On the one hand, the previous episode spent a lot of time reuniting Lucy Lawless and sidekick Ebony Vagulans to break them up here; this episode, Vagulans has hurt her leg while at a water park trying to stay cool because Lawless won’t get an air conditioner. So Vauglans is in the apartment for all her scenes, including a great one with copper Rawiri Jobe, while Lawless is out investigating the possible murder of a surfer.
And, so, on the other hand, the show all of a sudden does some actual character development on Lawless. We get a somewhat non-sequitur backstory anecdote, but they’re able to get a bunch of material from it. Reasoning behind Lawless’s behavior. She’s not eccentric, short-tempered, or rude; she’s traumatized. Obviously, the show’s constantly reminding Lawless is a widow, but it doesn’t really establish her being any different when she wasn’t one.
Of course, the change in scenery has a bunch to do with it. The backstory is particular to the case—turns out Lawless’s Aussie ex-copper is actually a dual citizen who spent at least summers in Auckland in her youth. She gets defensive about it when talking to Jobe. Lawless is actually a New Zealand native and is one of the show’s executive producers, so maybe she wanted to showcase home. And “My Life is Murder” is a definite showcase of New Zealand. It’s unbelievably beautiful and rather cool-looking in terms of architecture. I hope the film commission kicks the show some bucks or tax breaks for the commercial.
Though, what with the gorgeous scenery, the bread-baking, and the endless stream of hot dudes, “My Life is Murder” is kind of like Lawless’s “Eat, Pray, Love.” Plus, the added frustration of mentoring Vauglans.
The mystery this time is dead surfer Connor Johnston, who leaves behind a pregnant girlfriend—social influencer Courtenay Louise, who’s perfectly obnoxious in the part. Jobe’s able to prey on Lawless’s widow sympathy to get her on the case (Lawless doesn’t like the beach), only for Lawless to discover Louise isn’t exactly grieving. She’s too busy preparing her brand for the memorial service, barking orders at suffering kid sister Molly Leishman and making eyes at George Mason. Mason, the lifeguard who didn’t save drowning Johnston, is also a rival suffer who Johnston beat the year before in the nationals or whatever. Oh, and he and Louise used to be hot and heavy. So Lawless has a bunch to unravel to get to the eventually somewhat geeky solution.
The beginning is pretty pat and cheesy as far as genial murder mystery shows go, but it definitely picks up throughout thanks to Lawless and the other actors.