Lots ends up happening this issue, even as the episode starts with Tom Brittney getting returned mail from his estranged mother. In fact, there’s going to be something for everyone this episode—except Leonard (Al Weaver); Leonard is background.
Will (Brittney) doesn’t just have a murder case—a very Sherlock Holmes affair involving a murdered cinema projectionist and a Brown man (Hamza Jeetooa) in fifties England, the sins of Empire being revisited and such—he’s also started regular dating reporter Lauren Carse and there’s still more with troubled youth Jim Caesar. Robson Green’s mostly just on the case, though he figures into the Caesar stuff and has his own home situation brewing as mother-in-law Paula Wilcox starts causing problems Kacey Ainsworth (Mrs. Robson Green) can’t ignore. Nice stuff for Ainsworth and Wilcox with the subplot.
But the biggest subplot, which ties in to mystery man Jeetooa, is for Tessa Peake-Jones. What starts as an adorable story arc for Peake-Jones and, to a lesser extent, husband Nick Brimble, turns very, very serious and Peake-Jones does a phenomenal job with it. There’s some other excellent acting in the episode, with mystery storyline damsel Zoë Tapper going from stereotype (at least what “Grantchester” is willing to do as a historical stereotype) to a full-fledged character as the solution unveils.
The Sherlock Holmes comparisons don’t stop with the mere presence of Imperial subject Jeetooa, but also how the murder (you’ve got to wonder if writer Jake Riddell was being intentional or if it was all subconscious) gets discovered, and in some of the plot details… like rocks through the windows as clues. Just feels very Conan Doyle. Except, obviously, everything else about it.
Like Brittney and Carse’s romantic thread, which survives the hiccup of jealous copper Bradley Hall, but goes very discomforting, very serious places. Just when you think Brittney’s going to be the stable stud vicar.
And Ross Boatman might be getting more important; he runs the gym where Brittney boxes and where Caesar is supposed to be rehabilitating through positive social and athletic structure.
“Grantchester”’s getting some big developments without having to make its likable characters, you know, unlikable. Well, some of them but certainly not like it’s done in the past. It’s definitely got solid footing this season.