I have exciting news Fletcherfans. This episode not only doesn’t have Grady in it, it has everyone’s favourite English cousin in it.
Emma is just kicking back and having a beer with her friends when a mysterious stranger arrives by the name of Humphrey Defoe who wants a private word. He represents the 18th Viscount
Blackadder Blackraven, who Emma knew back in the day as Lieutenant Geoffrey Constable. He would like Emma to come and visit him after all these years. Humphrey gives her an envelope with a thousand pounds but Emma is scandalised. She doesn’t need a bribe to visit her old friend.
I dunno. A thousand quid is like twenty bajillion Australian dollars. But I’ve never been good with currency conversion.
Anyway, the next morning Emma heads off into the countryside with Humphrey to pay a visit on her old friend. Emma freaks out seeing the size of the house, and wonders what she was thinking, going to see a man she hadn’t seen for forty years – she’s not exactly the same nineteen year old Geoffrey remembers. Humphrey kindly points out that Geoffrey won’t be the same either, but that if he might be permitted an observation, the years have been very kind to both of them.
Oh Humphrey, you old charmer.
Inside the reception is mild bordering on warm. Geoffrey’s sister Sybil greets Emma, telling Humphrey she was sure her brother was sending him on a fool’s errand. Jeffrey’s niece-in-law Pauline is far more frosty, and is more concerned with trying to get her son Derek to stay home and not go out raging/playing tennis. For someone who started out life as a baker’s daughter, she seems a complete cow. Humphrey takes Emma upstairs and reintroduces her to Geoffrey, who tells her that one of the reasons he invited her down was to tell her he was leaving her one of his houses, but mainly to see her one more time before he dropped off the perch.
That night at dinner the whole family frocks up at Geoffrey’s request, including Geoffrey’s other nephew Johnny who has inexplicably arrived with Daphne from Frasier.
At dinner, while the rest of the family struggle to contain their horror at
Daphne Gwen’s tales about her three quid a class dance lessons, Emma has to inform Geoffrey that while she appreciates him going to the effort of ordering pickled herring in remembrance of the restaurant they used to gorge themselves at after Emma’s performances back in the day, she can’t actually eat it on account of getting food poisoning from the herring at said restaurant before it closed down.
After dinner they are entertained by Pauline doing a wonderful piano rendition of Hashtag Selfie.
After Pauline massacres the piano for a bit, Geoffrey begs Emma to take over. She starts to play a song but he has a very specific request – the old classic “How’d You Like To Spoon With Me.”
This song choice is a bit more divisive.
Actually, the only people in the WTF camp are Cybil and Pauline, who after the performance is in a glass cage of emotion.
The next morning Emma, Gwen, Johnny, Sybil and Humphrey are out having breakfast on the terrace when Derek enters via the bushes, asking whether his great-uncle has kicked the bucket yet. Cue the entrance of Geoffrey’s doctor who is delighted to announce that Geoffrey’s health has miraculously turned around, and that he could live for another twenty years. This news isn’t greeted with the greatest excitement from anyone, except Emma and Humphrey. The man himself appears a short time later and tells Emma to pack a basket, they’re going on a picnic.
While Emma and Geoffrey drive off to amuse themselves *nudge nudge wink wink*, and Geoffrey tells stories of his late father who died just a couple of weeks previously, Sybil and Pauline rage against Humphrey for bringing Emma into their lives. Humphrey refuses, saying that he talked Geoffrey out of returning to Emma after the war and he’d always regretted it. Sybil tells him that she knew he was smuggling whiskey in to her father against doctor’s orders before he died, and informs him that once her brother has passed away they will decide whether to retain Humphrey’s services.
Meanwhile, out in the paddock, Geoffrey is snacking on pickled herring and trying to propose to Emma when he collapses. He sends Emma for help but dies in the mean time. The good doctor suspects a heart attack but Inspector Frost suspects murder by
death poison. Fun fact about the Inspector – he wrote the lyrics to Goldfinger and all the songs in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
The Inspector goes to the Blackraven estate to inform the family that Geoffrey didn’t make it, and not a single tear was shed. He asks to speak to Emma and Pauline informs him that as wife of the new Viscount Blackraven, he can address all questions to her. He informs her that he’ll go and ask Emma himself, much to Pauline’s disgust.
Out on the terrace Emma is heartbroken to hear of Geoffrey’s death. He asks her whose idea the picnic was and who prepared the food, and she tells him Geoffrey planned it and she got all the food together. Humphrey asks why the Inspector wants to know and he tells them of his suspicions that Geoffrey was poisoned.
Pauline doesn’t take long to stamp her authority on her surroundings as the new Vicountess. She informs one of the ladies from the Garden Society that she will come for lunch with the society at her house at 1pm, and to make sure it’s something light as it’s important they all watch their waistlines. UGH, THIS WOMAN. Unfortunately for her, her influence doesn’t extend to her husband, as when Derek comes in looking for money to go skiing in Grenoble his father tells him to get a job, much to her horror. BOOM. I like this new Viscount, he’s alright.
Down at the police station the Inspector tells Emma that the family were quick to tell him about her inheritance, but that he doesn’t suspect her. He suspects the poison was confined to the herring, and as Emma had told him the story of the night before about how she doesn’t eat pickled herring, he thinks someone else put the poison in the fish to cast suspicion on Emma. Emma, remembering something Geoffrey had told her, wonders out loud whether the same thing might have happened to Geoffrey’s father. The inspector is impressed by this theory but Emma is modest, saying it’s the sort of thing her cousin would have thought of.
Life Lesson #53 – Always ask yourself, WWJBD?
The Inspector informs the family that he will be exhuming the body of Geoffrey and Sybil’s father Rupert much to everyone’s horror. They all manage to swallow their indignation and get on with their lives, however. Pauline goes off to show off her new Viscountessness to the ladies who once snobbed her for being a baker’s daughter and Johnny decides to go shooting with Derek for reasons I will never understand. As the body is being exhumed, Humphrey appears with a bit of gossip for Emma – Johnny Constable is in a bit of financial strife with some shady characters from the Middle East. Oh look! Nothing changes! He wasn’t able to find out more information than that, but Emma tells him he was asking the wrong person.
Emma takes Gwen out for a pint, and finds out that Johnny was all set to try to borrow money from his great-uncle but that he died before he had the chance. The same thing happened not a few months earlier, when Johnny tried to borrow from Geoffrey’s father – even tried buttering him up by sneaking him chocolate bonbons – but the old dude said no.
Before Emma can ask another question, Humphrey turns up with some grim news – Derek’s just been shot. After a quick stop to alert his mother Pauline – thankfully before she’d sat down to lunch with the ladies – they rush back to the manor to find Derek mostly fine, but whining. While the killer carefully throws blame at Johnny Emma alerts the Inspector to a clue outside. The inspector returns, announces that he is taking Johnny in for questioning and escorts him out to the car. As they watch the car drive away Emma announces she’s also leaving, getting a lift to the station with Humphrey.
Or are they? The cunning theft of a distributor cap means that Humphrey’s car won’t start. They’ll have to borrow Pauline’s car. But Pauline would prefer that they didn’t, what with the shotgun in the boot that was used to shoot Derek and frame Johnny so that he could take the fall for the murders of Geoffrey and his father.
And so the crime was solved and the next season of Downton Abbey was born.