*SPOILERS for Death in Paradise series 8 episode 6 follow*
So Joséphine Jobert (DS Florence Cassell) is leaving Death in Paradise, after all. And how well played! They had us believing after the first part of the double bill that Florence might actually be dead, but in episode two we discover she is alive, and it is fiancé Patrice (Leemore Marrett Jr) who has been murdered.
And then – surprise! – it turns out Florence is leaving the show anyway. Just not in a body bag.
“Saint Marie’s a small island, and I don’t think there’s anywhere here that doesn’t have a memory of Patrice in it,” she tells her boss, before revealing her plans to quit her job and move to Martinique and “after that, who knows where”.
It’s a downbeat exit as Florence mourns her fiancé and his tragic death. But alongside her misery and grief, the double bill also gives Death in Paradise a chance to dig deeper into the characters left behind as they rally round to support their friend and colleague. The episode even manages to end on an uplifting note as the cops avow their everlasting friendship and wave her off in a taxi. The tone is unusually bittersweet.
Widower Jack’s own grief is explored, as he opens up about his experiences of moving on and re-making his life in the Caribbean, and we see the softer side of the Commissioner (Don Warrington) who gets unexpectedly emotional when the time comes for Florence to set off.
We do have to say, however, that the explanation for Patrice and Tiana’s murder is a little bit daft.
“I don’t understand. Why would this Harrison bloke kill Tiana for Frances?” asks Angus Deayton’s pompous character Martin. And it’s a very reasonable question. We were also wondering exactly the same thing.
“Patrice had grown up with Harrison,” Florence reminds us, adding to the conundrum about Tiana’s unlikely killer. “He swore Harrison was gentle, he didn’t have it in him to kill.”
So how do you explain that? How do you hang together two episodes that were almost two standalone murder mysteries – each with a body, a handful of suspects and a solution – and connect them up with one puppeteer pulling the strings?
The answer, apparently, is that the CEO’s right-hand woman Frances Compton (Saskia Reeves) is a master manipulator. In fact, here is a woman so adept at mind control and brainwashing that in another life she’d have been a cult leader. She was truly wasted at Ewan Boyd’s company!
“On their frequent trips to and from Saint Marie, Frances had begun to poison Harrison’s thoughts,” DI Jack Mooney (Ardal O’Hanlon) explains. “Harrison was in a vulnerable state, he was under pressure, his business was struggling, he had debts. His girlfriend was having doubts about the relationship. He was ripe, in other words, for Frances to drip-feed into his head how unbearable his hurt would be at losing the love of his life.”
Turning to Frances and deploying all the adverbs he can think of, the detective adds with a final flourish: “You cleverly, subtly, wantonly worked him up into thinking that the only way out of his situation was to commit murder. You twisted his mind against Tiana.
“Gaslighting is one word for it – manipulating someone into questioning their own sanity.”
So do we buy it? Not exactly. Partly because what Frances was apparently doing to Harrison wasn’t exactly “gaslighting”, which is more about making the victim doubt his sanity when the abuser contradicts his memories, perceptions or experiences. If Frances had strongly insisted that the sea was pink until Harrison started to think he was losing his mind, and then later had denied ever saying the sea was pink when it was obviously blue – that would be gaslighting.
But Frances was doubtless trying out some classic psychological manipulation. The problem is, it just seems a bit implausible that she would have been able to control Harrison and “twist his mind” over the course of a few water taxi trips, just so she could prevent her dying multi-millionaire boss from discovering that Tiana was his long-lost daughter and leaving her a chunk of the extremely valuable financial investment company. Whew. Death in Paradise does specialise in brilliantly convoluted murder methods and motivations, but this one is unusually hard to swallow.
Still – the explanation for the murder is hardly the main point of this episode. Instead, it’s about saying goodbye to an important member of the team.
And that, it does brilliantly.
Why is Joséphine Jobert (Florence) leaving Death in Paradise?
The actress tweeted that she has done her “time on the show” and has “other projects to work on.” She is heading on to “new adventures” and is currently filming in Paris and Marrakech.
This article was originally published on 14 February 2019