Even if the subplot of this episode weren’t Nathan Page deciding he can’t remain friendly (friendly plus) with Essie Davis given her dangerous lifestyle and isn’t going to ask her to knock it off because Page’s non-sexism is one of the most winning parts of his personality… it’d still be a very depressing episode.
The episode opens with a woman (Annie Stanford) speeding in her motor car and crashing due to sabotage (my wife pointed out it’s like watching Cruella de Vil drive) and we then find out she’s a race car driver for the Adventurers’ Club Davis funds (for like-minded women). Stanford and mechanic Rachael Blake were going to race in a local tournament, run by proudly sexist pig David Roberts, who’s not just going to try to keep women out of racing, he’s running for office on the platform of not letting women drive at all.
So while there’s that gem at the top of the organization, there are also the other male racers—Rohan Browne, the victim’s brother, seems okay but gets more and more suspicious as things progress—and there’s creep ex-lover of the victim Shaun Goss, who starts and stays suspicious. Great scene with Davis facing off with Goss during her investigation.
Tammy Macintosh shows up to help Davis with the investigation and, for that moment, it feels like the Dr. Watson Davis never needs (but may if Page is really breaking their working relationship—and is willing to take the hit to his professional fulfillment). There’s also some fantastic stuff for Ashleigh Cummings, who doesn’t just assume a more direct role in private investigating, she also has to get over her fear of driving.
However, beau Hugo Johnstone-Burt doesn’t want her to get over that fear and is positively threatened by all these women—Davis, Blake, but particularly Blake’s teenage daughter, Nikita Leigh-Pritchard)—knowing more about cars than him. Unfortunate but great characterization.
The resolution is complicated and tragic, the investigation to get there is quite good… it’s a very heavy episode with all the patriarchy and weaponized misogyny in play. And the Page subplot, which simmers throughout, positively scalds in the epilogue. Great performances from Davis and, in particular, Page on it.
It’s one heck of a soft cliffhanger.
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