Sunday, February 1, 2015

In Marm's Way

The Pinkertons continues to be excellent. The latest episode reveals the origins of John Bell, the ranch hand at the farm where Kate lives; Bell turns out to secretly be the landlord that rented the farm to the Pinkerton Agency. He's tried to escape his past and start a new life, only to have it catch up to him.

The villain in this episode is based on the real Marm Mandelbaum, part of the New York criminal underworld. I first read about her in that biography of Adam Worth. Marm fenced stolen goods, financed robberies, bribed politicians and police, and even opened a school for pickpockets and burglars. As she became prosperous, she often threw society parties which openly mixed criminals with New York's elite. All this ended in 1884, when the Pinkertons investigated and had her arrested. However, she jumped bail and escaped to Canada, which had no extradition treaty with the US at that time.

The fictional Marm is more vicious and cruel, assaulting men with her cane or shooting them in cold blood. It turns out that John Bell is one of a couple of orphans she took in and raised to be thieves in New York, until they escaped her. She considers that she owns them for life, and she's determined to expand her fencing operation from New York to Kansas City. It's a pretty juicy part, though of course I'm glad that the Pinkertons win here, even though they didn't in real life.

Another cool thing in the episode is that Kate Warne disguises herself as a man in order to follow a suspect. Later when she takes off the cowboy hat and fake mustache, but still has the men's clothes on, she looks very fetching. The promos for the next episode suggest that someone from Kate's past (whom she's known since childhood) will show up, so I'll be interested in seeing that.

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