When last we saw the inhabitants of Station House No. 4, Julia and William Murdoch had suffered a tragic loss, George Crabtree found himself unlucky in love again and viewers were left wondering what Violet Hart, Julia’s new morgue assistant, was really up to.
Season 12, Episode 1 begins with Julia (Hélène Joy) and William (Yannick Bisson) walking into their brand new home only to find about a dozen people inside. The home was designed, incidentally, by legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright (Aaron Poole) and, as it turns out, Julia didn’t read the fine print (who ever does?!) in the contract before she signed it and has agreed that Wright can use their house as a showcase for 90 days.
Loyal viewers know it wouldn’t really feel like home for Mr. and Mrs. Murdoch if they didn’t find at least one dead body somewhere in the house. The body they do discover is particularly gruesome and it’s a bloody good start to the new season of Murdoch Mysteries.
Mod-Con Murdoch Mystery Mansion
It turns out the murder victim, Lionel Spoud, died in the Murdoch’s “cooking room”, yet another innovation in a long list of William Murdoch’s ahead-of-his-time inventions. Surely this is just the first of many mod-cons we’ll see in this couple’s house. William spends much of the episode interviewing guests who were in their new house when Spoud died. As always, there is a plethora of potential suspects, including Mr. Wright himself and his assistant Ann Ryand, played by Downton Abbey actress Sophie McShera.
One of the running themes in this episode is that each time anyone asks William if he likes his new house, he doesn’t really answer, but it’s quite clear he doesn’t. And it’s not because someone was practically liquefied in his cooking room. He can’t even impart this opinion to his wife. Inspector Brackenreid (Thomas Craig) and Constable George Crabtree (Jonny Harris) don’t like the Murdoch’s new “open concept” house either. “It’s just a bloody box,” Brackenreid says to George.
Julia finally figures it out when she overhears someone asking William if he likes the house and he replies with: “Julia likes it.” Once he finds a secret compartment tucked away in a drawer, though, William’s opinion of the house begins to change for the better.
Toronto Gazette Reporter Louise Cherry (Bea Santos) hits the Murdoch’s with a cherry bomb of her own and has a humorous interaction with Detective Llewelyn Watts (Daniel Maslany), who, as usual, seems to be walking around in his own little world.
Miss Hart (Shanice Banton) is still trying to hone in on Julia’s job. She is reminded by Brackenreid that she’s never going any farther in life than where she already has. She’s got two strikes against her – she’s a woman and she’s black. It’s a brutal and stark reminder of what life was like for women, and particularly black women, in the early 20th Century.
Back at the station house, everyone’s favourite keystone cop, Henry Higgins (Lachlan Murdoch) is handing out wedding invitations. Viewers can assume he and Ruth Newsome (Siobhan Murphy) will be married soon. Higgins is spending most of his time going on errands for his wife to be. His absenteeism at work isn’t going unnoticed. He is behaving like he’s already a snobby, rich Newsome. Then, there’s an awesome old-fashioned Mexican standoff between Brackenreid and Higgins (and the music that goes with it is spot-on), the culmination of which none of us see coming. Kudos to Director Gary Harvey and to Lachlan Murdoch for some highly entertaining scenes in this week’s episode.
Born In The Wrong Century
Ruth introduces a vintage version of Tinder to George. She brings him a stack of black and white photos of potential women he could bring to the wedding. He tells her he wants someone career-oriented but who also wants to have a family. George was obviously born in the wrong century. Ruth comes back later and tells him she’s found him a handsome woman. Ever the optimist, Brackenreid chimes in with: “Handsome is never good.” In the end, Ruth provides him with a Tinder match from hell. Poor George.
This was an impressive start to the new season, with a couple of interesting twists to keep us guessing. According to Showrunner Peter Mitchell, in his interview with Greg David, viewers can look forward to more intrigue involving Miss Hart and a number of episodes focusing on secondary characters, including Brackenreid and Watts, this season. New episodes of Murdoch Mysteries air Mondays at 8 p.m. on CBC. I’ll have a review of each new episode posted every Tuesday.
What did you think of the start of Season 12? Let me know in the comments section.