This week’s episode of Murdoch Mysteries ventures into darker territory, at least as far as this season so far is concerned. Micheal Seater returns as the devious and nefarious James Gillies in a tense piece scripted by Peter Mitchell and Paul Aitken.
Murdoch (Yannick Bisson), Brackenreid (Thomas Craig) Crabtree (Jonny Harris), Ogden (Helene Joy) and Higgins (Lachlan Murdoch) all climb aboard the night train at Union Station to escort murderer Gillies to Kingston where he is scheduled to be hanged.
When an unscheduled stop adds another passenger to the mix, Murdoch begins to fear that Gillies has some plan at work, and fights to stay ahead of the mastermind. But Gillies will not be stopped, as he begins mind games with the detective, teases Ogden mercilessly that her husband may still be alive were it not for his actions, but his actions also removed the obstacle of romance between her and Murdoch…
In true fashion, it becomes slowly apparent that perhaps a number of guilty parties are aboard as a murder is committed, people are changing seats, and we learn that there are other prisoners, previously released aboard.
As Murdoch and Gillies pit their wits against one another, one life after another seems to be in jeopardy, as even the thought of him being aboard the train is enough to unnerve a number of the passengers.
There are attempts at a robbery, a dastardly escape after a hostage taking, and then we see a side of Murdoch not often afforded us, as he runs Gillies down and begins to pummel him violently.
The episode’s climax which ends with Gillies leaping from a bridge, and Murdoch jumping after him leaves us with a troubling thought…
Is the dawn, the only glimpse of sunlight we are given in this episode reflective of the hope that a new dawn brings, or is it another train in the form of Gillies coming down the track toward our heroes.
This one is darker, and more frightening, psychologically, than the others we’ve been treated to this season, and it’s always a delight to see how easily this show can switch from light to dark, and not lose any of its credibility.
I know I mentioned this in the write-up for our set visit, but the detail on the train car sets is fantastic, there was never a moment in the episode that I thought to myself, that’s a set, it’s not really a train on its way to Kingston. Everything about this episode works. The design, the story, the performances.
The one performance I truly enjoyed was Seater’s. Having met him a couple of times, I know him to be a smart, friendly fellow, and yet on the screen this evening, he exuded sheer menace, and conveyed a sense of frightening pleasure as Gillies took joy in the events occurring around him.
This one was dark, enjoyable, and of course leaves the door open for Gillies’ eventual, seemingly inevitable return to torment our heroes again.
Murdoch Mysteries airs Monday nights on CBC.