Monday, April 10, 2017

Vera Series 7 - The Blanket Mire - Episode Review



My review of the previous episode: Broken Promise.
"Yer mam'll be worried about yuh." 
"She doesn't care about oos." 
"Ah, shut oop and get in the car."
This episode of Vera puts a slightly horrific twist into the usual body discovery by revealing it rather unexpectedly, as a bit of sludgey sod gives way under a hiker.

18-year-old Mia Hinkin has been missing for six weeks when her body is discovered.

"Why does this feel worse?" says Aiden at the crime scene.

"The publicity," Vera replies. "Feel like you knew her."



Indeed, this episode feels more personal than usual, taking the Broadchurch approach to a young person's death. When P.C. George Wooten from Missing Persons meets Vera, he says he put a little extra work into this one. Everyone is taking it a bit more seriously.

Mia lived with her parents and brother, Jason, at a dairy farm in the middle of nowhere. While her parents take her loss hard, their neglect of Jason and rumored mistreatment of Mia means Vera suspects they may have had something to do with the girl's death.

Mia hung out a lot with a gang of local pickers. Janisz Hiszpanski is a rather shady character, according to his buddy Blazej Bobienski. The pickers' employer Jack Madden is keen to protect his men, so he's not particularly forthcoming when Vera and Aiden interview him.

Owen Tomlinson, Mia's boyfriend, was prepared to move heaven and Earth to find her. Of course, Vera quickly figures out that he was Mia's ex-boyfriend, and not particularly happy about it. His friend Jo Travers defends him, pointing to Mia's rough parents. Mia herself was the type of girl who would lead men on, she says.

One of the last sightings of Mia was by nurse Meryl Fairchild, who said she'd seen the girl arguing with Gary Tovey, a veteran who knew Mia because she worked at his wife Claire's stables.

When Mia disappeared, she was supposedly en route to a music festival, where she would meet her friend Erin. It takes Vera and Aiden a while to track her down (she's having an affair with the lead singer of her favorite band, unsurprisingly), but when they do, she shakes up their imperiled timeline even further. It's the timeline that this episode hinges on, as Vera and Aiden try and piece together Mia's last days.

Finding out about Mia's life in Newcastle, Vera and Aiden encounter a few new suspects - Zoe, a club manager who'd seen Mia in her bar, and Lorna, a girl who was assaulted not far from that club.

That about covers the suspects, but what's really nice about this episode is the character beats. Mia's family appear to be a cliched creepy backwoods family at first, but the story takes the time to flesh out each family member. In a story with a lot of side characters, most of them get a little time to grow and establish themselves.

The script itself has snappy dialogue, and Vera and Aiden both get some delightful lines to deliver. As for Aiden, he's grown on me this season. His brief moment of mature sadness at the beginning of this episode suggested a depth which he hasn't achieved yet, but could (go that road, writers - give him some real challenges - not just changing diapers). He has a nice, fun rapport with Vera that keeps their relationship interesting.

The direction emphasizes the sheer space and size of the bleak countryside, while waiting to notice the tangible, physical elements of the place. Mist. Rain. Grass. Vera, as opposed to the well-groomed quads of Morse and the gas-lit streets of Sherlock - is a show that thrives in the wilderness. And this is an episode where the show thrives on a number of levels. I'd still like to see some serious character arcs and conflicts to tie the show together (Endeavour has me spoiled), but it's still a solid, worthwhile show, as this season has demonstrated.

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

My reviews of the sixth season of Vera.

If you enjoyed this article, check out my full list of detective reviews.

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Longish

2 comments:

  1. Thanks Hannah for another great review.

    I agree with you that the banter between Vera and Mia's brother JJ was probably the most engaging part of the show. Without giving anything away, I was really touched by their exchange in the coda after the murder was solved.

    Favourite line: Vera to Kenny, Hisham and Aiden. "I'm looking for a boyfriend." LOL.

    Having said that, for me, the writing of The Blanket Mire was weak. Are we really meant to believe that a high-profile and well-publicised missing persons’ case only received information from people who were after the £10,000 reward? That Mia’s friend Erin, bar manager Zoë, and brother JJ all failed to report vital information to the police in the 40 days she’d been missing?

    I was surprised when Erin mentioned she'd seen a man confronting Mia, that Vera and Aiden did not immediately show her photographs of their male suspects. But, I guess, in that case the show would have been over after 45 minutes. Vera really should have known better. I was shouting at the TV. I mean, doesn’t she watch Endeavour and Morse?

    Regarding Aiden, we’ll have to agree to disagree. Fetching a skinny latté for Vera, or helping her put on her blue disposable over-shoes is demeaning and a waste of Aiden’s talents. There were entire scenes in this episode where he didn’t utter a word because Vera dominated the interview. I’d love to be his union rep at his annual performance evaluation because I’d have some very harsh words for Vera.

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    Replies
    1. JJ and Vera were a lot of fun together. And yep - that was easily the best line.

      See, I partly agree with you about Aiden. There have been hints of development that just haven't been followed up on. He needs a real, serious subplot to keep him busy. A few of those hints convinced me that he COULD handle that, if they wrote it. Before, I didn't think he was even up to it.

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