Somber episode that provides James Farentino with the spotlight in a story of lost love. Farentino is on the verge of marrying a young girl he hasn't known for long when on their wedding day she vanishes and later turns up dead, an apparent suicide clutching a one word note "Stalemate".
In most shows of this type this would be the lead off to a probe that would reveal the death as a murder but not so here. Instead we get a part exploration/part reverie about a relationship that is by its brief nature ephemeral and a search by a family looking for answers.
There seems no explanation for the young girl's actions at first, she's young, healthy and in love. But as Farentino looks back we see a nervous hesitation by the woman that is seemingly nothing, but as layers are peeled away is revealed to have a crippling cause at its root.
There are a few things that make the episode stand out, the first is that when the reveal comes it is quiet and private actually leaving most of the participants in the dark, but not the audience. The next is that the story turns on an unexpected insight, the damage that family members can inflict without really meaning to. While that isn't a new idea it comes as a surprise considering the tenor of the rest of the program.
As with many shows of this period the cast contains someone who was on the way up, in this case Ellen Burstyn. Actually she is on the very cusp of her peak period of fame as this appearance came between her role in The Last Picture Show which had netted her an Oscar nomination and The Exorcist which came out the next year, this was her last TV appearance of any kind for a good ten years. Fittingly she is the one who turns out to be the secret keeper and she handles the scene expertly.
A unique episode of a worthwhile series.
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