Well, there’s no other way to put this, reader: our season 3 finale gets off to what I, a fan of puns, am legally required to describe as an … explosive start. Victoria Mars gets a package at the office, and is seconds away from opening it when Detective Mustache runs in and yells at her to put it back down on the desk. VERY slowly. Why? Because there’s a bomb in there, and he knows that because he ALSO got a very special delivery at his office this morning. And so did Moses! Thankfully, none of the bombs were actually set up to explode, but still: yikes! The three of them roll up to Scotland Yard (leaving their respective explosives at home, naturally) at Victoria Mars’ insistence.

Detective Mustache: We should just solve the case on our own.
Moses: Obviously, but try telling HER that.
Victoria Mars: You did, I just ignored you. Duke Silver will help us out.
Duke Silver, arriving to find the trio in his waiting room: Will I? I don’t think so! This isn’t a good time.
Victoria Mars: It is now: we each got bombs dropped at our houses this morning. Well, not rigged bombs, but still.
Duke Silver: Follow me. Now.

Yeah, no surprises here: Duke Silver also got a present this morning, and better yet, he knows who sent it.

A man says "Bam!" and then drops the microphone

Duke Silver explains that while everyone got bombs delivered, he’s special because his came with a note written in Irish that says “we’re watching you.” Fun! He goes on to tell the group that the movement for Irish independence has been heating up lately. Hard to argue with them, given the circumstances. Anyway, the movement has been setting up bombings targeting British institutions. Scotland Yard would fit right in.

Moses: Not to be that guy, but I don’t even work for Scotland Yard a little bit.
Duke Silver: They probably followed me and targeted my known associates.
Victoria Mars: And you think they’d include Moses in that list?
Duke Silver: He works for Detective Mustache all the time, and Detective Mustache is around here all the time.
Victoria Mars: I’m sorry, “all the time”??
Moses: Look, I go where the cash takes me, pal.
Duke Silver: I had to contact the Special Irish Branch. They’re sending a guy.
Victoria Mars: Who is he?

Well I don’t know him, but the man striding into the station like he’s serving on a runway sure has a certain kind of presence, no two ways about it. Also, from the way he and Duke Silver size each other up? There’s some history there, for sure. Duke Silver ushers him and his mustachioed underling into the interrogation room to discuss the note.

Duke Silver: We got this note. It means —
Serving Posh: Oh, I know what it means. All of my guys speak Irish. Know your enemy, says I. And so says Sun Tzu, obviously, but I’m sure you knew that and have also read “The Art of War.”
Duke Silver: We addressed this last season, but I’m not a huge reader. Anyway, I sent my guys to go get the rest of the bombs.
Serving Posh: Yeah, about that. I’m in charge now, mmmkay? You’re very welcome to help out, of course, but this kind of thing is literally our whole raison d’être. I hate to pull rank… is what I have to say out loud, but we both know better. I know this is weird because we were both up for this job, and I got it instead of you, but I’m sure you’ll be cool about it and behave, right?
Duke Silver, gritting his teeth: Right.
Serving Posh: Great! So why don’t you go supervise your guys picking up those bombs and I’ll do my interviews. Let’s start with Victoria Mars.

Makes sense, and as you might suspect, he’s just as slimy and poncy to her as he was to his colleague. Worse, in fact, because Serving Posh has decided that Victoria Mars must only be involved in the case because she’s “close” to Duke Silver.

Victoria Mars: Rubbish. We’re coworkers, and I am very good at my job.

Detective Mustache agrees, when it’s his turn for an interview. Unfortunately he doesn’t get a lot of opportunity to sing our gal’s praises because he’s busy fighting off Serving Posh’s prejudices about Detective Mustache’s Irish heritage. Unsurprisingly, Serving Posh is equally bigoted when it comes to Moses, proving himself to be a snooty jerk across the board. All three detectives tell him that he’s wasting his time with this line of inquiry, but he ignores them, and then, in a spectacularly rude move, also suspends Victoria Mars’ PI license so she can’t get in the way (i.e. solve the case). She and Moses get released at the same time.

Victoria Mars: Ridiculous, all of it. And they still have Detective Mustache in there, probably because he’s Irish. Hey, are you ok, you’re awfully quiet?
Moses: Hard to get a word in edgewise, pal! But to answer your question: no, I am not ok.

That sounds serious, so they head to a bar to get into it. Moses explains that a few years back, in Jamaica, some … stuff happened. And he had to leave. His plan was to keep moving around, but now he’s been in London for three years. It might be time to move on.

Victoria Mars: The guys who are following you: would they have sent the bomb?
Moses: No, they’re more “kill you while they can watch you die up close” types. I’m much more worried about Serving Posh. He’s going to look into all of us, and at some point he’ll follow up with the authorities in Jamaica. It’s not a huge island; word will spread about where I am.
Victoria Mars: And that’d be bad?

A man says "uh ... Yes!"

Later, Victoria Mars runs through the rain to her office. Well, tries: it’s been cordoned off by Serving Posh. Unfortunately for him, she’s not about to let a legal notice get in her way, and goes in anyway, to find her office thoroughly trashed. She’s just about set everything to rights when Detective Mustache rolls in and tells her the same thing happened at his office: they took all the files, casebooks, and even some random furniture. They also suspended his license, so any investigating our friends do will have to be SUPER off the books.

Victoria Mars: Ugh, such crap. We’re the victims! It’s not like we know anything!
Detective Mustache: Well…….
Victoria Mars: Seriously? What?
Detective Mustache: Did you read about that train robbery last week? That took place on the train line we all call The Jewel of the North?

A man looks concerned with the subtitle "hey, that's the name of the show!"

Detective Mustache: Well, the cops have really screwed up the case so far, mostly because of jurisdiction issues. Anyway, I found out and offered to help. See, it’s similar to an earlier robbery, which it turns out was carried out by Irish Nationalists.
Victoria Mars: Why?
Detective Mustache: Most of their cash comes from the US of A, but some of the groups have turned to crime to fund the cause. I think someone wants to scare us away from investigating the train robbery.
Victoria Mars: If that was true, why target me and Duke Silver? I’m assuming you’d hired Moses.
Detective Mustache: I did! But the case got kicked over to Scotland Yard, officially, and I *might* have implied you were working for me on this one.
Victoria Mars:

A woman, annoyed, says "Excuse me?"

Detective Mustache: I was trying to get the job! People always love the idea of a lady under cover.
Victoria Mars: OMG, bro! “Always” implies you do this a lot!
Detective Mustache: Yeah, kinda! What can I say, I’m manifesting a future where you come work for me! Look, we have two options: we let Serving Posh do his thing and blunder around for weeks, or we do it ourselves.

Reader, I think you know which option Victoria Mars is going to pick. Over at Scotland Yard, Serving Posh has brought over even more of his goons, and has also ordered Baby Detective to join the investigation by looking over files of known extremists. Duke Silver, arriving in his office, finds out that it has ALSO been commandeered. He tries to protest, but Serving Posh has a fancy letter that essentially says “hey bud, I also revoked your detective license”: he’s been put on a leave of absence. Naturally, he takes his annoyed grumpy self over to Victoria Mars’ house to complain (and to make fun of her attempt to feed herself while Ivy is away).

Duke Silver: The problem is, Serving Posh is ex-army, so he’s never going to deviate from protocol. Which also means he’ll never solve it! I think we should team up and beat him to the punch.
Victoria Mars: Look, about that…
Duke Silver: But we’ll have to keep it on the DL. No one else can know. Hang on, why do you have so many potatoes?

Reader, I get where he’s going with this, but what a foolish question! You can NEVER have too many potatoes! Boil 'em! Mash 'em! Stick 'em in a stew!

A man deliberately says "potatoes"

Victoria Mars walks her friend back into the sitting room, where he’s very annoyed to find Detective Mustache and Moses hanging out and reading files. Victoria Mars is annoyed to find out that they’ve also ordered takeout, but she really shouldn’t be, because it’s pretty hard to solve a case if you’ve all got food poisoning. They start by sharing all the info they have, starting with Moses.

Moses: The Jewel of the North is normally a passenger train, but the day of the robbery, it just HAPPENED to be carrying cash. A lot of cash.
Detective Mustache: The money was meant to be wages for all the workers they’re hiring to expand the railway across the west from Liverpool.
Duke Silver: Train stopped at a signal, as planned, to allow an express to go past. That’s where the robbers will have boarded. They broke into the freight carriage and subdued the guards. Ergo, someone knew about the planned stop.
Victoria Mars: So we need a list of all the staff involved, including all the signalers between here and Liverpool.
Detective Mustache: Well technically I still work for the train company, and I bet they don’t know about my license.
Victoria Mars: Great. You and Moses go talk to the train people, while Duke Silver and I go to the bank. What?
Duke Silver: Who said you were in charge?
Victoria Mars: Someone’s gotta, and as you may have noticed, the show is named after me. Let’s go.

On the way, they catch up on normal friend stuff, or at least Duke Silver tries to catch up, but Victoria Mars is pretty uninterested in actually talking to or about Arabella, which I can’t really fault. At the bank, they chat with the man who oversaw the delivery of the railway’s cash to the train (and also the guy who set up the security detail). Despite being annoyed to be asked again, he gives her his stock answers.

Victoria Mars: Look, I get that you’re annoyed, but you should know I’m SUPER tight with True Crime Reporter, and totally willing to let him drag you and the bank through the mud if you don’t help.
Banker: Ugh, fine. I’ll give you a list of everyone who was working the day of the robbery.

Over at the railway, Moses and Detective Mustache have just started their interview when the guy they’re questioning unwraps a bomb, exactly like the ones they all received earlier. Thankfully, it’s also not set to explode, but still: scary! Later that night, despite going over all their acquired lists, they can’t recognize any names.

Detective Mustache: You know, this would be much easier if someone’s cop buddies hadn’t broken into my office and taken all my files.
Duke Silver: They’re DEFINITELY not my friends. Ah, crap: I had dinner plans tonight.
Victoria Mars: Go. We’ll check back in in the morning. It’s no big deal.
Detective Mustache: Ooooh, he’s off to see his girlfriend then?
Victoria Mars, faking it, badly: How would I know?
Moses, being a real friend and changing the subject: You know what, we should take this bomb to The Amazing Pawnbroker for examination.

And so they do. As usual, The Amazing Pawnbroker requires a payout, and also has good info on the evidence. Whilst he conducts his exam, Victoria Mars asks Moses what he’s going to do next.

Moses: Detective Mustache offered me a job at the office he’s opening in Paris.
Victoria Mars: Then what? You can’t run forever; what’s your five year plan?
Moses: I don’t have one! I like variety; your problem is that you’re too stuck in your ways.
The Amazing Pawnbroker: So who made this then?
Victoria Mars: The cops think Irish Republicans.
The Amazing Pawnbroker: Oh, definitely not. They use alarm clocks and a gun; simple and effective. This is brand new and military grade.
Moses: But the note was in Irish?
The Amazing Pawnbroker: I don’t know anything about that, but the bomb was definitely someone else.

A man says "plot twist."

Meanwhile, Duke Silver arrives at Arabella’s house to apologize for standing her up. She’s surprisingly chill about it, and pours him some wine while he fills her in.

Duke Silver: It’s kind of a manhunt. I’m working with a couple of PIs, including Victoria Mars.
Arabella, feels the opposite: Oh great! Good for her!
Duke Silver: We had a LOT to do, that's why I was so late.
Arabella, doubling down on fake it ‘til you make it energy: We! Great! You guys are a great duo!
Duke Silver: Sure. Anyway, it’s been a long day, let’s talk about NOT work.
Arabella: Sorry, it’s just that when you were late I thought maybe you weren’t into me anymore.
Duke Silver: Absolutely not! I’m VERY into you!
Arabella: Whew, great. Are you hungry? We have dinner!
Duke Silver: I’m starving; Vic tried to make lunch and as you can imagine, disaster. At least she tried?

Again, I find myself asking how someone who ostensibly is good at investigating things is so very bad at reading the room, but here we are. The next morning, he pops in to Scotland Yard to try and get back on the case, telling Serving Posh that he thinks he’d be a real use on the case.

Serving Posh: We’re doing great on our own, so no thanks!
Duke Silver: I mean, even if you are, fresh eyes are good, right?
Serving Posh: The Irish Menace is getting worse by the second! Those bombs are totally different than their usual, which means they’re adapting; I need special officers to deal with that. It’d be better if you left.
Duke Silver: Ok. But first I’m going to enjoy a glass of my whiskey over there.
Serving Posh: Look, some friendly advice; drinking in front of your people is bad. No hard feelings, right?
Duke Silver: Uh, some hard feelings. Bye!

Outside, Duke Silver’s trip to the bottle starts to make a lot more sense when he passes a key to Baby Detective, and asks the younger man to bring any files on gangs with a history of using explosives, in addition to his case notes from the train robbery. Later, after Baby Detective’s successful retrieval of the files, Duke Silver passes them over to Victoria Mars.

Victoria Mars: Huh. It says here that there were four men on the bank security team. Why would Banker have told us there were five?

Great question, so they head right over to ask the man himself. At first, he claims it was merely an oversight, caused by the breadth of his security responsibilities.

Duke Silver: Look, we got a name for the guy. Jack Fenton?
Banker: That name sounds kind of familiar but I’d have to check.
Victoria Mars: He has priors for armed robbery, so it’s weird he got the job.
Banker: I’ve never met him, so.
Victoria Mars: Now that’s even weirder, given that Jack Fenton is your brother in law!

That’s enough to get Banker to tell the whole story, which is pretty much what you’d expect. Fenton married Banker’s sister, and Banker never liked him. Fenton had been in the army, until he got kicked out, and then jail. Banker’s sister begged him to give her husband a job, so Banker found the guy some part time work.

Banker: I don’t know if he was involved in the robbery, I promise. I also don’t know where he is: moves around a lot. I’ll give you a list of a few places he might be.

List secured, Victoria Mars suggests sending Moses and Detective Mustache to the lodging houses and bars, while she and Duke Silver check out the jewelry store to find out when the next new shipment (and their suspect) will arrive.

Duke Silver: If we show up and say who we are we might tip him off.
Me: Oh my god, it’s happening.
Duke Silver: We need a cover story.

A man yells "oh my god! ok, it's happening." as other office workers mill around in panic

Victoria Mars: I have an idea.

Yeah buddy, you know exactly where this is headed: they go in and pretend to be shopping for an engagement ring. Victoria Mars is, as usual, much better at inhabiting her undercover role. She’s also pretty eager to mess with our friend, and makes HIM tell the “how the proposal happened” story. It’s a classic bit, for a fake engagement plotline, and I love every second of it, including the part where Duke Silver holds his own and calls out his fiancee’s “wonderful cooking” and especially the part where they make aggressive eye contact while he describes the really romantic bit.

A person pushes together two friend's faces and says "NOW KISS."

Instead of capitalizing on the moment, however, Victoria Mars asks the shopkeeper if they’re getting any new stock in soon. Meanwhile, at a bar, Moses and Detective Mustache come up empty. At least they think they do, until a man matching the description exactly bellies up to the bar.

Moses: Ok, let’s go get him.
Detective Mustache: Isn’t that why I pay you?
Moses: It's a two person gig.
Detective Mustache: Good job for you then that I used to box as well. Let’s do it.

Reader, they might be in trouble. We all know Moses kicks butt, but Jack Fenton turns out to be both huge and apparently impervious to pain. They finally seem to have him on the ropes when the cops appear, and not, unfortunately, friendly ones: it’s Serving Posh and his goons, who run off after Fenton and take our friends into custody for good measure.

A woman raises her eyebrows, unimpressed.

Later, Baby Detective rocks up to Victoria Mars’ to update his work parents on the situation. Duke Silver opines that if Fenton knows people are after him he’s likely to hide, which makes sense. They send Baby Detective out the back door, and are about to talk strategy when the railway man Moses and Detective Mustache talked to earlier knocks on the door.

Mr. Railway: After the incident we hired Detective Mustache: the cops weren’t helping, sorry to say. We’ve been victims of crime before, but this is different. First a bomb, and now I hear Detective Mustache had his license suspended! That’s why I’m here: Victoria Mars, you’re his only employee I can find.
Victoria Mars, desperately wants to yell about how she doesn’t work for Detective Mustache:

Arthur the Aardvark's clenched fist in a close-up.

Mr. Railway: Anyway, I just learned that the conductor remembered having a weird encounter in a bar a couple of days before the robbery. This guy was nice at first; pretended to be a friendly stranger, bought a bunch of drinks, invited the conductor back to his place. And then the stranger just started asking real specific train questions.
Duke Silver: Name?
Mr. Railway: Fenton. Jack Fenton.
Victoria Mars: Do you have the address of where he was staying?

They immediately head over to search the place, which is far enough from fancy to prompt a “crime doesn’t pay” said entirely earnestly by Duke Silver (who almost immediately corrects himself: some criminals actually get paid even better than him).

Victoria Mars: Well you better work on that if you’re going to get me that fancy ring.
Duke Silver: Yeah, I better, I bet you have champagne tastes, girl.
Victoria Mars: Actually, nah: I like simple and small. It’s the unwrapping that I like; best part of Christmas!
Duke Silver: Good to know.
Victoria Mars: Arabella, however: you’ll have to really pony up to get something she’d like. If you get a promotion, take it.

Duke Silver doesn’t have time to answer that, because in the process of searching his side of the room, he’s accidentally engaged a bomb hidden in a suitcase. He insists that Victoria Mars leave, which of course she ignores in order to investigate.

Duke Silver: There’s a wire that tripped when I opened it. I don’t want to move and risk anything; I will try and close it when you leave. Just do what I say, ok?
Victoria Mars: No! I’ve been reading up about bombs, and they’re all based on the same ideas, so I’m actually pretty sure I know what to do.
Duke Silver: Pretty sure?!?
Victoria Mars: Yeah. The bomb’s connected to the detonator, and that can either be connected to a timer, or a trip wire, like here.
Duke Silver: There are three wires. Do you know which one to cut?
Victoria Mars: Yup.
Duke Silver: Really, or are you just saying that?
Victoria Mars: Six of one… anyway, here I go.

She quickly cuts through all three (explaining after that you only have to choose in novels), and after they both compose themselves for a second, they examine the device, which looks exactly like the others. They’re now confident that Fenton was involved, but it’s a little hard to understand how he’s affording all this. They also spot a manufacturer’s mark on the explosives.

Later, Victoria Mars stops in to visit Mr. Railway. Well, I say visit, but I probably should have said interrogate.

Victoria Mars: You’re doing a big expansion of your routes, right?
Mr. Railway: Sorry, how is this relevant?
Victoria Mars: Well, we’re not in Kansas, so you have to make tunnels for those tracks. Tunnels that are blasted out with explosives. I talked to your supplier earlier, they were super helpful.
Mr. Railway: I’m so sorry, I must go to an important meeting.
Victoria Mars: You’re the one who arranges the purchase and transpo for the explosives, right? How do you know Jack Fenton? Oh hey, Duke Silver, you’re just in time to hear how this gentleman knows our other suspect!
Duke Silver: Great!
Mr. Railway: Not from where I’m sitting.
Duke Silver: Maybe this will help: we found a copy of Fenton’s military discharge paperwork. Turns out you served together, and you sent him home!
Victoria Mars: You sent yourself that bomb to trick our friends, and you decided to try and blow us up when we got too close.
Mr. Railway: I didn’t want to hurt anyone! That was Fenton’s idea. The first bombs weren’t set to explode, it was just a misdirect.
Duke Silver: You’re coming to Scotland Yard to explain yourself.

Later, as someone takes Mr. Railway into custody, Duke Silver tells Victoria Mars that he thinks their suspect will spill it all.

Victoria Mars: And our friends?
Duke Silver: Yeah, I’ll let Moses and Detective Mustache go. It’s my case now. Look, I know things are a little funky between us right now but I miss you. Can’t we still go out for monthly dinner together? It’s a little unconventional, but you don’t care about that!
Victoria Mars: I don’t, but Arabella will. I better go.

After taking a second to process all that, he heads inside to be a sore winner at Serving Posh.

Duke Silver: Hey guys! Guess what, I solved it, so you can get out of my office now.

Later, Victoria Mars finds Moses training Baby Detective (who’s doing pretty great, btw).

Victoria Mars: Hey! Just a heads up, we got all the suspects mopped up. Also, I brought you this French dictionary. Just in case.
Moses: Thanks, but I’m still thinking that over.
Victoria Mars, trying and failing to pretend she doesn’t care either way: Will you be up for working on stuff while you decide?
Moses, also trying and failing to pretend he doesn’t care: Maybe. We’ll see!
Victoria Mars: You should try having a plan! Completing a to-do list is very satisfying.
Moses: Yeah, unless you don’t get what you want! You want a lot of stuff; maybe try picking one thing to focus on, bud!

Turns out Moses maybe should have given this advice to someone else: Duke Silver arrives at Arabella’s house (late, again) and instead of taking her out for dinner, she sits him down to have a talk.

Arabella: Look, I had a dad who couldn’t love his kids, and a husband who only cared about money. There’s only so much rejection a person can handle.
Duke Silver: Huh?
Arabella: Victoria Mars! I’m assuming she’s why you’re late?
Duke Silver: She was working on the case, yes, but…
Arabella: You talk about her ALL the time. I know you say she annoys you, but everyone knows how you feel! Right television audience?
Everyone watching: 100% correct, Arabella.
Duke Silver: We’re just friends!
Arabella: Keep telling yourself that, if you want. You’re in love with her, and I don’t think you can convince me I’m wrong. Good luck; you’re gonna need it. And look, I say this as a friend, not to be a jerk: career is always going to come first for her. Nothing will ever be enough; not even you, and the future you picture with her is never gonna happen.

Look, it’s hard to argue with someone who’s probably right about everything, so he doesn’t. Anyway, the next day when Victoria Mars arrives at her office, it’s to find a VERY nicely wrapped box sitting on her desk. But despite her thing about loving to open presents earlier, she seems less than pleased. Why? Because inside the box is a stack of business cards from Detective Mustache, who really wants her to work in the London office while he sets up in Paris. When she confronts him about it, he explains that this is a different convo than the one they normally have: she wouldn't be working for him, she’d be a partner, running the London office with a full time staff of twenty.

Victoria Mars: Very persuasive. Who wrote this speech for you?
Detective Mustache: Hurtful! And I'm not telling.
Victoria Mars: If I said yes, I’d want my own office, with my name on the door.
Detective Mustache: Thought you might say that: behold!

It’s kind of everything she’s ever wanted, professionally at least. So what’s the verdict? No clue! We end on that cliffhanger, and just have to wait for season 4 to find out. In the meantime, I’ll be back recapping both Call the Midwife and Sanditon in March. See you then, reader!