The only thing Columbo learns is that Crawford gets a bit angry. Then again, Crawford is clearly three sheets to the wind and being royally messed around by Columbo so he has every right to be upset. Quite what Columbo expected from messing Crawford around is a mystery.
I'm not sure what the legal precident is for Columbo allowing an inebriated man to drive home? Imagine if Crawford lost concentration, fell asleep or became confused and drove into someone causing a death or serious injury. What would be made of the fact he was being allowed to drive with a police escort?
I watched this episode again yesterday. I hadn’t seen it in almost ten years, and I will say it was better than I remembered. I enjoyed it overall, and the ending, a common point of criticism, doesn’t even seem that bad. I paid particular attention to the “drive home” scene. I agree that I don’t understand Columbo’s motivation for the car escort, and I’m not sure why he suspects Crawford at that point. Crawford tells Columbo that he hadn’t seen Gabriel at all the day of the murder, and it is Rebecca who had seen Gabriel that afternoon giving him the baton. Maybe it’s just general suspicion because Crawford and Gabriel worked closely together and Crawford was the only one not on stage for the first few minutes while introductions were given?