This is it, we’re almost done Traces from Val McDermid and written by Amelia Bullmore, that means we’re definitely gonna learn some new things about forensics / chasing people across university grounds in Scotland/how to hang off a balcony safely. Rolling into the penultimate episode after the break!
We ended last time with our protagonist Emma Hedges (Molly Windsor) hanging off her boyfriend Daniel’s (Martin Compston) balcony while his dad Philip (Vincent Regan) did his best to get at her. There are one million subplots that got us here, so let’s just go through them as they come up, okay? Emma got freaked out when Phil stopped by without notice and brought up Emma’s long-murdered mum, whom she and I are guessing he knew.
Daniel comes home to see his girlfriend dangling off his balcony while his dad shouts at her to hold on, that’s a steep learning curve. He rushes to get inside while a helpful neighbour notices there’s a woman practically falling into his balcony.
The neighbour Steven (Richard Hansell) holds on to Emma’s legs and helps her inside as Daniel and his dad bang on the door. They run in, Emma is very happy to see Daniel until she sees Phil lurking behind him. She’s obviously distraught and clearly afraid of Phil, but Daniel presses the issue and asks if they can all three go upstairs and talk. The neighbour intervenes to ask if Emma feels safe, when she replies in the negative he sends the men packing.
They go to the police station, Daniel and Phil trailing behind. Daniel’s still trying to figure out what the hell happened. All three participate in dueling police interviews. I think Daniel sums up our most salient point.
But Phil’s also pretty good at figuring things out.
Emma’s been under a lot of strain lately, investigating the murder of her mum Marie Monroe (Carly Anderson) and dealing with old friends pointing knives at her and her dad freaking out. It’s been a rough week. However. Phil was a creepy, creepy motherhumper, questioning Emma on minute details of her relationship with Daniel and bringing up her mum in an insincere and disturbing manner.
Daniel’s our innocent, he can’t believe Emma would lie but has never known his dad to be threatening, so doesn’t know what to think.
A) if he can’t see his dad being threatening, I worry for his lack of general awareness
B) one week, Daniel, you’ve known Emma one week. Her name could not even BE Emma!
After all is said and done, Phil is charged with Breaching the Peace and will be held overnight. This is explained to Emma by PC Sandy (Neil McKinven! This is the person who the story must be based on, right? Now I want to know everything! Who is Neil McKinven when he’s at home? Is he this type of detective? Is he kind and awesome like his character? SO MANY QUESTIONS!!)
I can’t be the only one hoping Phil offers up a DNA sample so we can see if he left anything on Izzy Alessi’s (Laurie Brett) Bed of Iniquity where Emma’s mum Marie used to bounce on at least one man on the side.
Emma feels safe with Daniel, so she leaves with him, but he’s mad. He feels very protective of his dad, which is ludicrous but a fact, he can’t understand why Emma would not foresee that his dad could be taken into custody.
He does give her his jacket before he stalks away, so there’s that.
The recently reopened case of Marie Monroe’s murder continues, Dr. Kathy Torrance (Jennifer Spencer) provides feedback for D.I Neil McKinven (Michael Nardone) on the original pathology report. Let’s just sum it up in two words: imprecise and shoddy.
Not enough work was done and too many assumptions were made, resulting in a dearth of evidence. Neil asks about disinterment of the bones, Kathy would be game to do the case properly.
Emma didn’t go back to her dorm room on campus, she came to Daniel’s apartment to mend fences. She’s at the point where she can’t figure out what’s real and what’s the result of her paranoia. Daniel gets a call from his dad while they’re talking, he’s fine and there will most likely not be a prosecution, they’re both relieved. Emma is mortified.
They lay in bed a foot apart from each other, not touching or really talking until he turns off the light and snuggles into her.
She dreams of her first meeting with Phil, it was off right from then.
Neil and Kathy and a group head to the site where Marie Monroe was found, which is harder than it seems. Kathy takes a call from her paramour Pia Salvador (Joanna Borja), she needs her! Erm, professionally and…otherwise.
Kathy has a hard time expressing her emotions.
Emma packs up and leaves Daniel’s apartment, sliding a thank you under the helpful neighbour’s door as she goes.
She heads to university, she needs to get hold of Neil but since she dropped her phone while dangling off Daniel’s balcony, she doesn’t know how to get hold of him. This is the last place she saw him, she explains to helpful assistant Janine Muir (Andrea Hart) who doesn’t think, say, a police station, might be a better place to find a cop.
They have a bit of a visit while waiting inside, Janine is chatty and skilled at drawing people out. She ventures a query about the case of Emma’s mum, Emma is surprised Janine knows of it.
Neil shows up, Emma rushes in with her theory that Phil recognised her as her mother’s daughter but he’s unconvinced. Neil is as skeptical as Phil and I were that she and Daniel just met accidentally. I immediately thought Daniel was mucking about and had some connection to the case, and I still wonder. He can’t really be that much of a naif, can he?
Emma thinks Phil not only knew her mum, he feels threatened by her which is why she felt threatened by him. Neil says he’ll find out what he can, but stop asking people questions! And leave Dundee! She won’t, of course, and she’s still staying with Daniel so that was just me feeling optimistic. He wearily tells her to at least keep in good contact with him or Emma’s boss, the lovely Dr. Sarah Gordon (Laura Fraser from Retribution / One of Us!). I mean she’s got a lovely spirit, but sure, she’s purty too.
Neil fills Sarah in on what’s going on, it’s even more complicated than I’ve explained because Emma works for Sarah, who is the person providing a forensic report on the arson that occurred at the nightclub Emma’s boyfriend built.
You see what I mean?
Neil calls his partner Trina (Morayo Akandé) for help, can she grab the DNA sample from Phil’s arrest the evening before?
AHA! Is that routine? To take DNA for a breaching the peace charge? I was hoping but not expecting much.
Sarah is not happy that Emma didn’t mention her conflict of interest with Daniel, it will affect the report in court. While Emma wasn’t involved in any of that data analysis, she was on the periphery and a good defense solicitor would be able to use that to their advantage. Did Daniel know?
Emma raises her voice at being questioned for the third time in 24 hours as to the nature of how she met Daniel, lovely person or not: Sarah’s not taking that from the employee she’s done everything she can to help.
Emma rebounds to suggest that perhaps Sarah didn’t really care how she was, she only asked once if she was okay then didn’t even ask again!
Lord spare me from entitled people unable to take responsibility for themselves. Also hoping I’m not one.
Sarah needs to think, she brainstorms the Issue of Emma over Janine’s ghastly scones with Kathy.
Neil ponders Marie Monroe’s murderboard, Trina comes in with the news that Phil’s DNA is being tested, woooo! He wonders if the MacAfees are playing Emma, so he’s off to interview Daniel and find out.
Daniel supports both his dad and Emma, which confuses Neil, given the relatively short duration of Daniel’s relationship with Emma. However, a chat with his dad later has Daniel thinking: did Phil get rid of the paperwork on the Secrets nightclub job? It’s the only bit of paperwork missing, Phil thinks that’s grand.
Phil’s DNA made it onto Izzy’s Headboard of Iniquity! Maybe he did know Marie! Or Izzy, really, it was technically her bed even if she let her friends shag literally anyone on it whenever.
Izzy does in fact claim a romantic association with Phil MacAfee, she was his “bit on the side” and he didn’t really know Marie. Uh huh. She’s an unconvincing liar. She pales when alleged rapist Vincent Keir (Ian Pirie) is mentioned, calling him evil. She didn’t see Vincent at Tall Ships, not Phil neither as he was with his wife.
Emma makes up with her boss, Sarah warns her that any further conflict of interest will have her arse out of her job. Louise Chiu Jones (Anna Leong Brophy) approaches warily, woo, she and Emma are back on the case of the illegal and lethal drugs flooding the Dundee party scene.
Neil and Trina interview Aileen MacAfee (Stella Gonet), Phil’s wife and Daniel’s mum. Wow that was a surprise, I thought she must have been dead and/or gone, why wouldn’t she be at supper with Daniel, his dad and Emma? We’ve not heard a word about her but she does know about the balcony incident.
Ah, that’s rough, she assumed that her husband had made a move on Emma. I’m not surprised because I thought the same but to know your partner is cheating and to have to admit that to other people. That’s not easy.
Okay, never mind, they’re divorced now but that was her experience with their marriage, that he was putting it about with his “persuasive” mannerisms.
It was Mrs. MacAfee’s birthday the night Marie died, she didn’t remember if she had visitors but kept a diary that was even more helpful. He was not with her. So if he wasn’t with his wife and he wasn’t with Izzy, are we to assume to was with Marie?
TOTALLY MURDERING HER?
It’s too late! I’ve made the leap again!
Emma and Daniel make up via a hot makeout sesh that reminds me of how long it’s been since I’ve seen my partner.
Neil and Sarah meet up to discuss their case(s), he compares Daniel and Emma’s relationship to being like a drug. As though they had taken the same drug.
Daniel re-buckles his belt as Emma buttons her shirt, she’s already thinking about the case again and he hasn’t caught his breath yet. She wants to know why he changed his mind about pleading guilty to culpable homicide in the nightclub fire, it’s shit that his dad convinced him to do that.
A huge fight follows with him leaving. She packs up (yay!!) and heads back to her dorm.
She stops to see her dad Drew Cubbin (John Gordon Sinclair) to get stoned, he and a friend have been growing weed and of course we all wondered if that friend was alleged rapist Vincent Keir, right? Drew warns his daughter not to take any pills or powders, nothing with an unknown provenance and if only that worked for boyfriends, too.
Drew is high as well, remembering getting high with Emma’s mum Marie and Izzy, they were the Three Monkeys. They stopped hanging out after Marie died, they reminded each other of pain.
He needs to tell Emma something.
Drew and his girlfriend are going to have a baby! Aww, yay!
Neil investigates the MacAfees late into the night, receiving exactly no results. Really? Phil was just arrested like 37 minutes ago.
Emma runs into work late, just in time to start analysing some more street drugs with Louise.
Neil, Trina, Professor Kathy Torrance and Pia Salvador shoot their shot to the higher ups on the Marie Monroe case. Neil wants to investigate Phil more closely without letting him know (this earns a look between those in charge), Kathy wants to dig up the burial site again. Pia is a soil expert? Superinterdent Gavin Blair (Peter Forbes) and Fiscal John (Jack Tarlton) give our team a green light, time to set up a tent and get some drones, this investigation is officially on again!
It’s Kathy who tells Emma that her mum’s murder investigation has been officially re-opened, which is the good news. The bad news comes from Sarah, Emma can no longer work for her in the lab because of the massive conflict of interest that represents.
Oh yay, Emma’s aunt Julie Hedges (Neve McIntosh) is there to help! She’s there to take Emma home, but Emma is not going anywhere until SHE decides. Not when Neil, not when Sarah, not even when her aunt says it’s time to leave Dundee. Emma suggests they have food before Julie heads back on her own.
Julie probes gently about her relationship with Daniel, which Emma calls over. Emma does not listen to Neil and once again asks her aunt questions about the case: did her mum know Phil MacAfee. In one second, Julie is able to dredge up a memory of everyone her sister knew and says she doesn’t think so, really?
Some familial chitchat follows, lot of I’m So Proud Of You, You’re So Grown Up and the like, until Emma brings up a question I had also. Why does Emma have Julie’s last name and not her mum’s? It’s not even Julie’s last name any more, it was her ex-husband’s last name, so Emma suggests they both go back to Monroe, as they were born. Aww, sure!
Izzy gets a surprise visitor, Phil MacAfee shows up with flowers and news that he knows who her daughter is and where she works. His menace is unmistakable and takes us out of this episode.
Huh. Well. I kind of called all of that last episode, so I’m not surprised but still curious as to Daniel’s involvement. Could he have been sent at/directed at Emma? It doesn’t really sound like that but there’s something hinky…until next time! Which is the last time, so we’re going to find out EVERYTHING! Whee!! Cheers!
I hope we get more series of Traces, I quite like the professors.