Traces S1:E1.4 Tall Ships in the Night Recap

We’re past the halfway point of Traces from Val McDermid and Amelia Bullmore, can you believe?? For sure we’re gonna find out some stuff, if we can keep our focus off handsy May-December couple Emma and Daniel, that is. Rolling into Traces S1:E1.4 after the break!

We getta watch everyone’s sleepy mornings with their significant others, hey, who’s Professor Sarah Gordon (Laura Fraser) back to back with? I kind of had her taped for D.I. Neil McKinven (Michael Nardone) but apparently I’m mistaken. this, Professor Kathy Torrance (Jennifer Spencer)?

Some kind of mutual foot thing with Pia Salvador (Joana Borja)? I know I’m a pedant but I’m trying to imagine how massive that bed must be.

At police headquarters, nobody is sleeping in as the investigation of the murder of Emma Hedges (Molly Windsor)‘s mum Marie Monroe (Carly Anderson) is being reopened in a big way. D.I. Neil McKinven is simply devastated to learn that the Major Investigative Team that’s been hanging all over his arson / murder case has departed for Glasgow.

D.C. Trina (Morayo Akandé) has found a discrepancy in the original case interview notes, Marie disappeared at the Tall Ships Festival, her husband Jimmy Levin (Phil McKee) had indicated a small argument prior but that’s not what everyone else says. To be reviewed in interview with Jimmy himself!

The long-cold case started picking up speed for three reasons:

  1. Emma started a training program as part of her job as a lab technician, reviewing a very similar case in online training system MOOC. She raised the alarm to her boss, Sarah Gordon, who talked to her friend Neil McKinven
  2. Emma re-connected with childhood friend Skye Alessi (Jamie Marie Leary) and Skye’s mum Izzy Alessi (Laurie Brett) who is dying from lung cancer and lamented that Marie had died cut into pieces. Emma had heard no such thing, so she asked a bunch of people who were not happy.
  3. While Emma was at her dad Drew Cubbin’s (John Gordon Sinclair) apartment, she found a picture of her mum Marie in bed with her dad right around the time she was murdered. Since Maria was married to a bloke named Jimmy Levin at the time and not with Drew, this was noteworthy. Last episode we also found out that the bed itself may be important, as Skye held a knife on Emma and Daniel thinking they were trying to take the bed out of her mum’s house.

Got it? Right, so now the focus is on the bed, the police are planning to pick that up right skippy.

Kathy and Pia have a lovely goodbye, it’s very difficult for Kathy to show vulnerability but she manages it for a half beat. These two are not done yet, Pia has to come back to Scotland for her hat, which she leaves on Kathy’s carseat.

Off she floats into work, where colleague Sarah Gordon has been tasked with using her lab to examine deadly street drugs responsible for a couple of recent deaths. This is what Emma and her superior Louis Chiu Jones (Anna Leong Brophy from Last Tango in Halifax S5!) have been working on, now they’ll be concentrating on the anomaly Emma found last time: the drugs are loaded with PMMA, which is a supercharged version of MDMA and much more dangerous.

Sarah asks Emma about the case, is she getting enough help? Enough emotional support? Emma stalls, what? Here? Nooo, like with friends…oh like Skye, who just threatened her with a knife? Or does she mean Daniel, who took her to bed and already is in love with her after one and a half days. Wait, I know, it’s the guy Emma had sex with while off her face on one of those very same street drugs that told her to get out coz he had to work. That’s support!

Neil and Trina go see Izzy Alessi in the hospital to get access to the bed in her spare room, she refuses to give permission, blaming Emma for declaring her a murderer. Izzy says she’s worried because she did a lot of cocaine on that bed but Neil’s skeptical. Could that really be the reason? Some leftover traces of partying some 18 years hence?

Neil ponders Izzy’s condition after, he asks Trina to check on Izzy’s medical records, to whatever extent she can. Izzy pretty much lies as often as she breathes, so not a bad line of thought.

Neil and Trina head off to recover the Bed of Iniquity, it would be a difficult thing, to murder and dismember someone on a bed without leaving massive amounts of trace. You’d need time alone, strength That’s two people that would have to keep a secret for 18 years, ehhh.

Sarah gives Emma and Louise (and us!) a chemistry lesson about the differences between PMMA and MDMA, they’ll be looking for one of five different recipes based on different impurities.

Izzy’s bed lights up nicely in UV light, they remove it and everything else to the police lab for swabbing. Emma calls, looking for information but Neil can’t share that with her, natch.

Emma decides to fill her friend Skye in on how dangerous the drugs they were taking are, let’s just say Skye does not take that friendly warning as it was intended. Or the whole “friend” part either, even when Emma didn’t tell the police about the knife and everything!

Emma tries to point out that she’s just looking into the murder of her mum, trying to find out what happened and if that leads to Skye’s mum, well…they’re innocent, they were kids. Skye cannot see her way across that crevasse and their friendship is well and truly done.

Daniel’s dad has decided to hog the awesome company lawyer we met last time, so Daniel’s rustled him up another to defend himself against Culpable Homicide.

Aside from being Emma’s current Daddy Issue, Daniel MacAffee was the foreman on the construction of nightclub Secrets, which recently burned down and killed three people. He and his dad have been charged with Culpable Homicide for various code violations found in the arson review.

Daniel doesn’t want to defend himself so much as atone for the loss of the people who died, they were very young and if he’s culpable: he’ll do the time. It’s that sparkling naive attitude that makes his 13 year age gap with Emma seem nary a pence.

Daniel’s lawyer Clare Tindall (Janey Godley) seems to understand what he wants, she’ll find a way that he can take responsibility and limit the damage to himself personally and the company. He can’t plead guilty yet because his dad hasn’t yet entered a plea, nor can he contact any of the families. He can’t even talk to his dad about it.

Daniel and Emma meet by the water on this gray day, she’s not able to share much information from the lab but she does pass along that her boss Sarah will be providing the fire report for trial, so at least it will be fair.

Neil and Trina interview Jimmy about his downplaying of the fight he had with Marie the night she disappeared from the Tall Ships Festival, he knew he’d be a target, being the spouse, so he soft-pedalled it when originally interviewed. It wasn’t a huge fight, more of the type you have when you’re complete opposites inadvisably married. He didn’t like crowds, Marie was tipsy, liked to party and wanted to keep the kids out late with her.

Marie had a new pink dress that evening, Jimmy is overcome with remembering how she looked and how men looked at her while she danced.

*Bravo Phil McKee, that was a master class!

Daniel is approached at work by the mothers of those who died in the fire at the nightclub, I didn’t realise until just this episode how young these kids were. 19 and 20, I thought they said they were having an affair, but do young people really get married to other people and cheat by 19 and 20? I’m not saying never, but that seems unusual.

Trina’s been digging into the Drew/drugs-on-the-rigs question and it does seem he had some sort of smuggling business while he was working on the rigs. One of the other men kicked off with Drew is a Vincent Keir (Ian Pirie from…everything?), who had been previously charged with violent rape. Vincent was at Tall Ships too.

Emma is still working her way through the case in the Mooc, now it’s time to arrange evidence on the floor before meeting Daniel at his place. That’s right, she moved in with him five minutes after they met so she’s got a crime scene set up in his flat. He’s very much not in the mood.

Trina interviews Vincent Keir with another unnamed officer, he’s suuuuuuper creepy, he’ll talk about everything except what she’s asking but suggests something untoward happened with Drew. Nothing was proven.

“Nothing was proven,” echoes Drew, who went wandering around Europe after for no reason whatsoever. He describes his relationship with Vincent as volatile, but that may be just Vincent’s personality as he flips out on Trina and our unnamed detective taking notes.

Emma and Daniel meet with Daniel’s dad Phil (Vincent Regan) for supper, it’s…it’s not good. Phil looks like he wants to eat Emma instead, loads of inappropriate innuendo and he asks her flat out if she takes drugs.

I’m curious to know if Phil was at the Tall Ships Festival lo those many years ago, rumour has it Emma looks exactly like her mum and Marie was wearing a new dress…perhaps the sort of thing you wear for a new fancy beau.

Phil and Daniel chat after supper, I’d missed one telling detail about how Daniel and Emma met. She was looking for her purse at a nightclub in the morning, why was he there? His dad asks, Daniel was trying to make sure that nightclub wasn’t going to have the same issues that Secrets did. Daniel is determined to take all the blame for the fire.

Emma has a terrifying nightmare about digging up her mum, is comforted by Daniel and decides to drop off some flowers at Marie’s grave.

I guess you could say she’s gravedigging, couldn’t you? Looking into the past? That’s definitely how other people see it, like her aunt Julie Hedges (Neve McIntosh) and dad Drew.

D.I. Neil McKinven meets with Sarah Gordon, they’re going to keep an eye on Emma, like her secret parents! They have a fun back and forth about it, there’s something there..I wasn’t imagining that they could be a couple.

Danier learns some hard truths from his solicitor Claire, as I expected his dad isn’t the least interested in taking responsibility for anything, in fact, he’d like Daniel to take all the blame, fanks.

Daniel goes right to the source, he doesn’t believe his dad would do that to him.

Phil tries to convince Daniel to get his name taken off the indictment too, there’s no justice to be had in the courtroom. They want a scapegoat, Daniel is champing at the bit to give them one and won’t listen to his dad’s admonishments that it was the person who committed arson who’s to blame.

Phil and Daniel’s fates are linked, so if Daniel takes blame, Phil will as well by association. Phil does not want to go to jail, does Daniel? Daniel says no.

The lab results are back on Izzy’s Bed of Iniquity, there are five separate semen donors, the only one they’ve been able to identify is Drew’s contribution. So who were the other four?

Trina did some checking, poor Izzy is as sick as she sounds, she’s not faking.

Back in the lab, Louise and Emma have identified which recipe has been used for the manufacturing of the new dangerous street drugs, the one they have is made from cold production which is unusual and should help the police narrow down the people responsible.

Danny runs over to his solicitor, he’s not pleading guilty to anything! He clearly expects a big reaction but clients not wanting to be jailed is kind of the norm. Claire’s also had the grieving families spoken to, they won’t bother Daniel again, which upsets Daniel. He just thought she should know, he didn’t expect anyone to play the heavy!

Daniel strongly needs to believe he is a Good Guy.

I guess we all do, right?

Kathy Torrance pulls Emma aside outside the university to commend her on her good questions in the MOOC then is gone as quickly as she came, leaving Emma’s stepdad Jimmy in her wake. Emma is freaked out by Jimmy’s appearance on campus but she gets in for a chat. Mostly.

Jimmy sounds like everyone else at first, pointing out how much trouble she’s stirring up, sounding menacing as all get out until he says he tips his hat to her. His wife’s murderer is still out there, he’s happy people are looking for justice too. He entreats her to not give up, she will not.

Emma, who is being tracked by several people and has been threatened by at least two, walks calmly through deserted alleys wearing headphones while heading up to Daniel’s apartment. She startled when Daniel’s dad Phil wanders in with wine, he’s got his own key. He makes himself right at home while she gets more and more uncomfortable as he interrogates her on how she and his son met.

He almost leaves, but when he turns around to talk about her mother’s death, Emma and I have had enough. She asks him, loudly, to leave as she’s uncomfortable, but he won’t, he keeps coming closer so she runs out onto the balcony and blocks the door, screaming for help then climbing out over the edge to get away from the now-manic Phil MacAffee. And that’s where we leave it, Emma dangling over the edge of a very high balcony and we’re out until next time.

Whew! Cheers!