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Most people would be hysterical with unsuppressed glee and perform little seat- riding happy dances. Not Kate. She sits their poker faced with a shelf of Scrabble letters to play, high valued letters: a Q and X among them.
The score is 312 to 175. She can use all her letters with a fantastic, high-scoring word, boxed in the ultimate scoring position. With her next play she will totally defeat him.
Kate concedes. Rick is the wordsmith. But he wants to play it through and have the bragging rights. Gloating is unattractive she has told him before, but now she loves him, his huge ego, the insecure, hidden little boy in him and all. Never defeated; the reigning champion, so Rick says…many times over.
He will not accept concession and so Kate lays the tiles down. How can she crush him like this? And we realize the selflessness of her love for this man, his follies and foibles, exposed; she loves him.
QUIXOTIC: Visions of Don Quixote tilting at windmills flood the brain as Kate positions the game winning tiles. QUIXOTIC: romantic; unrealistic; one who dreams the impossible dream as the song goes in “The Man of La Mancha.”
Quixotic describes Rick and his flights of fancy, his determination to accomplish the impossible, fulfill his dreams, work his magic and never yield in his sense of hope and his belief in tomorrow.
Rick embodies the most hopeful and unlikely of all heroes, who slays dragons for love of Kate; the everyman who becomes more than he ever thought he could be.
Rick is a man willing to “run where the brave dare not go… to right the unrightable wrong…willing to march into hell for that heavenly cause.” He does and he will again. Yet quixotic also describes Kate.
Kate earns a total score of 314; Rick pouts and goes off to sulk. And we wonder what kind of baby is this with the most beautiful woman on the planet sitting next to him, enticing him to bed. Until we realize their relationship is built on words, spoken and unspoken and on verbal foreplay.
In fact, Kate loved Rick’s words before she ever met, knew or loved the man; his words, his books saw her through her darkest days after her mother’s murder; his words saved her from deep despair.
Ryan often says they finish each other’s sentences and Lanie is always amazed with “that thing you do,” say the same word at the same time. They are connected, and for the longest time their only connection is a verbal foreplay as they bounce theories off each other and build a case.
Kate rattles off an idea; Rick counters; they move into each other’s space, desire begetting sexual tension, building, until they are so close and exposed, then backing off, embarrassed if anyone is around.
Even under dire circumstances as in “Still,” and already lovers, Ryan and Esposito sit back and listen to them work the story, solve the crime and finish each other’s sentences, words falling upon words, building to the story’s climax.
In the early seasons, neither can find the words to express their love and their eyes lock and speak to each other. It is painful to watch their star-crossed love. He walks away; she is devastated; he is devastated. Why do you keep coming back, Kate asks Rick time and again and he cannot speak.
Martha knows her son is a tongue- tied wordsmith when she realizes that her son “who makes his living with his words” is incongruously crippled in the face of his love for Kate. He cannot tell her. Is it fear of losing her? All he has ever wanted is to be near her. Can he jeopardize their relationship with words of love?
Finally the author finds his voice when he tells Kate he loves her as she lays struck by an assassin’s bullet. He begs her to stay with him and not to leave him. He cannot love her more. We know she hears and is bolstered by his constancy. She holds on to his love and to him even though so afraid.
They are two highly intelligent lovers who talk now, incessantly and sometimes we wish they would just shut up and make love. Strategy and words unite them. They love games, sometimes extreme and life threatening as they solve crimes together, and adventure, horror movies and pitting themselves against each other in verbal conflict.
Witty and clever, brilliant and evenly matched, they are the perfect partners, reading each other so well. At one time Kate is afraid that Rick is closed off and unsharing as his first wife Meredith has suggested. But with Kate he unmasks, unveils himself for the first time.
With love, Rick’s love and support, Kate blossoms and becomes the expressive person and loving partner, no longer the secretive person Rick accuses her of being in “Watershed.” In season six Kate opens up her heart and shines so golden, glowing, the change in her very essence transformational and written on her face, her adoring and beautiful face.
In the very beginning, Kate tells Rick he has “no idea”… what he is missing. Still she is afraid to become one of his conquests. All he can do is stop and stare; he understands and knows he has become her conquest. He chases her until she catches him. They still love to challenge each other in their verbal foreplay, only in this case a game of Scrabble.
Rick knows he cannot imagine life without her. In “Always” Kate’s words reveal her heart: “I only want you.” In “Murder He Wrote,” Rick’s words assure her of her place is his heart: “None of them were you.” And when they try to form a list of invitees to their wedding, they both write the only word of importance.
Words and their importance are part of the extended metaphor in “Law and Boarder”; it is true, a part of the game. Indeed the game is afoot, for the essential words, the major metaphors of this episode are three words:
Rivals and Games and Words: arcing metaphors throughout the episode
In “Law and Boarder,” an episode handily written by Jim Adler, the rivalry begins six years earlier with an intense confrontation within a group of four young men, ending with the murder of twelve year old Jay Dixon, Logan Moore’s younger friend.
The rivalry between Ross De Koning and young Jay escalates, with Jay taunting and teasing his older less skilled friend, gloating, rubbing it in, showing him up as a loser, leading to DK’s response, slamming and beating his younger rival to death. So much of this is captured on a video tape the young men were making, a tape of their tricks and skate boarding expertise and in fighting.
DK’s promises hush money to his buddies Tommy Fulton and Logan Moore, for on his twenty- first birthday Ross DK will gain his inheritance and this birthday fast approaches.
Having an attack of conscience, Logan Moore leaves his California, promising skate board career to come to NYC, enters a local Extreme Street Sports festival run by his friend Tommy Fulton and determines to get the tape and expose DK for the murderer he is. He is on a mission to right a wrong.
Retrieving the tape ultimately necessitates a break in into a law firm where the tape is held. First Logan ransacks Tommy’s office and steals a gun but is caught by a rival, one Manny Castro, the first suspect and a man frequently beaten by the high flying champion Logan Moore.
When Logan is murdered, run down by a motor bike in the opening scenes, Manny is the first suspect, given their rivalry. Manny threatens but it is basically trash talk. “A reigning champion unable to cope with defeat…that sounds familiar.” Kate cannot resist a Rick dig. Yes, Rick wants his opportunity to redeem himself and reclaim his scrabble word smith title and be the best again.
Ultimately Logan reconnects with his imprisoned mother’s boyfriend, the one who led her down the wrong path, ending with prison terms for both of them. Enver Kotta, formerly of an Albanian mafia, has reformed, and released on parole, is determine to make amends with Logan. Logan accepts for three thousand dollars in cash. “He had to take care of something before it’s too late,” Logan tells Kotta.
With the money, Logan hires another young man, Carter Wexland, to help him break into the fifteenth floor of Tommy Fulton’s lawyer’s firm. Brett Zaresky’s law office is ransacked and the tape grabbed.
With his freedom at risk, DK runs down and kills his former friend and rival. The bullet-ridden camcorder is located near the crime scene, and Rick pieces the story together, finding a few seconds of the tape still in the camera, dated and confirming the murderer’s identify. DK is arrested.
“To think all of this happened because Ross couldn’t bear to be second best.” Profoundly and proudly, certainly ironically, Rick proclaims. And with his next breath Rick asks Kate: “Are you ready for another rematch. You wouldn’t deny me a chance for redemption.”
“Well, you keep on this path that won’t be all your denied.”
Another rivalry takes place, not as deadly as the Logan Moore story, and an extremely amusing battle between the muscle man who enters the door first and his brainy partner who runs the command center: Ryan and Esposito. Both men, partners, stake out a claim to be Rick’s best man.
Each man pursues Rick while Rick remains clueless, only worrying about his lost scrabble champ reign. First the guys beseech Lanie to tell them who the best man is and she blows them off with a what part of don’t know do they not know. Next they woo Rick with presents and flattery
Esposito makes a hit with a pen light and a scantily clad woman on display. Kate gets it and finds it “juvenile.” Ryan takes heart and brings coffee to Rick who sits there watching Esposito and Kate interview a suspect.
The camera shows a totally unaware Rick and a sputtering and awkward moment as Ryan makes his coffee offering, shuffles around and assures Rick he is there for him in any capacity, possibly wedding planning.
Esposito is sure that he is the man. After all he can throw a great bachelor party and Rick would love that. Ryan feels that Rick requires a steady, wholesome family man, a married man who knows what it takes.
The only way to resolve the rivalry Esposito feels is for Ryan to step down and out of the running. They appeal to Lanie to intervene and she nails it; she tells them they are two idiots to think she has any pull.
Lanie is looking mighty beautiful and she also has Javier’s number; Ryan thinks she is mean.
Employing the domestic approach again, Ryan brings Rick a recipe for Jenny’s, grandmother’s shepherd pie, for he “thinks of him as family.”
“Thank you Ryan, I’m touched.”
Rick informs the guys that Beckett has clued him in. We are certain he is still thinking that they support him in his campaign to be the best scrabble player again and wrest the title from his wife to be. This fawning is not working.
“I’m a woman of many talents.” Kate teases Rick at the disco dance last episode. She surely is as Rick finds out. Kate knows extreme sports and the lingo to add to her many other talents especially when observing the extreme sports games and yelling out loud: “Nice tail whip.”
Why you are a woman of mystery Rick has said time and again and she has told him before that she has a little more Nikki Heat in her than he realizes.
With an emphasis on extreme, Rick claims he is an “extremely handsome guy” and Kate agrees adding: “Yeah, with a high degree of difficulty.” But she loves him and is so excited for the marriage.
A particularly great girly- girl scene occurs between Lanie and Kate as Kate leaves her partners standing on the street and runs to Lanie, Kate, totally excited doing a little happy dance and beaming about…the dress. Lanie’s dress has come in and it is “elegant and saucy” and that certainly describes Lanie of late.
Kate, too, has never looked more beautiful or happy; she is totally in, in love with Rick and his I love you comes so easy to him as they walk along the street. “I’ll admit defeat because I love you.” Well he was already defeated.
But who’s the fairest of us all Ryan and Esposito seem to be asking. Rick now gets it and is flattered with his friend’s desire to be his best man, but he already has one. His confidant, one of the two women he loves so dearly, his daughter Alexis will stand up with him.
Ryan and Esposito did not see that one coming. Befuddled they stammer and agree never to talk about it again, but Esposito is annoyed being “beaten by a girl.”
It is so appropriate. Lanie once told Kate to make her luggage match Rick’s and Alexis’, build their own history, a new tradition, create new memories and they will become a new family. There are no perfect or right families. It is up to Kate. Kate has always loved Alexis and has advised Rick for years, giving him her woman’s input on raising Alexis.
Never interfering, Kate is a quiet and supportive presence in Alexis’ life. By urging Alexis to come home, Kate reunites Alexis and her father helping them to forgive, to forget and to be happy. Kate is totally accepted in their home. The morning after the grand defeat, Alexis and Kate bond with dad’s defeat.
Rick’s sad response: “One word short; I cannot allow this to be my epitaph”. Rick spies the fist bump between his daughter and Kate: “I saw that.”
Martha also loves Kate and takes pride in how Kate has won the title of the best from her son. “Oh how the mighty have fallen.”
Recognizing how much her dad and Kate love each other, Alexis will honor her father; will support him, and stand up for him at the wedding. It is fitting and so very significant in their new family dynamic.
At home at last, perhaps in his symbolic, new traditions Christmas, red shirt, Rick readies the scrabble board for their word game.
“I’m ready for a rematch.”
Kate’s ready for a new game; poker and, of course, Rick believes himself to be the best here, often saying that Kate would not survive playing in the high stakes with him and his poker buddies especially the author poker pals. One time they played with Rick’s City Hall buddies and Kate allowed him to win. Rick returned the money to Kate the next day.
Another time Rick allowed her to win in front of her cop buddies and she returned the money to him. They are evenly matched so it would seem.
Who can forget season one’s poker game? Sitting as Rick describes it: “head to head, toe to toe, winner take all, mano a mujer.” Hand to woman doesn’t make a lot of sense but no matter to Rick.
Rick claims: “You’re on.”
“No mercy.” Kate boasts: “I’m gonna make you hurt.”
“Whatever it takes.”
“What are we playing for?” Kate asks.
“Pride or clothing?”
“I think I got a bag of gummy bears.”
“Oh you’re gonna hurt.”
Now at one point I think I lost who said which words, but does it matter with them?
A few years later, now living together and preparing for their wedding ceremony, they play another game;
Now they face each other
“You want to play poker against…me,” Rick states incredulously.
A little later… all the clothes are jumbled n a pile. Rick remains in his shirt only and Kate sits in her bra.
“I think I’m gonna go all in,” teasing, Kate says.
“Me, too, but all I have is this shirt.”
“I’ll take that bet. What do you got?”
Rick throws up his cards. At last he says: “Who cares?”
As they kiss and cannot get enough of each other, Rick finally knows about games and rivalry: “This is so much better than scrabble.”
The revelations and his words are music to Kate’s ears. We say: Finally!