So MeTV aired The Crafty Kidnapper last week and has currently started over on their morning sessions of Perry. I’m happy to see Tragg again, but ah, I miss the later seasons and characters.
The Crafty Kidnapper has never been a favorite episode of mine; it’s probably the darkest episode in the series, moreso than The Silent Six, and very haunting and depressing. But I think the plot is very good and quite unique, and the hints to the truth are intriguing and heartbreaking, when you realize what’s really going on.
The first time I saw the episode, I wondered why they never actually showed the baby (other than in the picture on the mantel). And I was horrified by the scene at the sandbox, with the scratched message “Your son is dead.” But I never once expected the twists at the very end, of the poor thing having been dead for months and the poor mother having cracked up as a result. And the father seems to act just a slight bit nuts himself, when he laughs as he delivers the episode’s last, chilling line, concerning the heartless man he killed: “The ideal murder for the ideal corpse.”
The murder victim is certainly one of those particularly repulsive slimeballs, the way he totally makes fun of the mother’s mental state and plans to print about it and the non-existent baby in his column. Disgusting. On the one hand, it’s hard for me to fully fault the father for feeling the creep had to die. On the other, of course I know that was not the solution and it was a horrible thing to do, no matter what the guy was like. His wife needed him and he totally handled everything all wrong, from not getting help for her (due to not wanting her mental state to come out, and at least partially not doing so because it would have made it all but impossible to get control of a company), to the fake kidnapping, to killing that creep.
Completely aside from the dark elements, a bigger objection I have with the episode is, well, the number of Hamilton’s objections! Watching the court scenes, I just had to cringe and go “. . . What? What is going on here?” Hamilton is objecting left and right to ways that Perry is questioning the witnesses, when he rarely if ever raised such objections to the exact same tactics in the past. The conflicts in this episode seem to exist merely for the sake of having conflicts and really don’t make much sense, character-wise.
The writer is William Bast, who penned four scripts for the final season. Interestingly, he wrote the other very dark episode, The Silent Six. He’s very good at writing for Steve in both, and in his other two scripts as well.
What puzzles me is all of the other three scripts, The Silent Six, The Fatal Fortune, and The Impetuous Imp, portray Hamilton a lot more sensibly than in The Crafty Kidnapper. The Fatal Fortune has one of my most favorite Hamilton scenes ever, when he gets emotional in court and chews out the rotten son of the murder victim. So seriously, what happened? William Bast proved he could write a good Hamilton, so what was with all the illogical objections in that final script? That doesn’t compute with me. I wonder if it was someone else in the crew who wanted it that way.
I’ve seen dislike for the episode over the dark elements and dislike for season 9 in general being darker. I don’t know; aside from a couple of episodes, I don’t believe I ever regarded season 9 as being darker overall. It certainly had some unique twists, from Paul nearly dying to Perry discovering he has a double. And the show had its most realistic policeman in Lieutenant Drumm.
I honestly think the show really needed him, especially by that point. It was far past time to break away from the idea of the cops being inept and easy to make look foolish in court. (I wonder if poor Wesley cut out because he was so fed up.) Perhaps people who liked seeing Perry do that weren’t pleased, but I rarely care for it and was thrilled for the change.
In any case, I don’t feel that the unique twists or the more realistic policeman made season 9 darker. Well, I suppose the episode with Paul nearly dying could be construed as dark too, but I really liked the opportunity it opened for character development, and the epilogue scene was just fun and cute and so like Paul.
I guess overall, for me I find the best terms for season 9 to be contemporary and realistic. I’ve really found a lot to love about the season, as well as some things I don’t love so much. I don’t personally enjoy The Crafty Kidnapper as much as many other episodes, but I don’t think it’s a bad episode . . . other than the bizarre courtroom behavior, that is.