Miss Scarlet and The Duke 2×01 “Pandora’s Box” Spoilers Ahead
We’re back, Miss Scarlet and The Duke, fans! Last we parted, our favorite Victorian-era female private detective and near-always grumpy (but clearly smitten) Scotland Yard inspector were off to what we could only presume was a lovely dinner. We can’t wait to unpack all the great moments in the season ahead of us, but first, let’s dive into our season opener. Filled with action, intrigue, witty one-liners, and sizzling chemistry, the Season 2 premiere episode, “Pandora’s Box,” did anything but disappoint.
Miss Scarlet and The Duke 2×01 opens with a disheveled Eliza Scarlet (Kate Phillips) confronting Lord Bullington (Eilian Wyn-Jones) about payment for services at what appears to be a gentlemen’s club. Right off the bat, we know that Eliza has not changed — she’s still not being taken seriously by men, but she still doesn’t care and efficiently runs laps around them. When he refuses to fulfill their contract and pay her for finding his birds, Eliza stands her ground. Her persistence thrives, along with her *ahem* negotiation skills, shall we say. All I can say is “fly birdies” and “Bullington had it coming.” We then cut to a revamped opening title sequence, just as gorgeously shot as the previous season.
However, as badass as it was, releasing Lord Douche’s birds from their cages lands Eliza in an all too familiar place: jail. She looks comfy, at least as she sleeps on the shoulder of her cellmate (Vahid Dzankovic). Also unsurprisingly, she receives a visit from William “The Duke” Wellington (Stuart Martin), who arrives prepared with sarcasm.
And they’re off with their usual bickering, which will provide an instantaneous smile to viewers, I’m sure. As the scene cuts to them continuing the conversation in his office, the quarrel breaks as William mentions their dinner tomorrow. It’s a brief and rare moment when the two are not at each other’s throats and share a mutual look and smile as their fingers gently and briefly touch.
William observes that the recent dinners they’ve been having will churn gossip, but Eliza brushes it off, stating that they’re “friends.” She can be in denial all she wants, but she and William are as much “friends” as I am a cactus. William seemingly then snaps back to his senses and mentions he needs to get back to work as the new superintendent will be coming in.
Naturally, the two are interrupted as a commotion occurs in the hallway, where a woman demands to meet with William regarding the case of her missing sister. Before William has her escorted out of the police station, the woman, Alice Lee (Katie Brayben), is distraught at him for closing the case with no information after the investigation. Eliza appears interested and asks William about the case, but William spots the new superintendent.
William introduces himself to the new Superintendent Monroe (Ian Pirie). The two share a drink, and Monroe informs William that he’s brought a couple of men and expects William “to show them the ropes” and “take them under your wing.” So far, it looks like the two get along, at least compared to Monroe’s predecessor.
We then see Eliza return to her office, where she returns to Hattie Parker (Jesse Cave), and we learn that her cousin, Rupert Parker, has married and moved to Germany. Poor Hattie is now living with his mother as her father passed away, and I’m sure Mrs. Parker has given her opinions about everything and anything to Hattie. Hattie brings Eliza a letter from Rupert, and shows an interest in Eliza’s work, and Eliza invites Hattie to tea, which she eagerly accepts.
As Eliza enters her office, it appears as though someone has broken in. Technically, yes, but it’s only Moses (Ansu Kabia), and it sounds like it’s been a regular practice for Moses. Although Eliza seems bothered by it, it only brings a smile to Moses. The man is self-aware of how likable and charming he is, which means he can do pretty much anything, and no one will ever get fully mad at him. More importantly, he’s brought her money from Lord Douche and teases her about “[her] inspector” before stating that a White Chapel landlord requires a detective. Eliza makes her way to the address, only to find out it’s Alice Lee, the woman from the police station.
After initially coming to William’s defense when Alice states her discontent with his investigation, Eliza hears out Alice’s situation. Per Alice, she arrived in London after she stopped receiving letters from her sister, Georgina Lee (Emilija Stanisic), three months ago. Alice stated that she went to Wentworth’s, where her sister worked, only to be told by the employees that Georgina had stopped showing up, and they had assumed she was working elsewhere.
Back at home, Eliza discusses taking Georgina’s case with Ivy (Cathy Belton), stating it may not look well for William, especially since Superintendent Monro witnessed Alice’s outburst. Ivy suggests that Eliza be more selective when choosing cases if she were to have a future with William. While Eliza dismisses the notion, again claiming that they are friends, she claims to agree with Ivy before saying that she will simply look at the basic facts of the case to make sure William hasn’t “overlooked” anything. She says this with the same conviction that I tell myself I will only stay up for ten more minutes, so forgive me if I don’t believe her.
So obviously, Eliza heads to the Wentworth’s store to gather more information about Georgina. At first, an employee attempts to remove Eliza from the store, but is stopped by a seemingly pregnant Mrs. Wentworth (Elizabeth Bower). Eliza speaks with Mr. and Mrs. Wentworth, who describe Georgina as a “sweet girl.” Mr. Wentworth (Jason Thorpe) informs Eliza that they figured she had found another job. The Wentworths deny knowing there was an investigation of Georgina’s disappearance or ever being interviewed by the police.
Back at Scotland Yard, William is trying to debrief his men about a raid, but Detective Fitzroy (Evan McCabe) continuously interrupts and appears to be way out of his element. William has a private word with Fitzroy regarding his behavior, warning him not to interrupt again and that he would overlook the insubordination as Fitzroy is new. The Duke later speaks to him in private about his behavior. Something tells me that after Miss Scarlet and The Duke 2×01, Eliza will no longer be the only one testing William’s already limited patience.
As Eliza is leaving Wentworth’s, one of the shop employees, Jane Yates (Rosemary Boyle), tells Eliza that Georgina deliberately ran away to escape her sister, claiming Alice treated Georgina like a child. Jane states that Georgina left London because Alice announced her intention to come to live there and that she told Georgina not to tell anyone about her whereabouts, not even Jane.
During a police raid, William orders Fitzroy to search upstairs. While the men downstairs are taken away, William begins searching for evidence upstairs and is attacked by a suspect. A physical altercation ensues, and Fitzroy walks in midway through the brawl. While pinned down, William orders Fitzroy to use his revolver but freezes. William eventually gets the upper hand and knocks out the suspect before observing that Fitzroy is “useless.” I don’t disagree.
We then see Eliza interviewing Alice about her conversation with Jane, and Alice provides a telegraph from Georgina in the morning, stating, “Dear mother, I’m sorry I’ve caused you worry. Please know all is well, and I will be in touch soon.” Eliza remembers Alice’s comments that her parents were no longer alive, and Alice confirms that Georgina is actually her daughter, born out of wedlock. However, while Georgina knew Alice was her mother, she only referred to her as Alice. Eliza suggests that whoever sent the telegraph must be close to Georgina and is aware of Alice being Georgina’s mother.
Eliza makes her way to Jane Yates’ residence to speak with her. When there’s no answer to the door, Eliza hears noises and presses her ear to the door. Moments later, a gunshot through the door sends Eliza falling down, and she sees someone with a cape escape out the door. Eliza gets up to find Jane lying facedown on the floor with a bullet wound in her back, seemingly dead.
As the police remove Jane’s body, Eliza stands outside with William and informs him about Georgina’s case. It does not go well with William, stating that it’s disrespectful to him and his position, while Eliza criticizes his investigation or lack thereof. During their heated conversation in Miss Scarlet and The Duke 2×01, Fitzroy (who really is as clueless as a fish with a pencil) brings a potential witness to interview at the crime scene. William scolds Fitzroy for his incompetence and then snaps at Eliza for addressing him as “William” in front of his men.
Our resident grump is back at the station and interviews Alice Lee, but not before apologizing for not properly looking into Georgina’s case. Alice points out that Eliza exposed police incompetency in Georgina’s case, and he tries to continue with the questioning. When she mentions Eliza again, he is visibly annoyed and requests her to stop talking about Eliza’s investigation. Suddenly, there is a gunshot in the station. A suspect fires off a revolver until there are no rounds left in the chamber, after which Williams grabs the pistol and angrily asks who it belongs to.
To no one’s shock, our resident idiot Fitzroy raises his hands, explaining the suspect removed the revolver from his holster. William is in disbelief as to how Fitzroy has made detective. Due to his astounding incompetence and the resulting danger it brings to his fellow officers, William dismisses Fitzroy immediately. As a side note, I think we should start keeping a tally as to who causes William to drink more, Eliza or Fitzroy.
Back at Eliza’s office, Eliza is searching for her keys to her office when someone approaches from behind. She pulls her knife only to find it’s just Moses (he clearly can’t just walk through a door and announce himself, this one). Moses informs Eliza that Jane Yates has more money in her bank account than she should as a shop girl and provides Eliza a name on an account that Jane was making payments to. Lo and behold, it’s Mr. Salisbury (Richard James), the employee who tried to remove Eliza from Wentworth’s.
While Mr. Salisbury is speaking with a customer, Eliza sends Clementine (Laura Rollins) to deliver a message. She and Mr. Salisbury meet for drinks, and Eliza confronts him about Jane’s account. Mr. Salisbury informs Eliza that he acted as a liaison between Jane Yates, other girls, and wealthy clients. She asks if any of these wealthy clients had issues with Jane, but Mr. Salisbury denies so, stating that she was popular. When asked the same about Georgina, Mr. Salisbury informs that Georgina was only allowed to be with Mr. Wentworth.
After obtaining Mr. Wenthworth’s daily routine from Mr. Salisbury, Eliza sneaks into Mr. Wentworth’s office while he’s at his usual tea house and discovers a package inside a locked cabinet. As she drops the package on William’s desk, she explains it contains Georgina’s clothes as they are labeled with her name. She theorizes that Mr. Wentworth has murdered both Georgina and Jane, while William tells her not to jump to any conclusions. Eliza complains that someone had to investigate the case while he is sulking. He assures her not he is not sulking, and she is exasperated, telling him that she already said she was sorry when William interjects that she had not. Eliza concedes and admits he was right; she apologizes for not speaking to him about the case first. He then asks that even if she did, would she have taken the case if it were against his wishes? She doesn’t respond, and he nods, seemingly receiving his answer. William is then handed information that the telegraph Alice received from Georgina was sent from Mr. Wentworth’s country home.
Eliza and William visit Mr. Wentworth’s country home together with information that Mrs. Wentworth has gone into labor. Upon their arrival, they hear a baby crying, which prompts them to enter the home. As they approach a bedroom, they find Georgina in a bed and Mrs. Wentworth holding a baby with Mr. Wentworth standing by. Mrs. Wentworth opens up about her infertility issues and reveals that Georgina confessed to Mrs. Wentworth about her affair. Georgina also told her about Georgina’s and Alice’s family history and how she did not want the same for her child.
Further, in Miss Scarlet and The Duke 2×01, Mr. Wentworth explains Georgina had a difficult pregnancy; as a result, she explained everything in a letter to Jane should anything happen during childbirth. Jane then used that information to blackmail the Wentworths and increase her demands over time. This results in Mrs. Wentworth visiting Jane, and she shot Jane after Jane makes remarks about Mrs. Wentworth’s infertility.
As Mrs. Wentworth is arrested for the murder of Jane, William and Eliza both agree that there is much to discuss. William suggests they talk over their dinner tonight and states that he has to go see Superintendent Monroe.
At his office, Superintendent Monroe confronts William about Fitzroy’s dismissal. While William announces that Fitzroy is not even fit to be a constable, much less a detective, Monroe informs William that Fitzroy is the police commissioner’s son. Per the commissioner’s orders, Fitzroy was elevated to detective. Superintendent Monroe tells William he is stuck dealing with Fitzroy to keep the police commissioner happy. Back at the Scarlet’s residence, Ivy shares her worries about Eliza being alone, but Eliza doesn’t consider herself alone as long as she has Ivy. Hattie drops by for their scheduled tea. While talking, Hattie expresses her admiration for Eliza, stating that while she may struggle with finances, Eliza knows who she is as a person and what she wants in life, which Hattie views as the greatest freedom.
Later in the day, Eliza is waiting for William for their dinner. When he stops by, she says she needs to tell him something as she hands him a drink. She returns to their earlier conversation about taking Alice and Georgina Lee’s case, stating that the freedom to choose her cases is important to her. Eliza further acknowledges that William also means a great deal to her. She does not want to be dictated to, which she believes she should share if she and William were ever to have a future.
Unexpectedly, William informs Eliza that he has canceled their dinner reservation, stating that if their relationship were anything more than friendship, his position would be untenable and cause further humiliation. There is palpable disappointment from both ends — it brings about one of those rare moments between the two when there’s an uncomfortable silence as they don’t know what to say or how to speak their minds, even though their thoughts are racing a mile a minute. They struggle with their thoughts and emotions after William reluctantly closes the door. Eliza paces in the room, and William stops walking; both appear to consider opening the door before deciding not to. Unfortunately, the episode ends with William heading out the front door.
Related Content: Scene Breakdown: William and Eliza’s Tension Behind Closed Doors
Well, I’m sure the last scene left the viewers screaming at their screens and experiencing a wave of emotions. Alas, it is only the first episode of the new season, and I’m sure many more Eliza and William will be coming our way (especially since the show is already renewed for Season 3).
Hats off to creator Rachael New and director Ivan Živković, who took over from Declan O’Dwyer this season. Miss Scarlet and The Duke 2×01 was just as enticing as the previous season — fantastically shot, creatively written, and perfectly balanced. Phillips’ and Martin’s chemistry continues to shine, which makes their characters’ storylines all the more worthwhile.
Now streaming on PBS: What are your thoughts on Miss Scarlet and The Duke 2×01 “Pandora’s Box?” Let us know in the comments below.
Born and raised in Los Angeles. Fluent in sarcasm and film references.