After the lackluster previous episode, the show’s back on track with this one, which almost showcases what material “Miss Fisher’s” works best with.
For instance, there’s not time for the whole supporting cast. Nathan Page doesn’t get a whole bunch to do this episode, but he gets to do all of it with Essie Davis. The Jack and Phyrne banter—which gets soulful here—is a must.
There’s also no B plot. There’s a C plot—which, yes, technically would then just be the B plot but no—involving Anthony J. Sharpe getting engaged and partner Travis McMahon basically throwing a fit and trying to push him out of the business because no girls. Ashleigh Cummings figures into it as well—Davis puts Cummings in charge of a lot of the investigation logistics this episode—and it’s got a rather nice resolve.
The main mystery needs to have some heart, something for Davis to connect with. Here, it’s the death of Jewish guy in a bookshop (private lending library type of bookshop), which leads to Davis discovering how her own gender presumptions are dangerous, how love doesn’t conquer all, and a bunch about pre-Israel Zionism could splinter families. Not to say “Miss Fisher’s” needs some engaging history to click but actively avoiding engaging with the history clearly doesn’t work (see last episode).
There’s also a great action sequence where Davis, retained to prove the bookshop owner’s innocence—after Davis was the one who basically got suspect Kat Stewart arrested in the first place—is snooping around the closed bookshop and runs into a fellow prowler, which leads to a chase scene complete with throwing knives and gunfights. Excellent stuff.
Most of Davis’s investigation involves Phyrne Fellow #2 Tim Draxl. He’s the secretly Zionist son of definitely non-Zionist Brian Lipson, who hires Davis to prove Stewart’s innocence. Lots of chemistry for Draxl and Davis, also lots of exposition as the case leads to the mystical with the Kabbalah. But also to science, which brings Dr. Mac (Tammy Macintosh) back for a welcome return.
There are a bunch of great one-liners for Davis and a couple excellent reveals in the wrap-up. The science mystery is cool (both as a surprise and in terms of historical accuracy) and the villain, while not unpredictable, is great.
And it ends with just the right moment for Davis and Page.
It’s an excellent episode.