The Mysteries of Laura: The Mystery of the Downward Spiral is the first half of a two-parter, which makes a certain amount of sense when looking at the credentials of the guest-star list. Stockard Channing and Jerry O’Connell are the big names in this week’s mystery. A perfume magnate is found murdered right outside his business. Laura and Jake head into the place to look for clues and talk to the dead man’s next of kin; his son John (O’Connell).
In the middle of speaking to the victim’s son, high powered attorney Brenda Phillips (Channing) turns up to monitor proceedings and inform John that he will not be running the company (Belle Reve) or inheriting any money from his late father.
As Diamond and Broderick investigate the murder they find a number of suspects, “the Nose” (played by Willie Garson), an animal rights activist (ARK), John Dunham’s fiancee Ayla (Ciara Wong), Brenda Phillips, and finally, John himself.
Amidst all this police work, Laura and Jake finally discuss the issue of his lying about the medical conditions. After a long interim of Diamond avoiding the subject she finally reveals that the lie prompted her to give Tony (Neal Bledsoe) a chance and not Jake.
Each suspect is cleared by the team but John learns, while the two detectives are questioning his fiancé, that Ayla slept with his father. Laura talks to John later and he convinces her of his innocence. Dunham has a bit of a break down that seems to be prompted by learning that his former love interest was unfaithful.
Not long after the conversation, Laura and her team find a blood spattered lab coat, and a par of latex gloves covered with Michael Dunham’s blood and John’s DNA inside them. As Jake and Laura stakeout Belle Reve to catch John if he returns, they talk about Tony, and that Jake still sees the Laura as a part of him.
After the end of their one-sided stakeout conversation, Laura spies John entering Belle Reve and she approaches the suspect with her gun drawn. The building blows up. Diamond gets knocked to the ground by the fireball and later talks with Captain Santiani (Callie Thorne) who offers to transfer Jake if it is too difficult for Laura to keep working with her ex.
The police believe that John Dunham died in the explosion. Laura learns, the next morning, that Dunham is not dead when he appears in her room with a gun.
This last minute surprise segways neatly into a two-parter. (Next week’s episode is titled “The Mystery of the Unwanted Houseguest.”) O’Connell’s character is clearly not dead, and this fact alone indicates that he is just as clearly not guilty of his father’s murder.
The Mystery of the Downward Spiral is another example of those clever twists by the writers of “Laura.” The downward spiral is obviously meant to indicate that the main suspect, John Dunham (with his drug problem) did just that before killing his father and himself.
The same downward spiral also means the relationship between Laura and Jake. The lie, that Lucas was caught out on last week, has destroyed the “will they, won’t they” vibe that existed between the former partners. Now Laura has angrily opted for Tony and loyalties at the precinct are decidedly mixed.
A cliff-hanger ending leaves Diamond and her boys, along with the housekeeper, in danger. Clips from the next week’s program hint that Jake will at least try to come to the rescue. The chemistry between Messing and Lucas continues to be spot on and one wonders if this heroic effort will mend that particular burnt bridge.
O’Connell (the former star of Sliders and a plethora of other work) does his usual excellent job of selling whatever character he plays. Channing easily rules the scenes she appears in, despite being in an overly large “cameo” role, and is a delight to watch. Both will return, apparently, for the second part of this mystery.
The Mysteries of Laura airs Wednesdays on NBC. Tune in and see who really saves Laura next week.