Grantchester (2014) s06e01

It’s summertime in “Grantchester,” and still newish vicar Tom Brittney is fully invested in his work but worried he’s missing something. He apparently gripes about it so much, curate and friend Al Weaver suggests they go on vacation. It then turns into the entire “Grantchester” cast at a fifties holiday camp. They even bring along all of Robson Green and Kacey Ainsworth’s kids, though all but Skye Lucia Degruttola disappear after a while only to return for the leaving camp sequence. For a while, it seems like bored teen Degruttola’s going to get an arc of her own—she and Weaver bond over preferring reading to hula hoop contests (you know, for kids)—and then she mad crushes on a rock ’n roller in the camp band. But she doesn’t. Because even though there’s time for adorable stuff for all the couples, Brittney’s flying solo, and he’s ready for a murder to solve.

Luckily, someone drops dead on their first night, and pretty soon, Brittney’s convinced Green they need to look into it. Mostly because local cop Sam Phillips’s a lightweight and because Green’s run out of camp things he enjoys the first night. Like drinking beer. Ainsworth occasionally shows up to get Green for date nights and the matinees, so it’s good the investigation doesn’t require the boys’ full attention. Especially since everyone in camp is trying to set Brittney up with camp staffer Jordan Alexandra. Including initially friendly staffer Michael Abubakar and camp co-owner (well, her husband owns it, but it was her father’s, but women can’t own stuff, you know) Annette McLaughlin. Not to mention all of Brittney’s friends.

He’s reluctant, however. And possibly for good reason, because once Green and Brittney start digging into the death, they discover everyone at the camp—staff and even guests—have some big secrets. Some people know some of the secrets, while others know all of the secrets, and it’s right up until the last minute before they figure out how the overlap works. It’s during a very welcome sequence for Alexandra, who has an unexpected dream entertainment career. It figures in beautifully to the not subtle, “wow, the fifties were a shit time to be a woman” commentary. Everyone gets a little bit of it—though maybe not Ainsworth, other than Degruttola’s mortified embarrassment–including Tessa Peake-Jones, McLaughlin, and principal fellow guest guest star Rachael Stirling. Stirling and McLaughlin both have bores and boars for husbands, while Peake-Jones deals with shitty Southerners.

Even with the spotlight on misogyny, the first half of the episode’s pretty fun. It’s a vacation, after all. Peake-Jones and husband Nick Brimble aren’t just adorable; she’s also not bigot-y towards Weaver and Oliver Dimsdale, so they get to nearly be a couple in public for once. Amongst good friends.

The second half gets a lot less fun, with Weaver unintentionally getting into an awkward situation followed by a perilous one. It’s a particularly affecting arc, thanks to Weaver’s performance as he’s further and further boxed in.

The mystery solution’s not a big surprise, but it’s got a bunch of good acting around it, and the episode manages to find a mostly happy balance for the close. Right up until the hard cliffhanger for what seems to be the season arc.

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