Ah, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. There’s snow on the ground, a chill in the air, but you don’t have to leave the house because you have not just one but two great crime shows to watch on BBC One. Does anyone else think of Death in Paradise and Silent Witness as estranged siblings – Death in Paradise is the younger, more foolhardy one, and Silent Witness is the older, more serious one. It’s pretty much only because they’re on at the same time, but it’s almost impossible not to think of the two as linked, at least if you watch both.
Back when I was a blogger in the short pants, I vaguely considered doing a blog series on Silent Witness, just like I do for Death in Paradise. But then the next episode I watched was about sexual violence, and I was like NOPE. Silent Witness is so much more serious than DiP for sure (at least serious enough to not lend itself to my poop and fart joke commentary) but it is also inherently ridiculous in it’s own way.
If you don’t watch Silent Witness, it follows pathology team Nikki, Thomas, Clarrisa and Jack as they get assigned to various cases with various police teams. The cool thing (and sometimes the lame thing, if the story is a dud) is that the story is a two parter, told over two hours. It’s still easy to list off a couple of goofy beats that always get hit though – the pathologists take pictures of a body and notice a clue because they took the pictures of the body, Nikki gets emotionally invested in the case (like a pathologist wouldn’t), the pathologists get unrealistically involved in the case, Jack re-enacts the murder and finds a clue, there is a chase (usually on foot). This can be expanded to a series overall too. There is usually one episode about immigration, there is one episode when one of the pathologists are focused on more than the others, one episode will clearly be the standout amongst the rest, and be where all the budget has gone.
Point being, you can break these things down, just like I do with Death in Paradise. I only do it with Death in Paradise because it’s lighthearted enough to be able to take it . That and I think exposing it for the clockwork carcass of story that it is, somehow makes it more enjoyable.
So let’s see what we’re up against today, shall we? It looks like this one’s about a writer, so that should be fun (writers writing about writers always goes well). And I don’t want to spoil it, but I think I saw something about a banana in an exhaust pipe. (Once again, no official title so I make my own). Let’s start Putting the D in the P!!
Series 7 Episode 3 – The Final Act
We start at the house of a famous thriller writer, Frank O’Toole, who’s throwing a party to celebrate 40 years since his first book was published. It’s a fancy shindig, there’s his wife Valerie, his research assistant Gilly, and he even got Simon Callow to turn up (who apparently hasn’t been in one of these fucking things yet). No, but seriously Callow is his agent, Larry. They all seem to be having a grand old time, until Frank finds they’re out of champagne (and you can’t have a fancy party without champagne) so Frank goes into town to get some more.
The night is going well, and everyone seems pretty pissed, Gilly most of all. The party is a success, and everyone hits the hay. Frank wakes up early in the morning for a swim. He leaves his wife a note, his clothes on a rock and he walks into the sea. Two hours later, everyone else wakes up and there’s a commotion down on the beach. Fisherman are gathered around a body that has been washed up and, would you know it??, it’s Frankie-boy with a fish knife sticking out of his heart. Jeez Louise! SMASH CUT TO TITLES!
At Mooney’s shack, Dwayne gets a rude awakening (because they’re living together now remember, because Mooney inadvertently caused Dwayne’s shack to flood remember, because Mooney woke Dwayne up early in the morning to go to the station remember, and Dwayne left the bath running remember…it was a whole thing) Anyways Dwayne and Mooney get called to the scene of the murder. Mooney confirms that the knife in the heart was probs how Frank died. He learns how Frank went into town to buy champers, but there’s shit tons in the house? Meaning maybe he didn’t go into town to buy champagne? Mooney gives all the suspects a business card, but his last name is mis-spelled. It says Money and not Mooney! (Believe it or not, this is actually super important.)
Dwayne and JP search the house, and it’s time for a DWAYNE AND JP WACKY SUB-PLOT!! TM. Well, kinda anyway. We learn that it’s the festival of love on the island and Dwayne is desperately looking for a date! Anyways, enough about that, JP finds a fax machine and prints off the last fax received. (I’m told fax machines were once used to communicate using paper, I dunno – nuts, right?)
Mooney and Florence interview Gilly (after hearing she got super-smashed last night) and we find out that Gilly went outside after bidding good night to sober up by the beach. There, she heard Frank and Larry arguing about something. The fax JP found should explain that! You see, Frank was about to sign with a new agent! Time to talk to Callow! Now, you may have noticed, this episode is thundering along. I’m not really glossing over much, it’s just super fast. Which is kinda why this episode works so well. There’s no guff. At least, not much.
Anyhoo, Larry says that Frank was definitely past his peak (like me) and Larry couldn’t even find a publisher for Frank’s last novel. He didn’t know that Frank was going to sign with a new agent but he’s not exactly surprised either. Mooney points out that given Frank’s death, the books are going to enjoy some new popularity, and Larry will get his 10%. Meaning we got a super MOTIVE!! But wait, there’s more, JP finds out that the O’Toole’s weren’t exactly rich (like me), in fact far from it. That means the wife Valerie also has a super MOTIVE!!
Dwayne and JP find tire tracks by Frank’s place – tracks that look like a scooter. But no one in the house owns a scooter. And there hasn’t been any deliveries there for a while. So who’s scooting about, hmm? And Mooney and Florence find that Frank’s real name is Frank Toole, not Frank O’Toole. He added the O to sound more Irish, which is something Mooney can really get behind.
I know we’re popping around a lot here, but this thing really moved. Just like the DVDs in my local charity shop where I’m doing community service
(because they can’t prove I did it) In fact, I sold so many DVDs, I got promoted to ceramics. Does anybody want a complete set of China Beatles, but Paul’s head has come off. Does anybody want an urn, still being used? Does anyone want a complete set of promotional plates, promoting Charles and Camilla’s wedding, with only a few unidentified food stains? If you want any of these hot items, just email me at JPsBetterWhenWet@aol.net. These things are gonna go quick, (just like me with JP) so make sure you get your emails in.
Back to the episode, and Florence sets up a video chat with Gilly’s fiancee, who left loads of messages on her
FB social media page asking where the fuck she’d gone. Well, the jilted fiancee, Dean Shanks (what a name), sheds some light on what’s going down. Gilly abandoned him to swan off to Saint Marie, on like an ‘internship’ with Frank. Gilly’s obsessed with the guy, but she’s not such a hot writer herself (I mean she is hot, just not as hot as Frank). She’s been rejected by 15 publishers so far. And of course, it transpires that Frank and Gilly were having an affair (because duh) and they were even planning to go off to Prague together. But wait, that means wife Valerie could have another super MOTIVE right. Well it looks like she knew about the affair, and it was ever she who suggested the trip to Prague to make Frank become sick of his new mistress. Apparently Gilly’s been getting on Frank and Valerie’s nerves.
Elsewhere, the toxicology results come back, and Frank had paint and varnish under his fingernails. Paint and varnish that would line up with him being on a boat. Mooney sends Dwayne and JP to look for a boat and they find an unmarked one, with some blood on it! The boat belongs to an Otis Falconer, but there’s no record of an Otis Falconer on Saint Marie! Goddammit!
Time for a B plot check-in! As Dwayne gets himself a date for the Festival of Love, he asks if Mooney can give him some space at the shack. However Mooney doesn’t really get the memo, and he inadvertently crashes Dwayne’s date. The woman seems to take a shine to Mooney’s Irish accent, and it seems like Dwayne has been usurped (you like the word usurped? I’ve been trying to expand my voclabulery now I’m doing these bloggers)
Back to the Otis saga, and it seems someone fitting Otis’ description rented a scooter. What’s more, Katherine knows where the guy is staying. Florence, JP and Dwayne go to arrest Otis, while Mooney waits outside eating a banana (you know what’s coming right? Right? RIGHT?) Anyways, Otis does a runner and tries to escape on his scooter. BUT Mooney has stuck a banana in his exhaust pipe!! (this is so dumb I can actually kinda get behind it) But Otis turns out not to be Otis at all, and is in fact Dean Shanks! He was outside the house that night, but don’t know nothing about no boat or no Otis Falconer.
The investigation turns to finding Otis, and there’s a place rented by an Otis on a neighbouring island. The team go visit and find an empty house, with only a laptop that has two contacts – the boat guy, and the house guy. What the fuck is going on? No one knows, except Mooney starts having a
seizure epiphany. He knows who killed Frankie boy, and it all has to do with the letter O.
Gathering all the suspects together, Mooney explains what’s going down. You see Otis Falconer never really existed. Otis was Frank. Frank’s real name – Frank Toole – is an anagram of Otis Falconer. Frank was planning to fake his own death, using the boat and the beach house, to get the insurance money. And Valerie knew all about it! They had a super plan together to cash out, and leave everything behind.
Including Gilly. Cos HOT BUFFET LUNCHEONS, it was Gilly who killed Frank, totes for realz. She got wind of the desertion plot and realised that Frank didn’t like her. The trip to Prague was just a smokescreen, and Gilly was going to be left all alone, with her shit novel. Seeing that Gilly never takes rejection well, she went ahead of Frank on his swim and knifed him on the boat, before cleaning up and acting like nothing ever happened. Yeah, okay, that checks out. TAKE HER AWAY!
Ah well, there’s another episode done. And the team relax at the bar, enjoying the last of the Festival of Love. Dwayne isn’t happy though. Mooney’s gone off with his girl. But BROS BEFORE HOES (the farming instrument) because Mooney tells the woman to give Dwayne another chance. So she does. Alls well that ends well. Well apart from…you know the murder and shit.
This episode was a return to form. The last two have been umm, err, sub-par in my opinion. But this episode was tightly plotted, had humour that actually worked (I even laughed a few times) and was overall a pretty decent hour of TV. I mean, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing here that’ll blow your nips off, but it’s fun. A nice bit of throwaway fun. Which is exactly what DiP should be. Hopefully next week’s will continue the upward trajectory of this series. See you next week!
NEXT WEEK – Someone gets murdered.