I love Murder She Wrote, I grew up watching the reruns on TV Land and Hallmark. The story was of widowed, retired school teacher, Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) who becomes an author-published under the name J.B. Fletcher.
As she goes about life she gets pulled into all these different murder mysteries. using her intellect and observational skills to solve the crimes.
So this episode is 12 of season 8. In this we are back in Jessica’s hometown of Cabot Cove where her good friend Dr. Seth Hazlitt (William Windom) is casting people for the community play he is putting on-a historical tale about the beautiful Rachel Abbot who was falsely accused of being a witch.
In the middle of casting a storm quells up, wind and thunder and beautiful woman enters to try out for the lead.
Her name is Mariah Osborne and she is new in town, living in the old Walker home. She blows everyone out of the water-giving life to role as if she was Rachel Abbott. She gets the role while the judge is played by Judge Willard Clinton and the prosecutor by the local insurance rep, Nate Parsons.
Sheriff Mort Metzger and Jessica aren’t impressed with the story or on how her line of the bells ringing-bells did ring. He tries to tell them how shivers ran down everyone’s spines, but the two just laugh at him.
Jessica goes to the archives to do some research when she runs into Mariah. They introduce each other as Mariah explains that she was checking out the actual court transcripts.
Mariah says that she thinks Cabot Cove has a history of ganging up on people. Hmm-wonder why she fells that way?
Mariah heads to the Winthrop mansion, to return Lydia Winthrop’s shawl she borrowed the night before at rehearsals. There she meets Lydia’s husband, Charlie Winthrop, who is recuperating in a wheelchair and suffering from muscle spasms. Again Mariah mentions standing up for wrongfully accused-hmm wonder what or who she is getting at?
Now we know Mariah is not a witch, but there is something so creepy about her-how she appears everywhere, Every word seems to be dripping with a deeper meaning.
Just so creepy
As she leaves the house she notices that Charles isn’t really injured-he’s faking it. He walks over to his safe and takes out something in it.
That night someone breaks into the safe at the Winthrop house. When the police question them, Lydia points the finger at Mariah.
Nothing appears to be missing, just rose petals everywhere-weird. But then Lydia reminds them of Mariah’s line “rose petals scattered in memory of blood spilled.”
Things get complicated. Stories of Mariah having a black cat, a cauldron, and walking around at midnight in black. Sheriff Mort talks to Jessica, and she tries to bring them all back to reality but it is hard as the stories grow and Mariah’s actions kind of feed into it.
Mariah goes to Nate to get fire insurance and question about the house-but they do not have records that far back as there was a really bad fire and the records were lost.. Lydia also is there to speak to Nate abut more insurance since their break in.
In the next scene we see Dr. Seth helping Mariah carry paint home. Jessica sees them and warns Mariah to beware of fires-the paint is highly flammable. Hmmm.
That night Nate’s shed burns down and there was a pentagram on the door. They try to question what was in it, but that is all buried under witch questions.
Everyone starts talking about how Rebecca Abbott said she would return in storm and fire and death, which is what happened since Mariah Osbourne came to town.
Things don’t get better at rehearsal. She has all her lines memorized, making people believe maybe their were no lines to memorize-maybe she knew already.
During the rehearsal Mariah adds in some lines at Lydia’s character, calling her a bitter and barren woman. Lydia becomes furious-everyone protests-but Mariah assures them she pulled it from the actual trial records.
Seth calls a break, and Mariah and Judge Willard Clinton flirt. That night he finds a note from “Rachel” to meet him at the belltower for a secret rendezvous. When he gets there, rose petals are everywhere and he is pushed out the window to his death.
Sheriff Mort and JB discuss the case-Mort knowing that Mariah isn’t a witch-but just doesn’t know how to explain all the witchy stuff.
They go to question Mariah and she tries to defend herself and even gives them a writing sample. JB searches the room and finds a scrapbook on “Monica Walker” articles and one of Mariah by a boat.
JB tries to get more info-but all the records are gone from city hall and the newspaper. She turns to the only source left-Dr. Seth. Dr. Seth tells her that Monica used to work for Charles and Lydia but was accused of stealing a necklace, and served years in jail-on her release she sold her house and left, never coming back.
JB goes to question Lydia and Charles. Charles is recovering nicely from his fall on the stairs and Lydia put more insurance on he house since the break-in. JB questions what happened to her original necklace, but Lydia never received it back.
JB also sees Charles walking-sees that he is a liar. Jessica doesn’t comment on it, but asks who oversaw the Monica Walker case, it was Willard Clinton.
JB investigates the crime scene and runs into Nate who is also investigating. Jessica finds dark hairs on a nail and takes them to the police.
Meanwhile, the sheriffs have been working hard. They discover that Mary Lynn Walker was the one who broke into the Winthrop house. They go to Mariah and found out the truth-her name is Mary Lynn and she returned to Cabot Cove because she wanted to clear her mother’s name. She is searching for the necklace or other proof. She claims she did not kill Willard Clinton. She gets arrested anyway.
Jb questions Nate and is pretty sure she has it all figured our when the hairs come back as wig hair instead of real hair.
JB finally puts the screws to Lydia and she spills. Her husband was cheating on her with Monica Walker. So Lydia conspired with Nate to stage a fake robbery, and have Monica Walker framed for the murder, with Willard Clinton helping her. When he met Mariah/Mary Lynn he started to feel bad, and in order to keep her secret, she murdered him.
JB has solved another case and kept her head in the midst of it all.
To start Horrorfest VII from the beginning, go to It’s the End of the World: The Birds (1963)
For the previous post, go to You Don’t Know Which Way to Turn, There’s No Place to Hide, Nowhere to run…: The Blue Gardenia (1953)
For more Jessica Fletcher, go to With a Little Luck of the Irish: 17 More Irish Heroes
For more Angela Lansbury, go to Because I Am Mad, I Hate You. Because I Am Mad, I Have Betrayed You: Gaslight (1944)
For more witches, go to It Feels So Good to See the Bad Guys Scared for a Change: Hangman’s Curse (2003)