Murder, She Wrote 8.4 “Thicker Than Water”

Jessica has temporarily left New York City to take a trip back to her Cabot Cove home. (At one point it’s mentioned that three weeks have passed between her arrival and the main crime, so we can assume that she’s been in Cabot Cove the whole time.) While on the plane to Maine, she is approached by a fan who asks for her autograph. When the same fan shows up in Cabot Cove and is seen to be arguing with Sheriff Metzger, Jessica puts two and two together and figures out this must be Metzger’s estranged brother, who can’t seem to shake his criminal past.

The book that J.B. Fletcher is asked to sign is shown to be ‘Ashes, Ashes, Fall Down Dead’, and it is dedicated to Sheriff Metzger with the inscription “To Mort, Stalwart Sheriff, Steadfast Friend”.

Just the facts:

Click on the text below to reveal spoilers.

Click to reveal the victim It was Terry Montagne, a majority owner of The Gretchen fishing boat!
Click to reveal the killer It was Zach Franklin, the victim’s business partner and part owner of The Gretchen!
Click to reveal the weapon It was (probably) a gunshot (though it was never explicitly stated).
Click to reveal the location He was killed in his home!
Click to reveal the motive The killer wanted to get out of his deal with the victim, who was forcing him to continue their arrangement to smuggle drugs using their fishing boat!

Cast of characters:

As we’re in Cabot Cove, we have some regulars.

  • William Windom plays Dr. Seth Hazlitt.
  • Ron Masak plays Sheriff Mort Metzger.
  • Louis Herthum plays Deputy Andy Broom. This marks his first of 23 appearances as the character (although he is sporting a mustache here that he ends up shaving off for the remainder of his appearances). He previously appeared twice as different characters on MSW: in “Double Exposure” and “The Error of Her Ways“.
A subplot in the episode involves Dr. Hazlitt and Sheriff Metzger arguing about the doctor’s parking tickets.

The main story here is that Metzger’s younger brother is back in town!

  • Bruce Abbott plays Wayne Metzger (a.k.a. Stearns) — who has a criminal record! This is Abbott’s first of three total appearances on MSW, each time playing different characters. Shortly after this episode aired, Abbott starred in a crime drama called ‘Dark Justice’.

But the main mystery surrounds a Cabot Cove fishing boat called The Gretchen, where Wayne has managed to secure a job as a deck hand.

  • Pat Hingle plays Zach Franklin, a fisherman who currently owns the Gretchen. This is Hingle’s third and final appearance on MSW. He previously appeared in “Unfinished Business”. Among Hingle’s detective show credits is a co-starring role in a 1979 TV Movie and subsequent short-lived TV series titled ‘Stone’.
  • Marjorie Monaghan plays Elaine Franklin, Zach’s daughter.
  • Ted Markland plays Capt. Ned Keller, a rival fisherman who previously owned the Gretchen but lost it to the bank.
  • Luke Askew plays Terry Montagne, Zach’s silent business partner who is the majority owner of The Gretchen. This is Askew’s second and final appearance on MSW. He previously appeared in “The Sins of Castle Cove“.

Additional minor characters include:

  • Kenny Davis plays a fishman that Jessica and Seth were buying fish and lobster from (11 mins in). This is Davis’s third and final appearance on MSW. He previously appeared in “Doom with a View” and “Snow White, Blood Red”.
  • Carol Gustafson plays a waitress.

Final thoughts and other trivia:

Probably the most significant thing about this episode is how much it gives us a glimpse into Sheriff Metzger’s past and personal life. Not only do we learn that he has a younger brother, we also learn his true motive for moving to Cabot Cove. Whereas in “Mr. Penroy’s Vacation” he says that he wanted to retire to a more peaceful life, we learn that in reality he left the NYPD not because he was burned out but because he was embarrassed at having to arrest his own brother.

Notably, the episode also shows Metzger in his own home, and even lets the viewers witness his wife Adele’s existence by having us hear her voice (urging Metzger to come to bed).

Aside from that, if you pay close attention to some of the establishing shots, you may notice that there are some amusing inconsistencies regarding the locations.

Wayne is shown to be staying at the Lighthouse Motel, and the establishing shot (shown on the left) is the same as that used in “The Prodigal Father“. There, it is clear that the motel is close to a wooded area in town However, I also noticed that “Lighthouse Motel” signage is also present on a building right by the docks (shown on the right). Perhaps they have multiple locations?
On the left, we see an establishing shot of the Medical Center where Dr. Hazlitt is treating Wayne. On the right, we see a star design on the window of the Cabot Cove sheriff’s station.

But probably the most inconsistent aspects of the episode have to do with which STATE the action takes place in. If you look closely at the smaller text on the Medical Center signage, you can see that it says “Dalesboro OHIO” below it. It’s funny to think that Dr. Hazlitt travels all the way from Maine to Ohio to treat his patients!

The second thing I noticed had to do with the seven-point star design shown to be on the window of the sheriff’s office. When I saw that, I paused my screen and took a screenshot because I initially thought it would be fun to replicate the design on a t-shirt or mug. But when I looked closely, I realized that at the center of the design in the great seal of the state of NEBRASKA!

For a show set in Maine but filmed in California, it’s funny to see that on top of that it incorporated designs from yet another state.


  1. I love looking for the inconsistencies. I remember watching this episode the other day thinking that is not the hospital shot they normally used. Also, good eye on the sheriff department seal.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad I’m not the only one that likes to notice these things 🙂 Sometimes I get called out for being too picky, and I end up having to clarify that this in no way diminishes my enjoyment of the show and I’m not being critical.

      Liked by 1 person

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