We’re still teasing the threads of continuity as we move forward into season 2, but this week’s RCMP Constable Benton Fraser’s status at the Chicago Canadian Consulate moves into the backgriund to stay just that: a continuity of no relevance to this week’s story. Which sees both Bennie and Ray Vecchio sent to prison, only one of them deliberately.
To deal with continuity first, Fraser’s new commanding officer, Inspector Thatcher (who will eventually become Meg as opposed to Margaret) still wants him out. Firing him comes with bureaucratic complications, paperwork, much senior approvals so it will be so much easier, not to mention quicker, if he just requests a transfer: her (male) secretary hands Fraser the form as he leaves. Fraser’s father (whose ghost, for all newbies, is a regular revenant, approves: he’d like a change of scene). By the end, Fraser is, in his stilted fashion, explainging that he would prefer to stay. The sceptical Inspector, whose smile is very pleasant but should not necessarily be relied upon, simply says ‘Dismissed’, but it has the feel of acceptance to it, though that might just be my being beguiled, despite my warning, by the smile on Camilla Scott’s face.
Of more import is the trail, for armed robbery and first degree murder, of Robert Kruger (Aiden Devine), lead Detective giving very professional and calm testimony in Court being Vecchio, R. It’s all open and shut until the lead witness, Mrs Rosanna Torres (Pauline Abarca) not only recants the tesimony she gave voluntarily but accuses Ray of coercing her into giving it in the first place. Cue consternation.
Kruger’s Counsel, who could give the most saintly of lawyers (there are some) a bad name, demands dismissal, threatens the judge with misconduct and demands charges against Vecchio. DA Louise St. Laurent (Lee Purcell, who will recur a clearly insufficient number of times for a woman with such gloriously red hair as her) clearly doesn’t regard Vecchio as a whited sepulchre. It’s clear to all and sundry, except the three lawyers, that Mrs Torres’ recantation is down to her being threatened. In due order, the following things happen: Ray, with his customary calm and patience, gets himself committed to prison for contempt, Fraser, picking up the threads unofficially, discovers that Mrs Torres’ husband Eddie is actually in prison – alongside Kruger – and is thus the unseen but obvious lever, and lastly, in order to protect both Eddie and his buddy, gets himself arrested and committed to prison for shoplifting (the scene where Fraser, in front of Detectives Huey and Gardino, literally cannot force himself to steal a box of Milk Duds is absolutely hilarious).
The rest of the episode, more or less, is set inside. Time is telescoped: Fraser goes from arrest to conviction to arrival, a perfectly naive if slightly OTT self-introduction to his fellow inmates (Thank you, kindly) and appointment as book-monitor with the privilege of going anywhere in the prison faster than Frodo goes from Gandalf’s return to setting off for Bree in the film of The Fellowship of the Ring. Kruger has, of course, made him, just as he’s made Vecchio. From there to the climax, a near riot aimed solely at the two ‘pigs’ is just a matter of time, but the unexpected conclusion, revealing an improbable philosophical bent from the prison’s resident man-in-the-shape-of-a-grunting-mountain, undercuts the tension with another moment of delighted laughter.
After that, it’s just a brief coda, with Vecchio apologising for his contempt with overwhelming humility at having been right all along, Ms St. Laurent warning him that things don’t end here (oh I do so hope not!), the aforementioned ‘Dismissed’ and just enough space to mention that Lt Walsh gets to deliver a heartfelt soliloquy about halfway through that is spectacularly out of left-field until we get a brief explicatory but memorable glimpse of Sherry Miller, playing his boss, Commander Sherry O’Neill who, like Lee Purcell, will recur far too few times.
It’s going to be interesting to see what threads will still be playing out next week.