It’s a wee bit late for Valentine’s Day, but still, Admin and I thought it would be fun to analyze one of our favourite scenes from S02E03 of the “Inspector Alleyn Mysteries“, “Dead Water“. In the concluding scene, Alleyn (with Agatha Troy (Belinda Lang) along for the ride) has solved the mystery. He’s managed to figure out that his old teacher, Miss Emily Pride (Margaret Tyzack), was never the murderer’s intended target as he had thought; the intended victim was village busybody Miss Elspeth Cost (Janet Lapotaire) all along. *BUT*… that doesn’t mean that Miss Emily can resist poking her nose into her old pupil’s romantic business as a parting shot, especially with Troy there as part of her captive audience.
[Alleyn and Troy are helping Miss Emily into the launch which will take her to the boat leaving Portacarrick. Alleyn, who was shot in the arm by the culprit while trying to escape, is wearing a fetching white sling.]
Miss Emily: Do you know, Roderick, I’m not convinced I should have come here at all. I think perhaps I should have done it all through my solicitors. What do you think?
Alleyn [nonplussed]: Ahhh…
RF: Alleyn is trying his hardest to be very diplomatic here. Several days, one murder, and one bullet wound ago, he suggested this very thing to Miss Emily in her London flat, and she insisted on coming to Portacarrick anyway, thereby guaranteeing his nice, romantic getaway with Troy was ruined. So he’s being very polite and not saying what he actually thinks.
Admin: Is Miss Emily trolling them? Yes, Alleyn is trying to be very diplomatic and all he can muster is a very awkward “ahhhh” 😀 It is actually a nice bit of comedy following what was a very dramatic and tragic situation.
RF: I hadn’t thought of it that way, but you’re right, she might very well be trolling them. She certainly seems to be going out of her way to say things designed to push Alleyn’s buttons, especially after a murder and getting shot and all. But you’re also right that it’s a nice way to relieve the tension from the previous drama.
Admin: And it is so cute watching him squirm a wee bit. 🙂
RF: I think both Troy and Alleyn might be seriously considering it at this point, plus there are probably a few people back at the hotel who wouldn’t mind. And those Highland cattle, too. But again, Alleyn is being very diplomatic and refraining from making any remarks. Perhaps he’s hoping it’ll make Miss Emily get on the launch faster.
Miss Emily: Well, of course, I did get one thing right. Who would want to kill me?
Alleyn: [Laughs uncomfortably, and avoids meeting Miss Emily’s eyes.]
Admin: If not chuck her in the water, at least chuck her in the boat and give it a good push. 🙂 Miss Emily is definitely messing with them here. She’s got a naughty side that one. The humor is really good though, adding just the right amount of levity without going into tweeness. Alleyn’s and Troy’s expressions are perfect with their mixture of awkward amusement and a healthy sprinkle of frustrated vexation.
RF: I think there’s some “can’t sass her back, must respect elders” going on, too. 😀
Miss Emily: Goodbye, Miss Troy. And thank you so much.
Troy: [Smiles at Miss Emily, gives Alleyn a wordless glance.]
RF: And now Troy is considering pushing Miss Emily off the jetty. That look she gives Alleyn is very interesting and could be interpreted in a few ways… I think she’s saying, “She’s your mentor, not mine!” Or possibly, “Would anyone notice the splash if I pushed her off now?”
Admin: Troy must be thinking why won’t she go away so I can have him all to myself. There is no way to say that politely, so Troy just goes for inscrutable silence instead. 🙂
RF: “Oh look, isn’t that your boat about to leave? You’d better hurry up!”
Miss Emily: Roderick, are you sure you won’t accompany me back to London?
Alleyn: I can’t, Miss Emily. I still have that report to write and um… Superintendent Campbell has asked me to stay.
Miss Emily: [Winks at Alleyn and smiles.]
RF: Alleyn’s been trying to write that report for the entirety of his vacation, unsuccessfully. And now that he’s finally getting a chance to be alone with Troy, I doubt his thoughts are much on report-writing. Strangely enough, he’d rather hang out on a Scottish island with his best squeeze than make the long trip back to London with his annoying old teacher. Troy’s eyes also go just a bit bigger when Miss Emily suggests Alleyn accompany her back to London; she’s probably thinking, “He’d better say no!” So once again, he’s thought up a good excuse – of course, Miss Emily’s wink suggests she’s not so dim that she’s buying a word of it.
Admin: Alleyn has a little jaw-clench right before he mentions Superintendent Campbell. Does that mean Alleyn has a tell? If so, Miss Emily would make a great card sharp because she reads him like a book. 😉
RF: I hadn’t noticed the jaw clench on first viewing, but you’re right, Alleyn has a bit of a tell. 😀 Between that and her ability to push his buttons, he’d better not ever play poker with Miss Emily.
[Later, Alleyn and Troy are out in the bay in a rowboat, all alone. Alleyn is rowing one-handed because of his injured arm.]
Troy: Did the Superintendent really ask you to stay?
Alleyn: Did I say “Superintendent”? Can’t think what came over me. Must have been someone else I meant.
RF: I love that little glance Alleyn gives Troy when he says “someone else”. 🙂 He’s being all romantic without being overwhelmingly overt about it. It’s a lovely, subtle bit of interaction. They both know darn well he was fibbing.
Admin: He’s so comfortable and gentle in this scene. He finally gets to be with the woman he loves and it shows in the warmth of his voice. Yes, he is being very romantic, and in a very sincere and relaxed way that just makes it all the more completely genuine.
Troy: Ah. [pauses] Well, I’d like to stay on. But I don’t expect you to. I don’t expect you to do anything.
RF: And now it’s Troy’s turn to be subtle. She doesn’t look at him as she speaks, so it all seems very diffident and offhand, even though his answer means a great deal to her. She’s asking without asking if he wants her to stay around.
Admin: It could have been an awkward moment, but Alleyn knows Troy well enough to know what she is thinking. And obviously he feels very secure that she feels the same way he does because he is so completely at ease.
Alleyn: I know you don’t. I think that’s one of the many reasons why, umm… [stops rowing] Will you marry me?
Troy: [Also stops rowing, looks at Alleyn… and they kiss.]
[Zoom out to two figures in a rowboat. Aaawwww! 🙂 ]
RF: Rather than go into the “many reasons”, Alleyn just up and pops the question. It only took his getting shot for him to finally get around to it. Aaawww! 🙂 And Troy kisses him by way of indicating her acceptance. We’ve seen a gradual building of their relationship since series 1, with their interaction becoming warmer and more meaningful during series 2, and this was a great way to conclude it. I don’t recall Ngaio Marsh’s version as being even half so romantic. I do wish there’d been a series 3, since I would’ve loved to have seen what Belinda Lang and Patrick Malahide could’ve done with developing the relationship; there were a lot of Marsh novels where Troy and Alleyn solved mysteries as a team. It would’ve been lovely to see.
Admin: I know, it is lovely. He just decides to stop with all the waffling and cuts right to the chase as he asks with just the right amount of confidence. He isn’t being cocky about it or anything. He just knows now is the time, and there is no reason to beat around the bush or make a big production of it. And we know that the independent natured Troy isn’t the sort who likes big productions anyway. You’re right that the Ngaio Marsh novels didn’t handle the romantic element nearly as well as Patrick Malahide and Belinda Lang do with their natural chemistry. And it is a major shame that there was no series 3 because I also would have loved to have seen Alleyn and Troy together as a married couple. It would have been brilliant.