Last week one reader noted that a lot of Vera is filmed in County Durham and not as I said in Northumberland, where the show is set, however I’m sure that Northumberland is still used for the scenes where characters are deep in contemplation staring across at large bodies of water. The Northumberland scenery plays a larger part in this week’s episode, as a wild swimming enthusiast is strangled and drowned while trying to enjoy an early morning dip in a reservoir. Though this is a tragic murder it doesn’t stop Vera and pathologist Billy Cartwright noting that it was a lovely spot, so the main message of Vera seems to be that Northumberland has lovely sceneries if you can overlook all the murders. While the woman, later identified as social worker Jenny Lister, is being drowned Vera is trying to navigate her way around the pool at a local health spa, as she fails to dodge the aqua aerobics class that is going on at the same time. Seeing the shabby Vera trying to negotiate her way round the spa, in which the doors can only be opened by swiping a membership card, lets Blethyn demonstrate a brief moment of comedy in an otherwise dark episode.
Jenny’s murder is a particular tough one for Vera and Joe to solve as she seemingly has no enemies, is loved by her co-workers as well as her fellow swimmers and is extremely close to her daughter to whom she is a single parent. This part of the investigation also makes it personal for Vera, as her mother died when she was young so she can identify with the daughter Hannah having to cope with this loss, though in her case she has support from her boyfriend Simon. It is Simon’s mother Veronica who alerts them to the fact that Jenny worked on the case of Elias Jones, a young boy who was drowned by his mother and was found dead in a similar position to Jenny. During the investigation Elias’ mother Mattie’s social worker Connie Masters was found to have been at fault and was struck off while Jenny kept her job. Connie now lives a reclusive life with her young daughter in an isolated corner of the area, where kids circle round the local store on their bikes, as there is nothing else for them to do. As the camera pans on them every time the police come to interview Connie, the picture closes-in on these youths making you believe that they have some sort of involvement in the case. While delving further into the Mattie Jones affair it seems that Jenny had been interviewing her for a book of case files that she was about to publish, so there would also be motive for someone else to kill her so her work wouldn’t see the light of day. This brings in another suspect in the form of Michael Morgan, Mattie’s former partner and an osteopath at Vera’s health spa which ties everything up neatly. That for me is all I can give away this week without spoiling any more.
While last week the focus was on Vera’s past relationships with her sergeants, this week it was on her present partnership with Joe who was increasingly feeling like a second fiddle. As the sarcastic Kenny presents Joe with a ‘Teacher’s Pet’ mug, he feels that he is more Vera’s keeper than her partner making sure that she eats properly and sharing a drink with her because she is lonely. Joe is increasingly irritated by the way Vera makes decisions without consulting him and not giving him vital pieces of information that would’ve helped lead him to a conclusion earlier. This episode really let David Leon do a bit more away from Brenda Blethyn, including seeing Joe playing the hero in the final scenes, this allowed us to see how his character felt about his professional life and how he is being treated. There was also the introduction of a new DC in Bethany Whelan, who to be fair didn’t have a lot to do other than rejecting the personal probing of Kenny and noting that Vera reminded her of her mum the morning after then asking ‘when does she start throwing stuff?’
Vera continues to be as stylish as ever with some excellent underwater photography both at the beginning and the end of the episode, which really drew you into the story. As always Blethyn really delivered however I’m increasingly drawn to Paul Ritter’s pathologist Billy, who almost always has the best lines and who I believe deserves a spin-off. My main problem with Vera is that I really didn’t care about Jenny and her daughter so my main reason for wanting the case to be solved is so that the Vera, who I am emotionally invested in, gets the job done. I also feel a little bit smug as I’d worked out who murdered Jenny about twenty minutes prior to the police but then maybe that’s because I watch too many of these cop shows. The one thing I took away from this though is that even though they may have a lot of security measures in place, you still have to be wary of your position when you get changed at the local health spa. In fact this episode may make you question joining a gym altogether but you’ll have to tune in tonight to see what I’m talking about.
Have you been watching Vera? What do you think so far? Leave your comments below.