Miss Scarlet and The Duke 2×02 “The Black Witch Moth” Spoilers Ahead
If you’re still recovering from the heartbreak of the Season 2 premiere, never fear. This week’s episode, “The Black Witch Moth,” is all about the mystery, which means Eliza and Duke come together, as always, to get it solved.
Miss Scarlet and The Duke 2×02 begins with Eliza Scarlet speaking to a rather unimpressed audience of the Bloomsbury Ladies Cultural Society board as she pitches her idea to share her experience as a female private detective with the society’s members. Unsurprisingly, Eliza’s argument that she can be an inspiration does not convince the never-relenting Mrs. Parker (Helen Norton), who begins to question Eliza about the “desperate and impoverished” clients she attracts. According to Mrs. Parker, allowing Eliza to give a lecture to members could damage the society’s reputation, prompting Eliza to state she understands by pointing out the board members’ families’ indiscretions. So yeah, it didn’t go well, as poor Hattie finds out when the door slams shut behind Eliza.
We then see William Wellington dealing with the nagging itch known as Detective Oliver Fitzroy (Even McCabe) by dragging the intoxicated Fitzroy out of the streets and sobering him up with a nice pail of water at the station. As he comes to, William gives Fitzroy a stern warning about arriving on time and alert when on duty, especially as William has been ordered to turn Fitzroy into a competent member of the force.
Back to Eliza and Hattie, the two make their way to Eliza’s office while Eliza rants to Hattie about Mrs. Parker’s comments about her clients. Hattie gently suggests to Eliza to rethink her interactions with Mrs. Parker, reminding Eliza that Mrs. Parker is well-connected, which can be dangerous to Eliza if Mrs. Parker ever seeks to retaliate. Their attention is then cast to a man (Dan Starkey) standing outside the entrance to Eliza’s office door.
Inside the office, the man introduces himself as Mr. Swab, a partner of the Swab & Durstin insurance firm. Mr. Swab explains that one of his clients reported a stolen “Black Witch Moth” sketch by Charles Darwin, worth considerable amounts of money since Darwin’s death earlier in the year.
Meanwhile, William is investigating the stolen sketch at the Garret Museum of Natural Science with Fitzroy in tow. As Fitzroy takes notes, William questions why the thief would take the time to remove the sketch from the frame. With some “encouragement” for William to analyze the crime scene, Fitzroy observes that the thief must not have been under time constraints to steal the sketch. On cue, Eliza appears, which sets off William’s well-conditioned response: a long, heavy, and knowing sigh capturing his exasperation while simultaneously acting as an effort to calm himself. Eliza announces the purpose of her visit is to investigate the missing “Black Witch Moth,” to which William retorts by asking Eliza to explain what he is doing. (William and I both speak sarcasm, I see). They revert to their usual playground back and forth, which even causes Fitzroy to notice something is happening between the two. He actually attempts to ask William if he and Eliza are together and lives to tell the tale.
William heads out to pursue other leads, leaving Eliza to interview the museum’s owner, Hanna Garrett (Emma Campbell-Jones). Ms. Garret inquires if the insurance company thinks she’s behind the theft of the sketch and informs Eliza she runs the museum on her own. Ms. Garret also claims that whoever stole the drawing knew it was the only item of value in the museum, as nothing else was missing. Per Ms. Garret, she received the sketch in the mail after meeting Darwin at a lecture, which infuriated her husband, the reputable naturalist Thomas Dashwood. Ms. Garret explains that her increasing interest and knowledge and science led to their separation. She further explains that they hadn’t divorced due to financial and other constraints.
Eliza next meets Thomas Dashwood (Phill Langhorne), making it known that he’s the douche in Miss Scarlet and The Duke 2×02. Arrogant and snappy, he is immediately dismissive toward Eliza and his wife, stating that he has no time to talk and that his wife is only trying to humiliate him. Once he leaves, Eliza speaks with his mother, Mrs. Dashwood (Elizabeth Counsell), who appears to have some health problems with her lungs. The two seem to bond as Mrs. Dashwood explains her penchant for puzzles, talks about her ailing lungs, and encourages Eliza to be more assertive with her son before she decides to take a nap.
Eliza walks back to her office, only to find a long line of people and Hattie waiting. Hattie explains she arrived earlier to visit Eliza and has no idea why they are there, stating she keeps hearing them say, “They found it” as the crowd begins to converge and show Eliza sketches of the black moth.
At William’s office, William peruses all the fake sketches provided by Eliza. She informs that they were directed to her office by an advert in the newspaper indicating a reward of 1,000. William points out the sketch is worth only 500 pounds, and the two try to figure out who placed the ad. William points out that the insurance company probably hired Eliza because they suspect Ms. Garret stole the sketch and would open up to Eliza since she’s a woman. Eliza proceeds to usher William out of the office and into reception, telling him she’s made an appointment with newspaper correspondent Basil Sinclaire (Oliver Chris). If you remember from Season 1, William absolutely adores Basil Sinclaire.
During their interview, Basil denies knowing who posted the ad but reveals that the advertisement had arrived before the theft took place. Basil also sarcastically suggests Scotland Yard is once again incompetent and reliant on Eliza to solve the crime, much to Eliza’s pleasure. It’s nice to know that another person besides Eliza can throw quips in William’s direction, but it’s amazing he doesn’t blow up more often, considering the nagging the man has to deal with on a near-constant basis.
Fitzroy enters the room to alert William of his findings about an art dealer’s address, which causes William to drag Fitzroy out and reprimand him for sharing discoveries when others are present. After commenting on Fitzroy’s appearance, William orders him to have his cab brought out. Eliza steps out and advises William to be more approachable to his subordinates and to provide positive affirmation for their efforts. She then follows him to his office and basically blackmails him into sharing information about the art dealer while she goes and speaks with Ms. Garret.
Upon her arrival at the museum, Eliza finds Thomas Dashwood and Hannah Garret in a verbal argument, during which Mr. Dashwood accuses his estranged wife of the sketch’s theft and her lack of funds to maintain the museum before storming off. Rather than speak with Ms. Garret as initially planned, Eliza opts to follow Ms. Garret as she leaves the museum.
At the art dealer’s shop, William manages to get the shop owner (Aleksandar Trmcic) to provide a lead — he suggests William speak with The Count (Dragan Micanovic).
We then cut to Eliza at a bar, and it appears that Ms. Garret is meeting up with presumably The Count. As they end their conversation, Eliza follows him outside, where he disappears. As she looks around, he confronts her with a gun to her head and asks why Eliza is following him. When she doesn’t reply, The Count warns Eliza that he will shoot her, but Eliza replies that he will not as there is a police officer behind. Sure enough, we see William approach from behind and place his gun against The Count’s head.
Inside the bar, William and Eliza question The Count about the sketch. Per The Count, Ms. Garret was trying to purchase, not sell, and she was desperate. The Count also revealed that he had heard rumors about Mr. Dashwood, who paid generously for “no questions asked.”
Later, William informs Eliza that he will get a warrant to search the Dashwood residence, but Eliza will not be allowed to come. Fitzroy arrives to report that a visitor named Mr. Loman (Franco Lasic) is asking to speak about the investigation. Mr. Loman identifies himself as the insurer for the sketch and claims he has not heard of Mr. Swab.
At Eliza’s office, Hattie is visiting and appears interested in the business card. After explaining her knowledge of calligraphy, Eliza enlists Hattie’s help to locate where the card was printed. Meanwhile, William arrives at the Dashwood residence to serve the search warrant. We see Mrs. Dashwood in bed, being examined by a physician, seemingly not doing well. A servant reports Mr. Dashwood of Scotland Yard’s arrival, which results in a heated Mr. Dashwood confronting William. As Mr. Dashroom argues with William, Fitzroy suddenly collapses in the next room.
We then see Fitzroy in an infirmary bed while William looks on. He heads back to the station, where Superintendent Monroe asks him how Fitzroy is doing as a detective. William hesitates before deciding not to mention anything about Fitzroy’s health and claims he is doing well.
At a stationary shop, Eliza and Hattie speak with an employee. Or rather, Hattie drones on to the point that Eliza asks Hattie to shut up in the most polite way — “be economical with your conversation.” Eliza presents the business card to the employee and asks if it had been ordered at the shop; they were purchased by Reginald Booth, a solicitor, the previous week. To no one’s surprise, Eliza sneaks into his office when he is not around and begins searching for clues. She finds a framed photograph on the desk, and it appears Mr. Booth is the same Mr. Swab who had hired Eliza.
Following Miss Scarlet and The Duke 2×02, Mr. Booth reports that he represents the Dashwood family and that Mr. Dashwood wanted to relay that his mother had passed away. As he leaves, William, who has correctly deduced Mr. Booth’s identity, requests Mr. Booth to remove his tophat. After reluctantly doing so, William states that Mr. Booth knows an associate of his, Miss Scarlet.
In turn, Eliza is standing outside the Dashwood residence, watching Mr. Dashwood as he leaves. She then enters the home and finds Mrs. Dashwood in her bed. She notices a black moth as it flies around the room to what looks like a secret door.
At the station, William questions Booth about his impersonation of Mr. Swab. Mr. Booth divulges that he has worked for the Dashwood family for years and does as the family tells him. When asked why Thomas told him to see Eliza, Mr. Booth responds that Thomas isn’t the one who gave the order. Concurrently, we see Eliza examine the secret room, which contains photographs of the young Mrs. Dashwood, who was involved in research and was an explorer, having gone to the Temple to Karnak.
Later in the evening, Eliza and William share their respective findings at Eliza’s office. Mrs. Dashwood’s parents married her off to an older English man, who preferred to have her remain home and was not supportive of her interests, much like her son. William surmises that Mrs. Dashwood reached out to Basil Sinclair for the advert and for Mr. Booth to hire Eliza but can’t figure out why. Eliza realizes it’s a puzzle, just like the ones Mrs. Dashwood enjoyed. Suddenly, Eliza realizes where the Darwin sketch may be.
Eliza and William speak with Hannah at the museum, along with Basil Sinclair present, about Mrs. Dashwood. They believe that she is the one who stole the sketch but with good intentions. Eliza reveals that the Swab & Durstin business card is an anagram for “Darwin’s bust.” Eliza destroys the bust, where she finds a scroll among the rubble, which is unraveled to be the black moth sketch. William explains that Mrs. Dashwood hoped the story of the missing sketch and Eliza solving the puzzle would generate publicity and attract crowds to the museum. Eliza observes that Mrs. Dashwood wanted to present women succeeding in a man’s world to a visibly touched Ms. Garret. Basil Sinclair — well, I wish I had the words like he does to write about Basil Sinclair. He knows how to bring a laugh, though.
As they walk out, Eliza admits that William was right that she was hired because she was a woman. William advises her to use the fact that she is a woman to her advantage rather than to see it as a disadvantage. It’s actually quite a sincere and beautiful moment between the two as he offers her support and respect before Mr. Sinclair presents his irksome self to a not-so-delighted William.
Later in Miss Scarlet and The Duke 2×02, William visits Fitzroy in the hospital. William informs Fitzroy that the doctor said he would be alright, but Fitzroy collapsed due to a “dangerously erratic” heart rate. William also informs Fitzroy he did not tell the doctor what he suspected caused his collapse. Fitzroy apologizes and expects William to notify Superintendent Monroe; however, William discloses that the blame would fall on him. Fitzroy provides insight into his relationship with his father, stating that his father considers him a failure and despises him. Fitzroy claims that William has been the only “decent” person he’s worked under and suggests that he go under an administrative duty to learn the basics of detective work. William agrees and tells Fitzroy to get a haircut. Will the haircut suddenly turn Fitzroy’s ability to comprehend? Not immediately, but I’ll be tuning in each week to see how far he develops. It’s looking likely that grumpy William Wellington will have a soft side for Fitzroy.
We then see Eliza heading to her office, where Mrs. Parker is out there waiting for her, and you can bet your butt she is ready to lay it thick on her. She begins reprimanding Eliza for humiliating her in front of her friends, then sings another tune about how investigating Eliza’s accusations about the ladies was true.
Acknowledging Eliza’s resourcefulness, Mrs. Parker hires her to investigate potential suitors for Hattie. That was a plot twist. Don’t worry; I’d still say Mrs. Parker is a formidable woman and leave it at that. Actually, no, I’ll say that Eliza should reserve the line “be economical with your conversation” for Mrs. Parker.
Miss Scarlet and The Duke 2×02 shined a lot on the writing with its mystery. The series showcases its minor characters brilliantly. Despite the size of the role, each character is fleshed out as much as possible in the limited screen time they have and are often memorable. We got to see a lot more of Eliza and William doing investigative work, even if it was more so individually than together. I’m intrigued as to how Fitzroy’s presence will develop William as a character as we did see him slowly soften up a bit and if any obstacles may arise with his professional career on the line.
Now streaming on PBS: What are your thoughts on Miss Scarlet and The Duke 2×02 “The Black Witch Moth?” Let us know in the comments below.