If this episode of “Miss Fisher’s” doesn’t have the highest body, it definitely feels like it has the highest. People get killed off throughout the runtime—and before it, actually, in flashback. The episode opens with a séance, which is automatically awesome just thinking about Essie Davis going off about séances. It’s almost a surprise she’s participating, but it turns out she’s hosting the medium (Julie Forsyth) at Aunt Prudence’s request. Everyone, including me, is surprised to discover Aunt Prudence (Miriam Margolyes) is into the spiritualist stuff.
Margolyes wants the psychic to help Teague Rook get over his World War I PTSD; Rook is Margoyles’s died in the war godson Billy Smedley’s best friend, who also carried dying Smedley off the field at the Somme. Rook is now married to Kate Atkinson, who’s Smedley’s widow, and even has his valet, John McTernan. Margoyles wants Rook to get an official commendation before he dies; the mustard gas just took a while to finally get him. Except Rook doesn’t think he deserves it. He thinks he shot Smedley, not saved him. But he can’t remember.
Hence psychic Forsyth.
Compared to the war veteran stuff—because even though it doesn’t come up every episode, the main and supporting cast of “Miss Fisher’s” are all veterans. Davis, Nathan Page, Travis McMahon, so almost half the regular cast. And this time there are the guest starring veterans: Rook, Jonny Pasvolsky as Forsyth’s manager, Nicholas Brien as a former stretcher-bearer. The Great War looms over these characters, haunting them all in different ways. It’s very nicely done by writer Ysabelle Dean and director Ken Cameron this episode. Davis’s performance in particular is fantastic.
Because once the first body drops, Davis and Page find themselves having to solve the battlefield mystery and figuring out how it relates to the present day murder and then the second one.
Along the way, Davis has time for her first Phryne Fellow of the season, Pasvolsky, who proves quite soulful once Davis convinces him of the “sanctity of the boudoir.” Good performances this episode from McMahon—who still doesn’t like conscientious objectors, which gets in the way of his investigating on Davis’s behalf—and then Rook. Rook does rather well.
There’s also a good combination of scares and laughs for Ashleigh Cummings, who finds the whole séance business disturbingly un-Catholic, as well as some wonderful scenes with Page and Davis. The show’s very intentionally toying with their chemistry at this point, rather delightfully.