Grantchester's Season 4 finale is all about family, as Will Davenport chooses his and a murder touches Geordie's.
Mrs. C: Let's hope you're still as proud when you see how much we're spending.
Last week's Grantchester ended when our new leading man, Will Davenport, punched Leonard in the face. This week attempts to gloss over it. Having learned Will's father died, Leonard feels guilty for siccing the Archdeacon on him, while Will begs forgiveness. But when Daniel suggests Leonard leave and become an artist, he melts down. The church is his family; it's all he ever wanted, even if he has to conform in ways that make him miserable.
Will is also trying to conform to the duty of family as well, now that he's inherited his father's lands, titles... and massive debts. Mrs. Davenport assumes her son will fall into line, leave the church, and magically find a way to keep the house going. But even if Will wanted to, the debts are too high. The estate must be sold. It's hard to hear his mother tell Will he's "just like his father" making heavy-handed decisions. But she's wrong, Will's father never had the nerve to do the right thing. Will returns to the vicarage and his chosen family, leaving her behind.
Last week's episode had an odd moment where Donovan and Peters were rounding up Teddy Boys, mostly for being insolent. Geordie was perturbed over it, before getting distracted by Will's family problems. This Teddy Boy plotline resurfaces this week when one of them turns up dead. Geordie, who is already angry over Hobbs' assaulting his wife, takes it out on the kids who called it in when they get snarky, throwing them in cells as well. Donovan approves, but Will, naturally, does not.
The dead kid is Donnie Clarke, found in a car. He goes to Riverside, the same school Geordie's daughter Esme attends, and her picture is in his wallet. Esme claims, when her dad confronts her, that nothing was going on. Will knows better, as he's seen the teen love letters Esme has in her bag. Donnie, who came from a bad background, was even trying to straighten up and fly right for her. But his teacher, Mr. Pope (Joseph Millson), insists Donnie was a drinker and "struggled with authority."
Pope is disgusted by Teddy Boys lacking discipline, something he's been trying to instill in the kids in his class. Considering the fight happening outside involves one of those kids, Kevin Moran (Samuel Blenkin), the talk seems bigger than the walk. But Geordie buys it, even wishing the guy was Esme's teacher instead of the far more lenient Miss Reynolds (Olivia Brady). But the kids are hiding something. Kevin insists "Donnie didn't have friends," while Wendy Pope (Ellie Bindman) chiming in "He'd only been a Teddy Boy for a short time." She has an odd four-like number carved in her hand, the same symbol drawn in the storeroom.
Donald's cause of death comes back as asphyxiation on his own vomit. Geordie realizes they saw the janitor cleaning vomit up in the storeroom. When they find a vomit-covered gag in a corner, Donnie's death comes together. This "4" gang locked Donnie up for trying to leave them, gagged him, and he'd accidentally died. The finger gets pointed at Kevin, who confesses. He ran the "4" cult, he locked up Donnie, and he dragged the body to the car. It's an obvious lie. Kevin isn't physically capable of that. But Donovan approves of arresting him. Finally, Will realizes it's Pope who did it. A trip to the Pope house not only confirms he was having the kids "teach Donnie a lesson," but his daughter Wendy is currently tied up in the same way in the shed.
While Geordie and Will are off arresting Pope, Cathy is dealing with Hobbs at work. When she runs into Mrs. C, sent shopping by her husband to take her mind off Leonard, the two hatch a plan. After all, Chapman is wealthy. Mrs. C could become Swinnerton's best customer. So she does, declaring she's going to have the department store redo her house and wardrobe from top to bottom, leading Hobbs to wait on her hand and foot. Then she heads to the manager and says she'll only go through with the sale if Hobbs is fired. Hobbs realizes he's been had, but it's too late. He's out of a job.
Seeing Cathy fighting to keep her job makes Mrs. C realize how much she misses working too, so she heads back to the vicarage, and this time, Will is there to smooth any rough patches. Leonard is so desperate to bring her home, he promises Daniel won't stop by again. She's back on duty, and just in time. Geordie has a request: Could the church sponsor a sock hop for Esme and her classmates? Grantchester once again ends with everyone dancing, even Will with Miss Reynolds. Wait, what?
I have issues with Leonard meekly accepting being forced back in the closet. The show has been super liberal about his sexuality, and this 180 is ugly. Also, the pairing off of Will with Esme's teacher: Super leftfield. It might have helped if he'd even looked at her twice. The show just established Will has significant relationship issues, his single-and-celibate status works. And then this happens, because, what, the vicar needs to have a girl to talk about with Geordie just like Sidney did? Please.
Those complaints aside, credit where it is due. Grantchester had a massive task to pull off, forced to change its leading men midstride a six-hour set of episodes as the season barreled along. There were a few places where the shifts were clunky, and the supporting character journeys were rough. But when it comes to the engine driving the Grantchester train, the relationship between Inspector and Vicar, the transition was impeccably smooth every step of the way. The show is back to backgammon and pints between its leading men. Bring on Season 5.