'Ridley' Deals with Jazzy Heartbreak in "Swansong"

Joanna Riding as Eve Marbury, Julie Graham as Annie Marling, and Adrian Dunbar as Alex Ridley are creating a love triangle in 'Ridley'

Joanna Riding as Eve Marbury, Julie Graham as Annie Marling, and Adrian Dunbar as Alex Ridley in 'Ridley'

Matt Squire/West Road Pictures/A3MI

Ridley starts at the jazz club again, but this time it's not Adrian Dunbar showing off his golden tones. Instead, it's Eve Marbury (two-time Olivier Award winner for musicals Carousel and My Fair Lady Joanna Riding) who kicks off this week's story by having a brother, Luke, who hasn't written to her in over a year, but whom she hasn't been able to track down for four decades. You would think since he's avoided her for nearly a half-century, she'd take the hint, but I guess not. Perhaps it's all that time she spent in America that hasn't affected her accent in the slightest? Anyway, she's only in town until the funeral of local musician Julian Varnham, so Ridley has a week to solve the case.

Eve: I didn't want it to be over.

Ridley heads to Carol's to get file access, interrupting the awkward sperm donor interviews Geri scheduled. The current one, Seb (Gareth George), seems to have signed up for the express purpose of telling women desperate for his juices that birthing babies this close to the environmental apocalypse is morally wrong. Carol happily leaves to help Ridley get Luke Marbury's files, records from his juvenile delinquent years, including Ray's Sound Place, where he used to steal from. But there's no missing persons report. Darren agrees to look through the old paper files to see if they failed to get scanned into the database.

The Varnhams keep appearing in flashes in the early going, establishing Julian's son Jed (Bryan Dick) was estranged, while daughter Liza (Lucy Robinson), flanked by family solicitor Simon Cranfield (Gary Pillai), is trying to smooth over the cracks, well, some of them anyway. Julie Conway (Hopi Grace), her late dad's girlfriend -- and also Jed's ex-girlfriend (MESSY) shows up to the will reading. Liza looks ready to throw down, even more so when the will reads that Julie inherited the entire Ravenstoop Estate. Jed follows Julie out, telling her to stay away, only to be told that when Julie goes to the police "to tell them what really happened," the family won't be able to hide from its rot any longer.

Adrian Dunbar as Alex Ridley and Bronagh Waugh as Carol Farnam around a computer in Ridley

Adrian Dunbar as Alex Ridley and Bronagh Waugh as Carol Farnam in 'Ridley'

Matt Squire/West Road Pictures/A3MI

Ridley visits Ray (George Costigan) at the vinyl shop. Ray remembers Luke, noting the photograph Ridley has was taken in front of Varnham's collection of nightclubs and that Luke is standing next to Julie Conway. He agrees to ask for information on Luke during his radio show, which is a tribute to the late Varnham. Annie at the jazz club warns Ridley that Eve doesn't pass her smell test, but it's too late; Ridley's found Julie and arranged a meeting the next day. But by then, she's been conveniently murdered. Julie's sister, Donna (Tupele Dorgu), says Julie was a talented singer plagued by alcoholism, and she was with Jed on and off for years. She also knows about Julian leaving her his estate.

The two visit Liza, who claims the family's initial estrangement from Jed was due to Julie and that she started a long con on their dad after his second stroke. When Carol and Darren track down Jed, he clarifies Julie was sleeping with his dad, the final nail in their long, toxic relationship. Ridley stays on the Luke trail, finding Duncan Darwin (Jack Deam), who helped Luke get to Craydale when he ran away from home for the final time. Ray's shoutout on the radio also turns up a lead to Craydale's pub, and Eve remembers her brother worked at Alderford's scrapyard. But the pub is shut down, and Tony Alderford (Ian Talbot) says he hadn't seen him since before he went missing the first time.

Ridley heads to Ray's radio station to get the false tip number, noting how nice the station is, as Darren's work tracing Julie's movements turns up footage of Liza, proving she lied in their first meeting. Liza said she tried to pay Julie off to get the estate, but the woman wouldn't take her money. However, there's more going on here. Ridley looks over the letters Eve claims Luke sent over the years, and the handwriting matches the abusive letters Jed handed over from Julie. But Julie was probably dead by the time the tip came in (which Ray claimed was from a man), so multiple people are trying to convince Eve that Luke is alive. Carol and Ridley decide to ask Jed what he knows about Luke.

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Retired DI Alex Ridley is called back to advise on a complex case by his former protege.
Ridley: show-poster2x3

Jed claims he's never heard of Luke, and Julie never wrote any letters "to a Luke" as far as he knows, completely misunderstanding Carol's statement that Julie was writing letters to Eve to convince her Luke was alive or deliberately misinterpreting it. Meanwhile, at the station, Ray's in the middle of his show when "Luke" calls in and suggests Ray tell everyone what he knows. Unsurprisingly, the tip call Ray got never happened; he faked it. The actual call, which Carol hears after discovering the log was falsified, was from Duncan.

Cornered, Duncan tells Carol and Ridley that Ray was a pedophile who sexually abused Julie as a girl and that she brought Luke into the group. The two head to Rays, where they find he'd hung himself. Goodwin is pleased with the neatness of this solution: Ray killed Julie to hide he'd killed Luke, hung himself, case closed. Except Darren misses the meeting because he's just dug up the missing persons file out of the basement, deliberately misfiled and hidden so it wouldn't be digitized, revealing the day before Luke left town, he attempted to report sexual assault charges against Julian Varnham.

But it's when Carol tells Ridley Julian hadn't altered his will since 1989 before Jed ever met Julie, it all starts falling into place. Duncan must have known more; when they arrive, he agrees to go to Ravenstoop to show them it's also Luke's final resting place. Duncan admits Ray wasn't the abuser; he was the middleman for Varnham, and Varnham abused both him and Luke. Julie became the recruiter, bringing them both to Varnham and when Luke tried to report Julian, Julie brought them both to Ravenstoop, where Luke was killed before him.

Adrian Dunbar as Alex Ridley standing on the moors in Ridley

Adrian Dunbar as Alex Ridley in 'Ridley'

Matt Squire/West Road Pictures/A3MI

Meanwhile, Ridley makes his usual pilgrimage to Flannery in prison for wisdom. No wisdom this week, but he learns Flannery wants out of prison to visit his dying mother, a request he refuses. He also heads to see Eve, saying he won't say anything until they can prove whether or not Duncan killed Julie and prove his statements about Luke are true. (Duncan insists he did not kill Julie.) Meanwhile, Eve is suddenly all about forgetting what happened to her brother, getting out of this town and back to America, and asking Ridley to come with her. He is bowled over and, despite the obvious driver of her request, seriously considers it.

Ridley talks to the ghost of his dead wife, who tells him she can't choose him. Annie also refuses to decide for him, though she disapproves. As the funeral lets out and Eve's performance gears up, Ridley sees Eve and suddenly realizes what has already been evident to everyone else. He hurries off to check with Eve's hotel, which confirms she was out the night of Julie Conway's murder and seen with a guest just before Julie died. If that wasn't enough damning evidence, Newsome calls to announce Eve's DNA is also on the glass shards that killed Julie. While Ridley deals with the gut punch, Eve gets her real revenge, refusing to sing at the funeral and telling the assembled guests Varnham was an abusive monster who sexually abused kids and killed her brother.

After the funeral, Ridley confronts Eve, who insists she pushed Julie in a rage when it was pointed out Varnham financed her entire singing education and move to America; he gave her a career as blood money for her brother. Julie's death was an accident, and Eve panicked and ran. But Ridley isn't buying it. Eve's been seducing him since that night, and he rages at her as much over his failure to see what was right in front of him. Eve is arrested, while Ridley returns to the jazz club to nurse a broken heart over a piano and a mic.


Ani Bundel has been blogging professionally since 2010. A DC native, Hufflepuff, and Keyboard Khaleesi, she spends all her non-writing time taking pictures of her cats. Regular bylines also found on MSNBC, Paste, Primetimer, and others. A Woman's Place Is In Your Face. Cat Approved. Find her on BlueSky and other social media of your choice: @anibundel.bsky.social

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