Nick Brimble

Grantchester (2014) s05e05

It’s an exceedingly unpleasant hour of “Grantchester,” full of revelations and character developments, some to the point where it’s hard to imagine what next week’s episode is going to bring. Will (Tom Brittney) ends the episode in a rather dark place, which is to be expected given how things go in the episode, but dark enough everyone’s a little taken aback. As usual the episode ends in a sermon. Not a happy one.

The episode’s mostly downbeat, teasing possibly awful reveals—the best possible option is a gang of teen criminals—but there are positive moments in it. Al Weaver’s arc this season, becoming more and more comfortable in his own skin, results in some great marriage counseling scenes with Weaver, Tessa Peake-Jones, and Nick Brimble. Old man Brimble (who’s excellent this episode) gets to try to do the work of atonement due to his martial strife with Peake-Jones, which is nice to see. And the show presents it believably. There’s no sugar-coating in “Grantchester,” which is too bad after this episode.

Without spoiling too much, this episode brings a season-long subplot to the front burner—revealing it to be a single subplot too—and throws everyone into the bowling pot; mostly Brittney and Robson Green. They’re already on awkward ground with Brittney being more pally with boxing coach Ross Boatman lately than Green, to the point Brittney hasn’t told Green about his awkward marriage proposal to Lauren Carse (who’s reduced to a very small part this episode, though maybe not inappropriately given the subject matter).

A nice scene for Oliver Dimsdale and Weaver, cementing Weaver’s character development over the season, and some strong acting from Sandra Huggett as Boatman’s wife. Jim Caesar’s back again as the troubled youth who Boatman and Brittney want to help—and who Green’s indifferent about—including an introduction to his home life and mum Sarah Stanley. Tough stuff with Caesar, a lot of it left unsaid.

From the first five or so minutes, just with everything being so relatively low stress, it seems like something bad’s coming down the pike in “Grantchester” but its immediate arrival—and the force of the bad—is jarring. Outside Weaver’s estranged father maybe showing up for a visit next episode, the show’s going into the season finale without much foreshadowing and starting from a very bad place.

Grantchester (2014) s05e03

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.

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