Well, series 10 of Death In Paradise has come to a close and, as with every series of the show to date, it’s time to take stock. Time to take a look at the mysteries, the cast, the plotting and – well, let’s face it, whether or not the Death In Paradise team outwitted me this year.
Since the opening episode, with the apparent murder being committed while the chief suspect was alibied by countless viewers of his live TV show, we’ve had an impossible poisoning, a disappearing and re-appearing body, an almost-certain suicide inside a locked room while DI Parker was outside the door, a murderer who has been dead for over a decade, the murder of a boat’s captain on a beach where the boat never moved from its position miles away, and a confession of murder that wasn’t what it seemed. So how did Season 10 play out? And did it beat me?
I’ve already written about episode 1 here – a fun episode with a change of focus from the norm but struggled a little with whether it was an impossible crime where we knew the killer or just someone else doing it. We saw the welcome return of Josephine Jobert as Florence Cassell but no sign in that episode of Tahj Miles as Marlon Pryce, the new fourth member of the team.
Let’s take a look at the team, and while Miles didn’t have the immediate effect that Shyko Amos did as Ruby – I loved that character from her first appearance – the production team has sensibly gone for something different, and his attempts to reform (sincere or otherwise) and his relationship with Tobi Bakare’s JP is great. Basically, it’s a reflection of the Dwayne-JP relationship but with the sensible officer being in charge. All credit to Bakare for having to basically play the straight role and still making it entertaining. The overall development of JP and his relationship with Marlon is really well done, as was Marlon’s evolution into an effective officer. The development in the final episode was understandable and seemed to grow organically, and I look forward to whatever the dynamic is next year.
The chemistry between Josephine Jobert and Ralf Little is great too – two characters who it would seem initially have little in common, but the writers have done a very good job of creating a friendship between them. The scene with Florence’s engagement ring was very well done, reminding the viewers that there’s far more to DI Parker than just his countless allergies, emotional issues and obsession with chicken and chips. His quest to experience life a little more, with Florence’s help, was a good idea. There’s a bit in the fourth episode where he talks about his fear of being missing something by being left out that just resonated with me. As things developed over the series – #Floreville – well, again, I won’t say how that plays out. Or speculate on how things will play out next year as well…
And Don Warrington… what can you say about Don Warrington? The man is magnificent as Commissioner Patterson and whether it’s being kind to Florence, patient with Marlon or just exasperated at Neville, his mere appearance brings a smile to my face. I won’t spoil where the scene occurs but the look on his face towards the end of episode four, and the slight change when he realises that Neville has cracked the case was priceless. And ditto his reaction in the final episode when Neville announces his discovery of a crayon at the scene of the crime as a possible lead…
But what’s a mystery without a plot? What about the episodes (which I wish had titles – makes it much easier)?
Episode 2: An archaeologist is poisoned at his dig site, but there is no evidence of how it was done. Every theory seems to lead to a dead-end.
This was a bit of an odd one, and I’ll be honest, I didn’t get this one. I thought the method was simple but clever, but the clueing leading up to it was a bit heavy-handed. I think most people have what you need to commit this crime without having to hammer home the things that lead to Neville working it out. I didn’t work it out in time, because (and this is the reason for the half-time report this season) is that Mrs Puzzle Doctor did. And she’s been reminding me for the past fortnight that I had to put that in the blog. And I feel the need to point out that she didn’t get the murderer right – although the things the murderer did that caused them to commit the crime didn’t quite seem to make sense.
Episode 3: A couple who won the lottery invite their old neighbours to visit them on Saint-Marie. But the couple are seen rowing and after the husband storms off, one of the old friends finds the wife dead. But then her body disappears…
I know I’ve seen this plot before, but I felt pretty smart that I worked it out. OK, I didn’t exactly get the motive for the murder correct, but I figured out what was going on and figured out the murderer, so I figure that counts. And, more importantly, I felt pretty smart having done so.
Episode 4: Neville is in hospital after a bad allergic reaction to a fly bite. That night, the nurse on duty goes into her office, locks the door and never comes out. She is found at 1 am, clutching her suicide note, having apparently drinking an overdose of dissolved pills. So why did she set a reminder to give Neville his pills at 2 am?
I liked episode 4 a lot, but this was brilliant, and not just for the Commissioner Patterson bits. There’s a real sense that Patterson has a point – there is literally almost nothing pointing to it being murder and for a while, it did feel as if it was going to be a “what drove her to kill herself” mystery. I’m not going to say exactly what sort of mystery it was, but I think it was the cleverest episode in a good while – the source of the suicide note, for example, was lovely, so lovely I can forgive its fortunate placement. And again, I felt pretty smart spotting a good chunk of it.
Episodes 5 and 6: This year’s two-parter marked a diversion as it was a single mystery rather than two linked murders. Now can I mention something that had been heavily trailed? Well yes, Sara Martins is back as Camille – I won’t say what brings her back to the island, but it did take a bit of a jump in logic to cause it to happen – and it’s as if she hasn’t been away. And there was also THAT SCENE which I won’t spoil… it does sort of imply she’s been carrying around a lot of emotional baggage for the past few years which didn’t seem the case when she left. Still, it was really well done and I wish it had been a surprise – surely just telling us that Camille was back would have been enough. There aren’t enough surprises in TV these days – I think Wandavision has used up all of TV’s quota for this year…
Oh, the plot. Well, there are a few questions about this one – the existence of the gun seemed convenient – and it was really obvious who the killer was from very early in the second part. I had a lovely theory after part one, but it became very clear once something was explained early on. The pacing of the reveals was necessary to keep the plot moving, but it did give too much away. So yes, I got this one.
Episode 7: A deeply unpleasant stag party head out to sea on a hire boat. The next morning, the captain is found dead on a beach nowhere near the boat – but the boat never moved all night. Not a great episode, partly because of the general dislikeability of the suspects and partly because of the nature of the solution. The how was pretty obvious but the who seemed like nothing more than a game of pin the tail on the donkey. So I’ll give this one to the DIP team, but it felt a bit like they were cheating…
Episode 8: In which we learn the fates of at least one of our lead characters and the fate of at least one more is left hanging in the balance. Oh, and there’s a really, really obvious shooting mystery. I suppose the motive was the real question, but there wasn’t even that much to that either. But we did get more great work from the Elizabeth Bourgine-Ralf Little comedy duo.
So, I’m claiming Episodes 1, 3, 4, 5&6 and 8, so the score for this series is Me: 5; Death In Paradise: 1.5 and Mrs Puzzle Doctor: 0.5, although I did feel I had to work hard for a few of those. She’s going to have to up her game for next year (or at least stop reading her Kindle while the programme’s on). There were a few genuinely clever mysteries this year, with the hospital one a highlight, and as ever, the cast enlivened even the slightly wonky ones. There are at least two more series on the way – hurrah!