Murdoch Without Borders highlights prevalent racist attitudes towards immigrants in the early 20th Century while Murdoch, Brackenreid and Dr. Ogden deal with the pending Immigration Act of 1906. Murdoch Mysteries season 12, episode 4 shows viewers that unfortunately not much has changed in 100 years.
The episode begins with immigration officer James McBride set on rounding up Greek immigrants for deportation. Station House No. 4 jail cells are full to capacity. Constable George Crabtree (Jonny Harris) thinks it’s strange that all the prisoners are the same nationality.
The immigration officer tells Detective Murdoch (Yannick Bisson and Crabtree that the detainees are all criminals. Inspector Brackenreid (Thomas Craig) notices his carpenter Athos is among them. “I didn’t do anything wrong,” he tells Brackenreid, who believes him and lets him leave. Soon after, Murdoch and Crabtree find Mr. McBride’s body rolled up in a carpet in a back alley.
Suspects in this episode include every man in Greektown, and the highly competitive owners of three Toronto construction companies. The owner of Palmer Construction (Darrin Baker) is disturbed that immigration has rounded up his non-documented workers. The owner of Copely Construction (Jonathan Whittaker) is against Palmer’s use of non-union employees.
Doctor Ogden Without Borders
Meanwhile, at the University of Toronto’s School of Medicine, Dr. Julia Ogden (Hélène Joy) has her own battle to fight. Her instructor, Dr. Forbes (James McGowan) informs her she can’t treat a Polish man with a badly injured leg. The man is going to be deported and his wound is considered a burden on Canada. Later on at home, William asks his wife what is more important to her, the law or saving a man’s life?
Julia decides to go ahead with the operation, with Nurse Sullivan (Stephanie Belding) in tow, but is soon discovered by her rival, Dr. Dixon (Sebastian Pigott).
“This is grounds for dismissal,” he says angrily. “You were explicitly instructed not to treat this man.” But, will Dr. Dixon expose her?
When Crabtree discovers Detective Llewelyn Watts (Daniel Maslany) can speak a bit of Greek, he enlists him to accompany him to Greektown. Unsurprisingly, Watts spends much of his time eating souvlaki and baklava. He does however, find out that McBride was at the medical center. Crabtree asks him how he knew and he says that, above all, food is an important part of the Greek culture. “You eat and you talk,” he replies. Tempted by a piece of baklava, Crabtree decides to join Watts in his delicious pursuit. Later, Brackenreid also samples Greek cuisine, as he eats a bowl of Greek yogurt.
Say Feta Cheese Boys!
Brackenreid and Murdoch are also in Greektown and run into Louise Cherry (Bea Santos) from the Toronto Gazette. She snaps a photo of the pair from a balcony as she sees them. “The vultures are here to pick the bones clean,” Brackenreid quips. Athos spots him and thanks Brackenreid for keeping him in the country. Miss Cherry lurks behind a pole, so she can eavesdrop on the pair.
Athos becomes the main suspect in McBride’s murder and Brackenreid suffers the consequences of his kindhearted decision. Miss Cherry runs a scathing article in the Toronto Gazette, using the nickname “Inspector Bumblereid”. The article then states: “The inspector has blood on his hands.”
This does not sit well with Brackenreid. He takes out his anger on Athos, expressing it with his fists, while trying to get the carpenter to confess.
Go Home Greeks
The Gazette article leads to rioting in Greektown and as a result, brings out the bigots. Likewise, the words “Go Home Greeks” can be seen painted on the side of a building.
Brackenreid and Murdoch call Miss Cherry to the station house, due to their concern that her articles are inciting violence in the city.
“The citizens of Toronto, and this country, are being overrun by foreigners,” she says. “They’re changing the very fabric of society as we speak.” And if you didn’t already think Miss Cherry was a horrible person, well there’s your proof.
“Just give me the tiniest reason to throw her back in jail Murdoch, I’m begging you,” Brackenreid says as Miss Cherry exits his office.
There are many parallels in this episode to today’s societal attitude toward immigrants. This viewpoint is also prevalent at the school of medicine and during the Canada for Canadians protest scene. It’s unfortunate that more than 100 years later, these same self-righteous bigots still exist.
“The law isn’t always an accurate measure of a society,” Murdoch says. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
New episodes of Murdoch Mysteries air Mondays at 8 p.m. on CBC.