Monday, April 3, 2017

Vera Series 7 - Broken Promise - Episode Review

My review of the previous episode: Dark Angel

One of my favorite things about Vera has always been its style - stark lighting, artsy shots, atmosphere. I've felt that the first two episodes of this season haven't really measured up to the series' visual standards, but Broken Promise, from its compelling cold open to its evocative conclusion, brings colors and contrast that have been missing.

Jamie Marshall, a 21-year-old University of Northumberland student, begins the episode recording a new vlog episode, ranting about tuition and toffs. Simultaneously, we watch him throw himself up the murky stairway of a dilapidated, old pile. It's a dramatic contrast between his frustrated but relatively measured vlog rant and his emotional devastation as - reaching the top floor - he hangs out of a window menacingly.

College employee Shona Adams notices Jamie standing on the roof and calls campus security. Of course, she's too late - he falls - but her testimony establishes some key times and alibis. Can we trust her, though? She seems mostly interested in ensuring blame isn't placed on the university.

Steve Devonshire, head of the university security, is the man who was come help Jamie, but he spent the time talking to John Greenhill, the surveyor working on the building where Jamie died. The two men, it turns out, were conspiring to defraud the university of millions of pounds, and Jamie knew about it.

Jamie's best friend, Lucy Curran, is nearby for Vera and Aiden to interview. She tells them that Jamie had had an argument soon before he died. One rugby player, Rory Marsden, seems unduly upset by Jamie's death, so Vera and Aiden pull him in for questioning.

Kenny is dismayed to hear Rory's father is Alan Marsden, a lawyer who's given him some trouble in the past. This twist makes for an interesting dynamic in the traditional Vera Stanhope interview. Alan's sympathies are more complex than a typical Combative Lawyer Stereotype - he's not serving a client, and he's just as interested in his son's answers as Vera is. He's also concerned about his daughter, Jennifer, who's just had an organ transplant.

As it turns out, Jamie Marshall wasn't actually Jamie Marshall. He'd said his father was an investment banker and his sister working on her PhD in Shanghai. were He was, instead, Jamie Stoddart, and actually, respectively, a boozy taxi driver and dead of an overdose.

Jamie did some reporting on the side, and had been interviewing Ian Holland, a bouncy castle owner, whose son was killed in a hit and run years before. Vera finds out that Holland assaulted Jamie a couple days before he died. Jamie had been using a pretense to really investigate Holland's son. What Holland didn't know: Jamie knew his own father had killed Nicholas. He felt guilty that he'd never told anyone, but he couldn't find the words to explain to Holland what he knew.

As the episode progresses, it starts to feel its length, but mostly chugs on at a respectable pace. We don't spend as much time in the interview room as we have, and Vera and Aiden get around, traveling from eerie hospitals to university libraries to country lanes. A few character grace notes worked better for me in this episode than they did before. Aiden and Vera discuss their school careers, and Vera reminisces about her days running track (she's not bluffing - I remember a newspaper clipping from an earlier episode). The story's conclusion is a bit prosaic, some plot strands were left hanging and others left undeveloped, but vivid visuals and some nice Vera-being-Vera moments make up for it.

My review of the next episode: The Blanket Mire.

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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  1. Did she say anything about her university? In an intreview Brenda said she didn't go.

    1. Not that I recall. She did go to a Catholic school, where she was mentored by a nun named Sister Benedict. We met her in the Season 3 episode "Young Gods."


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