"Love Letter"
Original airdate: Week of May 7, 2000
by Michelle Erica Green

Fighting With a Marriage Certificate

"Love Letter" Plot Summary:

In the small French village of St. Agnes Sur-Loire in 1789, nobleman Guy de Bourdin secretly weds his pregnant lover Josephine, minutes before he is murdered by revolutionaries for being an aristocrat. At Trinity in 2000, Sydney tells Nigel they're going to France to help student Nicole Chamfort, whose ancestral village St. Agnes Sur-Loire is about to be sold and destroyed by greedy developers eager to build a resort. Claudia thinks a resort is a better idea than an old village, and demands that Sydney keep her office hours before the Dean storms into the office to find out why she's cancelled so many classes. But since Josephine's orphaned son left all his assets to the villagers, proof that he was the heir to de Bourdin's lands would mean he left the village itself to the villagers. She wants to find the signed marriage certificate written by Guy himself and signed by Father Louis.

When they arrive, Nicole apologizes for only being able to get one room at the inn...where she and Nigel begin to make love as Sydney goes out for a jog. Someone immediately tries to kill her by running her over, so she returns to interrupt the happy pair. Learning from Father George of the town church that Father Louis hid all the records from the revolutionaries, Sydney takes the others to visit Vincent de Bourdin, who inherited the lands of the aristocratic family. Vincent is determined to sell his lands to the developers and snaps that his ancestor Guy was never married even before Sydney asks, just because she wonders about whether the family kept its own records.

Back at Trinity, the angry dean seeks Sydney, but Claudia covers by pretending to be Sydney vomiting in the bathroom from the flu. Again Nigel maneuvers Nicole into bed, but Sydney bursts in with a bottle of wine, guessing that the Bourdin records might be in the closed wine cellar. They successfully find the documents, but everything is behind a door with a boobytrapped lock. Sydney drags Nigel to Paris to steal the key from Vincent, which requires some shenanigans like beating off thugs while wearing nothing but a towel. Meanwhile, Nicole meets with town lawyer Hugo who promises that if Sydney finds the marriage certificate, he will defend St. Agnes Sur-Loire from the developers.

Sydney discovers in the wine cellar records that the De Bourdin family made a large donation to Father Louis, which Father George believes was used to rebuild the chapel, being shrewd enough to hide the documents elsewhere until order was restored. Unfortunately he died before the restoration was complete, but he designed the large stained glass window with a Latin motto about looking through the eyes of the Savior. Sydney stares out the window through the panes of glass representing Jesus' eyes and sees a doorway hidden in the caves nearby. As Sydney takes Nigel and Nicole climbing, Claudia dresses in one of Sydney's ceremonial masks for the dean, pretending to be an ill professor using a folk remedy dance.

Following the caves to a large underground cavern, Sydney finds the love letter Guy wrote to Josephine and had the priest sign as proof of their marriage. "It will never see the light of day," says an intruding Vincent, led to them by Hugo, who says he is weak and broke. But when Vincent suggests killing those who oppose him, Hugo trips up the thugs, leading one to discharge his weapon and start an avalanche. Though Sydney and her friends are trapped, she follows bats towards light and air. They escape just in time to interrupt the sale of the de Bourdin lands to the developers since they can now prove the current owners of those lands do not possess them lawfully, as Josephine's son was the legitimate heir and left the village to the villagers. Later, Nigel thinks he will finally be able to make love to Nicole, but she protests that Guy and Josephine shared true love, whereas she and Nigel merely share lust.

Back at Trinity, the Dean enters Sydney's office, coughing and blaming her for his illness. He asks her to perform the folk dance. Claudia puts on the music and hands Sydney the mask, making faces as the dean begins to shake his groove thing.


Another episode that holds together pretty well, "Love Letter" had three enjoyable comic motifs - Claudia's game of cat and mouse with the Dean, Nigel's inability to consummate his relationship with Nicole, and the ridiculously tall butler of Vincent de Bourdin who keeps running out of the chateau to check the car alarms, leaving the door open so Sydney and Nigel can sneak in. The wine cellar looked suspiciously like the one used in the last French Revolution story, "A Good Year," but the historical reenactment at the start was a lot more convincing than the Marie Antoinette story.

This installment is for lovers, not fighters - Sydney only kicks butt while in the Parisian hotel, and the scene serves less to show off her martial arts abilities than as an excuse to make her towel fall off in front of Nigel. It's a sweet, sappy story, particularly the ending when Nicole refuses Nigel on the ground that their feelings aren't noble.

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