Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries S02E10 - Death on the Vine

Warning: Contains spoilers!
This episode kicks off with a young man being dragged into a large barrel. A fire is started in the barrel by burning some photographs. The young man comes around as the fire starts but it is too late as he is already shut in. He scratches to get out but it does no good as there is no one in the barrel room to rescue him.

Credits roll

Phryne and Dot are stopped in her car at the side of the road consulting a map. Dot asks if Mr Voigt's farm has any baby animals and Phryne confesses she used the term farm loosely. Dot asks what that means and Phryne is just about to tell her when another car comes down the road. Phryne flags the driver, Sergeant Ford down and asks where the Voigt winery is. He tells them they are looking at it as it has just been harvested. He tells them everyone is in town for the wine festival. Dot questions them going to a winery and Phryne tells her it is strictly business as she has been called there on a case.

Phryne and Dot pull into town and the festival is in full swing. Eric Voigt approaches Sergeant Ford and says they should wait for Oskar but the Sergeant says he has missed the last 10 years so one more won't make a difference. They also see Valma Brightwell wiping black soot from the doctors arm. Eric gets up on stage to give a speech. He thanks the workers and Frank and Frank tells him to give the toast his Dad used to make and he gives the speech. Dr Bob Ryan approaches Phryne and Dot handing them each a glass of wine. They begin to chat when Flora Ford, Bobs daughter comes running over screaming. She tells her dad Mr Voigt isn't breathing.

Phryne goes into the barrel room with Dot and sees Oskar Voigt's dead body hanging out of the barrel. The doctor pronounces him dead and Flora says she came in to try to find him and found him dead. She is viably upset so the doctor escorts her outside. Phryne tells the policeman that she had arranged to meet Oskar that morning and gives him her card. The policeman tells him he doesn't see what assistance a woman who meddles in police business could offer and asks her to leave the room but Phryne picks up a piece of something charred first.

Phryne and Dot head to the hotel. Phryne tells Dot that if she had arrived earlier Oskar might still be alive so the least she can do is look into his death. They attempt to book in but the owner Velma Brightwell but she is called away to the phone. Phryne checks the guest book and sees doctor Ryan spends a lot of time there. They see the list on the wall of fallen soldiers and see that Velma lost her husband and her son. Velma returns from the call and says she doesn't have an vacancies as they are redecorating. Phryne questions it as she says the only have one other booking so should have rooms free and she cannot refuse them unless rooms or full or they have insufficient funds and puts a pile of money onto the ledger. Velma says she will find them something and Phryne asks her to have their bags taken up to the room and they will take in the sights.

Phryne goes out for a walk and bumps into the doctor and his daughter Flora. She says Flora must have had quite a shock and Flora tells her she keeps house for the Voigts and she had made Oskar lunch at around 1 but he hardly ate anything and rushed off so she went to take him something to eat and found him dead. She says the family have had such bad luck with losing their father and the family breaking apart and now Oskar's death. The doctor sends his daughter home with Frank and Phryne asks him if he has called the coroner. The doctor tells him that as it was a heart attack the body goes straight to the funeral home. Phryne says he was young for a heart attack but the doctor says it was a family trait. Phryne questions the bruise on Oskar's head and the broken fingernails and the doctor says he can recognise a heart attack. Phryne questions whether he is under duress to sort things out quickly. The doctor tells her that Eric wants the body cremated as soon as possible. Phryne asks if the brothers got on and the doctor tells her they had business to sort out and takes his leave.
Phryne is then approached by the policeman who is scornful of her profession. He tells her that if she goes near Oskar's body he will charge her with trespass. Phryne says she wouldn't want that and the policeman says good as the sooner she moves on the happier they will be.
Phryne then goes to find Eric and introduces herself. Eric says she know who she is and she is there to cause trouble. Phryne asks if Eric had much contact with his brother and he says know as his brother and his mother left for Melbourne and didn't want anything to do with the place. Eric says he has worked the vineyard for 11 years with only Frank's help and if wants to share half of his property with Frank that's not his brother's concern.  Phryne says that if Oskar had a property dispute he would have hired a lawyer not a detective and Eric ask why she is there then. Phryne tells Eric that Oskar had found some photographs and asked her to investigate a suspicious death. Phryne tells Eric that she still plans to investigate as she doesn't think Oskar's death was natural causes.

Phryne and Dot return to their hotel room and Dot asks what Phryne found out from Flora. Phryne tells her Flora was the last one to see Oskar alive at about 1pm and his body had black sooty substance around it and shows her the match she found. She tells Dot about the bruise on Oskar's head and the state of his fingernails. Phryne tells her she needs to see the body before the funeral directors take it first thing in the morning and Dot says it sounds like a midnight break in. Dot starts to unpack the suitcases and asks Phryne where she wants he pistol. Phryne says the bedside drawer but when Dot opens it there is a snake in it and she drops the gun which goes off. Phryne says Dot is right about them not being welcome and says they need reinforcements.

Phryne goes down to the bar and asks Velma to make a call. Velma looks at the policeman who raises his eyebrows and then she lets Phryne make the call. In Melboune the police station phone rings and Jack asks Hugh to get it but Hugh is busy copying poetry from Jack copy of Shakespeare's complete works. Hugh answers and tells Jack it is Phryne. Phryne tells Jack that her car is broken down and she needs his 'expert assistance'. They have a rather cryptic conversation in which Phryne infers she needs Jacks help and says to come first thing in the morning.
Phryne and Dot sit outside the hotel and the policeman comes out to join them. He says he heard Phryne's conversation about the car problems. Phryne goes to walk away and the policeman asks where she is off to. Phryne says she is taking a stroll and he tells her to watch the old mine shafts as it could be a long fall in the dark. Dot says if they want to get to the winery they will have to find a way to distract the policeman.

Back at the station Jack is searching a map to find Maiden Creek. He asks if notification of a death came through from Bendigo and Hugh says yes a few hours ago. Jack is confused as Phryne didn't mention it. Jack asks Hugh why he was reading his Shakespeare and Hugh says just in case he needs to get his words right for a special occasion. Jack says if he ever needs to make a romantic declaration he can't go past Shakespeare. Jack then attempts to call Phryne but Velma picks up and pretends that the line is bad and she can't hear so Jack asks Hugh for the details of the Bendigo death.

In Maiden Creek Dot is taking a stroll dressed in Phryne's clothes whilst Phryne is searching the barrel room. Phryne finds an empty barrel and opens it. Inside is black powder and she also finds a pile of burnt photos. Phryne then goes to check the body. She notices the fingernails and the black soot on the clothes. Meanwhile the policeman has caught up with Dot who is still out walking. Dot asks him to help her find the way back to the hotel. Back at the body Phryne finds a rubber band in his pocket but then she hears someone coming and hides. Eric comes patrolling the area and catches her.  Phryne tells Eric about the residue on Oskar's clothes that is also in the vat and the drag marks she noticed from the vat to where the body was found. Phryne says that even if it was a heart attack there are still unanswered questions and people that don't want them asked. Eric asks if she means the policeman but at the time the policeman arrives and tells Phryne to get out. Phryne ask Eric again if he stands to gain anything and Eric tells the policeman Phryne is working for him.

Eric then take Phryne to show her the belongings Oskar left behind. Phryne finds a German poetry book and notices several pages are missing. Eric says this is odd as Oskar was particular about his books. Phryne then digs out photographs of the winery. Eric looks through them. There is also a letter to the Bendigo Standard newspaper asking for copies of photos from the 1918 wine festival. Eric says this must be a mistake as the festival was canceled that year as his father died the night before it was meant to be held. Phryne asked how he died and Eric says the war took a heavy toll on him. Phryne asks to borrow the photo negatives and tells Eric that if she wants him to find the murderer he can't let them take Oskar's body away.

Back in Melbourne at the police station Eda Voigt arrives. She says they telephoned but the police had already phoned about the death of her son. Eda says she needs to retrieve Oskar's possessions. Eda says she told Oskar not to go back to the town as they will not be happy until all of them are gone.

In Maiden Creek Phyrne asks Eric what his arrangement is with Frank. Eric says he splits the profits. Eric is adding grapes to a vat and Phryne says she thought he crushed them all. Eric says this is an old variety he keeps for himself. Phryne asks how long Oskar had been back. Eric says not long he arrived after Eric wrote to him to ask for approval to split his share with Frank but Oskar was not keen as he wanted the winery to stay in the family. Eric says Frank was happy with things the way they were but Clem (the policeman) wanted his son to have a share in the business. Phryne realises Oskar was in Clem's way. Eric says he could not manage on his own after his arm was hurt int he war fighting for the allies. Eric takes off his shoes and socks and rolls up his trousers legs then climbs into the vat to crush the grapes under foot. Phryne asks to help and climbs in crushing the grapes. Phryne tells Eric she needs to know what happened between him and his brother if he wants her help and grabs Eric's hand. Eric kisses her hand and then they share a kiss.

Phryne arrives back at the hotel. Dot is sitting up reading her bible. She tells Phryne someone has been in the room and Phryne sees her gun is missing. She tells Dot to pack and they will leave straight away. They hop in the car but the policeman catches them. He asks if the car is working now and Phryne says they are very temperamental but when she goes to start the car it will not start.

The next morning Oskar's body is being taken by the undertaker when Phryne arrives to stop them. Eric tells them Bendigo police have ordered the body be taken. Phryne says it is his brother and Eric says he doesn't want to be an outsider in the town. The undertakers van goes to drive away but Hugh and Jack arrive blocking its path with their car. Jack tells the policeman the body will have to remain in town until the police coroner clears it for removal on his orders as he is taking over the case.
At the towns police station the policeman tells Phryne, Jack and Hugh that no one had any reason to kill Oskar and there was no evidence of foul play. Jack asks about Phryne's car and the policeman says it is nothing to do with him.  He says to Jack that what Phryne is saying doesn't make sense and Phryne asks him to explain the drag marks and the soot. The policeman tells her that if she had any thoughts on the case she should have gone to him. Phryne says she has explained Clem's vested interest in the winery to Jack and Jack asks him to account for his movements the day before. Clem says he was at the stockyards until 2pm and arrived back in Maiden Creek just before 3pm.

At the barrel room Frank tells Jack the black powder is sulphate as they burn sulphur sticks to steralise the vats. Phryne asks if that was what Oskar was doing and Frank says if it was he wasn't doing it right as you are meant to burn the stick over a bowl as if the sulpate stays in the vat it spoils the wine.

Back at the hotel Phryne asks the doctor if sulphate fumes are poisonous and the doctor says they would be in a confined space. Phryne says if that is the case why did he say the death was a heart attack. She asks if the policeman pressured him but the doctor says no. Velma says the policeman has done good service to the town and Phryne wonders if they are all scared of the policeman. The doctor says he knew of the history of heart problems in the family and jumped to a conclusion.

Phryne and Jack then go to question Eric as to his whereabouts. Eric says he was there at 3 for the first wine tasting and before that he was at a solicitors in Bendigo to contest his fathers will which stopped him selling his shares as his father was not of sound mine. Phryne says his father wasn't ill as he died of a heart attack. Eric says that is what they were told but they never got to see the body. Eric says his father was locked up for years and the people of the town tried to save them from the truth but he thinks his father killed himself. Just then a shot rings out and Phryne, Jack and Eric duck for cover.

They return to the police station and Jack checks the gun case to see if any of the guns have been fired. He then asks to check the policeman's gun and finds that hasn't been fired either. Phryne then tells him about her stolen pistol.

Dot and Hugh are taking a stroll and Hugh says it is lovely there, romantic even. Dot says yes it is idyllic if it wasn't for the dead bodies. Hugh goes to ask Dot something but she is distracted by Flora who seems to be removing a handkerchief from the scarecrow in the field. She checks the handkerchief and drops it on the ground. Dot chases after her and gives her the hankie. Flora says she thought it was one of her good ones as some of the children in town thinks its funny to steal washing and dress up the scarecrow. Dot checks the scarecrow as she saw Flora was looking for something. She finds a page of German poetry. Hugh gets the ring out and thinks about proposing but realises it isn't a good time so hides it before Dot turns around.

Dot takes the page to Phryne who matches it to the book. Jack takes it and translate it to English. It is a love poem sent by Oskar. Phryne tells Dot Hugh needs to talk to Mrs Voigt and asks Dot to get the negatives developed. Hugh tells Dot he knows a scenic lookout they could stop at on the way back to Melbourne but Dot says they wont have time for that. Phryne says Hugh must promise to take Dot straight home and Jack tells him twelfth night. Phryne asks if it is some kind of police code.

Jack and Phryne go to speak to Flora. Phryne says the scarecrow is where they left messages and asks how long the affair was going on between her and Oskar. Flora says Oskar was trying to heal the rift between him and his brother and find out what happened to his father. Flora says she had heard a rumour that Mr Voigt had shot himself.  They then question Frank and Phryne says he knew that Oskar was sending her poetry. Frank says there are no harm in words and Flora is his wife. Phryne says Oskar was wooing Flora under Franks nose and Jack says and with Oskar out of the way he stood to get half of everything. Frank says he is happy the way things are and wouldn't want to hurt Eric. Jack asks where Frank was at the time of the murder and he says he was setting up for the harvest lunch and Valma could confirm that.

They talk to Valma and she says she can't be expected to remember but Phryne says Valma knows everything that goes on in town and she evesdrops on every telephone conversation. Valma says they look after each other in town and there was never any trouble before the Germans showed up. Jack says the war was a long time ago but Valma says not for her. Eric arrives and tells them Oskar's body has been taken.

Back in Melbourne Hugh is at the station when Dot arrives. Hugh grabs the engagement ring box and says he waited for lunch as he thought they could go to the pie cart and then walk through the gardens after. Dot asks if Hugh had contacted Ida Voigt yet and asks about the negatives. Hugh says he is waiting to hear from both and Dot says she thinks they should say there  but Hugh says the could pop out for a few minutes. Dot tells him off for thinking of his stomach when Phryne and Jack are trapped in Maiden Creek so Hugh goes to put the kettle on.

Back in Maiden Creek Jack and Phryne are at the police station looking for Clem but there is no one there. Phryne tells Jack that the policeman mentioned the abandoned mine shafts and she spots a map on the board. She says Clem said that the bridge was down on the day of Oskar's death so it took him ages to get back but she sees a shortcut track marked on the map which means he had time to get back and kill Oskar.

Back in Melbourne Hugh is questioning Ida Voigt. She says they arrived on the boat with the seeds for the vines and that the vines were their life. She said they held the wine festival every year and people came from all around until the war when her boys went to fight for the king. She says her husband was locked up but both the boys survived the war and she went to meet them at the docks. While she was away her husband died and everyone said it was his heart but it was a lie he must have killed himself.

The policeman arrives back at the station in Maiden Creek and Jack asks where Oskar's body is. Phryne notices the mud on the policeman's boots and says probably down a mine shaft by now. Jack arrests the policeman for obstruction and the policeman reiterates his story. Phryne says that he drove across the gully which was why his car was muddy when he got back to town. The policeman says he did drive through the gully but it was to follow Eric to Bendigo to the solicitors to make sure he went.  He tells them to telephone the solicitors and they will confirm his story as they spoke after Eric had left. He said the solicitor said there was a good chance of overturning the will so he had no reason to kill Oskar. He said Frank used to play with the Voigt boys when he was little with all the other kids and Phryne mentions all the other boys that were killed in the war.

Back in Melbourne Dot shows Mrs Voigt the photos Oskar had requested from the paper. She looks at them and is confused as she says her husband wasn't not at the festival that year as he died the night before but he is in the photo. Dot phones to tell Phryne this.

In Maiden Creek Phryne and Jack are looking at the list of fallen soldiers and Phryne point out the doctors son. Velma walks in and asks what business it is of Phrynes. Phryne says no whatsoever as what goes on behind closed door is there business but when it comes to murder that is her business. Phryne says it is the doctor Velma is protecting not the policeman. The doctor arrives at that minute and asks what is going on. Valma says she didn't say a word and Jack says she didn't have to. Phryne says that the doctor lit the sulfur and remembers Valma brushing something off his shirt when they first met and then half an hour later he had a clean shirt on. She says Valma washed his shirt but the stain wouldn't come out. Valma pulls Phryne's pistol out of the washing basket she is carrying and draws it on Phryne. She tells Jack to put his gun on the counter or she will shoot. The doctor pleads with her but Jack does what she says.  She then asks him for the keys to the cell which he hands over. She throws the keys to the doctor and tells him to get Clem out.
Valma tells them to go outside and Phryne quickly hops in her car and sounds the horn and Valma shoots at her narrowly missing and shoots Jacks hat off his head. Frank and Flora arrive. Phryne tells Jack not to worry as Valma is obviously an excellent markswoman or she would have shot her by now. The doctor comes out with Clem and says he will give himself up. Clem has a rifle on Valma and Phryne tells her to give up the gun as she only has 3 bullets left and can't shoot the whole town. Valma gives Phryne the gun and collapses crying.

In the police station Phryne is questioning the doctor she asks if he filled in a false death certificate for Mr Voigt. Between the doctor, the policeman and Valma the tell Jack and Phryne what happened. Valma says her husband went at the beginning of the war and on the day of the festival she received a telegraph saying her son was wounded on Armistice Day and died that day.

The policeman tells them that when her son died Valma did not cry and worked hard to put her grief behind her. They decided to hold the festival late and the paper sent a photographer as it would have been the first festival in 4 years.

Valma says they wanted to do an article on peace and prosperity and took pictures of the banner and main street and then went to see the grape vines.

The policeman says that is when they saw the community hall with a racist slur against the Germans. Mr Voigt was trying to clean it off manically and the policeman tried to calm him down but with no affect so the doctor tried which is when Valma shot Mr Voigt. The policeman said he cleaned up and when Ida returned with the boys they told her Mr Voigt had died of a heart attack the night before.

The doctor tells them Oskar figured it all out and threatened to have the body exhumed as he thought it was the policeman. The doctor said he tried to convince Oskar but it was no good so he hit him over the head and took the photos then killed him.

Valma says she lost her son and husband along with all the young men in town and only the germans came home. She says wheres the justice in that. Phryne says she killed an innocent man and the whole town held their tongues thats not justice.

Later Jack is explaining to Eric what happened when Phryne arrives telling him there is someone there to see him. Mrs Voigt arrives and they hug.

That night Dot is at home peeling carrots when Hugh arrives look sharp in a suit. Phryne leaves taking a bottle of wine and Hugh asks Dot where the candles are. Dot asks why and what for. Hugh says he wanted this to be perfect with a scenic lookout and rolling country hills. He lights the candle and attempts to quote Shakespeare that he has written in his notebook but it is too dark for him to read . Dot stops him and takes his hands. Then Hugh asks her to marry him in his own words. Dot says yes and they kiss.

In the living room Phryne pours Jack a glass of wine. She tells him it is more like grape juice at this stage but is special. Jack ask why it is special and Phryne says she crushed it herself with her feet. Phryne thanks Jack for coming to her rescue and gives him a new hat to replaced the one Valma shot off his head.

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