Our hero, Canon Sidney Chambers (James Norton) begins this episode by rescuing a woman from a burning building. He does this in his pajamas, thanks to Dickens, his faithful puppy sidekick, waking Sidney from a sound sleep by barking an alarm. All in a day’s work for Clergy-man.
Soon after, while Sidney delivers a sermon about being thankful for blessings large and small, who should saunter in but Hildegard Staunton (Pheline Roggan), the German widow from Episode 1. She’s wearing a fetching expression not quite appropriate for Sunday morning at church, and Sidney suddenly finds he has more to be thankful for.
Then it’s back to the scene of the fire, whose origin is a bit sketchy. The homeowners, Dominic and Marion Taylor, claim it was started by “ashes in the grate.” Sidney suspects there’s more to it than that, and Inspector Geordie Keating (Robson Green) concurs. How much more, they can’t begin to imagine. And, frankly, neither can we.
Marion is obviously miserable. She’s planning to move back to London with Dominic and the kids.
Never liked that house, she says.
It’s for the best, she says.
All right, we say, but you’re hiding something and we’re going to find out what it is. (Dominic’s basically told us as much.)
Then, about 13 minutes into the episode, Dominic’s dead body is recovered. Grudges are revealed. Secrets are divulged. A blackmail plot is exposed. Lives are irreparably damaged.
It’s all a bit much for a sleepy little parish town.
I think we’ve officially reached the point where Grantchester, the TV series, is merely “based on” the Grantchester stories by James Runcie. The teleplays by Daisy Coulam are finding their own direction, fleshing out the characters and focusing more on their personal dramas and dilemmas.
Sidney still hasn’t come to terms with whatever plagues him about his war service. It continues to haunt his dreams, and sometimes his waking thoughts. He seems, however, to be past both his bout with binge drinking and his heartache over losing Amanda. His attention has turned to Hildegard.
Hildegard (who seems awfully dour to me, but that’s just one person’s opinion) is here from Germany to sell her old house and because, she tells Sidney, he promised her “a boat trip on the Cam.” Whether she’ll stay is another question.
Amanda (Morven Christie), who’s become a faithful parishioner ever since breaking Sidney’s heart and then asking him to officiate at her wedding, can’t hide her jealousy over Hildegard. Maybe Sidney ought to consider a sermon on Galatians 6:7, the one about sowing and reaping, just for her.
Geordie, meanwhile, is facing a crisis at home, where his infant son might succumb to whooping cough—and he’s not facing it all that well. In fact, Geordie is full of disappointments in this episode. Without giving too much away, I found his betrayal of Sidney’s trust difficult to accept. He (and Robson Green) deserve better.
The character of Leonard the curate (Al Weaver), on the other hand, brings a welcome infusion of soulfulness. He provides the tenderness and empathy that Sidney sometimes lacks.
Even Mrs. Maguire (Tessa Peake-Jones) has her moments of humanity in this episode. “Between the whiskey, and the jazz, and the jumping into fires, someone has to take care of you,” she tells Sidney. Now, I wonder: Will she have to battle Hildegard for the job?
Leslie Gilbert Elmanis the author of Weird But True: 200 Astounding, Outrageous, and Totally Off the Wall Facts. Follow her on Twitter @leslieelman.
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