The newest episode of Copper starts off with a quiet dinner party at the home of Elizabeth Haverford. Elizabeth is the widow of our child molester/murderer from the past two episodes. While she is wearing black, she really doesn’t seem to be mourning.
When a white man is found hanged at the stables he owns, the prime suspect is the local black pastor. The previous night, the white man and his best friend threatened to burn down the pastor’s orphanage, just as his previous orphanage was burned. As racial tensions being to boil, even Corcoran and Dr. Matthew Freeman find themselves slipping into the stupidity of racism.
Corcoran is again helped by Dr. Freeman in discovering the true cause of the white man’s death. A needle was shoved into the back of his head, and up into his brain. He was then hanged, to try to cover up the true cause. Concerned about the potential of hanging an innocent man, Corcoran gets permission to dig a little deeper into the cause of death, and who might have really committed the crime.
Meanwhile, the skittish, distrusting, gun-happy Sarah Freeman (Matthew Freeman’s wife), seems permanently depressed (understandably so) since her brother’s lynching. To cheer her up, Matthew suggests it’s time for them to have a baby. His opinion is she might be happier if she had some one to care for.
Returning to the wealthy Elizabeth, she is having tea with two gossip-mongers when the butler interrupts them. One of the children from the orphanage is there, to tell her about the pastor’s arrest. Elizabeth and her late husband had donated a considerable amount of money to the orphanage, and Elizabeth is now determined it succeed.
Later, Elizabeth is having tea again with the same two women when the older one leans over and suggests to her the pastel dress she’s wearing is a bit too ostentatious, considering she’s still in her mourning period. Elizabeth then feigns a stomach ache, excuses herself, tells the old bats to see themselves out, and never to call on her again.
Corcoran was able to arrest the murdered man’s best friend, and place him in the “tunnel.” All the other prisoners were women, and he was beyond embarrassed, which was great. We enter the scene where he and Corcoran are mid-conversation about the murder, and what seems like a clever trap by Corcoran to get the man to confess to the murder, and/or implicate the dead man’s daughter. I soon realized, however, it was more of a juvenile back-and-forth of the ever popular, “no I didn’t, yes you did, yes I did, no you didn’t” ploy.
Dr. Freeman performs a little surgery on a bloody cloth Corcoran found at the pastor’s home. By running various tests of the blood of different animals, plus a human, plus the blood on the cloth, it is obvious the cloth was used in the kitchen to wrap meat, not for murder.
The coppers are then dispatched to the dead man’s home, where he lay in state. The priest tells them a young, tall black boy had snatched the clothes off the man’s body, and run away with them. Corcoran and Dr. Freeman then visit a seamstress’ home, where she lives with her developmentally disabled brother. They find a long, sharp needle nestled with the woman’s knitting needles.
Dr. Freeman agrees with Corcoran that it is probably the murder weapon. The young man is scared because his sister left him and said she would never return. The murdered man had refused to pay the seamstress for the suit she made him, so she stabbed him with the needle. Her brother is the boy who took the suit off the dead man’s body, to return it to his sister. Dr. Freeman then takes the boy home with him, and introduces him to Sarah. Sarah immediately warms to the boy, asking if he’s hungry, to which he replies, “I’m always hungry.” He’s adorable.
An underlying subplot is the fact that Corcoran continues to search for his missing wife. He continually asks people if they’ve seen a gold locket necklace with the initial “EC” engraved on it. No one has. A short time later, Eva Heissen (the local Madame and Corcoran’s love interest) snatches the locket away from one of her girls, who had purchased it at the pawn shop. She swears the girl to secrecy, and doesn’t tell Corcoran about the necklace.