Season 11, Episode 1 (Up from Ashes)
The wait is over! After a busy spring and summer, Murdoch Mysteries is back for Season 11. Picking up where they left off in the finale (sort of), the episode resolves the case and bring everyone back to the status quo. It is an exciting hour of mystery, despair, joy, and shenanigans. Thankfully, our heroes are back where they belong as the credits roll.
Nonetheless, they are down a man. As I predicted last week, Constable Jackson does not survive his injuries from the ambush. He receives a very nice and honourable send-off that bookends the episode. It is a helpful reminder that policing is a dangerous profession and that they put their lives on the line for the safety of society. Of the constables at Stationhouse 4, Jackson was a jolly giant with a gentle soul – no one could stay anything bad against him (nor should they have) and his absence will undoubtedly be felt.
However, we can rest assured that the rest of the cast has returned to their usual positions. Detective Watts will also stick around, giving Detective Murdoch a new face to work with. It is clear that Watts is supposed to be a younger, gung-ho detective who both admires Murdoch and finds him infuriating. Watts is more like Dr. Ogden would be had she been born a man and of a lower rank in life. This definitely shakes up the character dynamics without making too much of a mess. It will be fun to watch Murdoch work with Watts, but hopefully he does not take over the series. For that, we will have to wait and see.
Speaking of Dr. Ogden as a man, that is exactly her strategy for escaping and eluding her captors. This was brilliantly done in the episode and harkens back to the third season when we learned that she was a one point part of a club of women who dressed up as men so as to temporarily gain the privileges of manhood in the Victorian era. Her impersonation skills are a little rusty, but she manages for a few days, which was all that was required. It was a good choice on the part of the writers! We forget how many hidden depths Dr. Ogden has.
The premiere episode itself was very well-crafted. Initially, we are led to believe that Constable Crabtree is also dead, but he reveals himself halfway through the episode to be very much alive and working behind the scenes to solve the case, along with an incognito Inspector Brackenreid and Det. Watts. His reunion with Murdoch is tear-inducing; comparatively, his reunions with Higgins and Nina are less fraught with emotion because they are mostly offscreen. While they would have been a distraction, it would have been nice to see them in their entirely. Higgins seemed quite affected by Crabtree’s apparent death and it would have been wonderful to see him actually find out that his partner was alive, rather than simply reuniting after already being informed of his return. Also, some follow-up to the scene with Nina would have been appreciated. I suppose I just like character scenes! Oh well, I am content with what I got.
With a few flashbacks to explain how all of the characters survived, escaped, etc., the episode mostly devotes itself to building a case against the high-ranking city officials who attempted to take Murdoch down. New faces turn from enemy to ally as nearly everyone wants to see justice served. In the end, we are not certain that the villains will hang, but we can be assured that they will not be trying to same trick twice.
I look forward to the new season now that they status quo has been mostly restored. It will be good to have Watts around to fill some of the void left by Jackson’s departure (even though they are radically different characters) while keeping the relationships between the main characters intact.
It did feel all a bit rushed – everything resolved itself quickly, but it needed to. This is a police procedural and a dramedy.
Rest in peace, Constable Jackson. Things will be a little less festive at Stationhouse 4 now.