Half this episode may be setting up for a regular villain—at least semi-regular villain—arc for the rest of the season. “Grantchester” doesn’t do Moriarties. Or, if they do, I’ve forgotten all of them. But the potential return nemesis isn’t important—not even to Robson Green, who has to sort of shrug it off—because it’s Al Weaver’s trial for gross indecency. The episode, written by show creator Daisy Coulam, with Jermain Julien directing, does a lovely job. It’s absolutely devastating stuff, but it’s also lovely to see how Weaver’s gotten to fully realize this character and his growth.
Especially since there are finally scenes for Tessa Peake-Jones to have the hard conversations she’s been avoiding for seasons on end. The episode starts with Kacey Ainsworth having organized several other progressive people (all women) to support Weaver. She’s trying to get Peake-Jones to come along but doesn’t have much success. Worse, Peake-Jones is against husband Nick Brimble standing up to testify for Weaver as a character witness. Brimble doesn’t get a lot of heavy lifting to do on “Grantchester” and doesn’t here either, but he does a splendid job with what he gets, and it carries through the entire episode. There are great arcs for everyone—except Green, who’s got a weird confidence in the legal system to be empathetic to gay people.
But it’s Weaver, Peake-Jones, and Tom Brittney’s episode. They’ve got to navigate through time period constraints and overcoming personal prejudices constraints and just plain shitty realities constraints. At moments it’s nearly aspirational. Weaver has some particularly accomplished scenes, though there’s the caveat the scenes witness him experiencing trauma. It’s all either heartbreaking or rending. And it’s done superbly well.
Julien goes all out on directing the mystery plot, which has Green and Brittney trying to figure out what’s up with a hinky bank robbery. The guy—Tyger Drew-Honey—seems off, so does the guy who gets robbed (Phill Langhorne). Thrown into the mix of the day is Green’s old Army chum Shaun Dooley showing up to represent someone at the station. Then shitbag copper Bradley Hall toggling from being gleeful at the idea of Weaver’s trial and desperately flirting with actual cool lady Melissa Johns. It’s not even a question of her doing better; it’s a question of her not dating pond scum. Fingers crossed it’s not a future subplot.
The mystery’s fine, but it’s busy work to distract—literally since Green has to do copper stuff and not go sit in support of Weaver—and then it’s all a setup for, presumably, a returning villain. At least it looks great, and Green’s arc is good. Brittney’s just along for the ride, though he does have the “eureka” moment to solve it all. Albeit thanks to Weaver.
It’s a great episode. Weaver’s season arc is anguishing stuff, and they handle it just right.