Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Forever, Season 1, Episode 4: The Art of Murder

We have a very ritzy party and a rather formidable old woman, Gloria Carlyle, giving everyone the razor edge of her tongue. While one of the guests wishes it was her funeral, I have to admit I have a soft spot to savage old ladies who can gut you with a word. She wanders off alone while they make a speech about her generosity

And we cut to Gloria’s bettered body being examined by the police and Detective Jo and Hanson on the scene. And no Henry – just Lucas who is not an awesome substitute.

Henry is set to maximum moping because he once knew Gloria. When he has her on the slab, Jo asks why he didn’t attend and Henry says he never goes to that museum. He strokes back Gloria’s hair in a very familiar fashion (actually managing not to be creepy with it).

And Lucas spills that it’s murder to a journalist. Which has Henry needing lots of coffee (and chance for Abe to push to get an in on the antique estate sale) before going in. At work the Carlyle family is Not Amused by the press leak. Henry nobly tells a very penitent Lucas to go back to the lab and is willing to take the blame – he does – and he is pulled off the case because of it, Conrad Carlyle just has too much influence.

So Jo decides to invite Henry to accompany her everywhere (which is slightly hilarious because it’s what he would be doing anyway and still not what a medical examiner should be doing). Which means he has to go to the museum crime scene which is a major problem for him. Naturally Jo pokes him for an explanation which he continually dodges.

Flashback to Henry and his wife Abigail sneaking into a private party in the museum because Abigail is a very confident and daring woman (especially compared to the cautious Henry).

In the museum Henry uses his genius to retrace Gloria’s footsteps and concludes that she was pushed down stairs then tried to crawl afterwards. Hanson’s CCTV review also confirms there was someone else (Henry has a very restrained gloat)

They bring the man they saw, Lance (poor fiance of Gloria’s granddaughter), for questioning and Henry observes from the next room, Lt Reece decides to believe he was never there (something which Henry misunderstands and is actually amusing in doing so). Lance claims he asked Gloria’s blessing for the wedding because Conrad (Gloria’s son, this granddaughter’s dad) refused – and he didn’t steal Gloria’s ring, she gave him it to use in the engagement. She also said to “follow your heart” which, in the brief moment we saw of her, seems very unlike her. This isn’t very believable.

Of course Henry just can’t watch and calls Jo on Reece’s phone and gets Jo to ask lots of diagnostic questions about Gloria. Henry puts them all together as a symptom of stroke – so he needs to slice and dice Gloria’s body some more… except he’s off the case. And even worse he can’t even get Lance to do it because they’ve already released the body.

Jo tries to talk to Lance’s fiancĂ©e and learns how dysfunctional the family is – everyone is far more interested in hurting each other and being spiteful than in actually getting anything done. She describes her grandmother as heartless (which isn’t what Henry remembers. As a younger woman she urged Henry to marry Abigail). Jo does dig up more info – Gloria was threatening to cut Conrad out of the will – and he’s currently auctioning off Gloria’s furniture

Henry calls Abe who has an invite to the auction (he runs an antique shop after all), and gets him to sneak into her bathroom and take a photograph of all her medication – but it’s another dead end. But when Henry sees Conrad arriving to rant at Lt. Reece he notices the man’s shaking hand – he has epilepsy. Questioning and irate Conrad they learn that he takes the medication that caused Gloria’s stroke.

But questioning him they learn that not only did Gloria threaten to cut him out of the will, she actually did so. His motive for killing her crumbles. They do get a break though from Lucas who, in all his guilt, has performed an illicit biopsy on Gloria’s liver for Henry to examine. In doing so he finds out she was poisoned by the drug – but before the party not during it. There’s only one person who was with her at the time – her nurse, Marta

Just as Hanson arrives with a newspaper confirming Marta inherited everything. Of course we still have time left so the case has to get more complicated. On  hearing Gloria ordered a fire despite it being warm Henry does some more investigating and finds a burned letter in the fire and a missing Champaign glass (despite Gloria not drinking). All of this eventually leads them to the car where the poisoning actually happened.

Henry gathers all the party together to do a classic, Agatha Christie style explanation of what happened. Gloria, terminally ill, took the drug herself to commit suicide – and she dragged herself across the floor when the drug acted too quickly (and she was delayed by Lance) so she could die in front of one painting – painted by an ex-lover of hers (they kept returning to this painting frequently throughout the episode since it was out of place, painted by an unknown).

Afterwards, Jo shares a story of her dead husband and painful memories and Henry finally cracks and reveals the painful memory that kept him out of the museum – Abigail. The museum is where he proposed to Abigail.

I don’t really have anything to add to this episode. It’s kind of following the same pattern for the series I predicted in the pilot – murder mysteries solved by Henry’s brilliance. I don’t think there’ll be much in a way of meta and even the mystery at the beginning of the series of the other immortal seems to have petered out. There wasn’t even much in the way of Henry’s immortality on display here – though I appreciated the more human look at immortal memories, especially of people who have aged and changed, rather than the flash “he’s dead and now alive again!” repeat.