An episode that always gave me the chills when it would come on television was Elegy in Steele, the second Major Descoine episode. I had always figured there had to be more to the Descoine story than that, so I was delighted to find the original episode, Steele Framed.
I'll have to explain Major Descoine to you: before our Mr. Steele became real, Laura solved a bank embezzling case that sent a Major Percy Descoine and his girlfriend, Lily Martin, to jail. Lily killed herself, and Major Descoine held a grudge against Steele for it. When he got out of jail, he tried to kill Steele a few times for it, but in very clever ways. All things considered, it was pretty ironic that Laura was the one Major Descoine should have been after...and that Laura originally assumed it was someone out of flesh-and-blood Steele's own past that was trying to get him.
In "Steele Framed" Descoine originally frames Steele for murder by setting him up for a hit-and-run, and then sets it up to look like the murder victim was blackmailing Steele. In "Elegy in Steele," he plots both detectives' deaths.
Major Descoine was a freaking brilliant antagonist, something rarely seen in that day and age. (Though I suspect, if I ever get around to finishing watching all of the episodes, that various characters on 24 are of this ilk.)
- He was a master of disguise (even if he made a really ugly woman), and he manages to play tons of parts. The funny thing being that if you looked at Descoine's face minus a lot of coverup, he has a pretty distinctive one...but he can pull it off. In Steele Framed, he plays Henry Spellman (on the phone), the ice cream man, Julia Spellman, the old man with the lillies in Spellman's office, and the redneck that "rescues" Steele.
- Likewise, he's good at dramatic disappearances involving fire- in Elegy in Steele he continually appears and disappears in smoke and flames and/or mirrors, and it's revealed that he's a demolitions expert via military training.
- He likes to frame people for crimes- obviously framing Steele for murder in the first episode, and claiming Steele has been trying to kill him (and letting himself be caught in mid-Steele-thrashing when a cop shows up) in the second.
- He left subtle yet obvious hints about his identity- giving Laura a lily and the old coin with a major on it found in the safe deposit box in Steele Framed. ("I planted the clues of my revenge so carefully.") Also notice the odd assortment of hats (bowler, top had, fedora that Laura tries on!) scattered around Spellman's office- that's probably a reference to all of the different roles Descoine plays. He leaves a scarf with a text impression ("Bel-Oaks", the name of a nearby country club that Descoine is working at) of it behind when he flees the office at the beginning of Elegy in Steele, and later dumps his shoes and hat by a river. He leads them down a path to find an apartment with framed pictures of them taken under surveillance over the last few months all around, and somehow gets ahold of Laura's old diaries and leaves it for her to find in the tunnels she used to play in. (Didn't they get blown up?)
- He likes to give a "sporting chance" when trying to kill someone- in the first episode by offering Steele the chance to find the evidence to prove he was framed "just to make things interesting. I just wanted you to twist and turn inside like my poor Lily did. Who's to say you may find yourself making the same choice she did." I think for him it's more of a case of emotional torture- especially the "feel the fear" bits in Elegy in Steele. He could have just brought in a gun and shot them if he was so inclined, but instead he sets up a game that lets S&L think they can outwit him.
- He also likes to impose time limits- giving Steele 30 minutes to find the evidence in Steele Framed, and timing to the minute how long it should take him to do it. "A man in perfect physical condition, running at top speed, should be able to make it in 22. That leaves you eight minutes for the game itself." In Elegy in Steele, he tells S&L that they will be dead by noon no matter what they do, and even provides premade headstones for them to track down. Note that he picks the 3-year anniversary of Lily's suicide to play his game on.
- Of course, there's also got to be some kind of twist... in Steele Framed, Descoine has frozen the key Steele needs into a block of ice, then chucks it into a vat of acid. (Note: death by acid was apparently how Lily killed herself.) In Elegy he figures they'll show up back at their office by noon, and he has his daughter waiting with a gas canister. But guess what- the gas is NONtoxic. What's really supposed to kill them after noon is the poisoned envelopes of the papers Mildred told them they had to sign and hand over to the mailman at noon...which were to be mailed back to Descoine, which is how they nab him. Alas, the daughter gets away.
- In short, Descoine does love a good timed game of death, and he always manages to get away- at least, after the first time he was caught, anyway... guess he did a lot of reading up on how to commit better crimes in jail. He even manages to leave a message for Steele on their new computer at the end of Steele Framed, saying congratulations and until next time...
Kinda off-topic, but I wanted to quote Steele's line in Elegy about believing. "I believe in whoever I am at the moment. And when that doesn't work any more, I become someone else." Iiiinteresting.