As the second season draws near the close, I find myself unexpectedly and unfortunately invested in “My Life Is Murder” and its prospects for renewal. The season’s given star Lucy Lawless a surprisingly good character arc, including in this episode, and she and Ebony Vagulans have become an excellent detecting duo.
And if the season finale delivers on some more of the promises this episode makes regarding the still unspoken relationship developments… another season would be quite welcome.
Most of this episode, not just the excellent little character moments, is quite good. It’s Lawless investigating with purpose, trying to clear a murder suspect (Haanz Faavae Jackson) as a favor for her favorite copper, Rawiri Jobe. Jobe is Jackson’s mentor. Jackson’s a Maori kid, and there’s so much racism bubbling under the surface in the episode there are times you expect someone to get slapped.
Well, not just “someone,” but very specifically Morgana O’Reilly, the victim’s fiancée, who can’t keep her racism quiet even around not-white Vagulans. O’Reilly’s great in an actually repugnant performance.
So then Lawless is invested for Jobe’s sake, and Vagulans gets interested because she sees similarities in her story and Jackson’s. Jackson and Vagulans are good together in the subplot, even if it gets cringe-y at the end, not because of the actors or even the plotting, but the show’s got some respectability politics to play.
Anyway, the case involves adventure tourism, so many stunning New Zealand locations, and the episode even does the old trick of opening on a cliffhanger for Lawless and then catching up to it. Very retro, very well-done.
The entire guest cast is excellent—Matt Whelan as the victim’s brother, Scotty Cotter as Jackson’s coworker, and then especially Madeleine Sami as Whelan’s wife. Sami acts the hell out of her first scene, and it seems like a one-off, just flexing in a procedural questioning scene; she comes back later and is even better than before. Same with Whelan. Lots of nice layering to the performances in this episode.
Especially for the main cast. Some exquisite—not a word I ever thought I’d be using for “Murder”—moments for the main cast.
I really hope they do a third season. With the caveat it needs to build off what they’ve done with this season. It’s an impressive amount of character development for a “lighter” procedural. Lawless deserves the bulk of the credit, but Vagulans and Jobe have also done some superb work.