In last week’s episode of Grantchester, viewers got some hints that new vicar Will Davenport (Tom Brittney) might have some secrets in his past. When confronted with a crime involving child abuse, Will’s angry reaction suggested that the case brought up some painful, personal memories. This week, we learn more about Will’s own troubled childhood and relationship with his family.
Will Davenport heads home
As the episode opens, things are tense in the vicarage. Leonard (Al Weaver), upset over his fractured relationship with Mrs. Chapman (Tessa Peake-Jones), takes his frustration out on his colleague, who he says has a “lackadaisical approach.” Will, meanwhile, takes his anger out on a punching bag.
While counseling a soon-to-be-married couple, Will receives a mysterious phone call from a woman who tells him, “He’s done it again.” It’s not clear exactly what’s going on, but whatever it is requires immediate attention. The vicar calls on Geordie (Robson Green), who agrees to accompany Will to his family’s home to sort things out. But the detective is in for a surprise.
Geordie’s assumption that Will came from modest means turns out to be all wrong. He’s posh, and home is a grand estate. “You have a gong,” Geordie says, upon entering. “You are so rich.” But Will doesn’t seem comfortable returning home, and when he and the detective then sit down an awkward family meal with his parents and a visiting couple, Meredith (Rachel Pickup) and Eddie (Robert Portal), it’s clear why.
Will’s father Thomas (Nathaniel Parker) has beat up his servant Eli (Christopher Fairbank) after accusing him of stealing and then pawning some of the family’s items. (It was the man’s wife who called Will to intervene.) His son has come home to confront his father over the incident, but Thomas refuses to admit wrongdoing. Instead, he just wants to berate Will for choosing a job that pays a measly 10 pounds a week.
Will’s father might sneer at his son’s small income, but a tour of the family home after dinner reveals the son might be better off than the father. The Davenports are broke, and their mansion is crumbling to bits around them. His parents are desperately trying to keep up appearances, even though they can barely afford to pay the servants.
A mysterious death
Though the issue with Eli is unresolved, Geordie decides to head home and let Will sort out the mess himself. But then Meredith appears on the landing, covered in blood. She’s woken up to find Eddie dead in bed next to her. Will immediately fingers Meredith as the killer; Geordie isn’t so sure. Thomas is a violent man, so perhaps he’s the culprit.
Soon, Will discovers the truth about Eli’s “crimes.” He did take some jewelry and silver to pawn, but only because Will’s mother asked him to do so because she needed the money. Will confronts his father, who calls him a “constant disappointment.” Then, he realizes that his dad was conning Eddie and had convinced his friend to invest in a non-existent racehorse. When Eddie discovers the deception, it leads to a confrontation and a fatal head injury.
Will tells his father he’s discovered what happened, and Thomas appears resigned to turning himself in. He just needs some time to make himself presentable, he says. Unfortunately, Will can’t see what is obvious to viewers until it’s too late. He hears a gunshot, and then races outside to find his father has killed himself. Now, Will must come to terms with both his father’s suicide and the fact that he was a murderer.
This is all dark stuff, and the things that are happening to the other characters in this episode’s subplots are not much cheerier. Geordie suspects that Cathy (Kacey Ainsworth) is cheating on him with her co-worker. But when he confronts her, she breaks down and reveals that Anthony (Christian McKay) attacked her. Geordie’s reaction is predictable, and at the episode’s end he’s heading out the door to have it out with his wife’s assailant, though Cathy begs him not too, saying “This is my fight.”
Meanwhile, having been abandoned by both Mrs. C and Will, Leonard is left alone to stew at the vicarage. Though the former housekeeper shows up and seems willing to make amends (after some encouragement from Will), Leonard rejects the olive branch. He also calls in the archdeacon, who gives Will a talking-to about maintaining order in the parish. After he leaves, Leonard tells the vicar (who hasn’t mentioned his father’s suicide), that he’s been a “constant disappointment.” Those are the exact words that Thomas used to describe his son earlier in the episode, and Will reacts impulsively, punching Leonard in the face. Leonard races upstairs while a shocked Will is left reeling by the realization that he may be more like his father than he wants to admit.
Next week’s episode of Grantchester is the season’s last. According to the description, “Will struggles with a life-changing decision” — presumably whether to stay in Grantchester or return home to help his mother manage the family’s estate. Tune in on August 11 at 9/8c on PBS to see how it all shakes out.