KCET airs a new Season 2 episode of "Inspector George Gently" this Sunday, April 15, at 9 p.m. If you're eager to get to the bottom of this week's whodunit early (or if you need to play catch-up once the end credits start rolling), then this recap is for you. Prepare for spoilers and answers aplenty.
(Need a refresher on the other installments of this detective series? Then check out our previous "Investigating 'Gently'" recaps.)
So who's the unlucky stiff this week?
That would be Audrey Chadwick (Sian Breckin), a bonnie Newcastle lass whose body Gently finds laid out on the altar of a local Catholic Church. She's dressed in her '60s mod best, but she's also suffered a stab wound to the head. Audrey's parents are devastated, of course, because she had been pursuing a promising career as a nurse, but Det. Bacchus knows that Audrey had a less parent-pleasing professional life...
Uh oh. Has Bacchus done something stupid again?
What would an episode of "Inspector George Gently" be without Bacchus's chronic case of stupid serving as a plot point? Bacchus knew Audrey from the Rakes, a gentlemen's establishment that is essentially the Playboy Club with fox ears in place of bunny ears. (Lest we forget, the Playboy Club was more than just a failed NBC series.) Audrey "performed" there as Blaise. Bacchus attended as "John." And while he claims that he didn't go frequently, he's nonetheless warmly greeted by another fox girl, Fawn (Nichola Burley), when he and Gently arrive to ask questions.
How seedy is this Fox Club?
It's not a house of prostitution, strictly speaking. The women, though scantily clad, are paid to entertain customers but not have sex with them. Gently and Bacchus soon meet with the proprietors, Patrick Donovan (Brendan Coyle, now playing Mr. Bates on "Downton Abbey") and his wife, Helen (Clare Calbraith, also of "Downton" fame), who recall that Audrey was a model employee. (A flashback reveals that she picked the name "Blaise" for herself as a nod to the "lady James Bond" comic book character Modesty Blaise, only she dropped any pretense of "Modesty." Ha.) Three weeks previous, however, Audrey quit without any explanation. Suspicious, Gently and Bacchus interview Fawn, who shared a dressing room with Audrey. She only cries when Gently asks her whether Audrey was seeing a man she met at the club.
Is it surprising at all that there'd be a thriving "tease" club in a less-than-metropolitan North England city such as Newcastle? And back in 1964, no less?
Maybe. At least how "Gently" portrays the town, Newcastle seems small. Certain locals are so displeased with the presence of Rakes that they've taken to Sunday evening protests. As Gently and Bacchus leave, the crowd of Bible-thumpers chant "shame." One particularly vocal woman, Margaret Bishop (Tracey Wilkinson), even asks Gently, "Where is your wife?") He doesn't respond, the missus being dead and all. Mrs. Bishop claims that Audrey's death would be an example of God taking "a life for a life" because Audrey had had an abortion before her death. Mrs. Bishop has clearly been keeping an eye on a back-alley doctor's clinic specializing in services for girls "in need."
Did Bacchus really have something on the side with Fawn?
Yes. We soon learn that it was more than a "professional" relationship: He also had sex with her. Gently is incensed by this, Bacchus being married and all. However, it's apparently not enough to pull Bacchus from the case. Fawn, meanwhile, is hurt that he never told her that he was married or that he was a cop. Shortly after Bacchus tries to speak with her, she worriedly packs a bag and hightails it out of town.
When Gently and Bacchus are visiting Audrey's apartment, why does Audrey's landlady exclaim, "She was married?!"
When Gently and Bacchus visit Audrey's apartment, they find birth control packaging discarded in her wastebasket, prompting the landlady to say that she didn't think Audrey was married. As Gently explains moments later, back in the England of 1964, it was illegal to prescribe birth control an unmarried woman. And while that's a telling clue about the era of this show's setting, it's even more interesting to the plot at hand that the detectives find in the same wastebasket a prayer card dedicated to Audrey... and the child she aborted. A check of fingerprints on the card matches those on the anti-sex club leaflet that Mrs. Bishop handed to Gently.
Why did Audrey have an abortion? And did anyone else know her motivation?
As Bacchus finds when he shows up at the clinic of the doctor performing these procedures, Audrey had been raped. In fact, the doctor mentions rape as one of the circumstances that make abortions necessary -- even ethical. Very few people knew about Audrey's procedure, only Fawn (to whom Audrey told everything) and Mrs. Bishop (who was protesting outside the clinic).
Mrs. Bishop seems heavily involved in Audrey's personal life. But surely even the most ardent church lady wouldn't kill for God, right?
It's even more complicated than you initially think. Not only did Mrs. Bishop resent Audrey's work at Rakes and her visit to the abortion clinic, she refuses to believe that her own husband (Mark Williams, best known for playing Mr. Weasley in the "Harry Potter" movies) also visited the club. While Mrs. Bishop waits in police custody, Gently heads to the Bishops' home, whereupon he finds an ice pick that may have inflicted Audrey's fatal wound. Furthermore, Mr. Bishop spills his guts about Audrey. They were lovers, at least as he recalls it. He was "given" Audrey by the Donovans when he agreed not to blab about a blackmail conviction abroad that could have gotten Mr. Donovan kicked out of England. The capper to all this? Mrs. Bishop knew all about the relationship, but she simply was in denial. "Margaret has a way of denying anything he can't deal with," Mr. Bishop explains. And the capper to this capper? Margaret was unable to conceive, meaning that she had all the more reason to be furious about the abortion.
So, essentially, Mrs. Bishop would have had quadruple motivation to kill Audrey.
Yep, and a search of her purse at the police station reveals not only Audrey's keys but also film that, once developed, shows images of Audrey's corpse in the church.
So it's obviously her...
Mrs. Bishop even confesses. But her being the perp wouldn't explain away Audrey's rape. On the night of the murder, the Bishops claim they were both at home -- Mrs. Bishop working in the darkroom and Mr. Bishop downstairs watching TV. They dined together, and then retired to separate beds. However, Mr. Bishop would have had access to his wife's purse and camera the whole night...
With Mrs. Bishop in tow, Gently, Bacchus, and other police race to a chalet that Audrey and Mr. Bishop once used as a romantic getaway. The camera cuts to Fawn, dumbly walking about, looking cute and helpless as she nears the chalet, which she's using as her safehouse. Unfortunately for her, Mr. Bishop is waiting there for her. He knows that Audrey told Fawn of their relationship and of his fathering the baby, so he'd like to preemptively stop her from ever implicating him in Audrey's murder. Mr. Bishop and Fawn struggle, the police arrive just in time to scare him off, with Fawn only suffering a knife wound to her hand. Mr. Bishop, meanwhile, flees through town and into the ocean, police and wife in hot pursuit. His wife finally gets him to stop.
What was Mr. Bishop's reasoning in all this?
Audrey never loved him, despite his best efforts, so he raped her. Audrey went to the Donovans, and they gave her money to start a new life elsewhere. She used part of the money to abort the child conceived as a result of that rape. When Mr. Bishop confronted Audrey one last time, and she swore that she'd go to the police -- and that Fawn knew everything of their relationship. In a moment of rage, Bishop struck Audrey. In his words, that's when he realized that he'd have to kill her, and he ultimately dressed up his crime so as to frame his wife, an ideal prime suspect.
And what of Fawn?
Injured but ultimately fine, Fawn forgives Bacchus and leaves, hopefully now wise enough to never have an affair with such a buffoonish sort again.
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Martin Shaw stars as commander George Gently, an incorruptible, uncompromising cop transplanted from London's Scotland Yard to England's North Country in the mid-1960's.