Season 10, Episode 1 (Great Balls of Fire Pt. 1)
Since last season did not end on a cliffhanger and no one was left in direct mortal peril, nor was any murder left unsolved, the premiere of Murdoch Mysteries’ tenth season started a few months later and opened with a new case. Initially, it seems that everyone has moved on from the events of the previous episode, as our main characters are happily attending a society ball.
Until, true to form, a dead body falls out of the ceiling, and the story turns into a deadly game of “murder the debutante in order to marry the millionaire”. Murdoch and Dr. Ogden even joke that they cannot go out without something going wrong.
The case itself is quite interesting and slow-paced, since this is the first of a two-part episode, so as a viewer, it is easier to piece together clues. Two women are killed and there is an attempt on another’s life, and as the episode ended, I can come to the tentative conclusion that someone is trying to frame one of the young women – namely, the slightly mentally unstable childhood friend of the bachelor. But that is only a theory – I will have to wait until the next episode to find out.
I have not been a fan of The Bachelor and such shows, but this episode works as a parody of them as well as being a straight-up murder mystery. While the bachelor is initially distraught at the first death, he grits his teeth and carries on with the task of finding a bride, and romances another. Both he and his new love interest are equally determined to go along with the show and subsequent relationship for the sake of their families, but they are savvy enough to play along. Meanwhile, the other potential brides try their hardest to get the bachelor’s attention by sniping at each other (and then his new favourite) and generally being as catty as possible. Our main characters are amused – the world of the rich and famous was far removed from theirs.
Another thing that I find myself forgetting is that in the Edwardian era, policemen were considered tradesmen who were there to serve the citizens, so they are treated as such in the conduct of their investigations. Det. Murdoch has gained a good reputation (and has married Dr. Ogden, who came from a wealthy family) and as such, is accorded respect. Inspector Brackenreid has respect due his higher position of authority. But even they get treated rudely by the people they interview, whether or not said people are suspects, witnesses, bystanders, or others. After nine seasons, it is easy to identify with Murdoch as our hero and harder to remember just how annoying his persistence at solving a case would be to those involved.
This year, while it seems that all is back to normal, we soon realise that Dr. Ogden has been severely affected by her experience in the last episode. She is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and often sees visions of Eva Pearce – especially in the hotel where much of the case is taking place, as Eva disguised herself as a maid to shoot Dr. Ogden. But it is not the fear of Eva – she knows that she is dead and gone – but the guilt that she suffers for having killed her point blank. Dr. Ogden was entirely justified in her actions, but it is quite different to kill someone as it is to autopsy them. A strong part of her feels that she is wrong for killing Eva. She has taken leave of the morgue – leaving it in the capable hands of Miss James for now – and is withdrawing from spending time with her husband. Perhaps this is because so much of their relationship has hitherto been built upon solving murders together. She is tired of death. She is also afraid that Murdoch will not understand. Brackenreid tries to help, but she pushes him away too.
The episode ends with the start of the Great Fire of Toronto of 1904, in which Dr. Ogden is trapped in a burning kitchen – and in her own mind with the ghost of Eva Pearce…