The Mysteries of Laura: Season Two Finale – Tissues Required (Review)

Tissues are required for the season finale of The Mysteries of Laura, but not necessarily just for the death of Santiani, or even for the brilliant role-reversal ending.

The Mysteries of Laura - Season 2

Tissues are required for the season finale of The Mysteries of Laura, but not necessarily just for the death of Santiani, or even for the brilliant role-reversal ending.  (Although both of these do require copious amounts of tissues.) One should really shed a tear for the short shrift given the death of a regular character who became such a presence on the second season.

Callie Thorne‘s prickly, annoying and captain, who was in many ways a “mini-me” to Laura Diamond but in charge of the entire precinct had just become more than likable when she and Laura became friends in the pervious episodes.

Santiani offered to have Jake reassigned when things became difficult between her top detective and Broderick in an earlier episode.  The captain also, even while disciplining Diamond, backed Laura after her sister’s boyfriend was killed. A lot of ink was spilt making Thorne’s character not only more acceptable but more human.

Obviously this buildup was done to intensify the feelings of shock and upset when the tiny police captain was murdered.  While this is understandable and a sign of good writing it is disappointing that in the followup to Santiani’s death by sniper bullet, the fallen cop is pushed to the background.

In The Mystery of the End of Watch Nancy Santiani’s death is “glossed over” as the threat is moved initially to Laura, as the intended target and then to Nancy’s son Justin when the boy is kidnapped by his father.   The plot then allows a former abusive partner to make amends to his murdered wife. A woman whose death was almost directly caused by him.

There was  chance to see Louis Ozawa Changchien for a quick moment, or two, return as Jimmy Chun and Debby Ryan, as younger half-sister Lucy Diamond as  carry-overs from last week’s episode.  Both characters, Chun and Lucy, provide plot directions, were the former reveals that the “hit” was not on Diamond but Santiani and the latter prompts her big sister to seize the moment “by the balls.”

The entire episode serves as a wakeup call of sorts for Laura (Messing), Jake (Lucas) and his new girlfriend Jen (Jenna Fischer). Apart from this triangle of awareness the call also reaches Meredith and Billy.

Obviously the message here is that death can come at anytime to anyone. As Laura herself says, in essence,  after Santiani’s demise “life is fleeting.”  As was the amount of time spent on Nancy Santiani’s death.   Granted, Diamond and Santiani were not “bestie’s” by any stretch of the imagination but, damnit, the two strong women bonded like hell in the previous episode.

One of their bonding moments helps Laura to track down Justin.  To be fair, there are “moments” where we have glimpses of Santiani. The Cape Canaveral tickets were a lump inducing reminder that we never know or realize that we do not have a lot of time in this life.

Another moment is when Diamond quotes Santiani:

“A wise woman we all worked for once told me to hope for the best but plan for the worst.”

After catching the two men responsible for killing Nancy, the season finale then does the “end of watch” scene.

“Central to Captain Nancy Santiani. We thank you, Captain, for your leadership, your compassion, your generosity of spirit in serving the people of New York and this country. Central to the 359. Central to Captain Nancy Santiani. Central to Captain Nancy Santiani. Captain Nancy Santiani is end of watch.”

This may not be the way that the police say goodbye to one of their own, but only the hardest of hearts would not be moved by the announcement, (in fact this writer is tearing up just writing this) and while this feels a little contrived…

It works.

This part of The Mysteries of Laura is so emotional that it makes perfect sense that Billy Soto breaks “every rule of the bro code” to tell Laura about Jake proposing to Jen.

The end of the finale sees Laura rushing to stop Jake and to tell him that she still loves him. A splendid role reversal where the woman (Diamond) strides into the room and declares they still have a future together.  After a romantic kiss and floods of schmaltzy tears (from the audience)Jen shows up and asks if everything is okay; flashing the ring.

Laura is too late.

Great ending to the second season. But…

The Mysteries of Laura - Season 2
Captain Nancy Santiani

It is a shame that Nancy Santiani aka “Santini” had to die and then become an “also ran” plot point to move the story along.  Sure the “Central to Captain Nancy Santiani” was heart breaking but Callie Thorne’s character deserved so much more…

Perhaps that was the point.

 

The Mysteries of Laura: The Mystery of the Dark Heart (Recap/Review)

The Mysteries of Laura: The Mystery of the Dark Heart has, obviously, a Valentine’s Day theme.

 The Mysteries of Laura - Season 2

The Mysteries of Laura: The Mystery of the Dark Heart has, obviously, a Valentine’s Day theme. On the day of the holiday Laura is attempting to make decorations and as Alicia takes over, after her boss has burned herself with the glue gun, Diamond gets a call; her gift for the day is a murder.

Arriving at the murder scene, Jake hands her a pair of gloves while wishing her a “happy Valentine’s Day. A dead man with multiple stab wounds is on the floor and  surrounded by copious amounts of blood.  Laura checks inside  the victim’s mouth and Reynaldo remarks dryly that it is a little late for CPR.

After explaining that the murder resembles the MO of St. Valentine, a serial killer who struck back in the 90s, she and Jake explain that part of those crime scenes included a groom cake decoration being placed in the male victim’s mouth.

As the episode continues a number of similarities between the old serial killer, who was killed by officers back in 1994 as he left the last body drop off site, emerge. This leads the detectives to investigate whether the real culprit was really killed.

Laura’s old Captain, Dan Hauser (Enrico Colantoni), whom she arrested back in the 2014 pilot episode for murder, was a white shield when the original killer was caught and Jake arranges for the man to get out of prison to help on this new case. 

The detectives realize that this is either a copycat or the cops got the wrong guy back in 1994. Throughout the precinct, Laura’s colleagues are getting flowers and candies, even Santiani (Callie Thorne) has balloons delivered. New “official” couple Soto and Bose have not “celebrated” and she tells Laura that Billy knows that she does not like PDA. Laura tells Meredith that Billy will go all out.

Reynaldo calls and tells Jake that he and Laura need to see him. The ME has found the groom cake topper that Diamond was looking for;  the victim inhaled it. The investigation goes on to reveal a number of things that indicate there were two serial killers “back in the day.”

They also find a website that sells crime scene memorabilia which leads the detectives to find an “expert” on the St. Valentine murders. The man steals a baby tooth of the original killer from the “little old lady” proprietor of the serial killer memorabilia “store.”

Jake: “Are those Ted Bundy’s undies?”

When they track the “expert” down, he reveals that he believes that St. Valentine is still on the loose. Later, the detectives find that the man is partially correct; there were two killers during the first series of murders.

When the police do a DNA test on Glen Baker (the man believed to be St. Valentine) it matches nothing found at the crime scenes.  Looking at old photographs of victims, Laura realizes that there were two killers based on bruises found on the dead men’s throats.

As the cops narrow down their search for the partner, Meredith gets irate when Soto does nothing for Valentine’s Day and Laura keeps the news that she dumped Tony close to her vest.

Hauser feels guilty about not knowing that there were two killers while the partner begins the new ritual of the old killings. Dressing the young woman in a wedding dress and injecting her with an overdose of heroin, the race is now on to catch the man before Rachelle dies.

A nostalgic, aka retro, craze for old chocolates leads the detectives to their hottest suspect,  Wayne Lewis, who should have been questioned in the 1990s but was not after Baker was killed. They go to his old address and find his soon-to-be ex-wife, who is a dead ringer for the victim.

Sidenote: In this part of the case, the writers seem to be taking a page from the real-life case of the UK’s Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe, who was essentially killing his wife over and over. Sonia, his wife for 20 years, was a very controlling woman who was said to rule Peter at home. Each of his victims, after the first, resembled Sonia in body type and other features.

Lewis, upset that his wife left him, starts  killing again. Diamond and Broderick find out that the man is a security system installer that his wife met during the first killings. They believe that he has begun anew to terrify his estranged spouse. According to her, it was her fear of St.Valentine which led to them meeting  previously.

It becomes a race to save Rachelle, the latest female victim, who is in an impregnable vault. The cops trick Wayne into opening the door and only just save the young woman’s life.

By the end of the episode, Meredith rounds on Soto to complain that he has done nothing for the “greeting card holiday” and he reveals that the reverse it true.  Laura goes to tell Jake that she broke up with Tony only to discover that he has a new romantic interest; Jennifer Lambert (Jenna Fischer).

Lambert is not only the judge who expedited everything that Jake and Laura needed to catch Lewis, but her son Liam plays with the twins.  Broderick and the mother of his boys’ playdate are set to go out and Laura keeps the news of Tony’s departure quiet.  By the end of the episode, only Max (Max Jenkinsknows about the breakup.

Great writing on this episode with the use of new-age definitions such as “catfish” and the dinosaur technology remark when the 90s floppy discs are brought out of the evidence box.  There are also the occasional uses of procedural terms, like COD (cause of death) and Marc Webster as the ME Reynaldo projects professionalism with a capital P.

The Mysteries of Laura airs Wednesdays on NBC, tune in for the catchy theme tune and stay for the great writing and brilliant acting.

The Mysteries of Laura: The Mystery of the Unwelcome House Guest (Review)

While part two of The Mysteries of Laura: The Mystery of the Unwelcome House Guest, does not take up where last week’s episode ended, it does show what transpired prior to Jon Durham (Jerry O’Connell) getting into Laura’s house.

 The Mysteries of Laura - Season 2

While part two of The Mysteries of Laura: The Mystery of the Unwelcome House Guest, does not take up where last week’s episode ended, it does show what transpired prior to Jon Durham (Jerry O’Connell) getting into Laura’s house. (It also shows what prompted Alicia to tell the boys off for leaving the front door open.)

The episode then picks back up, after getting Durham in the house once it is established that he built  a bomb before sneaking in the Diamond house. The  suspect continues his downward spiral, attempting to force Laura into confessing that she framed him for his father’s murder while suffering from withdrawal.

As Laura tries to get the upper hand, or at least calm Jon down, her colleagues continue to try and find Durham. Unaware that Diamond is being held at gunpoint by the man they are looking for  (and bomb-point) as he tries to force Laura to confess.

 The Mysteries of Laura - Season 2
Jerry O’Connell showing off those chops…

Despite giving Alicia (Alysia Joy Powell) a clue to pass on to the precinct (saying that she must have eaten a “bad clam”)  most of the episode passes by before Jake manages to find out that his ex is being held hostage.  Rather than follow protocol, Broderick (Josh Lucas) enlists the help of Soto (Laz Alonso) to rescue Laura from Durham.

Once again, the writers of this show pulled out all the stops in order to put an extra helping of drama into a two part episode. Carefully building up O’Connell’s character as a drug addicted screw up who could have killed his father out of rage when he had been disinherited.

This episode concludes the storyline from The Mystery of the Downward Spiral and gives the viewer a lot of backstory on O’Connell while going through each suspect to narrow down the real killer.  As Durham reveals a decades old car accident where he murdered a small family, the list of suspects is slowly whittled down.

Brenda Phillips (Stockard Channing) and Ayla (Ciara Wong) are both cleared and taken off the suspect list.

The Mysteries of Laura - Season 2
Josh Lucas and Stockard Channing

Jon reveals to Laura that he has a lot of guilt from the car accident and that his father cleared the whole mess up by paying off the police. Later a connection is made to Martha’s Vineyard, where the incident took place, and Ellen Sutter (Bo Stansell), Jon’s alibi from last week.

By the time that Jake and Billy  rescue Laura, but not before Durham sets off the rapid timer on his bomb, everyone realizes that the man did not kill his father.

Sidenote: While it is unclear  as to whether a washing machine would really be  good place to put a large pipe bomb, it looked great and seemed plausible enough and…was kind of amusing.

After Jon is arrested, for the kidnap of Laura, Jake is told off by Santiani (Callie Thorne) for disregarding policy.  Meredith (Janina Gavankar) is celebrating with the precinct about  her technical know-how helping to crack the case and Laura realizes that she never thought of Tony once, throughout her entire ordeal. 

As the camera sweeps across her colleagues drinking and playing darts, Diamond tells Bose that she now realizes what and who is important in her life:

Meredith: “After two bombs and a hostage crisis, I’m surprised you’re still standing. You’ve had one hell of a day.”

Laura: “Yeah. Definitely makes you realize what’s important. (focussing on Jake) Who’s important.”

Looks like Broderick has gotten a reprieve and Tony has lost out.

This conclusion to the two part “cliffhanger” where Laura is in danger and Jake “rides” to the rescue was a nice end, as well, to the issue of Diamond’s problems with Broderick lying about his health.  In many ways Laura’s rage at Jake and her decision to stick with Tony was the greater cliffhanger and clearly her ex still has a large part of her heart.

All romantic subplots aside, it was annoying that it took the rest of the cops down at the precinct so long to figure out what was going on at Casa Diamond.  Granted, Alicia let the side down by not mentioning the clams, but it really does seem that Laura is the best amongst her fellow detectives.

The Mysteries of Laura airs Wednesdays on NBC. Tune in and catch the last episode of season two.

The Mysteries of Laura: The Mystery of the Downward Spiral (Two-Parter)

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.

The Mysteries of Laura - Season 2

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.

 The Mysteries of Laura - Season 2
Messing and Lucas, Broderick and Diamond

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.

 The Mysteries of Laura - Season 2
John and Laura talk.

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.

 

The Mysteries of Laura: The Mystery of the Triple Threat (Recap/Review)

After a midseason break, The Mysteries of Laura returned with The Mystery of the Triple Threat. In keeping with the up-to-date topical feel of the series, the plot included bitcoin treasure hunts, the Dark Web, and a “throuple.”

The Mysteries of Laura - Season 2

After a midseason break, The Mysteries of Laura returned with The Mystery of the Triple Threat. In keeping with the up-to-date topical feel of the series, the plot included bitcoin treasure hunts, the “Dark Web,” and a “throuple.”  The subplot lines included the on-going “throuple” situation between Laura, Jake and Tony, as well as the dual partnership issues  between Billy and Meredith.

The episode, despite the modern take on “dark web” secret contests for massive amounts of bitcoin, was really all about relationships.  Specifically, outside-the-box relationships and the effects of same.

At the start of The Mystery of the Triple Threat, a dead man is found in a church by two contestants playing the New Gotham Treasure Hunt. After learning about the secretive game,  Laura and Jake find out that pictures are used as clues, in the hunt for the flash drive prize.

After printing out the pictures Laura figures out what the connection is between the photos using the “Sesame Street technique”.  The picture clues lead the police to the “Silvercup” movie studio sign and their first suspect.

As the cops work to discover who the victim is, why he was killed and who did it,  Tony has news for Laura and a question to ask.  Keeping to the relationship theme,  the police learn that the victim was part of a “throuple.”  Two men and a woman who were all married to each other. . Right before the man’s death, the newspaper “The Post” did an article about the unusual relationship.

As the investigation continues, they learn that the news story cost the victim his job and brought him back into contact with a former girlfriend, who is, for a short while, a suspect. While looking into the dead man’s “love nest” Meredith is attacked and knocked unconscious. Her partner Soto, stops to check on her and the “perp” escapes by jumping out of a window 15 feet above the pavement.

This leads Laura back to their initial suspect who was actually behind bars and they try to see if he has a partner.  The New Gotham Treasure Hunt turns out to be a dead end and the clues lead to another suspect, the deceased man’s former girlfriend.

The Mysteries of Laura finishes with the culprit being caught by Laura and Jake, Billy and Meredith cooling things a bit, and Detective Diamond making a decision about Tony and Jake.   When Diamond learns that her ex has been less than truthful about the results of his CAT scan, she turns to Tony, thus ending her own “throuple.”

The Mysteries of Laura - Season 2

For now.

There is no denying that Laura and Jake still have that spark and Broderick has been “amping” up the charm offensive to woo back his ex. Unfortunately, his nondisclosure about the CAT scan results, that show he has brain issues as well as heart, really shot down his chances with Laura.

The chemistry between Debra Messing and Josh Lucas is spot on. In fact, in terms of casting, both relationships on “the force” are nigh on perfect. Laz Alonso and Janina Gavankar also spark off one another quite well. Neal Bledsoe as Tony, the third member of the Diamond/Broderick triangle is adept at playing “Mr. Understanding” and this actor also has splendid chemistry with Messing. 

The Mysteries of Laura is easily one of the best mystery shows on offer.  In this episode, like the rest, the culprit came as a complete surprise. The clues, masked in bitcoin, dark web contests and unusual relationships were topical, pithy and many were amusingly uncovered.

Comedy is clever in this show and adroitly delivered with tight scripts and the great give and take between the cast, specifically Lucas and Messing. All the elements of this series come together to shine and entertain.  From the catchy music to the well written storylines, this is an addictive show.

“Laura” airs Wednesdays on NBC. Tune in and get carried away by the tight plot lines and the great performances of all concerned.