Saturday, November 14, 2015

Indian Summers – Season 1, Episode 7 – Recap

The Indian children from the orphanage/school, out for an innocent swim, find the body of Adam’s mother, Jaya, floating in the lake. When Dougie is summoned to say a prayer over the corpse, he recognizes her. He tells the police he saw her talking to Ralph recently. However, when Ralph is asked to identify the body he tells the official he's not sure who she is; alone with the body he breaks down. Is it because he regrets the need to have killed her or did he really once care for her? Or perhaps both? Who really killed her? The coroner says there are two sets of wounds: stab wounds that caused her death and one from years before.

I thought Eugene had gone back to Chicago but he is acting with Cynthia in The Importance of Being Earnest, directed by Ronnie Keane, who has the kind of civil service job where he can disappear to direct a play and no one notices. Of course, even the Viceroy in the cast but I think Ralph does all his work anyway. Alice, Madeleine, and Sarah also have parts because Sarah insisted. Madeleine asks Alice why she doesn’t say no to Sarah. I am surprised that Alice doesn’t confide in Madeleine about the blackmail.

When Ian hears about Jaya’s murder, he asks to meet with Superintendent Rowntree. Ralph and Aafrin overhear, and Aafrin asks who the victim was. “Nobody!” Ralph says decisively. When Ian reveals that Jaya stole Mr. Sood’s wedding dress, poor Mr. Sood becomes the prime suspect. He is beaten until he makes a false confession.

Ralph suggests that the play be postponed because of a nationalist Indian gathering scheduled for the same day out of respect, but Cynthia and the Viceroy refuse to listen. They say the play is a tradition and the Indian matter is nothing to do with them. Cynthia has persuaded Mr. Keane (serving as play director) to kick Eugene out of the play, although a replacement would have a lot of lines to learn quickly.

“The past always catches up to you,” Ralph says to Cynthia when he brings her the news of his former paramour’s death. He says he loved Jaya once, and Cynthia tells him he has to forget about her. She is delighted that Mr. Sood is now assumed to be the murderer. Cynthia suspects Ralph of the murder and he suspects her. I know she is very, very fond of Ralph but would she kill for him?

Dougie received a generous check for the Mission School from the Revenue department, prompted by Ralph. I think Dougie is finally connecting the dots – he says Ralph has taken a great interest in the school recently. Well, yes, his son is a student there . . .

Finally, the turbaned Indian sergeant confronts Aafrin with the stolen certificate that was found during the search. It is unclear what he wants other than threats of blackmail. Everyone’s a blackmailer in Simla!

Aafrin assumes that Alice betrayed him and confronts her; he tells her Sita wouldn’t have done that and goes on to say Sita is the woman he loves and plans to marry. Alice denies it and is very upset by his accusations. Aafrin does try to ask his sister what happened the night the police searched their home but Sooni is so angry with him for continuing to work for the English that she refuses to answer. Still, Aafrin should know if Alice had betrayed him he’d have lost his job and been imprisoned.

Cynthia summons Ian to quiz him about Mr. Sood’s involvement in the murder. She tells him that Mr. Sood confessed. They had quarreled about Ian’s decision to work for Mr. Sood (it is not considered appropriate for a Brit to work for an Indian, regardless of the fact that Ian is penniless now that his uncle is dead and the estate forfeit). Cynthia tries to charm him back to the Club, reminding him where his loyalties lie. She also recruits him to play Algernon instead of Eugene. By the way, Cynthia makes a great Lady Bracknell, autocratic and sneaky!

Ian tells Ralph – very foolishly – that he heard the murder when walking home the previous night and that Mr. Sood was back at the house. Ralph delicately asks if Ian was drunk at the time, implying his recollection is faulty. But when Ian chooses to visit Mr. Sood in prison (blowing off the play, which makes Cynthia very angry), Ian realizes Mr. Sood has been falsely accused (and beaten up) and that the English, who already resent him as a landowner, have seized upon him as a convenient scapegoat. Ian is determined to stick up for Mr. Sood when no one else will – he is emerging as the only character with any integrity.

Aafrin brings Sita as his date to the play and tries to kiss her while Alice is looking: what is this, junior high? Alice is absurdly hurt but she barely knows the guy and he’s kind of an idiot. It’s all for the best, really! He needs to support his family and she needs to figure out what to do about Charlie, her husband. If Ralph is disgraced and loses his job/or goes to jail, Alice could be forced to return to Charlie.

At the funeral, Leena, the beautiful teacher from the school, tells Alice the deceased woman was Adam’s mother. Alice is astonished by this news and further surprised to see Ralph lurking near the funeral. Leena has guessed that Ralph is Adam’s father and asks Dougie if he is trying to protect Ralph by failing to tell the police that Jaya was Adam’s mother.  It seems just a matter of time until all Ralph’s lies unravel and whatever perfidy in the past (and present) will be revealed.

Image copyright to PBS

Friday, November 6, 2015

Indian Summers - Season 1, Episode 6 - recap

The episode begins with Adam’s crazy mother walking into Mr. Sood’s house while a servant snoozes, and stealing a wedding sari that belonged to his deceased wife. Later, Mr. Snood blames the poor woman Ian hired last week, going crazy on her and Ian. If your caste is that low, you apparently get blamed for every random theft.
Alice
Alice and Madeleine are out exploring some local temples with erotic sculptures with the generic Mr. Keane when they encounter a cobra. Everyone freezes with fear (including me) but a Captain Farquhar "just passing by" shoots it very impressively. He’s a sort of poor man’s Damian Lewis in terms of looks who is instantly smitten with Alice. Madeleine is unnerved by the dangerous encounter but rallies when the Captain gives her a drink from his flask.
Madeleine
Ralph is being stalked by Adam’s mother, who is still hanging around in the shrubbery by the lake. He goes to Cynthia for advice about whatever happened ten years ago (presumably the liaison that resulted in Adam, although it seems to me this behavior is SOP for British men in Indian – the only “crime” by their standards is not keeping it quiet). Ralph speaks moodily about the woman disappearing. “She’d only come back,” says Cynthia, who doesn’t realize Ralph wants the woman to disappear permanently.

Alice is trying to flirt with Aafrin but he refuses to have eye contact with her and tries to do his work. She hands him a note that says, “Look at me, and they stare at each other until Ralph appears for tea. Alice should know this isn’t going to end well.

Aafrin is finding he doesn’t fit in with his family very well any more. And when he gets home for dinner, he finds his parents have invited his girlfriend Sita over, a desperate move given their enormous disapproval of her – probably an attempt to reclaim him. There is some ardent political conversation: Aafrin’s sister Sunni has been bitter ever since she got released from prison and resents that Aafrin is working for the enemy. She makes fun of her father for supporting British rule. The father says to the mother later that all he wants is for Aafrin to live the life given to him. Mrs. Dalal doesn’t agree; she wants him to conform, as she is still extremely unhappy about Sita and wonders what her family and friends would say if they got married. She would be more worried if she knew Aafrin was yearning for Alice.

Ralph is trying to figure out what Dougie knows about Jaya, Adam’s scary mother. He thanks Dougie for taking in Adam at the orphanage (referring to him as the boy who appeared at the engagement party), and asks Dougie to let him know what is needed in the way of upkeep: he'll try to get the Board of Revenue to pay. Dougie is too clueless to be suspicious of this sudden generosity and promises to make a comprehensive list of every repair the orphanage needs. Doesn’t Ralph remember he is overextended financially? Wait until he finds out his fiancée is not rich, as he had thought.
No one wants an ex-girlfriend who looks like she's covered with eye of newt
Ralph goes looking for Jaya, and she confirms that Adam is Ralph’s child and also reveals that the assassin is her father, presumably seeking revenge for her lost honor (but why did it take him ten years?). Ralph holds her hands and speaks to her very kindly. He must be wondering what he ever saw in her. Believe me, we’ve all been there, Ralph, but not all of us act on these homicidal impulses. Jaya says Adam has the evil eye, which is not a nice thing to say about one’s child and is not likely to influence Ralph in his favor.  Jaya must have some education or else Ralph used to read her poetry as she quotes Ben Jonson, "Or leave a kiss but in the cup, And I'll not ask for wine."  Jaya tells Ralph that many men have been cruel to her, and also one Englishwoman.  Cynthia?

The very forward Captain Farquhar admires the picture Aafrin drew of Madeleine and asks Alice if he could commission one of her from the same artist to bring with him when he goes. Ralph, despite having just finished a quickie with Madeleine in a nearby room, takes an instant dislike to the stranger flirting so obviously with his sister and says, “Not a chance. She fidgets too much to pose.” Alice says yes, however, because she realizes it’s an excuse to see Aafrin. Joke on Alice – when he turns up with his art materials he brings his schoolgirl sister as a chaperone.

Luckily, the girl asks if she can try the piano, which gives Alice and Aafrin time to talk. For the first time Alice tells someone about her husband, but the story is not what I expected. Alice simply says she realized she didn’t love him and left him. “I tried being unhappy and it didn’t work.” I guess I was wrong in assuming the husband had an affair. It seems as if Aafrin didn’t know she was married. Aafrin says bitterly that he has heard of Englishmen having Indian mistresses but never the other way around. And he reminds Alice that his father is ill and Aafrin is responsible for supporting his family. Her face falls but she recovers and asks if Aafrin would like to meet her son, who is just waking up. He says yes but when she runs upstairs to get Percy, Aafrin and sister leave quickly. That is not very nice and he didn’t finish the portrait!

At the Club, it turns out that Captain Farquhar is a friend of Alice’s husband and was sent with a message – that taking Percy was kidnapping because a child is the property of the father. “What do you want?” Alice asks, wondering why she is surrounded by blackmailers on all sides. The slimy captain wants Alice, clearly. Even without knowing about the blackmail, Ralph is so offended by what he sees that he lures Captain Farquhar away and knocks him down a flight of stairs. Captain Farquhar is taken away to a hospital. Imagine what Ralph will do to Charlie when he appears?

In fact, Captain Farquhar redeems himself slightly when he leaves. Alice asks him to write to Charlie to say she is not ready to return yet. And Captain Farquhar gives her a sketch that Aafrin did of her. Alice knows this means he drew it from memory which makes her happy.

Adams’ crazy mother, Jaya, attacks the nice orphanage teacher, Leena, and says she is taking Adam to meet his father, but Adam stays with Leena to protect her from his mother. Then we see Jaya wearing the stolen red sari and waiting by the lake for Ralph to come say goodbye to her, just as Ian McLeod walks drunkenly home after some a few drinks with Mr. Sood. Suddenly, Ian hears a scream and splashing. I suppose she could have fallen in but it seems likely that Ralph drowned his former paramour, rather than risk exposure. He certainly has a motive but it is not clear if anyone knows about Adam other than Cynthia and the dead assassin.  Maybe it was Cynthia - she did say she'd consult the useful Keyser.   Ralph needs a lawyer so he can keep track of all the intrigue surrounding him.