Due South: s04 e11 – Hunting Season

Due South

And this close to the end, after all the things I’ve justifiably said in the past few weeks, they can pull off an episode like this.

‘Hunting Season’ guest-starred Jessica Steen as RCMP Constable Maggie McKenzie. I don’t know what else Ms Steen has done but she was perfect in the role of a female Benton Fraser, not stepping out of line once, not striking a false emotional note in all the range she was called upon to deliver. In view of the revelation the episode delivered, she had to be top notch, and she was.

Maggie and Bennie are cut from the same cloth as Mounties and Canadians. At first it’s a modestly comic riff, Ray having to deal with two of them whilst seriously fancying Maggie (as would anyone) and appearing to have to contend with Fraser, who feels an immediate kinship with her. Why shouldn’t he? She’s only come to Chicago on the trail of the killers of her… husband. Not father but husband.

Actually, they know each other already, a little. Maggie’s mother, a resourceful woman in the mould of Bob Fraser, brought her up on her own in the Territories. Maggie’s mother and Fraser’s father were good friends. All these things and his natural instinct to take people on trust lead Fraser to assist Maggie’s hunt, even though she’s on an unofficial mission to chase the two Torelli brothers, who are bank robbers. It takes Inspector Thatcher’s jealousy of the attractive newcomer – who she first meets hiding in the closet of Fraser’s office in the Consulate, with him – to have her background checked out and determine that Constable McKenzie is actually suspended, because of her erratic behaviour and unjustifiable suspicion of the Torellis, who have ironclad alibis, a fact she’s concealed from Benton and Ray, and which makes her prime suspect when the Torellis’ only known associate is found shot dead after she visited him. Alone. And when Fraser refuses a direct order from Thatcher to pursue Maggie, after she sneaks back into the Consulate to retrieve her things, he too is suspended.

Wait. Maggie was in the closet with Fraser? Yes, because this is where it all goes wierd. Remember that Fraser’s dead Dad, Bob, has set up his ‘office’ in a cabin in the Territories, accessed only through Fraser’s closet? Well, firstly, when he’s talking to Bennie, pushing Maggie as the ideal woman for him, she can actually hear him, as a background voice. And then we discover that she can see him too, and they can all swap stories in the cabin.

Why the hell Maggie can see Fraser Sr when only Bennie (and Buck Frobisher) can is left unexplained to begin with. Things become more complicated. Maggie’s husband wasn’t killed for some caprice but because he was the Torellis accomplice. Their drver. Maggie refuses to listen to this but has eventually to acknowledge it. A cop married to a bank robber. And to understand, whether this makes things easier or not, that they killed her man because he had decided to shop them to her, because he had been influenced by her. A bank robber married to a cop.

But the revelation, which Fraser worked out from the fact of the dates of Maggie’s mother’ husband’s death and her birth being too far apart, was who was the real father of Maggie. It could only be one person, who never knew he was a father twice over and who deeply regretted that he had failed as an absent father twice instead of just once. It was Bob Fraser. Bennie has a sister. Maggie has a brother. And that made all the difference to both of them.

I had some mixed opinions about the episode. Not about the story, or any of the performances, which were faultless. But I wavered from seeing this as better served by having been made much earlier, perhaps in the first part of the third season, when the surrounding quality was so much higher. And I regretted that it came so very late, leaving no prospect of a return visit by Maggie. But at this same time, if you can understand this, it was also better for coming so late. It felt like the sort of thing that could only be properly done so late, and not merely because there was then no fear of it being devalued by an inferior follow-up, lacking in an idea as well-concieved and well-handled as this.

Nobody could bugger this up.

Other than that, my only complaints were that the show had to throw in some of its comic turns, though these were strictly limited. This was an episode that didn’t need comic deflation or exaggeration (so the omission of Detectives Huey and Dewey was the best choice). I was so glad to see that the show could still do it, in the eleventh hour and fortieth minute, because I remember some bits of the two-part series finale, and I am already preparing my bunker. Hopefully, I will be wrong. Very wrong.

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