Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Vera Series 6 - Tuesday's Child - Episode Review



My review of the previous episode: Dark Road.

My review of the first season of Vera.
My review of the second season of Vera.
My review of the third season of Vera.
My reviews of the fourth season of Vera. 
My reviews of the fifth season of Vera.

When two teenage boys stumble into a cave, they have little idea that they're about to discover a body. Wrapped in plastic, it turns out to be the corpse of Jamie Thorne, a young man estranged from his family. Over Christmas, he'd stayed with Reverend George Haleford and his family, while working at Pevensey's fair, a local carnival, which provides a colorful setting for this episode of Vera.

The Pevensey family - Bobby, Morven, and Jodie - deny any knowledge of Jamie's whereabouts, while his roommate, Harris, also pleads ignorance. Vera quickly discovers that Harris's car was seen at the crime scene soon before Jamie's death, but as it turns out, Jamie borrowed it, and young Jodie Pevensey provides Harris with an alibi. Dead end. Or is it?

The Reverend Haleford and family - who took Jamie in after they found him sleeping rough - are dealing with their own troubles. Their son Brendan - whose necklace was found on Jamie's body - left home a year ago. His mother alleges that all is well with Brendan, and he couldn't possibly be involved with a murder, but she's obviously concealing something. It appears that some sort of rift with his father was the reason Brendan left. Their daughter resents that her parents - good, Christian people - can't live out their principles, forgiving Brendan for whatever it is he's done.

Meanwhile, Jamie's family have very little information to offer. His relationship with his stepfather, Philip, was already fraught, and CCTV at a snooker hall reveals the two might have met on the day Jamie died. His mother, Grace, is wracked with guilt - she rejected Jamie's calls six times. Vera presses her hard on this, to the point that Aiden begins to become alarmed his boss is overdoing it.

Truth be told, Vera is trying her best to appear unmoved by Bethany's death - stiff upper lip and all that - but her grief manifests itself through harshness and impatience, bordering on cruelty. Aiden still hasn't really become a confidant, but Vera's grief is a window he exploits to get to know her. Do I quite believe that someone as cocky as Aiden would take the trouble to use that opportunity? I'm not sure - he doesn't have Joe's natural empathy and maturity, but his character arc seems to be Becoming Joe Ashworth, from getting past Vera's guard to attaining a family which will anchor him. I can live with that.

Meanwhile, the death has quietly brought the team closer together. Kenny and Mark Edwards discuss giving evidence at the inquest, and Vera has a nice moment with Mark, assuring him he is not to blame. How much she blames herself is unclear, but it's certainly had a significant effect on her inner life.

One of the things I really like about Vera is how it allows us genuinely deceptive suspect monologues. A character can give a long, tear-stained speech proclaiming her innocence or guilt, and we, the camera, and the director, all believe it. It is framed by the story  as truthful and delivered with conviction, and there are none of the over-shifty glances that tell us something is Suspicious. But Vera doesn't take things at face value. Yes, it all works, but what about this fact - what about this circumstance? If it doesn't explain all the facts, it has to go. I'd like to believe you, luv, but it's not true. That means we, the audience, can't quite sit back and relax. While the interrogations and switchbacks go on a bit in the latter half of the story, this technique is well-displayed here, in a solid second installment.

My review of the next episode: The Moth Catcher.

Want something good to watch? Check out my full list of British detective shows.

Longish

9 comments:

  1. I think the show is trying a bit too hard to select an unlikely killer at this point. Did I believe for a second that the selected villain could have done what was shown and what the crime scene evidence suggested? Well, no. Midsumer was playing the same game with their last episode, too.

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    1. Yeah, it was a bit as if they tried to choose the least interesting least developed minor character, to try and pull of a surprise. I'd rather be less surprised and more convinced.

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    2. The end got cut off on my dvr. Who did it?

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    3. Morven Pevensey. The Pevensey family own the fair - and she's the wife of the owner.

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  2. Thanks Hannah for another great review.

    After the nonsense of the recent Endeavour series; I was pleased to get back-to-basics with Vera. Here are my random thoughts about Tuesday’s Child.

    The star of the show for me was the funfair. The colours and the lights were beautifully filmed and expertly framed. There was a ten-second scene where all the lights were turned on after the fair had been shut down for a few days, which I thought was stunning.

    The scene where Vera found the vicar’s daughter in the home of boy that stole the mobile telephone was a coincidence too far for me. It seemed to be a plot device that’s only purpose was to give Vera an opportunity to question the girl alone in the car on the way home.

    My complaint with Vera is the men in her team. Kenny, Mark and Aiden are all too weak to stand up to the formidable Vera. In particular, in the past two episodes (and the previous series for that matter), I have found myself increasingly exasperated with Aiden, wanting something more complex – perhaps in the mould of Hathaway from Lewis. Couldn’t the producers let Aiden drive the Land Rover occasionally – anything to give the lad a purpose. Everything about Aiden’s personal life - the pregnancy and possible marriage - is mentioned rather than dramatised. There was one point in this week’s episode when Aiden said that ‘Charlie’ made him sleep on the sofa and I found myself wishing that Charlie was his boyfriend instead of his girlfriend just to add a little interest to a very dull character. I thought it was a nice detail when Vera coveted Aiden’s uneaten half sandwich; I would have liked it even more had the roles had been reversed.

    Finally, the denouement of both Dark Road and Tuesday’s Child relied on an oversight by one member of the team for last-minute drama. Of course, Vera spotted it in the nick of time. Is that coincidence or part of the Vera formula?

    Minor complaints about an otherwise very enjoyable series.

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    1. Vera is certainly more consistent than Endeavour, if, perhaps, a bit less inventive. The potential for death in the secondary cast will hopefully shake things up a bit, but Aiden's failure to really develop as a partner is disappointing. It's not helped by the fact that his predecessor was such a strong and compelling presence alongside Vera - while he wasn't up to her level when it came to deduction, he wasn't a fool, and more importantly, he really understood Vera in a way that was essential to his purpose as a character. Aiden is fairly intelligent, but doesn't understand Vera at all, and hasn't the character to provide "her conscience," as Joe was referred to in the books.

      But I also enjoyed the moment with the sandwiches - and another time, when Aiden said something cocky and Vera responded, after a beat, with a laughing "cheeky sod." Joe worked because he understood Vera and was willing (and mature enough) to endure her moods - I think Aiden could work if he was so cocky (and mature enough) as to ignore her moods. That hasn't happened yet, but I'm not giving up hope.

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    1. St. Cuthbert's Cave, in Belford, Northumberland

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  4. Thanks for this awesome blog and great review! I really enjoy VERA and other British mysteries and dramas; problem is, I fall asleep earlier than I used to and I keep zonking out during key points of each episode! (Thank God for AcornTV.com ).

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