'Flesh and Blood' Episode 2 Recap

Credit: Courtesy of Masterpiece

Mysteries are all about misdirection. If a mystery were to spell out the whodunit, it would be over in all of 15-30 minutes. That means that most of the time when we watch a mystery series, it's about trying to parse the actual thread of what happened versus the red herrings. Dorothy Sayers even once titled her story "Five Red Herrings," letting readers understand five plotlines were to be disregarded before the book is over. In the case of Flesh and Blood, there are four red herrings among these stories, and the question is which ones are which.

Vivian: I don't want to end up like Mary next door. 

There's also still the question of who the victim is. Whoever it is, they're not dead, as the episode concludes with revealing that person is heading into surgery. But at least each episode knocks out at least one possible answer. Last week was Mary, this week Natalie. She's lying like a rug from the word go to D.I. Doug Lineham, starting with the revelation that Vivian's next move after her illness was to sell the house because she and Mark plan a six week trip to India. She insists all three siblings were supportive of mum's plan to sell when the truth is no one handled the news well at all.

The question of which of these lies are essential and which are not becomes paramount. The drama within all three siblings' lives is emotionally affecting them. But at the same time, it's hard to say which are the ones that matter. Natalie, for instance, has a bad time of it. After announcing her pregnancy to Tony, he recognizes immediately there will be no abortion, so now he has to find a different way out of taking responsibility. Weasel that he is, he tells her to get lost for a week so he can "clear his head" and 'do what's right," which she assumes means leave his wife for her, and to anyone with eyes and ears means "divest himself of pregnant mistress."

Credit: Courtesy of Masterpiece

The inability to hear what people are saying to you is a running theme. Natalie does not hear the truth behind Tony's words and starts to go off the deep end, including stalking the family. (That the wife catches her and then attempts to run her off the road only adds to the horror of these two women essentially fighting over a weasel.) But it comes up again in Vivian's instances that no one is listening to her, or ever has heard her pleas for freedom. The notion that Natalie is essentially dating a version of her father only adds to the spectre of the misery Vivian has been trying to express. She even erases his birthday from her mind; that's how glad she is glad to be rid of him.

But while Natalie's story seems a red herring, the description of the incident coming during "a celebration" does suggest it's not just the three kids, plus Vivian, Mark, and Mary in the house, but some spouses too. One can assume Leila is not one of them, though. Talk about someone who cannot listen; Jake's story becomes more pathetic this week when he learns she's moved on. His response is to rant to Stella,  the woman he's signed a contract with to bang on the side. (Stella is my favorite for that alone. Savvy businesswomen get it in writing.) That Stella gives Jake good advice, which could have gotten him back together with his wife, only adds to her cred. It's too bad he doesn't listen.

The most likely "family" to be together at the celebration would have been Helen, but after this week's twist with George and the did-he-or-didn't-he cheat situation (again, the running theme, as Helen will not listen to him either outside or inside of a therapy session), it's hard to say. However, it's also the most obvious of the red herrings, partly due to the inept handling of Lily being "Extremely Online." But let's overlook the awkward, contrived "someone sent Lily a picture of her dad in a post where someone claims he's their new boyfriend." (That's not how social media works, but sure.) It is almost assuredly going to be part of Meera's plan to wreck Helen's marriage and her life as revenge. (My money's on the audience directed to feel bad for Helen because Meera traumatized a child as collateral damage.)  

That leaves us once again with the strange triangle of Mark, Vivian, and next-door neighbor Mary. It was profoundly effective to have the oblivious Natalie relay Mary's story, with all her emotional unawareness of the trauma she's describing. Mary had a baby boy at the same time Jake was born. Vivian's kid lived, hers didn't, which explains why Mary is happy to let Jake leave an entire house's worth of stuff in her guest room. When her husband walked out on her, the family extended friendship, but not as an equal. Instead, they told themselves they were doing good to a poor lady by allowing her to be their glorified servant, nannying and cooking, all the while the family pities and despises her.

Credit: Courtesy of Masterpiece

No wonder Mary has no problem walking into that house when it's empty, searching through Vivian's things, and stealing mysterious medications and the paperwork for them. But it's still unclear if Mary is worried about Vivian, or if she's trying to hurt her. The sheer jealousy over Mark buying Vivian the car is a sight to behold. (And it makes one wonder if Mary was the one to set the vehicle ablaze.) But notice, it's Mark who realizes the medication is gone when they are in Spain, not Vivian, suggesting he's drugging her with it. Or is he? For all we know, it's his viagra Mary stole. The pills are noticeably the right color and shape.

Speaking of that trip to Spain, Vivian and Mark supposedly visit his daughter, Sophie, a doctor. But does she even exist, or know they're coming? Because she magically cancels last minute, trapped at the hospital due to an emergency...when she just so happens to be in the midst of a 48-hour call, which will now last the entirety of their stay. How miraculous that suddenly Mark and Vivian are free and quite close to Gibraltar! And even though Mark was looking at Gibraltar as a quick way to get married, somehow it's Vivian who claims a shotgun wedding is all her idea.

Considering the snide hints and seeds of doubt Mary's been dropping, it's not surprising the kids are asking questions. But (if Mark is innocent), can one blame him for pushing back on these spoiled children who cannot handle the idea of their mother having a life outside them? He's not wrong that she does not solely exist to parent them. 

Perhaps, in the end, it won't be Mark, but one of them who couldn't handle this.