BANG! Death in Paradise‘s DS Florence Cassell is hit by a bullet and crumples to the ground. She clutches her stomach – and draws her hand away to find it absolutely covered in blood. As she lies alone in a dark, abandoned warehouse calling her fiancé’s name (“Patrice!”) we hear the thud of her heartbeat as the screen cuts to black with the words: “To be continued…”
What a cliffhanger! It leaves us with BIG QUESTIONS. Is Florence (Joséphine Jobert) dead? Is she going to die?! Who fired the gun? Is she leaving Death in Paradise? Or is this just a shock shooting to shake things up a bit and keep us on the edge of our seats?
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Let’s put Florence’s picture up on the metaphorical whiteboard (Death in Paradise-style) and try to solve the mystery by looking at all the evidence…
The first thing to note: Death in Paradise has form when it comes to ditching a character a few episodes before the end of a series, giving their replacement time to join the team and find their feet before the show goes off-air for another year.
In fact, in series six, head cop DI Humphrey Goodman (Kris Marshall) flew to London in episode five, leaving Saint Marie for good. And in the second half of one of Death in Paradise’s rare double bills, DI Jack Mooney (Ardal O’Hanlon) replaced him.
So there are parallels. Is Florence bowing out part-way through the series so that whoever replaces her can join the team for the last two episodes?
We should also point out that there was already heavy speculation after episode three that Jobert was leaving the show, when Florence and Patrice disappeared on “holiday” together and missed almost an entire episode. The happy couple popped up only in the final minute to flash an engagement ring and announce they were getting married.
At the time, fans were worried that the actress was scaling back her commitment to the show, with Jobert tweeting: “I had something to do so they gave me this episode off.”
Of course, it could still end happily ever after for Florence.
While things look bad at the end of episode five, she does at least seem to still be alive – and she did leave a voicemail on Jack’s mobile while she was driving to the warehouse, so when he finally checks his messages he should be able to race to her side and get her to hospital.
Instead of providing an exit storyline for Florence, the dramatic shooting could be intended to tie together the two halves of the double bill and keep us all watching.
It could also be a chance to explore (or end!) the romance storyline between Florence and her fiancé (Leemore Marrett Jr), who had secretly driven to the warehouse to meet someone in an attempt to exonerate his best friend Harrison of murder.
Did he shoot Florence, for some reason? Or was it this mystery person who he was meeting? And where is Patrice now? If they both survive this ordeal, will they still get married?
And then there’s the fact that Officer Dwayne Myers (Danny John-Jules) has only just left, waving goodbye to Saint Marie before the beginning of this series – so it would be pretty odd for Death in Paradise to choose this moment to kill off or ditch Florence. Surely two members of a four-person team leaving in quick succession is just too much?
Unless we have a Jack Mooney-style brainwave, we’ll have to wait until next week to find out the truth…
Death in Paradise continues on Thursday 14th February at 9pm on BBC1