The Sidney-Geordie bromance takes a trip to London for a boy’s night that turns dark, and almost operatically so, in this excellent if sad penultimate episode.
Exiting King’s Cross Station, our lads bicker about jazz and whether to ignore the illegal activities around them, and bond over Gilbert and Sullivan. They’re on the way to a jazz club, where Johnny and his sister work for their dad (who is, unlike them, white). There, Sidney finds his own sister Jen smoking a cigarette and a whole lot of drama between Johnny and his father, Archie.
“Jazz is a metaphor for life,” says Sidney. ” A lot of chaos and you’re glad when it stops,” retorts Geordie.
And so the chaos begins.
“Put your troubles behind you,” says Sidney, as they settle in to listen to a sultry chanteuse and jazz trio, who manage to enchant even the hesitant Geordie. But then Amanda enters, and Geordie says, “So much for putting your troubles behind you.” Amanda and Sidney have an sexually charged chat at the bar.
Meanwhile Johnny’s sister Claudette seems to be in distress — she has a message for her brother, “Remember what mum used to say?” that Sidney fails to pass on — and Geordie spies Archie in an act that appears like bribery. None of this would be happening at a Gilbert and Sullivan.
Sidney and Amanda banter with the jazz singer, Gloria, but when she sings a song dedicated to them, there’s no joy, only unspoken tension and sadness. The spell is only broken when Johnny’s dad reels in, shocked. Johnny’s sister is dead, bludgeoned in the alley. As Johnny wails and holds Claudette’s prostrate form, it looks like the forecast for this episode — and for Sidney — is pain, chaos and more pain.
Scotland Yard comes in and the chief inspector shoves his weight around, making Geordie feel infuriated with his suggestion that there’s nothing much going on in Cambridge. Sidney claims to be one of Geordie’s colleagues in Cambridgeshire. The inspector seems very cozy with Archie. Sidney has one of his epiphanies over toast and eggs, his eyes growing dreamy. “This is going to stop us going home, isn’t it?” says Geordie. The epiphany is that his own sister was covering for Claudette, who was running away to meet her boyfriend.
At the market, they find Claudette’s boyfriend, who is black, in the middle of a row with Justin, one of the “guvnor” (Archie’s) hands. The boyfriend blames the dad, the dad blames a mysterious “them,” and Scotland Yard knows that Sidney is impersonating an officer. Back to Grantchester with our lads.
Amanda’s intended, Guy, summons Sidney for little chat, man to man. “I love Amanda,” he says. Consequently, they’re getting married in their local church, not Grantchester, in a few short weeks. Sidney’s eyes get bigger. “You know how married life can be… I suppose you don’t,” says Guy, sneering. Marking his territory, that one.
A despondent Sidney and Gloria, the jazz singer, get cozy. “Can your heart be broken if you were never together?” asks Sidney. He gets soused, spends the night with Gloria, feels incredibly guilty, and then finds one of Claudette charms beneath her bed. “We all do things we ain’t proud of, sometimes,” she assures him, but he’s a hot mess of a guilty Vicar right now. Geordie, on the other hand, is incredibly proud of him. “You sly dog,” he says, which is the highest compliment Geordie gives.
Back at the vicarage, Hildegarde has a present for Sidney. It’s a record, and it turns out to be Gloria’s. Awkward. He looks like he’s about confess something, but instead he lies and tells her he called off officiating Amanda’s wedding. Hildegarde kisses him. Sidney is breaking commandments left and right.
He feels so guilty that he trashes his jazz records. “You love your music, we love the fact that you love your music,” say Leonard. He gets ignored. Hey, Sidney, I’m pretty sure that Thou Shalt Not Ignore Your Curate is another commandment. Meanwhile, Geordie gets a tip from the bouncer about a murder from years before, in which Archie was the prime suspect and got cleared by Scotland Yard.
Jen wants Sidney to come to the funeral, to talk to Johnny. He tells Sidney what their mom used to say: “However bad things get, you’ve got each other.” Sidney, and we, are devastated by this revelation.
At the wake, Johnny confronts his father about his history of domestic abuse, and their argument serves to cement Archie as a suspect in the long-ago murder: the victim was in love with Archie’s wife.
Sidney confronts Gloria about the charm under her bed. She says that she let Claudette and her man spend time at her apartment. “Everyone’s running away from something. What are you running from?” she asks him. Everything, Gloria. Everything.
“Is there booze in this place? A bit of communion wine?” asks Geordie back at the vicarage. As they discuss the case, Sidney and Geordie realize it was a revenge killing, a tit for tat based on Archie’s long-ago crime. A second tip from the bouncer leads them back to the scene of that crime, where Justin — the child of the murdered man who insinuated himself for years into Archie’s club — is torturing Archie, to further his revenge. This is too real. I feel like I’ve walked into a British Sopranos episode. Sidney talks him into dropping his weapon, and everyone breathes a sigh of relief.
Scotland Yard’s chief inspector is impressed, in a condescending way, but less so when Geordie accuses him of being on Archie’s take and covering up Archie’s previous crime.
Thus avenged themselves, they return to Grantchester in time for one of Sidney’s homilies, and for Mrs. Maguire to tell him that Hildegarde salvaged his jazz records, and has fallen in love with him.
Hildegarde, we feel you.