Murder, She Wrote 8.19 “Day Of The Dead”

Jessica is visiting Mexico City to do research on her latest book, which apparently takes place in the realm of archaeology. She is getting some insight from a friend and archaeologist who helps run a local museum as well as an archaeological dig in a place called San Ignacio.

However, there are two things that are distracting her friend: one is the fact that Montezuma’s death mask was recently stolen from the museum; and the other is the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) celebrations. When Montezuma’s death marks turns up on a dead body on the night of the Day of the Dead celebrations, Jessica investigates.

Montezuma’s death mask

Just the facts:

Click on the text below to reveal spoilers.

Click to reveal the victim It was Enrico Montejano, the owner of the hotel that Jessica is staying at!
Click to reveal the killer It was Cyrus Ramsay, Jessica’s archaeologist friend! (Ramon was his unwitting accomplice who gave him an alibi.)
Click to reveal the weapon It was a gunshot fired at close range! (With Montezuma’s death mask subsequently placed on his face.)
Click to reveal the location He was killed in the stables next to the bar/restaurant where the Day of the Dead festivities were taking place!
Click to reveal the motive Montejano had recruited Ramsay’s grandson as a drug runner. When Ramsay’s grandson died in a car crash while running from the police during a failed drug run, Ramsay blamed Montejano for his death!

Cast of characters:

The characters in this episode revolve around two major spheres. First, there are the archaeologists and others who work in San Ignacio:

  • James Coburn plays Cyrus Ramsey, Jessica’s archaeologist friend who heads the museum where the theft has occurred.
  • Grant Cramer plays Scott Baker, Cyrus’s research assistant who went to Freemont college just like Cyrus’s grandson.
  • Gregory Sierra plays Ramon, a former circus clown who now runs a bar/restaurant in San Ignacio. He is also in charge of the ‘calaveras’ (skulls) at the Day of the Dead celebrations. This is Sierra’s third of six total appearances on MSW; he previously appeared in “Through the Looking Glass“. His subsequent three appearances are all as the same character (Lt. Gabriel Caceras).
  • Shelley Morrison plays Maria, Ramon’s wife who used to be a fortune teller at the circus. She is also in charge of making the costumes for the Day of the Dead celebrations.

And then there are those who are involved in the hotel that Jessica is staying at:

  • Tomas Milian plays Enrico Montejano, the owner of the hotel that Jessica is staying at. Montejano is also the landlord for the bar/restaurant that Ramon and Maria run.
  • Miriam Colon plays Consuella Montejano, Enrico’s wife.
  • Ismael {East} Carlo plays Juan Garcia, the manager of the hotel that Jessica is staying at. This is Carlo’s first of three appearances on MSW.
  • Kamala Lopez plays Rosa Garcia, Juan’s daughter — an aspiring ballet dancer who appears to be involved with Enrico Montejano.

There are also several investigators and protectors in this episode:

  • Geno Silva plays Police Chief Quezada, who is first in charge of investigating the theft of the mask and subsequently in charge of investigating the murder.
  • Alex Colon plays DEA Agent Ramirez, who is spying on Enrico Montejano for his involvement in drug trafficking.
  • Mike Moroff plays Oso, Enrico Montejano’s bodyguard. (I found it funny that he is called “Oso” since that means “bear”, as in the animal, in Spanish.)

And there are a few minor characters:

  • Ruben Amavizca plays the security Guard at the museum.
  • Manuel Cabral plays a Clerk that delivers a message to Juan at the hotel.
  • Cynthia Lee Santos (now going by Cynthia DeCure) plays a Girl who discovers the dead body and announces it to the bar/restaurant.
  • There was also a chauffeur at the Montejano estate who had a brief speaking line but who was uncredited.

Final thoughts and other trivia:

There are a few aspects of this episode that are either inconsistent with previous episodes or suggest that Jessica’s adventures surpass those depicted on the show:

  • First, we learn that Jessica is there to research what the life of an archaeologist is like. She makes it seem like she knows nothing about being on a dig. And yet, in a previous episode, S2E11 “Murder Digs Deep”, she spent an extended time on an archaeological dig with Seth.
  • Second, Jessica’s initial conversation with Juan at the hotel indicates that she is a frequent guest at the hotel. She has a favorite table at the hotel restaurant and tells Juan that “Every year you spoil me more”. However, this is the only episode of MSW that is ever set in Mexico. Of course, this could just mean that every other time she’s been there, there has been no murder for her to solve.
  • And finally, while this isn’t necessarily an inconsistency, I found it curious that an episode set in Mexico would air so close to Cinco de Mayo (the episode originally aired April 26th, 1992), and yet would be set during a holiday celebrated at the beginning of November.

The last thing I wanted to mention is less a piece of trivia and more of a passing thought. Whenever I watch these episodes and they show us a picture of someone, I always wonder who they used as a model in the picture. In this case, we are shown a photograph of Cyrus’s daughter and grandson, but of course the people in the picture are never credited since we don’t actually see them in the episode.

The picture of Cyrus’s daughter and grandson shown in the episode.

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