Can you believe we’re here at the season finale already? Yeah, neither can I. But there isn’t much time to muse over how little time we’ve got left with our pals because the episode kicks off with Victoria Mars and Detective Mustache running for their lives through an abandoned building while someone tries to shoot them.
From what I can gather, the pair are fleeing a rather large man who Victoria Mars drugged, but who has yet to succumb, which has led them to this abandoned factory which used to deal in some kind of (possibly toxic) chemicals. Victoria Mars has set to work attempting to lock them inside an office when Detective Mustache remembers that it’s a facility for dying fabric. Thankfully, she’s successful, because their attacker finds their hiding place, shoots a hole in the window, and reaches in to try and unlock the door. It’s dire. Our friends square up with improvised weapons (a heavy object for her, and fists for him), and are preparing to fight when the laudanum FINALLY takes effect, and the attacker keels over. Now that he’s dealt with, we can return to the office to receive the accolades of Victoria Mars’ newly hired staff, who applaud our heroes for apprehending a fugitive.
Victoria Mars, rallying the troops: Thanks guys, but really, you were a big part of this win! It’s our most lucrative and highest profile case to date, which is great, but also means hard work ahead. Long days, but also, overtime!
Accountant, in the corner:
Victoria Mars: Good job, lads!
Afterwards, in the office, Accountant runs the numbers: it’s their most successful quarter yet! He’s still not thrilled about the overtime, but accepts Victoria Mars’ direction (albeit a bit begrudgingly).
Detective Mustache: Wow, you fixed Accountant’s Scrooge-like tendencies too – what can’t you do? Totally separately, some personal news: I’m heading back to Paris at the end of the week.
Victoria Mars, a bit sad: I mean, we’ll really miss you, but I also appreciate the support?
Accountant: I’ll start booking everything. Bye!
Detective Mustache, after he leaves: You look tired.
Victoria Mars: You look beautiful. Wait, hang on, wrong guy. I meant to say, thanks (sarcastic).
Detective Mustache: You’ve been working nonstop for months. You need to take time off and have fun. Seriously, get your stuff. We’re going to the races!
Victoria Mars: LMAO, what?
Detective Mustache: Horses! Let’s go!
Victoria Mars: I don’t like gambling.
Detective Mustache: Now it is MY turn to LMAO: you’re the most natural gambler I’ve seen! Money is for spending on fun things, let’s go!
That does the trick, and, somewhat reluctantly, they head out. Meanwhile, across town, Hardscrabble and Baby Detective argue over whether a piece of news is bad, or merely not good.
Baby Detective: Look, you know I’m a big nerd, but this distinction is not super clear.
Hardscrabble: Not good doesn’t necessarily mean bad, is all. For instance: Duke Silver’s been gone for two months, and it’s not good that we don’t know who’s covering for him yet. I hear they’re looking for someone external, which might mean we get stuck with that jerk from last season who heads up the Irish branch.
Baby Detective: Surely not!
Hardscrabble: Well all I know is that I haven’t gotten the job. I should’ve joined the Masons. Heard anything from your dearest daddy?
Baby Detective: Duke Silver writes all the time, you know this. OH, you mean my horrible biological dad? No, and I really wish you’d stop bringing him up; he is the worst. We don’t talk.
Unpleasable Commissioner, right on schedule: Hello, son!
Baby Detective: Hi? I didn’t know you were coming in today!
Unpleasable Commissioner: Is there somewhere we can talk?
Since Baby Detective doesn’t have an office (#relatable), they head to the nearby cop bar, presumably partly so we can see how much disdain Unpleasable Commissioner has for the things normal people like.
Unpleasable Commissioner: Can’t believe you like this seedy hellhole. Anyway! While Duke Silver is away, we need someone to fill in, and we haven’t found anyone good yet.
Baby Detective: Oh, I mean my partner Hardscrabble —
Unpleasable Commissioner: I said someone good, keep up. He can fill in for a couple of days, but not for a year. The job has become very political — I need someone who can play the game! Someone like that awesome guy from last season who heads up the Irish branch! But he said no :( Ever since we made the job horrible no one wants it! So I’ve been considering you.
Unpleasable Commissioner: You’re the worst, granted, but I did raise you to be good at talking to rich people. Also I’ve been watching and you’ve actually done a good job this season. Your problem is a lack of ambition: this could be the thing that makes your career AND gets me to maybe finally approve of you. You’re going to be assigned the next murder that comes in. Do a good job.
Baby Detective: Yes sir. Thank you!
Look, it would be super hard to turn down a chance at approval from a dad this distant, so I get why he’s all in. But also, boy howdy is that going to be an awkward office dynamic if he gets this job!
Across town, our friends have returned from the track, and unsurprisingly, Victoria Mars has put her overwhelming knowledge of current affairs to good use to make smart bets and win money.
Detective Mustache: Boring! Betting is about vibes!
Victoria Mars: Tell that to my winnings, bro.
Taking the bickering inside to bother Accountant, the two get back into work mode. While Victoria Mars signs paperwork, Detective Mustache opens a telegram. Reader, I don’t know what’s in that thing, but whatever it is ruins our friend’s day and makes him hightail it out of the office real quick.
Later, at dinner, Barney the Morgue Bureaucrat says grace in that way where there are a bunch of long pauses that make everyone think he’s done multiple times before he actually is. Would be even funnier if he was doing this on purpose to wind up Victoria Mars, but alas, he doesn’t play that way. Regardless, it’s a weirdly sweet and domestic scene given the group, which I think we have to commend Ivy for: making her nearest and dearest be nice to each other is clearly a full time gig.
Ivy: So. Any news from Duke Silver?
Victoria Mars: Yes. Sounds like he’s settling in well. I’m going to write back to him after dinner.
Barney the Morgue Bureaucrat: Oh! Please tell him this funny work story when you do! It’s that methanol story, remember I told you this babe?
Ivy: Oh, yes, what a good story. Maybe you can tell him yourself when he gets back.
Barney the Morgue Bureaucrat: LMAO, no way, a story this good can’t wait!
Ivy: Well, I tried.
Barney the Morgue Bureaucrat: But. But you said it was the funniest story you’d ever heard?
Ivy, grasping at straws: I think it was the way you told it! Victoria Mars probably won’t do it justice.
We’re saved from actually hearing the story ourselves by a knock at the door. The caller? Baby Detective, and unfortunately, he looks like he’s bearing bad news.
Baby Detective: I’m looking for Detective Mustache, and haven’t been able to find him. Kinda hoping he’s here?
Victoria Mars: Um, no. Anything I can help with?
Baby Detective: Well there’s been a murder. The victim was stabbed. A lot.
Victoria Mars: And you want to hire us?
Baby Detective: Uh. Not exactly. He’s a suspect and I have a warrant for his arrest.
Not ideal! So obviously, Victoria Mars’ next step is to finagle an invite to the scene from Baby Detective. Hardscrabble, who’s still there, is none too pleased, but Baby Detective makes a good point: Victoria Mars may be able to connect some dots here. All we know about the victim is that he was drinking at a nearby pub, and his first name. Detective Mustache was also at the pub, asking about the victim. The publican described Detective Mustache as agitated, and he was next seen standing over the body.
Victoria Mars: I don’t know who this guy is, but it looks like he was stabbed in the heart.
Hardscrabble: Wow, groundbreaking. Go away.
Baby Detective: Bro, chill. And I’m in charge on this one!
Hardscrabble: Gee, wonder why!
Baby Detective: Has Detective Mustache ever mentioned this guy?
Victoria Mars: Look, he’s a weirdo, but he’s not a murderer.
Hardscrabble: Sure, but he was looking for someone, and then that guy turned up dead. And now he’s missing. Suspicious!
Victoria Mars: Missing is a stretch.
Hardscrabble: Is it? He’s not at home, his office, any of his normal hangouts, or even your place. That’s missing in my book!
Hard to argue with that, so she doesn’t. Instead, she heads back to the office to ask Accountant if he knows anything.
Accountant: Such a hard question, because I don’t want to lie to you.
Victoria Mars: Spill.
Accountant: But I can’t share Detective Mustache’s secrets!
Victoria Mars: If he goes down for murder we are both screwed, how’s that?
Accountant: On second thought, here’s the deal: you know how we have all those informants? I pay all of them myself except for a guy with the same unusual first name as the victim. Detective Mustache told me to stay out of it; he handled that one himself.
Victoria Mars: Do you have an address?
Accountant: Detective Mustache told me to stay out of it!
Victoria Mars: My dude, you don’t let anyone else handle the books, you’re that persnickety. I don’t buy for a second that you don't know who this is and where he lives.
Accountant: Ugh, fine. I got the address.
Next stop? The not so great part of town where our victim lived. Victoria Mars uses her trusty lockpicks to get access to his room, and is in the middle of rifling through his things when she notices a distinctive tin on the ground.
Over at the mortuary, Baby Detective is getting some bad news: Barney The Morgue bureaucrat can’t help with this case, because they’re still SUPER behind, and the autopsy isn’t done yet. Hardscrabble walks in and shares that he also has had no luck despite now knowing the victim’s surname, thanks to Victoria Mars.
Barney the Morgue Bureaucrat: Baby Detective, we are in shambles. Maybe you could talk to Unpleasable Commissioner? Since he’s, you know, your dad?
Hardscrabble, a little condescending: He doesn’t like it when we bring that up.
Baby Detective: Just because he’s my dad doesn’t mean he’s involved in my career! I’m not a nepo baby, I’m not!
Barney the Morgue Bureaucrat: Ok, sorry! Here’s the deal, Hardscrabble:
Baby Detective: Talk to me, dangit! I’m in charge on this one! And why would I want your opinion anyway, you’re not a doctor, you're a clerk! Keep your opinions to yourself and let me know when the postmortem is over!
Baby Detective, I like you, but this attitude is not cute! There’s no guarantee that Victoria Mars will share the info she inevitably gets from Barney the Morgue Bureaucrat probably via Ivy, either!
Back at Nash and Sons, Victoria Mars walks in on Accountant having a full on mini-breakdown. Why? Because he’s about to spill ANOTHER of Detective Mustache’s secrets. There’s one other person that gets special secret 1:1 payments.
Victoria Mars: Who?
Accountant: Ughhh I really don’t want to say. Can you threaten me or something?
Victoria Mars: Ok. I will fire you right now unless you tell me!
Accountant: Very good. Ok, once a month Detective Mustache makes a payment to this gal named Margaret. Here’s her address. Bye!
But when Victoria Mars arrives at the address, it’s to find a strange Irish man who’s also looking for our Mystery Margaret.
Victoria Mars, making herself comfy after having been invited inside the flat: Your wife might be able to help me find a missing person.
Mystery Margaret’s “Husband”: And you’re a detective? Neat! Can I get you a drink?
Victoria Mars: No thanks. Any idea when your wife will return?
Mystery Margaret’s “Husband”: No clue. Who’s this missing person?
Victoria Mars spills the beans, and reader, Mystery Margaret’s “Husband”? He definitely knows Detective Mustache. And not in a good way: he’s a fisherman, and his neighbor told him that a guy’s been hanging out with his wife while he’s out on the boat.
Victoria Mars: Please don’t jump to conclusions, ok?
Mystery Margaret’s “Husband”:
He’s run off with my wife! Anyway, sorry, not your fault.
Reader, it’s at this point that Mystery Margaret’s “Husband” pulls out a tin of chewing tobacco. A tin that looks extremely familiar, since we just saw one just like it at the victim’s house! Victoria Mars, unfortunately, doesn’t do a great job hiding the fact that she suddenly thinks this guy might be a killer, but she still gets out of there in one piece, which is a victory.
Obviously, her next move is to hit up the mortuary, where Barney the Morgue Bureaucrat is quick to remind her that she’s only meant to be there with a cop.
Victoria Mars, full of it: I know! I’m meeting Baby Detective?
Barney the Morgue Bureaucrat, still annoyed from earlier: Well he isn’t here, and we haven’t even done the examination yet. I tried to tell him we’re in a bad state, but he wouldn’t listen!
Victoria Mars: I’m sorry to hear that, but I’m supposed to meet him so can I wait inside?
Barney the Morgue Bureaucrat: LOL, no. Rules are rules, bye!
He slams the door in her face, but obviously that isn’t going to cut it. She knocks again.
Victoria Mars: Look, buddy, Ivy is like a mother to me, which means that when you guys get hitched you’ll be my stepdad.
Barney the Morgue Bureaucrat: And yet you still lie to me CONSTANTLY.
Me: To be fair, she does that with everyone, including the guy she kissed two weeks back.
Following him inside, she interrupts his annoyed muttering with the actual truth: she isn’t meeting Baby Detective, but she’s here because she’s sure her business partner didn’t do a murder. She needs information, can’t he help? Won’t he share his informed opinion?
Barney the Morgue Bureaucrat: Oh. Well. It’s nice to know someone cares about what I think. You can ask one question.
Victoria Mars: What do the dead guy’s teeth look like?
That’s simple enough, so Barney the Morgue Bureaucrat heads over to look, but alas, we don’t get to see for ourselves. Later that night, Baby Detective arrives at Victoria Mars’ house with a question. That telegram Detective Mustache got earlier just said “he’s back.” Does that mean anything to her?
Victoria Mars, ignoring the fact that she’s on the trail of a scary man who’s been at multiple locations in this case: Nope! You look tired, can you pick this up tomorrow?
Baby Detective: I can’t. I won’t sleep, and I need to make progress. My dad’s made it clear that if I do well here I’ll get promoted and be filling in for Duke Silver while he’s away!
Victoria Mars: Gotcha.
Baby Detective: And please don’t tell anyone; Hardscrabble’s suspicious already and I’m stressed! Tell me if Detective Mustache calls, ok?
Victoria Mars: Yes to the first thing, and “yes” to the second thing. Night!
Poor Baby Detective would be even more stressed if he realized that Detective Mustache is already waiting in Victoria Mars’ house, having sent her a message to meet him there. Victoria Mars confirms that Ivy is trustworthy, and then, naturally asks for more information.
Detective Mustache: I’m here for ONE reason: to ask you to drop it.
Victoria Mars: You ran away from a murder scene!
Detective Mustache: I need you to trust me and just do what I asked!
Victoria Mars, ignoring him: What did that telegram mean? Who’s he? And where’s Mystery Margaret? Her husband is super worried!
Detective Mustache: She doesn’t have a husband. That guy is extremely dangerous, stay away from him.
Victoria Mars: Have you been FOLLOWING ME?
Detective Mustache: Focus on your cases and running the business, and don't try to find me!
Victoria Mars: I found chewing tobacco at the victim’s home, but he doesn’t use it. The tobacco must have belonged to that guy I met!
Detective Mustache: Stay out of this! It’s for your safety!
Unfortunately, Victoria Mars wasn’t around the day they were giving out self preservation because she was too busy cutting the line to get extra curiosity, so I doubt this works, but I admire his attempt! The next day, Victoria Mars brings the tobacco tin to Baby Detective and Hardscrabble as a peace offering, and spends the first part of the meeting trying to get them to stop bickering long enough to appreciate the clue. Reader, it’s actually super helpful, because not only is the brand very rare, it was recently bought by the crew of Norwegian sailors, who just happen to have one (1) Irishman in their company.
Hardscrabble: I’ll head to the docks to get that ship’s manifest.
Baby Detective: No, you’ll wait for my command!
Victoria Mars: Or, we could just look at the list I already procured on my way here.
Baby Detective: Nice. Any idea where we’ll find the guy?
Victoria Mars: My team’s been looking, but no luck.
Hardscrabble: There are three pubs near where that ships dock. And some cheap brothels. We’d probably find some sailors there.
Baby Detective: I was about to say the same thing. Hardscrabble, go get ten guys and wait for us outside! Now!
Once Hardscrabble, hurt, leaves to follow orders, Baby Detective apologizes to Victoria Mars. He just wants to succeed!
Victoria Mars: Look kid, I’m not a management genius or anything, but losing your temper isn’t helpful.
Baby Detective: Duke Silver was so good at alternating between scary and encouraging, and I’m just not good at that.
Victoria Mars: Well maybe don't try to be Duke Silver then. Do your own thing!
Wisdom shared, the squad heads down to the docks to talk to a whole bunch of sailors they’ve rounded up. Baby Detective tries asking for info, and when that doesn’t work, intimidation, which goes about as well as you’re imagining it would. Next move? Ask Hardscrabble for advice. At first his friend is kind of a grump about it, but finally he steps in. Hardscrabble, it turns out, is the son of a sailor, so he’s able to actually scare the men effectively. After a short speech, a sailor steps forward and implicates one of the other sailors. The guy, naturally, runs, and after a short chase and altercation which thankfully ends before anyone can get stabbed, they bring him into custody. In interrogation, the guy cracks pretty quickly.
Sailor: We thought he’d just go home, since he lives here, but he was my roommate. Second night he came home super late, drunk and angry, and covered in blood. He said if anyone asked me questions I’d have to say I was with him all night, or he’d kill me.
Pretty damning, and since Sailor tells them the man they’re looking for is still at the boarding house, the lads gear up to go make an arrest. While Hardscrabble leads that crew, Baby Detective finally gets his hands on some files from another jurisdiction. Mystery Margaret’s “Husband” mostly did a bunch of petty crimes, but he’s also wanted for a murder. The murder of Detective Mustache’s brother Michael! Recap name? Officially changing to Mystery Murderer!
Back at Nash and Sons, Victoria Mars corners Accountant to see if he knows anything else about Detective Mustache’s brother. He doesn’t, but he DOES want to share something: there’s a second hidden safe in the office. When Accountant came back from his dinner break, he found that someone had gotten into the safe, which is worrisome, because it’s where Detective Mustache keeps his most sensitive records.
Accountant: Only the two of us knew about this safe, which makes me think —
Victoria Mars: That Detective Mustache has been back. When you say sensitive?
Accountant: Oh, it’s like a spy thriller bug out bag! Money in different currencies, bank account info, anything he’d need to disappear.
Victoria Mars: But why leave now? It’s not like he’s still a suspect.
Accountant: Maybe he thinks Mystery Murderer will find him if he doesn’t run?
Victoria Mars: He’s not a coward. See if anything else is missing.
While they ponder the mystery that is Detective Mustache, at the raid, Baby Detective and Hardscrabble get into it. Quietly.
Hardscrabble: Look: you can either be my friend or my boss, but not both.
Baby Detective: Fine, if you want to play it like that, but can you at least be grateful that I saved your life when we were chasing that suspect earlier?
Hardscrabble: Saving each other’s lives is just part of the job, kid. I’d do the same for you. What do you want, someone to say good job? That’s not how this works: you either do the work or don’t, but don't ask me to tell you you’re a good boy.
At Nash and Sons, Victoria Mars decides to take an extra look at the safe. And that’s when she notices a distinctive brightly colored powder near the keyhole. A powder we saw at the beginning of the episode during the chase scene in the creepy abandoned dye factory! Will she get some dang backup before returning to said creepy abandoned dye factory? Obviously not!
Detective Mustache, melting out of the shadows: I thought I told you to back off.
Victoria Mars: And I thought my characterization was strong enough that you’d realize that’d never happen!
Detective Mustache: Wishful thinking I guess. Anyway, what else did you figure out?
Victoria Mars: I know that guy killed your brother. You weren’t hiding from him, you were hunting him. What did you do?
Reader, I think you can guess where this is going: Mystery Murderer is very nicely tied up in the factory. Detective Mustache explains that there were two witnesses to his brother's murder. One of them was killed at the top of this episode, and the other is Mystery Margaret. Detective Mustache had gotten to know both of them in the aftermath of his brother’s death, and was paying them so that if this guy ever returned, Detective Mustache would find out.
Detective Mustache: After what happened to my FRIEND, I had to keep Mystery Margaret in hiding.
Victoria Mars: Ok, so let’s go tell all this to the cops! There’s no reason to keep him here!
Detective Mustache: Oh, yes there is! So I can kill him! My brother was the kindest person ever, and the only family I had left!
Victoria Mars: Yes, but if you just shoot him you’ll be a murderer too, and you’ll hang!
Detective Mustache: Don’t care. Move, so I can kill him.
Victoria Mars: If you won’t do this for you, do it for me! My whole life people have told me there are things I can’t do. You’re the ONLY person who’s believed in me. You’re not just my business partner, you’re my friend!
Detective Mustache, touched: You always know the right thing to say. Super annoying!
And it is, but not as annoying as the fact that Mystery Murderer has been using this nice moment as an opportunity to free his hands, grab a giant piece of glass, and sneak up to try and stab Victoria Mars. Obviously, Detective Mustache shoots him immediately, which is quite shocking for everyone.
The next day, Victoria Mars talks it all over at Scotland Yard.
Baby Detective: The guy’s not doing great, but he’s alive. Bullet went right through his shoulder.
Hardscrabble: And since he’s a known murderer and was sneaking up behind you to attack, we can argue it’s self defense.
Victoria Mars: So Detective Mustache saved my life?
Baby Detective: You’re going to have to testify and explain yourself. You should have contacted us when you figured out where he was. But we’ll talk about your character and cooperation. Right, Hardscrabble?
Hardscrabble, surprisingly not that begrudgingly: Right. But kidnapping and obstruction of justice are serious. We’re going to have to charge Detective Mustache, and if he’s convicted he’ll be in jail.
Yikes! Baby Detective sends her home to sleep, but does agree to let her talk to Detective Mustache first. He’s obviously not doing great: this is kind of a death knell for the office, given that he’s for sure going to lose his PI license.
Detective Mustache: YOLO, am I right? Don’t worry about me, I’ve got lots of contacts. This might all blow over! You don’t buy it either, huh? What are you going to do?
Victoria Mars: I’ll figure it out, don’t worry.
Detective Mustache: I won’t :) I’m sorry.
Victoria Mars: You don’t have to apologize.
Detective Mustache: I want you to think I’m a good person.
Victoria Mars: It’ll never happen.
Detective Mustache: Guess I’ll just have to keep trying.
UGH I hate it! My chaos babygirl deserves better! Anyway, across town, Unpleasable Commissioner meets up with his son at the cop bar.
Unpleasable Commissioner: Look, this place is gross so I won’t mince words: you got the job, effective right now. When Duke Silver gets back, he’ll take his job back, but you’ll have gotten experience. I’ll also send a letter with all the salary info.
Baby Detective: No. I don't want it.
Unpleasable Commissioner: What do you mean?
Baby Detective: Not sure how I could be clearer? I’m going to be real with you: I like my job, and I know I still have a lot to learn.
Unpleasable Commissioner: Wow, you really do know how to disappoint me, huh?
Baby Detective: That’s a you problem, dad. I don’t care.
Unpleasable Commissioner: If not you, then WHO?
Baby Detective: I have an idea.
You guessed it: Baby Detective recommended Hardscrabble, and our surly pal has gotten the job. After he finishes giving his first set of orders, he keeps Baby Detective back to thank him followed by a bunch of pretend rank-pulling. It’s cute, despite my feelings on the whole situation and how we got here in the first place.
Later that night, at Victoria Mars’ house, she has a whisky and thinks about her next move via a flashback to a conversation with Duke Silver. That next move? Returning to her old office with the help of Ivy, Barney the Morgue Bureaucrat, and Accountant, who she promises to call as soon as she has enough money to get him on the payroll. The major difference (other than her new friends)? The sign above the door now reads: Miss Eliza Scarlet: Private Detective. Look, I have many complicated feelings about everything else on this show — Duke Silver’s trip! Detective Mustache in jail! The long term impact of Hardscrabble being in charge at Scotland Yard! Victoria Mars’ situation when Ivy gets married and moves out! — but one thing I really love? Our girl having her OWN name on her business. It’s unclear right now if there will be another season, but in the meantime, I’ll be back recapping Call the Midwife in March. See ya then!