Murder, She Wrote 8.10 “The List of Yuri Lermentov”

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In this episode, Jessica finds herself in Washington D.C. (apparently to give an interview) and she takes this opportunity to pop in on her dear old friend, who happens to be a congressman. Her friend convinces her to accompany him to a trade reception (which happens to be taking place at the hotel that Jessica is staying at), and while there she bumps into MI6 agent Michael Hagarty who (as usual) draws her into another one of his intrigues.

Jessica can’t help but be involved after a Russian agent is killed in her hotel room, and all because of a coded list naming five British agents working undercover in Libya, all of whom could end up dead if the list got into the wrong hands.

Just the facts:

Click on the text below to reveal spoilers.

Click to reveal the victim It was Yuri Lermentov, former KGB agent working under the guise of a trade representative!
Click to reveal the killer It was Harry Neville (a congressional aide for Jessica’s friend)!
Click to reveal the weapon He was hit on the back of the head by a marble statue of an obelisk (probably meant to be the Washington Monument)!
Click to reveal the location It was at 4:30 in the morning in Jessica’s hotel room!
Click to reveal the motive It was greed! The killer had been using his position in congress to collect information to sell to the highest bidder. He wanted the list so that he could get one million dollars that Kesmek was offering for it!

Cast of characters:

The episode begins at the USSR embassy:

  • Theordore Bikel plays Yuri Lermentov, a retiring trade representative (and, as we’ll later learn, a former KGB agent). This is Bikel’s third of four total appearances on MSW. He previously appeared in “Indian Giver” and “When the Fat Lady Sings“.
  • Nicholas Kadi plays Sergei “Vanich” Onyegin, the new trade representative taking over from Lermentov.

The episode then jumps to the offices of a U.S. congressman:

  • Mitchell Ryan plays Representative Arthur Prouty, Jessica’s dear old friend. This is Ryan’s third of four total appearances on the show. He previously appeared in “The Cemetery Vote“.
  • Brian McNamara plays Harry Neville, Prouty’s congressional aide. This is McNamara’s first of three total appearances on the show.

We learn that some businessmen are not happy with how Prouty’s decisions in congress are affecting their business:

  • Spiros Fokas plays Constantin Kesmek, whose business is in the weapons trade.
  • Richard Beymer plays Charles Lawton Standish, Kesmek’s lawyer. This is Beymer’s third of six total appearances on the show. He previously appeared in “The Days Dwindle Down” and “The Way to Dusty Death“.

Additional cast members who get involved in this political intrigue include:

  • Len Cariou as Michael Hagarty, an MI6 agent who had dealings with Lermentov. This is Cariou’s sixth of seven total appearances on the show, each time as the same character. He previously appeared in “The Sicilian Encounter“.
  • Janet Julian as Bonnie Hartman, Michael Hagarty’s date to the trade reception. This is Julian’s first of two total appearances on the show.
  • Louis Giambalvo as Lt. Blaisdell, a local detective in charge of the murder investigation. This is Giambalvo’s first of two total appearances on the show.

Other, minor roles, include:

  • Gwendolyn J. Shepherd as a female dispatcher for a courier company that Jessica uses.
  • David Starwalt as a uniform policeman who fails to catch Michael Hagarty. He previously appeared as an officer in “Corned Beef and Carnage”.
  • An uncredited police woman at the police station.
  • And Michael Fawcett as a headwaiter (whom I don’t think we actually see in the episode).

Final thoughts and other trivia:

There’s a lot of little things to notice about this episode. One of these is that the trade reception scenes were filmed inside the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles (a frequent filming location for Murder, She Wrote).

Aside from that, I found it interesting that the episode starts at the embassy of the USSR. This episode aired on December 15th 1991, whereas the USSR was dissolved on December 26th 1991 (less than two weeks later). Additionally (as someone with a keen interest in languages), I noticed that the sign shown on the gates of the embassy is incorrect. It uses the wrong letters/symbols.

Even if you aren’t familiar with the Cyrillic alphabet, I’m sure you can notice the number “14” mixed in among the letters on the third line in the sign.

Another interesting thing about this episode is that we learn about yet another book that Jessica has written — this time called The Messengers of Midnight. When it comes to the plot of the book, we later learn that it involved a little saltshaker collectable and that the ambassador did it.

Finally, it was interesting to note all the references to Michael Hagarty’s previous appearances on the show. For instance, Jessica at one point tells him “If you think this is going to be another San Francisco or Athens”, in reference to their adventures in “J.B.. As In Jailbird” and “Appointment in Athens“. We also get to see Michael’s many secret identities that make up his police record.

Interestingly, the second of his identities (Michael Reardon) was the name he used in “Appointment in Athens“. It makes sense that that particular record was from Athens police. However, that episode aired in September 1989, but Michael’s arrest record is from August 1990.

Continuing with the recent tradition on the show of ending an episode with men trying to whisk Jessica away with them, this episode has Michael expressing jealousy of Jessica’s relationship with the congressman, and ends with Michael asking Jessica to join him on a mission to Singapore.

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