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"Murder, She Wrote" Mrs. Parker's Revenge (1996)

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"They... Ask Her How She Knows... How a Toxin Glows. She, of Course, Replies, When the Victim Dies, This Means Murder, Guys."

Author: WeatherViolet from United States
22 February 2010

Espionage at Atlanta's Biological Research Institute (BRI) sets the stage for the penultimate episode of the "MSW" series as a team of experts scrutinizes an international plot to purchase "Project 14," a biological killer virus.

Raul Jaffa (Erick Avari) offers Doctor James Lamont (Time Winters) $two million in exchange for a vial of Project 14, which he developed at BRI, under the threat of retaliation to Doctor Lamont's family if he does not comply with the demand.

BRI Director Mark Reisner (Gregg Henry) assembles a team of federal agents to track Raul Jaffa and Doctor Lamont with advanced technological surveillance equipment.

National Security Agent Nathan Mitchell (Tony Todd), FBI Agent Ed Crider (William O'Leary), and CIA Agent Dennis Quinlan (Peter Van Norden) utilize their departmental resources to assist in the investigation, while enemy agent Carl Van Ness (Gustav Vintas) uses his country's high tech apparatus regiment to counter-spy.

Mark's wife, Karen Reisner (Mary Elizabeth McGlynn), meanwhile, enters a contest to submit a short story for Amateur Mystery Writers' Conference, held in Atlanta this week, at which her dear old friend Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) is scheduled to deliver an address.

Karen and Mark welcome Jessica to the fashionable Gambier Hotel, which hosts the conference, but when a contest entry becomes switched for an envelope containing a warning with photographs of one to beware, Jessica attempts to correct the mix-up and stumbles across the first body in the victim's hotel room.

Lieutenant Paul Bragg (Gregory Alan Williams) arrives to investigate the murder, as do Mark Reisner, NSA Agent Nathan Mitchell, FBI Agent Ed Crider and CIA Agent Dennis Quinlan, as the remainder of the team views the closed-circuit proceedings, and as several agents warn Karen and Jessica to flee Atlanta, which Jessica refuses to do, or at least until after she delivers her speech.

After more cloak and dagger activity, Jessica witnesses the second murder at Gambier Hotel, after someone has slipped into her jacket pocket a the key to a locker, which, after unopened, turns an audio-cassette tape and the message, "Mrs. Parker's Revenge."

Jessica understands the implication of the correlation between Project 14 and "Mrs. Parker's Revenge" and, thereby, sets the plans into motion to trap the killer of the second victim, while risking the lives of an estimated two million citizens in the process.

(Note: this episode title is not related to the character of Mrs. Parker in episode "Something Borrowed, Someone Blue (#5.09).")

The cast is rounded out by Gena Acosta as Detective, Karen Hensel as Techie, and Frederick Dawson as Hotel Clerk.

This episode represents the only acting credit to date for Gena Acosta, as well as the second of two "MSW" performances each for Gustav Vintas, William O'Leary and Time Winters, the third of three each for Karen Hensel and Peter Van Norden, and the seventh of seven "MSW's" (six characters) for Gregg Henry.

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A Messy and Far-Fetched Encounter

Author: LemonGrove from United Kingdom
24 July 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Mrs. Parker's Revenge" begins in the Atlanta Biological Research Institute where a Dr. Lamont is handling highly sensitive and closely guarded chemicals known as Project 14. This killer virus has the potential to wipe out millions of people in the wrong hands.

Jessica is in Atlanta for a Writer's Conference and is being welcomed by two old friends, Karen and Mark Reisner. Mark is the Head of Security at the Institue. However, Jessica spends the majority of her trip entangled with Police Investigators, Surveillance Teams and Detectives, as well as the life-threatening Project 14 virus. Only at the closing "happy ending" does Jessica actually recall what she is doing there.

Raul Jaffa is a shady character that is staying at the same hotel as Jessica and is blackmailing Dr. Lamont into giving him the virus in exchange for $2 Million. An admin error at the front desk means Jessica and Raul's suites are swapped, even though they both pre-booked and parcels had been delivered to the respective rooms, but no matter.

Carl Van Ness is another sinister character that surfaces in the hotel and is also after Project 14. He casually makes his way into Raul's suite and kills him by stabbing him in the neck with a needle - no "whodunnit" there. In her suite, Jessica looks at the delivered package she has been expecting to find some surveillance photos, so she makes her way to Raul's suite to swap them, to find him dead on the floor.

The whole time, a large surveillance team has been watching Raul's room so one of the many law enforcers of the episode shows up and feeds her a line which she naturally doesn't believe. When various Detectives and Security Agents then show up she takes her package after having a nose at the photos and goes on her way. You would think that her package, lying feet away from the victim would be classed as evidence, but apparently not.

To try and capture Carl Van Ness in his pursuit for Project 14, the various security personnel in the episode set up for Dr. Lamont to meet with Van Ness and arrange an exchange, which apart from a rogue pigeon goes unhindered. Lamont then makes a call to an unknown acquaintance in which the safety of Mark Reisner is put on the line, but Reisner is listening in on the whole thing, even though he shouldn't have been.

Back in the hotel-room-come-surveillance-centre, a clearly distressed Mark isn't willing to listen to the complaints the other detectives involved in the situation. He sneaks a key into Jessica's pocket, whilst she is in the highly confidential surveillance room without anyone thinking anything of it of course.

Mark and Jessica are talking in the hotels large lobby, and as Mark proceeds up one escalator, he momentarily comes flying back down the other way after being shot by a gloved hand behind a plant. Karen is understandably upset at the loss of her husband, but only for a minute. Finding out about Project 14 is much more important.

So, who could have killed Mark, and why? Could it be his wife who was getting tired of him working so much and didn't seem overly emotional of the loss? Could it have been Dr. Lamont, who was unhappy about Reisner hindering the plans he has for Project 14? Could it be any one of the 4 various identical detectives and enforcers who could have easily been merged into one character so the story isn't as convoluted? Or was it Carl Van Ness? He's killed before and has gone unpunished, so maybe he'll do it again? "Mrs Parker's Revenge" is far-fetched even by MSW standards. I'm sure we all love a little absurdity where Jessica is concerned, but this takes things to a new level. A generous 4/10.

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