Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Death Becomes Pemberley

A murder, a ball, a ghost story, a secret romance, and a possibly rabid woman running amok in the woods. It must be...Jane Austen!

Look at this stuff! Isn't it neat? Don't you think my collection's complete? 

Because OF COURSE Lizzie and Darcy could not just live their 1% lifestyle without being troubled by Lizzie's batshit sister and her good-for-nothing husband, Wickham. Because you know all of what I'm about to tell you more or less happened barely after the last paragraph of P&P was written, Jane Austen put down her quill pen, and the ink dried. Do not front and say this isn't canon. You know everything went immediately to hell after the wedding. JANE AUSTEN IS A LIE. You guys, this is hilarious. Actual real JA fan fiction brought to a teevee or computer screen near you.

The action actually begins a few years into Lizzie and Darcy's marriage. The Darcys have spawned a boy named Fitzwilliam (natch). Lizzie and Darcy are planning a ball, and then Captain Denny is mysteriously (and quite inconveniently, I might add) murdered, which basically strands everyone at Pemberley until the MUHDUH is solved. So, get ready for some Regency Clue realness. 

Fine weather for a MUHDUH.

The plot will be familiar to those who have read the novel of the same name. It begins with two Pemberley servant wenches, straight of out of Downton Abbey central casting, who claim to have seen the "ghost of Mrs. Riley" in the woods. Mrs. Riley is an unfortunate figure whose ghost reportedly haunts the woods around Pemberley after she committed suicide because her young son was hanged for poaching a deer on the Pemberley property. According to the legend, her appearance foretells the onset of tragedy. Wooooooooo. Unfortunately for the veracity of the ghost tale, Lizzie encounters this same woman in the woods, and when Lizzie attempts to restore the lady's lost bonnet, she straight up hisses at her. At which point, Anna Maxwell Martin is Deeply Confused.

Is she Catwoman or WTF? Wait, which Jane Austen fanfiction am I in? Is this the vampire one? Shit.

Georgiana Darcy has grown about ten feet, and she is in the lovez with a socially awkward lawyer, which makes total sense for her, actually. However, Colonel Fitzwilliam, who was such a sweetie in the novel, is hot for Georgiana and has apparently morphed into a real shady character since we last saw him. I blame Lady Catherine. So anyone who has a real stick up their bum about Jane Austen canon should stop watching RIGHT NOW.

You mean this didn't really happen in the book? You mean they made it up? Wait...

Things are going along swimmingly in Lizzie's tricked out life, until she is unfortunately reminded of her genetic and marital ties in the form of her sister Lydia and her dastardly rake husband, Wickham. WICKHAM. MISTAH WICKHAM. 

We see Wickham arguing with Captain Denny over Something, and Denny appears to be trying to talk Wickham out of some sort of deceitful behavior (because he is the most appalling rake), and Wickham is insisting that whatever it is that he has done or wants to do is no big deal. They are interrupted by the appearance of Lydia and HOLY SHIT IT'S CLARA!

You think you've got problems? Girl, please. I have, like, no idea where I parked my Tardis.

Lydia and Wickham's story, as it is revealed, is that they were planning to crash the ball at Pemberley, since they weren't invited because awkward. They are not received at Pemberley. They're just classy like that. Denny accompanies them, and midway on their journey, the coach stops and Denny gets out and goes into the Pemberley woods. Wickham, angry, gets out of the carriage too, and follows him. What happens after that remains the mystery that we must unravel.

Lydia's story is that she heard gun shots, immediately freaked out, and ordered her coachman to complete the journey to Pemberley, leaving Wickham and Denny behind. 

She bursts into Pemberley, creating all the drama that she so dearly loves, and announces that Wickham is dead dead dead alack alack he's dead. Mrs. Bennet helpfully suggests that it might be fine because Wickham might have died in a duel, and that sends Lydia into a fresh round of hysterics.

No, no. Tell the nice man from the newspaper I'm your momager, honey. 

Darcy and the other menfolk launch an expeditionary force to find Wickham and Denny, and they find Wickham sobbing over a super dead Denny. The game is then afoot! Wickham is, of course, the main suspect.  This is where things get mysteriously mysterious because everyone agrees that Wickham -- cad, reprobate, dipsomaniac that he is -- is not a murderer. Everyone also agrees that Lydia and Wickham probably know a lot more than they are telling.

Wickham: He's literally wearing a red, shirt.
Lydia: I know, right.

Darcy is forced to set off for the magistrate, an aging hippie named Mr. Hardcastle. Hardcastle and the Darcys have bad feelings between their families, because Hardcastle's father was responsible for prosecuting Mrs. Riley's son, and who had pushed for the boy's hanging. This was against the older Mr. Darcy's wishes. Hardcastle requests to see the sleeping Wickham, and then goes to meet the local barber veterinarian butcher doctor, to inspect the dead Denny. They determine that Denny died not from a gunshot wound, but someone gave him a jolly good whack on the back of the head. Ouchie. If it hadn't happened in the woods, I would have guessed it was the professor in the wine cellar with a candlestick.

Cause of death: Being an ancillary.

Wickham is later arrested for the murder, sending Clara, I mean Lydia, into further hysterics. The trouble is, no one really believes that Wickham committed the murder, and it may be up to Lizzie and Darcy to solve the murder, probably primarily Lizzie since she was on Bletchley Circle and so she has practice with that sort of thing. So now Lizzie is going to have to Do The Right Thing and clear the name of a man she hates. Is this going to be the redeeming of Wickham? Does he really need to be redeemed? Can't he just be a giant asshat? I haven't read the book, so I have no idea how it ends. I may or may not be hoping that the twist will turn out that Mr. Darcy killed Denny because he's a robot alien sent to destroy us all (much like Tom Hiddleston).

You think he's real, ladies? Come. On. Clearly aliens sent him to take us down.

In that case, I'm hoping that it's revealed that The Doctor sent Clara into Pride & Prejudice to pretend to be Lydia in order to catch the Darcybot before he can destroy Pretend Regency England. And Fantasia as well.

Exteerminate! Exteerminate!

But the real enemy, as it turns out, is not the Darcybot, but Lady Catherine, who is, of course, the Giant Cockroach Queen.

A girl can hope.

My overall reaction is that I thought this was really fun. If you really take Jane Austen seriously, then perhaps this isn't the movie for you, but if you are all about murder mysteries, costumed aggression, and people sobbing in corsets while flailing around big, fancy houses


then this is right up your alley. Maggie Cats says she has actually been to the P&P house, which makes me jelly. I kid about Jenna Coleman as Lydia, but I really think she is a brilliant choice for that part. She is not a person I would have thought of immediately to play Lydia, but seeing her in the part makes total sense. I also enjoy the casting of Rebecca Front as Mrs. Bennet. She is the no-nonsense Chief Supt. Jean Innocent on Inspector Lewis and it's fun to see her take on a role as removed from her Lewis character as the flighty and clueless Mrs. Bennet.

The next installment of Death Comes to Pemberley airs on PBS during Masterpiece Mystery. In my area that means Sunday at 9 p.m. EST. Check local listings for dates and times. 


Maggie Cats said...

Mom and I watched this and both really liked it; I have no idea who did it (maybe a character we haven't met yet), but I love the casting and can't wait to see how it shakes out!

Arsenic Pie said...

Glad you both got to see it. I have part 2 on my DVR and I hope to watch it tonight.