Love and matrimony are the themes at work as this third episode of the ever-more-enticing Grantchester opens. Amanda and Guy want Sidney to officiate their marriage (of-convenience), even though our Vicar’s heart is clearly being contorted more painfully than his obedience to the Ten Commandments has been recently.
Could you be more cruel, Amanda? After a bit of cursory counseling, Sidney agrees to apply for permission to perform the ceremony from the diocese. But soon he’s burying his sorrows in the drink. The next day Sidney has a wicked hangover, even as the new (clearly gay) curate arrives, looking to Sidney for mentorship.
Sidney counsels another couple who wish to get married, Arthur Evans and Isobel Livingstone. They seem very much in love, and “resolved” to be married, but there’s a problem, in the form of the lady’s mother, Daisy — a cantankerous, cruel-seeming bedridden invalid. “It’s your job to meddle,” she snaps at Sidney. Momma Daisy thinks the would-be son-in-law is going to do her in, and she won’t give her approval for the match.
On the home front, Sidney is being lectured by his landlady, while he receives a piece correspondence from episode 1’s sexy German widow, Hildegard, and tries to encourage the curate, Leonard, to deliver a sermon. And he’s trying to do it all sober, having turned over a new leaf. Geordie tells Sidney to “get on with it,” it meaning life.
Daisy seemed like a nasty piece of work but of course, nothing in Grantchester is what it seems, and when she turns up dead by what the doctor says are “natural causes,” Sidney has questions. And as usual, they are both theological and pragmatic.
Geordie tells Sidney that Isobel’s fellow, Arthur Evans was using an alias and asks him what he knows. Sidney confesses that Daisy Livingston thought Arthur was trying to “do her in” but says he’s trying to give people the benefit of the doubt. The Scottish doctor, however, assures them Daisy was simply very ill, and in fact lingered beyond her appointed time out of “spite.”
Bodies may keep turning up in Grantchester, but there’s a lot of wry humor sprinkled throughout this episode, including a recurring gag about the coroner asking about “intent” and Sidney’s continual neglect of Leonard’s sermon.
Mrs. Livingstone has been cremated before they can second-guess the coroner. Geordie wants Sidney to use his clerical authority with the young couple to see if he can sniff out any wrongdoing. Sidney, who clearly loves playing detective more than playing moral authority, pries, but finds nothing — until he runs into a mysterious stranger who tells him that Daisy Livingstone always wanted to be buried under an oak in the cemetery.
Leonard’s sermon ends up being akin the worst undergraduate paper of all time, with far too many references to Kant. After giggling in church with Amanda, Sidney is caught in a huge lie, since he’d told Leonard his sermon was “pithy.” “I like books,” says Leonard after Sidney gives him advice. “They’re so much less terrifying than people.” Amen, Leonard. Sidney, not chastened by his first lie, lies to Amanda and says the archbishop has denied him permission to marry her to Guy.
The mystery of Daisy’s death seems easily solved when Isobel tells Sidney she’s knocked up and Arthur has fled with her money and jewelry as Gladys, Daisy Livingstone’s sister and heir, turns up dead too. They embark on a manhunt for Arthur which is quite the dramatic setpiece — hounds in the countryside! But not so fast. “All this for a bit of cheap jewelry?,” Arthur asks. It turns out he’s a swindler who marries multiple women for money, but he swears he’s no killer, even of nasty old biddies.
Sidney bears Arthur’s message of sort of love to Isobel, who replies, “what do you know of love?” Can’t you see he’s heartbroken, woman?
Sidney drinks tea with the mysterious older man who’s been hanging around, and is thrilled that he’s got a set of fingerprints to bring to Geordie. But then he realizes, upon doing so, that he has no name. Fortunately, the stranger, Jack Chapman, is drinking even more tea with the landlady in Sidney’s kitchen. He’s revealed, in a twist, be Isobel’s absentee father, returned to Grantchester to visit both sisters, both of whom, in another twist, were terminally ill. Both of them. Yet the coroner’s report for Gladys, Geordie says, indicates potassium chloride.
“They trusted the killer with their lives,” says Sidney, having one of his epiphanies. It turns out that Grantchester had its very own Doctor Death. And talking to the local doctor about his habit of ethically dubious mercy killings is enough to get Sidney right back on the sauce. “It’s good to have you back,” says Geordie, pouring Sidney a second whiskey. It is indeed.
Sidney thinks about the war, agrees to marry Amanda and Guy, writes Hildegard back, and and encourages Leonard’s sermonizing. Leonard’s second attempt ends up being an honest reflection about lies and truth. In the churchyard, a pregnant Isobel meets her long-lost father.
And we wait for Sydney to get wind of the next murder.