Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Case of the Lover's Leap: Practically Perfect in Every Way

As episodes go, The Lover’s Leap is just about perfect in my estimation. The plot is intense and twisted, all of the main characters are present, and Perry and Hamilton team up to catch the crook.

Mr. and Mrs. Comstock have quite a convoluted plan, pretending to hate each other while they’re actually, deeply in love. They even go so far as to get a divorce. The crooked Mr. Comstock fakes depression after having to give her almost all of his temporal possessions and after his construction company appears to fail. This all leads up to the crux of the scheme, wherein it’s now very believable for him to fake death by suicide and then sneak away with his wife.

Julie Adams, who returns next season in the very unique venture The Deadly Verdict, portrays Mrs. Comstock. She turns out a powerful performance, from her insistence that she hates Mr. Comstock to her true, passionate feelings for him. When he is murdered and she must testify, she takes a large number of tranquilizers in order to try to sit calmly and continue the charade of hating him. Perry deduces the truth and is eventually able to get it out of her during cross-examination, whereupon she breaks down on the witness stand.

Both Tragg and Andy are present throughout and both have decent screentime. This is one of only a handful of episodes Ray Collins was able to be in by this point. It’s always a treat to see him return in these later episodes. As much as I love Andy, it hasn’t diminished my love for Tragg. I enjoy seeing them work together.

Perry and Paul concoct a plan to trap the murderer, a plan which involves the bluff of finding a missing spare anchor that weighed down Mr. Comstock’s body. Perry and Hamilton discuss the case in Perry’s office following Mrs. Comstock’s breakdown in court, and Perry lets Hamilton in on the idea. For the climax, Hamilton, as well as Tragg and Andy, are all present.

With the police having bugged the room next-door, they wait for Mrs. Comstock to confront the man she believes is the true murderer. In a shocking twist, he still isn’t the guilty party, but the real criminal is present too, and tries to contort the events to make it look like he will shoot the other man in self-defense and then blame Mr. Comstock’s death on him. The police and the lawyers rush in before this can be accomplished.

The fascinating elements of this episode don’t stop there. Instead of Perry or Paul, it’s Hamilton who confronts the murderer and sets up the bluff of the anchor being discovered. In rage the villain lunges at Hamilton, who puts up a hand to hold him back. Andy grabs the violent man from behind, wrestling his arms behind his back.

In the epilogue, Hamilton assures the now-vindicated former defendant that the district attorney’s office is interested in the innocent as well as the guilty. The subject turns to the anchor and it’s revealed that it’s a bluff. Perry suggests that Paul send the bill for the purchased anchor to Hamilton, since he was the one who used the anchor to entrap the murderer. Paul suggests sending him the actual anchor instead.

Hamilton looks about as confused and unsure what to think of that as I was. What would he want with the anchor? Boating isn’t a hobby of his, as far as I know. Perhaps it’s meant as a memento of the experience? I half-wondered if Hamilton wondered if Paul was saying it jokingly to mean to jump in the ocean with it weighing him down. But I’m sure that wouldn’t have been Paul’s intended meaning, especially after Hamilton just helped them with the case. Paul probably meant it as a memento.

In any case, on Hamilton’s endearingly perplexed look, we fade out.

The Lover’s Leap is an episode I saw years ago. I remember sitting by an old light-colored end table (which we still have) while watching it. I was fascinated and thrilled by it, particularly the team-up of Perry and Hamilton. And I distinctly remember the epilogue scene and being amused by the discussion of what to do with the bill and the anchor. But I didn’t consciously recall the episode until I saw it again several months ago. This time I must have seen an edited version, as I was sure a scene was missing where the police were looking for the anchor at night. But the important parts seemed to still be intact. The episode excited me just as much this year as it did so many years before. It stands out as an ideal example of why season 6 is so wonderful, and really, as far as I’m concerned, is one of the best episodes throughout all nine seasons.

Next week, as it’s Christmas, I plan to make that promised post concerning some of my various other Perry projects. It will include some goodies I’ve done that most of my readers here are probably unaware of.

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