I should also point out, in case anyone thinks my episode memory is astounding, that I've been recapping with the aid of the in-depth episode guides on JonathanCreek.Net, which are a godsend even if her character observations are annoying. :P Anyway...
Series 1, Episode 4 - "No Trace of Tracey"
This episode involves neither a murder nor a locked room! Tracey Cook, Roy Pilgrim's biggest fan (for now!), visits his house to meet her idol, then subsequently disappears. Roy Pilgrim, at the material time, is handcuffed to a radiator and has never seen the girl enter the house... but his fiancee, Francine, is still appropriately disappointed in him.
When we meet Jonathan and Maddy, they are engaged in some kind of treasure hunt. Or rather, Maddy and her friend Sheena are engaged in a treasure hunt, whilst their long-suffering companions, Jonathan and Greg, get dragged along for the ride. And in Jonathan's case, solve all the clues for them.
Jonathan is not enjoying this venture into Maddy's social life. In fairness, Greg is your typical neanderthal body-builder type, and Sheena seems like a pain in the arse, though Maddy reassures Jonathan that Sheena likes him nonetheless. (Sheena's way of demonstrating this is not dissimilar to Jonathan's approach towards Maddy in episode 1 - proverbial hair-pulling.)
Maddy berates Jonathan for not making an effort, which proves that this little outing is probably her idea. It's nice that she wants Jonathan to meet her friends, even though we don't yet know in what capacity she's introducing him. Seeing as Sheena brings along her boyfriend, anyway, and seems to assume that Jonathan is there in the same capacity - though it's interesting that he never quite gives her a straight answer about that.
I also thought it quite pertinent that Sheena perceives Jonathan as an enigma, when she asks how "far into his world" Maddy is allowed to go. Given her comment about his job being "pointless", it's hardly surprising he wouldn't be forthcoming with any more details, but the interesting thing is that of course, as we later discover, Maddy has secrets, too. I wonder if Sheena knows about it, or if Maddy throws that wall up with everyone. Obviously, I'll talk about this some more when we get to "The Scented Room", but considering she had no inteniton of telling Jonathan it makes me wonder if she would even tell her so-called "best friend"...
Anyway, whilst at the pub - in the beer garden on a not-particularly-pleasant day (how very British. THERE'S A BEER GARDEN DAMMIT WE'RE DRINKING OUTSIDE) - they all observe an altercation between Roy and Francine, resulting in Jonathan hero-worshipping and a discussion about 1970's rock music, wherein we learn that Jonathan was an outsider even where that was concerned. Says it all, really.
Next we see Jonathan enjoying his breakfast outside when (presumably) Maddy rings up because Roy Pilgrim has made his way into the papers regarding the disappearing girl. More interesting to note is the article alongside that one declaring something about "Major's Britain", which is another of those nice little placeholders for the year (1997 but pre-general election, at least when it was filmed...)
Maddy insinuates herself into Roy Pilgrim's house by use of her standard casual deception - Pilgrim assumes she's a copper, the police assume she's his lawyer. She then gets ejected from the premises, and finds a note under her windscreen wiper from a "Jacob Flowers".
Okay, so next it's the famous Pedantry Conversation. Barely even a conversation, actually, but it took Eni and I several fruitless hours trying to remember which bloody episode this was from, and now I'm never going to forget it again. I really wanted to get some screencaps of this entire sequence but it was difficult - it plays well but doesn't work in stills.
Anyway, Jonathan is going over to Maddy's for lunch, carrying with him an armful of Edwin Drood LP's. It transpires they're for information purposes, rather than him attempting to educate her (though that's always an option). Understandably, they're all in mint condition. :) Maddy is cooking something - or incinerating it, from the looks of things - as her flat is full of smoke; I get the impression she's one of those people who constantly 'forgets' to reinstall batteries in her smoke detectors. :P I love the fact she doesn't even open the window, just lets the place fill with smoke.
This scene is lovely, very cosy - I like the way he grabs the tea-towel off her shoulder to distribute the smoke, and then follows her around the kitchen tackling the various crises which arise, and the fact that he knows there's a hook on the back of the kitchen door and where the wine rack is. His comment - "This lightness of touch you have in the kitchen is a joy to behold" - implies this is probably the first time she's had him over for lunch, further proof that they're forming some kind of tentative friendship, even though she has to use the proviso of the Roy Pilgrim matter to extend the invitation in the first place.
Jonathan takes over serving the side dishes, apparently - maybe out of self-preservation against further incidents - whilst lecturing Maddy about Edwin Drood. (Oh yes, before I forget, there was another Dickens reference - Pilgrim's home is called "Bleak House" according to the lettering on his front gate.) He seems half convinced she's going to poison him, which is only fair given the state of her kitchen on arrival. Also interesting is the fact that she deliberately cooked something special and "had to improvise" with halibut in the absence of catfish, rather that just throwing a salad together as would be easier. Jonathan does not strike me as a very foodie type of person anyway, so maybe she's expanding his horizons. ;)
They go to visit Roy Pilgrim, to Jonathan's fanboyish dismay.
"You reduce someone like that to flesh and blood, the whole illusion's ruined!"
It transpires Jonathan knows more about Roy than Roy does. Then the illusion is further shattered when it transpires Jonathan's hero watches The Waltons. We've all been there, Jonathan, don't let it rile you. :P Then he discovers the hand-carved speaker cabinets are apparently faded on the wrong side...
This is just another shot I caught which reminded me of ALTAF, again, as there's a bit in that story where Jonathan is attempting to navigate and failing. I hadn't realised how unoriginal most of my imagery was, apparently!
Then they visit Hog's Belly Farm, the home of the aforesaid Jacob Flowers, Creed of Eden cult leader. Roy Pilgrim is their esteemed benefactor. There are people hugging trees and it's all a bit weird. There is also an ark.
Yes, as in Noah.
I had to get a screencap of this because... well, just look at it.
Top marks to the special effects department.
I shouldn't jest really; it was the BBC in the 90's. :P Though I do get the impression the BBC's reaction when they read the script was much the same as Sheena's. ;)
Maddy goes off to visit Roy Pilgrim's ex-bandmates. Not much to say about this other than the sheer brilliance of the visual gag - the band fighting amongst themselves and with their found-in-20-minutes replacements, silently behind the recording booth window. Hilarious.
In the meantime, Jonathan gets a visit from Sheena - after hearing news on the television that one of the Creed of Eden cult has choked to death. (Oh, also: the policeman at that crime scene with the rather impressive moustache is actually Sandy Johnson, the episode's director.) Sheena is about as subtle as a brick, and thankfully Jonathan is having none of it. It occurs to me that Sheena is a really terrible friend - she never quite gets a straight answer about Jonathan and Maddy's relationship, but that doesn't stop her from going over there anyway. I do wonder what would have happened if Sheena had managed to answer the phone before Jonathan... it doesn't bear thinking about.
Oh yeah, two other things to mention about that scene where Maddy rings him up the next morning - I noticed this week the bookcase cloudsinvenice noticed last week, in Maddy's flat, stuffed to bursting with books that are stacked rather than in rows. Also, the way Jonathan just casually refers to the Observer's Book of Frogs, as though everyone has one just lying around...
Then we have the standard Big Reveal - this one is somewhat convoluted, but at least Tracey is found in the ark, which is now even bigger...
Just when you thought it couldn't get worse...
Later on in the car, Maddy seems prickly, though Jonathan doesn't notice. She casually offers to suggest to Barry about cutting Jonathan in on the books, to which he gratefully agrees, not having anticipated any sort of monetary reward. It's like, as far as he's concerned the unsolvable crimes are secondary to their tentative friendship / whatever-it-is, and he's just being dragged along for the ride. For Maddy, however, his agreement is just an excuse to broach the rather sensitive matter of whether or not he slept with Sheena.
Because obviously, Sheena hasn't confirmed either way, and Maddy is not about to ask her, preferring instead to blow up at Jonathan about it. He makes it quite clear he's not interested, and Maddy is righteously indignant on her friend's behalf before dumping him at the station and driving off.
This about sums it up.
The song choice over that last half-a-scene is very interesting - as is Maddy's reaction. As I said to Paul last night: one of these days they'll actually start communicating with each other, and the world will end.
This episode, in terms of Jonathan and Maddy anyway, is a strange one - midway between the awkward Kiss of Awesomeness in "The Reconstituted Corpse" and the equally awkward "House of Monkeys" incident. (Oh, incidentally: I've re-watched That Kiss so many times on YouTube that the last time I searched for the episode it jumped straight to that scene. I am a terrible, terrible person and my cookies are mocking me.) I have often felt that trying to apply logic to this show is akin to beating my head against a wall, for the most part because the time elapsed between episodes is vague and imprecise, and there are a lot of gaps to fill in which would - in a much longer series containing more episodes - provide much in the way of satisfying back story.
On the other hand, if it was all spelled out I would have found such joy in writing the tags ("Crooked Lane" aside, as that was a bastard), so maybe it's a blessing in disguise...
OMG "HOUSE OF MONKEYS" NEXT WEEK. I am excite. :D
Click here for "House of Monkeys"...