The hiatus is over and the re-watch has finally come back to life. I'd been saving up quite a lot of Thoughts until we got to this episode, for the most part because it contains a Very Important Character Reveal which, more often than not, I almost wish had never been thought up... but more on that later.
This is one of my favourites: after the snarkathon that was "Time Waits for Norman", Jonathan and Maddy are heading in a slightly more positive direction, and there are lots of lovely moments - which of course means this one has quite a lot of screencaps, too. ;)
Series 2, episode 3 - "The Scented Room"
This episode famously stars Bob Monkhouse as Sylvester le Fley, a theatre critic with an unfavourable opinion of Adam Klaus's specific brand of entertainment. Sylvester le Fley and his wife, Lady Theresa Cutler, live in a very large house containing a copious amount of expensive paintings, including an El Greco that is generously estimated to be worth £1.5million and lives in a hermetically sealed, temperature controlled room. Whilst a group of schoolgirls are being shown around the house, the El Greco mysteriously vanishes into thin air.
Meanwhile, Adam Klaus is rehearsing an open air magic stunt not dissimiliar to the likes of David Blaine - locking himself inside a coffin and being buried underground. We never actually find out what the grand finale of this trick is, but given Adam is in fact hiding out in a caravan several feet away, I suspect it would involve him miraculously "disappearing" from said coffin when it gets exhumed. The rehearsal is cut short when a little old lady espies Adam being tied up and buried alive and calls the police. Take two involves Adam & Co entertaining the accumulated authorities and ogling two unfeasibly young and attractive policewomen from the safety of the caravan. Of course.
Jonathan takes smug pleasure in the news of Sylvester le Fley's painting being stolen - but considering le Fley's low opinion of Adam's shows, it's hardly surprising. We know how seriously Jonathan takes what he does
In another character thread, apparently Maddy has a counsellor. We are led to believe this has been the situation for quite a while, which is when this show's lack of canon or time-specific events begins to frustrate me. Maddy is recounting an *ahem* interesting dream to her therapist which - we should note - she does not specifically indicate is about Jonathan, though if it is then that makes things even more complicated... Her session is sadly interrupted by a policeman bursting into the room and claiming that her therapist is an imposter, though it turns out the policeman is not actually a policeman, but a man with delusions of grandeur.
The session continues and Maddy begins to discuss something a little more mysterious about a "ghost from her past"... the plot thickens.
Next, Jonathan and Maddy visit Barry. This is the first time Barry has met Jonathan, but unfortunately he's double-booked himself for lunch and can't stick around. Before he rushes off he asks Maddy if she's heard anything about "that other", and clearly Jonathan has no idea what he's on about. From the expression on his face it seems he wasn't aware of the therapist either...
It appears that Jonathan has met up with Maddy for the sole purpose of being introduced to Barry, because he mentions having to "get back" (to either the theatre or his home, it's not clear which), but she offers to take him "somewhere smart" for lunch.
Obviously, she takes him to the home of Sylvester le Fley.
I actually love the fact that she deliberately doesn't tell him the real purpose of the visit, but knows full well that he'll accept the offer of lunch without question. Once again, Jonathan unwittingly falls into her trap by presuming that the sole purpose of her invitation is to be sociable - in this case, perhaps even a "date" - when in fact it's because she's on the trail of another impossible mystery. Oh, Jonathan, you really never learn, do you? (But at least he admits that later. :P)
As I say, this episode has a lot of lovely moments: there's one bit I tried desperately to screencap (but failed due to the speed of it) where Martha Parrish, the tour guide / Lady Cutler's secretary, starts to talk about the mystery and Maddy elbows Jonathan in the stomach to distract him. It's hilarious and very cute, and fodder for my logic that if they were ever to make a go of things their relationship would be peppered with mild abuse from Maddy's side. :P
I did manage to get this cap of him trying to catch his breath, though...
(Look at his hand! ...yeah, did I mention that sometimes that's the best you can hope for?)
Anyway, this is Jonathan's face when he realises what she's dragged him into:-
Somehow she persuades him into helping her - though at this juncture I imagine he doesn't need much of an excuse to spend time with her, frustration at her lack of communication aside - and they go off to investigate the painting room.
At this point they run into Benjamin le Fley, the remarkably down-to-earth son of Sylvester and Theresa, who has witnessed them bickering and asks if they're married.
Ben: Are you two married?
Maddy: Whatever gave you that idea?
Ben: I saw you arguing.
Jonathan: That's right. But in our case we're just arguing in sin.
Actual LOL, Jonathan. And can I just... MADDY'S FACE in that second cap. It's like... simultaneous realisation and disappointment that they've already reached the point of Old Marrieds in the eyes of a small child.
This episode was half-responsible for ALTAF and all that came afterwards; I picture Harry as being a bit like Ben but without the glasses and with floppier, Jonathan-esque hair. The reason Harry is a boy (er, you know what I mean) is entirely due to the conversation between Jonathan and Maddy later on (which, more later), but I suspect these next two screencaps were also responsible for planting that seed in my brain...
I just... the way they both sit cross-legged is UGH ALL MY ALTAF FEELS. They even have matching trainers OMG.
And yet, it's interesting: in an episode which reveals a lot about Maddy, this one scene provides some unspoken back story about Jonathan. He obviously recognises himself in Benjamin and that's what drives him to show him the magic trick: it's not so much a paternal interaction as a hand of friendship, giving the boy something more tangible and real than the materialistic detritus that we see at the start of the episode. He's giving him the gift of curiosity - the same curiosity, no doubt, that led to his own passion for magic - and it's because he sees that Benjamin lives in the same sort of mid- to upper-class upbringing that he himself was a product of.
Maybe Benji will pursue magic, and maybe he won't... but I guarantee he won't forget that moment with Jonathan. I'm disappointed that we never get to see Maddy's reaction to it, as she's interrogating Eric-the-spam-sandwich-man; I think it might have given the episode - and indeed their relationship - a little more depth... though I imagine the very fact that she mentions having a son later on is a direct result of observing Jonathan "edutaining" Benjamin. :)
Anyway, let's shake off the ALTAF feels (for now) and get back to the matter in hand... Theresa Cutler appears in the room and scolds Benjamin (I keep wanting to call him Harry, BTW) for talking to strangers, stating it was another bad habit he picked up from Melissa, his previous nanny. She also mentions the small matter of the £50,000 reward for finding the painting, which Maddy had conveniently forgotten to enlighten Jonathan about. ;)
They investigate the "scented room" where the robber apparently escaped the house and Jonathan smugly informs Sylvester le Fley that he knows exactly where the painting is, but he's not going to tell him.
Maddy then drives Jonathan to Adam's place, whereupon he maintains his Smug Git expression and refuses to divulge to her either, presumably because he knows she'll immediately blab to the le Fleys in order to claim the reward.
Maddy: What, er, do we know, exactly? Obviously you can tell me...
Jonathan: Dream. On.
Jonathan takes pity on her and tells her to look to the spam sandwich as it holds the key to everything. She does not seem appropriately enlightened. It's actually nice that he wants her to figure it out for herself - I think I mentioned before that if she can do that, then they don't have the precursor of the impossible mysteries in order to spend time together - although obviously his reasons for not giving her any help this time are entirely personal.
At Adam's, he is entertaining the policewomen from earlier in the episode, and brainstorming what to do when he receives his MBE from the Queen in a few days, suggesting producing a postage stamp on her tongue. It is at this point, when he queries "How could we do that?" from Jonathan, that we realise Adam Klaus is actually a rubbish magician... but he does own a tiger, so it's swings and roundabouts. :P
The next day, Jonathan turns up at Maddy's and appears to let himself in - not necessarily with a key (yet!) but through a presumably unlocked front door. She's not expecting him and is studying her diary with a sombre expression when he arrives, and we get a date placeholder of 3rd September 1998, when a mysterious Gordon Hill is apparently "coming down"...
She snaps the diary shut and accuses him of only coming to gloat, but he has the measure of her plan scarily well - she knew he wouldn't help Sylvester le Fley so "duped" him into going with her. But apart from that, she still owes him lunch...
This is also quite interesting because he says this in a slightly flirtacious manner but still can't quite look her in the eyes - it's like that bit in "Jack in the Box" all over again. :) Bless.
Anyway, they opt to try the new Italian place around the corner and Maddy briefly vanishes to make some telephone calls and "put a face on". Still not sure if that's standard female vanity or because it's a lunch-date with Jonathan. As soon as she's out of the room he opens the diary to see what she was staring at. I'm torn on this because on the one hand, it's nosy and he has no right to invade her privacy... but on the other, he's just doing what he does best: looking for clues to the perpetual mystery that is Maddy Magellan.
Back from lunch later, Maddy decants half a bottle of wine into a much larger bottle in her fridge. Waste not, want not. There appear to be another dozen wine bottles on top of the fridge, though... She reckons she can get Lady Cutler to double the reward but Jonathan still won't take the bait, and indeed would much prefer to tell Mr le Fley to "stuff your hundred-grand".
Thankfully, he does take pity on Maddy eventually, and begins to unravel what they already know about the "scented room". This scene, unfortunately, demonstrates once again Renwick's occasional tendency towards clunky, unrealistic dialogue, during the discussion about why the room was scented (Maddy's "That's right!" as she remembers the pot-pourri). Jonathan's explanation is then interrupted by the not!policeman from the earlier sequence with Maddy's counsellor, though Jonathan, being too perceptive for his own good, immediately sees through the ruse. Maddy admits that it was her contingency plan in case he refused to tell her anything, right as he's storming out.
Meanwhile, Benjamin le Fley, who gets everything he ever asks for except fun, is presented with his new treehouse, complete with a lift so he doesn't scuff his clothing. Parenting fail 101.
Later, Jonathan receives a telephone call from Adam, who informs him in no uncertain terms that he needs to tell the le Fleys where their painting is, because Lady Cutler is very influential in local circles and has refused the permit for their open-air magic show.
This seems to have the desired effect, as the next day Jonathan is in search of Maddy. She's not answering her mobile so he takes himself off to Barry in the hopes of contacting her. He admits that he knows about Gordon Hill and thinks it's the name of a bloke - which given her blind date shenanigans in "The Reconstituted Corpse" is an entirely reasonable assumption - prompting Barry to inform him about Maddy's past.
This little character reveal is very important; once you know it, and when you re-watch with that knowledge, everything about her makes sense. cloudsinvenice noted around the time of "House of Monkeys" that Maddy reacts to Cathy Strange's grief-ridden hysteria with blasé calmness, which makes a terrifying amount of sense for a woman who has spent her adult life trying to forget a painful experience. Her comment in "The Reconstituted Corpse" about disliking funerals suddenly makes sense, as does the way she distracts from the conversation about family in "The Wrestler's Tomb". (Jonathan describes how his parents live in America; Maddy immediately demands to have a go on the floating chair trick...)
Also, ever since Paul made his observation about Maddy's eating habits in episode one, I've been thinking how this, too, makes a lot of sense. It's implied that she grew up in less affluent circumstances than Jonathan, and in that environment every mouthful on the plate is sacred. She would have grown up being told to appreciate everything put in front of her, which is a habit that continues into adulthood.
It also explains why her flat / house is full of so many knick-knacks - most noticeably the overstuffed bookcases. Once you start earning enough money to buy yourself things, the things tend to accumulate over time, and all of those things are important. (I recognise this as a semi-hoarder; everything has a value even if that value is nostalgia.)
Barry also mentions that she never knew her father, which - again - explains an awful lot about her commitment issues and why she's so cautious around Jonathan. It indicates that she likes him a lot more than she lets on and doesn't want to scare him off, which I suspect is why she hasn't told him about any of this. I wonder if she ever would have done, in truth, or if it would suddenly have emerged one day in much the same way as I perceive Barry having found out - blurted out in the heat of an argument or whilst she was drunk, or in retaliation to an unintenionally misplaced comment.
I'm glad that Jonathan knows, though. I think he needs to know, because up 'til now he's had no point of reference for why she is the way she is. I just hope he knows what to do with it.
I think to credit Renwick with the foresight to have considered any of this prior to writing the episode is rather too generous... but it does make re-watches interesting nonetheless, and it remains one of my favourite episodes purely because it's so important.
So, the next scene is Jonathan going to find her at Gordon Hill. She doesn't seem that surprised to see him, which makes me wonder if she suspects already that he's gone to Barry or figured it out for himself (I mean, it wouldn't take much research to find out what Gordon Hill really was, if he was so inclined). He doesn't say anything, but he doesn't have to; she just takes his arm and they walk away.
Their interaction in the next scene, as they arrive at the school, is much less snarky than earlier in the episode, which I suppose is inevitable. They speak to Judith, the sister of Melissa-the-nanny and one of the orchestrators of the missing paiting; then they head off to see Melissa.
I actually really like the reveal on this one, too. :) There's also a delightful moment where Maddy is back with her therapist and discussing the fact that watching Gordon Hill being torn down was not as cathartic as hoped; she admits that if Jonathan had not turned up at that moment, she was ready to throw herself in the path of the digger. This says so much: even though she's never wanted him to know, and even though they're still only friends at this point - and barely that, an episode ago - he's the jolt of reality she needs at that point. Not so much a reason to live, but a stark reminder that she has a life to go back to - and perhaps a future, if things pan out.
The fact that she becomes suddenly more animated when recounting the reveal to her therapist is also very telling: despite all the complications in her relationship with Jonathan, whenever she gets a glimpse of his genius brain it's impressive all over again. I love that element of them: that for all their snark, for all of Maddy's self-preservation and Jonathan's social ineptitude, she's drawn in because of what he is, and it's always new and exciting. It's inexplicable, but perfect.
(This episode. ALL MY FEELS.)
Back to the le Fley's for Jonathan to tell him where his painting is, at which point I'm afraid my brain short-circuited and sent me into picspam mode...
JUST LOOK AT THEM THOUGH. Guh, I just want to write post-ALTAF stories where they solve crime together and Harry has to tag along for the ride.
*ahem* Sorry, I just love love love that bit where Jonathan teaches Benjamin a new "trick" - especially because he's clearly told Maddy about it beforehand. At this point Jonathan cares less about the painting and more about Benjamin being a part of the proceedings: giving him that moment of glory when he finds it and presents it, and the joy of keeping it a secret. Maddy's protective stance is lovely: she's not going to let Benjamin's parents ruin it for him, either.
The ending, where they're having two entirely disparate conversations at the same time, is awesome, if a little frustrating... Maddy's side of the exchange is more interesting than Jonathan's, and I think in actual fact he's reading / narrating about Adam's mishap so he doesn't have to participate in a potentially serious discussion. He is listening, he's just not acknowledging it. Maddy even says "If we had a son..." at one point - presumably somewhat inspired by Benjamin le Fley - and that they'd make sure it worked out. (Ugh, feeeeeeels. Now you see where ALTAF came from!) The irony of the fact that she's talking about communication breaking down is almost pointless, really, in light of that comment - although given their lack of communication in general, it's ironic that she's mentioning it at all, when she's the one who normally shuts down into silence. :P
What I also find interesting is that she seems to be in the process of going out somewhere - possibly with Jonathan. The tag for this episode takes place immediately after the Gordon Hill scene, but I'd love to know where they were going. :)
Click here for "The Problem at Gallows Gate" (Part 1)
I had a feeling this one would be long, simply because I had so many things I needed to say, but this has taken me about three hours!
By next week I need to finish my Gallows Gate tag - but before that I need to get the final couple of paragraphs of the Pirates fic done. Thank anything I have Friday off!
Oh, and I still need to start screencapping series 3. If you thought this episode was bad for picspam, you ain't seen nothing yet.
Over and out.