Hello and welcome to ‘Putting the D in the P’, my weekly look at the latest episode of Death in Paradise. Death in Paradise is one of my favourite shows on television, and when casting your eyes down to the article below, just remember that my light-hearted ribbing is coming from a place of love.
Putting The D In The P is about taking an indepth look at the story of an episode of one of the most popular crime shows on television. Indeed, 8 million people tuned in to watch the premiere of series 6 of the inherently ridiculous Death in Paradise. Also indeed, it seemed like the inaugural outing of ‘Putting The D In The P’ (the last post on the blog) reached a few more thousand people than I expected.
Thus I incurred the wrath of some hardcore DP fans who thought I was merely making fun of something they loved (a love which I share). But no, this series of articles is not about taking the piss at Death in Paradise, it’s about looking a bit deeper into what elements make up Death in Paradise and attempting to puzzle out why and how it is so popular. And for one final time (to reiterate once more) I think the popularity is well and truly deserved. It’s a show that knows exactly what it is, and flaunts it proudly. If we happen to have some fun along the way, so be it. Hell, it’s a mantra that the show itself has.
So here we go, it’s episode 2 time. It’s time to start Putting The D In The P. And what a doozy this one is. (Again, these things don’t have titles, so I’m making one up)
Series 6 Episode 2: The Shadow of the Flame Tree
It’s time for a party! And you know it’s a pretentious party when there’s random art exhibits everywhere. Hey, look, here’s an archway! Guess what, it leads fucking nowhere. This must be one of those terrible literary festivals, where someone who’s written something practically masturbates in public. Don’t worry though, the masturbation is figurative. At least I hope so.
A young PHD student who lives in England, but came over to write her thesis, called Esther Monroe is trying to keep a happy face as she organises pamphlets to be signed. An absolute
bitch tells her to hurry up. They’re almost clearly fucking each other. And the novelist being celebrated, Sylvie Baptiste, asks Esther whether she’s considered her offer. This couldn’t be more of a clue if a dog called Blue was pissing on it.
Esther just tries to carry on, a bit rattled. The literary festival gets underway aproper, with a reading from Sylvie Baptiste’s famous novel The Flame Tree, a novel which is set on Saint Marie. Sylvie sits down with a crowd, including Professor Anna Wolf (Esther’s mentor) and Dr Oliver Wolf (her hubby). Giving the talk is Sylvie’s PA, Patricia Lawrence, who starts reading a passage from The Flame Tree. Esther sneaks off, to a cliff.
The very cliff the protagonist of The Flame Tree throws herself off. As the talk continues, Esther takes a little tumble…obv. Geez, a literature student dying…I guess that means she didn’t have….the WRITE stuff….
I cry myself to sleep every night.
Cue the titles I guess. Thar’s bin a merrrdeer.
At the station, Humphrey’s happy. Probably because he got his end away last episode, with the lovely Martha. She’s even moving in to Humph’s love shack for the rest of her stay on the island and Humph needs some help cleaning. Yep, that’s the level of SUB-PLOT we’re dealing with this episode. But it doesn’t matter because the actual murder mystery is pretty good. In fact, it’s so good I regret not being harder on last week’s episode.
Anyways, Humph and Florence go down to the beach to investigate the crime scene. Esther’s totally dead. And the smashed watch on her wrist reads 1.25. Sounds like a time of death to me. Florence recognises Esther – they went to school together. It gets a bit sad for a moment.
On the famous cliff, Humph looks through Esther’s bag. A laptop lead but no laptop. An expensive fountain pen. Purse. Diary. All the usual stuff…and then a suicide note, typed, and then signed. But signed in biro – not the same pen as the one in the bag. Humph laments that he’s the only one who’s not read The Flame Tree. Florence has read it. JP has read it. And Dwayne has SUPER TOTALLY OBVIOUSLY SUPER read it too, you guys.
Even though there were like a hundred people at the festival, only four seem important to the plot. None of the silent extras would have killed Esther surely, so they’re just waved away pretty quickly. Left behind are Sylvie Baptiste, Patricia Lawrence, Anna Wolf and Oliver Wolf. They all seem suitably distressed, except Sylvie who just looks fucking bored. Esther left the festival at 1.15. Every suspect has an alibi because they were all there.
Esther was working on her thesis while she was on the island so didn’t socialise much. Her thesis was on The Flame Tree. Esther helped Patricia set up the festival, but apart from that, no one saw much of her. Although Esther did interview Sylvie a few days before.
Humph thinks Esther’s definitely been offed. The suicide note is a big clue and there’s also the fact of a missing laptop that Dwayne and JP couldn’t find anywhere. There’s a bungalow on the grounds, that JP and Dwayne go to search. A mysterious woman appears to be living there, who’s not taking any of Dwayne’s shit. She slams the door in his face.
waste of time clue line, it seems like Dr Oliver Wolf has been sexually harrassing Esther. But Oliver didn’t kill Esther to shut her up. His wife, Anna, already knew. Similarly, Anna didn’t kill Esther out of some kind of revenge – she knows her marriage is dead. Looks like we’re barking up the wrong tree – a tree that took 5 minutes and 12 seconds to bark up.
The owner of that bungalow is Sylvie Baptiste – so who is the mysterious lodger? Humph wraps it up for the night. He wants to start reading The Flame Tree, and pick the others’ brains about it. I mean they’ve all read it. Florence has read it. JP has read it. And Dwayne has SUPER TOTALLY OBVIOUSLY SUPER TOTALLY read it.
At the bar, a twist is revealed. You know how Dwayne had SUPER TOTALLY read The Flame Tree? Well get this! He was only flippin lying. Also Florence is still investigating. She feels a little sentimental I guess. She gets a call from Esther’s parents. It seemed like Esther had uncovered some kind of secret whilst on the island, a secret she was putting into her thesis. In a bar Esther had visited, Florence found a photograph of Sylvie Baptiste. But not just her. Lizzie Baptiste too. Sylvie’s sister. Dur Dur Durrr.
It seems that Lizzie is the woman staying in Sylvie’s bungalow, and she may have also actually written The Flame Tree. Esther had been studying all of Sylvie’s novels for her thesis, concluding that The Flame Tree was so different…it was almost like it was written by a different person entirely.
Lizzie’s seen better days. She has some mental issues, and she can’t remember writing The Flame Tree. Thus Sylvie has almost committed the perfect deception. But Esther found out, finding a poem that was written by Lizzie at the Honore library.
Sylvie gets interviewed, and still has a face like a slapped arse. She’s such a fucking bitch. But Humph isn’t buying any of her shit. Dwayne and JP search Sylvie’s house and find Esther’s missing laptop in Sylvie’s room. Patricia stole it, under Sylvie’s orders, and it’s all getting rather exciting isn’t it?? When Esther interviewed Sylvie, she told her what she found. Seems like Sylvie is our woman. She has the biggest motive.
Unless…Humph wonders if Patricia might kill for her boss. Patricia waves this away quickly – she has little love for Sylvie, a woman who constantly bosses her around and orders her to write up her terrible short story ideas. Honestly, they do sound fucking terrible. Well, you’ve gotta pursue every avenue in an investigation I guess. Back to Sylvie…
Humph calls it a day again. Florence says she’s going to finish up some investigating. But Humph won’t hear of it. Florence has to help him clean his shack, his love shack baby. Again this is the SUB-PLOT.
It seemed Esther wanted to meet Lizzie on the cliff where the most important part of The Flame Tree was set – to hopefully spark her memory. It seems like it might actually be Lizzie. Although there’s no real motive, she’s the only one without an alibi. Unless…
Dwayne comes in, and he’s reading The Flame Tree. Or more accurately, he’s listening to it as an audiobook. Humph does his special investigating Sherlock thing, and he’s got the case all wrapped up.
It’s time for the final reveal, so let’s gather all the suspects up. Humph does like a touch of the dramatic and HOLY SHIITAKE COCKROOMS it was Patricia!! Patricia knew Esther had found out about the real author of The Flame Tree, and although she had no love for Sylvie herself, Patricia wanted to maintain her sunny lifestyle. Patricia used the festival as a foil for her plan. As she started to speak, she dodged out of the way of a Powerpoint presentation, getting out of the view of the others. She switched a recording of her voice on, so it would appear she was still there.
Esther thought she was meeting Lizzie on the cliff but actually she was meeting Patricia. And Patricia was feeling a bit shove-y. Patricia put the suicide note in Esther’s bag, written on some of the paper Esther had touched while setting up the festival. Patricia was adept at forging Sylvie’s signature at book signings, so it wasn’t too hard for her to forge Esther’s.
Take her away! Looks like Patricia was the one in the
THE SHADOW OF THE FLAME TREE.
Overall, this was a great episode. Every clue felt earned, and everything was presented to the audience. It wasn’t a mad leap in logic like last week’s episode and Humph’s final eureka moment (listening to the audio book) made total sense and tied nicely into Dwayne’s little C-PLOT. If there is any criticism at all, it’s that the characters of Oliver and Anna Wolf had little to do.
There’s also a nice through-line appearing (that I didn’t mention) as a new Mayor has to be elected (because, you know, the previous mayor was arrested last episode).
Humph comforts Florence, inviting her over for a meal. I don’t know if it’s totally fact, but I felt a little something. You know, in that weird knot of muscles and arteries in my chest. My
balls heart. I felt a little stir of romance between them. Humph and Florence, I mean really?? I might be totally off base here.
Oh well, Humph’s going for some Shepherd’s Pie. So it’s time for me to fuck off.
UP NEXT: Someone murders someone. It is sunny. Whiteboards are written on.
See you next week!