‘Grantchester’ Season 1, Episode 2: To engage or disengage

This episode starts out convincing us that Sidney Chambers, the poor vicar in Grantchester, is totally swoon-worthy.  This episodes draws our hero further into the murder-solving business. This time, in the defense of a man he believes is innocent. Sidney reasons, “As a priest, isn’t everything our business?” “Grantchester” Season 1, Episode 2 airs on PBS Sunday, 25 January 2015, 10 p.m. ET on MASTERPIECE Mystery!. Check local listings.

First we get to view the lovely countryside. Sidney Chambers (James Norton)  is outside, working up a sweat doing some outdoor chores in his tank top, when his sister, Jennifer (Fiona Button), shows up. Remember, T-shirts and tank tops used to be underwear.

“You’re predecessor was the same; he worked far too hard,” Mrs. Maguire (Tessa Peake-Jones) advises.

“I’m fine,” Sidney says.

“Exactly what he said; he was dead within a year,” she retorts before she tells him, “You’re sister’s here. She’s wearing lipstick.”

Jennifer is dressed up, “Sidney you look awful. Are you working too hard or are you just getting old?”

“Both, I’m afraid,” Sidney replies.

“Amanda said you didn’t reply,” Jennifer says. Amanda is having an engagement party and invited Sidney.

“I was saving the guests the disappointment; no one wants to sit next to a clergyman at supper,” he says, but they both know the real reason and it’s not that “”I don’t belong at these kind of things, Jen.

“Neither do I. That’s why I need you there,” Jen says.

“There’ll be awkward conversations,” he counters.

“Of course,” she replies.

“There will be talk of carpets,” Sidney predicts.

“Why is it the well-to-do always talk about carpets?” Jen asks.

“Heaven forbid anyone should bring up  anything important,” says Sidney.

When the title comes up. We’re back at Grantchester.

Jennifer is with her “friend,” Johnny Johnson (Ukweli Roach) who is black and a jazz musician.

As they travel to the estate where Amanda lives, we hear Louis Armstrong’s  “A Kiss to Build a Dream on.” Sidney has had that kiss, a proper one on the cheek.  There will be no more kisses. There will be no more jaunts to Grantchester for Amanda.

Amanda didn’t think he’d come but admits, “I’m miss my jaunts down to Grantchester.”

“I’ve missed them, too,” Sidney admits.

When we meet Amanda’s fiancé, Guy Hopkins (Tom Austen), we are charmed. He’s personable, he’s handsome and he’s rich–everything that the heroine of a romance novel would want.

Later, Amanda shows off her ring and we are introduced to Jennifer’s friends. If you recall, Sidney met Amanda through his sister. His sister was a friend of Amanda’s at school. Not all of Jennifer’s friends are as nice as Amanda; some are frenemies.

“As symbols of oppressive institutions go, it is rather lovely,” Daphne (Pippa Nixon) says of the rather large stone in the engagement ring.

“It certainly puts mine to shame,” Lilian Calthorpe (Carolina Main) comments. She pursued her husband, we’ll later learn, or at least that’s who he sees it.

The girls sadly comment on Sidney’s chosen vocation, with Daphne saying, “we mooned over him, something chronic.”  Daphne isn’t the the worst of this bunch, either.

As the women remember their days at school, Lilian comments about Jennifer, “I’m surprised that your mother didn’t knit your entire uniform.”

At dinner, Daphne attempts to be shocking, asking Sidney, “You a virgin? Is that why you drink? repression of your sexual desires…then it must be the war, drinking to forget.”

We cut to fireworks and a drinking Sidney. Amanda (Morven Christie) stands next to Sidney and he asks her, “Why are you marrying him?”

“Because he asked. You shouldn’t have come,” she tells him. And yet, she shouldn’t have invited him.

Back in the house, they talk about Sidney’s recent involvement in solving a murder case.

“It’s always a crime of passion, sex and death are inextricably linked,” Daphne comments.

And then, the nasty Lilian takes up back to the past, by saying, “Do you remember that dress she made for you for the Christmas ball? Red flannette and that boy asked if you’d rather dance or be put to bed?”

Jennifer asks, “Why do you always have to make me feel so small?”

Amanda’s diamond engagement ring is being passed; and Johnny accidentally-on-purpose dumps the champagne on Lilian. He’s upset and so are we because the real character of these friends is revealed. Everyone, except Amanda, Jennifer and Sidney believe that Johnny must have stolen the ring. If we had thought Amanda’s fiancé Guy was a swell guy, we learn he is really a swell-headed guy with an “entitled ease.”

The next day, Sidney breaks down listening to “A Kiss to Build a Dream On” and shatters the record. He gets a phone call in time to draw him out of his self-pity. It’s from Geordie (Robson Green) “A friend of yours, reported his wife missing.”

Sidney comes on the scene and sees the verbally vicious Lilian floating peacefully in a calm waters of the channel below in the very same dress she was wearing the night before. Her husband, William (Harry Hadden_Paton) is slumped over in his coat and hat standing on the bridge.

When Sidney and Geordie question him, he says, “She went for a walk.”

“At two o’clock in the morning?” Sidney asks. Apparently she did this often enough.

“She seem troubled, before that,” Sidney comments.

“A year ago, we were to have a baby…but there were complications. I wish I had your faith, Sidney,” William reveals.

Yet Sidney is troubled. The theft of a ring and the murder of one of the friends: two crimes in one night. He tells Geordie, “I don’t believe in coincidences.” At least not in a short story or murder mystery (although what about red herrings?).

“I don’t believe in God,” Geordie replies. Then he asks, “What about the husband. Is he trustworthy?”

“He wants to be an MP,” Sidney replies. Is that a universal? Politicians aren’t to be trusted?

“I’ll take that as a no,” Geordie says.

Sidney comments that with two crimes in one night at different location within the same circle of friends, that doesn’t seem like a coincidence.

“Police work,” Geordie explains, “It’s all about keeping an open mind.”

Later, Daphne looks up our dear Sidney, with three things on her mind: a comment about how she’s been at odds after her friend’s death, a copy of an essay about drinking (bidding him to read page 13) and a referral of a Mr. Finch. Mr. Finch (Al Weaver) will be particularly useful in this case although he, too, in the name of justice will be required to break one of those ten commandments.

Geordie and Sidney interview of attendees of of that fateful party and the replies are intercut with each other so we can understand just how things stands. Amanda’s father is clueless. He says, “Lilian was a school friend of Amanda’s, lovely girl.” I don’t think he meant she was pretty. She was, but her personality was anything but lovely.

Amanda, herself, characterizes Lilian as “brusque.” Not that’s a clear understatement. Daphne comments that “Poor Jen, the plump scholarship girl, she took the brunt of it.” By “it” she means Lilian’s nastiness.

Johnny, everyone’s obvious suspect, comments how he didn’t like Lilian because, “If there’s one thing I can’t stand is a bully. and Lilian was the worst kind, all smiles while she’s kicking Jen in the teeth.”

We do get a review of what happened before the ring disappeared from Amanda. The ring went to Jennifer, to Johnny to Daphne to Lilian and then the champagne was spilt.

At this point, Guy, who treated Johnny poorly at the party, reveals that it wasn’t a mistake–his arrogant prejudice. Guy says of Johnny,  “He’s a thief and I’ve no doubt a murderer, too.” So easy to judge and convict someone based on class and race, isn’t it?

As Sidney explains to Geordie the “entitled ease” of the others, “Johnny, you, me, we’re not one of them.” And that is the moat that sets the fair Amanda apart from Sidney on an island of entitlement.

The German lady from the last episode isn’t entirely forgotten. Hildegard is in Germany for now.

Yet the question that we all must remember as Sidney wisely points out, “Why commit a second crime when everybody already blames you for a first?”

You have to wonder if Amanda really wants the ring back. She suggests it might be cursed. After all, Guy’s mother left the ring behind when she walked out on Guy and his father.

Yes…who marries for love? Love is dangerous (that’s according to the Bog King in “Strange Magic”). Amanda further explains her situation to Sidney, thusly, “Guy’s father and my father are old friends. What I thought of the match was rather low-down on the priorities.”

Her father, Sir Edward Kendall (Pip Torrens) also takes time to speak to Sidney about the match. This is a good marriage. If the marriage did not take place between Guy and Amanda, things would not turn out well. And, he adds, he doesn’t expect to see much more of Sidney. Nice way to say good-bye.

Likewise, we learn that the marriage between Lilian and “sweet William” was a good match although William had been interested in someone else previously. Lilian was the kind of person an ambitious politician would marry.

In Grantchester, love is a minor concern, a concern for the middle and lower classes. The aristocracy has different concerns, different needs and different views and apparently live under different laws, or at least they did.

The message of this episode, and in Sidney’s sermon is one of faith, hope and love. Love being “the greatest of these.” Does Sidney just have a kiss to build a dream on? The episode ends with Sidney celebrating his birthday having solved the case and acquired a new friend while perhaps losing the friend he loves most dearly.

The other lesson is not to invite your true love to your engagement party and try not to invite any problematic love triangles either.

“Grantchester” Season 1, Episode 2 airs on PBS on Sunday, 25 January 2015, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET. Check local listings. After the initial broadcast, it will be available VoD.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.