Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (2012) s01e12 – Murder in the Dark

It’s truly amazing what they’re able to get away with this episode in terms of red herrings, shoehorned subplots, shock tactics, exploitative tension, and so on. Director Daina Reid and writer Ysabelle Dean put everyone through the ringer—with a couple really obvious questions left open at the end—and grinds them flat.

The main plot itself is a bait and switch, starting with a murder at Miriam Margolyes’s estate. She’s lead Essie Davis’s aunt; Davis and sidekick Ashleigh Cummings are packing to go to a party at Margolyes’s—a costumed engagement party for Margoyles’s son, Felix Williamson—when Davis gets a call from her. Their planned lunch is off, but come anyway, there’s been a murder.

Davis calls the cops, who arrive just after she gets there and we’ve met Williamson, who isn’t exactly suspicious but isn’t exactly not. Then we meet his fiancée, Kate Jenkinson, who’s performatively risqué enough to shock Hugo Johnstone-Burt but not Nathan Page (who’s preoccupied with his divorce proceedings, information he only shares reluctantly and never, I don’t think, with Davis)—before getting to victim’s father, Ken Radley. Radley goes from being grieving parent to number one suspect rather quickly, with the episode taking a break to introduce John Lloyd Fillingham as Margolyes’s other son, who’s developmentally disabled.

Except we’ve already met Fillingham… he discovered the body and Margolyes covered it up.

Throw in a subplot about Davis bringing her household over to save the engagement party, complete with hash fudge, Margoyles flipping out over the communist cab drivers, and Ruby Rees discovering—by fault of the same name—Fillingham’s still traumatized over Davis’s sister’s disappearance years before.

Now, the episode’s so effective, it’s able to get over them seemingly contradicting the information we got about the sister’s disappearance last episode. Fillingham wasn’t just there as a kid, he also says the man who took the sister is back and he killed the victim.

Distracted Page chalks it up to Fillingham’s impairment while Davis starts freaking out thinking Nicholas Bell is after her family… while Cummings and Johnstone-Burt actually do the work and save the day.

If only they were a few moments sooner….

It’s a phenomenally paced episode. The last ten minutes increase the tension second-to-second. You just want the episode to end, even on a dreadful resolution or enraging cliffhanger, but to just stop and give you a break. It’s great.

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