Spoiler alert! Do not read on until you’ve watched Murdoch Mysteries Episode 18, “Hell to Pay.”
Now that was one heck of a season finale, wasn’t it Murdoch Mysteries fans? It’s a good thing our favourite series has been greenlit for another season because there are a ton of questions to be answered! Will Julia be found? How will William get out of this scrape? Is Det. Watts really there to help William? Did Brackenreid fight off Davis, or is he injured or, gulp, dead? And, perhaps most importantly: did Higgins, Crabtree and Jackson all survive the gunfire?
We spoke to Murdoch Mysteries showrunner Peter Mitchell about that edge-of-your-seat instalment—the show’s landmark 150th—and where the show goes in Season 11.
First of all, congratulations on your writing win at the Canadian Screen Awards, as well as Murdoch Mysteries winning the Golden Screen Award. Is it important to you to win awards, specifically one for writing?
Peter Mitchell: Murdoch has never gotten a nomination for writing, so it was important to give a little shout-out to the writers. It’s nice to win an award, but it’s not why I’m here. I think I’ve been nominated 11 times or something and this is the first time I’ve won. Winning is better than losing. [Laughs.] I won’t deny that. It was nice of the movie to win too as a whole. Obviously, I’m biased but getting the award for most viewership is more important than anything else.
Let’s talk about the cliffhanger season finale, ‘Hell to Pay.’ I seem to remember Murdoch being framed for murder once before?
I believe he was at the end of Season 4 [“Murdoch in Wonderland”]. That was just before my time. I don’t think it was a cliffhanger, he was exonerated by the end of the episode.
At what point did you decide ‘Hell to Pay’ would be a cliffhanger?
I think it was around the time that we thought Trump was going to win [the election]. I just figured everything would go to hell both fictionally and in real life.
It was great to see Robin Dunne back on TV. I haven’t seen him since Sanctuary.
He was great. I had never met him before, actually, and he was a ton of fun. It was also especially fun to work with John Wildman, who was on a TV show called The Campbells a million years ago and I used to drive him to work. That’s the first time we had worked together in, like, 30 years.
You started out in the industry as a driver?
Well, as a production assistant. They didn’t have drivers back then. I was the general gofer guy.
How long were you a P.A.?
One season, and then I moved into the writing department fairly quickly once I got my foot in the door.
Did you take a TV writing course at the time?
I took one television writing course at York University for, like, a semester. My instructor was in the business, at CTV, and he got me a gig.
OK, let’s talk about the episode. Miss Cherry’s personality has certainly evolved. In last week’s episode, she was talking shit about William and Julia. There is no faster way to turn the fans on someone than having them do that.
Yeah, especially Julia. We learned that when one of the characters Emily was involved with called William a stick in the mud. That was basically her death sentence. [Laughs.] But we had portrayed Louise as being controlling over George throughout, but it was when she insults George’s friends that he can do better. I kind of knew what the reaction would be.
Is that it for Louise Cherry?
I wouldn’t say so, no. She performs a function in the finale and is not out of the picture.
With regard to Inspector Brackenreid … we hear a gunshot and last saw Davis aiming a gun at his head.
We hear a gunshot go off and that’s the last we see of Brackenreid. I guess we’ll see what happens.
It appears we might be losing one of the constables. Murdoch is told that one of them is dead.
I think you have to think about the reliability of the narrator, the person who is telling him that. I don’t think we can end a season like that and have everything be tickety-boo. The show, in essence, has five cliffhangers: three constables, one Julia and a Brackenreid. And we don’t see any of them past the three-quarter mark of the show. And, why is Watts offering to be so helpful at the very end of the episode? Is he a good guy? I don’t know. Why didn’t he help Murdoch earlier? Why is he showing up now?
So, Watts may have ulterior motives?
Maybe. I never trust those Maslanys. They have many faces! [Laughs.] Daniel is fantastic; just a very pleasant young man.
You’ve created this mess with all of these characters. How do you clean it up going forward?
I think it’s a big enough mess that it will take more than one episode to clean it up. I’ve been studiously avoiding the hard work of making it all make sense. I think what I’ll probably do is use a couple of the early episodes to deal with the repercussions of last year and then bounce the show ahead three months in time because I don’t think we’re purpose built to go dark, dark, dark. We’re allowed to go dark on the show but I don’t think we can stay there.
Are there any historical characters you’re planning on bringing on board for Season 11?
I think we’re going to bring back good old Teddy Roosevelt. I think we’re going to bring Dr. William Osler back, one of the founders of modern medicine. I think we’re going to bring in Helen Keller, who will help solve a case. And, with Helen Keller, I think we’re going to get Alexander Graham Bell. That’s just in the early stages right now and I think we’re going to try and pay a tiny bit more attention to getting more historical characters in this year than we did last year. That might entail the return of Laurier and Terrence Meyers, of course, some of the regular characters we like to see every year.
In terms of the historical characters, they all seem to be in the world of medicine for some reason.
What did you think of the season finale? Let me know in the comments below!
Images courtesy of CBC.