Death in Paradise: Ep. 3

“No-one ever thinks they’re awful, even people who really actually are. It’s some sort of survival mechanism.”

Emily St. John Mandel

OK, I’m calling it.

This is the worst episode of Death in Paradise ever.

A member of the Saint-Marie reenactment society is poisoned on the eve of a big performance. The gang investigates, while DI Humphrey is hampered by his feelings for Camille. (Because he can deal with his wife LEAVING HIM just fine, but not with a crush on a colleague. This guy is a convincing detective.)

I don’t think there’s a single moment in this episode that isn’t a) completely, utterly predictable or b) intensely problematic. I’ve been grumbling for the last couple of weeks about the way Death in Paradise is treating the requisite Humphrey/Camille will-they-won’t-they subplot (if you can call it that), but I think that the treatment of the female characters in this episode is generally iffy. I might not have noticed if I hadn’t already been musing on the difference between “single” and “unmarried” (both of which are used for female suspects in this episode: “single” for a young character, “unmarried” for an older one), but it disturbs me that both apparently unattached women in the murder plot turn out over the course of the episode to, well, not be single. One of them is sleeping with the victim (fine, on its own); the other (unmarried, and, therefore, it’s implied, lonely) sees herself as a surrogate mother to the victim’s child. These are the only two female characters in the murder plot. And one of them murders the victim because her maternal feelings are offended. (“You deserve so much better!”) The point is that on their own, both of these things are fine. Put together, they begin to look problematic: no woman in Saint-Marie can possibly be happy on her own. If she is, she’s psychotic. Add that to the fact that at one point Humphrey uses the phrase “a friend’s girl” (in 2015? really? And we’re supposed to root for this guy?) and that both female characters in the police team are love interests of one kind or another (plus Florence’s irritatingly perfect persona is beginning to sound increasingly like an advert for an airline), and this episode looks really, really sexist. It’s also (as if that wasn’t enough), cliche-ridden, thoroughly unsubtle in its attempts to establish thematic unity, and completely unconvincing as a detective story.

The one good thing that happens is that Camille announces that she’s going to Paris. I pray God that this plan doesn’t get thwarted at the last minute. If it does, I may cry. Or just stop watching Death in Paradise.

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