Oct. 29, 2020

Come for the Suspense, Stay for the Romance: Death Comes to Pemberley & The Scapegoat

Come for the Suspense, Stay for the Romance: Death Comes to Pemberley & The Scapegoat


Death Comes to Pemberley trailer.  Anna Maxwell Martin is one of my favorite Elizabeths, too.

It's based on a book by P.D. James

The Scapegoat trailer

The Scapegoat book by Daphne du Maurier

The  foreplay to the train make-out clip from North by Northwest

Notorious, full movie. That Scene comes right at the end.


This is Confessions of a Closet Romantic,  a podcast where I celebrate my love of romantic TV shows, movies, books...without shame or embarassment. Mostly! This is Poppy and in this episode, come for the suspense, stay for the  romance: Death Comes to Pemberley and The Scapegoat.

 I absolutely adore the movies of Alfred Hitchcock, but only realized recently that most of them have a romantic trope at their center driving the action. How did I never see that?!

Rear Window -mismatched lovers. North by Northwest - strangers to lovers with a dash of danger and mystery.

The Birds - untamable woman disrupts orderly lawyer’s life. The Lady Vanishes: independent woman brushes off man who falls in love at first sight until she warms to his charms. Suspicion — ugly duckling heiress falls for dashing man who turns out to be a  heel who redeems himself to prove his love for her. Notorious — man falls for bad girl who turns out to be a good girl hiding her love for him because she’s been recruited as a  spy.

 Come for the mystery and suspense, stay for the romance! 

There's not a lot sexier then Cary Grant making out with Eva Marie Saint in a tiny train compartment in North by Northwest… 

[film clip]

The romance makes Hitchcock's fairly cynical worldview palatable for me.

The compassionate performances of Matthew Rhys make the mild suspense of Death Comes to Pemberley by PD James and The Scapegoat, based on the book by Daphne deMaurier, so much more satisfying and enjoyable. 

The Death Comes to Pemberley series imagines events a few years after Elizabeth and Darcy of Pride and Prejudice  marry. 

After Pride and Prejudice ended, did you ever wonder how these two would resolve their differences? Oh, I'm pretty sure this is exactly how we pictured it would go.

[film clip]

They have a young son and they're about to give a ball at Pemberley. It’s as grand a life as we imagined for the two of them, running that massive estate, but then Wickham (played by my dreamboat Matthew Goode, at his dashing but slimy best) and Lydia  work their usual negative energy and throw plans into chaos. 

 On their way to surprise the Darcys by inviting themselves to the ball— notice they weren’t invited—someone gets fatally wounded in Pemberley Woods, and a poor local magistrate tries to get to the bottom of what went on in the carriage on its way to the house.

[film clip]

The tone of this series is witty but also dramatic—a murder-mystery, detective story, and romance, and all strands are a whodunit, or why done they done it or what will happen to it-- the relationships, the crime... 

We get to live in Pemberley for a while and often see scenes and characters  shot through the reflections of Pemberley’s prism-edged windows, which is such a cool effect.

We’re getting to know Elizabeth and Darcy as a couple, which is also a bit of mystery at this point, and getting to know the characters at play in this story, who may or may not be involved in a tragic death.

The ball gets cancelled, an investigation begins, and stress strains Elizabeth and Darcy's relationship, to the point where Elizabeth doubts why Darcy even married her when she came with the bad bargain of her crazy family, now under Pemberley’s roof for the postponed party. 

In this clip, Elizabeth remembers how Darcy's initial proposal went but this time Jane is there to comfort her.

[film clip]

She must have always had this power inequity in their relationship in the back of her mind. You can tell Darcy respects her opinion highly — except when they're stressed, trying to figure out who is telling the truth and who isn’t.

They’re two intelligent, strong-minded people. so you not only want the mystery to be solved you want equilibrium back in this couple, who can barely stop glancing at each other when they share the same space.

Somehow Matthew Rhys manages to be as arrogant as we know Darcy to be, but loving to Elizabeth and their son. There is a strong passion between the two of them that quietly sizzles.

One of the best characters we get to reconnect with in this story is Darcy's sister Georgiana, played by Eleanor Tomlinson. She was the highlight of Poldark miniseries for me and she's lovely in this role.

She grown up now and falls in love, but in keeping with Austen her choice in this story is not the ideal choice. Darcy is super protective of her, but so is Elizabeth. 

[film clip]

Of course Elizabeth is right about Col. Fitzwilliam and when Darcy realizes that Georgiana almost married him, there is the most beautiful "I'm sorry" scene and gorgeous hug and kiss with Elizabeth, who overheard their conversation in the Great Hall. Then,  brief but beautiful makeup sex. Yes! this is the story sequel we've been waiting for.

[film clip]

In this series, every single character with romance at play gets their happy ending in an especially. satisfying way.

Oh Matthew Rhys… who  else remembers him in that television drama Brothers and Sisters that also starred Sally Field? He was my favorite sibling in that show, sensitive and compassionate… he plays a similar alter ego in The Scapegoat a mildly creepy TV miniseries based on the Daphne du Maurier book.

He plays a school teacher who loses his job and ends up in the pub  that night, where he keeps catching glances of a man who looks exactly like himself– and he's not looking in the mirror either.

The story reminds me of Strangers on a Train, the Alfred Hitchcock movie where one character proposes a "crisscross," where one stranger commits a crime and then the other commits the other's crime and because they're strangers, it will be hard to connect either one to each others' murder.

Eventually these two men sit across from each other at the pub and have a conversation. One is a sweet compassionate former teacher and the other is a wealthy entitled not sweet or compassionate married man from a large wealthy family who suggests that his life is in such disarray that it might be amusing to have this unemployed teacher take over for him. 

They are darkness and light, two people look the same, but one represents the shadow side of a personality and the other its spiritual light. 

This is the point where I won't say any more because the way it unspools is the fun of the whole thing but let me just say, coming from a family like mine, a story about character being a catalyst for positive change in a dysfunctional family or crumbling marriage is appealing.

It's not really a romance per se but it's about family love, and the power of compassion and how really seeing a partner can transform a relationship.

Matthew Rhys' character has to step in and improve the dynamics between the siblings and a marriage not of his own making and figure out how they got there, and how to improve it.

The love he shows for a wife who isn't actually his, and her response to who she thinks is her transformed husband is such an amazing part of this story.

[film clip]

Even when Matthew Rhys is playing a character with a dark side, I see such emotional intelligence and kindness in his eyes. He is dreamy to me,

 His portrayal of the teacher The Scapegoat and Darcy in Death Comes to Pemberley is so close to my ideal man. Let's hear it for Matthew Rhys. I think he may be my new favorite Darcy, and that is saying something.