Here we go, the last two episodes of Season One. Revisiting the first season of MFMM has been a wild ride full of frocks, fancies and follies from beginning to end. Now, there is a LOT to cover in this two part conclusion, so to save time, I will now briefly outline the elements that did not make the cut: Mr. Butler’s foray into casual hashish usage, Aunt Prudence wailing, in depth analysis of Burt and Cec’s feelings about tuxedos, Jack’s Lana Del Rey feelings about his divorce. Rest assured, I have retained all fashion criticisms and general Gatsby-level insights into lifestyle choices of the rich and famous. Let’s begin!
In an ambiguous and very creepy opening scene, we have a grown man eating a toffee apple, watching a young girl do the dead man’s float in the most literal sense. Aunt Prudence is quick to join the party, with her characteristic indignation and shock.
Oh, and this poor girl is dead, of course.
The Honorable Phryne Fisher is busy preparing gathering supplies for a fancy dress party. Being the fashionista that she is, Phryne has selected about a dozen options for both herself and guests. Based on this sampling, we can only assume her costume collection is equally expansive to her collection of casual kimonos. Today’s tea luncheon is this crimson cheongsam, a choice I always have trouble reconciling with my feelings on cultural appropriation, much as it looks lovely on her.
But a phone call from Aunt Prudence finds Dot and Phryne abandoning their discussion on period-appropriate costuming and racing to the scene of the crime. It bears noting that Dot has come a long way since episode one. She now knows when Miss Fisher says “grab some extra hat pins”, she means “I may need to break into something, and my standard lock-picking kit does not go with this outfit. And also, I drive at least three times the legal speed limit even when not rushing off to a crime scene.”
When Phryne and Dot arrive at the estate of Aunt Prudence, we start to get more of the picture. Aunt Pru’s son is in town for his engagement party, which is the fancy dress one Phryne was planning to attend. But as they were preparing for the celebrations, one of the staff was found in the pool, pulling a Gatsby, but not in the good way.
Jack shows up, sporting a printed tie. He also has come a long way since episode one. I have never seen him wear a print! This is some Lin Chung-level sartorial choices.
Phryne leaves Jack to examine the suspicious death further to visit with her other cousin, Aunt Prue’s second son, Candy Apple. He’s sweet and mischievous, and Phryne has a soft spot for him. Because of Candy Apple’s developmental disability, he’s not allowed to leave the grounds very often and is also guileless and instantly spills about how he found the body.
While Phryne is getting the scoop from Candy Apple Cousin, Jack makes the rounds with the initial suspects. The Drowned Girl’s Dad is the estate’s stable manager and is sporting a very working class casual chic. Nice color palette, brings out his eyes. His eyes that are, notably, not crying. He is clutching that hanky, but it is not even remotely in use right now. Is he not really sad, or is he – like Cheekbones in “Raisins and Almonds” – just not very demonstrable with his emotions?
Questionable affect aside, he is definitely an autumn.
Second suspect is Prue’s son, heretofore known as… Idle Rich Insufferable Cad Annoying Affectation. You’d think with his limitless funds, he could afford a better suit. That is the ugliest colour, although I will admit the button-down is firmly O.K. Silk, probs woke up like this.
Also up for questioning, Annoying Affectation’s fiancee, Lady Godiva. You’ll see why I am calling her that in a minute. This lady has all the wardrobe and accoutrements of someone befitting her unearned privilege: silk nightie, lace robe, lack of concern about social mores, late breakfast. One could say the same thing about Phryne’s lifestyle, but at least Phryne does her best to earn her privilege after the fact. Partying seems kind of useless next to crime-solving.
Speaking of which, why have fashionable gloves if you can’t use them to protect from contaminating valuable evidence?
Having flexed one set of skills in assisting with Jack’s murder investigation, Phryne shifts gears to apply her equally fabulous party-planning skills to help Aunt Prue. With one staff member dead and the other off on a sudden vacation, it’s up to Mr. Butler and the Dynamic Duo to pitch in. Jane is just along for the fun of it, I mean, a girl has to get out and show off those perfect satin hair bows every now and then, right? It’s also December, so maybe she is on Summer break from school, freeing up yet more time to join the Scooby Gang.
And don’t think I haven’t noticed Phryne looks stunning here. The shirt and pants are her usually casual dress staples, but that coat is summer time style x 100%
And get a load of that necklace: wonderful! The setting is reminiscent of the floral pattern on the coat, tying the whole look together in the most glittery of ways. No one can pull off a statement necklace like Phryne. Who could possibly out do such a fashion presence?
Enter Lady Godiva with the other kind of fashion statement. I have no ill will toward this woman who is, to me, Alternate Timeline Phryne: who Phryne would be if she had been born with her wealth rather than acquire it. Just as provocative, just as fun-loving, but not nearly as appreciative of those around her. No time to consider what Aunt Prue’s feelings are about this costume, she has to have her Miley Cyrus moment before she settles down into the lap of luxury.
Here’s a better look at Phryne’s coat. God, I love that pattern. Not strictly a paisley, but still vaguely bohemian. Neutral colours, but still has impact. Also impactful: finding expensive scotch in the stable manager’s bedroom. Apparently a bribe? Suspicious.
Candy Apple takes Phryne and Aunt Prue back to the scene of Janey One’s disappearance. He has a long memory, though is understandably fuzzy on details. He implies that the same dude who took Janey One was also around for the current murder.
Phryne, in all her white pants fury, is not pleased with this information. If Murdoch Foyle, who everybody thought was dead like two episodes ago, is indeed alive and following her around, a girl needs a stiff drink. Jack follows her, because he seems to be the only person on this show that is capable of talking her out of clocking a suspect over the head with her magnificent necklace.
She at least recognizes his level-headedness. To show her appreciation, she invites him to the engagement party as her Plus One/Investigator.
Meanwhile Dot, having lived with Miss Fisher through countless crimes, knows something that none of the men on this show have quite accepted yet: Phryne is Always Right. As such, she hurries over to see Hugh, insisting they do their own investigating. If Phryne thinks Murdoch Foyle is behind all this, then they had better just start in on proving it. Save everyone some time. Style-wise, I love this cute hat she has on! It goes perfectly with her look of rosy-cheeked determination.
The party is still going forward, full steam ahead. Phryne will not be requiring Burt and Cec to appear in costume (that’s saved for Season Two!), but she will require them to appear in black tie. Neither of the Unionists are particularly pleased by this. I am VERY pleased by this. New outfits are always fun!
Like she does every damn week (seriously), Phryne finds a useful fashion clue that none of the police thought was important. When. Will. They. Learn. Dot’s expertise identifies this French lingerie as extremely costly, most unusual in the suitcase of a stablehand’s daughter.
Phryne is continuing to work the case with flair, despite the extraordinary trigger that is the re-emergence of Murdoch Foyle. Between wrestling personal demons, party planning for a thankless cousin, and hunting down clues, she manages to put together this fabulous ensemble. Burnt velvet, purple shift, coral red accessories, a matching brooch and bangle. Purple and red are a color combo usually worn by bold women aged 50+, but here Phryne makes it look youthful and competent.
Jack has tracked down Aunt Prue’s vacationing housekeeper. I kind of like this outfit she’s put together, mostly because I like a wide lapel and a square neckline. But not together, and definitely not with that hat: far too masculine, not enough personality, definitely not something I would pack for my time at the coast. The anxious expression is because she is recounting a tale of true horror: a threesome!
Apparently the Idle Rich enjoy frolicking in the sack with the daughters of stablehands, then gifting them lingerie and succumbing to blackmail from their fathers. Things are not looking good for Mr. and Mrs. Annoying Affectations.
But put a pin in that for now, because it’s Party Time! If there is anything being rich is good for, it’s waylaying the judicial process in order to party. Let’s peruse some of the costumes:
Some sort of French Courtier with sippy cup. I’m gonna say his day job is local magistrate.
Little Bo Peep. Day job: daughter of the Minister of Agricultural.
Playing card character. Day job: Professional Douchebag.
Eqyptian queen by way of Hollywood. Dude on the left is a racist depiction of South-east Asian “extraction”. Day jobs: Diplomats.
Much cooler Egyptian queen. Day job: kicking ass and taking names.
Little Red Riding Hood. Day job: Questioning her elders and reading up a storm.
Terrifying realistic wolf costume. I cannot even believe this is an option. Straight nightmare fuel. Cousin Candy Apple should definitely have gone with something else.
Roman Centurion. Day job: Investigator Roleplay.
Despite having just come from finalizing his divorce, it does not look like it will take much convincing to get Jack out of that tie and ascot-lapel shirt.
Except perhaps a decades old murder clue.
Because, while Jack is changing into his phallic-symbol head-gear, Phryne finds an envelope with one of Janey One’s hair ribbons in it. Not a good sign, especially with Janey Two partying out of sight.
… And especially since her two cousins seem to have total and complete disregard for their own safety/the safety of others. Cousin One cares about candy apples, Hansel and Gretel and his immediate situation. Cousin Two only cares about expensive champagne, threesomes and his immediate situation.
But never fear! Janey Two appears to be safe (and adorable) in her red riding hood outfit. I have a feeling this is a repurposed Gretel costume, since any mention of Gretel would be triggering for a certain innocent murder witness cousin, who Jane seems to be waving to.
Why is there no adult intervening in this situation??? There is no clearer sign of danger than a predatory animal luring you away from the safety of the crowd. Also, this “costume” is 9 different kinds of creepy.
Back to the B-plot! As a part of their “is Murdoch Foyle really dead y/n” investigation, Dot and Hugh must sift through human ashes. Hugh reveals a slight distaste into this CSI-adjacent branch of police work while Dot, the stoic Catholic that she is, single-mindedly focused on her goal.
They discover what appears to be the remains of a glass-eye. The glass -eye of Murdoch Foyle’s foster mother. Which means the ashes aren’t Murdoch’s at all, and Phryne is right: he’s still alive!
But back at Party Central, Phryne is unable to relish in being right yet again. Someone has absconded with Cousin Candy Apple’s costume, and Janey Two has also been absconded. No one is particularly pleased by the inevitable gong show this party has become. Jack refrains from saying I Told You So.
Thankfully Janey Two is located quickly, and hustled home in the cab with Bert and Cec. But who is waiting to hitch a ride than non other than Creepy Appropriated Wolf Costume. Is it necessary for him to hold the head like that? Why does he even still have it? Let it go, Murdoch.
You know what else this guy needs to let go of? Little girls. Stop kidnapping and killing them. Stop haunting Phryne. Stop dressing up in creepy wolf costumes. Just stop.
Sidentoe: Janey Two has the pyjama set I have always wanted. #ProtectHer
Jack and Phryne arrive just in time, both wielding pistols like the perfect crime fighting partners they are. Murdoch Foyle has vanished, intimidated by Mr. Butler’s generally welcoming attitude.
Foyle may be foiled this time, but Phryne knows he will be back…