It’s disconcerting to see Millie in distress. When her confidence is shaken so is ours.
We know she has a perfectly good reason to feel traumatized. In last week’s episode of The Bletchley Circle, Millie stumbled upon the body of her happy-go-lucky pal Jasper, “co-pilot” in her scheme to provide cut-price luxury goods to fashionable women. Not long before that , someone described Jasper as a bookie’s best friend. Apparently he wasn’t everyone’s best friend, though. Jasper was brutally beaten and left where someone would find him. Someone like Millie.
The women of the Circle have already been advised to “tell the Old Bill and go home,” if they discover Jasper’s fallen afoul of a certain group of Maltese gangsters. Those heavies are trafficking in more than ciggies and silk stockings; they’re bringing in young women from eastern Europe for nefarious purposes.
So, Millie and her friends dutifully make a report and wait for an investigation. Surely Scotland Yard won’t ignore such a heinous crime. Yet they do...
And that’s where we begin this week’s episode, the conclusion of “Uncustomed Goods” and the final episode of The Bletchley Circle.
Lucy, who’s conveniently placed on the Scotland Yard clerical support staff, is shocked to hear that by the time the cops arrived Jasper’s body had vanished and the whole crime scene had been scrubbed clean, hospital style.
Murder? What murder?
Knowing what they know, the ladies figure someone in the police is in cahoots with the crooks. So they hatch a plan to catch the smugglers with their “uncustomed goods,” black market cigarettes as well as human cargo.
Knowing what we know, which is that The Bletchley Circle has been canceled, makes this a melancholy outing. In episode 2 of “Uncustomed Goods,” the team is back on form—solving puzzles, cracking codes, using their brains, working together with each person contributing to the end result. We’re left with hope for all of them.
Alice is regaining her confidence and turns out to be clever with machines. (It helps if you talk to them, apparently.)
Millie remains tenacious, guided by her sense of justice even more than her sense of entitlement.
Lucy, after her unhappy marriage in series 1, is turning out to be tougher and less of a romantic than we might have expected.
And Jean, always the dark horse, hints at a past of adventure and intrigue. “I wasn’t always a librarian, you know,” Jean tells Millie. (No, Jean. We don’t know. And now we won’t know. Grrr!)
Then there’s Lizzie, already a scrapper and now a sort of Bletchley Girl-in-training. What does her future hold?
It’s a shame we’re losing The Bletchley Circle. The series is intelligent and original, and the cast—Rachael Stirling, Hattie Morahan, Julie Graham, Sophie Rundle, Anna Maxwell-Martin, and Faye Marsay—are a pleasure to watch. Here’s hoping that someone pays attention to the viewer dismay over the cancelation. It might not bring The Bletchley Circle back, but it could remind the powers-that-be there’s an audience for “genius women being awesome on TV.” You don’t have to be a genius to figure that out.
Leslie Gilbert Elman is the author of Weird But True: 200 Astounding, Outrageous, and Totally Off the Wall Facts. Follow her on Twitter @leslieelman.
Read all of Leslie Gilbert Elman’s posts for Criminal Element.