Series 1, Episode 3 - "The Reconstituted Corpse"
So, this episode does not so much involve a "locked-room murder" as an unlocked wardrobe murder. It's a variation on a theme, I suppose. (I've written quite a lot of notes on this - not many last night, but as I quickly watched through again to get a few more screencaps, several other ideas hit me in the head - unfortunately, they're rather shambolic, but I'll try and turn them into proper concepts.)
This one begins with Zola Zbzewski (no chance in hell of me remembering how to spell that; surname is hereinafter dispensed with) being interviewed on television as publicity for her autobiography. As she was explaining the treatments she'd had, it occurred to me how commonplace phrases such as "dermabrasion" are these days, as opposed to back when the episode was made, when they must have sounded like insane made-up names. I remember there being an X-Files episode dealing with plastic surgery as well (season 4, "Sanguinarium", so... about the same sort of time period, actually), because in the mid-late nineties it had started to become more prominent in the public eye. Another nice little placeholder.
In the next scene there's a really clunky bit of writing / dialogue, as Victoria (Zola's daughter) says: "What happened? I knew something like this would happen. What happened?" When you see it written down, the repetition is almost painful. I often feel that sometimes, David Renwick is quite editor-phobic - for all the good he does, sometimes he just needs a fresh pair of eyes. :P
Next, we see Jonathan on the phone to the theatre, checking up on the rehearsal of Adam's latest venture, a levitating elephant. The elephant in question has irritible bowel syndrome and is not in a good way. Quite randomly, the actor playing the doorman (with the glasses) was also the dad character in children's show Harry's Mad (about a talking parrot) - not the last children's drama/comedy actor to turn up in this show, either. ;) He asks how Adam's taking it all.
"Adam's fine, actually," says the doorman. "Walked through here a few seconds ago laughing his head off."
"That'll be the drugs," suggests Jonathan. I think that might be a reference to last week and Adam's labyrinthitis, but given it's Adam, one can never be too sure...
I took this one just because I liked the little glimpse into Jonathan's world. :) Plus it's a nice example of the level of detail they used to put into these things... A bit later on, it transpires the elephant has died of a heart attack.
I think that's a more than reasonable reaction, don't you?
Zola's ex-surgeon, Dr Curchin, then dies horribly by being shot through the eye socket whilst peering through the spyhole in his door. cloudsinvenice has commented throughout her episode write-ups about this show's propensity towards ridiculous sight gags, and this is no exception - Curchin's red wine splatters all over the wall, in much the same way as we imagine his brain has done elsewhere. Nice.
Maddy meets up with Barry (her publisher) for lunch, whereupon she buys a wardrobe. As you do. Barry receives a call from someone in Zola's house asking Maddy to get Zola off the hook with regards Curchin's murder, seeing as one of her earrings has been found at the scene. Maddy suggests that Zola's skin cells could well have been placed on the earring, given Curchin would have had her DNA on file somewhere, but that still begs the question as to why they'd want to frame her...
Oh, yeah - the Thursday night television that we see both Maddy and Zola viewing is quite telling as to how the BBC perceive their rival channels. On BBC1 and BBC2 we see a classic comedy, Porridge, and some high-brow reporting (Newsnight) - whereas on ITV and C4 there's Summer Holiday and an apparently godawful chatshow. For a corporation that thinks so highly of itself, the BBC - as we all know, given recent events - really does act shockingly sometimes.
Next we see Jonathan in the pub. From across the bar, he spies Maddy with Nigel Planer. (Young One spotting, ho!) Endlessly amused by this development, of course his first instinct is to go over and say hello. Maddy and Nigel Planer - sorry, Shelford - are in fact on a blind date. Maddy does not seem particularly enamoured of Jonathan discovering this fact, especially given his reaction: "Get out of here!" Of course, when Shelford suggests they grab some food, Jonathan is all for it.
The next bit, where Jonathan and Maddy exchange some really glorious snark, is awesome. Shelford buggers off to the toilet and Jonathan asks to see the photograph that Shelford sent before meeting up. He has immediately cottoned on to the fact that she's trying to make him jealous, but that pales in comparison to the amusement of her plan having failed horribly. Maddy never denies it, either, nor does she deny her reason for picking that particular pub (next door to the theatre). There's a nice little bit earlier on where she mentions having heard about the elephant situation on the news - it shows she's thinking of him more than the jealousy ploy does, I think.
Although, you do have to wonder how long this blind date has taken to set up, really - we forget in the age of internet dating that things were not quite so immediate back when people used singles columns in newspapers. There must have been some kind of delay on setting it up, communicating, etc., long before the date even happens - it's not unreasonable to think she might have initiated the contact post-Trevor, not even thinking of Jonathan at all, but by the time it rolls around she decides to use it to her advantage nonetheless. Or not, as it transpires. :P
This episode contains two occurrences of Maddy's food foibles - the first of which is in the pub. She's not hungry, but orders a huge meal anyway. I can only assume it's to avoid having to talk to either Jonathan OR Shelford, at this point. ;)
Also: one fan theory I've seen is that Jonathan is a vegetarian (though he eats fish). Nothing is ever mentioned of this in the series, as far as I'm aware, but I'm not entirely convinced. Ordering a vegetable lasagne does not automatically make someone a vegetarian (and nor does cooking up a mushroom pasta thing as we saw the previous week). It would, however, tie in quite well with his hypochondria. I'll be keeping an eye on this one. :P
Jonathan then asks her how things are going with Zola's case, without her having mentioned it. She accuses him of being psychic, to which is response is: "The case is in the papers, her book's in your bag. I wasn't trying to be clever." (To which my response was: "Really?") He bats the idea at her of the DNA / skin cells being tampered with and she gives him the very best withering stare in the universe: "Yes, I had managed to figure that out for myself." Midway through a tirade about him being arrogant and egotistical (entirely fair, given his assumptions!) Shelford returns to the table.
Back at Zola's, Maddy uncovers the camcorder in the back garden, as dropped by their resident peeping tom. The footage contains what would appear to be an alibi for Zola's whereabouts on the night of Curchin's murder. Case closed? Well, perhaps not...
She then phones Jonathan apparently just to gloat at him, which is sort of hilariously awesome. It's obviously just an act of revenge for the other night. It's quite sweet, how he's already been thinking about Zola's case and offers to meet up with Maddy to discuss things, just before she brushes him off by saying it's all tied up "with a big ribbon". (Does he just want to meet up and discuss things, or is is a subtle way of asking her out? My bet's on the latter.) His look of unimpressed realisation as she hangs up says it all, really. Keep trying, Jonathan. ;)
Maddy's wardrobe gets delivered; on discovering she lives on the top floor and it won't fit in the lift, the delivery men do a runner. Paul quite rightly pointed out: never sign for anything as 'delivered' until it's in your house! Also: another of my favourite Maddy lines ever, as she swears at the retreating delivery van. :D
By a happy coincidence, one of Shelford's clients is located around the corner from her flat (hmmmm), so of course he ends up hoiking a wardrobe up eight flights of stairs. By the time Maddy opens it again, Zola's dead body had somehow found its way inside, battered to death by a blow to the head. So the next time she calls Jonathan it's because she actually needs him; thank anything he's a forgiving sort...
The next few minutes involve Jonathan doing what Jonathan does best - investigating the crime scene with a fine-toothed comb (although his little toolkit is bizarrely absent in this episode). I really like the bit where he puts himself inside the wardrobe and Maddy has that little moment of panic when he doesn't emerge for several seconds, and her obvious relief when the doors open. It's like by this point a man-eating wardrobe would actually be the most plausible explanation. ;)
I don't know why, I just love that bit where he's going down the stairs backwards and she's following him. It's weird but adorable.
Those bins will be important later, as will the decapitated geranium. Her pleading expression is quite sweet, too.
"It can't be impossible, because you saw it."
"I can see you, you're still impossible."
Another food oddity next, as Maddy dunks a banana in her coffee. Apparently they put them together as ice cream flavours; Jonathan doesn't believe her and nor do I. (As an aside: I've heard somewhere that that is actually a thing that Caroline Quentin does. The mind boggles.) This scene also, rather pertinently, includes the use of 1471 to find out the previous caller's number, a service which had only recently been introduced, IIRC - and this was back in the days when it didn't record mobile numbers. (I remember when it first started and the first thing you'd do on getting in the house was dialling 1471 to see if anyone had called you; the precursor to logging into Facebook for your notifications!)
It then transpires that the police have found some iron piping outside Zola's house which matches the iron filings in her head wound, which begs the question as to why, if she'd been murdered at home, someone felt the need to drag her body five miles across town to dump it in Maddy's wardrobe...
A day or so later, Jonathan is watching and re-watching the peeping tom footage of Zola. Maddy despairs of men in general, it would seem, though Jonathan's reasons for watching it are entirely scientific. He then disappears to go and rummage in the bins - considering his general personality, I can't believe it never occurs to him to grab some rubber gloves or something...
Shelford reappears - apparently even at weekends he likes to wear a suit jacket, though obviously one must wear a cravat, too. :P Maddy attempts to break it to him gently that she's not interested, but he won't take the hint. What's a girl to do? Well, snog Jonathan, obviously. :D
The kiss, of course, like everything else associated with these two, is epic. And weird. Did I mention this was the first episode I ever saw? Yeah. Let's just lay blame where it's due, here. Two screencaps out of context make it look decidedly shippier than it actually is, but frankly, I won't complain about that...
"I'll see myself out, shall I?"
I've lost count of how many times I've re-watched this scene, for the most part because Jonathan's reaction is what makes it so brilliant. That and the positioning of his hands, which for some reason makes me squee more than the kiss itself. He catches on quickly, but then the entire thing devolves into them both actually enjoying it for what it is. The companion piece for the episode tags (which will now cover all the episodes, I think) theorises that by the end of episode two he already has a tiny, burgeoning crush on her, which is further cemented by the kiss. In fairness, it's hardly any wonder he never knows where he stands with her - the frustration at her lack of communication in the pilot episode notwithstanding - because one minute she's ignoring his offer of going out, and the next she's throwing herself at him.
She does seem suitably embarrassed by having to resort to such obvious methods, though whether it's embarassment at the method in question or the way it turned out is debateable. I suspect if he didn't stink of bins, the outcome may well have been rather different. This next shot is quite sweet, though...
Jonathan then shows Maddy what he was rooting around in the bin for, namely *DRAMATIC MUSIC OMG* another VHS tape. Which they watch together, and share a mutual eureka moment.
Onward, then, to Zola's house for the Big Reveal. As ever, I shan't spoil the ending in the write-up, but suffice it to say it's a very satisfying answer. What I really want to talk about now is actually completely unrelated to the events of the episode, except for the fact it sparked this notion in my brain in the first place...
To my knowledge, there are only two occasions where Jonathan says the word "Maddy" - and they are both in conversation with other people when referring to her. The first is in this episode, when he's explaining how it happened. "When Maddy opened the door..." The second is in "Black Canary", in discussion with Adam about his relationship with her at that point. For some reason, this has always stuck out in my mind - I really appreciate other fanfic authors who have noticed it, too, because it's such a defining characteristic of their relationship - stories where he's constantly using her name really irk me, regardless of context. Because he doesn't - barely to other people, and never ever to her.
I still don't know what it means. I noticed it years ago and it's always been in my head, though I've never yet managed to analyse it well enough to figure out why. It's clearly been written in that way for a reason - at least, I hope it has, because it's so bloody obvious - but there's not enough to go on. Maybe it's because when it's just them, it really is Just Them - as far as Jonathan is concerned, anyway. Maybe she's so enigmatic at one point that if he uses her name, it makes her into An Actual Person, not just some crazy, mysterious woman who beguiled him into solving impossible mysteries... and then it becomes like a habit that's so ingrained he doesn't know he's (not) doing it.
Whenever I write Jonathan using her name, it's always a defining moment - it has to be, because she has to hesitate at the sound of him saying her name, at the unfamiliarity of it - it has to stop her doing whatever she's doing and make her listen. As a writing tool, I find it quite fascinating, even if I don't fully understand it. ;)
Very interesting indeed. Other suggestions welcomed!
The last scene of the episode is, of course, a J/M scene. They disembark from a taxi outside her flat, returning from the elephant's funeral.
Maddy is upset - Jonathan is suitably concerned (bless), and she explains how she doesn't like funerals "at the best of times". This is another of those throaway exchanges - like Jonathan discussing his family in "The Wrestler's Tomb" - which goes deeper once you know about her history. Given what we find out in "The Scented Room", it is entirely obvious why Maddy doesn't like funerals - I fully suspect if Jonathan had any idea, at that point, about her past, he wouldn't invite her at all. (The concept of bringing a "plus one" to a funeral is a weird one anyway - again, in the companion fic, I theorise that it's Adam's way of attempting to meet Maddy and get the measure of her, in a non-contentious environment.) I also suspect the only reason she agrees to go with Jonathan at all is because refusing means having to explain; as ever, it's simpler to go along with something rather than allow him any kind of glimpse behind the wall.
Unfortunately, Shelford's wife puts paid to any kind of post-funeral cosiness. Jonathan's continued reaction to the Shelford situation is fairly immature, to be honest, and Maddy is well within her rights to shut the door in his face - though it is rather sweet that he thinks she's joking. ;)
Also: I am infinitely amused by the fact Jonathan turns up to a funeral in a suit and tie, his duffel coat and his trainers. :D (I hope he does actually own a pair of proper shoes...)
Right then, there we go.
Just realised I didn't manage to make an icon this week... I've been staring at the caps for ages but no inspiration is striking, alas. So I'll just have to use Jonathan's good old-fashioned "eww" face... which I suppose is at least vaguely apt. ;) I think the main reason for that is because I've been trying to beat the "Crooked Lane" tag into submission now for over a week, and it's really starting to slow me down (Millennium Eve fic aside) - I put a dent in it on paper this morning so with any luck I can get it finished tonight after Glee. DAMN YOU FIC I WILL END YOU.
A brief reprieve from ship!flail next week, thankfully - though this re-watch is definitely proving interesting in terms of the subtext - at least until "House of Monkeys", at which point you should be VERY, VERY AFRAID. Oh, wait - didn't I say that last week too? I'll say it again: VERY, VERY AFRAID. :D
Over and out.
Click here for "No Trace of Tracey"...