Murder, She Wrote 6.21 “The Szechuan Dragon”

Jessica Fletcher is in London to watch her cousin Emma perform for the Queen! But this episode actually focuses on events that take place in Cabot Cove while she’s away, and Grady and Donna are house-sitting for her. Criminal things transpire when a sea-captain that used to be engaged to Jessica’s aunt Harriet shows up in town in order to retrieve a gift he once gave her.

The Szechuan Dragon

Just the facts:

Click on the text below to reveal spoilers.

Click to reveal the victim It was Captain Malachi, Jessica’s aunt’s old fiance who was there to retrieve a present he left her aunt!
Click to reveal the killer It was Jessica’s neighbour’s son Stanley!
Click to reveal the weapon Stanley bashed the captain over the head with Jessica’s table lamp!
Click to reveal the location It happened in Jessica’s living room!
Click to reveal the motive Captain Malachi interrupted Stanley while he was stealing cash from Jessica’s kitchen drawer knowing that she was out of town!

Cast of characters:

As this is a Cabot Cove episode, we get the regulars:

  • William Windom plays Dr. Seth Hazlitt
  • Ron Masak play Sheriff Metzger
  • Will Nye plays Deputy Floyd. (This is Nye’s 9th of 14 total appearances on MSW.)

And of course we have Jessica’s house-sitting nephew and niece-in-law:

  • Michael Horton plays Grady Fletcher. (This is Horton’s 11th of 12 total appearances on MSW as Grady.)
  • Debbie Zipp plays Donna Mayberry Fletcher, Grady’s (at this point very-pregnant) wife. (This is Zipp’s final appearance on MSW. She played Donna four times, and appeared a total of five times on MSW.)

There are those who have come to town looking for the Szechuan Dragon:

  • Gordon Ross plays Captain Herbert Malachi.
  • Belinda Bauer plays Carla Thyssen.
  • David Warner plays Justin Hunnicut. (This is Warner’s first of two total appearances on MSW.)
  • James Lew plays the Cambodian.

And there are other locals:

  • Elinor Donahue plays Connie Lewis, Jessica Fletcher’s next door neighbour.
  • Bernie Coulson plays Stanley Lewis, Connie’s son who is motorcycle obsessed and works in the fishing trade.
  • Ramon Bieri plays Nick Zavakis, a Greek fishmonger. (This is Bieri’s third and final appearance on MSW.)
  • Cliff Osmond plays Kris Karas, another Greek who works in the fishing trade.

And as usual, there are a couple of minor characters credited who don’t appear in any other episodes. There is Maura Spencer-Reed credited as “Phoebe” and Douglas DuVal credited as “Fred”.

Final thoughts and other trivia:

I like the little glimpse we get into Deputy Floyd’s history in this episode. His reveal that he used to be in a fraternity in college evokes surprise from Dr. Hazlitt and Sheriff Metzger.

Aside from that, the premise behind “The Szechuan Dragon” is very reminiscent of The Maltese Falcon, written by Dashiell Hammett and first published in 1930. The book was adapted in 1941 into the film noir classic starring Humphrey Bogart as the private investigator Sam Spade.

Edit (April 28, 2021): One continuity error I noticed while re-watching this episode is that Jessica’s neighbor who comes to water the plants turns to the left when exiting Jessica’s front door in order to call out to her son. In previous episodes we can see that Jessica lives on a corner lot and that there can’t be a neighbor on that side of her house because there’s a street there.

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