The plague continues to kill many people, including whole families. We see more utterly poor people dropped into plague pits, unable to afford a consecrated burial and having to invent their own burial tradition.
Moved to pity, Merlot goes to try and offer charity to a woman who has lost so many of her children already - but she’s already plagued and would rather have his help cleaning up. She also begs him to bury her and her remaining children next to each other
There’s also more talk about god abandoning them and we learn more about the evil Dean of Westminster from Spence, Merlot’s new friend/contact/boss. He was an ex-priest. He admits he used to drink - but the reason he was kicked out wasn’t the drink, it was opposing the Dean. He further reveals that the three dead priests (there’s been a third murder) were part of an alliance fighting against the wicked Dean and his terribad plant to sell lots of church land to make himself super super super rich. And now they got murdered. Spence doesn’t think it’s a coincidence
But Merlot goes further - grabbing a map of the area and plotting the people who died - and find that the deaths are clustered very closely together - all on Pyre street. An area which will be worth a lot of money… IF the slums are cleared out. Spence doesn’t believe a man can call down plagues - but Merlot is convinced Lord Hervey could do it with his evil science. Of course he kind of thinks Lord Hervey is behind everything
They go investigating and Merlot realises that the dead all get water from the same well (take a moment to praise John Snow who did this in real life. No, not that John Snow; your history teacher is ashamed of you) - and when he excavates he finds a body in the well, with a sailor tattoo. Clearly put there deliberately to contaminate the water.
While he discovers this Merlot also screams and rants and raves at a crowd of people only he can see - which i think are the ghosts who died. I’m definitely going with ghosts not visions.
Also in town is Mrs. Wild’s Penny exhibition which is, amusingly, presenting a play of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I think we’re going to see a lot more of Mrs. Wild as she’s already showing compassion, wit, snapping intelligence and insight which makes her interesting in the brief moments she appears.
One of the members of her troupe is Billy Oates - from season 1. He was a criminal who controlled Flora and sorta worked for Lord Hervey and who Merlot got transported. He is now back, after becoming a sailor. Merlot and Billy have a few confrontations (involving punching and knives) since, obviously, their history is not great and Merlot is super obsessed with Lord Hervey - but Billy insists that he is not involved with the man and has no idea where he is. And the fact both he and the corpse became sailors with similar tattoos is coincidence. He does agree to help find where he got the tattoo though
About that latest murder - Nightengale finds the body before the Parish watch and quickly steals it so they can do their own autopsy much to frustration of the evil Dean’s evil minions. This means he gets the actual autopsy -including that the heart was carefully removed by an experienced and capable killer and probably not an escaped lunatic from Bethlem.
He also earns the respect of Sir Peel who is currently on side with anyone who opposes the evil Dean. Especially since the Dean is preventing him creating new cemetaries to help ease the burden of the over-burdened plague cemeteries. Because that would eat into the Dean’s profits. Yes, he’s evil.
Nightengale also shows Boz the body and reveals how the heart has been removed and all the “torn limb from limb” nonsense is just lies from the church. Boz kind of shrugs because “torn limb from limb” and “having heart removed” are both pretty sensationalist and terrifying. But he does seem to be very unimpressed with the church for lying to him.
Now to Lord Dipple - who is extremely creepy. He wants to create a life size automaton dressed in the incredible gown Esther is making. Because of course the utterly creepy man wants a life sized moving doll of creepiness. It will probably eat skin. He also has big ideas about how robots will control every aspect of human life, make Esther unemployed taking her job and generally make them more powerful than god. Yes he’s creepy and yes he’s prophetic. And if anyone can make his automaton it’s Ada Byron
While Ada Byron speaks her own opinion of not wanting to be more powerful than god. Though she’s open to women having power over men. And power over god? No. Power taints and corrupts and obedience “bane of all genius virtue, freedom, truth makes slaves of men”. Yes she’s quoting Shelley but never has a quote been more deserving of praise
Esther starts being creeped out by Dipple and him disdaining of her but she impresses him with her incredible skill and intelligence as she envies Ada her courage and outspokenness. They both speak philosophically of their fear of living, of daring to change and a definite respect grows between them
Perhaps matched by one between Esther and Marlott, as he plays the piano for her at night when neither of them can sleep