23 January 2015

TV: Death in Paradise IV.3

This week I actually solved it. I got the who, the why and the when, but not quite the how. Admittedly from the multitude of clues given, I wouldn't stand a chance if I was in Humphrey's position, but all the same! The episode's structure helped me too, reverting to quite a traditional format.

The setup is this: the Saint Marie Historical Society are staging a re-enactment of the first Europeans' arrival on the island when their leader dies after apparently being poisoned. However, everyone else also experiences food poisoning, and it turns out there were traces of a poisonous plant in the authentic broth they had concocted. The victim - Francis Davison, an expat - was delivered an especially high dosage. It was made to look like an accident.

The suspects: Ryan, Francis' 16-year-old son; Teresa, the club treasurer; Alan, the ex-president of the society; Imke, a local travel rep; and Henri, but I can't really remember who he was.

The secrets: Ryan never wanted to move here and is very lonely; Teresa had put the society $4000 in the red for her own benefit (although how she spent is never made clear); Alan had recently lost his wife and had a fundamental dislike of Francis; Imke was seeing Francis; and Henri loved Imke, and knew about her relationship with Franics (even though Ryan didn't) and even filmed them together at the deceased's house, through a tree. The weirdo. 

To be honest, not all of these are completely satisfying. Why is it a massive secret that Imke was seeing Francis? Would it rock the society to its core? They'd been seeing each other nigh on a year! The only plausible person with a motive is Teresa. If Ryan was lonely, killing his dad wouldn't exactly help things, would it? Alan, appreciating how precious life is having just lost his wife, wouldn't murder Francis over the sake of a bloody re-enactment. No, it had to be Teresa. She would have had to repay the money taken and leave the society, which would've meant selling up and moving back to England. And her caring nature for Ryan was apparent from the off, thanks to both Tom Higgins' unusually unsubtle writing and Amanda Root's performance. 

There are some really nice moments in this, particularly between Humphrey and Camille. The one that stands out is in the Jeep at around the midpoint of the episode, and overall the most interesting parts of the episode are those disconnected from the murder plot. It seemed that neither Dwayne nor Florence was able to have a scene without Humphrey either. Indeed, Florence is proving a bit of a disappointment so far. Despite Jobert's best efforts, she's coming off simply as a dedicated police officer. I'd like to see a bit more of the cheek we saw in Rob Thorogood's strong opening episode, and especially to see her indulging in some off-duty activities.

All in all, then, this is a relatively flat episode. David O'Neill's direction certainly helps matters, and the guest cast he's assembled are well-matched to their parts. It's just a shame that only Root and Tyger Drew-Honey are afforded much prominence, particularly when you've got a really strong actor like David Bamber onboard. He could've been saved for apart to really get his teeth into. Another point that stuck out for me was that a small business' finances were the the subject of great importance for the third week in a row (though admittedly much more prominent in the last two). There's also a recurring theme of crimes of passion this series, and I am intrigued by where Camille and Humphrey's relationship will go next. 

In a Nutshell: A little bit of a misstep - nothing disastrous, but equally nothing to write home about.

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