A car pulls into the full parking area of the "Freidlich Sensitivity Spa". Inside the main building, a man is speaking to a room full of people. "I'm Dr. Neal Brimsley. I know, uh, some of you probably know me from television as "the Snuggle Man," the crowd laughs and applauds him. Brimsley blows an air kiss to one of the women. "Welcome to the Sensitivity Spa. Where-" he steps down from the dias and goes over to a photograph on the wall over the mantle, "as the great Karl Freidlich used to say, 'We put the Capital Y back into the word You."
Outside, a blonde Nordic woman wearing a skimpy outfit is sitting among several couples. The couples are all wearing towels, and the men are laying on the concrete beside the pool, on their stomachs as their mates are copying the blonde woman's movements on the man laying beside her. "Soft, gentle. Close your eyes. Feel the very core of your being passing through your fingertips into your soul mate's pressure points." Beside them, the man's wife watches, frowning in disapproval of the blonde woman. "Freeing both your minds of life's superficial tensions." She looks around. "Yes?"
The men all moan in agreement. "Oh, yes. Yes."
In another room, a red haired, intense young woman explains to another group, "The primal shriek is the cornerstone to the Freidlich approach of creating a tensionless state of being. Again!" she yells, and the group screams loudly. The woman smiles, delighted. "MUCH better! Now relax, relax. Let's see if we can get in touch with our primal emotions," she tells them, closing her eyes, her hands clasped before her chest.
Suddenly across the room, a woman begins screaming. The red head crosses to her. "Very good, Melanie," she praises. The woman is standing at the window, looking outside. She screams again. "Outstanding." Another scream. The instructor realizes something's wrong. "Melanie, if I could just have your attention-" Melanie screams again, and this time points to something outside the window.
The instructor registers shock as she follows Melanie's finger to where a man is half laying in a hot tub, a metal pole across his back. "Oh, my God," the instructor whispers.
In Remington Steele's office, Remington sits at his desk, looking at a book. "You Can Be Better Than Okay," he reads from the cover.
Mildred looks at him as Dr. Gerald Steinmetz seats Dr. Sonia Steinmetz in one the chairs before the desk. Laura is perched on the front corner of the desk. "It's their latest best seller, Chief," she explains. "Four weeks at the top and still going strong."
Laura nods, as Gerald, who is the same one we saw half in the hot tub, smiles. "It's nice to have an appreciative audience." He has a large bandage on the back of his neck.
"Are you kidding?" Mildred asks. "I've been a big fan of you two since-" she pauses, thinks, and then finishes. "Winning Through Divorce." Laura gives Steele a sideways look.
Gerald takes Sonia's hand and gazes lovingly at her. "It was our first book together," he tells them.
Mildred frowns. "You know, you look a little shorter than you did on Merv last week."
Laura laughs gently and puts her hands on Mildred's shoulders. "Thank you, Mildred. Now, why don't you bring us some coffee?"
Mildred looks worried. "Well, we're all out," she says softly.
"Buy some," Laura suggests, and Mildred leaves.
Laura sits on the desk again as Sonia begins to talk. Gerald sits down. "Gerald has something that he feels is terribly important that- he'd like to share with you."
"Several days ago at the Spa, I was the victim of a freak accident on the way to the hot tub," Gerald explains in his soft voice.
"Spa?" Steele questions.
"The Freidlich Sensitivity Spa," Sonia explains. "North of Malibu?"
Laura nods as if she recognizes the name. "Oh."
"It was founded by Sonia's first husband," Gerald tells them. "The great Karl Freidlich, my mentor. Since Karl's death, we have been carrying on his Human Encounters Workshop."
Laura folds her arms across her chest. "Tell us about the accident."
"An outdoor heater somehow toppled over," Gerald tells her, "and knocked me unconscious."
"It was awful," Sonia recalls. "He might have drowned."
"Naturally, I tried to rationalize it as a- random accident."
Steele looks a bit bored as he listens. "But?"
"The disturbing truth is, this is just the latest in a series of freak accidents," Gerald tells him.
"And Gerald feels that somehow all these accidents are connected," Sonia continues.
"An outbreak of food poisoning, a- fire in the janitor's closet, a short-circuit in a light switch that shocked one of our guest so badly that we had to call the paramedics."
"The local authorities," Steele says. "Did they investigate?"
"Yes," Gerald answers. "But not as industriously as the State Licensing Board." He pulls a paper from his coat and hands it to Laura. "This arrived this morning. Notifying us that the spa was on probation pending a full investigation."
Laura hands the paper to Steele, who examines it.
"How they found out about it, I do not know," Sonia insists.
"Do you have any ideas why anyone would want to bring either of you harm?" Laura asks them.
"Not a one," Gerald says. "But you can appreciate the fact that if the state doesn't renew our license to operate, we're out of business."
Steele looks thoughtful, then puts down the paper and gets out of his chair. "Would you excuse us just a moment, please," he tells Gerald and Sonia. "Miss Holt," he says, passing her en route to her office. "Won't be a jiffy," Steele assures their clients as Laura follows him into her office. They leave the door open. "It's in the bag," he tells her, sounding pleased with himself.
"What are you talking about?" Laura asks in a quiet voice as Gerald and Sonia talk softly in the background.
"The Golden Dugout Baseball Caper? A series of accidents perpetrated by one guest out to kill another within the confines of a resort dedicated to the over-privileged?" he reminds her as she frowns.
Sonia and Gerald look at them as Sonia calls, "Excuse me. I don't mean to intrude, but- we're on rather a tight schedule-"
Returning to Steele's office, Laura explains, "Mr. Steele was just pointing out a fascinating parallel to one of his previous investigations."
"Successfully concluded, I might add," Steele notes, standing beside Laura at the desk. "The culprit turned out to be one guest out to kill another through a subterfuge of random mishaps." He smiles, pleased with himself.
Gerald looks at him. "Impossible."
"No, no. All the accidents took place weeks apart," Sonia informs them. "It was a different encounter group in residence every time."
Steele dismisses her comment. "Nevertheless, the intrinsic similarities here-" he stops as Laura asks a question.
"What about the staff? Perhaps someone is trying to jeopardize the spa out of- professional jealousy."
"I'm sorry," Gerald tells them. "I can't buy into that. We're like a family."
Steele smiles. "Well, if my Italian history serves me well, so were the Borgias."
"Yes," Gerald agrees. "I can see where you're coming from. Anything's possible." He reaches over to take Sonia's hand. "Will you take the case, Mr. Steele?"
Steele looks thoughtful. "I think-"
"Assuming we can move about the Spa freely, without compromising our investigation," Laura quickly tells him.
Steele smiles at her. "I couldn't have said it better myself."
"That should be no problem," Gerald tells them.
Laura and Steele are casually dressed, and wearing name tags as they listen to Neal Brimsley's welcoming speech. Neither looks comfortable or happy to be there.
"What is the name of my book?" Brimsley asks.
"Snuggle Up To Reality," the crowd says in unison.
"Well, what are you people waiting for?" Brimsley asks, smiling. "Let's snuggle!"
The crowd turns to start hugging each other. A man hugs the Nordic blonde and tells her, "Warren Spriggs, M.D. Brentwood, California."
"Ursula," she tells him. "Touching and feeling."
A short, angry looking man tries to escape the snuggling crowd, but a woman grabs him, throwing her arms around his neck. "Judy Fulton, San Jose."
"Arthur Henderson, Associate Director of the Spa."
Another man joins them, putting his arms around them both. "Ralph Fulton. Some set up you got here, Arthur."
"Thank you, Ralph," Arthur says, slipping away from them.
A short little woman smiles as she approaches Ursula. "Delores Spriggs. Plain old housewife."
"I like you, Delores," Ursula declares, and pulls the shorter woman close, nearly suffocating her.
"Come on!" Brimsley says, moving through the crowd. "Let's put some pizzazz into those snuggles!" He grabs Laura, lifting her off her feet. She giggles in surprise. "Hi," he says. "I'm Neal."
"Laura Blaine," she tells him, shaking his hand.
"All right, Laura," he says, then looks up to see a VERY uncomfortable Steele standing there. "Ah?" Steele nods as if to say that he and Laura are together.
"Richard Blaine. I'm with her."
Brimsley goes over to him. "Well loosen up, guy!" he orders, shaking Steele and then giving him a hug. "Atta boy! Now, snuggle, baby, snuggle!" He moves on.
A woman grabs Steele around the neck. "Hi!" she says in a bright voice. "I'm Nancy Hughes from Encino."
"Oh, hi, Nancy, I'm-" he holds up his name badge. "I'm Richard Blaine."
"Oh, and how long have you been married, Richard?" she asks, taking his hand in hers.
"Oh, we're actually quite new at this, really," he confides.
Laura is being hugged by Nancy's husband. "Gordon Hughes. I just hope that you two will end up as happy as we've been after twelve years." He hugs her again.
"Thank you," Laura says as Gordon moves away. She turns to a sour looking Steele. "Smile, darling."
Steele smiles obediently.
* * *
"What's the matter with you?" Laura asks Steele as they walk through the grounds later.
"Come on, Laura. You can't take this tripe seriously," he says.
"It just so happens that last night, I *read* 'You Can Be Better Than Okay'," she informs him. "And it has some *very* good ideas in it."
"You should read it yourself. It might improve your attitude towards relationships."
"Any relationship in particular?" he asks. Laura gives him a look. "Listen, I wasn't aware that my attitude needed improvement," he says with a shrug.
Suddenly the silence is broken by a piercing scream, and they take off in that direction.
They find the red haired woman sitting cross legged on a table, shrieking. "What's wrong? What's wrong?" Steele asks, stopping her screams.
She looks at them. "Wrong?"
"Oh, the screaming."
"I was just externalizing my core of pain," she tells them.
Steele removes his sunglasses, confused.
"I'm Maxine Gilroy," she tells them, shaking their hands. "I teach primal shriek."
"Laura Blaine," Laura says. "And uh-" she glances toward Steele's name tag, as if his name has slipped her mind. "Richard Blaine."
"Then we can presume you were just- having a healthy go at it," he tells Maxine.
"Exactly. You see, it's the only way I can cope with the reality of leaving the Spa next week."
"You're leaving?" Laura asks.
"I can't take it anymore. Not what they're doing to this place."
"Who?" Steele questions.
"Gerald and Sonia Steinmetz. Brimsley, Henderson, all of them, with their shallow interviews, their frothy books, they are prostituting the name of the most brilliant man in the world!" she declares.
"Karl Freidlich," Laura says.
"The kindest, wisest man I ever knew," Maxine says. "He was so totally in touch with his feelings. I was devastated when he died. But I vowed I'd continue his work. And now, after eight years of sacrifice, I couldn't care less if this place just burned to the ground! It's money. Money. That's all they care about! Every one of them. The mental health of an entire nation be damned!"
Laura glances at her watch and looks at a stunned Steele. "Sweetheart, our sensitivity seminar--"
"Huh?" Steele questions, still fixed on Maxine's hostility. "Oh, oh, yes. Yes, indeed." He takes Maxine's hand. "Bless you, Maxine. For sharing that with us. Really. Yeah." He and Laura move off.
"Prime suspect," Laura mutters, the flinches as Maxine shrieks again.
"Primal, I'd say," Steele corrects.
Arthur hands out clipboards to the couples that are seated in a circle on the floor. "For our first exercise," he tells them, "I want you to think only of your mate's most wonderful and endearing qualities. Qualities that brought you together, hopefully, with out help, for a lifetime." He claps his hands. "Now. I want you to write your mate a letter, listing those qualities one by one, then I want you to find a quiet and peaceful place to exchange those letters."
Laura looks thoughtful, Steele smiles, then frowns. "Any questions?" Arthur asks.
"Yes," Nancy Hughes says. "I think I'm going to need a second sheet of paper," she tells him as her husband looks on with a smile.
"What if you can't remember?" Delores asks, then looks at her husband as he looks surprised. "Well, it was a long time ago, Warren, when I was working to put you through Med School?"
Arthur kneels before them. "I respect you for your honesty, Delores. And you should, too, Warren." He stands up. "The secret is to relax, and try to forget all of the superficial baggage we each carry into every relationship. That is the whole idea behind this exercise. To get down to the nitty-gritty."
Laura lays on the floor, pen in hand, thinking as she smiles at Steele, who still looks uncomfortable.
Later, Steele and Laura enter a gazebo that sits on a cliff edge. Laura stands looking at the view, but Steele goes to work on an electrical outlet on one of the posts. Noticing him, Laura asks, "What are you doing?"
"Checking the wiring. A guest was nearly electrocuted here."
"Aren't you going to show me your letter?" Laura asks, holding a paper in her hand.
Steele looks upset as he continues to work on the outlet. "Laura, I was trying to maintain our cover," he reminds her.
"So I don't get to see it," she says.
Steele rises, crossing to her. "It's merely a list of things we should be investigating. Like hot tub where Gerald had his accident. The maintenance closet that burned down. Maxine the screamer. Really, Laura, you should get your mind back on the case and off these sophomoric exercises."
"Perhaps they wouldn't seem so sophomoric if you took them more seriously," Laura suggests evenly, smiling a bit.
"Does this have something to do with my- attitude problem again?" he asks.
"You see? You're always hiding behind flip remarks."
"I'm not hiding behind anything," Steele insists. "If anyone's hiding in this relationship, it's you!"
Laura is about to respond, but Arthur appears. "Hi there, Richard."
"Hi," Steele says, as he and Laura sit down on the bench, close to each other.
"Laura. How're we doin'?" he asks.
Steele reaches into his jacket pocket and pulls out a paper. "Oh, just getting down to the nitty-gritty," he says with a nervous smile.
"I don't see any letters being exchanged," Arthur notes.
"Here's my letter," Steele says, only to have Laura snatch it from his hands.
"Well, you know Richard," she says, "he's such a tease." She smiles, holding the paper.
"She's such an incurable romantic," Steele comments.
"How truly lovely," Arthur says.
"Yes," Steele and Laura say together.
"Well, I'm sure you two wanna be alone," Arthur says.
"Yes," they say again.
"Bye now," Steele calls after him, then grabs for the letter in Laura's hand. "Let me have the letter," he says. She stands up, moving away from him. "Laura-"
She starts reading, frowning. "This isn't a list of leads. You were doing the exercise."
Steele sits down, giving up. "Laura, I was just doodling."
"This is a list of my best qualities. Well dressed?"
"Well, certainly compared to Mildred," he explains.
"An under-estimated virtue."
"That's like saying I'm kind to furry animals."
"Um, I believe you'll find that's number four on the list," Steele tells her with a smile.
Laura is furious. She wads up her letter. "I was writing down what I really feel," she tells him, going over to where he's sitting. "But you're not going to see it." She tosses it over the edge of the cliff.
"Laura, what are you doing?" Steele asks, confused again. "We're under cover."
"Does that mean we can't explore our feelings at the same time?" she asks.
"The perfect place to explore our feelings would be on a moonlit beach in Maui," he tells her.
"Of course. You only want to talk about things when you've got me in a clinch."
"Who said anything about talking, umm?" he asks, lifting his brows suggestively.
"Perfect. I'm trying to have a serious conversation, and you're making adolescent passes!"
"Laura, what's gotten into you?"
"Our relationship has been on hold for too long. We need to have a serious talk. We need to shake things up a bit and see what happens!"
Suddenly the gazebo breaks free and begins to slide over the cliff, throwing Laura into Steele's arms.
The gazebo tumbles over the edge.
* * *
As others look on, a winch pulls a ragged looking Laura and Steele up the cliff to safety.
"It could have been us," Nancy Hughes muses in a frightened tone as he husband stands by.
"Are you all right?" Gerald asks.
"Luckily the gazebo caught a ledge on the way down," Laura tells them, removing the harness.
"What happened?" Arthur asks. "When I looked in, you two were doing so well."
"Obviously the earth moved for both of us," Steele comments.
"You could have got killed," Ursula says.
"The thought did occur," Laura agrees as Steele looks back down the cliff.
"Well," Arthur tells the gathered onlookers, "just a freak accident, everybody. These cliffs can be a bit unstable sometimes."
"You're absolutely right, Arthur," Steele agrees. "Part of the Southern California folklore. Along with the brush fires, the earthquakes," he says with a laugh, then takes Laura's arm. "Come along."
He tells Sonia, "I don't mean to be an alarmist, but- that was no accident."
"Are you sure?" she asks, sounding desperate. "I mean, we've had a lot of erosion problems."
"Over here!" Neal calls out. They rush to join him as he's stomping down the grass to reveal water saturation near the hot tub. "Look. The ground is soaked!"
Laura and Steele check it for themselves. "I'm not surprised. There's enough water here to destabilize an entire hillside," Steele says.
Gerald kneels to investigate. "Where's it coming from?" he asks.
They trace the water to an open release valve, and the handy man tells them as he shuts off the water, "here's your problem right here. Water's been blowing out of the relief valve all night long."
"Ethan, we can see that," Arthur tells the young man.
"Well, don't look at me," Ethan tells him, angry. "It was fine yesterday evening when I stopped by to add some chemicals. Course, anybody could have gotten in here."
"Caretaker?" Laura asks Gerald in a quiet voice.
"Ethan Deerfield. Been with us for years."
"Do you mean the panel wasn't locked?" Sonia asks Ethan.
"I didn't know it should have been."
"Arthur," Sonia says, "I thought I told you two months ago that anything that could be tampered with should be put under lock and key?"
"If I'm personally to see to it that every bit of equipment is locked up," Arthur begins, "Where will I find the time to teach and schedule my staff?"
"Arthur, you are that associate director. You are paid to take care of these things. I don't care where you find the time."
"Okay," Arthur agrees. "Fine. I'll look into it right away. I'm sure somebody else can take my next class." He turns to find Neal smiling at him. "Out of my way, Brimsley." He pushes away from the group.
* * *
In the Spa office, Laura and Steele are going through some files as Gerald hangs up the phone. "Okay Thank you." He hangs up and turns to Sonia. "I don't believe it."
"Darling, what is it?"
"The licensing board. They know all about the landslide. In detail."
"Any idea who notified them?" Laura asks.
"They wouldn't share that with me. All I know is that our license renewal is officially on hold until the special investigator gets here to make a report."
"Thanks to that incompetent Arthur Henderson," Sonia declares angrily.
"Now, now, sweetheart," Gerald says soothingly. "Henderson's only human. If somebody wants to shut us down, they'll find a way to do it no matter who's in charge."
"Fools," Sonia says. "We were fools. I *knew* we should have promoted Neal Brimsley." Laura and Steele listen as they examine the files.
"Brimsley?" Steele asks, sitting down.
"Both he and Henderson were up for the post of associate director," Gerald tells them. "Henderson was better qualified."
"Seems the seeds of discontent are sprouting up in bunches," Laura mutters to Steele.
"I beg your pardon?" Gerald asks.
"Two- highly intense gentlemen competing for the same job in an industry fraught with professional jealousies is a bit-" Steele suggests.
"Oh, no," Sonia insists, "Not here at the Spa. Neal and Arthur know we could never tolerate that sort of destructive behaviour."
"Learning to cope is the crux of the Freidlich system," Gerald agrees.
"And Maxine Gilroy?" Laura asks. "What's her story?"
"Why didn't you tell us that she's leaving at the end of this session?" Steele asks as well, looking up from the files in his lap.
"Is that important?" Sonia wonders.
"Is when she openly wants the Spa to be burned to the ground," Laura informs them.
"Poor Maxine. Fantasizing. As usual," Sonia sighs regretfully.
"The clinical truth is that she just can't cope with societal change," Gerald tells them. He glances at his watch. "Oh, oh, time to go. Listen, I'll fill you in on Maxine on our way to your next encounter group."
Laura leans toward Steele. "And what's next on the schedule?" she asks him.
"Oh, everybody's favorite. Latent hostility." He grins at her.
As they walk through the grounds, they come up on Neal and Arthur arguing loudly. "Oh, shut up, Brimsley!"
"Yeah, well, who is gonna make me, Henderson?" Neal asks.
"You know, it wouldn't surprise me if you were behind those accidents," Arthur suggests, to which Neal laughs loudly. "Just to make me look bad."
"You are deluded!" Neal laughs as Laura, Steele, and Gerald stop to listen.
"And you're psychotic. Let me tell you something else. If I walk into your classroom again, you keep your hands *off* of me!" He shoves Neal away.
"Oh, yeah? Well, you walk into *my* classroom, *you* are gonna get snuggled like everybody else!"
Steele starts to turn and say something to Laura, but Gerald silences him.
"Snuggle Up To Reality-"
"Give me a break! Snuggle up to the best seller list, that's all you've got on your mind."
"OH yeah? Yeah?" Neal questions, grabbing Arthur and pushing him against the wall while drawing back his fist. "Well, snuggle up to this!"
"Go on. Hit me," Arthur dares him. "Ruin your career. I'd love it."
Neal pauses, and lowers his fist, releasing Arthur. "*You* are not worth it," he declares, moving away.
Laura looks at Gerald. "He was going to punch him."
"Exactly," Gerald confirms, sounding excited by the idea.
"Good grief, man, aren't you a bit upset?" Steele wonders.
"Upset?" Steele nods. "What you just witnessed was something beautiful."
"What we just witnessed was almost assault and battery," Laura tells him.
"To your layman's point of view, perhaps. What I saw was two men, honestly exploring their true feelings about each other. Openly. Withholding nothing." Laura and Steele exchange a look, and Steele looks put out when Gerald puts an arm over each of their shoulders to explain, "That's what this place is all about."
* * *
Delores Spriggs hits her husband with a padded bataka, yelling, "Damn you, Warren, all those years working to put you through med school, and for what?" she asks as Maxine urges her to continue. "A slave! That's all you want is for someone to keep your house and raise your kids, to hell with any identity of my own!"
Warren hits her. "What about you? Always complaining, never there when I need you, headaches every night!"
"Wonderful Warren!" Maxine says.
Maxine hits him over and over again. "I hate you, I hate you, I hate you, I-" she stops and looks at him. "I love you," she declares, dropping the bataka and grabbing him, kissing him.
Watching, Laura looks surprised, and Steele shakes his head in disbelief as the Spriggs leave, arm in arm.
Maxine moves to the center of the circle. "A perfect example of how the bataka can be an invaluable tool into turning bitter, bitter hostility into feeling good about each other." She picks up the batakas. "Now, who wants to be next?" she looks around, and then turns to Laura and Steele, who are sitting a bit apart, turned away from each other. "The Blaines."
"Hmm?" Steele questions. Laura has taken one of the batakas.
Maxine bends toward them. "Now, Richard, somehow I feel that you don't buy into the Freidlich theory that hostility is indeed the soul mate to intimacy."
Steele accepts the bataka, but says, "Oh, to the contrary, I've often felt quite hostile towards my lovely . . . partner here," he says, and Laura glares at him.
"Then let's stop procrastinating and let's get exacerbating," Maxine tells them, dragging the two of them to their feet in the center of the circle.
"I don't think-" Laura begins, embarrassed.
Maxine looks at Laura. "I want you to tell Richard what's going through your mind."
Laura swings the bataka low, like she's preparing to swing at a pitch. "Okay. I want to know why he has so much- trouble discussing our relationship," she says, and then turns to sit down again, dropping the bataka.
But Maxine won't let her. "Laura, Laura, Laura. Now, you're going to have to get rid of those kid gloves," Maxine says, giving her back the bataka. "Now, tell Richard exactly what is it about him that eating at your gut."
Laura cradles the bataka. "I don't know how he expects to advance our relationship if he, uh, doesn't tell me how he feels."
Maxine turns to Richard. "That's an excellent point."
"It's also, if you'll pardon the expression, a crock," Steele replies.
"Do I detect a trace of annoyance here, Richard?" Maxine wonders.
"My- wife obviously has problems dealing with reality," he says, at which Laura's jaw drops in surprise.
"Huh!" she declares.
"And what is the reality?" Maxine asks.
"That I've been trying to advance this relationship for quite some time now," Steele says calmly, looking at Laura, who gives another grunt of disbelief.
"Do you buy into that, Laura?" Maxine asks her.
"I most certainly do not. The only advancement he's talking about is into the bedroom. I want more than a roll in the hay!" she declares.
"Oh, ho," Steele says. "I see, so we're back to that again, are we, Laura? I mean, aren't you tired with all these old arguments? Or is it the settings that make them different? I mean, London, Acapulco, Cannes-"
"Show us how you really-" Maxine tries to say.
"Shut up. You stay out of this," Steele tells her.
"Wonderful." Maxine nods and backs off a step.
"I mean, you wanna talk all the time, because you're afraid to do anything else," he accuses in a quiet voice.
Laura's outraged by his words, and hits him with the bataka. "You're the one who's afraid!" she says. "You're afraid of being pinned down, afraid of staying in the same *place*!" She hits him again.
"Oh, we're with you, Laura!" Maxine tells her, and gets hit for it by Laura.
"You, you, *you* wanna have complete control!" Steele tells her, yelling now. "That's why!"
"Let all that bile out," Maxine says. "Tell it like it really is!" Steele pulls away from her.
"You feel compelled to dominate me physically because deep down, you're intimidated by any woman who has half a *brain*!"
"Half a brain is right," Steele agrees as she hits him again. "The only half you use is for thinking! What about the half for feeling? That's the part that I'm interested in!"
"The only part you're interested in is a little *lower* than the brain!" Laura says, hitting him again.
Nancy Hughes says, "That's the way, Laura!"
"Give it to her, Richard!" Gordon says.
"I mean, how many more tests do I have to pass? How many more tiny little trials do I have to go through to show my commitment?!"
"You don't know the meaning of the word!" Laura tells him.
Steele hits her over the head with his bataka, and she hits him in return. "What are you talking about? What do you think I've been doing? What do you think I've been going through for the last three and a half years?! Don't you think that's a commitment?" he asks.
Laura hits him again. "A commitment needs *words*!"
"What about deeds?!"
Another hit. "What about WORDS?!"
"You'll never be satisfied, Laura, because you're living in the past! I'm not your father! I'm not the man who left your mother!"
Laura freezes, tossing the bataka onto the floor, as does Steele.. "You leave my family out of this," she says, not yelling for once.
But Steele is still very angry. "WHY?!" he demands. "They're the ones standing between us!"
"The only one standing between us is *you*!"
"No! It isn't. It isn't. It's you, and your bloody little inhibitions. That's what it is. I mean, what do I have to do to get through to you?!"
"More than a wink and tumble!"
"You are the most ridiculous woman that I have met!"
"Well, then, get out of here! What are you waiting for?!" she asks, yelling as loud as he is.
"That's a damn good question!"
"Well, go on, get out! I was better off without you anyway!" Laura looks away, breathing hard.
Steele looks hurt. "You mean that, don't you?" he asks in a quiet voice again.
"Of course she does," Maxine confirms, delighted.
Steele breathes into Laura's face, goes.
Maxine puts an arm around Laura. "Don't worry, Laura. They always come back."
"Do they?" Laura asks in a tight, disbelieving voice.
Maxine nods in encouragement.
* * *
Later, Laura finds Steele on the grounds. "I'm sorry," she says. "I got a bit carried away."
"Hmm. When in Rome, eh?" he questions.
"I didn't mean what I said. At least, I didn't mean it come out like that."
Steele straightens up and moves away. "Let's stick to the case, shall we?"
"We have to air things out between us," Laura insists.
"I thought we just did," Steele reminds her.
"Would you just look at me?"
"Shh, shh, shh," Steele cautions, looking at something.
"You see? There you go again, you never want to talk."
"No. No, no, Laura," he says, pointing to where Gerald and Ursula are standing on the beach. "Look." As Laura and Steele watch, they embrace and kiss.
"Gerald and Ursula?" Laura questions.
"Looks like there's more here than meets the ID," Steele comments, drawing a look from Laura.
* * *
That evening, while Laura is on the telephone with Mildred, Steele, wearing his robe and pajamas, is getting the chaise lounge ready for him to use as a bed. You can tell he's still disturbed by his movements.
"Listen, Mildred, I want you to- what? . . . The living arrangements? . . . They're very comfortable. Now, look, Mildred,- . . . huh? . . . Yes, Mildred, Mr. Blaine is with me. . . No, Mildred, you're not interrupting us . . . " Steele continues with his bed-making, ignoring Laura. "Now get that pencil and pad ready. I've got one more staff member I want checked out. A caretaker by the name of Ethan Deerfield . . . Right . . . Right. Police, Hall of Records, the works . . . Uh, huh. Thank you- Sweet dreams to you and yours, too, Mildred," she says, then hangs up. Going over to where Steele is working, she says, "Sometimes I think Mildred would be happier working for the National Enquirer." Steele grabs a blanket and pops it open, almost hitting her as she asks, "Are you still mad?"
"Just concentrating on the case," he tells her. "After all, we saw our client locked in an embrace with Ursula- the queen of touching and feeling." He turns off the light and starts to remove his robe.
"Well," Laura sighs, sitting on the edge of the chaise, "there's not much we can do about that until morning. "Listen, about this afternoon-"
Steele gets into his bed. "I suggest we get a good night's sleep. After all, we've got a long day tomorrow," he says, then tugs on the covers that she's sitting on. When she doesn't move, he simply lays down and turns away from her.
"Fine," Laura says. She gets up and goes to the bed. She turns out the light, and after removing her robe, she climbs between the covers. "Night."
"Night," he repeats, but neither of them look very sleepy.
* * *
The next morning, Laura wakes up and looks over at the chaise. Steele's already left the room.
Steele is out walking when Gerald, wearing a robe, with a towel over his shoulder, hails him. "Mr. Steele."
"Beautiful morning for getting in touch with one's inner core, eh?" he asks.
Gerald smiles. "Care to join me for a hot tub?" he offers.
"Hmm?" Steele says, distracted. "No. No, thanks. The investigation. We- uh- might be onto something."
"You've got a lead?"
"I don't know. You tell me. Gerald, if Miss Holt and I are gonna solve this case, we're gonna have to have all the facts."
"I gave you all the facts," Gerald insists.
"Including your affair with Ursula Eriksson?" Steele asks.
Gerald looks stunned. He glances back at his house, then starts walking. Steele joins him. "Uh, you know."
"It's the price you pay for hiring Remington Steele Investigations."
"Listen, it's not what it seems. I love Sonia, but-"
"Funny, I'm a clinical psychologist with twenty years experience, but when the shoe's on my own foot-"
"You and Sonia having problems?"
"No. I mean, not professionally. That's why I didn't mention it. Our commitment to the Spa is built on a bedrock of love and devotion. As for our personal life- Sonia and I- I haven't touched her in months. Now, with our license in jeopardy,-- I want it to work, but Sonia- it's obvious her work is more important to her than our marriage."
"Ursula?" Steele says.
"A sweet, undemanding friend. Who, unlike Sonia, understands my all too human frailties."
"No strings attached, eh?"
"Exactly. Listen, please. Understand, that's not what I want."
"I want it to work with Sonia, but-If Sonia ever left me, I don't know what I'd do. Well, if you'll forgive me, I've got a lot of mellowing out to do." He walks away.
* * *
Later, Steele is examining the maintenance closet when Laura passes the doorway. When she realizes he's there, she comes back and stands there, watching him. "Well. We're up early this morning."
"Lumpy couch," he tells her, concentrating on the ash on the floor where he's kneeling. "Besides, I thought it was time we checked out this maintenance closet that burned down last month."
"Mildred just called," Laura tells him, coming over to where he is. "About Ethan Deerfield, the caretaker?"
"Oh?" Steele asks, standing up.
"Apparently he had some brushes with the law several years ago," she explains, acting uncomfortable with so much anger still between them. "Car theft, assault and battery, and nasty little things like that."
"Interesting," Steele comments, wiping his fingers on his handkerchief.
"It gets better. Guess who owned all this acreage before it was auctioned off to Karl Freidlich for back taxes in 1968 for a paltry seventy-five thousand dollars?"
"Close. Ethan's father."
"Hmm. With ocean front property now at astronomical prices, Ethan's family would have been millionaires by now had they been able to hold onto this land."
Laura nods in agreement. "How about you?" she asks. "Any luck?"
"To a degree. Have a look at this." He kneels again. "See this fine ash here? This is where the fire burned hottest. Which means it started here. As opposed to the wiring where everyone else thought."
"An incendiary device?" Laura asks.
"Nothing too complicated, mind you. All you need is a work bench, a coupla tools,-"
"And a key to this closet," Laura finishes.
"Time to check Ethan out, wouldn't you say?"
As Ethan leaves in a truck, Sonia leads Laura and Steele toward his cottage. "I understand you have to pursue every lead, Miss Holt, but- Ethan? It seems so ludicrous."
"Are you aware he had a police record which indicates a tendency toward criminal behaviour?"
"Well of course I am, but who could blame him? After his father lost the property, he took to drinking. He eventually died a broken man. Ethan was devastated. He struck back at society the only way he could, by getting to trouble."
"And today?" Steele asks, "Are you sure Ethan doesn't bear you and the Spa any ill-will?"
She puts a key into the lock. "Oh, totally. The whole affair sent Gerald and I on such a guilt trip that we offered Ethan a job at the Spa. That was eight years ago. He's been like a son to us ever since." She opens the door.
"You understand we have to look around," Laura explains as they follow her inside. "Just to be sure."
"Anybody who had direct access to the scene of all five accidents has to be a suspect," Steele points out.
"I suppose," Sonia agrees. "It just- makes me feel like such a snoop. I don't know how you people handle it."
"The only way we can," Laura says. "With discretion."
"I appreciate that. Well, in the meantime, if you'll excuse me, I really ought to put in a call to our lawyer to see what legal recourse we have in case we *do* get shut down."
"Thank you," Laura says.
Sonia leaves. Steele looks around the one room apartment as Laura does the same. "What do you think?" he asks.
"Hard to tell. Vengeance is a powerful emotion."
Steele stops and looks at her. "Emotions seem to be the order of the day, don't they?"
Laura picks up a glass pan lid and flicks it, making a "pinging" sound before putting it down, frowning at Steele.
Steele finds a tool box and opens it to inspect the contents. He finds something that interests him.
Meanwhile, Laura opens the closet and looks inside, finding some wire. "A guy wire," she points out.
"Hmm," Steele murmurs, looking at what he's found.
"The heater that fell over and nearly killed Gerald? He said no one could find the defective guy wire," Laura tells him, bringing it over to him.
"Looks like we're both onto something," Steele says, holding up a piece of black plastic. "Have a look at this."
"What is it?" she asks.
"Along with your guy wire, our passport back to the world of the blissfully neurotic."
He and Laura take the black plastic piece out to the hot tub. Steele grabs the white plastic relief valve that malfunctioned, sending the gazebo over the cliff. "One shiny relief valve wheel comes off, just like the old one apparently did-" he unscrews the white one, "Saturating the soil under the gazebo, and presto-" he puts the black on in its place. "On goes this old chlorine bleached one that we found hidden away in Ethan's tool box." He stands up. "The relief valve wheel, the guy wire- it has to be Ethan."
"No buts, Laura. For once, let's have a simple, open and shut investigation," he begs as they walk away.
"But if Ethan's motive is vengeance, why now, after all this time?" Laura asks.
"Hamlet. Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons, J. Arthur Rank, 1948. A son sworn to avenge his father suddenly explodes like a time bomb-"
Suddenly a nearby building does exactly that, sending Laura and Steele to the ground for protection from the fiery blast. Neal, wrapped in a towel, staggers out of the sauna, yelling, "Somebody's still inside! By the water heater!"
Steele goes into the building. "Somebody call the fire department!" Laura says as Ursula and the other look on.
Steele drags the other person out. It's Ethan. "Looks like we found our man," Steele tells Laura as they kneel over the body.
"Dead to rights," Laura concludes.
* * *
As the fire department packs up, Laura and Steele look around the burned remains of the sauna. "Looks like Ethan was trying to bypass the automatic cut off sensor," he tells Laura.
"It tracks. Ethan, driven by a perverted sense of vengeance, was setting up another accident when it backfired on him. Figuratively and literally."
Steele looks thoughtful. "Unless-" he says, "Ethan was lured into the sauna, perhaps under false pretext-"
Laura looks at him. "What are you talking about?"
"Well, look for yourself," he invites, coming up to check around the area. "I mean, what self-respecting handy man would tackle a coupling nut without his tool box?" Steele asks. "At least a wrench, anyway." He bends to look around.
"But if it wasn't Ethan, who else could possibly want to close down the Spa?" Laura asks.
"Which brings us full circle. Right back to Brimsley, doesn't it? A man so obsessed by his own jealousy that he'll stop at nothing to destroy his nemesis, Arthur Henderson." They head away from the building.
Laura takes his arm, pointing. "A rather distant long shot, wouldn't you say, Mr. Steele?"
Neal and Arthur are hugging each other in relief that Neal is okay.
"The question is," Steele decides, "Who would profit by putting the Spa out of business? Gerald and Sonia could benefit by selling off the property-"
"Wrong," Maxine said, coming from another direction. "I'm sorry. I have a terrible habit of free associating."
"No, no, Maxine. Please. Go on," Laura begs.
"Well, it's just that Sonia and Gerald couldn't make a nickel off this place. Even if they wanted to, thank God."
"Why not?" Laura asks.
"Because Karl Freidlich was too smart for them. In his will, he formed a trust to operate the Spa for eternity. Sonia's allowed to run this place, but she can't sell it."
"Ah, the good Dr. Freidlich's last grasp at immortality," Steele realizes. "Very clever."
"Clever?" Maxine questions. "No, Mr. Blaine. Just warm, human, decent. With a burning desire to make this world a better place. If they only knew what they were doing to his weltanschauung-" she stops and bites on her hand, tears in her eyes as she turns and runs away.
"Why does that woman make the thought of screaming seem so appealing?" Steele wonders aloud, watching her go.
"Mr. Steele, I've just had a consciousness raising experience!" Laura declares.
"Oh, good Lord, you've gone over too," he frets. "You're beginning to sound like the rest of them."
"How about- I got it?" she asks, smiling.
* * *
Later that day, Sonia lets Laura into the office. "Hello."
"Good news," Laura says, smiling. "Mr. Steele and I just spoke with the licensing board," she tells Sonia and Gerald, who's dressed for a dip in the hot tub again.
"The licensing board?"
"We thought it imperative that they know the facts about Ethan, so we intervened on your behalf with the help of one of our clients in Sacramento."
"Well, yes, the good news," Sonia rushes her. "What is it?"
"Simple and to the point. The Sensitivity Spa is off the hook, now that we have certified that Ethan was the lone culprit responsible for all the accidents," she finishes with a smile.
"Do you mean that our license *will* be renewed?" Sonia asks.
"As of this moment, you are back in business," Laura assures them.
Gerald gives a triumphant shout and grabs Sonia, pulling her into his arms as she says, "I don't believe it." He gives her a big hug. "Oh, the spirit of Karl Freidlich lives," Sonia tells him. "It's too good to believe."
"Well," Laura tells them, "I'd better get back to my packing."
Laura leaves, and Sonia tells Gerald, "Go take your soak."
"How about coming with me?" he asks.
"I'll be here when you get back," she promises. They exchange a kiss, and he leaves.
Sonia sighs with relief.
* * *
It's dark, and we see Gerald approaching the hot tub. He removes his robe and gets into the tub, resting his head on the outside edge.
Someone opens the electrical box for the Jacuzzi, and turns off the breaker for the tub. A wire is cross circuited, and the breaker is flipped back on, sending electrical current into the tub. Gerald falls over into the water.
Sonia runs away, only to be caught up by Steele, who's wearing Gerald's robe. "Uh, that's far enough!" he tells her. He turns on a flashlight. "Hello, Sonia. Lovely evening to soak away one's cares, eh?" he asks. She tries to get away. "Steady, steady," he warns as Gerald appears from the stairs up to the tub.
"NO!" Sonia yells when she sees her husband. "You're dead! I saw you die!"
Laura, by the tub, lifts a dummy out of the water. "Look again, Sonia!" she says, tossing the dummy back.
"Gerald was kind enough to trade robes with me to confirm our suspicions," Steele tells her.
"Why, Sonia?" Gerald asks. "Why?"
"Because I'm *sick* of being sensitive," she tells him, almost snarling. "I'm sick of you, and sick of being trapped here with a bunch of middle class yuppies who have nothing better to do than come here and listen to you babble!"
"But our work."
"Your work, Gerald. Not mine. Six months ago, in Cleveland, while we were waiting to make yet another *local television appearance*, it suddenly occurred to me that I had spent my entire *life* trying to help other people. Well, I decided it was time to help myself."
"But- all the love and care that went into 'You Can Be Better Than Okay'-"
"Wise up, Gerald. When you're sitting on land worth six point five million dollars and you can't do anything about it- you're *worse* than okay."
* * *
The next morning, as the police pull away with Gerald and Sonia, Laura and Steele stand with the others, watching.
"They're finally through with their questioning," Ursula sighs. "Poor Gerald."
"I can't believe it," Arthur says.
"It doesn't make any sense," Ursula adds.
"How could Sonia do it?" Neal wonders.
"Save the Tiger," Steele tells them. "Jack Lemmon, Jack Gilford, Paramount, 19-72. A factory owner trapped in a losing business venture decides that the only way out is arson, thus profiting from the insurance money."
"Only in Sonia's case, it was a matter of convincing the state licensing board to close down the Spa, so that the conditions of Karl Freidlich's trust would no longer apply, even if it meant murdering her own husband."
"According to a loophole in Freidlich's will, if the Spa went out of business, Sonia inherited the land to do with as she pleased."
"What about Ethan?" Ursula asks.
"Ah, yes, Ethan. Sonia's partner in crime," Laura says.
"Partner?" Neal questions.
"Ex-partner, actually," Steele clarifies. "Sonia, playing on his bitterness offered him a cool quarter mil from the proceeds of the land sale if he did all the dirty work. Unfortunately for Ethan, though, he decided he had enough on Sonia to insist on a 50-50 split."
"So," Laura takes it up, "Sonia lured him into the sauna and triggered the explosion, making it look like an accident."
"Um hmm. And very cleverly planted incriminating evidence in Ethan's cabin, for our benefit, of course."
"Thereby taking her off the hook forever, leaving her free to join the ranks of the idle rich."
"Poor Gerald," Ursula says. "To be married to such a diabolical woman."
Neal nods in agreement. "If only she had snuggled more."
"Well, Neal, what can I say, mate?" Steele asks, shaking the man's hand. "Keep up the good work. Who knows? Some day you may be running this place."
"Well," Neal says, smiling. "Thank you."
Steele moves to Arthur. "In the meantime, of course, Arthur here will be executive director, busy traveling up and down the country, hobnobbing with Jane Pauley, Merv Griffin." He and Arthur shake hands. Steele looks at Maxine. "Meanwhile, the rest of the staff will be getting back to the-" he gives Maxine a kiss on both cheeks, "unsullied simplicity of the Freidlich system. Eh, Maxine?"
Maxine smiles, her eyes filling with tears. "That's right," she tells him. "Now I can stay here and carry on Karl's work. I-" She bites her finger to control her excitement, giving a little tiny shriek.
"Bye, Snuggles," Steele tells Ursula, giving her a quick kiss on the cheek as Laura reaches for him.
"Come along, Mr. Steele." As they walk away, she asks, "Was it necessary to stir them up like that?"
"Ah, well, a man's got to have a little fun in life, Laura," he tells her as they approach the Auburn. "Strange, in some ways, I'll be sorry to leave."
"You are?" she questions, looking at him uncertainly.
"Yes." He looks at his watch. "You know, we could always delay a couple of hours. Be back in time for lunch.
"Yes," Laura agrees. "It does seem silly to rush back."
She looks toward the group still gathered talking. Steele watches her, then says, "Let's," and they turn away from the Auburn.
As they walk along the beach, Steele says, "So. Where are we?" She looks up at him. "See? I'm talkin' again."
She smiles. "This time I'm the one who doesn't have anything to say."
"Were you really better off before you met me?" he asks.
She walks for a moment, then stops to face him. "No. Life was easier, though. Less interesting, but easier."
"Yeah. I know what you mean," Steele says at last. "Before, I didn't know where I'd be next day- or with whom. Didn't really matter, though. I always liked it like that. But then it all changed the day I met you."
"Changed for the better?" she asks.
He smiles a half smile. "Oh, I don't know. Sometimes I've wondered about that. But-" his smile fades as he looks down at her. "Here we are."
"Laura, I know we both want- whatever it is we have between us- we want it to go forward."
"I think you're right," she agrees.
She starts walking again. "So how do we get there?"
"Well, words don't come easy to me- well, at least not ones you need to hear, anyway."
"Well, it's hard to be a man of mystery if you give all your secrets away."
"Where I come from, I learned to read people by what they did, not by what they said. There are too many traps in that."
"Uh," he stops this time, and she stops, too. "Listen. I took a stab at revising my letter- remember the one where I had to put down your most endearing qualities? Well, here it is." He hands it to her.
Laura opens it and begins to read, smiling, and laughing. She looks up at him, and he pulls her into his arms. "Well, it's a beginning, anyway," he tells her as they move on down the beach, this time with his arm around her as she laughs. "Eh?"