Grantchester 3.01: Episode Review

You might recall that the former archdeacon in Grantchester left under a cloud of “embarrassment” last season. That’s the politest way to describe what occurred. Suffice it to say no one misses him, and his departure means that, this season, Sidney Chambers (James Norton) has a new boss. 

Gabriel Atubo (Gary Beadle, whom you might recognize from EastEnders, The Interceptor, or possibly even Absolutely Fabulous) is the new archdeacon in town. It’s hard to know what’s on his agenda, but it’s a safe bet that he’ll present a new set of problems for Sidney. To start, he pointedly “hopes” he can count on Sidney to lead by example. That’s tough for Sidney when there’s jazz, whiskey, swing dancing, Amanda (Morven Christie), and all the temptations of secular life that make it inconvenient to be a vicar.

Even more discouraging, Atubo seems ready to make life uncomfortable for gentle, good-hearted curate Leonard Finch (Al Weaver), and that would be intolerable. As the list of characters behaving badly grows with each episode, Leonard remains the beacon of decency in Grantchester. What he needs is a shot of self-confidence, not a judgmental superior watching his every move. (Back off, Gabriel.)

Regarding “The Situation” that caused such consternation in the previous episode: she’s now a cuddly, baby girl named Grace, Amanda’s child with her estranged husband. And though Sidney and Amanda are edging toward playing Happy Families, circumstances make a full-fledged relationship impossible. 

“You can’t be a vicar and be with her,” says Mrs. Maguire (Tessa Peake-Jones). “You can’t marry a divorced woman and that’s the truth of it.”

A potentially difficult new boss and a thwarted romance with Amanda might be Sidney’s overriding problems, but they’re not his only ones. Someone’s menacing our vicar. They’ve broken into the vicarage and left a dead crow on Sidney’s desk. They’re threatening him over the phone. And there’s something else…

A dead body in a church.

Poisoned with sacramental wine? Nope.

Bludgeoned with a candlestick? Nope.

Hacked to death on the altar? Nope.

This fellow drowned.

“How does a man drown in the middle of a church?” asks Inspector Geordie Keating (Robson Green). 

It’s a fine question. Time for the inspector to do some inspecting and find the answer—with Sidney by his side, of course.

The dead man is Dr. Terence Atwell, who runs the local soup kitchen. He’s also the head of Dapple Oak, a care home for the “feeble-minded.” A medical man who’s a veritable pillar of the community. Who’d want to harm him? Plenty of people, as we're not surprised to discover. In fact, evidence indicates the killer has a hit list—and everyone on it has been sent a dead crow.

Should Sidney be worried? 

“Birds die so beautifully, don’t they? Your night is coming, Mr. Chambers,” says an ominous voice on the phone.

Yep, it seems Sidney should be worried.

Without spoilers, I’ll add that this episode gives viewers a few things to worry about too. For a tiny parish, Grantchester has more than its share of dark secrets and local folk up to no good. As ever, you can’t take anything at face value. The good guys might not be as good as they seem. The baddies might not be as bad. Even Guy Hopkins (Tom Austen), Amanda’s abusive husband turns uncharacteristically tender when he meets Grace for the first time.

Should Sidney be worried? Yep, it seems Sidney should be worried.

See also: Grantchester 3.00: Christmas Special 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.


  1. Terrie Farley Moran

    Boy you nailed it. This episode was so loaded with things to worry about that I had trouble going to sleep after I saw it.

  2. Flo

    Nice review and spot on. I was really, really disappointed in the last scene with Geordie. I guess it mirrors real-life temptations and character flaws, but I had been thinking he was a better man. I really enjoyed the first season when it was more about the great relationship between Sidney and Geordie and solving crime. The show has taken a dark turn in many ways; I can’t say that I enjoyed the episode. I hope they don’t do Leonard that way.

  3. Leslie Gilbert Elman

    Leonard is the only character I like. I’m starting to feel protective of him!

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