i completely skipped this part when i watched this ep initially

Murder and the Mafiosa or Murder a la Carte?

Well it certainly wasn’t about mozzarella, unless Papa Antonio was considered the big cheese (sorry!).  I think it may have been about tomatoes so maybe Punishment by PomodorI or Death comes Canned? But who cares? This Ep is all about Jack.  No wonder fandoms and blogs went into meltdown, and DI Robinson was trending on Tumblr.

There were so many parallel themes and images it was a bit confounding, and I don’t think anyone gave two hoots about the plot.

The Ep has the recurring motif of La donna e mobile - Verdi’s famous aria to the paradox of woman - flighty, inconstant but beautiful and essential (ironically, sung in the opera by a callous sybarite.)

And this Ep was about Jack making a decision about his personal future. There were ample storylines to parallel this.  Consider:

Nonna Louisa  - bitter and twisted, devoid of any loving feelings, once she had been rejected by Papa Antonio; she had no heart; no-one mourned her passing;

Papa Antonio believed there was more to life than love; it was not worth abandoning family and responsibilities for love; he leaves a legacy of death and destruction as a result of his pursuit of prestige;

Marianna and Vincenzo - a modern day Romeo and Giulietta; will wear the tragic consequences of love in impossible circumstances:

Concetta  - forced into one arranged marriage, to a pig (her words), and almost forced into another; but determined to marry for love; prepared to lose someone who has “everything she wants in a man” if his heart isn’t as true as hers;

Dot and Hugh - toing and froing, using external rules and laws to justify points of difference; Dot demanding his allegiance by conversion to catholicism, Hugh using a doctrine he is unwilling to commit to as a means to control - both losing sight of why they want to be together;

Phryne - perhaps, maybe, just possibly, realising that Jack could be the one for her…

The Ep opens (more or less) with Jack and Phryne coming together converging on the scene of crime at the same time, having been summoned by Hugh and Dot respectively, (after the fist of the Hugh and Dot spats).

Jack is keen for Phryne to keep her distance and it soon becomes clear why this is.  He has history with the warring families and the main protagonists seem to know him.  He knows how dangerous they are.  But perhaps he knows too that the full extent of his relationship with one of the families will become apparent to Phryne.  And Phryne isn’t used to being kept to the sidelines.

Dark horse

While Phryne acquaints herself with Guido and Marianna, Jack heads over to the rival restaurant, run by the Strano’s.  Jack is greeted in a familiar fashion with a European kiss to each cheek by Concetta who remarks on his being early:

Concetta: … but your table is always waiting.  (Pouring his wine)  See I know what you like.

Who is this warm, beautiful, attentive woman greeting our Jack?  He has his own table?  She knows what wine he likes? And here were we thinking Jack spent his evenings in the office or in some hideous bunker if not at Phryne’s fireside.  Harrumph!  Or perhaps, onya Jack!

Phryne follows Guido from the rival restaurant to the Strano’s and there’s a bit of a shoot off, during which P warns Jack in one of several melodramatic lines:

Phryne:  Jack be careful, he’s got a gun.

Jack’s dinner with the beautiful Italian woman has a rather abrupt ending. P observes Jack’s attentive friend brushing his coat and touching his hand.  

Phryne: (…) She seemed to know you quite well.

Jack: She’s an old friend.  I believe that’s a term I’ve heard used.

Of course he has.  Just last week about P’s old friend, that smarmy Group Captain Compton, who turned out to have dallied with her in Madagascar and initiated an um… simulation of the experience in the RAAF base hangar.  That old friend.

For the first time we see an inquisitive Phryne.  Jack in the last Ep was prepared to probe (yes, we have all been waiting for the probe) but this week it’s Phryne - and the tables are turned. Her input into the investigation has been minimised and now there’s a side to Jack of which she is ignorant.  She sees that there’s a relationship of some kind between Jack and Concetta and she’s rattled by it.

Angry Jack!

The temper and authority he displays when bringing the warring factions to heel in his office gets quite a reaction from all present.  Jack, the dark horse. 

Rocky road

Back at the church Father O'Leary talks to Dot and Hugh of the importance of family.  Rather ironically as family’s feud and individuals within them show little love for one another.  Hugh finds some fine print he rather likes, to keep Dot in her place.  Dear me, has he forgotten to take DI Robinson’s words into account of the paradox of (and therefore the compromises needed to) court a modern woman?  I see a rocky road ahead.

Phryne finds out!

Phryne goes to Strano’s restaurant to further her investigations.  Did anyone ask her to investigate anything?  Anyone hire a private detective?  But perhaps there are questions that nag beyond Nonna Louisa’s death.

We have some insight into Concetta’s past and her role in La Famiglia, her first marriage and what Jack is to her.

Concetta: Wives are not for talking to….  My grandfather arranged the matter (she didn’t know her husband, just stepped off the boat and married him etc).  But I was a good wife.  (P and C say cheers).  You are a friend of Gianni’s? Jack?

Phryne: A friend, yes.  And you?

Concetta: Si. He tried hard to find who killed my husband and since then he has dinner here, many, many nights.

Phryne: He must like the food.

Concetta:  He must.

The final comments here come back in the last scene of the Ep. Both women are warm and friendly, they share a common bond - it’s Jack. They are sussing each other out too but in a way that is amicable, unlike Compton and Jack last week.  And her use of Gianni?  I quite like this!  I know some have said he should be called by his Australian name but I think it is affectionate, welcoming and familiar.

Break and enter


P breaks into the Carbonara (or whatever) restaurant and samples the butter, and something else.

I am about to have a rant so if you didn’t mind the Phryne/Guido encounter, you might want to skip this paragraph, because I hated it. With a vengeance. Now I don’t consider myself particularly prudish but I found this contact a completely gratuitous act. It made no sense to me on any level. From the point of view of plot, it was over the top.  Script writers do not take a bow. Yes, we have warring families and Jack has history with both sides, but an alliance with one in particular.  Phryne’s fraternising with the other side draws a parallel with these divisions - so they seemingly take sides on a personal and professional level.  But they don’t actually - Jack is impartial and so is Phryne.  Unnecessary - we got that the two families have a history, viewers aren’t stupid.

Then… then… there’s the encounter  itself.  I found it a turn off.  More than that, it was distasteful (pun intended).

Guido: Oh this must be what heaven tastes like. (OK OK got the food imagery)

Phryne: Well if it doesn’t I’m not going… But then I might not be given the option.

Seriously Phryne?  You think  heaven must be like being with Guido?  You’ve only spent ten minutes with him prior to your break in and he was bad-tempered and aggressive and threatening.  And not that I am ageist but he’s old and pathetic and disgusting. This was no sexy turn on and in complete contrast to the Jack/Concetta encounter which I find beautiful every time I watch it.  

And given Phryne spent a good few Eps of Series 2 “saving herself for Jack” (in my warped brain), this didn’t make sense on that level either.  Was it wanton abandon on her part having discovered that Jack had a “friend”? If it was such a fling, surely it wasn't heaven, more like purgatory. And yes, she had a flight of fancy with the old flame last week, but was sheepishly apologetic afterwards.  I know her taste in men has been, resolutely, questionable, but this time? WTF, literally.

In fact I can barely watch it and want to avert my gaze every time.  It makes me want to vomit (and that has nothing to do with the copious tubs of ice cream and bars of chocolate I consume with each watch.)

There I’ve said it.  Did I mention I didn’t like that scene?


Next morning back at Strano’s:

Phryne: I didn’t know you drank coffee Jack.

Jack:  Do you want me to make a full confession?

Phryne:  No thank you.  I prefer a never-ending source of mystery.

Wheels within wheels.  She is more and more intrigued by what smouldering lurks beneath Jack’s exterior sangfroid.  She intimates that she wants to know more, but slowly and forever. And we certainly don’t want any confessions from her. 

Jack introduces Miss Fisher to Concetta and learns that they’ve already met. The never-ending story of mystery…

Jack:  This is Miss Fisher…

Con: We talk last night.

Jack: Did you now?


Outside Jack questions Phryne as to the meeting with Concetta:

Phryne: I had a few questions for Concetta.

Jack: Did you get the answers you were looking for?

Phryne: Too early to say…  When you say ‘old friend’, do you mean ‘old friend’ like Dr Mac or ‘old friend’ like Captain Compton?

Jack: Concetta Strano hasn’t saved my life from a burning plane wreck in Madagascar, if that’s what you mean.   Can I give you a lift?

No that’s not what she means Jack and you know it.  Immediate distraction with the offer of a lift.  The shoe is definitely on the other foot.  Phryne is doing exactly as was Jack in the last Ep.  She keeps trying to bring the conversation back to the relationship he has with Concetta.  Why does she care?  Because she does.  So…

(and the matching linings thing - what lies underneath…)

Be careful

This then prompts her to refuse the lift as she is going to check out docks and Jack cautions her again about the danger involved with the Camorra. 

Jack: These people have been killing each other for generations…

Phryne:  I’ll be careful.  I’ll be careful.  (Touching his coat in one of those moments…) Promise me you’ll be careful too.

Phryne isn’t just talking about his dealings with criminals.  She is concerned about his heart too.

P goes to the docks and there’s some more shooting, we see Scar Face and lots of cans of tomatoes.

Marianna’s and Vincenzo’s love affair is discovered and Marianna says one of those lines which means something to just about everyone in the Ep:

Marianna: You don’t know what it’s like to love someone and know that you can never have him.

(Didn’t you think it was just a tinsy bit convenient that Marianna and Vincenzo happened to keep their cinema tickets handy - to be produced on the spot when needed?)

Going to the chapel

Yes, well apart from Jack and Phryne walking down the aisle together, the rest of this scene was weird.

There aren’t many people at the funeral, and the only people who are there are the rival factions.  There is no turn out from the Melbourne Italian community or appreciative restaurant patrons.  Just the two rival families. Only about two pews’ full on either side.  But apparently that’s what you do - you kill off the opposition, then go to the funeral and kiss the coffin.  Jack and Phryne separate from their parade down the aisle and  take up prime places on the front pews for the opposing factions - P next to Ghastly Guido and Jack next to Concetta.  I get the Jack placement, but Phryne in prime position next to the grieving family? Strange.

P, on the opposite of the coffin, notices again the closeness of Jack and Concetta.  She also gets the evidence about Nonna Louisa’s and Papa Antonio’s love affair.

(And just by the by, as Scar Face is there in the front pew too, it’s bizarre that Marianna doesn't recall his presence in a later interview...)

Ciao Guido

Guido tells Phryne that Nonna Louisa was a bitter, twisted old woman and couldn’t even shed a tear at her own daughter’s death.  Then P has to go…

Guido:  Bella stay…

Phryne:  I’m sorry I can’t ravish you.  (YERG!)

She explains she has to go and question more people then Guido says something in Italian, maybe that he’s in love with her or some equally disgusting thought).

Phryne:  Perhaps.  But I’m sure it will wear off.

Guido:  Whoever he is, he’s a lucky man.

P looks slightly confused then laughs it off. You aren’t fooling us Phryne!

Buona Sera Jack

Cut from this scene, straight to  the “lucky man” Jack, and Concetta where she has arranged dinner with Jack, alone.  Everyone is out.

Jack: …and Roberto Salvatore? (next arranged marriage for Concetta)

Concetta: Can’t you see?  It is only you I care about.  You are everything I could ever want in a man and I would give myself completely to you Gianni.  All you have to do is ask.

Jack: Your family has so many secrets, I’d be duty bound…

Concetta: (interrupting) La famiglia.  I’d leave them in a breath.  For you Gianni.

Jack: Si

Concetta: Si (laughs)

Concetta is prepared to do as her grandfather would not  - give up everything for love.  Mind you with a family like Concetta’s, you’d think it wouldn’t seem to be too much of an ask, but she, and Jack, would bear the brunt of the disgrace that would ensue. 

She is treated like a commodity by her grandfather.  Despite what she has been through with the first arranged marriage and the looming threat of another with Scar Face, she is a strong woman.  She was “a good wife” in spite of his treatment of her, but now wants a new path.  She loves Jack and proposes to him (Just like Tatiana did with Bert last week!  What is it about these women in 1929  - all power to you!).  Well she proposes that he propose to her.

Jack is being offered what would seem to suit him too perfectly.  A woman who will be constant, and care for him.  She is beautiful, intelligent, strong and she loves him!  Jack says “Si” but is that yes I will propose, or yes I understand what you are asking me to consider.

In so many ways she is the opposite of Phryne - they are both beautiful and intelligent but Concetta’s olive skin contrasts Phryne’s alabaster, her dark waves contrast Phryne’s straight bob; in personality and character they are poles apart -  Concetta’s warmth and deep commitment v Phryne’s inconstance, flightiness and steadfast self-reliance, Concetta’s conservatism, Phryne’s sass. Phryne has said unequivocally that she will not change what she is for any man (la donna e mobile), let alone Jack, and here is he being offered happiness, security and comfort.

Is there a choice for our Jack?  Has he come too far from being a conventional man to more liberal-minded and intoxicated by Phryne’s aura?

The morning after

Jack has a sore head and needs his Barrocas. 

This is not lost on Phryne who shows him the stolen evidence from the coffin - the locket, and Nonna Louisa’s accounts.

Jack:  Makes perfect sense…Thwarted love.

Yes - him and Phryne, or is it him and Concetta.

Phryne: Burning the midnight oil Jack?  Grappa will do that to you.

She knows where he’s been.

Jack: I’m sure I was up no later than you.

Phryne: Oh I was tucked up in bed at a very sensible hour.

Jack:  If you’re waiting for me to ask who with…

Phryne (interrupts) That’s odd.  Why would Nonna Louisa take out £6 every Thursday?


Jack:  So what did you say you were up to last night?

Phryne:  I didn’t.

Jack:  Then why are you asking me?

Phryne:  No reason.  It’s called civilised conversation.

The lady doth protest too much me thinks! If she would just give him the reason, if they could just talk to one another openly, with the kind of conversation Jack’s just had the night before with Concetta, maybe all would be resolved.  But no, they continue to dance around each other, backing and advancing, pretending not to care and caring.

J and P interrogate Papa Antonio about his relationship with Nonna Louisa.  In the background Concetta arranges flowers, listening to the history that threatens to repeat itself.

Papa Antonio:  She wanted to run away, to leave all the families.  But how could I? … Leave everything I knew.  (he relates her stealing  the book of recipes to force his hand, to make him follow her, but he doesn't ) There’s more to life than love.

Back at the office, J and P think through how they might flush out the killers, suspecting that the love affair between Vincenzo and Marianna is behind the murder:

Phryne: … That’s exactly what I’m thinking.

Jack:  Phryne?

Yes, yes, yes, he calls her Phryne, almost unthinkingly, as he’s distracted from other thoughts, the unconscious surfacing.  YEAH!

They decide to get Vincenzo’s confession through the powerful force of love:

Phryne: It can bring even the toughest of men undone.

This is a woman who speaks from experience to a man threatening to be brought undone.

(and is that a slight head tilt I see before me?)

In the scuffle that ensues with the Marianna/Vincenzo reveal, prior to the arrest of Vincenzo, his grandfather warns:

Papa Antonio: She’s going to break your heart Vincenzo, like mine was broken.

His and Nonna Louisa’s - denying love has tragic consequences, reminiscent of Shakespeare’s R and J: See what a scourge is laid upon your hate that heaven finds means to kill your joys with love…

Arrivederci Roberto and friend

Roberto is arrested in the restaurant as he is in the throes of arranging his marriage to Concetta with Papa Antonio. He is not only a crime boss but disloyal, playing off clans against one another, acting for both and in self-interest. He lets Jack know about his “friend”.

Fortunately Jack’s friend is at hand too in the guise of  Phryne, who arrives, golden pistol drawn.  Concetto is told by Jack to withdraw, Phryne is set to be his aid by his side.

P makes short shrift of Scar Face once J has dealt him a blow for his threats:

Roberto: The thing you should know Inspector Jack Robinson is that whatever you do to me is not the end of our business.  I will not touch a hair on your little policeman head, but I do know the names of people you hold dear.

This could be Concetta, but Phryne too.

The Shoop shoop song*

* shout out to suzilynn

This is a stunning scene.  I am not one of those who screamed at the screen in desperation as Jack kissed Concetta.  I thought it was beautifully crafted, intimate and subtle.  I didn't read infidelity on Jack’s part or dishonesty.  I don’t believe he has had any intimacy with Concetta before this evening.  Noble Jack who always does the right thing would have seen to that.  He is in love with Phryne but he knows it will never be a relationship of the kind Concetta has offered him.  He is a man torn, and in need of female friendship and partnership.  And I think as the scene has been blogged an infinitesimal number of times confirms its success!  I certainly haven’t seen Ghastly Guido and Phryne’s pash ad infinitum on my dash!  *so there*

Concetta:  Have you thought about it Gianni, what I am offering to you?

Jack: I’ve thought of nothing else.

Concetta:  First, there is something I need to make sure of, for myself.

(Ever so slight nod from Jack)

So this is the first time.  She needs to see if he loves her, in his kiss.

I have to include some snips, can’t stop myself.  She holds him, more than he her.  Hands entwined, lips, but not hearts.

Concetta is all woman. She knows. She has read him. In his kiss. His heart isn’t in it.

Concetta:  You don’t need to say it.  (Says something in Italian) Your heart is taken.

Jack: (slight shake of head) I care for you.  (pause) You deserve to be happy.

Concetta:  Sssh.  That’s OK.  I will be fine.  And Roberto will hang.  When I marry again, it will be for love.  But you are taken.

She knows Jack doesn’t love her.  He uses words that are as strong as he can, he cares for her, and wishes her happiness but that’s all.  He can’t be what she wants. Words that echo Phryne’s to Lin “I care for you… but”.

The last of the summer wine

He takes the remainder of the bottle of Sangiovese and is let in to the parlour in St Kilda.  He is taking the bottle of wine he was drinking with Concetta to Phryne.

Phryne is listening to that leitmotif la donna e mobile.  What is she thinking?  Is it that being inconstant and fickle can have lonely consequences?  Is she thinking of Jack? Of Jack and Concetta?  Whatever it is, her mood is sombre and reflective on his arrival.

Phryne:  Not eating Italian tonight Jack?

Now I didn’t interpret this question quite like some others, but I do agree it’s a metaphor for his relationship with Concetta!

Jack: Strano’s is closed.

He uses a metaphor too, just as Phryne has done in the past to refer to Lin, Walter Hamilton and other dearly departed.

Phryne:  Looks like you’ll have to make do with me.

Jack: Looks like we’ll have to make do with each other.

Now listen you script writers.  You can’t have your cake and eat it too (continuing the culinary theme).  You can’t have Jack giving up Concetta, who represents nearly everything he needs, then not having a relationship with Phryne.  That cannot be.  But this is only Ep 3, with 5 more to go and a possible Series 4 on the horizon.  I’m afraid! Very afraid.  But excited!

And here is a super salty post about the way a lot of this fandom treats Tobin

That’s what this post is. See look ^^^^^ – it’s right up there in the post title. So if you’re looking for humor or anything but salt, scroll on. You shall not find it here, nope. And while I will be a C@ryl (look at me censoring my own ship tag!) shipper until the end of time, but this is not remotely a shippy post. Okay, good talk.

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