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Miss Scarlet and The Duke 1×04 “Memento Mori” Review

Source: PBS

Greetings, readers! It may be Super Bowl Sunday today, but the only thing we’re concerned about is this week’s latest episode of Miss Scarlet and The Duke. This week’s case centers towards the slightly macabre and supernatural as Eliza tries to uncover who’s responsible for leaving mysterious letters. I hope you’re getting comfy as we dive into this week’s events. 

The episode begins with Eliza and Ivy awaiting a visit from Rupert Parker, who arrives with the newspaper (the first time he’s ever purchased one, as he proudly admits). Eliza appears to be excited as she checks the paper, which has an article regarding the bomb threat from last week’s episode. However, the article credits William and his efforts and does not mention Eliza. At all. We then see Superintendent Stirling in his office, reading the same article, while William waits. Stirling is visibly pleased with the article and informs William that another journalist will be arriving later in the day to shadow William. Stirling promises the Duke his promotion to chief inspector if William puts in a good word for Stirling in the upcoming article.

William returns to his office, where he encounters a none-too-pleased Eliza waiting for him. Eliza reminds him that as a woman struggling as a private detective, she needs the publicity. (Do I find fault with her? Not one bit.) William counters that it would not look good on Scotland Yard if the general public was aware of their “arrangement.” However, he claims that he will ensure she gets credit the next time they work together, but deliberately omits mentioning anything about the visiting journalist. Eliza decides to trust him on his word and leaves his office. Moments later, Frank informs Duke that the journalist has arrived.

We next see Eliza heading to her office, when she is stopped by undertaker Herr Hildegard–in his usual chatty self–who introduces her to his niece Tilly Hildegard (Amy McAllister) and informs Eliza he has a case for her and asks if she knows about death photography.

The scene jumps over to death photographer James Henderson (Hugh O’Conor) as he takes a photo of a deceased man (placed in a sitting position with eyes open) and a very much alive woman. Mr. Henderson takes photographs of deceased loved ones before they are buried. We also see a woman (Roisin Murphy) in the studio helping with the deceased’s appearance. Afterwards, Eliza speaks to Mr. Henderson, who tells her he has been receiving photographs of his previous clients. They arrive in plain envelopes and are manipulated to include a ghostly image of his deceased wife, Catherine. He further explains that he burned all his negatives since he thought that someone was breaking into the studio, but he is still receiving the letters. Suspecting that someone is trying to terrify him and with no help from the police, Mr. Henderson asks for Eliza’s services to find out who is sending the letters.

The scene cuts to Scotland Yard, where William is providing journalist Jacob Bunce (Kevin Eldon) with a tour around the station. Bunce appears to be impressed and excited to meet William. As they’re wrapping up, William asks Bunce to put in a good word for Stirling. Bunce shares that he’s in a similar situation; his editor wants a story that is “sensational” and “intriguing” to attract wider readership, and Bunce hints that an article won’t be published if he’s unable to provide a compelling story. William goes through his current caseload, none of which Bunce finds enthralling.

Back in her office, Eliza examines the manipulated photographs with magnifying glasses provided by Herr Hildegard. She observes a red spot in the corner that appears to be dried blood. Herr Hildegard reveals that Catherine took her life, and Mr. Henderson was the one who found her. Even though Eliza finds him a tad bit talkative, I love Herr Hildegarde’s character. Whenever he’s onscreen, he’s always happy to speak with Eliza and is supportive of her career. He doesn’t have a moment’s hesitation when she takes over her father’s business, consults for her opinion about a case, and praises Eliza to Mr. Henderson. 

Eliza continues to research photography in her office and takes a moment to straighten the photograph of her younger self and father on the wall. A few moments later, the woman from the studio, Amelia, arrives. Amelia discloses she was initially hired by Catherine as a governess for the Hendersons’ daughter, Violet. She further reveals that she and James have become very close and are engaged. The first photograph arrived the day after James’ proposal. According to Amelia, Catherine warned her that she would punish Amelia if she got close to Mr. Henderson. As such, Ameila believes Catherine is punishing them and informs Eliza that she can prove it. 

Amelia takes Eliza to visit her mother, Edith Evans (Marion O’Dwyer), who is a medium. Eliza observes a reading on a young man but remains skeptical. A huge shout out to Kate Phillips and her ability to outwardly express the inner thoughts of doubtfulness over someone’s bullsh-t yet still trying to look polite. After the reading, Edith claims that Catherine is “vengeful towards [her] daughter” and that she is sending the photos from the grave. Eliza requests to speak with Edith in private, stating that Edith is distressing her daughter. Edith responds that Eliza is just like her father. Supposedly, Edith can see her father and informs Eliza that he wants her to tell Eliza about her pet frog named after her teacher. (Not that this means anything, but I’ve watched enough of The Mentalist to know not to buy that crap.)

Meanwhile, William and Bunce are at the mortuary, looking over a gunshot victim that fails to grasp the interest of Bunce. They are interrupted by Mr. Potts, who enters and immediately begins one of his great and long plea-filled rants for William to stop Eliza, who is trying to force her way inside. In order to keep Bunce away from her, William plays Eliza off as his cousin and steps outside.

Once outside, William gives Eliza a sharp “NO” before she can explain that she wants to run a criminal background check on Edith Evans. After guilt-tripping him about the earlier article, William decides to have Frank assist her in obtaining the background check. With disinterested Frank’s help, Eliza looks through the files but she finds no records of Edith having any criminal convictions. Eliza requests access to more files but Frank argues he’s fulfilled what was asked of him. She attempts to charm him but Frank isn’t buying it and dismisses her.

Eliza decides to visit James Henderson, where he speaks about his relationship with Amelia and apologizes for keeping it from Eliza. Eliza shares her suspicions that Amelia’s mother is involved in the letters, but James contends that Edith would not have the knowledge to manipulate the photographs. He also reveals that he will be away on business for the night and pleads with Eliza to stay overnight since Amelia is frightened to be alone.

That night, Amelia states that James is in Bristol looking to find a new home for them to have a fresh start. Amelia states that she desires nothing more than to get married and have her own children–a sentiment that Eliza does not share. Amelia also admits that she was with James while Catherine was alive, and Catherine was aware of their relationship and that is why she said she’d plan her revenge.

While Eliza prepares for her night at the Henderson’s, William is out drinking with Frank. Frank asks about the journalist, and William states Bunce told William to get in touch when he finds something interesting. William comments that he wouldn’t be placed in this situation if Stirling respected him. Frank questions why Duke also puts up with Eliza, as Frank finds her annoying. Frank also adds that although William is too much of a good guy to take an advantage of her, Frank says “I still would.” This invokes the immediate protective words of William, who threatens to bash Frank into the wall. William states that Eliza’s father couldn’t have done more for him if he were his own flesh and blood and hopes that Frank treated her well when he was helping Eliza earlier. Frank claims he did, but also complains the Henderson case was a waste of time. As he describes the case, William realizes it’s the intrigue that Bunce has been looking for.

The scene between William and Frank does a great job at distinguishing the two different types of men that they are. Both can be assh-les, but Frank is an assh-le that’s also a piece of sh-t with no value in respect.He’s been around Eliza enough to know she has the skill and intelligence, but he disregards all of that because she is a woman. He makes a point to state that he couldn’t deal with her, and then reduces her objectification. We’ve also seen instances where he treats others down, such as PC Honeychurch, or complains about doing work that he deems beneath him. On the other hand, although William will have moments, he maintains a level of respect for Eliza’s work and for all that her father has done for him.

Back at the Henderson residence, Eliza is ready to go to bed when she hears a scream. Eliza rushes to Amelia’s side, who appears to have a nightmare. Eliza eventually calms her down, and we get a glimpse of Eliza’s more nurturing and comforting side. As she leaves, Amelia notices another letter placed on the bed. The next morning, Eliza finds no evidence of someone entering Amelia’s bedroom through the open window. Amelia also insists she locked the front door; however, the maid, Ruth (Emer Hedderman), also had a key to the house.

Eliza follows Ruth to a messaging service. After Ruth departs, Eliza goes inside and tries to get the clerk (Darragh Byrne) to show Ruth’s message, who does not oblige. Eliza spots William outside the premises. She exits and asks William if he’s following her. He claims that Stirling wants all open cases closed by the end of the month and his investigation has brought him here. Such bullsh-t, but it’s alright because his involvement helps Eliza during a hilarious exchange with the aforementioned clerk. (I use the term “exchange lightly”–he basically yells at the kid and makes him cry because Eliza told William to frighten him.) Although Ruth’s message has already been sent out, the clerk provides them with the recipient–the note was addressed to Edith Evans.

William interrogates Edith, while Eliza finds that Edith has records of hundreds of people from tip-offs that come from mortuaries, death photography businesses, and funeral homes. William read’s the information Edith has on Eliza–Mr. Henderson had dinner with Herr Hildegard and he told James about Eliza and her pet frog, which was overheard by the maid. (I’m glad I knew to heed Patrick Jane’s words.) Edith admits to receiving and compiling information on people. She also admits her dislike of her daughter’s relationship but denies sending the pictures or being involved. As Edith is arrested and whisked off, Eliza shares a moment with William. She asks him if he believes in ghosts, to which he does not. She agrees, but shares she has moments when she feels her father’s presence and speaks with him and asks if it makes her peculiar. William kindly smiles and says he always thought she was peculiar.

Of course, since it’s Eliza and William, the moment is cut short and ruined when Frank arrives. Unaware Eliza is in the room, Frank notifies William that the journalist wants to see him because he wants to get a sketch of Edith. Naturally, Eliza overhears this and is not happy. William explains that he’s trying to get a promotion, which is proving to be difficult due Stirling’s preference over ex-army officers. Eliza doesn’t give a sh-t though about William’s troubles, stating “You’re facing prejudice in your chosen career. What must that be like?” and leaving before he can say anything. You tell him, girl. 

Eliza then goes to see James Henderson and overhears a disagreement between the engaged couple that ends with Amelia storming out. Eliza updates him about Edith’s arrest. James states that she can’t be responsible since another photo was left on the doorstep ten minutes ago. Eliza also tries speaking with Amelia, who is packing her bags and intends to leave, blaming Eliza for making James suspect Amelia may have been behind the photos to get out of the engagement.

Eliza then searches for James again, only to overhear Violet (Amelie Metcalfe) from behind a sofa. She watches as Violet pretends to be a death photographer–Eliza notices as Violet pokes her finger and rubs the blood onto the cheeks of her doll like it were rouge. She remembers the envelope with the red blood on the corner and realization dawns on her. Eliza bends down and asks Violet where the photographs are. Violet admits her mother told her not to say.

In the next scene, Eliza explains to James that Catherine was aware of his relationship with Amelia. Before she died, she told Violet about a game she wanted to play. Violet was instructed to leave the envelopes when James was to marry Amelia without knowledge of the contents. Amelia enters with Violet, asking that he not be angry with her, and he embraces Violet.

Later that night, Eliza and Rupert are comfortably lounging about the sofas. Eliza informs Rupert about the case and rants about her conversation with William, but Rupert is distracted. He reveals his mother is pressuring him into marriage again and proposes if he and Eliza could come to some arrangement since they both live unconventional lives, but Eliza turns him down. If laying down and discussing your nagging mom wanting you to get married and talking about the latest fight with the man you share intense attraction and chemistry with is not the definition of a great friendship, then I don’t know what is. 

Back at Stirling’s office, William reports the article is going to press tonight and the serialization will begin in the morning while making sure to mention that he sang Stirling’s praises (to Stirling’s delight).  William then asks Stirling about his promotion, but Stirling has promoted someone else who had served in the army despite being in the division for only a few months. Unsurprisingly, William’s not exactly cheerful to hear this. Props to Nick Dunn and his effortless ability to make his character so repulsive. 

The next day, Eliza runs into Herr Hildegard and his niece, who are waiting for Rupert for a walk in the park. Eliza climbs up the stairs to her office where the door is already open. Inside is William, who used Henry’s spare key to leave a note with an apology and to leave her a copy of the article which credits her involvement in the case and includes the address of her premises. William shares he was able to get there just before the press was about to roll. So not only does William stick it to Stirling, he’s able to help out a friend. Before he leaves, he asks if she wants the spare key back, but Eliza tells William he can keep the spare key just in case. Eliza notices the photograph is crooked again and goes to fix it. The photo falls and reveals a hole in the wall. Upon further investigation, Eliza discovers a notebook and looks through her and something catches her eye and she looks up with concern in her eyes. 

This week’s mystery offered a captivating case and managed to showcase that Eliza and William can get along, after all. And of course, that ending only makes us only more intrigued, as Mr. Bunce would say. Join us next week as we discover what was in the contents of the notebook and it means for Eliza! As always, don’t forget to share your favorite moments below!

Alice Sarkisyan View All

Born and raised in Los Angeles. Fluent in sarcasm and film references.

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