Monday, March 28, 2016

Vera Series 5 - Old Wounds - Episode Review

My review of the previous episode: Changing Tides.

"Don't blame the times; blame yourself."

This is Vera’s second shot at a historical murder (first was Crow’s Trap). Carrie Telling was dumped in the woods in the 80s, when Vera was a young W.P.C. At the time, miners and coppers were at odds, resulting in several violent confrontations. The dead girl’s father, Bill, still carries a lot of bitterness from the period: not only did the police fail to find his daughter, but he was a miner. He’s quick to expect the worst of Vera and Aiden, and his temper is strong enough that Vera thinks a bout of rage may have resulted in his daughter’s death.

A friend, Stan, seems to be the only one who can calm him down. Bill's wife, Beryl, is nowhere in evidence—they’ve been separated since Carrie’s death. When Vera tracks her down, she reveals things were not as peachy as her husband supposed.

First, of course, Vera and Aiden go down the obvious route of investigation: boyfriend. There were two young men. One of them, whom Carrie did not favor, is now an M.P. The other, whom she did, has spent his life in and out of prison, and bolts when Vera and Aiden first meet him.

Speaking of which, for the second episode in a row, Vera finds herself approaching a dangerous suspect. This particular brand of recklessness was not part of Joe’s Vera—but then, it didn’t have to be. He was much quicker to Vera’s defense. First time, Aiden could be forgiven his sloth, but now he’s late because he overslept. Vera’s not happy about it, but accepts his (false) assertion that he had to ferry his sisters to an appointment quite readily.

And what does this incident tell us about their partnership? Not much. Aiden has a large family, but is a single man in his thirties. He’s not a loner, but not a family man either. He shot a man, but doesn’t seem to be haunted by it. Vera makes a few quips to the effect that Aiden is trigger happy, but he hasn’t exhibited that characteristic. We still know very little about him, and he knows next to nothing about Vera. That she tolerates him and he tolerates her is more a necessity of the status quo than an actual relationship—we needed someone to integrate quickly, and so he has.

Supporting cast? Kenny’s relationship with Vera is a constant, and, in his eccentricity, he still feels like a connection to the show’s earlier style. A new addition to the cast—Helen—is the most interesting new secondary character we’ve seen since the departure of Billy (I'm tired of boring bright young things). Irreverent and smart, she’s an internet whiz who’s quick to order Kenny about (poor Kenny—everybody’s punching bag).

What changes I noted in my previous review have continued here. Series 5’s Vera is a milder, less insistent Vera—she still has moments of frustration, impatience, and unfairness, but all in all, she’s lost most of her flaws. After a bit of research, I’ve found that this is probably due to a new set of writers. Paul Rutman seemed to be the show’s mastermind previously, writing 8 episodes. Now, Martha Hillier is writing most of the episodes, and the change in style is obvious.

My review of the next episode: Muddy Waters.


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