No one could have seen that conclusion coming. Monday’s episode of Murdoch Mysteries, “What Lies Buried,” featured the return of William Murdoch’s nemesis, Inspector Giles (Nigel Bennett). He, along with Brackenreid, were among the suspects after the body of a fellow police officer, Constable Finch, was discovered buried under the station house.
Fun facts from Brackenreid’s first days on the job as a copper–he met future wife Margaret when he arrested her and his nickname was “Tommy Two Cakes”–took a decidedly dramatic turn during Murdoch’s interrogation of Giles. It was there–under sparse lighting–that the two men exchanged secrets: Murdoch confirmed he’d helped Constance Gardiner escape from the jail and Giles revealed he was gay. That was shocking enough, but the uppercut to Giles’ initial jab was the realization Constable Hodge (Brian Kaulback) had killed Finch out of loyalty to Giles.
Giles’ outing meant he’s off the force and will no longer be part of Murdoch Mysteries. As for Hodge, well, we may see more of him yet according to the episode’s writer, Paul Aitken.
Why did you decide to cover homosexuality in this episode?
We’ve actually dealt with homosexuality several times throughout the series mostly because it existed. Even people at the time knew it was a thing and it existed. How they dealt with it then is very different with how we deal with it today and it’s always interesting to see the differences between now and then in terms of how homosexuality was understood.
Monday’s episode was what we call a bottle show. It was an episode that had to be filmed quite cheaply because we find ourselves in a situation–at least once or twice a season–where we have overspent or are concerned about overspending, so the whole episode was contained within the station house. To do that, of course, you need to have a mystery that is absorbing enough, so we came up with someone being buried beneath the station house and we had to build a mystery on that. I can’t remember who it was but someone came up with the very bright idea of Giles be very much involved in the original crime. There was always a suspicion amongst the writers that the character of Giles was possibly homosexual, and it could be just the way in which [Nigel Bennett] played him. It was a natural fit and once you introduce that into a character–him being a homosexual–then you become aware of the challenges that they face. You can build a whole twist on them wanting and needing to keep it a secret. We came up with that idea because it served the function of the episode.
The scene between Giles and Murdoch was very powerful. Two men admitting secrets to the other with just two spotlights over them in the darkened interrogation room. It was very effective.
At the end of Season 4, Murdoch has the secret of Constance and Giles knows about it. He can’t catch Murdoch at it so you have this cat and mouse thing and I’ve always wanted the confrontation scene. We were very happy with the idea of having these two things come together. Giles’ guilt caused him to do things by the book and defined him because of this great secret that he carried, and from then on he became very rigid in his adherence to how things should be done. That was why he was so hard on Murdoch. We see that come completely undone in the scene and I was very happy we were able to do that.
It was a very difficult scene for the actors because that was the first scene shot for that episode. There was very little preparation time, you couldn’t build up to it and it was a lot to ask, especially of Yannick, who is in most scenes in most episodes and doesn’t have a lot of time to prepare. I think Yannick was a little peeved at me before that scene was filmed, but everybody realized after it was filmed that it was an exceptional scene.
How will this affect Murdoch’s Roman Catholicism in the coming weeks?
We don’t know. I think this has been evolving since the series began. Over the seasons we’ve seen the effect Dr. Ogden has had on him. I think he is less rigid than he used to be and he is more forgiving. Obviously that exists within Catholicism, there is a capacity for forgiveness. I think we’re constantly seeing the clash between his faith and his scientific impetus and we’re seeing a different side of him when it comes to the law with Constance Gardiner.
Does this mean Constable Hodge is no longer going to be on the show?
Well, we don’t know. We gave ourselves an out at the end of the episode. Giles is gone because he is a homosexual and will pay the price for that. But Hodge … it could be argued that it was an unintended killing and it’s possible he won’t do much time. He’ll never be back as a constable but maybe he’ll have a bar. We don’t know. Brian gave a standout performance. We were very happy with it and I think he was happy too.
Talk about the Brackenreid’s back story. Last night was the first time we learned he and Margaret met when he arrested her. Was that in important piece to put in there to tie in more revelations about Margaret?
It was a completely fun addition, but you’ve just given me an idea. [Laughs.] Every time you do it you create a bit of history and hopefully you remember it so you can build on it later. We never thought about it before this episode and I kind of liked the idea that he was attracted to her because she was a spark plug.
How do you go about your writing process? Do you shut yourself off in a room and write? Are you superstitious and use a certain pen or have a certain drink?
Everyone has their different writing style preferences and I like to write in the room with everyone else. I don’t like to miss anything, so I’ll often write the script while I’m in the office. One thing that’s nice about writing in the room at work is that I can always try out different lines with people or ask the room if it’s working. It’s very helpful. I don’t think anybody writes a script totally by themselves, least of all me. I’m always seeking outside help in just about every scene I write.
Murdoch Mysteries airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on CBC.