As we end our 2017 stay on Saint Marie, things take a decidedly softer pace for this week’s Death in Paradise mystery.
Sadly this doesn’t make for a closing episode with much bite.
“We’re not in London anymore, Dad. You have to expect things to be a bit different.”
The episode does have many redeeming features, but it’s hard to ignore the lack of dramatic chutzpah that has benefited many of this season’s episodes. Firstly, one of the main plots for Jack (Ardal O’Hanlon) is whether he and daughter Siobhan (Grace Stone) should remain in Saint Marie.
O’Hanlon being announced as the show’s new lead means that this feels like a wasted story, as it seems so obvious he is going to stay. Saying that, it does provide more of that lovely father/daughter chemistry that O’Hanlon and Stone share.
“Are there any circumstances where she might be our killer?”
Making Catherine the central figure in one of the murders is a slick move to give the character more exposure, but since we have known her since the show’s first episode she is quickly excluded from proceedings as a suspect, robbing the charismatic Elizabeth Bourgine of more screen time.
Death in Paradise has a relatively small core cast and while her character has always been peripheral (especially since Camille’s exit) it would be nice to see her talents more developed in the show. She and The Commissioner (Don Warrington) do give every scene a sense of credibility and nostalgia, given the show’s consistent cast changes. It is sweet to see the current characters so loyal towards her though.
“But how could nobody see it happen?”
More positively, the players in the central mystery are very good and the actors involved should be commended. In the traditional third act twist, we are given a very sensitive reveal, which is genuinely sad and very well acted. Though the twist will be guessed, it won’t be until the very last minute. It is genuinely heartbreaking, despite the pacing issues of the episode.
“Have I to go back or do I stay?”
While I feel I have been a little harsh about this episode it is only because this season has proved so strong in terms of fresh attitudes to the show’s direction and storytelling – particularly with the casting of Father Ted star Ardal O’Hanlon as our new D.I., Jack Mooney.
Playing with the established tropes of the show has paid off and, at its centre, Death in Paradise has more heart and sophisticated light comedy than any other crime drama on television. Add to this that the recently confirmed seventh season is due to start filming in May and we have every reason to already look forward to a return to Saint Marie.
Aired at 9pm on Thursday 23 February 2017 on BBC One.
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