blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (2012) s01e02 – Murder on the Ballarat Train

This episode takes place soon after the first, with communist taxi drivers Travis McMahon and Anthony J. Sharpe not yet full-time in Essie Davis’s employ. Well, they don’t know they’re in her full-time employ yet. They realize it in their second scene, when she gets them a new car and they start hanging out at Stately Fisher Manor. They also break in the new butler, Richard Bligh, who’s got no idea what he’s in for with Davis.

Davis isn’t at home because she’s on a train trip with maid slash sidekick Ashleigh Cummings. They don’t get through the night before some very strange goings on, including a missing passenger—Abbe Holmes.

Thanks to Davis’s prodding—and name-dropping copper Nathan Page whether he likes it or not (spoiler: he does not like it but he quickly appears to change his mind)—they discover Holmes isn’t just a vanishing lady, she’s a murder victim.

And a rich one.

She’s been traveling with daughter Maeve Dermody, who hires Davis to officially investigate, which leads to a lot of fun scenes with Davis and Page. They’re really ratcheting up the flirtation between the pair this episode, with Page turning to Davis for the more difficult aspects of the case—like tween Ruby Rees, who’s been found with the rich lady’s jewels (but isn’t a murder suspect because she doesn’t have the strength to get the body where they find it).

Who does have the requisite strength? Dermody’s cousin, beefcake Dale March, and her fiancé, David Berry. Davis investigates them both—with some excellent chemistry opposite March, both performances and script (courtesy Elizabeth Coleman and Deb Cox).

There’s a great subplot involving mentalist turned criminal Jacek Koman, who manages to be dangerous while buffoonish; it gives sidekick McMahon a fine showcase too.

The solution’s only somewhat unexpected—thanks to another “strong enough” suspect, Mike McLeish, who lost his wife due to Holmes’s bad medical conduct years before—but it’s not the point; Davis and company doing the investigating is the point and it’s a big success in that department. Davis has got some awesome lines throughout, not just for laughs, but also for character development.

The episode ends with another cast regular cast member joining and the slightly surprising implication Page is still married. Just off his behavior, it seems like he’s maybe a widower but… we’ll see.

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