…I am still a firm believer in the fact that they are not doing it behind our backs and I’ll take a minute to explain exactly why I don’t think that. So, if you enjoy your bubble, please stop reading right now, because I’ll try my hardest to bust it.
First and foremost: This is a tv-show and the clue is in the name. They are making money by showing us things. Of course, there is an art of choosing what to include and what not, as cleverly established by omitting the pyjama scene in episode 1. But not showing a climactic turn in a lovestory is not something a tv show can afford. Also, there were a fair few people pointing out that there is a lot of subtext and playful writing going on - which is true to an extent. But this is not “Lost”, it’s Miss Fisher. Nothing is happening without the audience finding out about it within the hour. It’s just not the style of this show. I’d be hugely surprised if they’d changed their basic premise, which is indeed playful, but not mysterious.
Onwards to the actual episode: Miss Fisher comes home from a night of dancing and asks Dot to send Francois away because she needs some sleep (with an air of disapproval in her expression, I might add). The writers are telling us two things here: That Miss Fisher is still enjoying the good life with male companions and that she is, quite literally, tired of dalliances. In one tiny scene. That is a great accomplishment. I won’t go too deeply into “Francois is a codename for Jack”, but two thoughts: Why would he follow her home if they’d spent the night at his place since we aren’t assuming that they’ve been only dancing? And how would she presume that Dot wouldn’t recognise the Inspector if he stood in front of her door and she went to send him away?
They run into each other at the morgue. Our lovely Detectives being more and more in sync seems to be an ongoing theme in this season and that Jack would just smoothly join her seems perfect for their newly found level of companionship. Why he is there is also easily explained: Mac calls both immediately when she stumbles over a corpse as we have established in 2x8. No mysteries there. He immediately picks up on her evening attire and teases her about it. Since she is still flawlessly styled its obvious that nobody has helped her out of this (stunning) dress, so no need to be jealous. She throws a stereotype of a good (and boring) life at him with her cocoa reference and he throws one right back, with Cognac and Lawrence. She’s a ‘Wild Child’ after all. This was seen as too “specific” by some viewers to be just a throwaway line. But lets look at it with logic, shall we? Jack has been a hundred times in Phryne’s parlour. He knows what she drinks, he knows what she reads. So do we, or was anyone surprised by the idea that she’d be cuddled up with Cognac and “Lady Chatterly’s Lover”? Beside that, that hairpiece doesn’t look like one you’d forget to take off before heading to bed with a book or a man. And I can’t see her reading at this stage if she was to spend the night in Jack’s bed. So either way you twist it, it makes no sense that he should have witnessed her in the past night with said items. Hugh also picks up on her evening gown, well… of course he would. It’s 9 am and she is wearing a glittering blue something.
They share some loving banter, some looks, some gentle gestures… Jack is behaving like his usual mixture of a gentleman, a sarcastic police officer and a lovestruck fool. I can’t say I see any evidence there, so lets forge on.
Her blouse gets torn, Jack notices (probably while admiring her assets) and he uses the excuse to touch her neck. I suspect he intended it to be a bit more fleetingly than it turned out. It’s not a very erotically intended touch (even though, yes, it’s erotic), its rather intimate in nature. He enjoys to feel her, but he keeps his distance and his fingers stay in safe territory, they barely move. This is Jack crossing the line while staying his usual restrained self. I am excited by this, it shows their progress. She doesn’t jump on the chance, just enjoys his attentions. They are still moving forward very, very slowly, but they are getting there. It’s part of their courting dance. Slow and close.
I can’t say I actually see Miss Fisher rebuffing the attentions from the doctor on rewatching, even though she isn’t driven to encourage him either. And I have noticed that Mac cuts into their flirting with a question after the murder - a sure way to get her out of the mood. I believe Mac is still playing on team Jack. Thank you, Mac.
And then, of course, the end scene. A proposal is discussed with plenty of subtext and well, it’s playing on both of their minds that this might be in the future someday and they’re feeling out the territory in their usual banter. And God, Phryne actually lets her mask slip for a moment, she is so touched by his present. There is no expectation there, she is feeling loved. A notion that seems fairly unfamiliar to her. Jack is continuing to gently court her and I am not entirely certain if the brouche was indeed found between the stolen goods… it seems quite a coincidence. I believe one Detective-Inspector has walked into a jeweller to find a present for the woman of his heart. A brave move, considering how much jewellery she possesses. She touches his hand in a fleeting gesture while feeling for the brouche. Again, a good excuse to search for some contact. And sorry, no secret relationship in sight. Just a man and a woman figuring it out. It’s beautifully written and quite subtle, a throwback to earlier seasons.
In fact I believe those scenes would be cheapened by the idea that they’ve spent the night together. They are still baring their hearts, no bodies involved just yet. For Miss Fisher, who is so used to physical contact in a snap, that should be a change of pace she has to get used to, but it sets Jack apart a million miles from his competition. He might enjoy her assets but he is more interested in her heart, her soul and her brain. The rest can wait. And Phryne isn’t the only one who is touched by his care and patience.
I can’t help but admire the writers for their way of moving this story forward. They have struck a beautiful balance between a very solid crime, a fantastic side story with Hugh and Dot (which seems widely and unfairly ignored amongst our speculation) and a wonderful, subtle lovestory between Jack and Phryne. It was a well crafted episode and I take my hat off to them. Personally I think there was enough on screen that I don’t need to interpret a secret affair into this. It’s not happened yet. Sadly I don’t share Jack’s patience on the matter, but then that’s my problem.