Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries S03E01 - Death Defying Feats

Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries Series 3 kicked off in style with mermaids, murder and magic in an episode called Death Defying Feats. Here is the synopsis:

Dot, Cec and Burt are at the Mighty Mckenzie's Cavalcade of Mysteries magic show. The Mighty Mckenzie is performing his famous guillotine act with the help of his assistant Pearl. He slices through a lettuce demonstrating the sharpness of the blade.

At home Phryne and Mr Butler are setting the table ready for company. Jack is at the station getting ready. Phryne's front door rings and Phryne opens it saying Jack but the man at the door is not Jack. We switch back to Jack who is taking a phone call from Phryne calling off their evening as she has an uninvited guest. Back with Phryne she introduces Mr Butler to the new patron of the Cavalcade of Mysteries – The Baron of Richmond (her father)

Back at the magic show Miss Pearl is in the guillotine. Mr Mckenzie drops the blade but it does not stop and decapitates Pearl at first the audience think it is part of the trick but then it dawns on them what has happened and a scream goes up in the audience.

Credits roll

Dot is waiting outside the theatre when Phryne pulls up in her car. Dot apologises for ruining Phryne's evening but Phryne tells her her plans were already ruined by an uninvited house guest. Phryne and Dot enter the theatre Jack and Hugh are already there and  Jack asks Phryne what happened to her prior engagement. Phryne tells him she dumped the rat. Pearls body is wheeled past covered by a sheet and Phryne takes a peak. Jack fills her in telling her what happened to Pearl. Phryne tells Jack she say the original Cavalcade of Mysteries when she was a child and luckily for him she paid attention.

Dot offers to lend Hugh her notes but Hugh tells her he can manage.
Phryne shows jack that the blade of the guillotine can be stopped by pulling out a small nail. She does so and tells him to load it up with a vegetable. They do so and Phryne releases the blade however the marrow is still chopped in half and rolls off the stage through a puddle of blood with Pearls pearl necklace in it. Phryne checks the guillotine again and they find another nail with the head filed off. Phryne claims this was no accident.

Backstage Mackenzie is arguing with Eva Callahan saying I knew this would happen again. Phryne and Jack go through and Jack introduces Phryne to them both. Phryne recognises Eva's surname and Eva confirms her father was the original owner of the Cavalcade of Mysteries. Mr McKenzie is upset and Jack tells Phryne the deceased was his fiance. Mr Mackenzie says he doesn't understand what happened as the guillotine was checked but Jack tells him it was purposely sabotaged.

Jack and Hugh call the cast off the show to the stage and Jack tells them the theatre is now a crime scene and asks them to all stay in the building as they will all be questioned.

Phryne and Dot are questioning Eva. Phryne asks her who else had access to the guillotine. Eva says anyone who used the prop store Sid Forest who is in charge, herself, Mackenzie and Sarah Norton who has her contortionist props there. Eva says Sarah and Pearl were 'very close'. Sarah sees Pearl's pearl necklace on the stage covered in blood and takes it. Phryne tells Dot to keep an eye on Sarah while she follows up with Sid Forest.

Jack is talking to Mr Mackenzie and Mr Mackenzie says dreadful as it sounds he hopes the show can go on on Saturday as their new investor is counting on it. Jack says he will do his best. Mr Mackenzie says he is in financial strife as they have rent and wages to pay. Jack says he thought they said they had a new investor and says he will need to speak to the investor. Mackenzie says he hasn't seen the baron since they left the ship. Phryne approaches and asks where she can find Sid Forest. Mackenzie shows them to the prop store.

Jack asks Sid Forest if he noticed anything unusual about the guillotine. Sid said it all looked good. Jack asked if he noticed anyone near the guillotine earlier in the day but he said he was busy working on the mermaid tank as Pearl was badgering him to check it over. Sid says Mackenzie has not performed the mermaid for ten years since Tilly left  but it was before his time. Phryne asks Sid if he is a magician too and he says no he is just a general dogsbody. Phryne says he must have picked up a few tricks. Sid says he would be an idiot if he hadn't and transforms a piece of sting into a red handkerchief. Phryne looks amused but Jack is not amused at the flirting and tells her he has an investigation to get on with and leaves. Phryne picks up a sword from behind a poster of 'Sid the sensational sword swallower' and Phryne asks him if he is sure he doesn't want his turn to star. Sid tells Phryne  that his turn will come as Eva has taught him every trick her father knew. Phryne throws back the handkerchief which turns into a staff as it is in the air. Phryne tells him the best trick is the one you least expect.

Dot is watching Sarah clean the pearls when Hugh approaches. Dot tells him she is trying to be invisible and Phryne says you never know when a clue will pop up. She looks up but Sarah has gone. Hugh ask why Phryne sent her to the magic show anyway and Dot says Phryne had 'other arrangements'. Hugh says there is enough detective work going on and tells Dot she should go home for a cocoa and he will come over when they are done. Dot tells him he can't come over and Phryne has a gentleman house guest. Jack approaches and tells Hugh to get on with his work he and Dot go off and Phryne approaches. Jack asks if she has finished fraternizing.  Phryne flirts with Jack asking if he would like to take a look at the body with her. Jack asks if that is an invitation and she says she could wait all day for his.

Burt comes in and tells her they have a mate of hers in the cab who is taking her for dinner at the Green Mill. Jack tells her to run along as she should neglect her social commitments. Phryne tells him it is not like that.

Outside Phryne's father is in the cab he greets her and says he thought they could go for a Manhattan or two. Phryne tells him to get out of the cab. The baron doesn't have any money so Burt tells him the ride is on them.

Back at home Phryne is in the parlour with her father. He offers her a drink but she says she does not want a drink she wants an explanation. Her father says the murder is terrible for him as the show is sold out as it has been 10 years since Mackenzie has performed the mermaid trick. He asks what he is going to do now and Phryne tells him to go to the theatre and give the troupe his support. He says that is not possible as he has spent the ticket money. Phryne father pours himself some nerve tonic and asks for a loan. Phryne asks why he is there other than to cause trouble. He says Phryne's mother is doing the season in London and he wanted to see Phryne. Phryne offers to loan him the money. He asks what he can do to make her think better of him and she tells him to move into a hotel and Cec and Burt will load his bags.
The next morning Jack is inspecting the body with Mac when Phryne bursts in. Jack goes to leave and Phryne tells him she has only just arrived and tells him Sid is a sword swallower. Jack says he is probably a man of many talents perhaps she should invite him to supper and leaves.

Jack walks back into the police station and Hugh tells him he has found an inconsistency with Eva's statements as according to Jack she checked the guillotine at 7.15pm but Dot saw her doing palm readings in the lobby at this time. Jack tells Hugh to get Eva in the Hugh says she is already in the interview room. Phryne bursts in and asks Jack if she can finish her conversation. She tells him she needs to have another word with Eva as Sid and Eva could be in cahoots as Eva has shown Sid all her fathers tricks and the two of them could want to take over the show so could have sabotaged the mermaid and discrediting Mackenzie. Jack tells her Eva is there now.

Eva says she didn't set up the guillotine and she lied as she made an arrangement with Sid so he sets up the guillotine while she touts for clairvoyance money. She says Mackenzie does not approve but she is trying to get extra money to keep them all together.  She said teaching Sid was part of the deal. Jack ask how Sid got along with Pearl and Eva says they better ask Sid about that.

Back at the theatre Sid tells them he didn't like Pearl. He says he has nothing against Pearl's 'type' but she tricked Mackenzie into putting her in the act by agreeing to marry him whereas Sid has been working hard and has talent. Jack asks if he retaliated as he had ample opportunity to add the second nail when he set up the guillotine he says yes but he didn't do it. Phryne notices a nail head on the artist pallet of paints. Sid tells them the paint had been there for days they can't pin it on him. Jack tells him not yet but if they do tests and the nail matches the one in the guillotine it might be a different story.

Phryne asks Jack now Sid has been struck of her supper guest list perhaps they can try again. Jack asks if there are no unexpected guests and Phryne tells him that's what she wanted to talk to him about.
Phryne arrives home and Aunt Prudence is waiting for her. Aunt P tells her someone has tried to charge the royal suite at the Windsor to her personal account. She asks if Phryne can imagine who might have had the gall and  Phryne tells her unfortunately yes. At that moment Phryne's father arrives. He goes to embrace Aunt P but she asks what he is doing there. Phryne tells him that he is visiting while her mother is doing the season in London. He says that he was at the Windsor and there was some mix up and the manager must have charged the room to Prudence account instead of his. Prudence tells him he doesn't have an account and he says he discovered this when the manager accused him of fraud. He says he has no where to stay the night now as all his funds are tied up in the show. Phryne tells him she is entertaining and Prudence says she is redecorating so Phryne is stuck with him.

Back at the theatre Dot is looking around when she hears Sid whispering for Sarah and the pair whispering to each other and then walking off in opposite directions. Dot goes to take a closer look and is startled by a ventriloquists dummy. Phryne arrives and asks if there are any anomalies. Dot tells her Sid and Sarah are in cahoots.  Phryne's father arrives and offers his condolences to Mackenzie and gives him a check to cover the theatre rent and wages. Sarah appears clasping her jacket. Eva goes to put the money in the cash box and Mackenzie goes to introduce Phryne to her father but her father tells him they are already very well acquainted. Sid appears on stage.

Phryne's father tells Mackenzie now that money is sorted out they can think about the mermaid performance but Mackenzie tells him it is too dangerous. Phryne's father says the act must go on as the tickets have been sold and asks is Sarah can't do it but she says she is a contortionist and she can't swim. Eva returns and asks where the rest of the cash is and Sid motions at Sarah to leave. Sarah starts to walk off stage but Phryne calls to stop her. Phryne notices she is wearing Pearl's pearls and Sarah says they are hers now. Phryne asks whose the money is that she is hiding under her jacket and
Sarah runs away. Phryne gives chase telling Dot to guard the stage door but a sword drops from above her narrowly missing her. Phryne grabs it and carries on the chase but she cannot find Sarah.

Jack arrives at Phryne's house but Phryne is not there. Mr Butler shows him to the parlour where two drinks are poured. Jack drinks and notices a cravat and the nerve tonic. Meanwhile Phryne is still looking for Sarah. Phryne notices the time and is given a scare when Cec and Burt burst in. Phryne asks what they are doing there and they say they are waiting for the Baron as he has given them the slip. Phryne tells them she has a paying job for them.

Back at her house Jack has been drinking for some time and goes to leave when Phryne arrives. Phryne apologises for keeping him and Jack says he is sorry too. Jack says that he is liberal minded but he is not like all the other liberal minded men. Phryne says what men and Jack lists of some of Phryne's conquests ending with men who wear cravats and goes to leave Phryne asks him to wait as her father burst through the door knocking Jack out.

The next morning Cec and Burt are still staked out in the prop room Burt is awake but Cec is snoring. Burt kicks him to wake him and they hear a little noise coming from a suitcase.

Jack wakes up in Phryne's guest room wearing Pajamas. Mr Butler brings him his suit freshly pressed. Jack comes downstairs a little worse for wear and is just about to grab his hat when Phryne's father who is sat at the dinning table in a dressing gown asks if he is hungry and says he can recommend the omelettes. Phryne wishes Jack good morning and asks how his head is. Phryne's father tells her he offered Jack breakfast but Phryne tells her father he was meant to wait upstairs. The penny drops with Jack who says 'Father' and Phryne's father introduces himself. Phryne introduces Jack and tells him that her father is the financier of the Cavalcade of Mysteries. Phryne's father goes to get another omelette and Jack heads to leave. Phryne tells him she was going to explain but he was not in a fit state. Jack accuses her of assaulting him and Phryne says her father assaulted him. Jack asks who put him in pajamas and Phryne says 'Mr Butler of course, after I undressed you!'

Cec and Burt arrive with Sarah in the case. Phryne asks Sarah why she took the money and she says it was owed to her and she needed it to send to Pearls mother for a proper headstone. Jack says shouldn't Mr Mackenzie do that as he is her fiance. Phryne asks Sarah if she and Pearl were close and Sarah says they were friends but Phryne says she knows they were more than friends but Pearl had ambition. Sarah said Pearl with perfect for the act as she was a champion swimmer and she'd dreamed about it for ages. Phryne said Pearl was willing to do anything for the part even marry Mackenzie. Sarah said it doesn't mean that she loved him. Phryne agrees but says Pearl gave her up for him though. Sarah says Pearl was hers.

At the theatre Mackenzie is showing the Baron his lady sawed in half act but the Baron says it is not good enough as the adverts say the mermaid act. The baron asks what happened to the last mermaid as mermaids don't just vanish. Phryne and Dot arrive and Phryne says it was Tilly wasn't it. The sawed in half lady says no it was Millie the miraculous mermaid. Mackenzie says it doesn't matter what her name was they aren't doing the act as it is cursed and storms off.

Phryne and Dot go to the props room to look for the original mermaid picture. Phryne finds a chest full of goodies but the have to quickly hide as Sid comes in. Sarah enters and Sid asks what happened to her. Sarah says she told the cops that the money was for Pearl's family and they couldn't prove anything so they dropped her back. Sid says she nearly got them both caught. Pearl tells him he shouldn't complain as he's lucky she didn't drag him into it and storms out. Sid then leaves. Phryne observes that the trouble with a dubious bunch like Mackenzie's cavalcade is sorting out the petty criminals from the killers. Dot asks about those two and Phryne says they are obviously petty criminals that colluded to steal the money that's why Sid tried to stop her with his sword throwing trick but she'll reserve judgement about them being murderers. Phryne and Dot peak inside the trunk and find a photo album. They see Mackenzie married to a bride that looks like Eva.

Phryne and Dot go to question Mackenzie and he tells them Millie was his bride and Eva's twin sister. The Baron asks why she didn't tell them. Phryne asks why Millie left and Mackenzie said Millie didn't leave she drowned doing the mermaid act and its all his fault while they were on tour in Kalgoorlie. He says he just left her there.  Jack arrives and Mackenzie confesses to the manslaughter of Millie.

Dot enters the foyer of the theatre and bumps into Eva. Eva reads Dot's palm and says she has a very strong mind and an eye for detail. She says Dot's fiances dilemma will soon be resolved. Dot asks what dilemma and Eva says the choice between a working woman and a wife. Eva asks her to forgive her and walks away but drops an envelope. Dot picks it up and notices it is addressed from Millie.

Back in the props room Phryne is looking at the mermaid tank working out how it works. She sees the trick hinges on the opposite side to the lock. Dot arrives and shows Phryne the letter Eva dropped.

Phryne and Dot head to the house the letter is addressed from and Millie answers the door. Millie says she will reappear if it means saving Mackenzie from the gallows. Phryne asks about her second husband and Millie says he died in Paris which is why she came home. Dot fakes a coughing fit and Phryne asks Millie for a glass of water for her. Whilst Millie is out of the room Phryne checks her bag and finds medicine. Millie returns with the waters and once Dot is settled Phryne asks Millie why she staged her own death to get out of a marriage instead of getting a divorce. Millie says it seemed like the only way out as Mackenzie would not let her go so Eva helped her pull of the death.

Back at the theatre Phryne asks Jack if he has released Mackenzie and Jack says they had no choice. Eva tells them they pretended Millie drowned and as far as Mackenzie knows Millie is burried somewhere outside Kalgoolrie. Phryne asks Eva why she didn't take over the act and Eva says she cannot hold her breathe for that long as she gets breathless when she is nervous. Mackenzie arrives back and asks if it is true that Millie is alive. He is very agitated and grabs Eva he tells her to tell him where Millie is.Hugh drags him away.

Phryne, Jack and Mac are the the morgue. Phryne says the murder is all to do with the mermaid because each of the suspects had a reason to stop it going ahead Mackenzie found out Pearl was taking him for a ride as she didn't want him she just wanted to be the mermaid, Sid did not want Mackenzie's star to rise again and Sarah was angry at Pearl for casting her aside and Eva could have murdered the new mermaid to protect her sisters legacy. Jack asks about Millie and Phryne says she doesn't have an obvious motive but ask what she was using the medicine for and shows it to Mac. Mac says it is for a number of things including cough mixture, pain relief or diarrhea treatment as it is tincture of opium. Jack takes it and Phryne says he may need Millie's address too and gives him the letter. Phryne tells them the mermaid act must go ahead to flush out the killer. Mac tells her she could just solve the case with a methodical investigation. Phryne goes off to conduct an experiment in Aunt P's swimming pool.

Hugh and Dot are at the station. Hugh says he can't believe Mackenzie is still stuck on Millie after she left him for another man. He says Mackenzie even wrote Millie a soppy love letter and shows Dot the letter. Dot asks if he is going to deliver it and Hugh says no it is a police station not a post office. Dot says he thinks Millie is hiding something. The phone rings and Hugh answers it while he is distracted Dot takes the letter.

Phryne is talking to Mackenzie and tells him she can do the mermaid. Mackenzie tells her it is to dangerous but Phryne tells him she can do it and has been rehearsing all afternoon. Phryne tells him he didn't drown anyone and kills the mermaid 10 years ago. She asks him what he is afraid of.

At Phryne's house the baron is just leaving as Aunt P arrives. He tells he he can't stop as he is on the way to the magic show. Aunt P asks him what Phryne is up to. The baron tells her Phryne will be at the theatre too and he has just had a call as they have found a new mermaid. Aunt P questions the mermaid and the Baron explains the act. Aunt P is worried as she says Phryne has been swimming in her pool all afternoon. Aunt P tells him if any harm comes to Phryne it will be on his head.

At the police station Hugh has the file on Sid Forest and tells Jack he has previous charges for petty theft, assault on a train driver and jail for counter-fitting. Jack says that is an impressive list but there is nothing on Sarah. Hugh realises Dot has taken Mackenzie's letter.

Dot goes back to Millie's house but finds it empty she looks around the outside and finds a deceased estate sale sign. Dot attempts to pick the lock of the house,
At the theatre the show starts with a ventriloquist. Phryne is back stage in her costume and Mackenzie asks her to check she can reach a lock pick tucked in the side of her turban with her hands bound together. Phryne reaches with ease. Mackenzie is too nervous to place the pick so Eva places it while Sid watches on.

Back at the house Dot manages to get the door open. It is dark by this point so she lights her torch and looks around. She finds old mail but it is addressed to a Mr B Wilson. Dot hears a noise so goes to hide.
Back at the theatre the mermaid act has started with a showgirl number. Backstage Eva tells Phryne not to panic and tucks the pick in place. Sid tells her it would be a shame to lose a beautiful lady like her and asks if it is wise. Sarah gives Sid a nod and Phryne notices Mackenzie talking to another performer on the other side of the stage.
Phryne enters the stage on an aerial hoop and Mackenzie announces the act.

Back at the house Dot is hiding when Hugh enters calling out to see if anyone is there. Dot shows him the old mail and says Millie lied about living there. Jack arrives and notices the medicine. Hugh says his cousin uses it for his asthma.
Back at the theatre Phryne is being lowered into the tank. Eva is helping her into the tank and starts to become breathless. Phryne asks if she is Ok and Eva takes a swig of her medicine. Phryne realises it was Eva but Eva quickly swipes the lock pick and closes Phryne in the tank locking the locks and fixing a pick in a second hole
A curtain is lowered around the tank and Phryne struggles to get free. The crowd watch on nervously whilst the stage assistant counts down 1 minute, then 2. Mackenzie watches on nervously. 3 minutes pass and Phryne is still struggling to get free. Jack, Hugh and Dot rush to the theatre in the police car. The count reaches 4 minutes and Phryne's father screams for them to get her out of there. Jack, Hugh and Dot reach the stage and the Baron calls to Jack that Phryne is in there. Jack grabs an ax to hit the tank but before her connects the curtain is lifted and the tank is empty. Phryne has escaped an is on top of the tank. Eva goes to run but Dot trips her and Hugh arrests her. Jack asks Phryne how she escaped and she shows him the extra picks she has hidden in her costume. The crowd erupts into an applause.

Later Phryne questions Eva saying it was galling being forced behind the scenes by her father then Mackenzie whilst her sister then Pearl got all the recognition. So she murdered Millie and convinced Mackenzie it was an accident. Phryne said she had finally stepped out from the shadows when the Baron came along and convinced Mackenzie to revive the mermaid act and Pearl begin to ask to many questions about the tank after finding the second hole she had drilled in the tank. Realising she had been caught out Eva rigged then guillotine to kill Pearl letting Mackenzie think he had made another fatal mistake. Mackenzie asks Eva what possessed her and Eva says Millie possessed her as the audience adored Millie but she was just part of the furniture. She says it was her fathers show and it should have been hers too. Jack escorts Eva away to the station.

Later that night Mr Butler is setting the table again. Phryne comes downstairs and Mr Butler tells her her father has just arrived. Phryne says not again and Mr Butler hands her a letter saying Aunt P was insistent she read it before seeing her father.  Phryne reads the letter and enters the parlour. Her father offers her a drink and tells her it was a wonderful show and should make his money back. Phryne reminds him it is her money and asks how he squandered his own and is that why he sold the Somerset estate. She tells him that her mother wrote to Aunt P telling her he was in London buying a town house. Phryne tells him he has been lying to her since her got there. He tells her he only invested in the show because of her because she always loved magic and Phryne tells him this is because she wanted to find a way to make him disappear.

There is a knock on the door and Jack arrives. Her father invites him in to help them celebrate and Jack asks what they are drinking to. The baron says to magic, to mermaids, to his wonderful daughter and to leopards changing there spots. Phryne picks up her glass and said and to miracles.

And so the first episode ending in true Phryne style. To find out what I thought of it look out for my upcoming review. 

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