Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries S03E02 - Murder and the Maiden

 The second episode in season 3 starts late at night with a girl running scared outside an RAF base. She reaches the fence and tries to scale it but a man catches up with her and strangles her. The girl loses consciousness and he lays her on the ground.

Credits roll

The next morning Phryne and Dot attend the air base. Phryne is in good spirits but Dot is a little more nervous. She points to a crashed plane and asked what happened to it. Phryne tells her 'gravity'. They meet with Group Captain Lyle Compton who greets Phryne affectionately. Phryne introduces him to Dot and he asks her if she is interested in planes as he could take her for a spin. Dot declines. He offers a tour of the base instead. Two planes fly over and Captain Compton says the boys are hard at it practising for the air show on the weekend which will be good publicity. Phryne mentions how the papers made a meal of their last mishap and Captain Compton says at least no one was killed and that flying is a dangerous game. Phryne says not half as dangerous as this machine and gestures to Captain Compton's motorbike. Phryne asks what its best speed is and Captain Compton says it could probably go 132mph and Phryne tells him to prove it. They both go for a spin around the base.
Two young boys are watching the planes at the fence of the airbase when they discover the body of the woman. Hugh takes a statement from the boys and sends them on their way. Jack mentions that the body is in full rigor mortis so the murder must have happened last night. Hugh says perhaps she was strangled as there is a roll of bandages near the body. Jack says there are no marks on her windpipe and asks if the boys recognised her. Hugh says no they don't think he is a local. Jack says the woman has no purse or coat and nothing to identify her except for a scrap of paper and a set of keys one of which says RAAF. Hugh notices a large boot print and Jack says it is a serious boot print where around there would the find a serious set of boots and looks to the base.

Mr Griggs is showing Dot around the base. He opens a hangar and shows her a plane belonging to a well decorated pilot. They are interrupted by a group of men laughing. Mr Griggs tells Dot they are a tricky lot, union men not military. Dot asks him if he was a pilot before he retired and he says no but once flying is in your blood you cant get rid of it. Its like being in heaven.

In an office Phryne mentions to Captain Compton that the papers accused the mechanics union of sabotaging the crashed plane. He tells her the fuels was intentionally contaminated. Phryne asks if that is why he called her in and he tells her it gets worse as one of his men. Flight Commander James Manning did not report for duty that morning. He was the pilot of the crashed plane and hell bent on finding out who was responsible.

Captain Compton introduces Phryne to Squadron Leader Willis Jones who is organising the air show. Willis Jones tells her it is difficult with one of their best flyers gone. Phryne asks when they realised James was missing and Willis tells her after flying practice the previous afternoon. Phryne asks what is missing and they tell her his wallet and uniform but everything else is left behind. Phryne asks if there is anyone James was close to that might have any ideas. At that moment an office knocks and announces the police and Jack enters. Phryne asks what he is doing there and he says the same thing as her he imagines. Jack tells Captain Compton that a woman has been found dead near their fence and Phryne is shocked. Captain Compton says he was aware of an incident. Jack asks that she didn't know and Phryne tells him that Compton and she are old friends and she was there on another matter. Jacks asks for a list of people that had been authorised to leave the base in the last 24 hours and Compton tells him no one was authorised to leave. Phryne asks about unauthorised leave. She asks Jack who the woman is and Jack tells her they don't know as yet. Compton tells him that as she is nothing to do with the airforce they cannot help. Jack tells Phryne he will be at the morgue and leaves. Phryne stands up to leave and goes to take the file on the missing boy which Compton snatches away.  Phryne tells him she cant keep all his secrets if it stands between Jack and a murderer. Compton asks her to be discreet.

Back outside Hugh notices Dot and calls her over he asks what she is doing there as it could be very dangerous. She tells him she is there on official business and sometimes Miss Fisher needs her to do dangerous things like pretend to be a hostage or be a racing car driver or go up in a plane. Jack walks out and with Phryne on his heels. She tells him she cannot resist a murder if that's what it is. Jack shows her the keys he found on the body. She turns the key over and sees a number on the back which is the missing airman's service number.

At the morgue Dr Mac is inspecting the body. Phryne looks over the girls cloche and says it was a chilly night to be out without a coat. Dr Mac comments that the girl is severely dehydrated and was asphyxiated presumably from poison. Phryne picks up a chain and Dr Mac says she found it in the girls clothing she assumes it was around her neck. Phryne mentioned the keys and they see the key ring has part of the chain on it. Phryne says perhaps James gave her access to the base because the were lovers. Jack says maybe just 'old friends'. Phryne tells him she met Compton at the end of the war and flew some missions with him. Phryne notices the girl has no lighter and only one cigarette but is a serious smoker as she has yellow fingers. Jack reads the scrap of paper which sounds like a aeronautical love letter. Jack asks if Compton has called on her again and Phryne tells him it wasnt like that and then admits there was romance between them but it was in the grips of war when they thought they could lose their lives at any minute. Jack says the murderer has taken off with anything that would identify the girl and asks Dr Mac to call if she finds anything and leaves. Phryne unravels the bandages the girl was carrying and finds a tram ticket.

Back at home Dot sees that the ticket was for 9 sections. Phryne asks where the mechanic association is and Cec and Burt tell her Sydney Road Brunswick as Phryne knows James was nosing around them trying to find out who sabotaged his plane so he could have met the woman there. They count the sections and it adds up.  Cec mentions Burt would be happy to escort them to the wrong side of town as there is a Russian girl, Tatiana who he is soft on that works at the club

Cec and Burt take Phryne to the club and tell her not to act posh. At the club Mr Higgins is having an argument with someone about the revolution and tells them they might as well hand in their card now. Burt has a word with him and he agrees to talk to Phryne. Phryne shows him James picture and asks if he had attended the club. He says no. She asks him about the woman. Mr Higgins says a woman did attend and pick up some leaflets. She seemed smart and educated so he noticed her. He asks why Phryne is trying to track the woman down. Phryne says they are not and that the woman was found dead.

Downstairs Cec and Burt are questioning Burt's lady friend. She tells them the woman never mentioned a name. Tatiana tells Phryne that the woman was at the club the night before and talking with Mr Higgins who grabbed her by the arm. Phryne notices the woman's missing coat is in the cloak room and asks to take it. Tatiana tells Phryne the woman left it there for her to mend the inside.

At the police station Dot inspects the coat. She says the fabric is excellent quality and would have cost a bit. She says if she can see the whole ensemble she might be able to find a makers mark. Hugh takes her to see the rest of the clothes. Phryne tells Jack she also found something in the pocket of the coat and if he is nice he can see it. He asks her why she isn't at the RAF wing walking or something. She say that isn't nice and he tells her he found something without her help. He says the European club are linked to the mechanics union and the head of the club Mr Higgins is still up on sedition charges. Maybe the woman was passing James information about him. Jack asks if Phryne got James file and his next of kin. Phryne tells him he should be impressed she got James number before Compton whisked the file away. Phryne tells him that he and Compton are very similar and they might even like each other. Jack tells her one does not necessarily follow the other and she gives him 'full points for that' showing him a section of ripped envelope with a stamp that matches the shape of the ripped piece of letter.

Dot is inspecting the clothes and Hugh tells her he was thinking they could try the new pie cart for lunch. He says he knows they have some things (like her job) to settle before their big day but maybe they could settle on a date so she could worry about that and leave the investigating to Phryne. Dot tells him maybe he could try the pie cart on his own as she has lost her appetite and storms out.

Phryne and Jack are inspecting the stamp when Hugh knocks and brings in the size of the boot. He says it is a big one a size 12 and possibly a flying boot. Phryne tells him it could not belong to James Manning as he was only 5ft 6 and would have been a 8,9 or 10.

Back on the base Phryne and Jack attempt to enter but the officer tells Phryne that Compton's orders are her only. Phryne tells the man that surely her fiance can escort her in such a masculine environment. The man says he will check and Phryne tells him there is no need to escort her as she knows the way and drives off.

In the hangar while Jack is giving Phryne a leg up to break into the office Phryne tells him that being a woman has its assets. Jack says while he appreciates her assets she should hurry up with the break in. Phryne takes the key and starts trying all the lockers. One opens, James Manning's and inside they find a picture of James with Willis Jones.

Phryne and Jack are leaving the hangar when they bump into Willis Jones he tells them he has told them everything he knows. Phryne tells him about the woman that they think was involved with James and Willis asks what it has to do with him. Jack tells him that his boots match a print found at the scene. Phryne tells him he also need to tell them more about his relationship with James showing the picture. Willis asks where she got it and so does Compton who is just approaching. He send Willis Jones on his way and tells Jack and Phryne to come with him.

In his office Jack tells Compton that they have reason to believe both James and Willis were at the murder scene. Compton tells him he is not interested in speculation. Phryne tells him she is. What if it is a love triangle as one woman and two men has been known to lead to conflict. Jack tells Compton that he needs to conduct a more thorough search of the grounds but Compton wont allow it.  Jack and Phryne go to leave but Compton asks Phryne to stay to discuss a personal matter. When Jack leaves Compton tells Phryne Willis and James would not fight over 'any' woman that he suspects they were lovers. He says if it gets out it would be a huge scandal for the RAF. Phryne tells him even so they had something to do with the woman and if he wants her to find James she needs full access. Mr Griggs arrives and Compton tells him to escort Phryne on a full tour of the base.

Back at the police station Dot is returning the clothing to Hugh. She asks how he is going with the postmark. He tells her its starts with C and is 9 letters long. Dot tells him to narrow it down to the suburbs of Perth as that is where the clothing was made. Hugh says that might help but it is still not the answer. Dot tells him to stick to the whole of Australia then and leaves.

Back on the air base Mr Griggs take Phryne to Willis office. The union men are working. Phryne tells him it cant be easy to be a military man in charge of union workers and Mr Griggs says he was not the only one that noticed James and Willis sneaking around and from the moment James arrived he prayed on Willis. Willis lost respect for it. Mr Griggs says when the plane came down James pointed a finger at the union. Phryne asks whether he accused them of shoddy work or party politics. Mr Griggs says both and it did not make Willis' life any easier. Phryne asks if Willis will be able to pull off the air show and Mr Griggs says without a doubt as he is a better flyer than James ever was. Phryne searching in a desk finds a packet of cigarettes. She asks Mr Grigg if Willis is a smoker. He says no.

In the morgue Dr Mac confirms that the woman was poisoned by the cigarettes. The one she had matches this packet but her one was harmless whereas these ones contain ricin. Jack mentions how the US and UK were experimenting with chemical weapons involving ricin toward the end of the war until the Hague Convention banned them. Jack says the cigarettes have not been touched but Phryne says the killer must have laced other cigarettes in the packet. Dr Mac says ricin is slow working and can take days. Jack says in that case the killer could have been no where near the girl when she died. Mac's phone rings and she tells Jack he is needed at the station as Hugh has a lead on the woman.

At the station Jack tells Phryne Virginia Forbes went missing from Claremont 6 years ago. She was a nurse at the military hospital. Phryne tells him James was transported to Melbourne from the Claremont airbase in 1923 which must be where they met. Jack says if what Phryne told him is true whatever happened between James and Virginia could not have been romantic. Phryne says he can see now why Compton needs to be discreet. Jack says he does not see as a woman is dead and Compton seems determined to withhold information from him. He says if Compton does not cooperate he will go over his head. Phryne says Jack is turning this into a personal matter. Hugh interupts to say Mr Butler called with a message that Captain Compton would like to see her.

At the European club Burt brings Tatiana a gin but she tells him she cannot speak with him. She tells Burt that Higgins thinks that Phryne is with the police and that Tatiana has been badmouthing him. Burt says he will set Higgins straight but Tatiana tells him there are things he doesn't know. The reporter comes down wipping his nose. He says 'that bastard Higgins' and tells Tatiana she will be next. Tatiana tells Burt some papers from the party went missing from the club and now nobody knows who to trust. Burt says he will tell Higgins Tatiana is trustworthy but she says she doesnt want any trouble.

Burt goes upstairs and grabs Higgins and tells him to leave Tatiana alone. Higgins tells Burt he could lose his membership. Tatiana begs them to stop she says she will tell everyone what Higgins did. Burt quits the party and Tatiana calls Higgins … Burt says its Russian for bastard but she says it means peasant. Cec Burt and Tatiana leave the club.

In his taxi Burt tells Tatiana that he will find her another job. Tatiana tells him she has to go far away as she is illegal and has no passport. Burt tells her that Phryne will help her with that and she can trust her. Tatiana tells him she trusts no one except him.

At the base Compton questions Phryne about the cigarettes and says Jack must be happy they've found out the identity of the girl churlishly. Phryne tells him not to start too. Phryne says she is only interested in the bigger picture and Compton asks how Jack fits into that picture as he is not her usual type. Phryne says she does not have a style and Compton says then he is right about Jack. Phryne says there is “too much ballast for lift off” and Compton asks yours or his. Phryne says probably both. Compton invites her for a drink. Phryne and Compton get cosy and reminisce about the good old day when they got caught in a cyclone with nothing to do but sit it out. Phryne reminds Compton that they found something to do and they embrace.

At the station Jack is trying to find a conection between Virginia, James and Willis. Hugh says he is not sure what a red ragger would have to do with a couple of RAF pilots. Jack says this suggests their meetings were clandestine but it wasnt a private place to meet. Hugh says there is an old century box just inside the base and Jack looks at the other key on the ring.

That night Jack and Hugh sneak into the base and into the century box. Jack tries the key which opens the lock. Inside Jack finds a crate with James uniform and shoulder pads and some … crystals. Then the alarm is sounded and Jack and Hugh flee for the car with the items they found in arm. Hugh makes it to the fence but is cornered when he gets there by Mr Griggs and some sentaries. Jack pulls his gun on them and tells Hugh to get in the car. Phryne runs in wearing just Comptons leather coat and tells them not to shoot. Compton arrives and says they are trespassing. Compton says not with military property and Jack tells him to take it up with the chief commisioner and tells Hugh to get in the car. Compton orders his men to stand down and Jack leaves noting Phrynes bare feet on the way out. Phryne tells Jack to wait running after him and says they were just reminiscing.

Phryne asks Hugh where they found the uniform and Jack tells her it is a police matter and none of her concern. He tells her to keep her eyes turned skyward. Phryne recalls the letter fragment and relises it is a quote from da vinci.
Back at home Phryne and Dot are scaling books to find the quote. Dot finds it “For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.” Dot asks Phryne if she thinks Virginia could have been an aviatrix. Phryne says that is a good question and ask Dot to get a couple of small cushion and asks Mr Butler for some bandage. She tells Dot she will meet her upstairs.

At the station Jack is looking over the uniform. In her room Phryne and Dot wrap Phryne in bandages. Dot tells her she is straight as a celery stick except her bossom. At the morgue Dr Mac, Jack and Phryne are inspecting Virginias body. Phryne says she should have picked up on her face being so heavily powdered. Mac tells Jack the crystals he found will both roughen and darken the skin. She applies them to Virginias face and realise she has been masquerading as James Manning!

At the station Willis tells them Virginia swore she would find a way to join the airforce and she did by taking James Mannings idenity after he was comitted to a sanitorium. Virginia knew he was taking up a post in Melbourne so stole his papers and doctored them to say he was fit for duty. Phryne asks Willis if he knew about Ginny's foray into the communist party and Willis says she said she knew who was behind the sabotage. Jack asks if she named any names. Willis says no but Ginny had befriended a Russian girl at the club and was paying her to find proof.
Jack tells Willis they know he was there when Ginny died and Willis says she came back sweating and frantic and couldnt breathe. He says he didnt have time to get help and Ginny died in his arms. Jack said that Willis removed anything that could identify Ginny and left her. Jack asked what he was doing with the cigarettes and Willis tells them that he doesnt know but he didnt know what to make of the way Ginny died. Jack asked Willis if he knew they were poisoned and he said no. Jack dismises Willis but tells him they may need to speak with him again. Willis tries to take the cigarettes but Phryne says they need to hold onto them. Willis and Hugh leave

Phryne says Willis may be lying and Jack says Higgins may have doctored the cigarettes. Phryne says whoever did it why did Willis hang onto the cigarettes. She opens the bottom of the packet and sees a note written in Russian.

At the European club Cec and Burt tell Tatiana that they dont think any of them will be welcome in there and asks if the bag she wants to get is important. She tells them she must get it. She tells Cec it is behind the counter under a loose floorboard. Cec goes to get the bag and Burt tells Tatiana he want to help her. She tells him there is one way and he tells her to name it. Tatiana says she could become an new person with a new name with him and Burt proposes to her!

Tatiana sees men following Cec out of the club and says no. A fight occurs and Tatiana grabs the bag and she Cec and Burt run.

At Phrynes house Phryne is inspecting Tatiana's passport. She asks Tatiana to tell her who she really is as the passport is a fake. Tatiana tells her she was russian aristocracy and she fled after the revolution when all her family were killed. She said she told Ginny after Ginny saw her ripping up pamphlets at the club. Phryne says Ginny asked her to do a lot more than just sewing. Tatiana tells them Ginny said she would fly Tatiana somewhere safe if Tatiana found the information she needed. Phryne reads the evidence Tatiana hands her and says the paperwork outlines plans for further sabotage at the RAF show that weekend. Phryne asks Tatiana to translate what is written on the cigarettes and Tatiana tells her it says it is a meeting place Tuesday 4pm, Phoenix. Phryne says that is today and rushes off to make an urgent phone call.

Burt asks Tatiana what sort of name Krysnaya is and she tells him her father was an adviser to the whit army that fought against the Bolsheviks. Burt says the story about being illegal and needing to get married was just a con and Tatiana tells him she was just a child and knew nothing. She says she thought she would be safe with him as he is a good man, a man that a woman could come to love.

At the police station Phryne says Willis must have known about the note thats why he kept the cigarettes. To honour his lovers promise to help Tatiana.  They see the meeting point is an airfield. Phryne says the report that Tatiana found is not signed so there is no proof Higgins is behind it. Phryne says that is why Tatiana must keep her meeting with Higgins. Jack asks if it is to be a stakeout and Phryne says yes with the full co-operation of the airforce. Jack says they better move fast and Phryne tells him she will put out word at the European club.

Cec enters the club and pays off a man to pass on the message. Back at home Dot and Mr Butler help Phryne pack her flying gear. Dot asks if she can do anything else to help and Phryne says no as she knows how terrified Dot is of leaving the ground. Dot says she wishes she felt about it like Mr Griggs did as he said it is like being in heaven but he was stuck in a factory in Avenmouth during the war. Mr Butler says that is where they made mustard gas.

Hugh, Jack and Compton are staking out the airfield Compton says it is highly unorthdox for police and the airforce to be on joint manovers and Jacks says they know who has manovered them. Cec and Burt pull up in the taxi with Dot hiding in the back and Phryne dressed as Tatiana. Higgins hides himself in the grass, spying on the scene. A plane comes into land. Higgins loads his pistol. Willis gets out of the plane and Phryne goes to meet him. A black car approaches two gunmen get out. Higgins takes his shot hitting Willis in the shoulder Phryne helps him. Higgins approaches firing and Phryne reaches for her pistol and fires at him. Higgins releases it is Phryne not Tatiana and flees. Meanwhile Jack, Hugh and Compton go after the gunmen. Cec and Burt look after Willis and Phryne hops in his plane to chase down Higgins. Jack hops on Comptons motorbike and chases down Higgins. The pair aprehend him and Higgins ask Jack if he is happy now hes scored another 'red' for the government. Jack tells him he wont be locked up because of his politics he will be locked up because he is a murderous thug.
Back at the station Compton asks Jack if they have finished with Willis Jack tells him they need a statement about Higgins and relationship he was having with the woman posing as James Manning. Comtpon asks if Jack will charge Higgins with murder as the airforce will be charging him with sabotage. Phryne arrives. Mr Griggs is surprised to hear James was woman. Phryne tells them it was Virginia Forbes and that Mr Higgins was guilty on many fronts but he didnt murder her. Did he Mr Griggs? She produces a box of ricin coated bullets that were produced at Avenmouth during the war but later banned and yet they were in Mr Griggs locker. Mr Griggs says he didnt know James was a woman. Phryne says yet you laced his cigarettes knowing he would take days to die. Mr Griggs says he thought James was after Willis and yet Compton turned a blind eye and let him be the airshow ace. He call James deprived. He says forget the union James would have brought down the RAF all on his own so something had to be done. Hugh leads him away to the cells. 

Willis tells them that Ginny knew impersonating an officer would be dangerous but she knew it was the only way she could see him. Willis says he tried to warn her off the unions but she said she had no choice as she would do anything for the airforce. She said Compton ordered her to find out the truth and she did. Willis says he thinks Ginny loved him but she loved flying more.

Outside Phryne confronts Compton about perusing the unions being Ginnys idea. Compton says it was initially but then he ordered her to find out everything. Phryne asks why he didn't tell her and Compton says he couldn't condone what Ginny was doing as it was spying. Phryne says and you were keeping up appearances with me. Compton tells her they aren't in Madagascar anymore and he has responsibilities and Phryne says what a shame and leaves.

That night Dot is packing up Phrynes kit when Hugh knocks on the door. They both go to talk and Dot tells him that she only said she was going in a plane because he thought she couldnt but if Phryne wanted her to she would have even if she hated it. Hugh tells her he knows because she is brave and smart and beautiful and it scares him. Dot tells him she wants to chose what she does about her job. Hugh says he will have to find a way about being brave about that and sets the date as Saturday 14th September 1929. The pair kiss.

In the living room Phryne drink to getting two arrest (murder and treason) in one day. Jack tells her he still has a report to write for the chief commissioner about a missing Russian due to give evidence at Higgins trial. Mr Butler comes to tell Phryne that Burt called and the 'Caviar' has arrived. Jack asks where the caviar is going and Phryne tells him Tasmania maybe. Jack asks what he is supposed to tell the Chief commissioner and Phryne tells him that the airforce does not know either even though Compton saved her life 10 years ago. He had a parachute and could bail but he didn't he crash landed the plane and they both survived. Jack says no doubt Phryne has more dashing heroes in her past and she says if there weren't she would not be there. Jack toast to heroes then and Phryne toasts the one as yet unsung hero who has saved me over and over again.

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