Just as I had done when I reached the end of Season 3, I thought I’d do a recap of Season 4 trivia now that I’ve reached the end of this season in my episode summaries.
Murder, She Wrote is known for certain recurring themes/motifs/imagery, and one of the things I was most curious about when I embarked on this project to document each episode is: just how frequently these themes/motifs/imagery recur.
People & Places
Number of “dear old friends” = 8
Jessica is constantly paying visits to old friends she hasn’t seen in a while, and whom she usually doesn’t see again for the rest of the series. This season she visited:
- Eva Taylor (old friend) in Paris, France (ep.1)
- Jim Harlan (fellow writer) in Quebec City, Quebec (ep.3)
- Claire (old sonority sister, now mother superior) in Bergen Falls, Louisiana (ep.4)
- Mary Rose Welch (old friend) in NYC, but then went on to impersonate her in Eden, Oregon (ep.9)
- Eugene McClenden (fellow writer) in Savannah, Georgia (ep.15)
- The Gambini family (family of former student) in Californa (ep.17)
- Walter Knapf (former student) in NYC (ep.21)
- Kathleen Lane (old friend) in an unnamed east coast city, possibly Washington (ep.22)
Number of nieces/nephews/cousins etc. = 4
Jessica’s extensive family tree includes:
- nephew Grady Fletcher, who appeared in two episodes this season (ep.11 and ep.19)
- cousin Emma McGill, who lives in London, England (ep.6)
- “favourite niece” Carrie Palmer, who lives in Cooperville, NY (ep.13)
- niece Jill Morton, daughter of Louise (ep.20)
Number of Cabot Cove deaths = 5
Five episodes took place in Cabot Cove this season, and they all featured one murder each: ep.2, ep.7, ep.10, ep.12, and ep.18. In the first three of these, both the killer and the victim are locals. However, in ep.12 both the killer and the victim are visitors to the town, while in ep.18 the killer is a visitor.
J. B. Fletcher, Globetrotter
Aside from Cabot Cove, Jessica spent the most time in New York City where four episodes are set and a fifth episode is partially set. In total, she makes visits to 7 states: New York (five times), California (twice), Maryland, Connecticut, Georgia, Oregon, Louisiana, and possibly D.C. She also visits Canada twice: once to Saskatchewan and once to Quebec. And she leaves North America once: to travel to Paris, France.
Jessica is known for attracting the attention of various men she meets. However, in Season 4 there is no obvious love interest. The only men who come close are the French Inspector Hugue Panassie (ep.1) who was either being flirty or just being French, and Jessica’s playwright friend Eugene McClenden (ep.15) who proposed a marriage of convenience.
Most popular murder weapon
Just as in the previous season, the most popular murder weapon was a gun; gunshots were featured in six episodes this season.
Most unusual murder weapon
A frozen fish was used as the murder weapon in ep.19.
Runners up include: electrocution by a TV thrown in a bathtub (ep.5), an exploding package wrapped up in feminine pink paper (ep.8), and an episode where the cause of death is never specified (ep.14).
Most popular vital clue
One thing that really stood out to me this season is how many of the vital clues — i.e. those incongruities that sparked Jessica’s a-ha moment — involved the killer giving themselves away by mentioning something only they could have known. Nine killers were caught as a result of this, while one additional killer was caught because he didn’t know something that everyone else did.
Number of times Jessica works out = 0
Oddly enough, I don’t recall a single episode this season where Jessica dons her jogging gear. However, she is featured riding her bike in some of the Cabot Cove episodes.
Jessica’s loosening moral compass
As I mentioned in my season 3 summary, Jessica’s interests in solving the cases isn’t always just about catching the bad guys and making sure that justice is served. It becomes particularly clear throughout this season that Jessica’s motive in solving cases is out of a sense of protectiveness over her friends and family.
This is highlighted quite humorously in “Witness for the Defense” where Jessica is accused of coming from a murderous family and using her social influence to prevent them from going to jail.
But it is also seen in her attitude towards an outsider in Cabot Cove, who wants to get justice for having served time for a crime he didn’t commit. In “When Thieves Fall Out“, his simple presence in Cabot Cove put Jessica’s friends in danger, and she makes it clear she does not approve of his coming to town. Justice for strangers is less important than forgiveness for friends.