Spence has previously warned us that going against the Dean of Westminster will get you murdered. But when he sends out a directive to have his reverends spouting that the plague is the fault of the naughty naughty sinners his temper snaps since he knows the well is being deliberately poisoned. He speaks up, ranting in church
And the Dean catches up with him, wielding a knife to stab him into silence - while also making an evil evil speech about how he likes to listen to the noises people make as he murdered them. Just in case we were under any real illusion about how evil this man is. He just needs an evil moustache to twirl.
This doesn’t make Merlot’s life any easier because he discovers Spence’s body and is duly horrified and grief stricken and, well, Sean Bean. Honestly when this man smiles the world will end.
He’s also discovered near the body and chased by the police who naturally suspect he is the murderer. He’s even seen by Nightingale leaving the scene which leaves Nightingale convinced he’s the murderer
Of course telling the Inspector that a dead man is behind the murders reassures no-one: and his Inspector suspends him on account of the fact he’s accusing dead men of murder and that’s not a good look in a policeman.
Merlot does follow Billy Oate’s lead on the dead man in the well and finds that a ship was quarantined due to plague. Following that they find the rest of the crew - where they’ve been put in an abandoned room basically to die. Merlot walks through the gauntlet of ghosts they’ve left behind - this time not reacting. It looks like he’s finally accepted what they are.
Meanwhile at the House of Dipple-this-man-is-definitely-a-serial-killer Queenie the maid continues to be freaked out by the creepy serial killer house she’s living in. She tries to tell Nightingale (who may live there? They’re both foundlings from the same orphanage which is their link) but she’s distracted comforting him about seeing dead people and his unresolved issues over Flora.
Dipple is holding a party to show off his murder doll and he invites Esther - who in turn invites Merlot to be her plus one because she needs another poor person to be super awkward and out of place in the rich guy’s home.
There the doll is every bit as creepy as you can imagine and Dipple focuses on emitting the most intense serial killer vibes ever. Even though the doll is a woman in make up it still manages uncanny valley. For some reason rather than watch the marionette in case it launches itself at the crowd and starts killing people, Merlot decides to go wandering through the house instead. As one does. Seriously I can see no reason why Merlot decides it’s appropriate to do that. He finds Dipple’s secret spooky door but Queenie the maid shows up to shoo him off for appalling house guest manners.
He also sees a letter with the same symbol as the room where the sailors were dumped to die and realises Dipple is in on the evil Dean’s evil plots
Of course he could have just hung around and heard Dipple’s plan to work with the Dean to sell chunks of Pye street to rich people. Merlot realises the Dean and Dipple are working together in lots and lots of evil and tries to encourage Esther to leave. While Esther has come to respect Dipple (and as a poor woman getting extremely lucrative contracts from one of the richest men in London she can’t really afford to alienate him) and politely tells him how she totally doesn’t want to choose between her friends and intends to stay.
Which is fortunate for her because Dipple has another job for her - making clothing for his child marionette. Because this man could not possibly be creepier.
This upsets Esther because she’s a widow whose small child also died and she’s now consumed by grief. To which Dipple informs her he’s seen more death than anyone ever - because Dipple is a serial killer. There’s just no doubt here. He has some weird advice about acknowledging and knowing your grief is to “have power over it”. But she points out she does now her grief - she’s defined by it. But he thinks she treats her grief as a weakness and… she kind of finds this all reassuring and is all heartened by his wish for her to return while I think he’s just dialling the creepy dial all the way up
Merlot has gone back to her home and that silent child who has been hanging around now makes sense - it’s the ghost of her dead child. And he decides it’s unfair to Esther to keep hanging around seeing this child when she can’t so he leaves
I don’t know - this has both the feeling of being impossibly noble while, at the same time, being completely hollow; like it’s all designed to look like he’s doing something super nice for her but at the same time he’s not actually doing anything for her.
Instead he joins Mrs. Wild’s group where she shows us she’s an awesome character, collecting people who are victimised and outcasts and helping them, saving them. Merlot asks why and she says “no-one else will”. Which is painfully true
She also keeps her dead baby in a jar and talks to them because she’s still very alive to her. She encourages Merlot to do the same with his dead daughter. Ye gods everyone I know this is 18th/19th century but can we not be so creepy about death all the time?
Merlot is moping about being wrong about everything… but the police have had a witness testimony identifying Mrs. Wild’s giant (who seems to have a child-like mind) as the killer - which is apparently enough for them to charge in and arrest the man and harass all the performers. Obviously he is definitely not to blame since all evidence points to a systematic, meticulous killer
While this is happening, we have Nightengale following up on Queenie’s report of Merlot investigating Dipple’s evil secret room: and he decides to investigate himself. He breaks in, examines all his secret passages - and runs into Lord Hervey! Yes the evil man is involved, Merlot was right. Sadly he also drugs Nightingale and slits his throat… Nightingale realises Merlot was innocent all along and his ghost goes to Merlot to apologise to him…
...ok um… I’d rather not have Nightingale's last moments be apologising to Merlot. In fact since this is a show where the dead come back, I don’t want Nightingale dead at all… and I worry he might be