In the morgue Jack and Hugh are going over the body. Hugh tells Jack there is nothing recorded in the missing persons records. Phryne and Dot arrive and Hugh tells Dot that he told her not to come. Dot says that the girl is catholic and Hugh tells Jack Dot wanted to see the scapular. Dot tells them she wants to help and Phryne says Dot may recognise which school or parish favours the scapular. Dot checks the scapular and sees it is our Lady of Mt Carmel. She says anyone could have this one so it is no help. Phryne looks over the body and sees rope burns on the wrists. Jack says the girl was bound when Hugh found her. Jack also shows Dot a label that was stitched into the girls smock he says the name is washed off but there is a religious symbol. Dot recognises it as the Magdalen Laundry mark. Dot says the fallen girls do their laundry.
Jack goes to see the Mother at the convent and Phryne arrives too she explains she is helping out as their are no female police officers. The Mother is summoned by Perpetua and a group of nuns who tell her one of the girls Catherine is leaving to apprentice a milliner. The mother introduces Perpetua to Jack and Phryne and explain they are there about Bernadette's disappearance. Jack asks if they know Bernadette's last name and they say they don't as she came to them as an orphan. One of the nuns tells Jack Bernadette was placed in employment at the Federal Hotel and had returned the night before in distress. Phryne asks about what and Perpetua says Bernadette thought the role of kitchen hand was beneath her so Perpetua tried to calm her then put her to bed but by morning she was gone. Jack asks the nurse if they recognise the scapular is they fished Bernadette's body out of the river that morning.
The nuns take Phryne and Jack to see the laundry. Phryne is concerned about the conditions the girls are working in and the health of the girls. She sees they all have marks on their wrists. Perpetua shows them where she put Bernadette for the night, a room she calls the repentance room. She unlocks the door and sends a heavily pregnant girl who was in there back to work. The girl Aida has a bad attitude and the nuns tells her to ask God's forgiveness for it. She asks if she does will he start paying them wages. The girl says her name is Mary but one of the nuns tells her she is not fit to share the holy mother's name. Phryne asks if the girls are not paid and Perpetua tells her no one gets paid at the convent. Jack tells her the laundry is exempt from normal labour laws. Phryne goes into the room. Jack asks how Bernadette got out and the nun tells her the sheets were hanging from the window. Jack asks what is on the other side and she tells him the river bank. Jack tells Perpetua that he needs to talk to the girls individually and Perpetua ask he does it without Phryne Jack disagrees and Perpetua says she doesn't want the girls stirred up with talk of workers rights. Jack promises Phryne will keep her opinions to herself but Phryne says she would rather leave as she has other leads to follow and a new launderer to find.
Back at the station Phryne shows Jack that the knots that the sheets were tied with would not bear the weight of a young girl. Jack is curious how Phryne knows her knots and Phryne mentions a Portuguese sailor. Jack cuts her off and asks who would have prepare the rope. Phryne says it was probably one of the girls that broke her out. Jack says the girls are not forthcoming and Phryne says they are probably in fear of the repentance room. Jack asks if it could have been Perpetua or one of the nuns but Phryne says she doesn't think they would do Bernadette a favour. The Deputy Chief Commissioner arrives and Phryne leaves. The Deputy Commissioner tells Jack that he had received a phone call from an irate Bishop and they needs to tread carefully with the Catholic church. Jack says they have been treading too carefully as if the laundry was run outside the convent it would be shut down for child cruelty. The Deputy Commissioner tells Jack to hand over the case to DI O'Shaunessy as he is Catholic and it is an order of the Chief Commissioner. Jack says in that case he will phone the Chief Commissioner but the Deputy Commissioner tells Jack that Chief Commissioner Hall resigned that morning and he is the replacement. Phryne goes back into the room after the new Chief Commissioner leaves and asks if he thinks a policeman with an 'O' at the front of his name will bring charges against nuns but Jack tells her to leave it alone.
Back at home Phryne is having tea with her Aunt Prudence who tells her they work hard to find jobs for the convent girls. She says the gratitude girls were not plucked from the gutter only the best behaved were chosen. Phryne asks if the rest are doomed to slave labour in the laundry but Dot tells her she would have turned to the convent if she hadn't met Phryne and these girls have no choice. Phryne asks if two of the girls have gone missing and Aunt Prudence tells her Joan has not gone missing she absconded after Aunt Prudence gave her a position in her own household. Aunt Prudence tells them all of the board are well connected and try to help the girls how they can. She mentions the Fletchers and Phryne asks as in Sidney Fletcher. Aunt Prudence tells her he is their eldest and is the godson of the new Police Commissioner. Aunt Prudence picks up the papers and shows Phryne the picture of Joan. Phryne mentions she doesn't seem the runaway type and Aunt Prudence laments about her flummery but was clumsy due to her nearsightedness.
Cec and Burt deliver a large hamper of laundry to the convent. They deliver it to one of the nuns who tells them today is Wednesday and Phryne's laundry normally comes Monday. The nun questions the amount of laundry and Burt tells her there are house guests so she tells them to put it round the back but keep quiet as morning prayers are in progress. The load the hamper into the courtyard and Phryne pops out. Burt asks how she will get out and she produces a rope from the hamper and tells them she will meet them out the front in an hour. Phryne is stopped by Mary who asks her to give her three good reasons why she shouldn't scream the place down. Phryne asks her to give her three good reasons why she should. Phryne and Mary get talking and Phryne asks why Perpetua called Mary Aida the day before. Mary tells her they change all the girls names to saints and saint Aida was a dedicated virgin. Phryne mentions that's a hard act to follow gesturing to the girls bump and she says it was the factory foreman's idea not hers. Phryne tells Mary she is not the police and asks her if she saw Bernadette the night she came back. Mary tells her she was reprieved on Bernadette's account and Bernadette was balling and asking Perpetua not to let a man get her. Bernadette said there was man outside the hotel with a fancy black car and mentioned Joan. Phryne asked if Bernadette was prone to hysterics and Mary says she hardly knew her as they kept the good girls away from the 'bad eggs' but she left a message and shows Phryne '112 De Vere' scratched into the wall. Mary says it was scratched in with these and produces Joans glasses.
At the police station Hugh is having a cup of tea when Jack enters. Hugh gives Jack Bernadette's autopsy but Jack tells him to give it to O'Shaunessy. Hugh asks if he should send Mr Fletcher to O'Shaunessy too and Jack sees Sidney and his ex wife Rosie are already in his office.
Back at the convent Phryne asks Mary why she was locked in the repentance room and she tells her she put epsom salts in the sisters tapioca. Phryne and Mary stop in the tracks as the nun, Perpetua and the Chief Commissioner exit the convent. Phryne greets them and the nun puts Mary back in the repentance room. The Chief Commissioner is angry with Phryne. At the police station Jack asks Phryne if she broke in to the convent and she says no she was smuggled. The chief commissioner says he wants Phryne bought to heel and asks Jack to keep her in line. Rosie and Sidney exit the office and the chief commissioner asks what they are doing there. Rosie tells him that Sidney was summoned as a member of the gratitude board. Rosie asks why Jack was taken off the case and the chief commissioner tells her it was a diplomacy issue. Rosie and Sidney leave.
Jack and Phryne retire to his office and Phryne apologises. Jack asks if her break in was worth the trouble and Phryne shows him Joan's glasses and says it is strange that they were in the repentance room because Joan was a good girl and was never put in there. Jack asks how they ended up there and Phryne says Bernadette had them and used the glass to scratch the message which she shows him. Jack asks if it is an address and Phryne says it could be the address for the man Bernadette mentioned. Jack asks why Bernadette didn't tell the nuns but Phryne tells him she tried to and they wouldn't listen. Jack asks Hugh if he still has the autopsy and Hugh hands it over. Jack reads it and sees Bernadette drowned in the river. Jack tells Phryne that Bernadette had a head injury caused by a blunt instrument but it was not the cause of death as there was sea water in Bernadette's lungs and red algae.
At Phryne's house Phryne, Cec and Burt, Jack Hugh and Dot are pouring over a map of where Bernadette's body was found. Jack asks how they can account for the sea water and Burt says maybe she was dumped at the docks and washed upstream. Phryne wonders where the ship could be from and Dot says it must be the Red Sea as it has a high salinity and looks red because of the red algae. Phryne asks if they can find out who is in port and Burt says Cec's niece can find out. Mr Butler interrupts them and tell them their is a young girl here to see Phryne. Mary returns Phryne's lock pick and says it worked a treat. Jack tells Phryne she is a bad influence and can't keep Mary and Phryne says she can't send her back to the laundry. Mary says she just wants a job but no one will take her in in her condition.
That evening Aunt Prudence is at Phryne's for dinner. Mary serves passion fruit flummery. Aunt Prudence says no to taking on Mary. Burt comes in and tells them they can't get the ships name as a family favour and it will cost them.
The next morning Cec and Phryne go to the docks. Phryne asks where he is and Cec says Ted is a chatty one. Phryne says she thinks $10 has loosened his tongue too much.
At the station Hugh is taking a phone call and says next time he is planting petunias he will ask the caller for advice. He hangs up the phone and tells Jack De Vere crescent in Shannon's nursery. Jack wonders if it is a name and Hugh says in that case what are the numbers. Jack says maybe a motor registration and Hugh says De Vere sounds foreign.
Back at the docks Burt returns and tells Phryne and Cec the ship they are looking for is a merchant ship called the Pandaris which is on a run between Antwerp and Melbourne via the Red Sea and the Captain who is Belgian is called William De Vere. Phryne notices a big black car pulling in with the number plate 112. They jump into the taxi and follow it and see the Captain get out of the car. Burt tells them that Ted said the ship docked 3 weeks ago and is due to sail in a week. Phryne asks what it is carrying and Burt tells her sugar but it could be a cover for something dodgy.
Back at the her house Phryne shows Jack the trinket and asks how a good girl like Bernadette came to be in the Captains cabin and why did De Vere try to abduct her. Jack says that is if it is him as there are no cars registered to De Vere. Phryne says it must be an accomplices car. Jack asks what type of car it was and Phryne tells him a black cadillac. Jack says under normal circumstances her would talk to the commissioner about it but he is already in trouble. Phryne tells him he is much more useful as a policeman and Jack says a policeman who can't bring people in for questioning. Phryne says her parlour is much more comfortable.
Phryne and Jack are in the parlour with Aunt Prudence and Rosie and Sidney. Rosie asks why a gratitude girl would be in the cabin of a Belgian captain and Phryne says they can only speculate. Aunt Prudence asks if they think she was a stowaway. Jack says it is a possibility but Phryne says its doesn't explain why Bernadette carved the captain's name into the wall or why she was tied. Aunt Prudence says perhaps she was discovered in the hold. Sidney asks if Bernadette said anything to the nuns about the captain. Phryne says they don't know but whatever happened to Bernadette may have also happened to Joan. Aunt Prudence says perhaps they run away together. Jack asks if they know if any other girls have gone missing. Rosie says Jack should pass the information on to the chief commissioner and Phryne asks if that is wise as he took Jack off the case. Rosie says the chief commissioner had no choice as the bishop was breathing down his neck and Phryne's meddling hasn't helped. Sidney tells Rosie Jack is right and tells Jack he will get him a list of the gratitude employer and goes to his car to retrieve his address book. Jack goes with him to get on to Hugh and leaves Rosie with Phryne. Rosie gives Phryne a look and leaves the room telling Phryne she has made things worse for Jack. Aunt Prudence comments she is unusually devoted for an ex wife.
Later that night Phryne, Jack, Cec, Burt, Dot and Mr Butler are around the kitchen table. Cec tells them the Pandaris was due to sail next week but is now sailing tonight. Burt says she will sail around midnight when there is slackwater in the heads. Jack says he will inform the commissioner but they will have to act now. Phryne says she will now wait for the commissioner to act. Jack asks Phryne not to go near the docks as the captain is a nasty piece of work. He says he will let he know what he finds and leaves. Phryne sits down and says Jack is right it is far more dangerous than she imagined but she is well armed and an excellent shot. Dot asks if they can do anything and Phryne says a themosk of tea would be lovely. Cec and Burt say it could be risky and Mr Butler tells them if weaponry is there problem he can help. The next scene guns are laid out on the kitchen table. Cec and Burt say they will do the job.
At the police station Jack shows the commissioner Bernadette's ribbon he says it was found by the Pandaris. The commissioner says it is enough for a raid warrant and Jack tells him they only have a few hours as the ship is sailing. He says he and Hugh can go now but the commissioner tells him it is not his investigation and he will lead the raid himself. He tells Jack to stay away and if he disobeys he will be dismissed.
At the police station Jack is looking harried and checks his watch. Back aboard the boat Phryne is still looking around. She notices a hidden door with a lever and opens it to reveal a group of blond girls being held hostage. Behind Phryne a gun is cocked and she spins around to see none other than Sidney Fletcher.
Meanwhile Jack and Hugh are searching the ship with the police commissioner following. Jack notices the police commissioner trying to hide a discarded shoe and he picks it up. He also finds Phryne's lock pick and asks the commissioner where she is. The commissioner tells Jack he warned him not to get involved and Jack orders Hugh to handcuff the commissioner to a post. Jack and Hugh search for Phryne frantically and Phryne manages to make enough noise to alert them to her presence as she is still trying to get untied. Phryne manages to get untied and runs to Jack telling him that the girls are locked in the front hold and Fletcher is behind it all. Just then a shot is fired by the Captain and Jack returns fire. Cec and Burt manage to get free but are caught by two sailors and a fire ensues.
Back at the police station Jack, Phryne and the Mother Superior are interviewing Perpetua who tells them that they wouldn't let her take her vows so she served the church by sending the girls away as the Captain paid her 10 pounds a piece which she put into the church. Phryne refers to the girls as 'white gold' and the sister reprimands Perpetua for using innocent girls. Perpetua says the girls are the offspring of whores.
Phryne returns Joan her glasses and Joan said she lost them in the back of the big black car. Phryne tells her they helped warn Bernadette to flee and she left them hidden with a clue that helped Phryne find the girls. Joan asked why Bernadette was killed and Phryne says she had already escaped once and knew too much and that the Captain was carrying out Fletcher's orders.
Jack interviews the commissioner and shows him the box of trinkets from the brothel (from the first episode) Jack says it is Fletcher's bargaining power as they are all souvenirs from the best clients at the best brothels in town. The commissioner says there is nothing of his in the box as he tried to close the brothels so Fletcher couldn't blackmail him. Jack says he could bribe him though by promising to bring down the last commissioner and giving him the job as new commissioner. The commissioner says they will have to prove it and Jack says luckily they have a witness. Phryne tells him the night of the gratitude dinner her Aunt's scullery maid Joan heard the commissioner and Fletcher having a heated discussion. Joan was only abducted because she heard too much. The commissioner says no one would believe Joan over him but Phryne says her Aunt is very fond of Joan so she will come with the highest references and have the best legal representation money can buy.
Phryne goes to leave the station and sees Rosie who is upset and turns her back on Phryne. Jack and the commissioner exit the interview room and the commissioner tells Rosie that he did not know what Fletcher was up to. She asks how he could not know. He pleads with her but she says she can't look at him and Hugh leads the commissioner away to the cells. Jack tells Rosie he is sorry as Phryne watches on but as he embraces Rosie she leaves.
Later that evening at her house Phryne, Dot and Aunt Prudence are admiring Mary's baby. Phryne doesn't look enamored and asks if they are always this red and Aunt Prudence says always but the doctor says this one is strong as an ox. Phryne says now all they need to do is find a placement for Mary but Aunt Prudence says she already has a placement with her assisting cook once she has recovered. Dot offers to take over looking after the baby and Phryne and Aunt Prudence leave the room as Hugh enters. Hugh asks how he will be able to come home to her and their kids when his head will be full of all the terrible things people do. He says that girl could have been Dot if she hadn't met Phryne but Dot says she did meet Phryne and it wasn't her and there are good things in the world too and shows him the baby.
Jack is sat outside Phryne's house in his car. He sees her light on so knocks on the door. Phryne is just climbing the stairs so answers it. Phryne tells him she thought he was with Rosie and he says he was and asks if it is too late. Phryne says never. Jack says he had never seen Rosie like that before as she was in shock and needed some company. Phryne tells Jack Rosie needed him Jack Robinson the man who always does the right thing, the noble thing. Jack says not always and goes to kiss Phryne but Aunt Prudence interrupts asking if it is the baby. She tells Jack it is very late and Jack agrees but tells Phryne he is glad they cleared up that detail and Phryne agrees. Aunt Prudence goes to check on the baby and Jack goes to leave. Phryne says until our next murder investigation and Jack says he looks forward to it, the investigation that is not the murder.
And so that's it for another season and Phryne and Jack are still tiptoeing around each other! Will they share a kiss under the mistletoe in the Christmas special? Lets hope so!