Series writer Kevin Deiboldt talks fruitcake.
Writing the fruitcake murder was a fun challenge – lighter in tone than most of our other cases, much more absurd. And, just past our halfway point of the season, we hoped it would allow the viewers to take a breath (albeit small) before we charge down the stretch towards the finale. The cap to this fruitcake murder, of course, is the big explanation scene – one of my favorites in the script.
In the original outline, it was much simpler – O’Brien going over his notes at the Precinct, realizing that Devery poisoned himself. Even with Corcoran there to discuss it with him, I had a hard time giving the scene any energy. It read way too expository. So I moved it to the bar, with the hope that letting them relax a bit (one thing we rarely see) would add some life. Better, but still dull. Having O’Brien go over the notes was making our detectives look slow – only figuring out the case after they went back over everything. We needed a third person to explain the case to. Enter Maguire.
Now, we had some verve. Adding Maguire allowed Corky and O’Brien to mess with him – to laugh and smile (two things we never see) as he struggled to follow along. The only thing holding the scene back was the explanation itself – an extensive, static, monologue. I needed to make it more dynamic, more interesting to watch. It occurred to me: we should use the drinks. (The poetic version of this story has me figuring out the sequence in person, some late eve – whiskey, beer, glasses in hand. This may or may not be accurate.) Once the props and pantomime were added, the scene finally clicked.
It was a blast to watch the guys film it. Dylan – who we put through the wringer in this episode, doing a masterful job the entire time – nailed it, which was no mean feat. Tom brought up Byrnes’ dead brother, so I added that in. Kevin struck the right balance of puzzled, amused and annoyed. They made it look a breeze, laughing and drinking as they wrapped up the case. Just as I hoped.
Now, there are GIFs of it on the internet. Tare an’ouns.