While television tends to focus on darkness and despair, it also reminds us of the power of forgiveness and of not doubting in others. This week was all about second chances, seventh chances, seventy-times-seventh chances, or even getting a chance at all.
Season 3, Episode 3 (Quite a Common Fairy)
If any show is about second chances, it is this one. Fairy-tale characters usually presented to us in black-and-white morality are instead fleshed out, humanized, and given the possibility for redemption. The villains are as much the heroes as the good guys and no one is entirely virtuous or entirely evil.
In this episode, we see yet another time when Regina (not yet the Evil Queen) was given a chance at a different future, this time with help from a young fairy named Tinker Bell. Both characters are still adolescents, and Tinker Bell is as well-intended as any young activist out to prove something, while Regina adequately demonstrates how trapped she feels. She doesn’t believe that she can be helped by anything other than dark magic. Despite her good intentions, all Tinker Bell gets for her trouble is being denied her fairy powers.
The Blue Fairy remains an enigmatic character – wholly in possession of “good magic” and seemingly wanting only to help others, but yet insisting that some people were not worthy of help. She tries to rationalise to Tinker Bell that Regina is beyond help with the nonsensical argument that Regina is the daughter of Cora and the student of Rumplestiltskin and thus will never change. Obviously, that only spurs Tinker Bell to disobey her mistress. If the Blue Fairy had better explained herself, Tinker Bell might have understood.
In a show about second chances (or many more than that), the Blue Fairy simply knew that people need to seek help for themselves. She comes when a character wishes upon a star. Regina did not ask for help from Tinker Bell. It was not the kind of help she needed at that point. A friend to listen, yes, perhaps, and even someone to tell her that perhaps the Dark One was not the best teacher, but not someone to try to tell she that she needed a new lover in her life. Love, yes, romance, no. Furthermore, the spell that Tinker Bell cast caused Regina’s mystery man to also suffered a cursed life through no fault of his own. The Blue Fairy did a terrible job of protecting Tinker Bell, Regina, and the mystery man, and all she needed to do was explain herself.
Despite asking for many more chances, present-day Regina is well-aware that she has used up more of them than she can care to count. When confronted with a washed-up and vengeful Tinker Bell, she gives her former friend the chance to kill her. For the first time, we get to see Regina’s heart – not blackened like a rotten potato, but like a glimmering coal that could either die or be reignited. When she talks of Henry, it grows brighter. If dying would mean that Tinker Bell would help the others save Henry, Regina would do it.
Luckily, Tinker Bell chooses the path of forgiveness over revenge, and the group gains a tentative ally in Neverland, along with another when a healed Baelfire returns to the one place he never wanted to return.
Season 6, Episode 4 (Number One Fan)
When you think you look like the number one suspect in a murder, you would want someone to believe in your innocence – for someone to give you a chance to explain and to be open to the idea that someone else has taken it upon themselves to frame you.
Castle finds himself in such a position – one of his fans is one such suspect. In despair, she takes the occupants of a dental office hostage and protests that she did not kill her boyfriend. Having read Castle’s books and the articles about him and Beckett solving murders, she demands that Castle believe in her and prove her innocence. Surprisingly, he soon does – despite Beckett and the NYPD being convinced otherwise and continually providing more evidence against her. Castle maintains that there is another explanation and perseveres.
It is easy to think that the simplest explanation is the truth. It often is. However, scepticism and belief work both ways. Writing someone off because of their history, their background, their addictions (both past and present), their habits, or their reaction to events is never a good idea.
This second chance spawns two more: the erstwhile suspect is reunited with her biological father who regretted giving her up for adoption, and Beckett gets her old job back despite budget cuts. All is well with the world, at least as far as Castle and Beckett are concerned. Now, finally, we’re back to the real status quo.
Season 7, Episode 3 (The Filmed Adventures of Detective William Murdoch)
James Pendrick is fed up with Detective Murdoch accusing him. He always believed that he and Murdoch ought to be friends, as they were both men of vision and admirers of technology. Now, once again, Pendrick is in the middle of a murder investigation and Murdoch is yelling at him.
What’s that? Murdoch is not accusing him of the murder?
What do you mean, he thinks that the murderer is after Pendrick?
Here are two men who are always getting in each other’s way, and every time they try to mend fences, something comes up to make things worse. Usually, Pendrick is ruined by his latest invention or betrayed by an associate, while Murdoch can’t seem to shake the feeling that there is something off about the wealthy inventor with big dreams. Murdoch does not think big with his inventions. To him, technology is merely a tool to use.
Pendrick is a character with endless optimism. Every idea of his comes to nought thus far in the series, but he always bounces back with funds to try something else. This season, he is trying his hand at filmmaking – much to the ire and derision of Thomas Edison. Despite having figured out a way to synchronise sound and film, he is unable to market it. This is somewhat stretching the historical truth, but it is fact that this technology existed before the end of the “silent film” era in the 1920s. Murdoch Mysteries plays with these historical “what-ifs” and paints Edison in a less favourable light than usual. It is true – the man was insufferable and a greedy patent hog. He bought patents that he did not invent.
But I digress. This episode finally brings about a conclusion wherein Murdoch and Pendrick part on favourable terms and it is not yet immediately apparent that Pendrick will be ruined by Edison in the near future. The show took ample opportunity to poke fun at itself by having Pendrick create a film about Murdoch and Stationhouse 4. All in all, this was a sweet and lighthearted episode that brought out the rivalry between Murdoch and Pendrick and then put it to bed again with milk and cookies.
There is no telling what will happen next year, though.
Season 5, Episode 3 (Firecracker)
If there is any family that understands second chances, it is the Doyles. Malachy and Rose are each other’s second marriages. Rose is a former street kid who went from a life a crime to being a law-abiding citizen (most of the time) helping to apprehend criminals. Des started out on the show painting graffiti on Jake’s car, but now has turned his life around. Tinny has been cut a lot of slack. Christian and Kathleen (although not seen in this episode) have been welcomed home repeatedly. Even Jake has always been forgiven and given support from his family.
This episode features a young runaway teenage girl who is caught up in a robbery scheme. She has had a tough short life, and it doesn’t take long for the Doyles to recognise that. They don’t want to see her ruin the rest of it, and they find various ways to help her while still solving the case, catching the villain, and meeting up at the Duke afterward. This episode really demonstrated how far the family has come in five seasons. They function well as a unit and they are not afraid to stand up to each other and for each other.
Meanwhile, Jake and Leslie re-evaluate their relationship and whether they want to be together in the long term and expand the Doyle clan. Unsurprisingly, it is Leslie who has the reservations. She wants to succeed in her career – law-enforcement not being a female-friendly profession by any means – and can tell that others think being associated with the Doyles would hold her back. Her boss treats her relationship as though it is a petty fling, which is certainly overstepping many boundaries but not unheard of in the professional world. More importantly, it doesn’t appear that Leslie has let go of the idea that her relationship with Jake is mostly a petty fling. She doesn’t necessarily want to get married to the Doyle clan.
But if she does, they will likely forgive her and welcome her in…eventually.