**SPOILER ALERT: This story contains key plot points about Monday’s newest episode of Murdoch Mysteries, “Wild Child.”**
And just like that, William and Julia no longer have a child. Monday’s latest episode was a heartbreaker for fans who loved seeing the series’ lead characters as parents. By the conclusion of “Wild Child,” Freddie Pink had learned the Braxton’s weren’t Roland’s parents after all. Turns out his real father was Harold Connor, a carpenter. By episode’s end William and Julia had done the rightâ€”if painfulâ€”thing by presenting Harold with the son he never knew he had.
Fans who’d grown attached to the little spriteâ€”me includedâ€”were quick to take to social media, asking why Roland was brought onto the show, only to be taken away weeks later.
We contacted Peter Mitchell, Murdoch Mysteries‘ showrunner, to explain the situation. Here’s his answer:
“Hard question to answer. I guess that it was just a chapter in the ongoing story of ‘William and Julia.’ There are many more chapters to play out and we don’t really know where it is going to end.
We thought it would be interesting to see another side of both Murdoch and Ogden, and giving them a child was a way to examine their paternal instincts and give us opportunity to play them as both husband and wife and mother and father. I think we were also aware that as this show is a procedural-based drama as opposed to a domestic drama and that the situation could not last. We wanted to keep the baby around long enough that the decision to return him to his father was of consequence (as well as allowing for some humourâ€”William becomes a dad and immediately takes up golf). It was also important that this decision to give up the child was not thrust upon them. Instead, the appearance of the natural father was a result of one of our characters doing “the right thing.” In doing so the surrendering of Roland illuminated the strong character of both our leads.
Pragmatically, we wanted this to play out over part of the season as opposed to dropping a baby on them in the finale. Much like with their wedding, we didn’t want what, on the surface, is usually considered the “big event” of a TV season to be our “big event.” I think this forces us to work harder to come up with engaging stories. On a practical level, it leaves open the possibility that ANYTHING could happen in the last four episodes if THEY have already done that to US.
It is also true that one of the reasons for the success of Murdoch is that the engine under the surface of the engaging characters, amusing lines and nice hats always has to be driving forward. Murdoch is one of those shows that gives me little leeway in the editing room. The scenes feed into each other in a way a multi character ensemble drama doesn’t. The narrative drive can occasionally be interrupted by domestic moments but the show would not ‘click’ if we have too many of them. As Paul Aitken, one of our writers, constantly reminds all of us when we are coming up with stories, ‘where’s the mystery?’ is the one question we always have to address. In the Roland arc the mystery was there from the beginningâ€”who is this kid? Many of the fans doubted the people who were purported to be his parents actually were and in the end, the mystery of where he came from was ultimately solved. For some, the result was heartbreaking. For others, Murdoch and Ogden once again demonstrated why they are heroes.
But the kid(s) who played Roland were cute as a button. And much like real life the biggest fight we had in the room was not how long to keep the kid around but what the heck we should name him.
Some are still divided on it….”
What do you think, Murdoch fans? Sound off below in the Comments section.
Murdoch Mysteries airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on CBC.