Dr. Ogden is back! (In a truly forward-thinking but correct fashion, she is still called “Dr. Ogden” and not “Mrs. Murdoch” or “Dr. Murdoch” – actually, it is truly forward-thinking for her to be working at all, considering that she is married. Someone in the police must have pulled some strings with the city to get her back on staff!) After several seasons (four, perhaps?) of her being at the hospital, in private practice, or consulting somewhere in between, she is back in the role that she was in at the beginning of the series. The main difference now? She is married to Det. Murdoch, so they can continue their investigations and theorizing at home. It is refreshing to see a happily married couple working together. There is little tension portrayed in these episodes, although they do disagree upon occasion – mostly on when it is time to quit and go to bed. On the other hand, their sexual tension is still maintained and can even be discreetly resolved. They are happy to be lovebirds – even in public, which was quite shocking at the time, particularly for older couples. However, it is nothing nauseating. They are truly a meeting of minds as well as body. Their scenes where they discuss the cases of the week are just as fascinating and given just as much weight as their domestic scenes, and sometimes they are one and the same.
Barenaked Ladies gives us a puzzle to solve, with naked women killed and then displayed in public in copper plating. Their poses are deliberate, leading to Murdoch (and Ogden, for at least part of the night) pulling an all-nighter with his case files, books of art, and Bible to figure out the message that the killer was trying to send. Some episodes lend themselves to being more audience-friendly than others. This one is great for following along the clues and trying to solve alongside Murdoch. We are presented with several suspects, conflicting motives, and lots of assorted clues. After the first three episodes wherein Crabtree is exonerated shortly followed by Dr. Grace’s departure, Barenaked Ladies is good fun and restores our dynamic of Murdoch, Ogden, Brackenreid, and Crabtree. It also introduces Miss James, a cleaning woman with a keen interest in anatomy whom Dr. Ogden takes under her wing. She is spunky like Dr. Grace, but more refined like Dr. Ogden. She provides a new face in the crowd, but she is more historically accurate for unmarried women in the early 20th century. Whether or not her character becomes overused will remain to be seen. For now, she is a new character to explore.
24 Hours Til Doomsday once again welcomes eccentric inventor James Pendrick, spy Terrence Myers, and American agent Allan Clegg to the story. We also get to see Prime Minister Laurier again as Murdoch and colleagues prevent an all-out war from breaking out between Canada and the United States. This episode is a steampunk adventure that plays off of modern security concerns as well as Cold War motifs. It is not about historical accuracy, but about “what-if” and the scientific capabilities of various nations in the Edwardian era. Tensions between countries are getting higher as we get closer and closer to the First World War. [While it would be another decade of this show before we got to WWI, it would be nice to see a TV movie or a flash-forward about our characters dealing with the war.] In 1903/04, the United States was very much still on an imperial binge of its own and still had its sights set on acquiring Canada, which was still seen as British land. My one criticism of the episode is that it treated Canada in the sense of a modern nation independent of Britain, even though very few people thought of the country in that fashion at the time. Anglo-Canadians in particular were very fond of Mother Britain. However, this is also an episode involving rockets aimed at New York.
Both of these episodes are light and comic compared to the first three episodes of the season. The season is plodding along nicely and we can enjoy our adventures. Are they a bit silly? Sometimes, but they show us a world at once familiar and foreign, and give us plenty of opportunity to solve clues and laugh.