There’s a lot going on this episode for star Essie Davis even though it’s not entirely clear to the audience until much later in the episode. Just before the mystery resolve, actually. This murder case has hit close to home for Davis, who’s on the scene when it happens—she’s meeting old friend Toby Schmitz at a nightclub to discuss buying his plane—the promise of Miss Fisher with an airplane is an early delight in the episode. Davis gets distracted with the band leader, though notices Schmitz getting into an argument with Stephen Whittaker… minutes later, Whittaker drops dead in the middle of the dance floor and Schmitz hightails it.
Coppers Nathan Page and Hugo Johnstone-Burt arrive and declare Schmitz suspect number one. Lamming it being suspicious and all.
Schmitz’s mother, Wendy Hughes, hires Davis to look into matters, apparently not expecting Davis to discover Whittaker was a successful blackmailer. He wasn’t just blackmailing Schmitz and club singer Deni Hines, but also Hughes. Everyone has their secrets, everyone has a reason to kill Whittaker. Davis has to unravel them all and figure it out while contending with the various fallouts from the secrets being revealed.
Page doesn’t make it easy—going so far as to arrest Davis at one point, which leads to the most adorable finish when he’s mooning over her mugshots—and she’s also got to worry about getting she and Page’s sidekicks, Ashleigh Cummings and Johnstone-Burt, respectively, on their way to the police and fire department ball. Johnstone-Burt’s initially too shy, but then he’s worried Cummings is too Catholic. Cummings gets a great prayer at one point on that conflict. It’s very funny when Davis and Page are at odds in the case and still working together to get the young folks’ romance going.
The mystery resolve itself isn’t great… the murderer’s motive is a bit of a shrug after all the drama the episode’s been through, but Davis’s character arc through it is quite good. She’s knew the case meant something but she had no idea how much (and neither did the audience because of where that reveal’s plotted).
Hines is really likable but not particularly good. Simon Lyndon’s a step-down from the usual as Davis’s Bond Girl #2 this episode, both in terms of interest and charm.
There’s also the case of the missing new regular cast member, established last episode, who gets no mention here. Kind of strange.
But it doesn’t really matter because Davis, Page, and crew are still wonderful together, the production design’s still there, and so on. The show can survive a less than thrilling mystery solution, which is always important.