Analysis of a Scene X: Ablutions with Alleyn

Death in a White Tie is one of our favorite episodes with Inspector Alleyn.  He experiences incredible guilt and vulnerability over the murder of a dear friend, but also a determined resolution to capture his killer that lets us know Alleyn is not a man you want to make an enemy of.

Where am I??

Where am I??

Amongst all that is this delightful scene in which Alleyn wakes up in Troy’s flat.  It is all perfectly innocent, but that doesn’t stop him from being embarrassed.

RF:  In the original book, he wakes up in the bath at his mother’s, which is far less entertaining.  😀

Admin:  Changing it to Troy’s is an excellent improvement, though he would have doubly discombobulated had he woken in her tub. 😉

Alleyn, wearing his full suit and looking confused, wakes up in Troy’s apartment.

Troy: Good morning.
Alleyn: What time is it?
Troy: Five past eight.

Completely discombobulated and mussed.   Patrick Malahide as Inspector Alleyn in "Death in a White Tie"

Troy: “Good morning!”
Alleyn [groggily]: “What time is it?”
Troy: “Five past eight.”

Admin: I think a big part of his discombobulation is seeing Troy’s work-in-progress of the ghastly Capt. Withers staring right at him when he wakes up.  Withers isn’t his favorite person in the world.  At any rate, he looks visibly shaken.

RF:  He’s also just had a bizarre nightmare about Bunchie’s murder and his investigation, complete with the usual surreal dream imagery and winding up with he, himself, committing the murder by cigarette case, so it’s no wonder he feels everything’s out of whack.  He looks genuinely frightened  and horrified for a second or two when he first wakes up, then seeing Withers staring at him is doubly confusing.   Alleyn came to Troy’s flat the previous night to apologize for his prior behaviour towards her in the first place, so he might now be thinking he made everything worse by conking out on her couch.  But we know Troy couldn’t be mean to him after watching him snoozing so peacefully.

Admin:  That’s right.  And that portrait was a big part of his and Troy’s earlier tension.   So true, seeing Alleyn in such a vulnerable state would soften any heart, and Troy, although sometimes prickly, always softens in the end.

Troy: Breakfast?
Alleyn: (rising) Ahhh…no, thank you….please don’t bother.
Troy: Nothing the matter?
Alleyn: No!
Troy: Chief Inspector!  I do believe you’re embarrassed.
Alleyn: Nonsense.

Troy: "Chief Inspector, I do believe you're embarrassed." Alleyn: "Nonsense." He doesn't lie very well to Troy. :-D

Troy: “Chief Inspector, I do believe you’re embarrassed.”
Alleyn: “Nonsense.”

Admin:  She’s enjoying this. 🙂  And he is embarrassed.  I like the very quick and almost desperate “no” he gives.  His eyebrow raise at “nonsense” is perfect also.  You can completely sense his discomfort.

RF:  Oh, Troy’s definitely enjoying it, which makes it even better.  :-D  Alleyn’s totally embarrassed, although he’s fully clothed (Troy could have at least loosened his tie or something! or perhaps she didn’t want to dare temptation) and it’s obvious nothing has happened; everything’s completely innocent, even if he is uncharacteristically mussed.  I love the way his gaze shifts around uncertainly when he says, “Nonsense”; he’s not very good at lying to Troy.  You’d think that Alleyn would be worldly enough to know how to handle himself when waking up in a strange (or even a known) woman’s apartment, but he’s unexpectedly and charmingly shy.

Admin:  At least she gave him a blanket.  His shy confusion is a testament to how much he respects Troy which makes it all the sweeter.

RF:  Very true, part of why he’s so embarrassed is because he feels something for Troy.  I suppose he might also be concerned about her reputation – or his own!

Moving ahead a bit, Troy is making breakfast when the phone rings.

Troy: Hello. (pause) Yes, he is.

Over to Alleyn washing his face in Troy’s bathroom; Troy knocks on the door.

Alleyn: (soap in his eyes) Hang on.
Troy: Um.  I have Inspector Fox on the telephone for you.
Alleyn: (clears throat) I left this number with the Yard.  I hope you don’t mind.
Troy: (fiddling with back of her hair) No, not at all.

Ablutions at Troy's and looking a bit worried - or is that embarrassed? Troy: "Inspector Fox on the telephone for you." Alleyn: "I left this number with the Yard. I hope you don't mind." Troy: "No, not at all."

“I left this number with the Yard. I hope you don’t mind.”

Admin: And now it is Troy’s turn to be embarrassed.  Only a little though.  She actually handles it all remarkably well considering she’s just been told  he’d given his workplace her number.  He looks a bit worried, in a rather sweet way, when explaining it to her, so little wonder she couldn’t be angry.  As he closes the door, you can briefly see him twist his mouth in embarrassment.  Awwww. 🙂

RF:  Troy does seem a bit bemused at Alleyn receiving phone calls at her flat, as her hair-fiddling indicates – but she doesn’t let it phase her too much, unlike Alleyn, who’s even more acutely embarrassed to have been reached at her number.  He looks adorably worried, like she might suddenly go off in a fit of rage and boot him out into the street in his disheveled state or something.  But no, the worst that might happen to him is that he’ll get burnt toast.  ;-)  I think it’s worth noting that we here at the Appreciation think this is one of the best screen grabs of all time.  :-D  It’s lovely to see Alleyn so uncharacteristically confused and mussed up!  In a good way.

Admin:  I know, he’s almost timid the way he explains himself.  That screen grab is lovely.  He looks so charming and, I must admit, I really like that door.  The glass is so gorgeous, and I love the way the tiles match up behind it.  Troy has excellent taste, but we already knew that. 😉

Alleyn: (taking the phone) Inspector?
Fox: Oh, morning sir! I tried ringing your flat, but there was no reply. Was that Miss Troy answered the phone?
Alleyn: Ah, yes, yes, it was.  Did you have something for me, Inspector?

Fox: "Is that Miss Troy who answered the phone?" Alleyn: "Yes, yes it was... [changing the subject] Did you have something for me, Inspector?"

Fox: “Is that Miss Troy who answered the phone?”
Alleyn: “Yes, yes it was… [changing the subject]
Did you have something for me, Inspector?”

Admin: There is a nice eyeroll from Alleyn as Fox is needlessly explaining (and relishing it) why he rang Troy’s flat.  He isn’t in a mood to mess about and gets Fox back on the ball.  Mr. Malahide really captures the frustration over the case as Alleyn quickly transfers from embarrassed to impatient.

RF:  Fox isn’t above rubbing it in a little (or a lot) and he’s so pleased with himself that it’s wonderful to see.  I love the way he asks if it’s “Miss Troy” in irrepressibly cheerful tones, even though he knows the answer perfectly well.  :-D  But he is a detective, so you’d think tracking down Alleyn at his lady love’s flat isn’t too big a stretch of his abilities.  One suspects he’s also been doing some mother-hen-nudging at Alleyn to make some progress on the romantic relationship, already.  Luckily for Alleyn, he can fall back on the “just business” attitude.

Admin: He’s having fun, but I agree there is the mother-hen element at work there.  He must have been so relieved, to the point of ebullience, to find that is where Alleyn eventually wound up in his exhausted state.

Fox: Oh, uh, yes, sir. Lady Lorrimer has confirmed Sir Daniel Davidson’s alibi, running off to cure the Princess Royal.  And young Mr. Potter, he surfaced here last night at Bow Street nick.
Alleyn: Well, why on earth didn’t someone tell me last night!
Fox: Sorry sir, thought you needed the rest.
Alleyn: What I need is to find this killer!
Fox: …..

"What I need is to find this killer!"

“What I need is to find this killer!”

Admin:  And the frustration comes to a brief boil. Fox realizes that Alleyn is still determined and simply doesn’t have a reply.

RF:  I think Fox also realizes that it’s best not to trifle with his boss when he’s in one of his very rare tempers – and it’s very rare to see Alleyn raise his voice to anyone, still less his faithful Br’er Fox.  It just shows how frustrated he truly is; he feels this case very keenly and badly wants to catch Bunchie’s killer.

Alleyn: Alright, Br’er, alright.  Just tell young Donald his mother needs him at home, and, oh, fix that appointment will you for Carridos at….10 o’clock.
Fox: Right, sir.  (And with that Alleyn puts down the phone and looks thoughtful.)

Back on the job and looking thoughtful.

Back on the job and looking thoughtful.

Admin:  Br’er’s silence seems to have the soothing effect of calming Alleyn back down.  He takes a deep breath and forces his mind back onto the right track.  It is impressive how quickly he delegates Fox’s next tasks.

RF:  Alleyn still sounds rather impatient when he mentions that Donald’s mother needs him at home, but he soon gets his temper back under control and his mind back on the case.  We can also see Troy eyeing him from the background, but she’s not in focus so it’s difficult to say what she thinks of the whole thing.  I think she realizes Alleyn’s under a tremendous amount of stress and needs a bit of patience and understanding.  Hopefully she gave him some coffee and non-burnt toast to send him on his way.

Admin: Absolutely.  He makes it very clear that he is sick and tired of red herrings and distractions like “young Donald” getting in his way and hindering matters.  Blurry Troy seems like she is now understanding just how stressed out he is in his determination to find Bunchie’s murderer.


Admin:  I like how the scene starts off so cute and funny, but then quickly takes a darker turn back to the mystery.  And I also like how you can see Alleyn trying to make sense of the situation, control his emotions, and get back on task.  He is a proper policeman through and through, but he never loses sight of his intensity, compassion and humanity.

RF:  I love seeing Alleyn so discombobulated and confused at first, with Troy and Fox rubbing it in even though the situation is completely innocent; one gets the sense they don’t often have an opportunity like this.  But we’re quickly reminded that the case is a serious one and very close to Alleyn; the stress that caused him to fall asleep on Troy’s couch in the first place is still lurking under the surface and won’t be gone until he catches Bunchie’s killer.  Excellent point about Alleyn remaining a proper policeman, but I really liked that we got to see some of his softer side here, too.


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