It's a new season of "Inspector George Gently," and KCET is airing the first episode of it this Sunday, April 8, at 9 p.m. If you're keen 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 a lengthy rundown, because this episode in particular boasts a great many twists and turns.
Whoa! What's with the music?
Groovy, right? If you caught the first three episodes, you'll notice that this one features new opening credits, with a theme song that sounds like a cross between British folk music and something you might hear at the start of some stereotypical '70s cop show. Check it out here:
And the episode itself is punctuated by a '60s rock-inspired score that I totally dig.
So who's the unlucky stiff this week?
Alfred Peachment, an older man who was living alone in a decaying mansion on the far side of town. Cora Davidson (Jill Halfpenny), an attractive woman who wouldn't look out of place on "Mad Men" and who was planning to buy the place from Peachment, finds his bloodied body in the garden.
And what do we know about him?
Gently and Bacchus soon learn that the house was once a school where the dead man's wife taught, thanks to an informative, locally raised policeman, Sgt. Blacksmith (Mark Stobbart, who looks remarkably like a cross between Tobey Maguire and Daniel Radcliffe).
Mr. and Mrs. Peachment separated, however, and the school ceased to be as a result of the Children's Act of 1947, which enforced regulations on educational institutions with which mom-and-pop schools like the Peachments' couldn't comply. Also, Mr. Peachment couldn't keep up the gardens on his own. That work was done by Harry Carson (Matthew McNulty, of the popular BBC series "Misfits").
Who's the prime suspect?
Bacchus zeroes in on the money-grubbing Miss Davidson. She wanted to raze the house and redevelop the land, though to do so she'd need an inspector's approval that the building was in danger of falling down. And while it's old, it doesn't seem that bad off.
Davidson, who also grew up in the area, claims she has no ulterior motive in buying the property, and that there's no conspiracy to wrestle ownership of the land away from Peachment. She says flatly, "I have no friends here of any kind." Regardless, our detectives suspect that Davidson may have obtained her demolition order in an underhanded way. Had Peachment discovered this, he might have made a fuss that would have prompted Davidson to murder him.
Only we saw her find the body.
Yeah, that kind of takes her out of the running for being the killer. Gently and Bacchus agree that Davidson is hiding something, however. Gently returns to Peachment's house, where he finds a distraught-seeming Sgt. Blacksmith and Dr. Philip Morgan (Paul Copely, recently of "Downton Abbey") rummaging about in the study. When Gently stops this, Dr. Morgan explains that he was searching for papers that might have embarrassed Peachment -- something about crazy allegations involving the demolition order, but Dr. Morgan is reluctant to go into detail. Incensed, Gently orders the doctor out and forces Sgt. Blacksmith off the case for letting the doctor snoop. At this point, Bacchus races in and tells Gently that the gardener, Carson, has arrived at the house.
Ah! Surely he will offer some much-needed insight as to the state of the Peachment house, no?
Not at all. He's mute. And he's simply going about his gardening work, though the bloodstains on his shirt arouse suspicion. It can't be determined if the blood came from his own wounds -- possibly gardening related -- or from Peachment's fatal wounds, but Carson is still arrested. Upon being interrogated, he can't or won't even relay any information via writing.
What of the alleged real estate conspiracy?
That's the only lead. A look into the Peachment family reveals that Mr. Peachment's estranged wife, Enid (Georgine Anderson) supported the demolition. Additionally, she is Dr. Morgan's sister and the inspector who issued the demolition order is yet a third Morgan sibling. When Gently and Bacchus question her, she admits that she did not divorce her husband -- "That's not what you do," she says, all primly and Britishly -- but she also clearly despised him and seemed to blame him for the fact that their only child, a son, moved to Tasmania and never returned. She was happy to sell her share of the home to Miss Davidson.
Does Mrs. Peachment just want money? Or is there something more that's motivating her to want her old house destroyed?
Gently clearly suspect the latter. He and Bacchus look through medical records from when the house operated as a business -- and it wasn't a school, per Blacksmith's eager explanation, but an orphanage. And both Miss Davidson and the gardener, Carson, boarded there as children. One medical report in particular -- of a young girl "bleeding in the night" -- troubles Gently. Gently's pediatrician friend suggests that the type of frequency of injuries might indicate abuse, perhaps sexual abuse. And Dr. Morgan, upon being questioned again, says that he wouldn't have examined the bleeding girl. Only Mrs. Peachment would have.
And so Miss Davidson is the mysteriously injured girl, right? And therefore she's a suspect again?
For the moment, yes. Gently and Bacchus find her, and after much cajoling she admits that she, Carson and two other children at the orphanage were among "the lucky ones," a group who received special, unwanted attention. (The second girl was adopted away. She says she doesn't know what became of the second boy.) She won't elaborate, but she suggests the detectives search for a sealed room in the house. Upon returning to the mansion, they do so and find the hidden area: a miserable dungeon-like cellar. When they bring Mrs. Peachment in, she claims not to remember why it was sealed, but she is clearly disturbed by the space and keeps glancing nervously an one corner.
Hey, remember earlier in this recap, when you made a note of a certain British government reform about school regulations? Why'd you mention that?
I'm so glad you asked. That information came from Sgt. Blacksmith. But it's wrong, like other "facts" he fed Gently and Bacchus. The law passed in 1948, not 1947, and therefore couldn't have caused the Peachments to stop boarding children. Blacksmith, as we have learned by now, is the son of a cop who once investigated crime in the very same city where Gently and company do now. His father -- a friend of Mr. Peachment's -- also committed suicide some years ago, creating a cloud of suspicion around the whole Blacksmith family. And when Bacchus goes to look though the orphanage's adoption records to find out what happened to the last children to be adopted from the orphanage, the desk clerk tells Bacchus that Blacksmith already took them. Bacchus retrieves these records, and shortly after Blacksmith resigns from the force. Gently, sensing a solution is at hand, orders Bacchus to bring both Blacksmith and Davidson to the cellar.
Finally. So what's the revelation?
Given how Mrs. Peachment kept glancing into the cellar corner, Gently and Bacchus assumed that the fourth "lucky one" might have been buried there. With Blacksmith and Davidson still not talking, the detectives begin to dig. Blacksmith stops them, and reveals a document he removed from the adoption records: his own. He, in fact, was the remaining "lucky one." Mrs. Peachment was looking not at a burial site but the spot where a bathtub once stood, and in it children were dunked in freezing water if they didn't behave properly.
That's not the half of it. The "lucky ones" were, in fact, sexually abused -- the girls by Mr. Peachment, and the boys by his high-powered pedophile friends. Until he grew too old, Carson was abused by the elder Sgt. Blacksmith. Then the man turned his attention to a younger boy, whom he eventually adopted as his son. When the Peachments' biological son was selected to become a "lucky one," Mrs. Peachment left, effectively ending the orphanage, though it's never explicitly said whether she also understood the extent of the abuse suffered by the orphans.
One again, this show is dark.
Yes. There's rarely a sunny day in Northumberland, it seems. On the day that Miss Davidson arrived to inspect the house, she thought Mr. Peachment would be gone. He was there. He recognized her and accosted her in the garden, whereupon Carson attacked him with a trowel to defend her. Carson is the killer, but whether the killing constitutes murder is debatable.
So who gets charged in all this?
No one. Blacksmith and Davidson refuse to testify about the abuse. Mrs. Peachment and Dr. Morgan would never admit to what they knew, if anything. This leaves Carson, who's still in jail. But Gently elects not to press charges, simply because the blood could be from him or Mr. Peachment, given their shared blood type. There's scant other evidence to tie him to the crime.
Is justice done?
That's for you to decide, honestly. The worst of the pedophiles are now dead, and Davidson, Blacksmith and Carson stand and watch as a wrecking crew tears down the site of their childhood abuse.
It's suggested, at least, that they might be able to move on, now that they've destroyed the greatest lingering symbol of their pain.
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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.