Every season, GBH Drama prepares to bring you coverage of the latest and greatest in British dramas. This month, we're getting a brand new show from MASTERPIECE: Magpie Murders. Featuring a mystery within a mystery and some truly delightful acting, this series is sure to be your new favorite whodunit. GBH Drama contributor Amanda-Rae Prescott is here to recap the magic as it happens.
This week’s episode is the grand finale. Don’t worry — both Pünd and Susan figure out their cases, but the answers may not be the ones you were expecting. Let’s discuss whodunit and why.
Susan’s first scene is a meeting with Charles at the Clover Books office. Charles tells her he headhunted a CEO from another big publishing house, since Susan clearly does not want the job. The new CEO wants to hire a ghostwriter who worked on previous Poirot mysteries to finish Alan’s novel and change the title to “The Magpie Murders.” Susan is a little concerned about the title change, but we see this in her face, not vocalized.There is a poster board with all of the previous Atticus Pünd mystery titles spelled out. Susan figures out all of the titles spell out the word Anagram. We know Alan loved anagrams, but what does the message tell us?
One of the office assistants comes in and mentions that she ran into Jemima who quit earlier. Susan asks for her phone number and meets up with her at a local cafe. Jemima says she’s happy at her new job as a television production assistant. The copy of the manuscript she photocopied arrived in the office on Wednesday while Susan was at the Frankfurt Book Fair, not Thursday at the fancy restaurant, as Charles previously told Susan. Jemima said Charles claimed that he wanted to surprise Susan with the news after the fair. She also said she wanted to switch careers, but Charles encouraged her to leave Clover Books earlier than planned.
Meanwhile, we see Andreas at the school. He brings his laptop to the IT tech and shows him the anonymous email with the roof photo. A quick reverse IP domain search reveals the email was sent from Clover Books. What was Charles up to?
Susan returns to the office at night to investigate. She finds the missing chapter hidden in one of Charles’ drawers. Unfortunately, Charles finds Susan looking around. Susan demands an explanation for why she wasted her time in Suffolk. There’s a flashback to the dinner at the expensive restaurant. Alan admits that he wants to kill off Pünd and Charles realizes that ending the book series would ruin his entire business. After Alan’s cancer diagnosis, he wanted to give Pünd the Sherlock at Reichenbach Falls treatment. The anagram of the Pünd book titles spells out “a stupid c**t” which expresses Alan’s longtime hatred of being associated with mystery novels and not prestige literary fiction.
Charles then admits that he drove up to Suffolk Friday night while Andreas was there. He took the photo of Alan and Andreas and he sent it to Susan hoping she would give up investigating. Susan tells him she figured out the inconsistencies with his behavior including knowing about the construction on the way to the funeral. We then see Alan arguing with Charles; Charles is the one to push Alan off the roof. Charles also faked the suicide note by combining Alan’s apology for the dinner with Pünd’s suicide note from the manuscript. Susan tells Charles he should settle his affairs then turn himself in. Charles sets the office on fire, leaving Susan trapped in the smoke. Thankfully, Andreas figured out Susan would be there, and he pulls her from the flames.
The scene switches to Susan’s hospital bed. Kate tells Susan that sadly their father passed away in the meantime. Charles was arrested after Andreas saw him leaving the office. Susan tries to discuss going to Crete with Andreas, but he tells her to wait until she’s feeling better. Finally, Pünd once again appears and asks Susan if she wants to know what happens in the last few pages of the manuscript.
The Kings’ Arms
Pünd guides Susan into the 1950’s Saxby-on-Avon. She’s in her pajamas as if she’s walking in a dream. Inspector Chubb, Robert, Joy and James are waiting for Pünd at the pub to reveal the results of the investigation. Pünd shows that Mary’s death was indeed an accident inadvertently caused by Lady Pye. She called the house while Mary was vacuuming and Mary tripped on the cord while trying to answer, since the upstairs phone wasn’t working.
Pünd also reveals that Sam Blakiston’s drowning in 1943 was connected to Sir Magnus’ murder. Matthew Blakiston revealing that Robert was jealous of his younger brother was the final piece of the puzzle. Robert poisoned the dog Bella and framed Brent, and he later drowned his brother and disguised it as a playtime accident. Mary wrote a letter about the incident and told Sir Magnus to keep it safe in case anything happens. She kept Robert close because she was scared about his violent tendencies. Her comment to Joy about the line being “tainted” was not about race, but about Robert’s toxicity. After Mary died, Robert tried to recover the letter from Sir Magnus’ safe, but Sir Magnus found him. Robert killed Sir Magnus in anger over the letter. The robbery was a disguise to conceal the contents of the letter that was burned. Robert made a mistake by burning up the letter from his mother and the threatening letter about Dingle Dell together. Inspector Chubb arrests Robert, and Joy is heartbroken that her fiance is a murderer.
Susan and Pünd stroll together one last time through Dingle Dell. Pünd has no idea about his fate but he says he will miss her. She doesn’t tell him about the suicide letter at the end of the manuscript. Six magpies are sitting in a nearby tree as they say goodbye to each other. Even though we know this is the end of Pünd’s journey, there’s comfort in knowing that Robert and Charles are going to spend a long time in jail for their crimes.
Fans will very well ask if there will be a second season. Magpie Murders was written as a standalone miniseries. However, screenwriter Anthony Horowitz has written a sequel to the original novel called Moonflower Murders. Without spoilers, the plot follows Susan to Crete where she becomes entangled in a new murder case. It is possible an adaptation of this novel could be greenlit but it depends on many factors outside of our control.