This episode feels like it could have been a backdoor pilot. The guest character, a bounty hunter named Betty Delvecchio (Susan Kellermann), is so well-defined she easily could have carried her own series and it's a shame she didn't. And if not a weekly series, this story might even have been slightly expanded and remade as a feature film. The relationships she has on the road, especially with the Simons, as she tries to track down a wanted man are nicely handled; we get a sense she's a multidimensional person doing a tough job. And she may or may not have a tragic situation to deal with back home in Michigan.
In addition to Betty, Art Monterastelli's script provides other assorted characters that make this a lively offering. These include Alvie the Weasel (David L. Lander) the thief Betty is trying to nab who always seems to get away, as well as a crooked pawn shop owner named Harry the fence. Plus there's another dude who represents an insurance company and has hired the Simons, though he may not be all he seems. The chase and capture scene near the end is classic. It involves Betty & A.J. with the bad guys, as well as Rick & Lt. Marsh who arrive in the nick of time to help save the day. And as if that's not enough, we get a very fun concluding sequence where Betty is trying to extradite Alvie back east in a coffin, though he is supposed to stay in San Diego for more police questioning.
I think what I love so much about this episode is the way it keeps the story moving but it also knows how to pause at key points to reveal insights about the characters. We learn about Betty and her background when she stops by to talk to Cecilia; and additional insights occur later when she has a heart-to-heart with A.J. at the office. We also get to learn about Alvie and Harry, seeing what makes them tick. And the icing on the cake is how Rick perceives all of it. He does a voice-over narration during the episode which resembles a 40s noir-- a lot of what he says about Betty is quite comical. A prior episode focused on Rick publishing a book about his life as a detective. One can't help but think this story is a chapter in his next publication.
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