“Murdoch Mysteries” season 11 continues with “8 Footsteps.” Inventor Alexander Graham Bell (John Tench) holds a dinner, with Helen Keller (Amanda Richer) as the guest of honor. It’s a charity event held at the Windsor House Hotel, also the home of Det. William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) and Dr. Julia Ogden (Helene Joy). But there’s a twist. The dinner is set in the dark. Because several guests such as Keller, rely on senses other than sight, it’s an opportunity to learn more about operating with different senses.
However, shortly after the dinner party is plunged into darkness, one of the guests is murdered. Thankfully, Bell recorded the dinner with two separate recording devices. This prompts an investigation where Bell and Murdoch once again team up.
Meanwhile, Constable Higgins (Lachlan Murdoch) exhibits romantic feelings for Miss Ruth Newsome (Siobhan Murphy). Throughout the investigation, Windsor House Hotel detective, Ralph Fellows (Colin Mochrie), displays a remarkable grudge against Murdoch and the Toronto constabulary.
“Murdoch Mysteries” really shines in its incorporation of historical characters. Often, as is the case with Alexander Graham Bell, such characters benefit from a recurring role. Helen Keller appears for the first time, accompanied by friend and teacher Anne Mansfield Sullivan (also a historical character). In “8 Footsteps,” Murdoch and Graham Bell collaborate to solve the murder.
Notably, this is the fourth series entry to feature a killing at the Windsor House Hotel. “High Voltage,” “Cometh the Archer,” and “Hell to Pay” each saw murders at the Windsor.
Recurring character Ruth Newsome once again appears, and the romance between her and Higgins comes to fruition. Although Higgins was relegated to the role of a secondary character, “Murdoch Mysteries” season 11 benefits Higgins with a beefier role. This is likely because of Constable Jackson’s (Kristian Bruun) death, as well as the departure of Miss James (Mouna Traore). With s slightly smaller cast, there’s more opportunity to explore Higgins and lend him a backstory.
Both the recorder and Graphizer evolve in “8 Footsteps.” I quite enjoy how Det. Murdoch is always inventing devices and methods which proceed to become widely-adopted and used. In “8 Footsteps,” Murdoch makes an offhand comment that the stereoscope has little use outside of police work. It’s moments like this which offer riotously hilarious dry humor.
Although it’s a standalone episode, “8 Footsteps” incorporates several recurring characters in Graham Bell and Ruth Newsome. Plus, Helen Keller appears, and hopefully, we’ll see her again. I wouldn’t be surprised if she shows up later in “Murdoch Mysteries” season 11 or in another season.
The highlight for me in “8 Footsteps” was Higgins finally getting the girl. It’s refreshing to witness his transformation from bumbling side character to confident constable. Overall, “8 Footsteps” is another solid “Murdoch Mysteries” season 11 episode. Its slew of recurring characters and the alternate history elements make this standalone entry feel connected with the series at large. Moreover, continued character development further fleshes out the delightful cast.