Well, I suppose it was inevitable. In Miss Scarlet and the Duke 2×03, Eliza Scarlet has to go into hiding after she is falsely accused of a crime. She has been detained and fined before, so it was probably just a matter of time. But this show makes this situation more than just a predictable plot device.
The thing about Scarlet that makes it unique is that the writers never miss an opportunity to use the period setting to highlight women’s circumstances. It’s a staple of the series. It kind of has to be since Eliza (played by Kate Phillips) is the only female private investigator working in Victorian London. The good thing is that the writers have also kept this theme fresh as the show has progressed. That’s no small feat now that we’ve reached the middle of season two. Creator/writer Rachael New has consistently placed character and mystery first, and that means there is no episode that feels like filler.
Let’s move forward through Eliza’s adventures as they unfold in the newest episode of Miss Scarlet and the Duke.
“I’ve never done anything like this before.”
Eliza’s problems here begin when she loses her late mother’s ring. She lost it in a city morgue office when she snuck in with a duplicate key to read some files. The medical examiner there, Mr. Potts (Simon Ludders), has refused to allow Eliza to see files that would help her cases. This will come as no surprise to anyone who watched season 1 and saw Potts’ chauvinistic attitude. However, the ring makes Eliza look guilty of an actual break-in and theft. The chief coroner of London wants Eliza charged immediately.
While Eliza’s associate Moses (Ansu Kabia) puts her in a safe house, William (Stuart Martin) tries to find other suspects for Scotland Yard. Moses helps William get close to a couple of petty criminals to question them.
William and Moses have never liked each other, so this turn of events is interesting, to say the least. The interaction between them is an entertaining source of tension. The writers were smart to tap into that for this episode, and they should do it more often.
“I would expect nothing less.”
Another thing the show should do more often is feature Ivy, Eliza’s housekeeper (played by Cathy Belton). And this episode does that.
Ivy is more like a second mother to Eliza, and she can usually be found encouraging Eliza not to be reckless. This case gives her more to do, though. Ivy goes undercover to get information from Potts, and she turns out to be delightfully good at it. What is not delightful is the indication at the end of the episode that Ivy and Potts might be starting some kind of relationship. I can’t say I care for that.
I also don’t care for the glimpse we get of William’s womanizing ways early in this episode. Eliza mentioned this more than once about William in season one, but we’ve never had to actually see it until now. After the pause that William put on things between him and Eliza in the season premiere, this is not pleasant to sit through.
I think the writers balance the tone of this well, and I’m not worried about Eliza and William because all signs point to them being endgame, but…I just could’ve done without it. I’m just a shipper that way.
“First of many?”
Because I am a shipper, this episode has me looking forward to the rest of the season. Young detective Fitzroy having a schoolboy crush on Eliza is cute and all, but it feels like now is the time for a serious competitor for Eliza’s affections. William’s belief that Eliza has a detrimental effect on his career seems justified after this case because he stood up for her and lost his boss’ favor. But what would William do if he and Eliza couldn’t keep things the way they are for some reason? How would he feel if someone came along and wanted to give Eliza all the things he can’t right now?
Beyond that, the character development Eliza and William are each going through has to continue. Answering those questions can be part of that. In general, every case Eliza and William work on together helps them become the people they are supposed to be. And every time William mentors Fitzroy or Eliza gains a tad more acceptance as a female private detective, it helps them become the versions of themselves who are supposed to be together. Miss Scarlet and the Duke 2×03 proves the rest of that journey can’t come fast enough.
Miss Scarlet and the Duke airs Sundays at 8 PM on PBS.