February 12, 2023
As the actress Arianne Amsel leaves a rehearsal, she is grabbed by her stalker. She screams, and Oskar’s deputy Hausmann appears to fight off the assailant and save her. Who is the attacker? Stefan, an assistant at the Koller studio where the murdered Ida Rego recently filmed a movie.
Stefan is obsessively devoted to Amsel and began sending Rego threatening letters after she replaced Amsel in the film. He also arranged the frightening fall of a lighting mirror near Rego during filming, to scare her—but he insists he had nothing to do with her death.
Amsel says that she has been followed ever since she was fired from the film. She suspected that Stefan was the culprit, but didn’t tell Oskar and Max about him when they questioned her because a small part of her was glad that her disliked rival Rego had died, and she felt guilty.
Oskar wants to believe that Stefan is Rego’s killer, but Max points out that Stefan’s goal was to get Amsel back her role in the film. Rego was poisoned after the film had wrapped. Stefan had nothing to gain by then.
The newspapers are reporting that the American senator Paul Adler is a suspect, to von Bülow’s horror—the American consulate is furious. Max thinks someone on the police force must have leaked the fact that Oskar questioned Adler to the press, but Oskar thinks Clara is responsible. She could have gone through Max’s journals while visiting. When Max reluctantly accuses Clara, she is offended.
Adler is the top suspect, however. Fraulein Lindner has identified the crest on a pin left in Rego’s rooms as that of an ultra-nationalist movement to unify all German speakers and deport Slavs. Adler has been funding the group; that’s why he frequently visits Vienna. The movement incites hatred and threatens the Austrian empire. If Adler publicly lends his support and legitimacy, it could be disastrous.
Oskar follows Adler and learns that the senator is under constant surveillance by someone else. Oskar follows Adler’s tail but is noticed and attacked. Adler comes to Oskar’s aid, and the other man flees—but Adler grabs identification from his pocket first.
The man is a member of the Viennese secret service. They’re looking for a way to defame Adler and prevent him from threatening the monarchy via the ultra-nationalist movement; Oskar has given them the perfect excuse with the newspaper report about Adler’s involvement with Rego. Adler suggests to Oskar that the police have framed him for Rego’s death in order to discredit him. The pin could have been stolen; the police who first arrived at the scene could have planted it and also added extra dishes and rumple the bedsheets to make it look as if Rego had had a visitor.
Adler also has an alibi: his assistant confirms that he was in his hotel suite, not in Rego’s room dining with her when she drank arsenic-laced wine.
Oskar goes to the commissioner with his report, informing him that he will give a statement clearing Adler of any involvement in Rego’s murder. The commissioner dispels one suspicion: no one in the security services killed Rego, even if they did capitalize on her death to frame Adler; she was an agent of the state, paid to keep an eye on Adler. The security services helped launch her career, getting her the role at Koller Studios, to that very end. They did not, however, take her stolen bag. That must have been a pickpocket.
Oskar has a hunch and goes to find the thief who tried to pickpocket him and then sell him information about a crime. He recognizes the man’s female companion while searching back alleys, and she tearfully says the thief has left her after coming into money. He stole a bag filled with intimate letters—declarations of love—and sold them back to their owner for lots of money. The bag belonged to a famous actress; the letters were signed the “man who works miracles.”
Max recalls the treatment of Rego’s sudden blindness at his hospital and how she praised Neumann for working miracles, and asks Koller Studios to revisit the film of the falling mirror caused by Stefan. After the mirror shatters, Neumann rushes to Rego and holds and kisses her.
Max goes to visit Neumann, who has recently begun seeing Max’s sister Leah. He reveals what he has surmised: Neumann was having an affair with Rego after he treated her blindness—a violation of medical ethics and the patient-doctor relationship. Neumann tried to break it off, but Rego, not used to being refused, wouldn’t let him. Neumann then took advantage of the threatening letters and sent Rego poisoned wine, making it seem as if the letter writer had killed her, in order to end the affair and prevent news of it from ruining his professional life.
Neumann confirms it, saying that Rego “ensnared” him in a brief but injudicious affair. She threatened to destroy his career when he tried to end things; he is the one who hit her and bruised her cheek. Their affair was tempestuous, full of both passion and hatred.
When Max tells Neumann that the police are outside, he lets Max leave and then shuts and barricades the door. By the time Oskar breaks through, Neumann has injected something in his arm, and dies soon after.
Leah is upset and humiliated by her feelings for Neumann. He was using her just to get close to Max and Oskar’s investigation into Rego’s murder.
Max apologizes to Clara for accusing her of stealing information about the case from him. It has been discovered that a policeman leaked the information on Adler to the press. Clara asks Max for an expensive dinner and opera tickets as penance—and regular access to any cases he works with Oskar. Max says they’ll start with the dinner.
Oskar arrives for his own date with Therese, but finds another man at her home: Therese’s husband. I told you there are things you don’t know about me, she says sadly. Oskar leaves, crestfallen.
At least he still has Max.