I have a confession: In spite of my age, I’m a huge fan of the late singer Ricky Nelson. His song, Garden Party, has always been a source of great inspiration and after watching The Devil Inside, this week’s episode of Murdoch Mysteries, I can’t help but recall two poignant lines:
But it’s all right now, I learned my lesson well.
You see, ya can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself
Murdoch scribe, Paul Aitken appears to have no doubt pleased himself with this ep while attempting to do the impossible and please those fans who longed for villain James Gillies’ return while simultaneously satisfying those who longed for his irrefutable demise. Personally, I’ve never been bold enough to even attempt to please two parties at once… wait, I’m getting off-topic again, aren’t I?
Let’s get back to business shall we? My formula is well-known to all of you by now so let’s proceed.
ONE) Murder most foul – seriously! Opening with a tense, chilling slaughter of two hapless victims by an apparent madman was smart, clever and effective. So far, definitely so good.
TWO) “He wants to speak with you.” And with that, the true game – and the meat of this ep – begins. One epic name drop later, fan favorite baddie James Gillies returns? Or does he? We’re really not sure right off the bat if murderer/victim Mr. Foley is playing William and Julia – but we don’t care!
The possession storyline was masterfully conveyed by both the actor and the MM production team. Lowering the lighting when “Gillies” took over Foley’s body was a low-budget technique that worked brilliantly. Another victory for Canadian ingenuity.
THREE) Flashbacks are great – when utilized correctly. Additional story and directing credits at the ep’s opening credits were a tip-off flashbacks were going to be employed but again, who cares? They helped fill in the infamous history between the Murdochs and their arch-nemesis – but they went on too long and were employed too often.
And since I’m complaining (not really) anyway…
FOUR) Where the bloody hell is Brackenreid? The Christmas special brought the good Inspector back into our lives – and out of continuity – only to make him disappear again on his quest for glory and eternal youth with James Pendrick.
I don’t know about you, but between the lack of Crabtree, far too little Miss James and no Inspector, The Devil Inside felt a little bare.
FIVE) The return of Gillies was, in a word… AWESOME! I know that word has no place in a period piece, but honestly, this was one of the best episodes of Murdoch Mysteries I’ve ever seen. Sure, it had its bumps, but overall it was an intriguing mystery loaded with show history (including a nod to Thomas Edison) tension, visits from old friends (hey, Roland!) and the usual brilliant MM formula dialed up a notch. Or ten.
SIX) Where does get those wonderful toys? Why from the Monkey of course! Prop Monkey and his team of “evil” geniuses outdid themselves on The Devil Inside. Period. Digestible radios (icky good fun). Concealed guns (withe rubber bullets) and the usual MM tech made this ep even better than I could’ve ever expected.
SEVEN) Gorey fun done right! Make-up maven Debi Drennan and her crew shone bright last night – but their work speaks for itself, don’t you think?
EIGHT) A quick – but satisfying – wrap-up. Cutting to commercial just as William blasts Gillies (with a rubber bullet no less!) was smart, but returning with a flashback and then a super fast hanging felt a little rushed, truth be told. Still, hanging the horny little devil (William’s lucky Gillies didn’t find him when he was bound by Eva Pearce, right?) gave fans a definitive conclusion to his storyline.
Unless of course he has a few schemes set to unfold whether he’s breathing or not…
NINE) Hélène Joy is a delight to watch onscreen! I’m sure she’s lovely off-screen too, but her performance in The Devil Inside was Oscar-worthy. She went from broken to triumphant in less than an hour. Honestly, the look of contentment on her face when she finally extracted Gillies’ brain was ingenious. If you didn’t know better, you’d swear Julia was the villain! On a side note, I loved seeing Ms. Joy’s accent slip out throughout the episode.
TEN) Yannick Bisson’s typical-but-not-so-typical performance. No review of an MM ep is complete without mentioning the Artful Detective himself. When William was faced with the possibility his arch enemy may have actually returned to “haunt” him we got to see just why Murdoch Mysteries has lasted for ten seasons. Yannick Bisson was born to play Det. Murdoch. Period. End of
And with that, kids, I return you to your usual lives. Until next week that is.
See you in the lobby and on the CBC, friends….