Nothing says cozy English country village quite like a cricket match on a summer afternoon. Men in white flannels cavorting on the green pitch. Women arranging cakes and sandwiches at the buffet. An adorable pup scampering about.
That’s how we begin this episode of Grantchester. Sidney Chambers (James Norton) has traded his usual vicar’s black for cricket whites. Dickens the pup is up to mischief on the sidelines. Amanda (Morven Christie) and Mrs. Maguire (Tessa Peake-Jones) are looking fresh as the morning. Even the curate Leonard Finch (Al Weaver) is pitching in as the umpire. “He’s very assertive,” gushes Hilary Franklin (Emily Bevan), who took a shine to Leonard in the previous episode. (She might have set her cap for the wrong fellow, but we’ll see how that plays out.)
It all just perfect … too perfect to be real. Indeed, scratch the surface of this slice of English summer day, and you’ll find it’s not as idyllic as it appears.
Inspector Geordie Keating (Robson Green) is looking spiffy in white as well, but his thoughts are not on the match. Was it his family cheering section that distracted him? Or was it the lovely Margaret Ward (Seline Hizli), who’s now his paramour? (Aside to Grantchester fans: What are your thoughts on this plot line?)
Metaphorical clouds are gathering on the horizon—catty remarks at the buffet, overt racism on the cricket pitch. What should have been a lovely afternoon is about to be spoiled. And we haven’t even mentioned the tainted beer! Half a pint after the match, everyone in the village is sick—even Dickens. There are traces of arsenic in the beer dregs. Could someone have tampered with the beer barrel?
“Who’d want to do that? Beer. Cricket. It’s an attack on our way of life!” exclaims lawyer Geoff Towler (Peter Davison, better known as the Fifth Doctor or, if you prefer, Albert Campion). Towler might be right, but his indignation doesn’t disguise the fact that he’s not the upstanding chap he pretends to be. He has a dodgy deal going with the brewery to get his bitter on the cheap. He’s also an unabashed snob. Then, as if we needed further evidence of his reprehensible nature, he gives Geordie a not-so-secret Masonic handshake. As if that will earn him any favors! No-nonsense copper Geordie is staunchly anti-Freemason. Now he’s also anti-Towler.
Nevertheless, the “obvious” suspects for fiddling with the beer are the Ali brothers, Munir and Zafar. They’re outsiders who haven’t been welcomed into the community with loving kindness. (We just saw a cricket ball bowled at Zafar’s head.) They’re “foreign” and, what’s worse, they don’t drink beer! What could be more incriminating?
Fortunately, Sidney and Geordie know better. The Ali brothers from Karachi are perfectly nice guys. Manir, the serious one, is in England studying for a job in the Pakistani civil service. And Zafar, the happy-go-lucky one, well…
While the rest of the village was nursing wicked hangovers and regurgitating lunch, Zafar was complaining of a sore throat and his body was covered in bruises. Then, a few hours after the tainted beer was discovered, Zafar is dead.
Could Geoff’s daughter Annie Towler (Ciara Charteris, who you’ll see again soon in Endeavour) know something about Zafar’s death? They were in love, planning to marry, seeing each other on the sly. That certainly sounds like a recipe for disaster. (Ahem, Sidney and Amanda.)
Nope, this summer day in an English country village is definitely not as idyllic as it appears.
Meanwhile, new archdeacon Gabriel Atumbo (Gary Beadle) remains displeased about the Sidney and Amanda situation. He was never much of a cricket man, he tells Sidney. Soccer was his game. He played goalie. “I tried not to let anything get past me,” he cautions. Yet rather than confront the situation outright, Atumbo sends Leonard to warn Amanda off Sidney. Awkward!
“Does everyone know?” Amanda asks. Yes, dear, everyone knows. It’s not as if she and Sidney have done much to keep their flirtation a secret.
One way or another, Archdeacon Atumbo is not going to let Sidney off the hook about Amanda. And really, should he?
Then we have the question of whether Sidney will let Geordie off the hook about Margaret. And really, should he? (Not that Sidney’s in a position to pass judgment.)
Mr. Pot, meet Mr. Kettle. Now, the two of you go solve this crime. We can’t let murder spoil this lovely summer day.
See also: Grantchester 3.01: 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.