Even Dickens the dog is depressed by Leonard’s absence. Will is lonely in the vicarage, but he hasn’t visited Leonard in prison yet—he’s writing to everyone he can think of for clemency, and wants to bring Leonard good news.
At least Geordie’s orneriness can cheer Will up a bit. While they’re drinking at the pub, a student named Rachel approaches to talk about denuclearization. Geordie thinks it’s all tosh, especially when later that evening he and Will see a massive peace sign painted high up on a college building. Then it becomes serious: Rachel falls to her death from the top of a staircase.
The college porter Bernard Allison, whose paint the students stole for their protest, went to disrupt their activity and was at the top of the stairs when Rachel fell. There were two or three others with her, but none of the students involved in the anti-nuke campaign will say who they were. Rachel’s boyfriend, Rory, was at a debate meeting at the time, and has meeting minutes to prove it.
Rachel’s roommate Petra does admit that she was on the roof, but says she separated from Rachel when the porter discovered them. Geordie learns from Rachel’s mail that she was offered a job in the government, but Petra is not forthcoming with any more information.
The coroner reveals that Rachel was stabbed in the back before she fell. She was murdered.
The students blame Bernard the porter, calling him “pervert” and shaking his car. Geordie shoos them away and looks in the car: the porter’s toolbox has a bloody screwdriver in it. Bernard claims innocence, although he admits to the reason the students call him a pervert: he separated Rory and Rachel during an argument a few nights ago, and gave her a “little cuddle” while she was calming down.
The screwdriver has been wiped of fingerprints, perhaps with turpentine. Why wipe the handle but not the blood? Someone was trying to frame Bernard.
Geordie sends Will to a meeting of the anti-nuke campaign to find out more. Rory is nominated as the new leader despite Petra’s wish to replace Rachel. Not a single person votes for Petra. Everyone thinks highly of Rory and his future, while he dismisses Petra as a simple note-taker—though she and Rachel were the drivers of the protests.
When Will witnesses Rory and another student, Josh, fighting after the meeting, Petra explains that Josh liked Rachel and she rejected him. Petra saw him struggling with Rachel on the stairs before Rachel fell.
But Josh says he wasn’t even in the building when Rachel died. His alibi is airtight: he ran into Geordie outside when Will and Geordie saw the peace sign.
Having learned from Will that Bernard was released by the police, the students protest outside the station. In his frustration with their idealism, Geordie lashes out at Will. You’re all talk, he says. You haven’t even gone to see Leonard!
This sets Will on a destructive path. Drinking at a bar, he spots a man getting aggressive with a drunk Tamara and intervenes. As he is walking her home, she pulls out a flask, and he partakes. Soon they’re stealing a boat and kissing. Yes, she’s his stepsister.
Geordie also makes an unusual decision after his argument with Will. His old military friend Johnny visits, and again espouses his philosophy that there’s no right or wrong, just survival: that’s why he thought Geordie would take a bribe. Geordie invites Johnny home to dinner, where Cathy is charmed.
She’s also excited to meet someone from that part of Geordie’s life, which he never discusses. But her repeated queries the following morning upset Geordie.
Will is also regretful in the morning, when he wakes up—pants still on—in bed with Tamara. He tries to quickly sneak her out of the vicarage, but she runs flat into Henry Jones.
Henry is the friendly new curate assigned to Grantchester by the bishop, against Will’s desire to have a say in the choice of Leonard’s replacement. Despite his best efforts, Mrs. C. doesn’t take to him—the fact that he’s British-Nigerian doesn’t help—and nor does Will, even though Henry cooks dinner for both of them—dinner that gets cold, because Will is out with Tamara. Henry finally reports to the bishop that Will needs reining in, and that he will pull him back in line. I’ve fought to be here, he says, while Will treats his role as clergy as an amusement.
He does have crimes to solve. Recalling that Petra had turpentine in her room and was disappointed to lose out to Rory as leader of the anti-nuke group, he and Geordie pay her a visit—and Geordie apologizes to Will. Petra’s bag is blood-stained; she admits everything, except to killing Rachel.
But Will has also matched the handwriting—Petra’s—for the anti-nuke group’s meetings to that for Rory’s debate meeting. She gave Rory an alibi. Riding the success of the peace sign protest and the job offer from the government, Rachel had taunted Rory, who wanted her to eventually play the dutiful wife to himself. He stabbed her—and Petra saw. She helped him cover it up—planting the screwdriver, blaming Josh—in exchange for becoming leader of the anti-nuke group, all she really cared about—but everyone else voted him leader. When Rory is arrested, he spits out that the government job would have been wasted on Rachel.
Will finally goes to visit Leonard, without any good news. Leonard looks crushed and scared, and asks to pray with Will.