This episode is one of those “for my sins they gave me one” situations. Most of the episode is character work for Lucy Lawless, and it’s really cool for a while, and then it goes to pot. It’s a bummer. It’s also not a particularly good mystery. Malinna Liang’s script has got all the right details and a whole lot of black humor for them. Unfortunately, the mystery has to get unnecessarily complicated to drag out the investigation and red herrings. Worse, even though the postscript’s kind of funny, it’s funny so it doesn’t have to do any character development for Lawless.
I got what I wanted, and they screwed it up.
It’s another suspicious death and widow-bonding episode, only this time there are two widows, and Lawless knows one of them. An actor dies when the prop knife fails to engage the spring, his costar (Greta Gregory) doing the stabbing. Gregory’s not just the costar; she’s also the mistress, so she’s widow number one. Widow number two is Lawless’s childhood New Zealand bestie, Sara Wiseman, who she abandoned when they had to skip out thanks to Lawless’s dad being a conman. Regrettably, Lawless and Wiseman never get past character revelation exposition to character development because they tend to drink and get into trouble while hanging out.
Despite Lawless being a widow literally one of the show cornerstones, it’s never something to be explored.
The death (or murder) happened during a filmed performance—and it’ll turn out the case could’ve been closed earlier if copper Rawiri Jobe had done a better job watching the YouTube—at a cultural fair. So there’s a subplot about Ebony Vagulans bonding with all the artistic types while Lawless rolls her eyes at creative expression. It’s a bunch of busywork to kill runtime, but at least there’s personality to it. Lawless and Vagulan’s investigation—there’s Gregory, the obvious suspect since she actually stabbed the guy, and stagehand and understudy Jordan Mooney. Wiseman’s in the clear because she was out of town. And she didn’t have a motive. Or at least she didn’t know she had a motive.
Lawless and Vagulan go over the case erratically so as never to discover too much because then there wouldn’t be an episode. Or if Jobe had just asked two more questions during the initial investigation.
It’s an unfortunate outing. There’s some mildly amusing not-flirting flirting with Lawless and Jobe at the beginning, but, just like almost everything else, it goes nowhere. Kind of like the play being an elaborate feminist critique of Little Red Riding Hood; the whole episode feigns being interesting but never delivers anything of substance.