One of my all time favorite crime shows is, without question, Motive--mainly because of the format. While most shows use the traditional "whodunit" format, Motive is one of the select few shows that use the "howcatchem" format, meaning that we know who the killer is from jumpstreet. The most famous "howcatchem" program is, of course, Columbo, though we've also seen it played out in select episodes of Monk, Matlock, and on the Peacock series, Poker Face (which is basically a modern day Columbo). Regarding this series, while the killer and victim are revealed in the series, the true motive still has to be determined.
One of the many reasons why I love Motive (which lasted four seasons) is a simple one: the show's collection of villainesses is quite vast and very amazing. One such evil woman appeared in the episode, "Calling the Shots," and said villainess is introduced as Stephanie Carson, a wife and mother of a daughter. Her victim? An escort only known as Sienna. The road to the connection being revealed includes a brief glimpse of a vial of phenobarbital in Stephanie's purse, and regarding the investigation, we see the word "SLUT" written on Sienna's forehead, so her client list is looked into.
A pair of Sienna's clients included Hamish Taggart and Brent Boorman, who were both interviewed. Meanwhile, Sienna's real name is uncovered: Erica Grey, and she worked as a life coach. In addition, she was married with a daughter, Jayda, though Angie Flynn and Brian Lucas' interview with the husband, Doug Grey, revealed that he not only knew about his wife's profession, but it was how they met. Wow! As for Stephanie, we see that she is a big time helicopter parent. Madison Carson, Stephanie and Keith Carson's daughter, is into gymnastics, but as we see, it's all under Stephanie urging. We also see that Jayda's part of that same club, and that's when both couples interact--though it's Erica and Keith's interaction that has Stephanie's eyes turning green.
So jealousy, that's the motive, right? Not so fast. A look into Stephanie revealed that she's an investment advisor, and after we get a scene of Madison telling her mother that she's #1 in response to Stephanie's order to perform even after Erica's death, we see Stephanie interviewed in her home. The interview confirmed Keith's statement from his own meeting: the couple was on the verge of divorcing, and as for Stephanie, she had been making veiled assumptions that Keith and Erica were seeing each other, which can definitely be seen as a ploy to gain sole custody of Madison, something she was definitely after. Stephanie turned down the detectives' order for a DNA sample, but the interview did reveal that Madison volunteered at an animal shelter--also at her mother's urging.
I mentioned phenobarbital earlier. Yeah, turns out that shelter has it--a lot of it. One of the workers stated that she saw Stephanie finagling around with one of the vials, while adding that it was just a bit lighter than the others. So with that, they have their killer in Stephanie. But what was the actual motive?
So as it turned out, while Stephanie did work as an investment advisor, she was also running a Ponzi scheme, paying one client's return with another client's money, while skimming 20% off the top for herself. Her greedy scheme resulted in her lavish home, and as the episode pretty much told us, neither her husband nor her daughter knew. You know who did know? Erica. She gave $50,000 to Stephanie to use, but a friend of hers told her that she was being played. Erica demanded her money back under the threat of reporting Stephanie, but there was one problem: the money was spent. So on the night in question, Stephanie met with Erica under the guise of returning her money, with interest, while also giving her former client a document to sign, after which Stephanie took out her syringe full of phenobarbital and injected it into Erica's neck.
After killing her victim, Stephanie saw the leather clothing and realized that Erica was an escort. With her new knowledge of Erica's profession, Stephanie decided to use it to her advantage, writing "SLUT" on her forehead to make it appear that one of her clients killed her. Stephanie smirked during the interrogation, but even she knew that it was all over but the shouting.
"Calling the Shots" is the second episode of Motive's third season, and aired on March 15, 2015. The episode featured Ally Sheedy as the evil Stephanie Carson, a villainess I absolutely loved! What made this even better was Ally Sheedy playing her, and yes, it's partly because she's a member of the famous Brat Pack from the '80s. About the character, though; Stephanie Carson was absolutely ruthless, reminding me a bit of Leslie Williams (the first murderess from Columbo). She had to have control of everything, and I mean everything. Erica/Sienna's discovery of Stephanie's scheme threatened that control, so Stephanie put a permanent stop to it, or so she thought. We all see her attempting control her daughter as well as her husband, basically cementing Stephanie as someone who saw herself as the most powerful piece on a figurative chess board.
Ally Sheedy was absolutely golden in her villainous role. She acted out all of the facets of Stephanie's evil and calculating demeanor brilliantly, and that depth is why Stephanie Carson's one of my favorite villainesses from the show. Again, we know Sheedy from her Brat Pack days, though I first saw her in Buried Alive II, the gender flipped 1997 sequel to the noted film that was released seven years earlier. Fans of Psych definitely know Sheedy as the infamous serial killer known as Mr. Yang, appearing in three straight season finales (third, fourth, and fifth), as well as Psych: The Musical.
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Check out Stephanie Carson's profile on Villainous Beauties Wiki!