NYPD Blue S04E13 “Tom and Geri”, aired January 28, 1997
Geri, a police administrative assistant, has had an un-returned crush on Detective Andy Sipowicz. (In a previous episode, S04E06, she told him she was wearing rubber underwear.) The B story of this episode is that Geri tells Sipowicz that a friend she knows, Tom, has died in bondage gear in his apartment. Sipowicz, who wants nothing to do with Geri, hands it off to his superior, who in turn delegates it to a pair of female detectives, Russell and Kirkendall. Even at this stage, Geri seems distrustful of everyone.
L.A. Law S07E10 “Spanky and the Art Gang”, aired January 14, 1993
L.A. Law was an ensemble dramedy about a Los Angeles law firm. LIke detective procedurals, legal procedurals bring the characters into a variety of situations, and one popular topic is BDSM, usually in the form of pro dominatrixes.
In this case, the law firm takes as a client Claudia Von Rault, aka Mistress Zenia (played by Lillian D’Arc). She’s charged with involuntary manslaughter of Eric Schuller, who died during a session. The lawyers are initially reluctant to take the sensational case, but the deceased had business entanglements with the firm’s partners and they want it handled in-house.
“Unleashed” is the first Lady Heather episode without William Peterson as Gil Grissom, after the actor’s departure from the show. It also retreads some of the same ground as the notorious “Fur and Loathing in Las Vegas” episode (to be discussed).
This time, the dead body is a woman in a leotard who got mauled to death by a mountain lion in the woods. The woman shows signs of having been beaten and restrained.
Further examination reveals feline dental prosthetics and signs of being hit by a stun gun. ID’d as Iona Vail, who ran a battered women’s shelter. The co-manager of the shelter, Debra, says Iona left weeks ago.
Examining the victim’s address book reveals she was seeing “Dr. K”, which turns out to be Dr. Heather Kessler, formerly “Lady Heather”. She now has a PhD, a certificate in sex therapy, and an office that shows her taste for Victorian furnishings.
CSI S09E05 “Leave Out All The Rest” IMDB Aired November 6, 2008
The discovery of a dead body (what else?) with the marks of S&M leads Grissom back to Heather Kessler.
In this case, it’s a set of markings from needle play around the man’s nipples, out of place next to all the corpse’s other injuries.
Grissom: “S and M?”
Willows: “Gone very, very wrong.”
ME: “These stab wounds are brutal, random and postmortem”,
Willows: “Which is inconsistent with S&M.”
ME: “Well, it’s hard to take pleasure in someone’s pain once they’re dead.”
Willows: “Which is the ‘gone wrong’ part.”
After the low point of the last episode, in which Heather was offering herself up to be murdered for money to provide for her grand-daughter, she’s somewhat recovered. No longer a dominatrix, she’s finished a Masters in psychology and is a practising therapist.
Heather’s transition to therapist from dominatrix who acts like a therapist makes a degree of sense. It’s consistent with the trope of pro-dominatrix-as-caregiver that turns up so often in mainstream media. (E.g. Going Under, Personal Services). It further desexualizes an already desexualized character. In this episode, Grissom is grieving his beakup with Sara Sidle, and his emotionally stunted interactions with Heather are with her as a caregiver, not a lover.
Also note that after being much more mobile and active in the previous two episodes, Heather reverts to being stationary in her home.
“Pirates of the Third Reich” aired February 9, 2006, IMDB
Jerry Stahl returns as co-writer for the third chapter in the Lady Heather saga. The director, Richard J Lewis, also directed “Lady Heather’s Box”.
“Slaves of Las Vegas” normalized Lady Heather in her conversation with Catherine Willows, as a business owner, career woman, and single mother. This episode throws that into ruin. Zoe Kessler, said to be going to Harvard in Lady Heather’s first episode, is found dead in the desert: emaciated, poisoned, shaved bald, branded with a number, and missing her hand. This marks the fifth person in Lady Heather’s immediate circle who is murdered.
A pair of male sex workers murdered by injections of insulin lead the CSI team back to Lady Heather’s house. It appears they got the same house for interiors and exteriors as the previous episode.
Just as before, Lady Heather is completely cooperative with the authorities, and readily acknowledges the men were on her payroll. It isn’t clear what they did, however. Also, the staff and clients are completely unconcerned with police officers walking around.
Detective Brass astutely points out that these are the second and third people in Lady Heather’s employ to end up dead in suspicious circumstances.
Co-writer Jerry Stahl also wrote the notorious CSI episodes “Fur and Loathing in Las Vegas” (2003) (dealing with furry culture) and “King Baby” (2005) (dealing with infantilism). He also co-wrote the screenplays for the cult porn films Nightdreams (1981) and Café Flesh (1982), under the pseudonym Herbert W. Day.
Melinda Clarke makes her first appearance as Lady Heather. She also played a brothel madam in the Firefly episode “Heart of Gold” (2003) and the body-modified zombie lead of Return of the Living Dead 3 (1993).
As so many of these types of episodes, it begins with the discovery of a dead sex worker. In this case, it’s a nude young woman found buried in a sandbox. Also typical, the victim’s body is treated as a puzzle to be solved that will lead to the discovery of their true identity.
The Law & Order franchise often fictionalizes real-world events. In this case, it alludes to the publication and popularity of the Fifty Shades trilogy, in an episode aired only 6 months after the trilogy was re-released by Vintage. (FSOG was first published May 25, 2011 by Writers Coffee Shop, and the trilogy was re-released by Vintage in April 2012.)
I thought that this episode also referenced the case of Jian Ghomeshi, a Persian-Canadian radio host and interviewer who allegedly strangled his girlfriend and excused it as consensual BDSM. However, in an odd moment of life imitating art, I found that this episode actually aired 2 years before the allegations about Ghomeshi went public in 2014.
The author of the hot new erotic novel Twenty-Five Acts, Jocelyn Paley, appears on a talk show. The host, Adam Cain, meets her for dinner, and she secretly gives him her panties under the table. They go back to his place. After some sex she initiates, he crosses the line, throws her on the bed and chokes her with a belt.
Some films and TV episodes at least play lip service to the idea of BDSM being a consensual and healthy sexual variation. Others, like this one, don’t even bother.
This time the deceased is a man found buried in the woods, his feet cut off and buried separately as is done with dead champion racehorses. (The forensics techs refer to him as “Mister Ed”.) This and other evidence lead Booth and Brennan to a ponyplay convention at a ranch near the body site.
Millennium is a 1996 horror/mystery TV series, loosely spun off from The X-Files. Frank Black (Lance Henriksen) is a criminal profiler for the mysterious Millennium Group, investigating serial murders and other occult-tinged crimes.
In “Loin Like a Hunting Flame” (S01E12, aired January 31, 1997), this week’s serial killer is Art Nesbitt, a pharmacist with a habit of drugging people, abducting them, videotaping them having sex, killing them, and then leaving their bodies in artistic tableaux in public places. The victims are selected because they match his fantasies of sexual experiences he didn’t have: a young heterosexual couple at a rave, a pair of married women from a swinger party, and a newlywed couple.