August 6, 2023
Will seems to be back to his normal self, to the relief of his friends, who don’t know that he is relying on pills to stay peppy and chipper. But Leonard is now depressed, as he is facing the closure of his halfway house due to a public petition, without Daniel, whom he has alienated, by his side.
Keith is the only resident left at the home after the death of Alfie. But Leonard is hoping to woo the local councilwoman into supporting the home, and has invited her over to tea, so Will ropes in Geordie and Cathy to join the meeting and tells Mrs. C to pretend to be Leonard’s housekeeper and Jack to play a new resident, in order to impress the councilwoman. Leonard is uncomfortable about the deception but accedes.
The skeptical councilwoman seems inspired by Keith’s genuine and Jack’s falsified stories when she visits, but Will, energized by his pills, lays into her for not wholeheartedly committing her support to the halfway home. She leaves in a huff.
Geordie has time to attend the councilwoman’s visit because his boss Elliot is trying to force him into retirement and has thus put him on desk duty.
Therefore Larry is put in charge of investigating a suspected poisoning of two men at a bar called the Week End Club. Dr. Bill Lambert has died, and Mike Cotton, the bartender, is unresponsive and hospitalized. Cotton’s wife, Anna, reveals that Lambert was the Cottons’ doctor.
Staff at the Week End Club tell Larry that Lambert was a regular, but was especially drunk that night. A barmaid heard him arguing with Bernie Palmer, the owner of the club, but Palmer simply says that Lambert requested a special reserve cognac to drink. The bottle is kept locked up in Palmer’s office, and has been drunk from before, so it shouldn’t be poisonous. Only Palmer and Mike handled it. Larry takes it and the uncleaned glasses from the night before for testing.
He also shuts down the bar until further notice, resisting Palmer’s surreptitious attempt to bribe him.
Larry may be in charge, but he takes suggestions from both Geordie and Miss Scott and goes to search Lambert’s office, where he finds a woman breaking into Lambert’s drawers, as well as a notebook hidden away. The woman is Debbie Stephens, Lambert’s niece. She worked for the doctor for a time, and was breaking into his office to recover two months’ wages he hadn’t paid her. The notebook seems to be in some sort of code.
Testing shows that there was cyanide in the special reserve bottle, as well as in two of the glasses from the Week End Club.
Since only Palmer and Mike handled the bottle, Larry questions Palmer, who says that he also gave a barmaid the key to his office. But she didn’t serve Lambert—he was a “leery old sod” when drunk, so the women servers avoided him.
Mike finally rouses from his coma and tells Larry that Lambert always drank alone—people didn’t like him much. So Lambert asked Mike to share a glass of the special reserve with him, but Lambert drank much more than Mike.
Miss Scott accompanies Larry on his interview of Mike, and recognizes Mike’s accent as Russian. His wife Anna is Hungarian, and they met in Hungary before fleeing the country after the failed 1956 revolution against Soviet rule. The Cottons admit that they changed their names in England for safety and that Mike was originally from Russia. Anna was a university professor and led some protests during the revolution in which some of her students died; she was blamed and had to flee the country.
Geordie and Will are now helping out on the case, even though Elliot, who’s away, has assigned Geordie to a case that’s hours away, in another attempt to force retirement. Geordie ignores the order for now.
Miss Scott realizes that Lambert’s hidden notebook is a ledger of payments, listed by initials. There are two sets of handwriting in it, and one matches his niece’s. She admits that Lambert was bribing patients with information he learned from treating them. She didn’t report it because no one would have believed her, a young woman, against a stalwart of the community.
Bernie Palmer was one of the people being blackmailed, over an affair. He had finally had enough and stood up to Lambert the night of the poisoning. But Palmer says he would have been smart enough to get rid of the evidence if he was the one who had poisoned Lambert.
But another patient was being blackmailed: Anna Cotton. Geordie believes Mike poisoned Lambert on his wife’s behalf, but Will is skeptical. Anna was a chemistry professor, so she knows chemicals. She admits to murdering Lambert, who had threatened to expose her real identity to Russian agents. She asked Mike to see the special reserve bottle before Lambert arrived at his regular time, and poisoned it so that he couldn’t ruin the life she had built.
Geordie also doesn’t want to ruin his life by sticking around as Elliot hands him assignments further and further away, thus keeping Geordie from his family and Will, whom he has realized is addicted to pills and has intervened. With Cathy up for a promotion, Geordie is considering retiring—but he wants to make the decision with her. She okays it, so he submits a letter of retirement.
Jack worries that Leonard doesn’t have Daniel supporting him during this difficult time, and encourages Leonard to apologize to him. Mrs. C overhears Leonard tell Jack that she is probably happy his relationship with Daniel has stalled, and she determines to prove to Leonard that she supports him by going to speak to Daniel.
But when she arrives, she sees Daniel laughing with another man on his stoop, and turns around to report it as a new relationship to Leonard. Leonard goes to confront Daniel, who’s upset that Leonard only came to see him in order to chastise him for something that Mrs. C could have misread.
Leonard is therefore in a bad mood when Will comes to apologize for ruining the meeting with the councilwoman. Will admits that he is struggling to hear God and cope with his guilt over the death of a man in a motorcycle accident, but Leonard tells Will that he is not the only one struggling. Will ruined everything for Leonard, and he still just keeps wallowing in self-pity. Leonard will never trust Will to do anything for him again.
Ernie’s birthday is that evening, but Will never shows up. Geordie goes looking for him and finds a note about leaving—or even, perhaps, suicide—at the vicarage.