Season 5 Episode 4

A Matter of Honor

Aired Unknown Feb 01, 1976 on NBC

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    A guide to El Ángel Exterminador for the perplexed. Post has a flawless bit of comedy with the Peugeot inflicting whiplash south of the border and confiscated for want of local insurance.

    He develops a rapid technique based on a fluid tension of the close-up and the medium shot. When the murderer is confronted, more or less openly, Post amplifies the situation with a zoom, more or less directly.

    There is peculiar interest in the modus operandi. A famous matador, now retired to the breeding of bulls, reveals himself immobilized in fear when faced with one by happenstance. He kills a witness by first drugging him just enough to render him inchoate but not motionless, so as to incite a bull helplessly. Yet the motive is withheld entirely from view, except for exchanged glances and a dubious air, until Lt. Columbo deduces it at length.

    Sublimity is in the characterization of Lt. Columbo as nearly inarticulate off his own bat, but a regular Holmes on the scent. It's a question of gathered evidence contradicting a first-person account and customary practice in the bullring—about which the Lieutenant knows "not very much"—and also a weather report.

    "Even the bulls know me," says Emilio Fernandez, gesturing toward them in the abstract. Even the local police know Lt. Columbo, because of his single-handed success with the cruise ship murder en route to Mexico in "Troubled Waters". He briefly recounts the escapade, beginning with "my wife won the tickets," and trailing off from there standing next to his Peugeot on a tow hook, until he's pressed into service on a hacienda murder "to expedite matters," with Mrs. Columbo all the time "back at the hotel," waiting for him.