So. Last week, we took a journey back in time to see how our pals first met, and got confirmation that Duke Silver is alive and somewhat well. THIS week finds our Scottish friend trapped at Victoria Mars’ place and getting smothered by Ivy.
Ivy: You’re saying you’re ok but:
I’m gonna go make you a huge breakfast, deal with it.
Duke Silver: I’m fine, and please stop putting blankets on me?
Victoria Mars, disaster: I can’t find any of my stuff!
Me: Possibly this is because Ivy cleaned up after you, but who’s to say?
Ivy: No, that’s exactly right, you called it.
Victoria Mars: Anyway, glad Ivy’s keeping a good eye on you, man who I’ve got living in my house, propriety be damned!
Ivy skips off to make breakfast, leaving these two clowns alone so that they can do their normal light banter thing, but this time with added hand holding? Victoria Mars is acting like this is just a thing they do all the time, but Duke Silver (and all of us at home) can’t help but stare at the way she’s just casually resting her hand on top of his.
Victoria Mars: Anyway, I better go to work! Can’t be lazing around all day like a certain gunshot victim!
Duke Silver: I’m sure your one (1) employee doesn’t really care, but go off.
Victoria Mars: I WILL have a bustling office again, mark my words! Just rest and do what Ivy says, mmmkay?
He doesn’t really have a choice though, does he? Anyway, Victoria Mars arrives at work to find Accountant positively bubbly, which naturally raises some questions. Specifically:
We get the answer almost immediately: Accountant’s idol, Detective Mustache, has returned from the continent! Victoria Mars is decidedly less excited to see our mustachioed friend, and for good reason: he’s pretty furious about the whole “all the employees quit” thing.
Victoria Mars: Ok but in my defense: feminism?
Detective Mustache: Nice try, but this is more of a bad management situation. WTF, dude?
Victoria Mars: Things are turning around! I’ve got many potential clients lined up! You can leave!
Detective Mustache: It’s my name — and my fake sons too — that you’re dragging through the mud, so no, I’m staying.
Look, I know this is Victoria Mars’ nightmare, but I’ve kind of missed the funny disaster man, and I think this new dynamic between Detective Mustache, Accountant, and Victoria Mars will be fun! Obviously, Victoria Mars’ first assumption is that Accountant has betrayed her, but to his credit, he’s only been answering his boss’ questions honestly.
Detective Mustache: Well, listening to you two fight is fun, but I’m off to the bar to get drunk with the kind of unsavory people who will pay us to solve mysteries.
Victoria Mars: If you’d actually listened to me, you’d know that I have a meeting with a rich influential client this morning!
Detective Mustache: Sure, Jan. Let’s go.
So off they pop to the home of a couple who’ve made their money in the textile game. Does this immediately make me think of North and South?
Victoria Mars tries to butter up the clients, but given that their issue is their nouveau riche status, Detective Mustache, with his Irish background, seems poised to do a better job wooing them. That is until it becomes clear that the real issue is that the fancy ladies of London aren’t being all that welcoming to Lady Fabric Money, which seems like a Victoria Mars problem. Finally, they explain: they hosted a charity fundraiser earlier that week, and halfway through the party, they were robbed.
Sir Fabric Money: We had this fancy hatpin that belonged to Admiral Nelson. You can see it in the painting we also have, because apparently we love a theme. Bought the thing at auction and it was VERY expensive, but worth it. I’m a big fan – Nelson’s always been a hero for me, since he also didn’t come from money.
Lady Fabric Money: Our butler noticed it was missing at about 10:30. I was so upset I started crying in front of everyone and embarrassed myself.
Sir Fabric Money: No babe, you were fine!
Me, immediately: Love a supportive husband, and also:
Detective Mustache, clearly on my wavelength: Well, we need the guest list and the names of all your staff members.
Sir Fabric Money: It wasn’t the staff; I already talked to them. It’s one of these moneybags, I know it. Trying to teach me a lesson, I’m sure.
Victoria Mars: And did you tell the cops?
Sir Fabric Money: LMAO, no. There were 100 guests, and one of them did it. Be discreet, and if you find this person I’ll pay double.
Outside, Victoria Mars grabs the gloating opportunity with both hands, natch. Unfortunately for her, Detective Mustache isn’t quite ready to throw her an 1800s ticker tape parade yet. He’s still mad at her for the whole “you fired all my staff” thing, and they continue to fight about it all the way back to the office, where Accountant serves them tea.
Detective Mustache: Look, I’ve been getting letters from all my erstwhile employees. I hoped this would all work itself out sooner, which is why I’m just returning now, halfway through the season.
Accountant: Shall we focus on the case?
Detective Mustache: Sure. I’ll take the staff; I don’t care what they say, it’s probably a maid.
Victoria Mars: And I’ll do the guests. I’ve got a copy of the book where we record all the fancy old money people, so that’ll be a good place to start.
Accountant: And I’ll write up the contract and start trying to figure out what my reporting structure looks like now that I presumably have two bosses.
Detective Mustache: Nope, one boss, and that’s-a-me. Look, Victoria Mars, I’m not here to mess with you, I’m helping. And I’ll be here as long as it takes!
Ominous! Later that night, Victoria Mars’ quiet study time is interrupted by Duke Silver, who wanders in having just woken up from a nap. A nap where apparently he was snoring up a storm, despite his protest to the contrary.
Victoria Mars: Ivy’s out, but I can make you food?
Duke Silver, not wanting to chance another brush with death so soon after the last one: Uh.
Victoria Mars: Save it, even I can’t mess up bread and jam. Also, I’ve had a long day, so be nice. Guess who’s back in town?
Duke Silver: Detective Mustache? Yeah, Baby Detective filled me in when he was over earlier for his daily visit.
Victoria Mars: I for one think it’s cute that he visits you every day! He’ll miss all the attention when you’re back in the office though.
Duke Silver: Ugh, don’t remind me about going back there. The place is a disaster. I might not go back at all!
Victoria Mars: What?? That job is your life!
Duke Silver: Actually, not so much. This made me realize there’s more to life than solving crimes.
Victoria Mars: Can’t relate. What are you even talking about?
Duke Silver: Not work!
Victoria Mars, the most obtuse character on television: Hmm, still don’t follow. OH, you’re doing the thing where you twinkle your eyes at me, and I can’t handle that. Shall we talk about the first time we met, as covered in last week’s episode?
Duke Silver: Yes, but because it’s a nice romantic memory. Those were good times.
Ivy, bursting in: UGH, just got back from visiting my mother and I’m in a MOOD. Don’t ask about her gout!
Victoria Mars: LMAO, will do. I’m leaving, you can tell Duke Silver all about it.
Ivy: Great! I see you’re eating, so I’ll make this as disgusting as possible!
While he gets his meal ruined, Victoria Mars heads to the office, all excited about a possible lead on one of the party guests. Unfortunately for her, Detective Mustache isn’t all that excited to hear about it, and for good reason.
Detective Mustache: Did you do a background check on this client, perchance? Find out where his money came from?
Me: Ooh, are we finally going to acknowledge how complicit the textile industry was in the transatlantic slave trade and then continued ill treatment of Black people in the US after abolition?
Detective Mustache: No, alas. Right now I’m more worried about the fact that Sir Fabric Money got the cash to get into textiles from his original profession: being a member of a horrifying CRIME FAMILY. You should have been able to find out we’re working for the Don Corleone of Corduroy, if you hadn’t gotten rid of all the people who normally run background checks for us! You messed up, pal, but I fixed it, don’t worry. I sent him a telegram saying we were too busy, and now you and I are going to sit down and make a plan!
Well, they would, but Don Cord-leone himself has barged into the office by this point, and he looks mad.
Don Cord-leone: Look, I think I know what happened, but let me explain. My wife and I were victims of a crime, and yes, back in the day I would’ve just handled this myself. But I promised her I would be a gentleman now.
Victoria Mars: I’m sure there are lots of detectives who would help you?
Don Cord-leone: I’m used to people who are true to their word. So you’re gonna take this case, and you’re gonna succeed. Or else. Oh, also, you’re doing this for free to make up for the insult.
He storms out, and Detective Mustache has the gall to be mad at Victoria Mars. Sure, she got them into this mess, but he made it so much worse with that telegram! Anyway, now that the scary “former”-mobster has departed, the crew gets down to business.
Accountant: Interesting thought: what do you think will happen to the thief once you find him?
Detective Mustache: LOL, hadn’t even thought of that, but thanks for making this worse, bud!
Victoria Mars: We don’t really have an alternative, so let’s just solve the damn thing. I found out that the diamond feather hatpin was put up for auction last year.
Accountant: Yeah, and it sounds like Nelson’s family didn’t really want to sell it, but they were desperate for the money.
Victoria Mars: Exactly, and one of the guests at the party is Nelson’s cousin. Motive, means, and opportunity.
Detective Mustache: We should go talk to him.
Victoria Mars: Yes, but we need a cover.
And that’s how the two of them end up masquerading as married art patrons trying to look for a charity to support at Nelson’s Cousin’s home (the cousin runs a charity for soldiers getting back on their feet). Detective Mustache pretty deftly raises some “mutual acquaintances” to try and get more dirt on Don Cord-leone. Honestly, kind of a hard line to walk, since we know that most of the high society types don’t like Don Cord-leone, but our pals are able to convince Nelson’s Cousin that they know the textile barons, but aren’t necessarily besties.
Nelson’s Cousin, ready to talk trash despite his wife’s best efforts: Ugh, Lady Fabric Money made a fool of herself at the party, and her husband is worse. They’re trashy, is what I’m saying.
Nelson’s Cousin’s Wife: Can we not?
Nelson’s Cousin, boorish: Don’t tell me what to do in my own home!
And that’s when Victoria Mars notices some pretty telling bruises on Nelson’s Cousin’s Wife’s neck. Unfortunately, there’s not much she can do about it right now, so the detectives turn the conversation back to the theft, suggesting that the couple across from them must have been extra upset since the stolen hatpin is practically a family heirloom!
Nelson’s Cousin: Oh, not really, we’re very distant cousins. But I know exactly who took the pin.
Both detectives, simultaneously: WHO?
Detective Mustache: LOL, sorry, we just love gossip.
Nelson’s Cousin: It was the baroness! She’s always looking for handouts; riddled with debt, and trying to get passage back to Prussia.
He’s gross, but a lead’s a lead. While they work, Duke Silver wakes up to find Ivy and Baby Detective have been watching him sleep like this:
Ivy: You looked so peaceful! He’s always so grumpy when he wakes up too, so cute! I’m gonna go get cake!
Duke Silver: Ugh, cake. I’m going to get huge living here.
Baby Detective: Whatever man, you look better every day.
A good proportion of the viewing audience: Sure do, pal. Sure do.
Duke Silver: You know you don’t have to visit me every day, right?
Baby Detective: No, I like to! I mean, unless of course you don’t want me to?
Even Duke Silver isn’t that heartless, so instead of getting himself some peace and quiet, he gabs about Baby Detective’s upcoming interview at the American Embassy regarding that secondment to NYC we heard about two weeks back. A good learning opportunity that also takes Baby Detective about as far as he can get from his mean dad? It’s a win win! It does, however, mean that Duke Silver has to listen to his work son practicing a speech for the application. And while he “suffers” through that, Detective Mustache and Victoria Mars take their “married investors” show on the road to visit Prussian Baroness’ estate. After some brief small talk about her stables, Victoria Mars gets right into it.
Victoria Mars: Oh, I’ll leave all the money stuff to my husband. I was saying the same thing to my friend Lady Fabric Money the other day.
Prussian Baroness: Oh, you know her?
Victoria Mars, hedging her bets: Well. I’d say we’re more like acquaintances than friends; we’re from SUCH different social strata. But I feel so bad for her; did you hear about the stolen diamond feather!?
We might have been on the verge of a breakthrough, but at that moment, the maid enters to announce a visitor. Prussian Baroness jumps on the opportunity to get rid of our friends, but not before Victoria Mars gets a good enough look at the visitor to realize that she knows who he is, and that he’s a fence. Back at the office, Detective Mustache tells Accountant to start looking into the guy, but Accountant has pressing business he wants to go over first. Specifically, an anonymous note that just says “that feather you’re looking for is in Nelson’s Cousin’s writing desk.”
While things are looking up for our private detectives, the opposite is true for young Baby Detective, who’s arrived back at Victoria Mars’ house looking much the worse for wear. His interview? Disaster. Whisky? Incoming. Apparently the interviewers are looking for someone with more experience. Someone like Duke Silver, actually!
Duke Silver: LOL, you trying to get rid of me? Don’t worry, you can apply next year. Be patient!
Baby Detective: You’re right dad. You’re always right. Anyway, I better get back, don’t want Hardscrabble to think I’m lazy.
Duke Silver: Ok, but don’t be too hard on yourself. You’re good, kid.
Ivy, the INSTANT Baby Detective leaves: Awww. You’re a good dad! You want kids? Listen, can I say what I really think?
Duke Silver: Sure, but only if you refill my whisky first.
Ivy: Duh, I’m having one too. Listen. You just almost died, so I don’t need to tell you that life is short. I don’t know what happened with Arabella, and I’m no detective, but I have a guess. Don’t you think it’s time to actually tell her?
Duke Silver, pretending he doesn’t know: Tell who?
You’re not fooling ANYONE, pal. Meanwhile, across town, Detective Mustache tells Victoria Mars that it looks like the coast is clear: no one is home at Nelson’s Cousin’s house.
Victoria Mars: Don’t you think this is too easy
Detective Mustache: Nah, not really. That guy’s a jerk, and has enemies.
Victoria Mars: Speaking of enemies — what did your guys say about me in the letters?
Detective Mustache: You don’t want to know. In any case, it wasn’t your fault. I shouldn’t have left you in charge!
There’s a lot to say about that, but not a lot of time: Nelson’s Cousin has just left home with his wife. The detectives sneak into his house, bickering all the way. Thankfully, their silly fight is quiet enough that they hear it when someone else arrives in the house, and have enough time to hide behind a sofa. Unfortunately, this means that they get to see the aftermath of someone else searching the desk and retrieving the hatpin.
The next morning, Duke Silver does a brief “where were you last night young lady” disappointed dad routine, but not because he’s trying to control her schedule: because he wanted to talk to her.
Victoria Mars: If this is about leaving, no way. You’re still sick!
Duke Silver: It’s not, and I’ll tell you if you just let me talk!
Victoria Mars: Oh, I know: Baby Detective told you who my client is, and you’re trying to shut it down!
Duke Silver: Could you just listen to me for once? Actually, hang on, what client? Danger?
Victoria Mars: Uhhhh. Never mind! I gotta go to work!
Classic them. At the office, we lay out the outstanding questions: if Nelson’s Cousin did steal the hatpin, who took it from him? And who sent the anonymous letter? Accountant arrives with a list of possible fences, but none with the name Victoria Mars suggested. Thankfully, she’s got an idea, and tracks our guy down pretty fast. After the usual “I know you because of my buddy Duke Silver and if you don’t help me I’ll bring him here to brood at you” we get down to business: how does The Fence know Prussian Baroness?
The Fence: I don’t! Ugh, fine: I pay her a commission when she brings me rich women who want to discreetly sell their stuff.
Victoria Mars: Interesting. Who did she send your way?
The Fence: Nelson’s Cousin’s Wife.
Obviously, Victoria Mars arranges to have The Fence talk to her after his meeting with Nelson’s Cousin’s Wife so she can find out what the lady in question is hoping to sell. In the interim, Victoria Mars has a downright pleasant chat with Detective Mustache. Pleasant, that is, until they return to their office and find Don Cord-leone and Lady Fabric Money waiting for them.
Detective Mustache: Nice of you to drop by, but if there are any developments we will of course let you know asap!
Don Cord-leone, no exaggeration:
Butler, take my wife to the carriage please. Ok, now that we’re alone, WTF guys? My brothers are laughing at me, and I don’t like it. You’re gonna tell me everything you’ve found so far, mmmkay? I need names! And addresses! And I need to go now or we’ll be late to lunch! You get one more day.
Ominous! While they process that tidbit, Duke Silver asks Ivy for some writing paper and a pen so he can, as far as I can tell, day drink and journal. In reality, he’s actually trying to write a letter to Victoria Mars that explains his feelings. The vibe:
Reader, we get to see what he’s writing, and the TL;DR? “I’ve wanted to say this for a long time. I love you.”
Can’t wait for the inevitable “I too have familial love for you” reply from our emotionally stunted disaster girlie later!
Back at Nash and Sons, tensions are running high. The Fence is late!
Accountant: Not to break up what I’m sure would have been a charmingly immature fight, but: I think that guy is outside.
He sure is, reader, and he’s NOT in a good mood, despite having very helpful information to share. Nelson’s Cousin’s Wife is hoping to finance a divorce from her creep of a husband, and to do that, she wants to sell something big. You guessed it: Admiral Nelson’s Diamond Feather. The problem? We like Nelson’s Cousin’s Wife, and don’t want to send a mobster after her. Also, it’s a little too easy. Sure, her husband could have stolen the hatpin, but why would she steal it from him? And who sent the note? Before we can speculate too much, Accountant arrives with more info: Nelson’s Cousin’s Wife’s pre-divorce escape hotel room? It’s being paid for by none other than Don Cord-leone.
Victoria Mars: Ew, do we think they’re having an affair?
Detective Mustache: Nothing surprises me anymore.
Victoria Mars: Well we better look into it I guess.
She starts to, but then Duke Silver rocks up to the office to have that conversation from earlier. Victoria Mars, distracted, isn’t really paying attention, or I have to assume she’d notice how weird and squirrely he’s being.
Duke Silver: Look, we need to talk. I need to tell you something.
Accountant: Hiiii, just found out that Nelson’s Cousin’s Wife is meeting The Fence in 20 minutes, you gotta boogie.
Victoria Mars: I’m so sorry, I have to go.
Duke Silver, lying through his teeth: No rush, I’m fine!
Victoria Mars: We’ll talk tonight. I’ll make a reservation, and I won’t be late, I promise!
Seems like a bad promise to make when you’re on a scary tight deadline, but you do you! After she bustles out of there, Duke Silver props the note up on her desk where she’ll see it, and then takes a second to have a flashback to the time Arabella dumped him for having rather transparent feelings for Victoria Mars. You might also remember that the conversation included a bit where Arabella, possibly correct, maybe just jealous, pointed out that Victoria Mars is pretty darn ambitious and not likely to let her feelings get in the way of her career. Having recalled that part, Duke Silver retrieves the letter, stuffs it back in his jacket pocket, and heads out.
Over at the hotel, Nelson’s Cousin’s Wife enters her room only to find Detective Mustache and Victoria Mars waiting to accuse her of theft. She denies it, but that kinda falls apart when the detectives reveal that they already found the pin. Things get even more interesting when Lady Fabric Money arrives on scene. Obviously, everyone sits down to spill the beans.
Lady Fabric Money: We met through a women's group and realize we’re both just as miserable in our marriages. MY husband wants to be accepted by people like her crappy abusive husband, can you believe?
Victoria Mars: And you needed money to fund the divorce so you stole this?
Lady Fabric Money: I stole it! I wanted to help her, but I also wanted to punish my husband. I was happy before we moved; we were where we belonged, and all I’ve experienced since we moved here was being treated horribly. She’s the only one who’s ever been kind to me.
Nelson’s Cousin’s Wife: After the party my husband got drunk and assaulted me. Lady Fabric Money was supposed to give me the jewel, but she tried to frame my husband with that note.
Lady Fabric Money: I hoped you’d tell my husband and he’d bump her husband off.
Nelson’s Cousin’s Wife: My husband’s horrible, but I didn’t want him dead. So I stole it back, and here we are.
Lady Fabric Money: If we tell my husband, I’m not sure what he’ll do to us.
This presents a pretty classic moral dilemma: if the detective pals DO hand over the women, they’ll probably be killed. If they DON’T, Don Cord-leone will come after them. It’s a head scratcher, at least for Victoria Mars — Detective Mustache would like to live, thank you very much!
Victoria Mars: Hang on. Don Cord-leone is a rich guy. He could live anywhere. Why London? He wants to belong!
Detective Mustache: Look, I hope this is you working out a plan, and if so, can you just tell me? I’m stressed!
Next stop? Returning the jewel. Of course, Don Cord-leone’s first question is who took the dang thing.
Detective Mustache: We’re not going to tell you. Sorry. We brought it back, and that’s enough.
Don Cord-leone: I’m only gonna ask you one more time before I get mean.
Victoria Mars: Yes, yes, you’re very scary. I mean, I have this whole file of all the people you’ve disappeared, and wow! You can keep this copy, but you should know that we’ll release OUR copy if anything bad happens to us.
Don Cord-leone: Nice file, and I’m sure the cops have a very similar one down at Scotland Yard. If there were any actual evidence, I’d be in jail. I’m not scared!
Victoria Mars: Oh, LOL, no; we’re not sending it to the cops. We’re sending it to your party guests! You moved here to make friends with posh people, and that just simply won’t happen if they find out you’re a grungy murderer. We want to keep your rep intact, so help us help you. And also pay us, double, as originally agreed.
Detective Mustache, clearly didn’t know she was gonna do that:
Don Cord-leone, after some time to think:
Very good. And the obvious next step is to go have a drink at the office with Accountant. Clearly someone forgot that she’d agreed to get dinner with Duke Silver earlier. Accountant compliments Victoria Mars on securing the bag, and then heads out to balance the books, leaving Detective Mustache to finally tell our friend some of the things people wrote to him about her.
Detective Mustache: Accountant was always fairly complimentary about you. It’s a shame —
Victoria Mars: Please don’t ruin this with whatever mean comment you’re about to make.
Detective Mustache: Actually, I was about to say that it’s a shame my guys couldn’t see you the way I do: remarkable, talented, and badass. I should have stayed here until you settled in, and it’s partly my fault that they left.
Victoria Mars: Well, I was also kinda intense. So it’s my fault too.
Detective Mustache: I’ve decided: I’ll stay here and fund things so we can turn this around. Once we’re back in business, I’ll go back to Paris again. With your brains and my looks, we can’t fail.
Adorable! Admirable! Still not the conversation I was hoping to see right now! And Victoria Mars just realized the same thing, having spotted the clock and seeing that she’s now over an hour late for dinner. She races home to look for Duke Silver, who isn’t in the parlor (but his letter is). Before she can open it, the man himself walks in, and he’s wearing a coat.
Victoria Mars: Where are you going? You’re too sick to be home alone!
Duke Silver: I’m not going home. I went to talk to my boss, and he agreed: I’m going to New York.
Victoria Mars: Yeah, what she said! For a whole year? Just because I was late for dinner?
Duke Silver: No. Because I love you.
Duke Silver: Wow, that never happens, maybe I should tell you more often.
Victoria Mars, incredulous: You love me, and you’re leaving?
Duke Silver: I need change. We both do. This gives us time to think about our options. If we’re going to be together, I can’t stay at Scotland Yard while you’re a private detective. And I can’t be around you anymore without being with you. This is an impossible situation.
Victoria Mars: What, and it’s my fault?
Duke Silver: Yep.
And then, reader, he kisses her real good and LEAVES. WHAT IS HAPPENING??? Honestly, Victoria Mars looks just as confused as I feel, and that is the note on which we end the episode. Whew. I’m honestly not sure what to do with that, so I guess we’ll just have to see how this goes next week, but good gravy, these two would try the patience of a saint. See you all next time when we find out how in the world our emotionally challenged girl boss is going to handle… all this.