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Review: Murdoch Mysteries "Up From Ashes"
5.0Overall Score

Warning: Post contains major spoilers

 

“Murdoch Mysteries” season 10 finaleHell to Pay” concluded with a major cliffhanger. Burlesque dancer Mydia Hall (Katy Breier) turns to Detective William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) for help. Murdoch soon becomes entangled in a web of conspiracy with Councliman Franklin Williams (Robin Dunne), ruthless developer Robert Graham (John Wildman), and Chief Constable Davis (Richard Clarkin) at the center. Framed for murder, Murdoch unwittingly plunges Station 4 into danger.

“Hell to Pay” ends with constables George Crabtree (Jonny Harris), Henry Higgins (Lachlan Murdoch), and Jackson (Kristian Bruun) shot and possibly killed. Murdoch’s wife, Dr. Julia Ogden (Helene Joy) is kidnapped. Finally, Inspector Thomas Brackenreid (Thomas Craig) was left unaccounted for, also potentially dead.

Season 11 opener “Up From Ashes” wastes no time answering one of the biggest questions. Murdoch and Detective Llewellyn Watts (Daniel Maslany) stand beside a grave as the camera centers on a framed portrait of Constable Jackson. It’s a particularly emotional moment for Watts. “Murdoch Mysteries” spent much of its tenth season giving more screen time to Jackson, as well as nurturing a relationship between Watts and Jackson.

“Hell to Pay” closes with Murdoch behind bars being confronted by Graham. “Where is my wife?” Murdoch demands. “If you’ve hurt her-” he continues, and Graham finishes “Or what? You’ll reach through those bars and throttle me? I’ll make you a deal,” he oozes, “You sign a confession that you murdered that strumpet, and I’ll endeavor to find your wife.” Not surprisingly, Murdoch responds with a resolute “No.”Graham points out, “You do not have a lot of bargaining power, Detective. Your Inspector is not here for you. In fact, he may be dead. Your wife is gone, and if she is not dead already, she soon will be. And I’ve heard at least one of your loyal constables is dead.”

But “Up From Ashes” doesn’t show its hand from the onset. It’s a game of red herrings as revelations continuously come to light. It’s no surprise, however, that Murdoch’s innocence is eventually proven.

At the conclusion of “Up From Ashes,” the situation is reversed. It’s Graham who is behind bars this time with Murdoch victorious. Similarly, Graham refuses to confess. I suspect that, although he’s locked up, this isn’t the last we’ll see of Graham. With the villains such as James Gillies (Michael Seater) and Eva Pearce (Daiva Johnston) killed, there’s no primary adversary. Now, that responsibility likely falls on Graham.

It’s rare that a show continues for more than 10 seasons, and even more unusual when it improves. A tip of the hat to “Murdoch Mysteries” for accomplishing such a feat. While its early episodes are enjoyable, season 10 brought some of the best series entries. If “Up From Ashes” is any indication, that trend is poised to persist. Although it’s regrettable losing Jackson (as I suspected), at least he died a hero’s death. Happy trails to Kristian Bruun who truly created a memorable, and likeable, character in Constable Jackson.

I’m excited for the remainder of the season. At the conclusion, there’s a touching tribute to Jackson, and Det. Watts opted to stick around Station House 4. He blossomed into one of my favorite characters in season 10, so I’m delighted at his continued presence.

Observations:

It’s always delightful to see Dr. Ogden kick ass. She’s consistently been one of the show’s strongest characters, and that’s emphasized even further in “Up From Ashes.” Endearing morgue assistant Rebecca James (Mouna Traoré) doesn’t get nearly enough screen time, though it’s probably on account of tying up plot threads from the epic season 10 finale.

Despite its 20th century setting, “Up From Ashes” appears to weigh in slightly on current political events. A few times throughout the episode Graham is said to be “trying to make this city [Toronto] great again.” It appears, and maybe I’m reading too much into this, a commentary on the Trump administration over in the States.

What did you think of “Murdoch Mysteries” episode “Up From Ashes?”