Oliver Dimsdale

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) s05e02

I consider myself fairly capable with British Isles accents; it’s always been undubbed Trainspotting or Full Monty for me; I figured out Ulysses on my own; I could watch “Monty Python” and understand them; but “Sinjin” actually being “St. John?” Whatever. I mean, I knew it had to be weird because “Sinjin” seemed too much like an Indian import but the only thing the British seem proud of taking from India is their foodstuffs.

Anyway, St. John is Dominic Mafham. He’s Tom Brittney’s mom’s new boyfriend and, shocker, he’s a total dick because it’s 1955 or whatever and she’s just trying to get along since Brittney won’t quit the Church for her. Jemma Redgrave plays the mom.

The mystery this episode is an intentional hit and run. Brittney and Al Weaver are walking by when they see it, which leads Brittney and Robson Green to an unknown street in Grantchester (because before Google Maps, you could have unknown streets in the town where you’re a copper, I guess). The unknown street thing is short but does give Tessa Peake-Jones a nice opportunity to figure into the main plot. Otherwise she’s just around to be an obstacle for Weaver to hang out with boyfriend Oliver Dimsdale. Though there’s also the new TV in the vicarage (so Weaver and Dimsdale can chill, which is adorable) and Peake-Jones has a lot of thoughts on it. Her “idiot’s lantern” rant is excellent.

There’s a house on the unknown street with two older brothers who figure into the case. It’s an okay enough mystery, involving fraud, infidelity, and PTSD. The PTSD bit gives Green a couple excellent scenes. He’s busy with his home stuff—he brought in mother-in-law Paula Wilcox to tend to the house since wife Kacey Ainsworth got a union position at work.

“Grantchester” has settled pretty nicely since losing its protagonist last season. Though at some point someone needs to acknowledge Brittney isn’t very good at questioning suspects yet. The show’s also taking it slow with Brittney’s new love interest, Lauren Carse, which is fine; if James Norton’s Sidney were still around with Carse as a love interest, they’d probably have had at least one pregnancy scare by now.

Grantchester (2014) s05e01

It’s nice to have “Grantchester” back, especially since Robson Green doesn’t appear to have a complete jackass arc for this season. Though it’s arguably too soon to tell and he does bring in his mother-in-law (Paula Wilcox, I think) without consulting wife Kacey Ainsworth to help out around the house since they’re both so busy with work now. Green thinks he’s being helpful, sort of bringing in free labor instead of helping himself. Because it’s the mid-fifties and Green’s having some trouble adjusting to the new paradigms. All of them. But mostly lovably so.

But Ainsworth doesn’t show up until well into the episode—and their kids get nothing so far—with the episode otherwise more focused on Al Weaver’s subplot about getting back from a week in Marrakesh; he and boyfriend Oliver Dimsdale got to be out (well, more out) and now Weaver’s not just shoved back into the local closet, he can’t even tell housekeeper Tessa Peake-Jones where he’s really been. “Granchester”’s got this unpleasant reality situation where it’s not like Peake-Jones or Green are going to be able to get woke. Arguably it’s hard to believe dreamboat vicar Tom Brittney can be as woke (though he’s less woke than previous dreamboat vicar James Norton) in the mid-1950s and not be, you know, a practicing atheist all things considered. It’s a rough arc for Weaver but well-executed.

Brittney’s subplot involves rich, newly widowed mom Jemma Redgrave and her adjustments. It’s fine. Not too much heavy lifting for Brittney, though the show does seem to be setting up local reporter Lauren Carse as his love interest.

The mystery involves a progressive, proto-feminist women’s college run by Siobhan Redmond and one of her students turning up dead after a big dance. I can’t remember if the universities (one for the boys, one for the girls) have ever been in Grantchester before or maybe they’re just nearby….

It’s an okay mystery. They get to the solution a little too conveniently but “Grantchester”’s not about the the solutions, it’s about the characters and they’re in good shape. The show’s got a very nice balance between the cast and the mystery this episode. Some rather good direction from Gordon Anderson throughout too.

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