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This is set in Victorian-era London, but it was filmed on location in Dublin. What a pity that they missed the opportunity to actually set it in Victorian Dublin. Unfortunately Irish History seems to begin at Easter of 1916.
Miss Scarlet ( Kate Phillips ) inherits her father's business. He was a private detective, although this is set before the age of Sherlock Holmes . An elderly man hires Miss Scarlet to locate his missing female relative.
We are also introduced to Miss Scarlet's love interest. He is a senior police detective called Wellington, nicknamed The Duke.
Miss Scarlet interferes with the local prostitutes, who are the best career-women in town. She also becomes frenemies with Moses, a big scary black man.
Miss Scarlet ( Kate Phillips ) has a new client, the wife of a man accused of murder. The victim had a tattoo of a dark blue rose. It turns out that this was a secret symbol for closeted homosexual men - in an era when it was highly illegal.
Miss Scarlet rejected her potential suitor, an effeminate mothers-boy, but he is happy to be a silent partner in her business. It turns out that he had no more interest in her, or in any woman, than she had in him. In other words, she would have been a beard not a gold-digger. Now they just have a business contract instead of a marriage one. Just as well, because his mother - an empowered woman and example of Matriarchy - is Miss Scarlet's landlady ... and the rent is overdue!
Somehow, the justice system seems to have done away with trials. Instead the suspect is about to be publicly executed in only one hours time. Our heroine must race against time to save the day. Yes, it is completely contrived and unrealistic.
Miss Scarlet ( Kate Phillips ) is hired by Wellington to infiltrate a gang of political extremists. Is it the Irish or the socialists? Worse - the Suffragettes!
The previous episode dealt with closeted homosexuals, so it makes sense that the next item on the Social Justice list would be the suffragette movement. That said, this show is shot in Ireland so there are many other aspects involved. The Victorian era saw the beginning of social change, such as Gladstone ending child labour, but the episode wants to imply it is happening too slowly. Modern-day sensibilities are foisted onto an era almost a century and a half ago. One example is the insinuation that families would teach their sons literacy, but not their daughters. In reality, lower class people regarded boys as beasts of burden who were denied education while literacy was reserved for females.
One of the Suffragettes is suspected of murdering a man. It turns out that she was obsessed with a Gentlemen's club, a social venue which acted as a safe space for male people. She complains that men go to clubs, brothels and gambling dens - echoing Scarlet's complaint about Wellington and his manly pastimes of drinking, womanizing and gambling. If this was produced thirty years previously, we would assume that Miss Scarlet was flirting with Wellington. Their antagonistic relationship might be intended as Han-and-Leia type banter, but to a modern audience it is clearly just meanness on her part.
Why must a woman detective prove herself to men? Perhaps because she is an uneducated amateur, while the men are professional police officers. The fact is that she constantly chides Wellington for his manliness, and then complains that he is unchivalrous because he treats her like an equal.
Finally, the Suffragette chides Miss Scarlet. Although she is a self-employed businesswoman in a business normally associated with men, and thus a trail-blazing role model for other women, her customers are all men. In reality, there is nothing to stop her doing business with women - after all, the landlord that she owed rent to is a woman. Also, Wellington was her client this week and he ultimately takes payment and orders from Queen Victoria!
Miss Scarlet ( Kate Phillips ) has a new case, involving spirit photography. She gets involved in the local spiritualist scene, and meets a medium who claims to speak with Miss Scarlett's deceased father.
The other great glimpse at Victoriana is when a house-maid sends a message using a postcard-delivery service. Yes, this is set in an age before telephones or even the domestic telegraph.
Inspector Wellington has problems of his own. He has to curry favour with his boss if he wants to be promoted to Chief Inspector. A journalist (Kevin Eldon - Hyperdrive ) has offered to write a story glamourising the work of the Police. Unfortunately the current open cases are somewhat mundane.
Wellington has a new case to solve. This time it is the disappearance of Miss Scarlet herself. Worse, the clock is ticking because Wellington's boss invited him to a formal-atire event.
The trail leads to a disused prison that was closed because of a smallpox virus. Wellington and Scarlet get trapped together, like an old-fashioned Dangerous Hours plot. However, this is not a filler episode - it is a key part of the story arc concerning the mysterious death of Scarlet's father.
Wellington and Scarlet both have conversations with Mr Scarlet (deceased). He is presented as a figment of their imagination, not a ghost, which explains his absence from the previous episode.
After the events of the previous episode, Wellington has the biggest forgery case in Scotland Yard's history on his hands. Miss Scarlet ( Kate Phillips ) is put into witness protection, for what good it does.
It looks like Moses the Jamaican was somehow involved. Was he the brains of the operation? Or is one of the other supporting characters a secret criminal mastermind?