So this episode takes everything I said—based on the last two—was needed to make a great “Miss Fisher’s.” Turns out I’m completely wrong, because Murder in Montparnasse doesn’t just break (most) of my rules, it breaks my bigger, obvious rules for melodramatic plotting. It ties together two seemingly disparate subplots and does it as a plot twist. The episode keeps necessary information from the viewer; it’s not so much a trick, but definitely… in the cheaper aisle as far as narrative devices go.
This episode opens with one of communist cabbie and Fisher Crew member Travis McMahon’s friend getting intentionally run over. Cop Nathan Page doesn’t take it particularly seriously, leading McMahon to “hiring” Essie Davis to look into it. The investigation involves a bookie, Hector Chambers, who welshed on a bet to McMahon and his friend; he’s got an alibi—involving his car being stolen—and Page can’t quite believe he’d set up a hit using his own car.
Once there are shootouts in the streets, however… it gets Page’s attention, leading to a sting operation where he has to make a big sacrifice to protect everyone involved. Mostly Davis. Great stuff.
But the investigation isn’t even the biggest plot of the episode; it’s more about Davis’s old friend from post-WWI Paris, Linda Cropper, coming to visit. Cropper was married to a painter, who’d used Davis as a model—and tragically died—and so there’s a lot of history between the two.
When someone breaks in and steals one of the paintings (Stately Fisher Manor needs better locks, really does), Davis has to deal with the present day intrigue as the episode throws in flashbacks revealing more of the history. And revelations about ex-lover Peter O'Brien.
There’s a lot of humor—in the first half of the episode more—like when Davis teases constable Hugo Johnstone-Burt about his die-cast toy cars. And then Davis’s sidekick, Ashleigh Cummings, and butler, Richard Bligh, have a nice subplot about Cummings dealing with her disapproving Catholic priest (beau Johnstone-Burt is a Protestant, after all).
So the episode does history, it does Davis having a major tie to the mystery, it does lots of cast and it all works out beautifully. It’s a character development episode for Davis, with some big moves for Page too.