Mon
Jul 24 2017 10:00am

Grantchester 3.05: Episode Review

Sidney’s in civvies. The hunky vicar Sidney Chambers (James Norton) has gone AWOL from Grantchester and his duty to his parishioners, not to mention his budding love affair with Amanda (Morven Christie). He’s in the hinterlands, thumbing rides, heading north, bound for Lincolnshire but making a stop at someplace called Larkview Farm to see—of all people—the ne’er-do-well Ronnie Maguire (Charlie Higdon).

This leg of Sidney’s self-styled walkabout is a mission of mercy. 

As you’ll recall, Ronnie capped off his unexpected arrival in Grantchester by stealing Mrs. Maguire’s life savings and disappearing into the night. Sidney intends to recover what Ronnie stole. 

How does Sidney know where to find Ronnie? That’s unclear. (It’s rarely clear how or why Sidney knows what he knows.) Nevertheless, find Ronnie he does in a Romani community where Ronnie has been hiding out for a good ten years. 

Sidney arrives demanding money and expecting Ronnie to obey. Ronnie’s new friends and neighbors have other ideas.

Or, perhaps we should call them Ronnie’s new friends, neighbors, and relatives, for Ronnie has insinuated himself into the community lock, stock, and barrel. He has a wife. He has young children. He has a life that doesn’t include sourpuss Mrs. Maguire (Tessa Peake-Jones). You sort of can’t blame him.

Even Sidney, who arrived on the scene all holier-than-thou, doesn’t take long to acclimate to the spirit of the community. He’s catching the eyes of all the able-bodied lasses in the vicinity, drinking and dancing up a storm. Remember all that stuff about temptation from the previous episode? Neither does Sidney. You sort of can’t blame him. 

Ronnie’s life with the Romani has been productive, but production’s about to grind to a halt. Twenty minutes into the episode, Ronnie’s lifeless body is found, and the community thinks that Sidney might the culprit. After all, Sidney did arrive out of nowhere demanding money from Ronnie. Being a vicar hardly places him above suspicion in this situation. 

Meanwhile, back home, Leonard (Al Weaver) is cross that Sidney up and left him holding down the fort—again—particularly when the gentle curate could use some emotional support at the moment. You sort of can’t blame him.

“He needs a friend,” Sidney says by way of explanation, never comprehending that he’s the man for that particular job. He won’t help Leonard. He won’t help Ronnie’s widow Cora (Lorraine Ashbourne), even though she’s ill and Ronnie stole the money for her medical treatment. Nope, Sidney needs some “me time.” 

Once again, the mystery plot receives short shrift. There’s the requisite amount of wheel-spinning before Ronnie’s murderer is revealed. There’s yet another messy love relationship in which marriage comes out on the losing end. There’s also the inevitable meeting of the Mrs. Maguires, which plays out pretty much as you’d expect it to.

Grantchester’s pointed departure from the (superior) Grantchester Mysteries books written by James Runcie has led the TV series to paint itself into a corner. It’s going to be awfully hard to resolve things to anyone’s satisfaction—especially not Amanda’s. After spending this episode being cross that he left without saying where he was going, Amanda greets Sidney’s return with a stunning lack of compassion and an ultimatum: choose her or choose the church. 

I know which I’d pick. Of course, Sidney might just opt to run away again. You sort of can’t blame him.

See also: Grantchester 3.04: Episode Review

 


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.

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2 comments
1. Flo
I loved the series in the beginning, loved the relationships, loved the banter between Sidney and Geordie, loved the location shots, and loved the 1950's vibe. But, the story lines have moved away from cozy-ish mystery to something like a sordid soap opera. It's been disappointing, frankly.

Only Cathy is still likable and honorable. Even Leonard is tainted now by his marriage proposal gone wrong. There is no ending that could somehow make all that has come before go away. Plus, the whole vicar thing has become a joke, although he is good at giving impassioned sermons.

Is anybody still watching this series? I stopped watching a couple of episodes ago, but I enjoy reading your reviews. It's like a train wreck; I want to know the end of the story.
Terrie Farley Moran
2. Terrie
Hi Leslie, thanks for a great (as always) recap.

Flo, yes, I am still watching. I agree that there have been an awful lot of flaws highly visible among the folks that populate Grantchester. And Geordie is the one I most want to smack.

However, the issues that Sidney and Leonard each face are a reflection of the time and setting of the stories. Today, there would be no problem with a minister marrying a divorced person or with public acnowledgement of homosexuality. So I understood their attempts at solutions to be more a reflections of the times rather than as personal flaws.

Having said all that, I think that if we had dealt with one crisis at a time, it would have felt less like being swatted with a bat.

Still I hope Grantchester comes back, and if without James Norton so be it.
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