Elizabeth Coleman

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (2012) s03e07 – Game, Set & Murder

Given it’s the penultimate episode, I don’t feel too bad about generally picking the murder from the opening scenes. There are just certain “Miss Fisher’s” tropes in play—it’s episode thirty-three overall—and there are certain things the show’s never done and if it’s going to do them, now’s the time.

And I didn’t have any predictions on motive or whatnot. It was just… a sense of how things were going to go.

Essie Davis is throwing a tennis tournament at (away) Aunt Prudence’s estate, hosting old friend Jeremy Lindsay Taylor and his new wife, Lauren Williams. Williams is one of the best tennis players in the country, second only to American Ella Scott Lynch (who’s not American but better than usual with the Aussies playing Americans on the show). Ashleigh Cummings is a big fan of Williams, which leads to some fun awkward scenes.

But another thing the show finally gets around to addressing is whether or not Davis has an actual fears. It finds one for her in the murder method, leading to some more fantastic scenes for Nathan Page and Davis. Speaking of Page and Davis, there’s a really nice subplot about his support of her professionally when they get in trouble thanks to a lurking paparazzi (Fletcher Humphrys). Page also goes out in support for finally back Hugo Johnstone-Burt—was he busy during filming this season or something—as Johnstone-Burt and Cummings get to prepare for their impending nuptials with a little more security.

It’s a complicated plot involving mistaken victim targeting, some women’s rights issues—Australia doesn’t pay for women’s international sports travel but does pay for the men’s—old romances, and so on. There’s also Scott Lynch coming on to Page with an intensity to do rival Davis.

Elizabeth Coleman’s script is thorough and careful—the mystery and red herrings all get unpacked with just the right amount of detail—and the finish is sufficiently complicated for the characters involved. Really good supporting performance from Williams.

And Davis and Page finale is quite cute.

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (2012) s02e13 – Murder Under the Mistletoe

Murder Under the Mistletoe is the “Miss Fisher’s” Christmas (in July) special I obviously needed but didn’t know I needed. The episode opens with Essie Davis taking the girls—Ashleigh Cummings, Miriam Margolyes, Tammy Macintosh—to a ski lodge; Southern Hemisphere, snowy summers. But when they get there, of course there’s a murder—people are finally giving Davis crap for finding murder wherever she goes—and then they get snowed in. So everyone’s trapped up there with a killer.

Lots of great suspects—Simon Burke, Greg Saunders, George Shevtsov, Alicia Gardiner, Sylvie de Crespigny. There’s also teenager Emily Milledge, who proves you can be Goth in the 1920s. There’s a big backstory—there was a mine collapse in 1919 and it killed a bunch of the workers; widow de Crespigny married mine co-manager Burke; who does he co-manage the mine with—Margolyes. There’s a lot of good Margolyes stuff this episode. Anyway… Milledge is de Crespigny’s daughter.

There are secrets and flashbacks and Ruby Rees coming home from school early and having to hang out with the boys (Richard Bligh, Travis McMahon, and Anthony J. Sharpe, which is adorable). Plus Macintosh gets a bunch to do and not just doctor stuff.

Great direction from Tony Tilse, really fun script from Elizabeth Coleman.

Nathan Page and Hugo Johnstone-Burt brave the snow storm to get to the lodge and assist in the investigation, but the episode focuses on the multiple suspects and the entire cast being in grave danger. There are numerous murders throughout, including one with a complicated Rube Goldberg setup to get the job done.

Really good villain.

Great postscript with the titular mistletoe figuring in.

It’s a perfect Christmas special.

Also—there’s a John Noble cameo; he plays Margoyles’s since deceased husband in the flashback scenes. It’s very cute to see Margoyles opposite a husband.

Oh, and Cummings—she’s doing the full investigating again. “Miss Fisher’s” season two—with this episode as its victory lap—did a lot of character development on Cummings. Did a little on everyone else, but a lot on her and rarely spotlighted it, just let it happen. Very nicely done indeed.

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (2012) s01e13 – King Memses’ Curse

I’m a fan of this season finale—and season resolver—and would be even if it didn’t (unintentionally?) follow a bunch of the same narrative beats as Halloween H20. No spoilers. But… it’s H20.

After the pre-title murder—a gruesome but not gory one—the action picks up the next morning after last episode. Phryne (Essie Davis) is freaking out trying to keep ward Ruby Rees safe—enlisting the taxi drivers as bodyguards again, giving them a third chance after they botched the first two—and heads off to investigate a seemingly planted clue.

At the corresponding address (an antique shop), she and Ashleigh Cummings discover the pre-title body (with some gore this time) and get the coppers involved. Except Nathan Page just wants Davis at home staying safe, so when Davis finds another clue—a photography of the suspect and victim—she has to follow-up.

Davis’s investigation takes her to egyptologist Matt Day (Brice from Muriel’s!) while Page and Hugo Johnstone-Burt interview Cassandra Magrath, who was a kid when she escaped the villain. None of the others were so lucky. The details Magrath gives about her abduction and Day’s details about mummification run parallel, particularly when it comes to a paralyzing serum.

A paralyzing serum the villain has unleashed on Stately Fisher Manor so they can come in and grab Rees, needing her to fill the last open spot for whatever evil they’ve got planned.

It’s then a race against time for Davis, Cummings, and Page, with Davis charging ahead without concern for her personal safety. Her behavior pushes Page to the limit and he has her locked up, taking it upon himself to move forward with the case.

The resolution is incredibly dramatic, incredibly tense. Davis is outstanding, ditto Page. And obviously Daina Reid directed it; she’s so good with the tension. So good.

The postscript brings back all the favorite recurring characters—Miriam Margolyes, Tammy Macintosh—and provides a very nice bookend to the pilot, showcasing Davis’s character development over the season, as well as her presence’s effect.

Nicole Nabout’s really good as a nun who figures in and, as usual, it’s fun to get to see Davis face off with the Catholic Church. But not Nabout, rather priest Dennis Coard. The Deb Cox and Elizabeth Coleman script manages to maintain some humor despite dire circumstances. Oh, and Magrath’s excellent.

It’s one heck of a finish.

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (2012) s01e02 – Murder on the Ballarat Train

This episode takes place soon after the first, with communist taxi drivers Travis McMahon and Anthony J. Sharpe not yet full-time in Essie Davis’s employ. Well, they don’t know they’re in her full-time employ yet. They realize it in their second scene, when she gets them a new car and they start hanging out at Stately Fisher Manor. They also break in the new butler, Richard Bligh, who’s got no idea what he’s in for with Davis.

Davis isn’t at home because she’s on a train trip with maid slash sidekick Ashleigh Cummings. They don’t get through the night before some very strange goings on, including a missing passenger—Abbe Holmes.

Thanks to Davis’s prodding—and name-dropping copper Nathan Page whether he likes it or not (spoiler: he does not like it but he quickly appears to change his mind)—they discover Holmes isn’t just a vanishing lady, she’s a murder victim.

And a rich one.

She’s been traveling with daughter Maeve Dermody, who hires Davis to officially investigate, which leads to a lot of fun scenes with Davis and Page. They’re really ratcheting up the flirtation between the pair this episode, with Page turning to Davis for the more difficult aspects of the case—like tween Ruby Rees, who’s been found with the rich lady’s jewels (but isn’t a murder suspect because she doesn’t have the strength to get the body where they find it).

Who does have the requisite strength? Dermody’s cousin, beefcake Dale March, and her fiancé, David Berry. Davis investigates them both—with some excellent chemistry opposite March, both performances and script (courtesy Elizabeth Coleman and Deb Cox).

There’s a great subplot involving mentalist turned criminal Jacek Koman, who manages to be dangerous while buffoonish; it gives sidekick McMahon a fine showcase too.

The solution’s only somewhat unexpected—thanks to another “strong enough” suspect, Mike McLeish, who lost his wife due to Holmes’s bad medical conduct years before—but it’s not the point; Davis and company doing the investigating is the point and it’s a big success in that department. Davis has got some awesome lines throughout, not just for laughs, but also for character development.

The episode ends with another cast regular cast member joining and the slightly surprising implication Page is still married. Just off his behavior, it seems like he’s maybe a widower but… we’ll see.

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