Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Vera Series 4 - Death of a Family Man - Episode Review

My review of the previous episode: The Deer Hunters.

My review of the first season of Vera.
My review of the second season of Vera.
My review of the third season of Vera.

Despite the frightening title, Joe’s final episode doesn’t really focus on him. The most interesting change in dynamic comes from Robert Glenister’s Owen Preece, who is guesting as a rival and possible love interest for Vera. The latter half of that sentence doesn’t quite work. It’s certainly interesting to see the sparks fly when Vera encounters another authority figure (unlike Morse or comparable detective heroes, Vera has never embraced the underdog, anti-authoritarian hero storyline), but any romantic chemistry is firmly in Joe’s (and Celine’s) imagination.

The dead family man is John Shearwood. He drowned, unable to struggle to the surface due to his broken legs and the fact that his tennis shoes were tied together. His wife, Stella, refuses to believe it - her oddly oblivious, solid sense of denial foreshadows a greater self-deception - she's quite a character. John’s brother, Luke, is quietly (and suspiciously!) mournful. John’s son, Billy, is missing, and his partner, Mark Donovan - according to Owen Preece - is involved in a scam that John was informing on to the police.

Owen talks Vera into suspending her investigation to follow this lead, but Vera becomes convinced Donovan is innocent (of murder, anyway). The late John told Owen that he had a mistress, so Vera and Joe set themselves to track her down. In so doing, they uncover son Billy’s criminal past - he was involved in manslaughter death of a child crossing the road.

The conclusion of this story has little grace for the suspects. A mass of lies and selfishness on the dead man’s part lead to two fatherless children. But there is a moment of - redemption? forgiveness? Well, of meeting across the divide, anyway. A bit of hope.

Meanwhile, Marcus and Shep have finally become an item, gadding about in leather jackets on a motorcycle. Poor D.C. John Warren, an extra for all this time, gets a few more speaking lines in his final episode. Kenny is Kenny. Joe is Joe. Vera, alas, is Vera - and remains alone. I doubt they knew this would be David Leon’s final episode, but knowledge of his impending departure means it’s impossible not to read into the final scene a sad summary - Vera likes to be alone, and so, perhaps, she always will be.

My review of the next episode: Changing Tides.


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