Review: Arthur & George – Episode 2
After last week’s origin story, it was refreshing to go deeper into the Edalji case this week in part two of this three-part series. In my opinion, some of the awkwardness of last week’s script was gone, and the story moved through the investigation a bit more seamlessly. At the same time, the greater focus on details of the story highlighted just how disparate the different plotlines are. The Edalji case and Doyle’s conflicted attraction to Jean Leckie just don’t really connect in any meaningful way. They’re both compelling and well enough written to be involving for the viewer, but they feel like separate anecdotes in a life, not intrinsically connected parts of a cohesive narrative, no matter how hard the series tries to make us believe they are.
The bulk of episode 2 is spent on detective work performed by Doyle and his secretary, and Martin Clunes and Charles Edwards continue to be extremely watchable and often amusing. In particular, the script put lines in Doyle’s mouth that were very close to Holmes’s own words, but to his credit, writer Ed Whitmore managed to escape making the references overly heavy handed.
This week also featured more intense scrutiny of George Edalji himself, who proved to be a potentially sketchier character than he originally appeared. Arsher Ali continues to hold his own, never overplaying the character. At this point, however, he’s still such an enigma that it’s difficult to be terribly emotionally invested in his plight.
Additionally, Episode 2 depicted an excellent confrontation between the cornered Doyle and strong-willed Leckie, who declared her unwillingness to accept his advances until he’s ready to make them on his own without coercion. I’ve read different views of Leckie, not all of them sympathetic, but Hattie Morahan certainly paints a picture of an engaging woman who is one of the most appealing parts of this series.
I’ll reserve judgment until everything plays out in episode three, but at the moment, I’m conflicted. On the one hand, Arthur & George is an interesting mystery adaptation of a historical event that is certainly worth 45 minutes a week. On the other hand, its occasional flirtations with brilliance keep making me wish it had reached just a little bit higher.
Episodes 1-2 are currently available to stream on PBS.org
Amy Thomas is a book reviewer, freelance essayist, and author of The Detective and The Woman mystery novel series featuring Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler, published by MX Publishing. She holds a degree in professional communication and is an avid knitter, geek, and grammar nerd. Amy blogs about Sherlock Holmes at Girlmeetssherlock.wordpress.