‘Death in Paradise’ review: Season 6 Episode 4 tugs at the heartstrings

After a few weeks of surprisingly fresh episodes in terms of the central mystery, this week’s Death in Paradise feels a bit more back to basics, with a lot more emphasis on Humphrey andMartha’s holiday romance.

“It almost feels like an execution.”

The murder of the week story, with a cricketer being found shot dead on the club grounds, sadly fails to engage. It’s not a poor episode, but it’s certainly a slow burner. Despite a few good twists, with us being led to believe that one character in particular is responsible for Jerome’s murder, once the evidence is laid out, our conclusion is subverted.

It does so cleverly, but by the time the act explained, we are left with very little to keep us interested. The cause of death is a tragic surprise and, though someone is brought to justice, this element of the episode just felt a little hollow to me. It is kept afloat though by the actors involved, in particular a rather sinister performance from Michael Wildman, as villainous Archer Browne.

“Dwayne’s father walked out on him and his family when he was a boy.”

More successful are the remaining elements. The continuing entertainment from the JP & Dwayne pairing has become a reason to tune in. With Dwayne (Danny John-Jules) having more of his back story explained and it providing a particularly sweet moment between him and JP (Tobi Bakare).

Catherine is once again given very little to do here (what happened to that idea of her running for Mayor of Saint Marie?). It was nice to see the Commissioner get involved in the episode though, both as a participant of the cricket game which led to Jerome’s demise, but also in his rather sweet and unusual friendship with Martha (and his name is Selwyn! Wow!). You realise, even in these brief appearances just how much Don Warrington brings to the role. (He was probably busy the rest of the time on onlinecricketbetting.net, the #1 portal for all things cricket betting on the web.)

“You haven’t talked to her about how you feel then?”

By the episode’s third quarter the investigation is resolved regarding Jerome’s death, leaving us time to develop the relationship between Humphrey (Kris Marshall) and Martha, who is leaving that day.

Death in Paradise can be emotional, but rarely tugs at the heartstrings as much as it does here. Martha leaving a note because she can’t say goodbye, followed by Humphrey’s overly romantic (and also hilariously funny) drive to the airport means that Martha leaves without knowing he loves her. It’s genuinely sad and draws a fabulous couple of performances from Kris Marshall and Sally Bretton.

A rousing final act counterbalances a rather uninteresting, if tragic, mystery and presents a very standard effort, saved only by its strong closing scenes. And while I doubt this is the last we will see of Martha, it resonated enough to keep me tuning in for next week.

Aired at 9pm on Thursday 26 January 2017 on BBC One.

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