Why Death in Paradise's big twist is not as depressing as you think
Not such a grim tale after all.
Warning: Contains spoilers for Death in Paradise season 12 episode 7.
Death in Paradise aired another major twist in its latest episode (17th February) as the Caribbean comedy-drama resolved its big DI Neville Parker (Ralf Little) cliffhanger.
Little's character had been arrested for the murder of his most recent suspect David Cartwright (Patrick Kennedy) after a heated confrontation between the pair, but it emerged that the incarcerated detective's love interest Sophie Chambers (Chelsea Edge) had framed him as an act of revenge.
It was a devastating blow for Neville, who thought he had finally found romance following his unrequited feelings for DS Florence Cassell (Joséphine Jobert). But while this bombshell could have been one of the saddest moments in the show's history, all is not quite as miserable as it seems.
Yes, Neville's hopes for a future with Sophie have been brutally dashed, but the way in which his team stood by him injected the story with some much-needed heart. His friends and colleagues followed their orders, arresting Neville and placing him in police custody, but they refused to accept that he was guilty.
Most notably, the formidable Commissioner Selwyn Patterson (Don Warrington), whose relationship with Neville has been strained at times, was adamant that the detective was innocent, although he couldn't help admitting that he continued to find Neville both "frustrating and annoying", which will be news to no one.
When the visiting DI Karen Flitcroft (Jaye Griffiths) examined the evidence and immediately concluded that Neville had to be the killer, it was up to Selwyn, DS Naomi Thomas (Shantol Jackson) and Officer Marlon Pryce (Tahj Miles) to prove her wrong.
Their mission appeared to lead them on a wild goose chase, but they didn't give up. First, it was revealed that a resentful Justin West (Robert Webb) had broken into Neville's shack after the latter arrested Justin's wife for manslaughter in a previous episode. But when it was proven that Justin wasn’t involved in framing Neville and Marlon struggled to find any witnesses, a breakthrough began to look unlikely.
Still, this didn't stop the gang from fighting tirelessly for Neville's freedom, with Mayor Catherine Bordey (Élizabeth Bourgine) attempting to keep spirits up with her unwavering support.
Eventually, the team's hard work paid off. No one could have guessed that the seemingly sweet, gentle Sophie, real name Rebecca, was the key to everything.
It all stemmed from an old case in the UK, with Death in Paradise revisiting the mysterious secret of Neville's old mate and colleague DC Andrew Buckley (Kent Riley), who was exposed as a corrupt officer.
The case he had worked on with Neville centred around a drug dealer who was stabbed to death by a young courier called Grace. Naturally, it was Neville who made the crucial connection – though it wasn't until he was charged and taken to a local prison that he realised Sophie, who was actually Grace's sister, had killed Cartwright.
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She had been targeting Neville all along. But what he didn't realise was that Sophie/Rebecca, not Grace, was the drugs courier.
Selwyn, who had also deduced the truth, arrived to free him and there was an air of triumph as Neville caught the guilty woman just as she was about to flee the island. Showdown complete, the mood was sombre in the aftermath of Sophie's arrest. Yet, as a heartbroken Neville was comforted by Catherine, a silver lining emerged.
Fans will recall that it took the anxious inspector quite some time to settle on Saint Marie, but he's now built a life for himself and assembled a family unit with those around him. The touching loyalty of all those supporting characters was proof of that and served as a saving grace in an otherwise grim tale for poor Neville.
From the Commissioner's satisfying takedown of DI Flitcroft as he accused her of doing the bare minimum in her investigation, to the team's dedication and even Marlon's cheeky response when Neville shared his concern about being seen as a fool, there was a welcome dose of optimism threaded throughout the tense instalment.
The closing moments, which saw Naomi, Marlon and Darlene keep Neville company on the beach as Catherine looked on fondly, was a powerful and heartwarming way to end this dramatic chapter.
Of course, this doesn't mean the narrative will now move swiftly on from Neville's ordeal. The preview for next week's Death in Paradise finale shows him doubting his detective instincts in the wake of all that has happened.
The clip also sees Neville tell the Commissioner that he might be leaving the island; and let's not forget that there have been plenty of hints that an exit is looming. It remains to be seen whether Little is bidding farewell to the character who has been embraced by the show's faithful over the past three years.
As for this latest plot twist, true love may not have won the day, but the devotion from his comrades certainly did. It was this sentiment that prevented Sophie's betrayal from rendering the episode a total doom and gloom fest, and it was all the better for it.
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Death in Paradise airs on Fridays at 9pm on BBC One and BBC iPlayer. Check out more of our Drama coverage or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to see what's on tonight.
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