'Vera,' Episode 3: 'The Crow Trap'

Missed an episode of KCET's newest British detective series? Read our "Vera" recaps here. This episode will be streaming until October 31, 2015.

Previously on "Vera"

The past returned to haunt Vera when she ended up investigating a case that had been previously closed by her predecessor. Read the recap for "Telling Tales" here.

This Week's Episode: "The Crow Trap"

Written by: Stephen Brady
Directed by: Farren Blackburn

Vera (Brenda Blethyn) takes a trip down memory lane when called to the Black Law area of Northumberland, a place where she spent many a day with her recently passed father. Bella Furness, a local in her late 50s living in the nearby farmhouse with her stroke-debilitated husband Dougie (Jack McBride), has been found murdered in her barn, dead from a head wound caused by a lump hammer. The first lead is the Furness's current cottage tenant, Anne Preece (Daniela Nardini), an employee of the Kemp Environmental Associates (KEA). She has been tasked with doing impact assessment on the land, a report that would decide whether or not a company called Slateburn can operate a quarry nearby. The quarry deal has been controversial, it seems, and perhaps the only other thing standing in the company's way would be Bella herself, who refused a deal to allow an access road through her land. Bella's environmental activism rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, including her stepson Neville (Richard Short), a snide man whose business is approaching debt. Now interested in selling the land, Neville sends his paralyzed father to Riverdale, a hospice.

Vera and her associate Joe (David Leon) make a visit to the quarry and meet with the boss, Godfrey Waugh (Daniel Flynn), his wife Barbara (Susie Trayling), and his assistant Grace Bishop (Amy Cudden). After showing him a photo of Bella protesting his environmentally destructive ways, Godfrey tells them about a recent break-in at his place of business and gives them another lead: Edmund Fullwell (John Lynch), another activist that Bella worshipped. Visiting Edmund in his remote forest shack, Joe and Holly (Wunmi Mosaku) become suspicious of his evasive manner and take him to headquarters.

Under interrogation, Edmund swears that he had nothing to do with the Slateburn break-in despite his insistence that the nearby land does not belong to them. He's a good man doing what's right for the history of the land, he says, and swearing that he never had a romantic relationship with Bella, he invites Vera to her memorial service. At the service, Vera must confront her past with the appearance of Bev MacDonald (Elizabeth Carling), a woman whose case Vera handled over a decade earlier. In 1999, Bev's five-year-old son Lee disappeared, and from her perspective, it was Vera who flubbed the case, intensely investigating Bev and her husband instead of Bella, who was seen nearby at the time of the crime. Lee was never found, and so Bev has been stalking the farmgrounds, tormenting Bella and fruitlessly searching for her lost boy.

Two breaks in the case are made: When looking further into the juice found at the scene of Bella's murder, they find the juice had come from berries from a rowan tree. As the berries appear to be bright orange, however, it's nothing like the nearby rowan trees found in the area. The tree in question must have been planted. But by whom? The bigger break, though, comes when Vera, staking out Anne's cottage from afar, follows a car out to the beach. Spying through her binoculars, Vera spots Godfrey and Anne stealing kisses from each other. It seems that the environmentalist tasked with shutting down the quarry with her report is sleeping with the very man her company opposes.

In an interesting turn of events, it surfaces that Bella may have relented and was considering selling to Slateburn after all. Holly checks Bella's phone records and sees that she did, in fact, call Godfrey some time before her murder, leaving a 40-second message that had disappeared before it reached Godfrey. So who deleted the message? Could it be Grace, Godfrey's assistant? Going through Grace's belongings, they find a book called "Sacred Ground" gifted to her with the inscription "To Grace, With Love," and a photo of Edmund with a little girl. They visit Edmund again and his shack and learn the truth: Grace is Edmund's daughter. However, the book "Sacred Ground" gifted to her didn't come from him. Grace is their prime suspect...until they find her body at the quarry, struck in the head with the same type of hammer.

More interrogations of both Edmund and Bev (who was seen stalking the Black Law land yet again) lead to absolutely no new leads. But clever Vera, always trying to be a few steps ahead, realizes that since Anne has finished her report on the quarry ("all clear"), and whoever killed Bella and Grace may be trying to protect the land, the murderer might surface again. A trap has been set.

Vera is back at Godfrey's estate to ask some more questions when she happens upon a picture of a baby named Josh, Godfrey and Barbara's child who died before their daughter May was ever born. When Vera discovers a note written to May with the inscription "With Love," she understands that the culprit is none other than Barbara Waugh. Unbeknownst to Vera, though, Barbara has already trapped Anne in the basement of the estate hoping to change her mind about the report, and when Joe comes around simply wanting to chat, Barbara knocks him out and throws him in with Anne. Vera hears Anne's cries and finds the two captives.

Vera follows Barbara out in the fields, next to a rowan tree with bright orange berries, digging into the earth. This is where she buried Lee MacDonald, Barbara says, all the way back in 1999. Grieving from the death of their first-born, Barbara was elated when she found a lost Lee down by the river. She brought him home and took care of him. When he tried to escape, though, Barbara accidentally suffocated him to death. "I kept him safe," Barbara tells Bev. "For you, for us. And they wanted to dig him up." With two cases closed, Vera attends Lee's proper burial, 12 years after the fact.

Hey! I Know That Actor!

Elizabeth Carling, who plays Bev MacDonald, is famous for her television roles such as Miss White on "Boon," Phoebe Sparrow on "Goodnight Sweetheart," and Dr. Selena Donovan over 127 episodes on the long-running British medical show "Casualty."

John Lynch, who plays environmental activist Edmund Fullwell, is probably best known to American audiences for his work in the films "Some Mother's Son," "The Secret Garden," "Moll Flanders," and "Edward II." In 1984, he received a BAFTA nomination for playing the titular role in Pat O'Connor's "Cal," co-starring Helen Mirren.

Marcus Gorman is the author of the novel "Triceratops" and the editor of the film blog Ten Years Ago: Films in Retrospective.