Just in time (almost) for Valentine’s Day, here’s a scene from “Hand In Glove“, S02E02 of the “Inspector Alleyn Mysteries“, featuring our two favourite lovebirds, Chief Inspector Roderick Alleyn and World Famous Artist™ Agatha Troy (Belinda Lang). Alleyn has just solved a murder (plus lots of attempts) committed by demented whackjob/cleaver-wielding spinster (these things go together distressingly often in Ngaio Marsh novels) and Pekinese dog fancier, Connie Cartell (Barbara Jefford). Coincidentally enough, Connie’s ne’er-do-well “niece”, Moppet, has also been involved in trafficking forged Troy paintings. Despite Alleyn’s specific request that she not get involved in investigating the forgeries for her own safety, Troy goes ahead and does it anyway, narrowly escaping becoming one of Connie’s victims only due to Alleyn’s last-minute intervention. The dust is barely settling from Connie’s arrest when the two of them have a little row… that turns out to be surprisingly romantic.
[Alleyn has just succeeded in persuading Connie to drop her cleaver and not murder everyone in the room. He and Troy go off to a quiet corner for a bit of discussion.]
Alleyn: Never in all my life have I met anybody so confoundedly stubborn as you!
RF: It’s pretty rare for Alleyn to lose his temper, so we already know that there’s something a little more to this than usual; this is not the buttoned-down Alleyn we’re used to. He’s extremely restless and openly angry, pacing back and forth with nervous energy as he castigates Troy. It also seems like he might be mentioning things about her that have bugged him for a while, that he’s never told her before. There’s no equivalent scene in any of the Marsh books; her Troy and Alleyn simply never had discussions anything like this.
Admin: Yes, in the book version of Hand in Glove Troy doesn’t really figure much at all. So, this scene is added to show the intensity of Alleyn’s feelings for Troy. And it is very effective! He is simply exploding as a result of losing so much control and very nearly having the fright of his life.
Troy: I found Leonard and Moppet, didn’t I, and the proof that it was them signing Andrew’s forgeries??
RF: Troy actually has a point here; she did figure out who was forging her paintings. Not that it matters to Alleyn, because he has a fine head of steam up and isn’t in the mood to congratulate her on her first successful piece of detecting, what with the Crazy Cleaver Lady and all. However, I think it’s worthy of note that Troy doesn’t back down from Alleyn in the slightest, even though he’s furious, and still meets him eye to eye.
Admin: She does a remarkable job of standing up to him, and it draws him right back to her…for a bit at least. There is a lot of sizzle there even though they are both angry and afraid.
RF: Agreed, there’s some amazing chemistry going on.
Alleyn: What on earth did you think you were doing, walking into the middle of a murder investigation??
Troy: I didn’t know it was a murder–
Alleyn: Nothing anybody ever says makes the blindest bit of difference to you, does it?? You just get an idea in your head and *OFF* you go!
RF: Again, Troy has a valid point, but this is probably not the best time to be making it. They’re both right in each other’s faces in probably the biggest fight they’ve ever had in their relationship. In an earlier scene, Troy aired her doubts about being in a relationship to her best friend Nicola, saying that she didn’t want to subsume her identity into that of a “couple” with Alleyn; perhaps what we’re hearing now are some of Alleyn’s doubts about the relationship as well. He’s being unusually, and cuttingly, direct about what he perceives as Troy’s flaws. It has the makings of a “and then we broke up forever” kind of argument. 🙁
Admin: That’s right. Alleyn is seeing how her intense independence, while attractive to him, can be a massive drawback when you consider how dangerous his job is. Again, in the books, Alleyn goes out of his way to keep job/family separate but I don’t think the books ever handled it with such meaningful impact.
RF: No, it was pretty one-sided in the books, with Alleyn mostly being worried that Troy would be so repulsed by the nastier details of his profession that she’d be put off the relationship completely, so he was always trying to shield her. Here, it’s far more intense because she has gotten involved, thereby putting herself in danger, and Alleyn’s just realizing what that might mean to him.
Troy: Well, I’m sorry!
Alleyn: How could you be so reckless??
Troy: I’m sorry!
Alleyn: I warned you to stay out of it!
Alleyn: Is that all you can say, “Sorry”??
[He breaks off and stalks to the opposite corner.]
Troy [very subdued]: Sorry.
RF: I felt really badly for Troy here. She can’t do much more than repeat “Sorry!” until Alleyn gets it all out of his system, and she becomes increasingly tearful and desperate. 🙁 She did try to explain herself, but he wasn’t having any of it. They’re both frustrated with each other and both have valid points – although Alleyn holds the trump hand in that Connie was about to murder Troy. However, he seems to cool off a bit after stalking away, creating some physical distance and swiping his face, as if he’s getting his usual countenance back. Or maybe he finally hears the tone of Troy’s voice and realizes he’s pushed her a bit too much.
Admin: He definitely has to get a lot of adrenaline out of his system. Patrick Malahide does such a brilliant job of showing the fury Alleyn was feeling at the moment. Belinda Lang’s wilting posture with the broken “sorry” at the end there is equally effective and shows Alleyn that she really didn’t mean to get in over her head like that.
Alleyn [turns and looks at Troy]: Damn it, Troy, you could’ve been killed!
[Alleyn comes rushing back from his corner and takes Troy in his arms. They cling together closely for… quite a while, until Fox interrupts. Stupid Fox.]
RF: Aha, so now we find out what Alleyn’s real concern was the whole time! He’s not so much expressing anger as love, protectiveness, and frantic worry, the latter of which he can now get out of his system with Connie’s arrest. Once he turns around and looks at Troy, he seems to realize that yes, she’s truly sorry… and he breaks the impasse by rushing over to her and taking her in his arms. He never wanted to hurt her. Troy’s incredibly relieved as well, glomming onto him right back as any sensible woman would. It’s actually a far more demonstrative and physical embrace than we’ve ever seen them share before; they’ve both suddenly realized how much each means to the other. I think it’s a bit of a breakthrough in their relationship – which is why it’s incredibly annoying that Fox has to interrupt! Yes, yes, it’s part of his job. [*Sigh*]
Admin: She seems ever so relieved. Yeah, that is a pretty epic hug. 🙂 I agree that is a breakthrough for them. They can both now admit how much one means to the other. Bad timing on Fox’s part, but they really do need to get crazy Connie safely in the slammer.
[Fox clears his throat uncomfortably, and Alleyn turns to look at him.]
Fox: The transport’s here for Miss Cartell, sir.
Alleyn: Thanks, Br’er.
[Alleyn reluctantly leaves Troy, and Troy’s left to ponder what just went on.]
RF: I like the fact that Alleyn doesn’t break the embrace immediately when Fox shows up; he just turns his head to look at him, perhaps to see if he can take care of business without leaving Troy. For her part, Troy hardly seems aware Fox is there, eyes shut as she stays glommed onto Alleyn with all her might. I also like how Alleyn wordlessly and reluctantly finally releases Troy (and she, him), both maintaining contact for as long as possible until they finally have to release hands. While Alleyn goes outside to see to Connie Cartell, Troy appears somewhat overwhelmed, pondering everything that’s just happened. Not only is there a brand-new, yet still unspoken understanding between her and Alleyn, with implications for the future, but she’s just had a narrow escape from a nasty death. Lots to think about.
Admin: You can see Alleyn blinking with purpose, obviously making sure there aren’t tears in his eyes as he slooowly turns to Br’er. I love that little touch. It really highlights his emotions. He wordlessly leaves Troy, but there is a huge amount of unspoken love and relief.
RF: I didn’t notice it the very first time I watched it, but you’re right, it’s an excellent small, yet significant touch on Mr. Malahide’s part. It’s a sort of signal that Alleyn’s dragging himself back into his professional self, albeit reluctantly. Perhaps no coincidence that he [spoiler!] proposes to Troy in the next episode.
RF: This was another excellent scene, starting off with pitched conflict and ending up with new understanding. The entire second season was great for expanding on Troy and Alleyn’s chemistry, in particular Alleyn’s growing love for Troy, but this scene gave it to us in a microcosm. Mr. Malahide makes Alleyn’s rage somewhat scary at first, but we quickly realize it’s because he dreads the thought of Troy being in any danger, or the possibility of losing her. And Ms. Lang helps us to understand Troy’s realization of the dangerous world Alleyn works in, as well as the fact she couldn’t do without Alleyn, either. Superbly acted on both their parts, and it really makes me wish we’d gotten a third series.
Admin: Indeed…a powerful scene that forced both Alleyn’s and Troy’s hands in admitting how much they really care for each other. Anger, fear, and passion were all bundled together to make for an incredible moment in this delightful series.
*Animated gifs courtesy of Admin (thanks! 🙂 ).