The Runaway Bunny
Original Air Date: Jan 17, 2010
Amanda – Senior Reviewer
Ah, the world of the private investigator: smoke-filled offices, crimson-lipped dames demanding to know the whereabouts of their husbands, buxom secretaries, sleazy lawyers…at first, this episode seems like nothing more than a paperback spy novel, but, if we’ve learned anything from Cold Case, we know there’s always more than meets the eye. We can take several other lessons from this week’s episode, too: Be careful who you trust, know the difference between vigilance and stalking, never underestimate the power of naps…and whatever you do, don’t eat the “special soup.”
This week’s case centers around the 1974 murder of Harry Denton, a 40-year-old ex-cop turned private investigator, whose body was discovered by modern-day construction workers. Vera and Kat visit with the one who reported Harry missing, his secretary, Lana Parker. She remembers one of his last appointments, an attorney named Wilson Katz, who had a new client for Harry, one who required so much “discretion” that Harry would receive double his normal rates. Harry sent Lana to get coffee, so she never learned anything further.
Following this lead, Lilly and Scotty pay a visit to Wilson, who reluctantly reveals the client’s name: Caroline Hargreave, a stunning, and wealthy, young widow who hired Harry to find her missing stepdaughter, Bunny. Concerned about Bunny’s “acting out” since the death of her father, Stan, Caroline wants to send Bunny to Oakdale, a camp for troubled teens. However, Wilson tells them that Bunny was killed in a car accident a few days later, and says Caroline blames herself for not acting sooner. The plot thickens when the detectives discover that the philandering husband of another one of Harry’s final clients has a record that includes assault. Said philanderer, Carl Welter, also just happens to own a construction company.
Carl admits to Vera and Kat that he wanted to wring Harry’s neck after being caught cheating, but insists he didn’t kill him. He recalls tailing Harry through a party full of strung-out hippies, Harry looking for a teenaged blonde. He found her, then stuffed her in the trunk of his car at about the same time Harry’s hired goon, French, captured Carl. Harry was willing to “work something out” with Carl, especially since his wife, Barb, didn’t bother to pay her bill. For $500, the evidence of his indiscretion goes away. Carl readily agreed, and Harry advised him to work things out with Barb. “It’s cheaper in the long run.” Carl’s eager to tell the detectives how he took Harry’s advice, but they’re far more interested in that blonde. Sure enough, it was Bunny.
Meanwhile, Scotty and Lilly chat with Caroline, who’s up to her eyeballs in flowers, her apparent passion in life. She says hiring Harry was Wilson’s idea, and recalls Harry asking for more money, claiming the investigation had hit a couple snags. She agreed to the price increase, and then Harry surprised all of us by expressing an interest in her flower arranging, especially the types of roses she was working with. Dragon’s eyes and primroses, she told him. She then turned the conversation back to the topic at hand, saying she expected results. Harry reassured her he was on to something. Caroline, instantly suspicious that he’d already found Bunny, says she hired Lana to check up on him. The plot thickens further!
Lilly pays another visit to Lana to quiz her about that conveniently omitted information, and Lana says Caroline figured Harry and French were cooking up some kind of scheme. Lana recalls following Harry and seeing Bunny and French through the window. Just then, Harry caught her, having suspected all along Caroline would send someone. He ordered Lana to tell Caroline he was off the case. Just then, they heard glass breaking and a car tearing off into the distance: French and Bunny had taken off. Harry and Lana jumped into another car to follow, and in so doing witnessed the fiery crash. Lana says Harry ordered her to leave and keep her mouth shut, and French threatened her at gunpoint.
Kat interrupts one of Vera’s “table naps,” which have apparently become a routine occurrence, to tell him that French (real name Chuck Jaworski), is, as Vera puts it, an “old-school badass” who dodged a manslaughter charge with Harry’s assistance. Vera groggily insists he’ll track French down, then returns to his table nap. Apparently those forty winks help, though, because he finds French, and after some trash-talking and a nifty little move to show French he’s serious, gets him to talk. French took money from Harry to keep his trap shut about the “loaner” from the morgue. Harry, who insisted he was trying to do the right thing, then ordered French to see one Frank Bandini for a new passport, driver’s license, birth certificate, the works…to help start a new life for Bunny, who walked into the room just then, very much alive and well and wanting to assume the name “Clara Dunaway.” (Hey, it’s a heck of a lot better than “Bunny Hargreave.”). The body from the crash, French explains, was a Jane Doe he “borrowed” from the morgue, and the real Bunny is living in New Jersey. Wow. The plot thickens even further!
Lilly and Scotty take a road trip to Bunny’s place in Jersey. Bunny was sure something had happened when Harry didn’t come back for her, and says she ran away because she didn’t fancy going to Oakdale, what with the electroshock therapy and drugs and all. The plot, which is already so thick we need a spatula to scrape it from the bowl, gets even thicker when Bunny reveals the reason Caroline was so desperate to get rid of her: Caroline murdered Stan, and Bunny knew about it. In a flashback, we see Harry giving her her new ID, then telling her she was right, and he has floral proof: a bloom from one of Caroline’s beloved roses, which Bunny recognizes as being a key ingredient in the “special soup” Caroline made for Stan. Caroline claimed it was primrose, but Harry has learned it’s actually foxglove, which can cause heart attacks. Oh, snap. He and Bunny then have a heart-to-heart about why he’s helping her; he’s basically trying to redeem himself from a life of corruption, and that helping her “feels pretty good.” She’s so touched she startles him with a hug in this episode’s Official “Awwwwww” Moment. Bunny finishes up by saying Harry was the only one who believed her, most likely because he also claimed to have proof Caroline dispatched her previous husband in similar fashion, and when Harry didn’t return, French took Bunny to New Jersey.
The detectives learn that our smooth, sophisticated Caroline is actually a hick from the great state of Oklahoma (seriously, it’s a nice place; I used to live there) by the name of Mandy Mae Smith. She claims her first husband, a guy whose very name (Melvin Rover) tells you he was a sitting duck for a hot, murderous blonde, died of food poisoning, but Lilly’s not buying it. She and Caroline have a showdown, culminating in Lilly’s very slick announcement that Bunny’s not, if you want to get all technical about it, dead. Caroline responds by saying she trusted Wilson, with everything, and wants to speak to him.
Unfortunately for her, Wilson’s in the next room with Scotty. Scotty’s got the “proof” Harry was talking about: Wilson’s signature on exhumation requests for poor poisoned Melvin, whose remains were conveniently cremated the week after Stan kicked the bucket. Wilson’s still protecting Caroline, and when Scotty points out that she’s in the next room throwing him under the bus, he lets his true colors show. He’s Poor Unfortunate Sap #3, hopelessly in love with our blonde widow. Harry tried to warn him, he says, but he didn’t listen. In a flashback, we see Harry telling Wilson about Caroline’s murder of Stan…and then he sees the roses in Wilson’s office and realizes the truth. Harry gives him some brotherly advice, something along the lines of “Run away as fast as you can, and for God’s sake don’t let her make you soup,” but love is blind, deaf, and brain-dead, and Wilson’s hearing none of it. Harry says he’s going to the police, and Wilson offers him $50,000 to reconsider. In perhaps the finest moment of this episode, Harry, the man who once eagerly accepted a $500 bribe, turns this one down cold. Wilson pulls a gun, and Harry laughs, confident his old buddy won’t shoot him…but he’s wrong.
Meanwhile, Lilly’s tailed Moe to his favorite watering hole, and, after watching him stagger to his car, calls in a suspected DUI. Sure enough, Moe’s picked up and jailed, and Lilly all too gleefully escorts him from the holding tank to a cell, with a new, very large roommate named Tico, who’s not too bad, “as long as he’s on his meds.” Charming as Tico undoubtedly is, Moe decides life on the outside is preferable, and he makes bail, again. Of course, he knows who’s behind all this, and I have to wonder if Lil’s got a little too much time on her hands. Shouldn’t she be bonding with her shiny new family or cuddling with those cats we never get to see? This story arc is really getting annoying.
In other news, Scotty’s dad is doing his best Grumpy Old Man routine. It seems Rosa has told him she was attacked, and Ramiro’s irritated that he’s the last to find out. He’s also got an edict for Scotty: leave it alone. Rosa is desperate to just put it behind her, but Scotty’s equally desperate to put the guy behind bars. “Olvidate,” (“Forget it”), his father instructs, but those of you who know Scotty even a little bit won’t be surprised to see him in the montage, lurking in the Dayley’s parking lot with a book of mug shots. Also, Vera’s “table naps” are starting to concern me, especially when we learn that they seem to be related to some photos from another case he’s suddenly obsessed with. I have a feeling we’ll see these again.
This episode had a very old-school Cold Case feel about it, with a more distant era, some stunning cinematography, and as many twists and turns as a roller coaster. Lots of the cases this season have seemed a bit uninspired, but this one was engaging from start to finish. I had absolutely no idea who the actual doer was, and though I wasn’t crazy about Harry at the beginning, I found myself warming up to him by the end. All in all, an incredibly refreshing episode, easily one of this season’s best. Unfortunately, it’ll have to hold us; thanks to football and the Grammys, the next new one won’t be until February 14!
So that’s my TwoCents, but I’d love to hear yours. Did you enjoy the ride as much as I did? Anyone else tired of Lilly stalking Moe? Am I the only one concerned about Vera? Any early Super Bowl predictions? Leave your TwoCents in the Comments section, and I’ll see you all next month!