Murder, She Wrote (1984–1996)
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To the Last Will I Grapple with Thee 

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Jessica tackles the mystery of a man who apparently migrated from Ireland to New York for the sole purpose of taking revenge on an old friend of hers, but is killed himself.


Walter Grauman


Peter S. Fischer (created by), Richard Levinson (created by) | 2 more credits »


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Episode cast overview:
Angela Lansbury ... Jessica Fletcher
Cameron Dye ... Ian O'Connor
Cliff Gorman ... NYPD Lt. Parnell
George Hearn ... Sean Cullane
John Karlen ... Patrick MacNair
Richard Lynch ... Michael O'Connor
Sharon Mahoney Sharon Mahoney ... Kathleen Cullane
Mark Rolston ... Finn Dawley
Michael O. Smith Michael O. Smith ... Officer #1
Donald Nardini Donald Nardini ... Officer #2
Ken Gerson Ken Gerson ... Officer #3
Matthew Saks Matthew Saks ... Student #1
Melissa Samuels Melissa Samuels ... Student #2
Dana Craig Dana Craig ... Customer


Jessica's friend, retired Irish police officer Sean Cullane, started, with her help, teaching crime classes. Michael O'Connor, a serial Ulster criminal, who just migrated to New York, provokes him, promising 'revenge', and manages to get threatened in Patrick MacNair's Irish pub, so Sean is warned by the NYPD. Michael's even shadier nephew Ian O'Connor, who desires Sean's daughter Kathleen, is dangerously in debt with loan shark Finn Dawley, yet Michael refuses further financial help. Next, Michael is found shot in the head, Sean the sole suspect. Jessica is determined to 'help' NYPD Lt. Parnell dig deeper, examining the very accusing 'testament' tape Michael left. Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

15 March 1992 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Television See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The title comes from a quote by Captain Ahab in Herman Melville's seafaring classic 'Moby Dick': "Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee." See more »


[first lines]
Jessica Fletcher: The problem is that often an investigator only looks for what he expects to find. A detective is called to a murder. The wound appears to have been caused by a knife blade. So, he looks for a knife not stopping to consider that the knife may have been used to conceal the telltale marks of the real weapon. And by the time the coroner's report comes in, the crime scene has been contaminated and the *real* murder weapon has been lost or mishandled.
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User Reviews

Grappling with murder
25 October 2017 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

Have always been quite fond of 'Murder She Wrote'. It is a fun and relaxing watch that makes you think as you try to unwind in the evening. If one wants more complex, twisty mysteries with lots of tension and suspense 'Murder She Wrote' may not be for you, but if you want something light-hearted and entertaining but still provide good mysteries 'Murder She Wrote' fits the bill just fine.

"To the Last Will I Grapple with Thee" is nothing exceptional, but it does nothing to disgrace itself either. A good way to pass the time and somewhere in the middle if one were to rank the eighth season episodes. Some of the plotting from the very charming prologue to the death does fall into cliché territory, which doesn't make the episode as suspenseful as it could have been, and the pace could have done with more kick.

Some of the acting is on the overwrought side too, mainly from the younger cast. The central conflict between Sean and Michael is done very well in the acting and writing and is where the first part of the episode fares the strongest, but the other stuff is not as interesting.

On the other hand, Angela Lansbury is terrific as always. It was truly lovely to see her reunited with her 'Sweeney Todd' colleague George Hearn, and their chemistry is truly charming. Hearn's accent is questionable (or at least it sounded to to me) but he has a very easy-going presence and it's easy to root for him. An effectively ill-looking Richard Lynch is quite ominous in his persecution.

It takes time to get going, but once the death happens and the whole business with the video tape is introduced "To the Last Will I Grapple with Thee" becomes more involving and twisty. Its best element plot-wise is the denouement, which is one of the cleverest of Season 8 and one of the most surprising of all the episodes of 'Murder She Wrote'.

Production values are slick and stylish as ever. The music has energy and has presence but also not making the mistake of over-scoring, while it is hard to forget or resist the theme tune.

Writing is tight, thought-provoking and typically amiable and the characters and chemistry are good fun.

In summary, pretty good episode but not an even one, the second half is better than the first. 7/10 Bethany Cox

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