5 Point Discussions – Lupin the III Part V, 17: “Introducing Detective Jim Barnett III”

by Sage Ashford

After an old acquaintance of Lupin is murdered, someone has to figure out who’s responsible for her death. But Lupin’s a thief, so it looks like we’ll be relying on someone else. Enter: Detective Jim Barnett. Remember, if you like this article and 5 Point Discussions, please share it on Facebook or Twitter! It really helps. And if you’ve got any comments or questions, please hit me up @SageShinigami.

1. With our third big arc down, we do another interlude chapter from Lupin’s past. This time we’re going back to Green Jacket Lupin, and though it’s about as subtle as a brick, this is a more inexperienced version of the character. The episode starts with him meeting an older woman who Lupin knows because he’s tried and failed to steal a priceless family heirloom from her so many times he’s basically become a friend of the family. She’s even kept pictures of all his screw ups.
This time around she’s actually summoned him to help her figure out who killed her husband, a genius in the security industry who was murdered in a case that eventually went cold. It’s weird, but casting the world’s greatest thief as a detective is such a great high concept you just let it ride. She offers Lupin a chance to simply have the emerald if he can help her figure out who tried to kill her husband. You’d think Lupin would honestly rather have those photos–having a photobook of a “master thief” getting clowned more times than Daffy Duck can’t be good for one’s image.

2. This episode is about as stereotypical a mystery as one can get. There’s a big castle, a stormy night, and a classic exposition monologue explaining who the suspects are. Thanks to some off screen investigating, things have been narrowed down to three suspects. Frederik Autorett, a world famous wine expert known for his collection of gemstones who wanted the Count’s famous emerald. The count’s nephew Allan Dubois, who’s father’s business failed after the count refused to help him out, leading to his father committing suicide. And Pierre Schmidt, a developer of security technology who’s business was bought by the Count, who was unable to get another business going afterwards and had to become a computer repairman.
All three of them are gathered together in the Manubassett castle, because despite their alibis, the Count’s wife had managed to whittle things down to just these three, who were all in the vicinity when her husband died. She sets up a lot of failsafes, including facial recognition software and cameras to make sure no one comes in or out, and those who are in are only those initially allowed. Now why any of them were stupid enough to show up to something designed to get you sent to jail?  Who knows.

3. In true murder mystery fashion, a huge twist happens in the second third of the episode–while the count’s wife is trying to explain her reasoning in inviting them there, she gets murdered herself! The lights briefly go out, and in that brief period of time she’s killed from a single shot to the chest. That brings us to our last stereotype: upon her murder, she closes down the castle, leaving everyone locked inside until they can discover who murdered her, and also very likely murdered her husband.  Welp.
For whatever reason, none of the people involved recognize Lupin even though the Countess had already pointed out that her husband was a fan of his because of all his outrageous escapes over the years, so Lupin goes undercover as “Detective Jim Barnett” in order to discover who killed the Count…and now the Countess. Hilariously, when asked to become a detective his first move is to take the most stereotypically American name ever and run with it. But it works, so maybe he’s onto something.

4. Key to every good mystery is having at least one red herring to the suspects. It’s the character that viewers suspect. Occasionally the red herring is the most obvious choice, one who has the most motive or seems the most dislikable. Other times this can be more subtle, where the mystery aims to trick its viewers into reaching the wrong conclusion first before revealing the actual criminal.  In this case, it’s easy enough to suspect the maid, on a variation of the popular “The Butler Did It” trope.
After Lupin gathers enough evidence to figure out exactly who was behind the murder of both the Count and the Countess, one of the suspects stands in for the viewer and blames the maid. After all, she had the most opportunity, the most knowledge about the house, and access to everything she needed. However, what she lacked was motive–she was taken in by the Countess and once she’s dead there’s really no other place for her to go. Lupin notices something more, though–her hands were burned in an accident, making it literally impossible for her to have done the deed.

5. The problem with mysteries like this is usually even with a red herring it’s obvious “Whodunnit”, especially when there’s only twenty two minutes to introduce the suspects the clues, and solve the crime. But there’s still a pretty clever ending here–the killer winds up being Allan Dubois’ twin brother. The two of them were separated at a young age because their father believed twins were bad luck. (Considering his business failed and he killed himself, I’m not entirely sure he was off the mark, but that’s probably neither here nor there.)
Allan was left homeless afterwards, but his twin brother took him in and together the two plotted revenge. Unfortunately for them both, Lupin’s as great at solving crimes as he is at committing them. Not only that, Lupin manages to kill Allan’s twin brother before he can get killed, bringing an end to the case. The emerald is now all his, but of course he doesn’t take it.  It’s too easy–so he grants it to the Countess so she can have it when she greets her husband in the afterlife.  I could say Lupin’s really bad at being a thief this episode…but maybe he was just finishing his job as detective, first?
Lupin the III Part 5 is available for streaming on Crunchyroll.

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