‘Grantchester’ review: It’s the final straw for Sidney in Season 3 Episode 4

There is a crime in this week’s Grantchester (an accidental death by dangerous driving and the subsequent cover-up) but it’s pretty lowkey.

Of much more interest to the drama is the subplot of the guilty party’s father using his Masonic contacts to ensure the crime goes more or less unpunished.  The Masons’ presence in the police force goes up at least as far as Superintendent Baldwin (Adrian Lukis) and also includes Phil, whose funny handshake wins him the promotion to Sergeant that Geordie doesn’t believe he’s ready for.

The confrontation between the two, in which Geordie punches Phil, sets in motion the tumultuous events that make up the main thrust of the episode.  An aggrieved Phil, keen to get his own back, makes sure Geordie’s wife Kathy knows all about the affair with Margaret; and in turn Amanda is angry when she discovers that Sidney already knew.  All of which means that, despite the heavy drinking at the Policeman’s Ball neither copper nor vicar is getting lucky tonight.

This week, even Mrs Maguire isn’t immune from the unsatisfying romantic entanglements which seem to be the norm in Grantchester.  Out of the blue, her husband who went to war but never came back… comes back.  It’s a winning performance by Charlie Higson as Ronnie Maguire (and dare I say it, he seems much more comfortable here than in his recent guest-turn in Broadchurch) but he’s just a con man.  He lies his way back into his wife’s affections by claiming to have cancer only to leave her again soon after, taking her locket, the contents of her purse and her savings with him.

In a show about vicars in the 1950s, who would have thought sex would be such a prominent feature?  In Sidney’s case his now-consummated relationship with Amanda can’t possibly be reconciled with his role as vicar.  At the other end of the scale, when Leonard’s fiancée Hilary starts to talk of the marital bed, and having children, his reaction is one of absolute disgust.

In no time at all Hilary has (understandably) broken off the engagement with a bitter, “I think there’s something not quite right with you”; and Leonard, filled with self-loathing, tries to take his own life.  Plotwise I guess it sort of works in a ‘scriptwriting by numbers’ kind of way, but it doesn’t feel totally ‘real’.  Given his strict religious views, it seems unlikely that Leonard would commit what he’d likely see as one sin in order to try and escape another.

It’s the final straw for Sidney, who takes it out on the Archdeacon – outraged not just at the church frowning on him and Amanda, but at its condemnation of homosexuality.  To our modern eyes Sidney has ‘right’ (whatever that is) on his side.  But as a Vicar in the 1950s, he couldn’t possibly win the day without the show losing its credibility.

So the episode ends with Sidney giving it all up, walking away from Grantchester – literally and figuratively, leaving the church behind him.

 

Aired at 9pm on Sunday 14 May 2017 on ITV.

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