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The Rockford Files: "Black Mirror" (November 24, 1978)

written by: disgruntled Astraea people

This turkey should have had "Apologies to Billy Milligan" on it.

Down-to-earth private investigator Jim Rockford has been trying to make time with Megan, an attractive psychiatrist-counselor who is blind. When someone starts stalking her, she asks for Jim's help, and the two begin to fall in love. So far, so good.

Jim thinks the villain may be a disgruntled current or ex-client of Megan's. Megan, of course, refuses to show Jim or the police her client roster. The stalker (perhaps deliberately) drops a matchbook cover with Megan's name and address written inside. Jim has the handwriting analyzed: the tentative conclusion is that this is a highly intelligent but extremely defended individual with mother problems and a huge ego. His plan is to describe the profile to Megan and see if it fits any of her clients. (The handwriting analyst is murdered offscreen.)

Megan hires a bodyguard recommended by Jim, but he is badly injured in a knife attack right outside Megan's office. He survives, but spends a long time unconscious.

Rockford locates a witness who identifies the attacker as Danny Green, a very shy man with a bad stammer and mommy problems. He is, in fact, a current client of Megan's.

Megan is so convinced she's got Danny pegged -- after all, she's been counseling him for a whole year! -- that she can't believe he's behind the attacks. Cripes, a half-assed intern could name you a dozen other conditions... Never mind. When Rockford goes up to Danny's (tasteful and expensive, for someone who's "chronically unemployed") place, he finds mail addressed to "Joe Tutuska" and the hostile, suspicious, defensive occupant claims he lives there alone. When it's confirmed that Joe is Danny, Megan immediately concludes that she's dealing with A MULTIPLE PERSONALITY!!! Megan isn't much of a shrink and neither is the "expert" when Tutuska is brought into the police station for an interview. He never switches, never shows any evidence of anything other than defensiveness and suspicion that they're trying to "prove he's crazy", but the "expert" also immediately concludes "A true multiple personality" on the basis that the few questions Megan asked caused "disorientation".

Well, at least they said "two distinctly separate people".

Rockford suspects this is an act, based on the fact that Joe Tutuska is a well-known hit man. In an attempt at a twist ending, it's Danny who attacks Megan, and Joe is nowhere to be seen. Megan tells Danny that she does not believe he is "two people", and points out that everything he's done has been attempts to get attention, calls for help, because he knows there is something wrong. Even as he ambushed her in the elevator, he pushed the emergency button, alerting the police. (It would have been a nice touch if this had been Joe's work -- maybe he could say "I don't hurt women!" -- a la the 'angry' personality who is willing to take the pills in Becker, but the writers just didn't think of that.)

It seems like they didn't know whether to make this guy really multiple or a con artist pretending to be.

Other than that, the episode is well-written and the acting as always is superb. That just makes things worse.

pavilion @ karitas . net
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