Spoiler alert! Do not read on unless you’ve watched Monday’s season finale episode of Murdoch Mysteries, entitled “Cometh the Archer.”
OK, did anyone really believe Julia would die in Monday’s season-ender? Not a chance—especially because the show was renewed for Season 10—but that was one heck of a ride? Plenty of fans, myself included, wondered who from Murdoch’s past would return to cause troubles for the pair. Turns out it was Eva Pearce, the disturbed young woman with an obsession for our favourite TV detective who not only attempted to murder Julia but kidnapped Murdoch and plotted to have his child.
Cinematic in scope, and featuring Julia on horseback and firing an arrow (who knew she could do that?!), “Cometh the Archer” concluded a season chock-full of drama and heartbreak. We chatted with MM showrunner Peter Mitchell, who took us back over the past 18 episodes and gave us a peek into what’s coming in Season 10 straight from the writers’ room.
There were a couple of cast changes this season. The first was saying goodbye to Emily Grace and welcoming Rebecca James. How did the addition of Mouna Traoré change-up things for you and the members of the writers’ room?
Peter Mitchell: I think it was fun and we sort of eased her in a bit. We gave her increasingly more stuff to do. It’s interesting, because she really has to play against type, which is something that not many of our characters have to do. Mouna the person is a lot more outgoing and vivacious than Rebecca the character. It was tricky trying to find a balance. In the upcoming season she’ll become a more dynamic personality as her confidence increases.
OK, so you’re confirming that Mouna will be back for Season 10.
Let’s talk about the other big change, adding Roland to Julia and William’s lives. He made a big impression on the fans and you’ve already stated that this is a procedural drama and not a domestic drama. In the season finale, adoption was mentioned by William; does this mean Roland is gone for good or could he return? Or are we headed for adoption?
We could be headed neither way. [Laughs.] We’re talking about that right now. It was a moving thing and a charming thing to have this baby in their lives for a while, but we haven’t really focused on that part of Season 10 yet.
How many Season 10 episodes have you written so far?
We haven’t written any so far. We’re still kicking around ideas and stories for the first half of the season.
Let’s talk about Crabtree. He’s had some bad luck in love, but things were looking up last week when he made a connection with Nina Bloom, played by Erin Agostino. Any plans to give him a more permanent love match next year?
Nina is the kind of character we always want on the show because she’s very polarizing. Half the fans love her and half the fans hate her, which means we want her! [Laughs.] As Season 10 begins, he does have a permanent partner. Whether that lasts for the length of the season, we’ll find out.
OK, let’s talk about “Cometh the Archer,” written by yourself, Simon McNabb and Jordan Christianson. How early on in the planning of this episode did you have, “Julia gets shot” written on the wall?
I think we had “Julia rides a horse” and “Julia shoots a bow and arrow” before. That was Hélène’s simple list of demands, “Can I ride a horse this year and can I shoot a bow and arrow?” Let’s come up with a scenario for that. It probably at the two-thirds mark of the season that the idea came to be of how we were roughly going to end the season.
I assumed, wrongly, that every season of Murdoch Mysteries is planned straight through with a beginning, middle and end, but that’s not the case.
I probably happens with some shows, but we have the liberty of not having to have everything approved up and down the line. They trust us. We never really consider how things will end until midway through the shooting. A season is three acts and we go into it with Act 1 and Act 2 planned and then, generally, things that happen in the first bit of the season helps inform us how we’re going to end it because things come up, you know?
Now, unfortunately, we had to say goodbye to Constable Worseley! What were the circumstances surrounding Sean Harraher’s departure?
Interesting story. It was Sean to who came me and said, “Hey, could I die this year?” I said, “Yeah, sure man.” I think it adds a nice bit in the finale, a nice little scary bit, but it wasn’t a question of having to go down and tell someone who’s been an extra on the show for seven years that he’s not coming back.
You’ve directed this episode. This isn’t the first time you’ve done that, but I did notice some interesting overhead shots you used. I’m thinking of when Julia was in surgery and when Brackenreid was questioning folks at the hotel. Why did you choose that style of filming?
I’m always trying to tell a story with the minimum amount of shots because our shooting schedule is so short. This felt like a more cinematic episode and you don’t really get the shock of Julia Ogden’s operation unless you’re right over top of it. There’s blood everywhere. A bunch of the back half of the episode was going to be Murdoch lying on his back and I was committed to that type of shooting so I just tried to integrate that into the overall episode so it didn’t turn into this weird perspective change. And my friend, Gary Harvey, does such a dynamic job of directing his episodes that he kicks my ass a little bit. [Laughs.] I was like, “OK Harvey, two can play at that game!” You have the horses and the wilderness and all that scope. We were blessed with weather in that we got a bit of snow and it had a bit of a McCabe & Mrs. Miller feel to it.
A lot of fans were speculating as to who it would be from William’s past who’d return in the finale. How did you decide it would be Eva Pearce, played by Daiva Johnston?
I was really interested in the back half of the script when I was writing with the guys. It could really only be played by a female and the idea of giving a little bit of an edge with the sexual angle and that weird song she sings. We hinted at the Black Hand in the episode before but, ultimately, in terms of the love triangle of Eva mounting William and it causing Julia to wake up is a more interesting dynamic.
Where do we go from here? What can you tell me about some of the stories you’re breaking for Season 10?
I think there will be some unexpected returning characters to the show. We’re also looking at adding a couple of semi-recurring characters onto the show. We’re mining some historical figures that we want to bring in like we normally do. We’re seriously kicking around H.P. Lovecraft right now, just in time for Halloween! He’s a very interesting character who was about 15 years old at this time. I also think we’ll be dealing with the Toronto fire in some shape of form because this is the year. It’s also an Olympic year and I know somebody who is an archer and somebody who is a big soccer fan, both of which were events at the Olympics in St. Louis.
We also have to deal with some of the events from the final episode, some of them lighthearted—does Murdoch build the house this year?—and the exploration of Crabtree and his new girl and how can she possibly fit into this world? We’re also going to see Rebecca at medical school and how that works with her being a black woman there … we’ll see and learn a little bit more about her.
I’m constantly amazed by the people I work with. We’re sitting here with 12 or 13 fairly solid murder mysteries already that don’t feel like ones we’ve done before.
What did you think of Monday’s season finale? What do you want to see happen in Season 10? Comment below or via Twitter @tv_eh.