When Wendell Merrick is killed in the church office on his wedding day, Detective Murdoch is on the case. He learns that Merrick was to be married to Eunice McGinty, a somewhat plain looking girls from Niagara Falls. Murdoch soon realizes that the wedding was a sham. The autopsy reveals that Merrick was a homosexual and that his marriage would allow him to inherit his half of his late father's estate. The obvious conclusion was that he was killed by his lover in a fit of jealously but when that man commits suicide, Murdoch believes that the crime has yet to be solved and he uncovers a far more elaborate plot with an altogether different motive. Written by
Unlike most episodes of this very fine mystery series, this episode goes one step beyond the crime-solving element and offers a unique perspective on Victorian-era morality.
It fairly portrays several points-of-view regarding homosexuality in the Victorian age. The episode shows the lengths to which closeted gay men of the time had to arrange clandestine meetings dependent on inference and discretion for companionship. In doing so, it also provides a glimpse of the stereotypes -- the police officers dress their undercover agent flamboyantly, a la Oscar Wilde, believing that all gay men must certainly dress that way. The series provides a voice for the sneering homophobia of the police inspector, the conflicting beliefs experienced by the deeply held moral convictions of the detective, and the liberal- minded openness of the feminist coroner.
Unlike some reviewers who have posted their take on this episode and claim it as some sort of left-leaning propaganda, I believe the episode presents many points of view and shows a "slice-of-life" regarding an issue that is still widely debated. That the social issue is secondary to the actual mystery is what raises this episode higher than most others. By the end of the episode not only is the mystery solved, but several of the characters have examined their preconceived notions and evolved.
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