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 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.