This episode lacks the spark of the previous ones; it’s still solid and well-acted—even by the less sparkly supporting characters—and has nearly all the supporting favorites back (meaning aunt Miriam Margolyes and Essie Davis’s ward, Ruby Rees), but the main plot is a bit of a shrug.
Also—the main plot and the subplot only intersect at the beginning, they’re otherwise unconnected, which might have something to do with it. Or maybe Shelley Birse’s teleplay isn’t the best or
Tony Tilse’s direction. Maybe it’s the combination.
Or maybe it’s how police detective Nathan Page is barely in the episode and most of his scenes are just giving constable Hugo Johnstone-Burt a “right on” even though everyone knows Johnstone-Burt’s success is because of Essie Davis.
The subplot also has a very dark resolve without really offering any bright spot—avoiding it, in fact. The show concentrates on the salacious instead of the human. It doesn’t fit Davis’s character, who’s all about helping the humans.
The main plot has an anarchist dying in Davis’s arms, apparently the victim of some guards at a dock riot. Only Davis knows it’s not related to the dock-workers and finds herself in a bunch of intrigue involving Latvian anarchists. One of them, Jack Finsterer, gets to be Bond Girl #2 this episode (though there isn’t a #1 and Page isn’t around enough to fit his chaste #3 slot). Also, I’m thinking they either need to be called Fisher Boys or Phryne Lads. I haven’t decided yet.
If the episode were better, Finsterer would be fine.
Also the episode opportunistically endangers Ashleigh Cummings, which isn’t cool.
There’s a lot of good stuff still. Johnstone-Burt and Cummings are adorable, Rees is a hoot, Margolyes is delightful, and Davis does get in some nice character development.
Nothing stands out about the subplot—involving missing teenage girl Isabella Clark—other than the indifferent to Clark resolution and the very amusing scenes with Davis facing off with a convent’s Reverend Mother, Penne Hackforth-Jones.
It’s like the B plot should’ve been the A plot and Page should’ve been around. The episode’s got all the right ingredients but the wrong recipe.