We begin a Very Serious Episode of our favorite hot vicar-as-detective show with a flashback that looks a lot like what we’ve been seeing every time Sidney has PTSD. Sidney and a young, handsome friend are surveying the remains of a battle in a forest far away, when gunfire erupts out of nowhere. It doesn’t look good for Sidney’s friend.
Then, we’re back in Grantchester. The new puppy Sidney’s been gifted by Amanda wakes Sidney and Leonard up. There’s a house fire nearby. Sidney runs through the burning interior and rescues the wife of the family, Marion Taylor, who was sitting, stunned, in the midst of the flames. This is no lighthearted caper.
Milling about outside the burning house, the Taylor family is acting mighty suspicious, while Sidney’s landlady Mrs. Maguire is humiliated that they’ve been seen in their nightclothes. Everyone is mad at Sidney for risking his life. “No more heroics,” says Amanda, as Sidney arrives back at the vicarage.
Sidney is midway through a sermon about the power of a cup of tea after a fire when in walks sexy German widow, Hildegarde. He stammers and flushes. Mad awkward! He walks towards his guest, but Mr. Taylor cock-blocks Sidney in the aisles of church to tell him his woes. “It was no accident, Mr. Chambers,” he says of the fire. And just like that, he’s interrupted by his wife.
Later, Hildegarde comes-a-calling and sees the picture of herself on Sidney’s desk. “I’m not used to being with someone so open,” he says as she speaks of her feelings about her husband.
“That’s because you’re British,” she says, just before Mrs. Maguire brings the tea and slams it down. She still thinking of the war. And Sidney’s sharp command that she never behave that way to his guests again leaves her crying while she braises the mutton.
“Between the whisky, the jazz, and jumping in the fires, someone has to take care of you,” says Mrs. Maguire, after he apologizes.
Soon thereafter, Sidney and Marion Taylor stand before the ruins of her house, and he learns the Taylor family is moving back to London. She says she’s looking forward to being with the man she once fell in love with again, and then a cop, who is not Geordie, comes and tells her that that man, her husband Dominic, is dead — stabbed to death in Cambridge.
Sidney bicycles to Geordie’s place. It turns out Geordie is a hot angry mess because his infant son is sick, maybe dying, of whooping cough (hello, anti-vaxxers, this is the world you want to recreate). Geordie promptly takes his anger out on Atkins, his replacement, who is bungling the murder case.
While punting on the cam with Hildegarde, Sidney has an epiphany when she, still being so open and un-british says of her husband, “I didn’t really know him at all, it seems.”
He bicycles the area where Mr. Taylor was found, and realizes it’s near a public bath-house where gay men consort. He brings the cops there to investigate, and they promptly arrest some men for peeing in a pair. A furious Sidney is led, to ask “how is it helping?” He is truly a man ahead of his time.
They go to visit Mrs. Taylor and it turns out her husband, Dominic was indeed gay, and being blackmailed, and her burning of the blackmailer’s note led to the fire. Sidney realizes that the landlord was the blackmailer. Sidney wants to turn the guy in, but he warns Sidney that Ben Blackwood, who was Dominic’s lover, will be exposed if he does. Sidney goes ahead and tells Geordie anyway. Bad move Sidney.
“I’m not here to judge you,” Sidney says to Ben, when they talk. Unfortunately, Sidney’s desire to see the truth uncovered leads to Ben’s arrest, from a homophobic, sharp-tongued Geordie. Watching Ben’s arrest gives Sidney another PTSD episode.
“Is it vanity that drives me to get involved?” Sidney asks Leonard, humiliated by how Ben has been treated. “I’ve made a mess of things.” Sidney, defender of people of color, homosexuals, and sinners of all stripes, in the name of the church. He’s the perfect well-meaning white male ally. Ben even seeks sanctuary at the vicarage and receives some well-meaning advice from a very tortured and closeted Leonard.
“Judge not, lest ye be judged,” Sidney lectures his parish during his Sunday sermon. But among all the homophobes and bigots, the only listeners whose prejudices seem to have been altered is Mrs. Maguire, who has reneged on her anti-German sentiment to invite Hildegarde for tea.
Geordie’s wife calls Sidney to the baby’s bedside. She thinks her husband should be home with their sick son. Instead Geordie is very drunk at the pub, and when Sidney fetches him and urges him to go home, Geordie drops a truth bomb. “You hate your life, you hate it so much you have to screw up everyone else’s,” he says. “You’re a selfish bastard,” says Sidney. They are having a what I believe is called a terrific row.
Another epiphany from crimesolving Sidney: after musing about Leonard’s father reprimanding him for love, and Geordie misbehaving because he loves his baby son so much he can’t bear to see him sick, he realizesMr. Blackwood, Ben’s father, did the murder to save Ben’s reputation. But in another plot twist, our Ben has already confessed to the murder himself.
Geordie visits Sidney, and they have an awkward make-up session. Then they make one last visit to the public lavatory and this time, find the knife. Sidney’s hunch was right, and the killer was indeed Mr. Blackwood.
After the mystery very sorrowfully wrapped up, Geordie goes home at last. His child squeaked by, by some grace, but only barely. Babies had a rough go of it even a few decades ago. Ladies and gentlemen, this is why vaccinations are important. This is why vaccinations are important. this is why vaccinations are important.
“David Sidney, I baptize thee,” Sidney baptizes his namesake, and then gets cozy on the piano with Hildegarde, where a clearly-jealous Amanda is nowhere to be seen.