The second half of Great Balls of Fire pays tribute to the Great Fire of Toronto of 1904 – an important event that often gets overlooked, since it was fairly local and – like most tragedies of the era – would pale in comparison to the First World War. Nonetheless, the fire levelled much of the city of Toronto at the time, destroying many people’s livelihoods.
Rather than trying to recreate the fire entirely, the producers chose to film short segments interspersed with archived footage of the event, blending them together in black and white to create a connection between them. It was slightly jarring, but well-edited. This is not a show about fancy effects and pyrotechnics, after all. Instead, we were reminded that this was a real event, and while our characters are fictional, their historical counterparts would have done what they are shown doing: filling buckets, evacuating citizens, and trying to douse the flames. We forget that there is a murder mystery going on, because in the moment, it doesn’t matter.
Also, Dr. Ogden gets an existential moment as she confronts the ghost of Eva Pearce in the flames. Killing her was understandable and in self-defense, but Dr. Ogden is conflicted about it nonetheless. First of all, it goes against her medical training. Secondly, she is a kind and empathetic person who always sees the best in people. Thirdly, she killed her at close range and looked at her in the eyes as she died. Feeling that rush of power must have been exhilarating, terrifying, and exhausting all at once.
But luckily, Dr. Ogden is saved by Murdoch and then modern medicine (well, “modern” for the time). She gets the chance to discuss her visions with her husband, albeit reluctantly, and by the end of the episode, she is reassured that she did the right thing and that she can move on with her life. They are excitedly planning their own house again.
The rest of the episode merely continues the mystery from the premiere and resolves it nicely. As a viewer, it was fun to play along and try to figure out who did it and how. Was it contrived? Yes, but it is a murder mystery, after all. It was fun to watch the detectives try to figure out who was involved and all the while being treated like uppity tradesmen.
The status quo was restored for A Study in Pink. From the way Dr. Ogden referred to Ms. Freddie Pink, it seems that she has become a family friend, and it was refreshing to have her back. This time, however, she was on the wrong side of the table, being set up for murder and having to match wits with Murdoch in order to solve the crime. The two of them make a good team for figuring out clues, but they are two stubborn and cerebral to work together well on an ongoing basis. What I did find annoying is that Murdoch kept giving her information about their investigation even as he was ordered not to. Was he that naïve to think that his friend could be trusted? Why did he ignore his superiors? It almost seemed as though he didn’t even realise that he was doing so.
I like recurring characters and Freddie Pink is enjoyable, but I hope that if she returns again, she is not in the position of being a suspect. She is best when she is working with Detective Murdoch. I would like to see how she works with him and Dr. Ogden together – we have seen her interact with each of the separately so far, but always in dramatic and suspicious circumstances. Could we see them have dinner together? Laughing and joking?
Overall, I enjoyed these stories. They were dramatic and entertaining, as well as presented in such a way that I could try to solve the mystery myself. We even got to see some of Murdoch’s crazy inventions again – I am glad that Inspector Brackenreid hardly questions him anymore.
After all, if they catch the murderer, does it matter that there are constables gallivanting through the streets of Toronto with big buzzy electric machines?