Headache, I think you are almost certainly right. It's hard to imagine that an American TV network would be keen on such an explicit plot.
There are enough hints as to the nature of the relationship between Valerie and Kay. The ambiguity is no doubt a result of the nervousness about making it more obvious.
I'd love to know the truth about that 'shack' scene. Was it added in later? I've always thought that scene was a little odd, out of kilter with the rest of the episode. So I find this a very persuasive theory.
ok this is a direct quote from Mark Dawidziak's wonderful Columbo Phile...
This is told by producer Richard Alan Simmons...."Peter thought there was no nexus between the characters (Columbo and Kay Freestone). Nothing in the script brought them together."
And then Dawidziak goes on to say...."Falk told Simmons about an incident that happened during the filming of "Candidate for Crime." Guest murderer Jackie Cooper had taken Falk to the shcack in Venice where he lived as a child. This served as the inspiration for the scene where Columbo finds Kay in the tiny, run-down home of her childhood."
.....um..that would be shack not shcack...
This is all very interesting, and I had not thought about it. I had thought that her relationship with Valerie Kirk was designed to show that the she was more complex than her "predecessor", Leslie Williams.
Both women are, as I have said before, seductive yet poisonous. However, Leslie Williams has "no redeeming virtures", whereas Kay Freestone is capable of being a real friend and helping someone in trouble.
Whereas Leslie's husband was a decent fellow who was just defending himself in threatening to throw Leslie out, Mark McAndrews sort of "had it coming" (I love his quote "Kay, all we owe each other is a little affection!"). I didn't think of their relationship as allusions to homosexuality. However, now that I recall the episode "The Conspirators" where there is quite open allusions to homosexuality between Joe Devlin and his young friend, Kerry Malone, this theory seems plausible.
Good points YM.....And with The Conspirators you throw in another set of lovers....possibly...I think both episodes were dealing with that same issue...It was the last season, and maybe they wanted to see the feathers fly!!!..............Will we ever know???