Something’s obviously going on when this season finale’s murder mystery is about halfway through the episode. The mystery’s sequel to a previous episode this season; a copycat killing has happened, only Robson Green didn’t give out some of the details, so it can’t be a copycat. The plotting is trope-y but not the details. There’s still some real personality to it.
There’s also a Christian fundamentalist psycho killer (run, run, run away) on a show about a vicarage. It works better than the last time the show dealt with problematic godliness (a homophobic Black curate from a British colony). It’s also exceptionally terrifying because there’s one of the Grantchester flock out to off the unsuspecting vicar. I don’t think. Considering Tom Brittney’s once again a failed Grantchester vicar this episode—he gets blotto, smokes cigarettes, but doesn’t listen to jazz because he knows he can’t handle that life—it’s nice he gets to do something for the first time in the series.
While the entire second half of the episode, which includes a fast-forward epilogue, is about closing “Grantchester” down enough if it doesn’t get another season, there are also some shoehorned-in threads while the murder mystery’s still happening. Tessa Peake-Jones gets her season-long cancer plot resolved, with, unfortunately, some very middling writing for her. The show skipped important parts of her story since the last time she got a subplot, and they don’t make up for it here. It’s the season finale, and it’s outstanding business, so let’s get it resolved, however abruptly.
It’s a particular bummer for Peake-Jones and Al Weaver’s relationship, one of the season’s early focuses. During this episode’s first act, he’s oddly disconnected from her plot, which makes sense pragmatically—he’s got an entirely new subplot this episode to finish off his season and, potentially, his character—but not in terms of narrative.
Weaver’s new plot is caring for the unhoused people in town, an arc he kind of started a few episodes ago, but they never did anything with until now. Thanks to Weaver, an amusingly overwhelmed Oliver Dimsdale, and a lovely Nick Brimble, it works out okay, but it’s still a rush job.
Green’s got the truncated mystery plot, little bit of action, little bit of family comedy. It’s not a lot (though he gets some good material in the epilogue), especially if it ends up being the last episode.
Brittney’s non-murder mystery-related plot involves apologizing to Charlotte Ritchie for being a shitty suitor as she prepares to leave forever. Ritchie gets a couple adorable scenes with son Isaac Highams, who’s appropriately wiser than the adults when needed. Ritchie has a good half episode, though the resolution’s a little contrived before the epilogue.
The epilogue does bring back Brittney’s family, who went unmentioned this season even though last season had set step-sister Emily Patrick as some kind of recurring character. Maybe they just couldn’t get the whole supporting cast together because of Covid-19.
It’s a nice finish to the season, with some very sturdy acting from Green throughout. Thanks to Christian serial killers and fast-forward epilogues, Brittney gets an easier character development arc than the last episode implied. Still, he’s definitely come into his own as a new kind of Grantchester vicar.
Especially if they get another season. It’ll be too bad if they don’t, but it’s also a very nice conclusion and setup. No playing chicken here.
Oh, and besides an actual “Sidney” name-drop at one point, there’s also a lovely, old school Grantchester river montage (to help the fast forward along). It’s a very “Grantchester” finish.