Why Death in Paradise's Neville had to stay on the island
We're ready to welcome a new chapter for Neville. **SPOILERS AHEAD**
Warning: Contains spoilers for the Death in Paradise season 12 finale.
For much of Death in Paradise season 12, there has been speculation that DI Neville Parker (Ralf Little) would be departing Saint Marie, with a variety of different reasons teased for his possible exit. But the noise reached fever pitch following last week's twist, which revealed his love interest Sophie, real name Rebecca, had betrayed him.
The impact of her deceit was colossal, with Neville contemplating heading back to the UK for good. His confidence was in the gutter and without it, he simply wouldn't be able to effectively perform his role as DI, as we saw when he was thrown back into the job after some time off.
A local man, Elijah St John (Joe Dixon), was discovered dead after enjoying a drink at a bar, with Neville sat just across from him before he died. After concluding that Elijah had been poisoned, the detective couldn't fathom how the killer had committed the act right under his nose.
The fact that he had apparently missed that crucial moment plagued Neville, his self-doubt mounting at a ferocious rate; he reached out to Commissioner Selwyn Patterson (Don Warrington) and informed him that he didn't trust his instincts after everything that had happened and felt it was time to call it a day.
The Commissioner was disappointed at the prospect of losing Neville and urged him to find the courage that he had acquired back when he was a nervous newcomer, but it remained to be seen whether he could.
After paying an impulsive visit to an incarcerated Sophie, Neville solved the mystery of Elijah's murder. The culprit Clifford Brown (Tyrone Huggins) had consumed rum from the poisoned bottle to avoid suspicion, before drinking salt-water to rid his body of the substance that killed Elijah.
With the arrest made, Neville felt able to make his decision. After significant deliberation, he chose to remain on the island, news which was greeted with open arms by his colleagues and friends, and numerous viewers, too.
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In the final scene, Neville shared a smile with Mayor Catherine Bordey (Élizabeth Bourgine) as they agreed to welcome in a new beginning, which is exactly what his story needs.
An exit for Neville at this stage would have been far too abrupt and desperately sad. His tenure as lead detective still has much more to give, and Death in Paradise has plenty more to offer Neville, also.
He may have turned a corner thanks to that moment of closure during his conversation with Sophie – who admitted that she liked who she was in his presence – but Neville is still shaken by recent events. This key scene was just the start of the necessary journey he must now embark on.
Death in Paradise has a habit of sending its characters on their way when they've come full circle, and not a moment before. For Neville, that means he must rediscover the man he was before he was so brutally conned.
As Selwyn reminded him, he's come a long way in the three years since joining Honoré police, overcoming anxiety and stepping outside of his comfort zone. After everything he's endured, he must be given an opportunity to rebuild.
Long-time fans will recall that, after the shocking demise of original lead DI Richard Poole (Ben Miller), the show's other protagonists walked away when the time was truly right. DI Humphrey Goodman (Kris Marshall), now seen in spin-off Beyond Paradise, left for love, while widower DI Jack Mooney (Ardal O’Hanlon) moved on after his Caribbean secondment allowed him to heal from his grief.
Neville, too, deserves the chance to find himself; and despite his previous longing for romance, there's something far more powerful at play here. Little delivered his strongest performance yet this year, with Neville's decision to open his heart giving him an extra layer of vulnerability. And it also deepened his relationships with his colleagues, who displayed unwavering loyalty in their fight for his freedom.
As distressing as his false imprisonment was, it confirmed just how much of a beloved fixture Neville has become in this world – and that is another key reason why he cannot bid farewell until his faith in himself is restored.
The team behind the series must now ensure that Neville's decision evolves into the turning point it has promised to be: proving exactly why he made the right choice.
- Why Death in Paradise's big twist is not as depressing as you think
- Death in Paradise's Ralf Little reacts to "ambitious" reveal ahead of finale
- Beyond Paradise’s Kris Marshall: "It’s an utterly standalone show"