I don’t think I’m the only one who likes to guess who the killer is when watching a cop show and for the first two instalments of Vera I managed to guess whodunit before she did, however on this week’s episode I think I thought too far outside of the box.
This week’s episode features an opener that takes place during an army’s tour of Helmand Province in Afghanistan, with one of their number being killed before taking us six months into the future to a dinner which honours the fallen that didn’t make it back to England. In fact it does take a while for Vera to enter her programme this week but after one of the returning soldiers is found dead, initially thought to be a suicide, DCI Stanhope is called into investigate. As always Vera is her blunt self she clashes with the Lt Colonel at the Otterfed Barracks, after pathologist Billy informs her that the sergeant known as Dev couldn’t have committed the murder himself but despite this evidence he fails to believe her. Although Vera is assigned a captain from the military police it is she who takes over the investigation informing Joe that they do the marching and saluting while they do the real investigating.
This investigating involves looking into the incident that the audience saw at the start of the episode , with Dev rescuing the body of his fallen comrade Ollie Barton out of Afghanistan, along with the rest of the team. After realising that everything is not as it seems, she goes to see Ollie’s parents and finds out her father knew his so the case once again becomes personal. It turns out that the Bartons had been trying to open a case into their son’s death not believing the story that they had been told by Dev’s team and when another member of this platoon begins acting strangely Vera starts to agree with them. This episode deals with various army themes such as the close bond that the men form as well as post-traumatic stress disorder shown through the character of Budgie who goes to attack Vera when he thinks he hears bombing.
I really don’t want to go into this week’s investigation too much because the second half of the episode provides many twists and turns which makes it possibly the most interesting one in terms of the investigation. I did like that they concentrated on a recurring theme of teeth that started at the episode’s opening when Joe had to leave a pound under his daughter’s bed but when through to the investigation allowing the police both to identify blood splatters as well establish a cause of death. We also get more from Vera’s personal life as the on-going story of her angina continues this week concentrating on her diet with shots of empty crisp packets and take away menus she ends the episode begrudgingly making salad for her lunch with Joe. Once again Brenda Blethyn’s presence lifts Vera from being just another crime show and once again she provides a couple of laughs most of them generated in this episode through her interactions with sexist DC Kenny. Though Joe doesn’t do as much as he did last episode we still learn more about the characted namely that he originally wanted to be in the army before his wife Celine dissuaded him from being away from home for long periods. I’m also glad that people agreed with me about Paul Ritter being a scene-stealer in this show as Billy and this week we see him trying to woo a workmate only to be interrupted by a phone call from Vera.
There were still some problems with this episode, personally I felt that there weren’t enough scenes between Vera and Lt Col Chapelll especially considering that he was concealing information from her and I also didn’t like the heavy-handed nature of some of the camera-work closing in on a potential suspect with this scene being accompanied by creepy music. There was also no mention of the new member of Vera’s team who was appointed last week but had already seemed to have disappeared her place taken here by Captain Shepherd which made me feel like they could only have one female officer a week to try and share the screen with Vera . Overall though this was another enjoyable episode of the crime saga with Blethyn her usually reliable self and probably the most intriguing investigation of the series so far but I was just a little annoyed that I wasn’t able to guess the killer this week thankfully there’s one final episode for me to redeem my armchair detective work.
Are you enjoying this series of Vera? Did you guess who the killer was? Leave your comments below.