Episode Review: Moonlight 1.14; Click. Murder on an ocean liner! Hold the Titanic jokes.
Tracy S. Morris is the author of the award-winning Tranquility series of Southern paranormal humor mysteries.
Morris's story Fish Story will appear in the Baen anthology Strip Mauled
Her new novel Bride of Tranquility Is available now from Yard Dog Press.
Her website is http://www.tracysmorris.com/
The start of the episode finds Mick careening down the road in the car with a starlet, reassuring himself over and over again that he can't die. The starlet is having the time of her life, outrunning paparazzi by driving the wrong way down one-way streets, and weaving in and out of cars.
They arrive at a restaurant where Beth is meeting A.D.A. 'stick-up-his-rear' Talbot. Talbot has asked Beth to lunch as a peace offering. He said it was because she wasn't the tabloid reporter that he thought she was, but in reality he just wants to find out what she knows about the night they were kidnapped. Beth deflects his questions and instead complains about her new boss, and Buzzwire's new direction.
Mick and the starlet, whose name is Tierney Taylor, sit at a table and discuss the reason she's hired him: to tighten up her security. Lately she's felt that someone in her inner circle has been leaking things to the paparazzi and she wants Mick to put an end to it.
Throughout lunch, Mick and Beth make eyes at each other from across the restaurant. At one point, when they steal a moment, Mick asks her to dinner so that they can get to know each other better, and Beth replies that he's known her since she was four. Mick obviously thinks that sounds so wrong.
Mick then goes to visit Josef. He jokingly calls the other vampire dad. Josef replies that he's not dad if he re-brought Mick across (emphasis on re). Josef makes a few jokes about Mick finally joining the 21st century and gently warns him to watch himself about being in the public eye. Apparently Josef had a few brushes with celebrity himself, including getting hot-and-heavy with Jean Harlow and Greta Garbo.
Once Beth goes to Buzzwire, her new boss tells her that the website is going to run with rumors. If they're wrong, they'll print a retraction later. And Beth is his newest star reporter, thanks to her connections with 'Tierney's new boytoy Mick St. John.' Beth is told to go to a party celebrating Tierney's new movie, Lusitania, and come up with a facts-optional story.
The party is being held on the Queen Mary, once an opulent cruise liner, then a wartime transport known as the Grey Ghost. Now, the ship is a floating hotel docked in LA that is famous for being the most haunted place in America (at least according to Ghost Hunters).
At the party, Mick comes up with three likely suspects for the leak: The producer for Lusitania, who could be trying to capitalize on Tierney's fame to generate good buzz for the movie, the starlet's boyfriend Scott, who could use the publicity for his emo band, and a sleazy stalkeratzi named Foster, who has a bad habit of becoming obsessed with his subjects.
There is a nice moment when Tierney asks Mick who Beth is and he replies that he thinks they're dating. He seems so befuddled by the idea. Poor Mick. He and Coraline probably didn't date much, and it's been about 50 years.
The party ends abruptly when Tierney falls overboard. Everyone else assumes she's drunk, but Mick suspects foul play. Worse yet, it was his job to protect her. So now his honor demands that he find the killer.
Mick and Beth search Tierney's room. Before A.D.A. Talbot can chase them out, Mick smells blood on an anchor in a display case. He points it out to Talbot and he and Beth make a hasty retreat.
Back at Buzzwire, Beth's new boss shows her photos taken from the ship of Tierney's body floating in the water. The photos were taken by Foster. Beth alerts Mick to the paparazzi's presence before leaving him to duck the paparazzi (some of which are, nudge, nudge, wink, twenty something vampires with no sense of vamp solidarity).
Beth interviews Tierney's producer, and finds out that Tierney was financing the movie, and that without her, the move has been canceled.
Meanwhile, Mick has Logan hack into Tierney's records, and see if there are any abnormalities in Tierney's records. There, they discover that Tierney's business manager was writing monthly checks for $20,000 to himself.
Mick checks with the business manager and discovers that the checks were actually going to Foster as shut-up money. At sometime in her past, Tierney's mother had killed her abusive father. Now that she's hit the big time, Tierney has arranged for her mother a house with people to help her when she got out of prison.
When Mick and Beth meet to discuss the case, a car comes out of nowhere. Mick barely pushes Beth out of the way before he bounces off the hood. Beth helps him shake it off and go inside, unaware that Logan has transferred his stalker side-business from Tierney to Mick.
Once inside, Beth and Mick have their first couples’ fight. Mick says the car was trying to hit Beth. She says that the driver was obviously after Mick. Mick tells Beth that Tierney's boyfriend isn't the killer. His only crime is being in an emo band. Beth counters that she likes emo music.
Mick asks Beth to stay the night, and she's all smiles until Mick tells her that she'll be on the couch, and he'll be in his freezer. Freezer is obviously a vampire euphemism for taking a cold shower.
It isn't long before Foster contacts her with pictures of Mick surviving the hit-and-run. Foster's game this time isn't for cash. He wants the scoop: Inside info on whatever Buzzwire's lead story is going to be.
Beth contacts A.D.A. Talbot about creepy Foster, and finds out that stalking and blackmail are his M.O. He fixates on one person, and then fixates on them until he no longer has access to them. Then he finds someone new to fixate on.
While it seems that Foster is the prime suspect, new information gives Mick and Beth another person to add to the list: Tierney's producer on Lusitania. It seems that he was heavily in debt to the movie's backers. If the movie was canceled, insurance would have kicked in to give him the money to repay them. But Tierney was committed to the movie: even going so far as to partially finance it herself. So the only way to get the movie canceled was to kill her.
Mick chases down the producer and gets a confession. Which isn't enough to satisfy Talbot. He once again admonishes Mick that he's getting in the way of police work.
Which just leaves the sticky problem of Foster.
When Beth asked Mick what happens when a vampire is close to being discovered, his response was that they usually move on. My gut thought when she said this was that Beth was going to hide things from Mick and continue to buy Foster's silence with tips from Buzzwire. Thankfully, Beth proved smarter than that when she instead went to Josef for help.
The scene with Josef was by far the best scene in the show. Beth asked Josef to handle the problem, and Josef asked her if she knew what it meant for him to handle it. She said that she thought that maybe Joseph could pay him off. Joseph says that he doesn't think that solution would work, and Beth replies that she doesn't either. Joseph asks her if she still wants him to handle it and if she knows what that means. Beth nodded yes, that she did.
In a lot of ways, Beth has been an innocent. But knowing vampires and remaining innocent are mutually exclusive. Vampires are killers. By associating with vampires, a person willingly associates with killers. In many ways, Beth is symbolically letting go of her innocence and getting her own hands bloody by asking Josef to handle the problem.
Then Josef reminds her that so long as she works at Buzzwire, she'll be endangering Mick. Beth next proves how committed she is to their growing relationship by quitting her job. (Although, given the website's new yellow journalism direction, this probably wasn't a hard issue for her) Her excuse to Mick is that she doesn't want to make a living feeding off people like a . . . Okay! Awkward. Mick replies with a smile of his own as says that everyone is a vampire in one way or another.
Actually, I'm pretty sure that Mother Theresa wasn't. Or Ghandi. Now Elvis? That would explain all the posthumous sightings.
I wonder if Beth will stay in journalism. If not, she has a talent for investigating. Maybe Mick should look at taking on a partner.
While Beth enjoys dinner and Mick enjoys watching her, Foster is up the street taking pictures. Before long, we see how Josef handles the problem: the twenty something vampire paparazzi show up and take him out.
Finally, we see that A.D.A. Talbot has copies of Foster's photos of Mick. He puts them in a file labeled Mick St. John. This cannot be good.
The good: I'm still floored by the interaction between Josef and Beth at the end of this episode. In many ways, Beth has been the innocent up to this point. In the last episode, Mick gave up his mortality to protect Beth. Now she's given up both her innocence and her career to protect Mick. I'm eagerly anticipating the fall out from this.
I also loved the LA references and locations. They help to give the show a definite Hollywood feel.
The bad: The metaphor of paparazzi as vampires was so clunky, it felt like we needed a warning sign preceding the episode: Watch out for falling anvils.
The conclusion: The pacing was good, there was wonderful character development, it advanced the overall plot. the bad guy was not a vampire for a change and there were moments that I genuinely loved. Although this episode isn't my absolute favorite, it’s up there.
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