If it is a tendency to go back to the status quo in the second or third episode, with the eventful finale and premiere all but forgotten, Murdoch Mysteries cleverly managed to both bring us back into the routine while reminding us that much has changed.
Marked Twain is a comedic episode featuring William Shatner as Mark Twain, long past his prime but still a fun character to watch our main cast interact with. He is a devout anti-imperialist, which clashes with the renewed sense of pro-British sentiment present in Edwardian Toronto, but also with American sensibilities at the time. Because he is the target of a shooting, the audience is safe knowing that he is not the killer, so we get to enjoy spending time with him, as do Murdoch, Ogden, Crabtree, and even Brackenreid – who is under significant political pressure to get rid of him.
Even as this episode does not feel particularly special, Constable Crabtree takes his new demotion particularly harshly. Constable Higgins lords it over him, purposely passing off Crabtree’s work as his own and pushing for preferential treatment from Brackenreid. Murdoch eventually notices, because when Crabtree approaches him, he reminds him that everyone still thinks of him as a first-class policeman – and Higgins gets knocked down a peg. Meanwhile, Dr. Grace is still making plans to move to London.
And surprisingly, in Double Life, she does just that! Talk about not just resetting the status quo – for the first time in several seasons, Dr. Ogden will be back in the morgue, as the elderly replacement coroner had a heart attack. This sets up an interesting dynamic that should play out in subsequent episodes: like in early seasons, Murdoch and Ogden will be working closely on cases, but now they are a married couple. The sexual tension will hopefully be amusing rather than awkward.
As an exit episode, Double Life provided a dramatic conclusion to Dr. Grace’s tenure as a coroner in Toronto. Her lover is killed and further exposed as leading the titular double life, leading to Dr. Grace being exposed as being romantically involved with a woman – at least to Murdoch and Crabtree. Brokenhearted, Dr. Grace leaves for London once the case is solve. Her story ends on a hopeful note: she has the promise of a new life, and there is always room for her to return for a guest appearance in the future.
What is heartbreaking about this story is how secretive Dr. Grace has to be. While Brackenreid is in the know regarding the real nature of her relationship with Lillian, the majority of the characters presume that they are merely good friends. Dr. Grace cannot act as though she lost the love of her life; rather, she must put up a brave front. The trip to London will undoubtedly give her time to properly grieve away from prying eyes.
Initially, we are led to believe that Lillian has a sinister past that has led her to a double life and running away. Dr. Grace is furious at how little she knew of Lillian’s background, and how much she feels like the fool. However, it becomes clear that the only thing that Lillian was guilty of was homosexuality. Like Constable Giles last season, all of her dirty laundry stemmed from trying to protect her secret. In reality, she just wanted to live a normal life with the woman she loved. Whatever her actions, she was trying to protect herself and her lover.
Like women voting, homosexuality has become widely accepted as normal in Europe and North America. While it is still bothersome to many, it is only the extremely bigoted or ignorant that believe that homosexuals should be banned from existence. The idea that we can all coexist together is not recent, but the idea that we can all openly coexist together is. From a modern perspective, Lillian’s dark past is problematic: an affair with a married woman, the murder of a private investigator sent to find her or said married woman, and keeping all of this from her current lover. However, divorce was not easily obtained or a financially feasible option, the investigator could have ruined countless lives needlessly, and burdening Dr. Grace with any of her secrets might have put her at risk professionally. In fact, the last issue was the only thing that Lillian could be said to have erred on. There was little that she could have done differently otherwise.