Depending on the setting, there are certain predictable reactions from Miss Fisher (Essie Davis) as well as from “Miss Fisher,” the show; for instance, this episode takes place at a medical university—where Dr. Mac (Tammy Macintosh) teaches—and involves the rich male students (and the male teachers) harassing an exceptional female student, Andrea Demetriades. So it’s going to be a bit of a downer because 1920s, privilege, institutionalized sexism and so on.
Except not so much here, because Demetriades’s character is able to surmount the obstacles. Yes, she and Davis have to convince Nathan Page Demetriades isn’t seeing conspiracies in the shadows—or, rather, is seeing conspiracies in the shadows—but Page’s only slow to get onboard because he’s still working out his feelings about working with Davis.
Davis, for her part, is more than happy to drag and push Page towards the obvious conclusion—he’s never going to have a better partner.
We also get to see the sexism Macintosh has to endure professionally, whether it’s discreet and from a supportive colleague (Lewis Fitz-Gerald) or weaponized from a prick colleague (Nicholas Hope). Not to mention the blue blood students get to harass female student and teacher alike without fear of repercussion. William Ewing’s great as one such odious little shit.
The murder involves not just the dead body, but also missing manuscripts and skulls—which gives Davis a great Hamlet reference at one point—and secret agents, which turns into a subplot for Page to work through mostly on his own.
The resolution is a little rushed—the murderer’s motive doesn’t get the four minutes it needs in the first act to resonate later, but it’s understandable because it’d make not just the murderer reprehensible, it’d make most of the rest of the supporting cast complicit in some very bad thoughts.
But thanks to Demetriades, who’s excellent as well as an excellent Phryne protege (Ashleigh Cummings doesn’t get anywhere near as much to do as usual but she’s great with Demetriades, who ends up staying at Davis’s house for a bit), and the intentionally paced Page and Davis subplot, it’s delightful. Eventually.