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'Miss Scarlet and the Duke' Recap: Season 4 Episode 2

Daniel Hautzinger
Eliza walks down the street with a bouquet in a pink dress and hat
Eliza investigates the death of an undertaker. Credit: Masterpiece

Miss Scarlet and the Duke airs Sundays at 7:00 pm on WTTW and is available to stream. Recap the previous and following episodes.
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Eliza is pestering Mr. Potts – as she often does – for access to post-mortems when she stumbles upon a man slipping from pre- to post-mortem. Potts is on his way to his regular tea with his friend Theobald Turner, an undertaker, when Turner’s bloodied hand hits the inside of the glass of his storefront. Eliza breaks open the locked door and finds Turner dead.

Turner seems to have taken a blow to the head and then stumbled to the door, Eliza explains to Detective Phelps and his new colleague Detective Black, who’s queasy at the sight of the blood in his first case. The cash register is emptied and some brass handles from coffins are missing, but it is clear Turner’s business had fallen on hard times, so the robbery may have been staged to cover the murder. The assailant must have escaped through the open back door.

Eliza leaves the investigation with the detectives and looks forward to a promised case from William. Except he has bad news: budgets are being tightened, and he is no longer allowed to hire private investigators. He can’t give Eliza work.

Fortunately for Eliza, the short staffing of the police means that Potts becomes impatient with the progress of the investigation into Turner’s death – Phelps has been sent up north, so Black is in charge, and not likely to make progress. Ivy convinces a reluctant Potts to hire Eliza to look into the murder.

Turner had an estranged sister, Francesca, in Bristol, to whom he surprisingly left his business. Eliza speaks to her after Turner’s funeral, and Francesca reveals that she is planning to sell the business. Unfortunately, her brother didn’t want her to sell to his rival John Hardcastle, the only person to make an offer so far. The rivalry dates back to their fathers.

Clarence, the accountant for Nash’s London office, tries to help Eliza by drinking with the clerk of the undertaker’s guild, even though Clarence is a teetotaler. He learns that Hardcastle has been expanding his business, but that there have been complaints of intimidation as he does so. A former Hardcastle employee, Albert Edmunds, lodged a complaint with the guild.

Eliza speaks to Edmunds and learns that he was fired by Hardcastle. He says Hardcastle took advantage of people’s grief to charge them too much, then sent enforcers after them for the money.  Hardcastle may have used similar tactics on Turner: Eliza finds two separate receipts for replacing smashed windows amongst his papers.

Hardcastle may even be trying to intimidate Eliza: someone leaves flowers for her, with a card that says “RIP.” When Eliza pretends to be a wealthy prospective customer at Hardcastle’s, she notices that the card matches those of his business. Her cover is blown when Fitzroy and William arrive – Black has quit, so William has taken over the case – and out her. They reveal that Turner filed a complaint alleging that Hardcastle smashed his windows to induce him to sell his business. Hardcastle denies it, and dismisses Edmunds’ complaints, claiming that he was a useless employee. And he has an alibi for when Turner was killed. Indeed, a witness to one of the window smashings described a man who looks nothing like Hardcastle.

When Potts learns that William is on the case, he’s ready to dismiss Eliza – but he has a contract with her. He reveals to her that Turner blamed Hardcastle for the decline in his business, and had become a bit obsessed with Hardcastle. Eliza asks Francesca if she has found the fruits of that obsession, and she has: a box full of papers and even the bricks used to smash his windows.

The initials stamped on the bricks lead Eliza to their manufacturer. A worker reluctantly reveals that the owner recently lost his wife and daughter and owes money for the funerals to Hardcastle, who has sent the moneylender Tomasz Mazelli to collect payment. Mazelli takes some bricks for free every time he comes for money.

Eliza convinces William to join her as she visits Mazelli’s office, where they hear shouts and find Mazelli beating Albert Edmunds in the back. Edmunds is afraid to make a statement and leaves, while William arrests Mazelli.

The moneylender says he was at a hotel for a drink when Turner was killed. William threatens to hit him with tax charges, and Mazelli admits that he was at the hotel because Hardcastle hired him to get a woman with whom the married Hardcastle had had an affair to leave town. But she never returned to her room, so Mazelli didn’t see her.

The woman was Francesca, whom Potts has just learned is selling the business to Hardcastle against her late brother’s wishes. Eliza and William can’t find her, but talk to Hardcastle instead. He admits that he had a fling with Francesca twenty years ago, when he was engaged. Francesca had just reappeared in London and asked Hardcastle for money, threatening to reveal their fling to his now-wife, so he sent Mazelli to get rid of her. She was already in London at the time of her brother’s death.

The police in Bristol gather information on Francesca and reveal that a neighbor said she moved in eighteen years ago when she married Peter Edmunds, who recently died.

Eliza realizes that Albert Edmunds is the son of Francesca – and Hardcastle, not her husband. Albert is 21, so he was born before Francesca married Peter. She got pregnant from her fling and became estranged from her father and brother because the father of her child was their rival, so she left for Bristol and married Peter.

Eliza finds Francesca at her brother’s funeral parlor, preparing to leave London. Francesca tells Eliza that she and her brother argued after their years of estrangement and she pushed him, accidentally killing him. Albert has gone off to France on the proceeds of the sale of the parlor.

Except Eliza hears movement in the other room, and goes to search for Albert. He tries to flee and runs into William at the door. He is the true killer. He explains that his mother told him about his birth father after the man he thought was his father died, and he was relieved: Peter was horrible to his mother. Albert came to London and told Hardcastle he was his son after working for him for a time; Hardcastle rejected and fired him. Albert then went to his uncle Turner and revealed the truth, and was again rejected. Albert got angry and pushed Turner, accidentally killing him.

Francesca had come to London to look for Albert, but he didn’t know until Mazelli found and beat him. Albert sought out his mother and told her what had happened, and she tried to help him get away from London by selling the business and giving him the money.

Eliza and Ivy make sure Potts acknowledges the excellent job Eliza did in solving his case – and force him to agree to allow her access to the mortuary, under police supervision, of course.

Eliza often has that, as William is once again growing closer: he asks her out to another dinner before they are even scheduled for their next monthly dinner. The morning of, he leads a raid on a criminal gang, but the superintendent diverts some men away from it at the last minute, leaving William with fewer men than he’d like. It’s his only chance to catch the gang, however, so he goes through with the raid – and is shot. He is sent to surgery. The doctors are unsure if he’ll survive.