like a high budget film. It is delicious to watch! The music is achingly beautiful and melancholy, helping us immediately empathize with Marianne’s feelings of being trapped within intense and stifling “family” obligations and the consequences of choices that were made for her while she was too young to know better or be able to choose for herself, ie: suffering in prison for five years for her brother and the resulting inevitable emotional shutting down in order to survive. We can not know the trauma. Her only joyful moments are when she is singing, expressing and reconnecting to her wounded spirit. Art as therapy. As the episode progresses we come to appreciate her passion on stage as a life line, each performance means more to us as we witness how life is truly suffocating for her the rest of the time. I don’t know about you, but I really relate to this! Hutch, with his artistic spirit seems immediately simpatico with Marianne. He too has experienced pain and disappointment (Vanessa for one) and it may be cathartic in some way to share her pain and try to redeem her and thus heal himself. Starsky can be naive, simple and too buoyant to share Hutch’s moody sensibilities. I have a buddy like this, fiercely loyal and upbeat, and occasionally she drives me nuts and I need time to sulk alone. With this in mind I find it completely logical that Hutch is avoiding Starsky in this episode. He is immersing himself in a deep, rich well of complex emotions that Starsky just would not understand. The acting and casting is spot on and a cut above the rest of the series, again feeling more like a motion picture. I don’t know if PMG had the cast rehearse more, I suspect that is the case because they are so believable and multilayered. Jenny O’Hara and Sandy Baron are completely convincing as brother and sister, psychologically, emotionally and criminally enmeshed. Where does one end and the other begin? They are a pair, never to be separated except by death. They seem so young, as if they stopped developing at the age they unfortunately got mixed up with Joe Fitch, growing older, but not really maturing. Of course when you are under the thumb of a tyrant how can you be a true adult, responsible for yourself? The situation demands you remain a child, under another’s control. Perhaps with Harry’s death and Fitch’s arrest Marianne can actually begin her life. She can finally be the free flying bird that she sings about.

    • merltheearl Says:

      Sweet Alice, I love this comment. My issues with this episode have to do more with the cool distance between the partners – to my mind, the lifeblood of the series – as well as a few logic gaps, but reading your observations has made me warm to this episode even more. Like you, I love Jenny O’Hara’s powerful performance, and I also love her unusual character. I also appreciate your take on Hutch occasionally needing to move off into his own darkness. I have observed this more than once: during his quiet search of Allan Richards’ apartment in “Class in Crime” and his solitary piecing together of the identikit in “Avenger” and among other episodes, but I hadn’t thought it might function as a brief respite from his partner’s indomitable optimism. As a moody introvert myself I had to smile in recognition.

      A passionate, personal comment such as this always makes my day. Thank you.

  11. Sharon Marie Says:

    Let me start by saying that although the storyline does not make the top of my list, by far, I don’t think this episode is the stinker some think it is along the lines of Voo Doo Island or Dandruff. For me, I enjoyed PMG’s directing as well as Soul’s and O’Hara’s determined acting efforts.

    The best thing that happens to this show is Paul Michael Glaser directing David Soul. PMG has a way with the camera – angles, shadowing and perspective. He is not afraid to blur out the forefront of his shot thereby making his focal point at the rear, then immediately reversing the blur and bringing the focal point to the forefront. This lends so much to the intended emotion. He does not use the standard adequate one dimensional shot that follows the recipe for TV shows of the time. He takes risks and usually wins.

    He angles on the diagonal a lot, much like photographers, frequently not at eye level, but below. He also boldly uses negative space to his advantage. I think most directors at the time would scoff at this, wanting the subject to be dead center in the frame. But he uses the set, props and atmosphere to his advantage by letting them have the first entrance on a scene quickly followed by the subject appearing and staying off center. This sets the scene for the viewer immediately.

    He’s also not afraid to put a lot of props, atmosphere and windows between camera and subject to, again, show perspective (Starsky seeing Hutch at the station through the window and window blind.)

    Instead of relying only on the stage lights hung on cat walks and poles, he uses lights in the scene to provide close up lighting of the subject’s face – a kitchen light, desk lamp. See Hutch sneaking in on the rehearsal, standing next to a globe light, then sitting down next to a table lamp whose dark shade gives an orange hue to his face.

    In this episode he is using darkness to frame the actors quite a bit, especially Soul and O’Hara who, by the way, really work their acting chops. She was so devastatingly convincing I now have a clinical general anxiety disorder just from watching this twice.

    I truly appreciate the anger Hutch is trying to contain at the murder scene. Trying, but not succeeding. And seeing just his pointing finger as his anger comes to a boil is genius.

    I think I am 10 years closer to lung cancer just by watching all the smoking in this episode as you pointed out. I don’t smoke. I coughed.

    Loved how he cut back and forth from the back seat of the Torino speeding to get to Marianne with no dialogue, just the din of the police dispatcher on the radio, to Fitch threatening Marianne and her brother.

    Tag: The Bickersons are at it again.

    Clothing: Not a fan of the fringed jacket on Soul. Made him look like a cheap Buffalo Bill impersonator. The only thing missing is a long goatee.

  12. mrsowlcroft Says:

    I have to agree with the others praising this episode. A friend had “warned” me against watching season 4, but she was so wrong! This was a hugely evocative episode, with some fantastic acting and directing, and a tragic story woven onto a dark tapestry. Not only is it believable and compelling, but it also leads us along Hutch’s gradual path to despair and depression, explaining (perhaps, and perhaps only in part) some of his later actions.

    One of the common complaints about the whole season is that the partners spend less time together, which is easily understandable with them taking over writing and directorial chores, plus splitting screen time to give each other more time off. Another problem for some viewers is the apparent lack of affection, but I’m not seeing any change here except for subtler displays with the same bedrock foundation. Sometimes the best response to a troubled friend is an understanding silence and an infinite well of patience. When they do sit together in peace in the tag, they still nestle next to each other (no comprehension of personal space is, I believe, the phrase) and are so perfectly content and at ease that it’s magical. Still, after all these years. I’ve got to convince that friend of mine to give season 4 another chance!

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