'Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries' Season 2, Episode 9 Recap: "Framed For Murder"

(Photo via Acorn TV)

This week's Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries begins on the set of an Egyptian epic, with elaborate costumes, giant set pieces, dancing girls, and the lead actor's body accidentally speared by the extras. Oops. The producer, Raymond Hirsch (Hamish Michael), calls in Miss Fisher, his studio's main backer, for help. She and Dot arrive at the set of Bride of Babylon, as Jack checks out the body of Donald Everton, who seemed to have drunk himself into a coma. But the marks on the floor indicate someone dragged him there.

Clarke: I'll tell you this is one crazy country. Back home society dames are holding tea parties. Here, they're packing pistols. 

Hirsh insists Everton was a professional who never drank in the morning, suggesting that all happened the night before. Clara Whiting (Jane Harber), Hirsh's assistant, confirms no one saw Everton arrive, she'd assumed he was running late. Fisher checks out Everton's dressing room and notes that there's a highball glass, but no bottle. Collins checks the trash, where Dot joins him, finding the broken bottle and an extra cup with lipstick on it. Dot knows which actress favors this shade: the film's leading lady, Lily Luscombe (Stephanie King). Luscombe admits to drinking with Everton, saying that it was just par for the course when rehearsing, as were his octopus hands.

Luscombe had reason to insist on rehearsals. Looking at the dailies, Everton could barely manage. The director, Gordon Thackaway (Richard Sutherland), had to intervene, causing a fight. Thackaway says that's just his directing style, and he wasn't the only one frustrated: Hirsh also threatened to sack Everton. Hirsh admits he threatened Everton, but it was empty. Besides, Raymond has an alibi: Jefferson Clarke (Craig Hall), the VP of Pegasus Studios, who is visiting from Hollywood. Clarke confirms he and Hirsh had dinner and then came back to the house for a party. Hirsh tells Phryne Clarke wants to convince theaters like his to wire for sound, offering huge sums for it.

As they walk back in the house, they overhear Clarke complaining down the phone about having to "babysit a young American actor," Vernon Palmer Jr. (James Beck). Palmer, it turns out, is a striking young man who Hirsh hires as his new lead on the spot. Fisher throws a dinner to celebrate. She notes Clara's jealousy when she catches Hirsh giving Phryne a peck on the cheek, and tries to soothe the girl that she and Raymond are just childhood friends. Clara also wears the same lipstick as Lily, the actress' leftover tube, so that Clara can make autographed kiss cards for distribution.

(Photo via Acorn TV)

Hirsh admits he took a loan out to hire Palmer and looks ill when the actor starts asking about a fancy car to drive him around. Fisher steps up, with Bert as chauffer, giving her a perfect way to keep an eye on the new lead. But when Jack arrives to say Everton's drink was filled with barbituates to keep him drugged for the spearing, Clara immediately confesses. She was the only one other than Hirsh who knew Everton had them over a barrel -- bank funding was dependant on his starring, despite how terrible he was. She didn't do it; she's trying to protect Raymond because she knows he's been drugging someone else on set: Thackery, to calm him down. 

Jack decided Hirsh is innocent and sends him home, where Clarke pushes him again to sign the contract, promising Pegasus will wire money to keep shooting. Fisher is suspicious and calls a friend in Los Angeles. She discovers Clarke is no VP of anything, just a junior salesman, which only makes his claim of "babysitting" Palmer even more suspect. But Palmer does well on set the next day, though he worries to Clarke backstage this could "end his career," causing Clarke to hand him a check of some sort to keep quiet. 

As Thackery sets for the close-up, the room goes dark, and the director fumes the fuses have blown again. It's only a moment, and Thackery jumps on set to act out the scene with Lily to show Palmer what he wants. Unfortunately, the darkness lasted long enough to switch the fake prop collapse knife with a real one, and Thackery stabs himself and dies. It was an accident, and meant for Palmer. That's one dead leading man, one dead director, and one attempt on a leading man. Since the film now needs someone to boss everyone around, Hirsh suggests Phryne become the director.

(Photo via Acorn TV)

Fisher heads to the studio and catches Clarke in Hirsh's office. He claims he's there to call home since this is when California's awake, insisting he's working to help Raymond with funding. Meanwhile, Palmer's not staying put either; he goes on walkabout after Bert drops him at the hotel where he's supposedly staying. Fisher heads to Palmer's dressing room, finding black boot polish for hair dye and remnants of the check, made out to Jamie Allen. "Palmer" is a fraud, one of the real Vernon Palmer's stuntman stand-ins.

Allen confesses he's no Hollywood actor. He's from Australia and was doing well as a stunt double until he busted his leg and got sent home. The con was Clarke's idea, but Palmer wasn't around for Everton's death, and the knife was meant for him, suggesting Clarke was planning a double-cross. But with who? The answer seems to be Lily: When Clara saw her just before the lights went out, she had a full glass of water. When the lights came back on, it was empty. Jack and Phryne head to the studio, where they find Clarke tied to a chair with the film dailies and Lily with a lighter, threatening to burn him to death via celluloid screaming that he'd promised to make her a star, not Vernon.

She tells Fisher Clarke promised to take her to Hollywood, if she sabotaged the film, and gave her the tablets. But when Everton drank so much, she panicked, thinking she'd killed him, and stuck him behind the set, hoping it would look like an accident. Jack tackles Lily, causing her to drop the film and the lighter, but not before it catches. Thinking fast, Fisher shoots down a sandbag and puts the fire out before it can explode. Fisher convinces Hirsh to give Jamie the lead role as himself, dubbing him "Australia's new rising star," with Clara as his co-star. Then she takes home the well-muscled slave extra she's been eyeing all episode as a reward for a job well done.