Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Episode-by-episode: The Double Clue




© ITV
This episode was based on the short story 'The Double Clue', first published in The Sketch in 1923. It was adapted for television by Anthony Horowitz and directed by Andrew Piddington.

Script versus short story
Horowitz does an excellent job of bringing this short story to life. There are several important additions to the storyline, like Poirot's observations on marriage (a passage I feel sure comes from one of the Christie stories, but I can't remember which, if any), Japp's concern for his job, Poirot and Rossakoff's excursions to museums and parks, Hastings's and Miss Lemon's interviews with the other suspects (quite nicely done), their concern for Poirot (and themselves) in the face of change (aka Rossakoff), and the added red herring of a tramp seen at the scene of the crime. Horowitz also makes some clever changes to the two clues, making the gloves small (so that they can suit both men and women) and the engraved 'B.P.' represent both Bernard Parker (like in the story) and Lady Runcorn (whose maiden name, it is revealed, was Beatrice Palmeston). Of course, the love story is greatly expanded (as Poirot and Rossakoff are almost allowed to express their admiration for each other), but that certainly works, and, I would argue, is completely necessary to broaden Poirot's character profile a little. The denouement is also significantly changed to allow Rossakoff to escape (in the short story it's never explained how Poirot lets her off). However, for those who argue that this is an example of Poirot light-hartedly letting go of his principles (as oppose to the adaptation of MOTOE), I would just like to point out that Poirot has a rather significant exchange with Miss Lemon in one of the final scenes:
 'I have from Inspector Japp the reports from the jewellery thefts. (silence) This work, Miss Lemon, it is not so straight-forward' (silence)
Also, there's the fact that he employs the private detectives Redfern & Blake (a nice homage to other detectives Poirot makes use of in his later career), not only to lead Hastings and Japp off the scent, but also to ensure that the Countess leaces the country and is not involved in a fourth robbery, so one might say he ensures that the crimes will end (in Britain, at least). In sum, then, Horowitz has made an excellent adaptation of the story, and one of my personal favourites. (MORE AFTER THE JUMP)

Directing, production design, locations, soundtrack
Piddington makes good use of the different location. For instance, the opening scene in which the Countess emerges from the train in the fog as some mysterious figure and then to leave on the same trend in the end scene, fully visible and characterised. The attention to detail in the many sets used for this episode is impressive. Locations include 'Shrubs Wood' in Chalfont St. Giles (Hardman's house - the location would later be used for Alistair Blunt's house in One, Two Buckle My Shoe), the grounds of Englefield House, Berkshire and Senate House, University College London (the art gallery). Finally, of course, there's Christopher Gunning's exquisite score for the episode, "The Double Clue" (available on his latest CD release). It sets the tone for the episode from the very beginning, and the subtle Russian influences make his score perfect for the task of conveying the importance of Poirot's greatest love.

Actors and characters
It's very nice to see a personal and emotional side of Poirot, and of course get references to his early years in England again (the conversation with the countess), and his thoughts on foreignness. Also, Pauline Moran's acting in this one is just wonderful. The way she delivers her lines, particularly in her conversation with Hastings on their future ("What about you?" "I don't want to talk about it...") and with Poirot in one of the final scenes ("Nothing, M. Poirot") so perfectly captures the emotional bond they've always intended between her and Poirot. She is absolutely devastated that he is taken in by another woman - and yet cannot bring herself to tell him anything. Of course, none of this is Christie, but it's so expertly and emotionally executed I am perfectly willing to accept that deviation. Also, of course, Horowitz adds Hastings's dream of farming in South America (which he'll also refer to in Yellow Iris). The way Horowitz makes references to everything - from historical events, previous episodes and Christie's stories is simply admirable. (As a chronology fanatic, though, I can't help but point out that he should have paid a tiny bit better attention to his time references...)

Of the guest actors, Kika Markham is obviously the main standout here. She is simply magnificent. Of course, I can agree with other fans who claim that her portrayal of the character is quite far from the character as written. Still, that has never stopped this production team before (see Miss Lemon or Japp, for instance), and I do think it works rather well for this particular adaptation. In any case, she'll be a tough act to follow in the adaptation of The Labours of Hercules, even if I have faith in Orla Brady (who is reportedly taking over the role). Also, I would like to draw attention to David Bamber (wonderful character actor) who does a really nice job with Bernard Parker. 

As an aside, Kika Markham had several ideas of her own that she brought to the portrayal of Countess Rossakoff. In Peter Haining's book on the series, she explains: 'In the original stories about the countess she is described as the one great love in his life. For that reason I thought it would be natural for me to put my hand on his shoulder and then perhaps kiss him on the cheek - but I was told that it wasn't allowed. I did get to kiss him on the forehead, though, and that was only because I discovered it's how Russians behave when they are saying goodbye to someone close' (p. 19).

57 comments:

  1. This is also one of my favorite episodes, for all the reasons you've stated, as well as for Christopher Gunning's stunning "The Double Clue" track from the soundtrack, my favorite of the ones released on CD (aside from the main theme) - it perfectly conveys the complex relationship between Poirot and the Countess. I do hope this melody is referenced in "The Labors of Hercules".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I see I've forgotten to mention Gunning's score! (Will edit that in!) Of course, I completely agree with you. His "The Double Clue" is absolutely perfect for the episode, and a wonderful "love theme" for Poirot. Like you, I hope it will be referenced in some way in the adaptation of "The Labours of Hercules". Christian Henson, the current composer, does seem to include references to Gunning's scores in his own scores, so I think it might be possible.

      Delete
    2. That melody is from Erik Satie.

      Delete
    3. It might be inspired by Satie, but the track we discussed is definitely by Chris Gunning. 'The Double Clue' appears on the official soundtrack as well. Gunning did, however, use Satie's Gnosienne no. 1 in the episode "Five Little Pigs".

      Delete
  2. It seems to me there were some "loose ends" left. Japp is worried about losing his job if he doesn't solve the case...the return of one stolen necklace is arranged, and and explanation is given...but Japp doesn't have a thief in custody, and what about the rest of the jewels? Now, I wouldn't expect them to be recovered, because presumably a savvy thief would have quickly unloaded them - but that means, from Japp's point of view, the case isn't tied up - so is the recovery of one item enough to save his job?

    At the risk of being over-analytical, I have read that kleptomania can be triggered by loss...I kind of felt that was the case for Rossokoff. I suppose it's being hinted at that she's also in very reduced financial circumstances, (she speaks of the loss of her house) but on the other hand, she seems to be staying in a pretty high-end hotel.(So many Christie characters 'in desperate need of money' continue to live so lavishly!) If I understand the history correctly, Russian aristocrats were displaced in the revolution and some were killed, and others had to flee? So perhaps they took some money or possessions with them, but not enough?

    Miss Lemon's reaction to Poirot's romance definitely suggests she has a crush on him...perhaps she didn't expect anything to come of it, but to see him genuinely taken with another woman, to the point that he (seemingly) can't concentrate on his work...actually, Hastings reacts much the same as she does. It is sweet that, despite their feelings, they really, for Poirot's sake, do NOT want the Countess to be guilty! (Hastings doesn't, at least.) They want to solve the case...partly because they really want to help Poirot and the Countess, but also, I think, to win back Poirot's attention to them?

    I find it interesting that Hastings assumes his life with Poirot would end if Poirot got married. Men didn't give up their work when they got married, usually. Is it being assumed that detectives would have to?

    I couldn't believe Poirot was willing to put Hastings at risk for the Countess's sake...that, to me, was one of the strongest indicators of his feelings. I always thought, "Sherlock Holmes would never let Watson come to any harm to protect a woman"...and then we get the BBC series...well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is kind of sweet, too, how Hastings and Miss Lemon "cover" for Poirot in taking to Japp...that would lend itself to a lot of double entendre in today's TV, with the uses of phrases like "pursuing" and "staying on top of."

      Delete
    2. There are some inconsistencies that MIGHT be indicators that the Countess isn't being truthful: she is considering selling jewelry but she's staying at a fancy hotel, wearing very fancy clothes, and laying out lavish picnics. She says she's lonely but on the other hand she's getting invited to a lot of social events. It's a recurring theme in Christie that people at events like that don't necessarily like each other, and that some are not as rich as they seem (Bernard Parker speaks to this). But she's at least well enough known to be invited, and no one seems to be catching on to her in financial trouble, or being a thief. There is also a mention of her having "recently" come from Russia, but if she were truly and aristocrat I would have thought she'd have to flee when the revolution happened.

      Delete
    3. Kind of interesting, too, that in the books Poirot was so "thrilled by the aristocrat" (to quote Cerberus). He has actually interacted with many aristocrats in the course of his career, some as genuine or more so whom he hasn't been impressed by.

      Delete
    4. I don't think those are strong inconsistencies. People don't necessarily lose everything they own if they lose their living or home, at least not right away. A well dressed woman might be well dressed for several seasons after the loss of her income. Also, living on credit is not a new thing, neither is being gentility poor. Being accepted into "society" is also generally great for appearances, if not the pocketbook. Take the novels Vanity Fair or The Age of Innocence for example. A wealthy appearing socialite, minor nobility, or someone from a "good family" can get into a lot of places. No one of taste or tact is going to openly question their right to be there. Subtly sticky fingers would be a great way bolster one's sagging finances as well. Also imagine the plight of being privileged and rich your whole life and suddenly completely losing your way of life. It might be easy under the circumstances for some to convince themselves they deserve what they steal, since they have lost so much.

      Delete
    5. I've actually read that kleptomania works that way, sometimes. A trauma thing. And certainly the Countess seems sad about leaving Russia and Russia no longer being the same. If you assume she's sincere.

      Delete
  3. The Countess's saying "Hercule" was also treated as a big deal...no one calls Poirot that, not even Hastings (though you would think eventually they should be allowed to call each other "Hercule" and "Arthur." I realize this is an era more formal than ours but it's NOT the Victorian era.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, Mrs Oliver calls him 'Hercule' in one of the adaptations (Hallowe'en Party), but that's the only other example I can think of. The Countess calls him Hercule again in Labours, too. I suppose the use of surnames has something to do with Poirot's old-fashionedness, actually. He rarely calls a woman by her first name, apart from servants. Mrs Oliver is the only one, I think ('It is my friend, Ariadne').

      Delete
    2. He does use "Vera" in Cerberus...when he's admonishing her for letting herself be set up.

      I don't disagree that he's old-fashioned in some ways, but where gender relations are concerned I think he's less puritanical and Victorian than Hastings! His views on sex and adultery seem to go all over the map (some scatterbrained-ness on Christie's part, maybe)? In Evil Under the Sun he laments the way young people "let it all hang out" not because it's immoral...but because he finds it romantic and mysterious when more is left to the imagination! But his biggest problem with the younger generation seems to be that their focus on work makes them dull and slovenly.

      And Vera says this too in Labours. She would rather young women be having sex than studying it. Of course a lot of this is sexist...but I wouldn't call it moralistic or Victorian.

      Delete
  4. Re-watching the episode I was struck by another departure from the books: in the books, there is little doubt that the Countess' thieving, or kleptomania, or whatever term we choose to use, is a huge part of what (to use a very un-Christie phrase) turns Poirot on (that and her physical appearance, certainly). In this adaptation, there is a much stronger sense of him being sorrowful and regretful that this woman his he has feelings for is the culprit, if only because it means he has to get her out of the country...though, I sense some, well, titillation on his part about her actions too. The question has to be asked: if she weren't a jewel thief, but otherwise the same person, would he have been attracted? I don't want to be mean about Markham, I think she's attractive and elegant but I'm not sure she's such a standout in that regard.

    ReplyDelete
  5. And, it would actually have been nice for us, the audience, to learn more about HOW the Countess pulled off the thefts and how Poirot knew it was her. I get that he is not going to tell Japp or his associates the truth, but it could have been explained in greater detail through private conversations between Poirot and the Countess. Typically, Hercule Poirot loves to explain how it was done as well as who did it - maybe the idea is that he is not going to come out and say, explicitly, that he knows, even to her? I kind of think, though, that she might want to know how he figured it out despite her best efforts: "So where did I go wrong, Hercule?"

    ReplyDelete
  6. I know in this kind of story/series the police are always made to look like idiots...but Poirot implies that his major clue was the Countess being present at all four of the social events where jewels were stolen. If she was really the ONLY one...well, it shouldn't have taken Hercule Poirot to figure it out. Hard to believe no one else noticed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Is the idea that anyone with a title is above suspicion to the English? She is also a foreigner, remember. Which is played up as being a commonality that facilitates an emotional connection between her and Poirot (whereas, in the books, it was more frankly physical on Poirot's side, at least.)

      Delete
  7. Hastings: Where are you taking her?
    Poirot: It is the Countess who takes me.

    Multiple meanings there, maybe?
    The obvious and most innocent one is that she's "treating" - she prepares the picnic, for example.

    It's also interesting that they chose to skip right from Poirot and the Countess being introduced to the walk in the gardens and then Hastings saying "we haven't seen him for three days." Presumably upon meeting her at Hardman's Poirot asked her questions about the theft (as he would anyone who had been there) but we don't see how that led to them establishing the pattern of going out together. In many series whose main character isn't great with relationships, they'll show him or her awkwardly trying to establish one or get the attention of someone they're interested in. Then again, Poirot isn't as socially awkward as some detectives, anyway. He acts charming, gallant (and sometimes flirtatious) toward women even when he's not nearly as "taken" as he is with the Countess.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I have noticed that the series tends to "sex up" the relationships beyond what the books do. Couples are shown in bed together - Elsa and Amyas and Elinor and Roddy - for example. But I think they made Poirot's feelings for the Countess more chaste, for lack of a better word, than in the original. I'm not saying there was necessarily physical...activity in the stories, but I do get a stronger sense of Poirot's "admiration" being sexually charged, particularly when he runs into the Countess in the subway.

    ReplyDelete
  9. It's strange, in a way, that an aristocratic woman staying at a hotel would prepare a picnic...

    ReplyDelete
  10. You know what's kind of sad: Poirot says he had to do his ruse with the "tramp" to "lead Hastings off the scent..." but I got the sense Hastings and Miss Lemon had pretty much ruled the Countess out as a suspect, or at least, decided not to investigate her. Hastings said to Miss Lemon, "Maybe we can talk to the other three and solve the case ourselves..."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know, Hastings and miss Lemon aren't actually dumb. Poirot knows they probably would have gone back to her given enough time, there were only four suspects. She may only have been eliminated as a suspect because of Poirot's obvious feelings for her, they don't think he'd fall for a criminal no matter how charming. His ruse assured her freedom and his reputation among his friends. He's a proud man.

      Delete
  11. As for Poirot "letting go of his principles," he is acknowledged to be behaving unusually for him due to unusual circumstances, i.e., his feelings for the Countess. What I wonder about is the phrase, "You must continue your work and I must continue mine." That sort of implies approval of her "work," something she "needs to continue" and perhaps implies, as I think is more heavily implied in the stories, that he is rather titillated by her tendencies toward theft and/or the way she pulls it off.

    ReplyDelete
  12. In The Labours of Hercules adaptation, the Countess jokes that Alice could be Poirot's daughter, but in fact she's not because, "We would have had to at least held hands." That almost seems to be poking fun at the directors' instructions to Markham, mentioned above, to have no physical contact. In fact, however, I believe they did do the "gentleman-escorting-lady arm-in-arm" thing at the museum. Wonder if that was Markham's idea, too? It seems to be the Countess's idea and Poirot is a little surprised by it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It would be nice and interesting, if Poirot had a secret daughter by the countess!

      Delete
    2. But not if said daughter becomes a serial killer and the Countess advocates for her to escape the consequences and essentially dumps Poirot because he won't let her go. It makes the Countess seem as bad as the serial killer...and I can't believe this Countess (Markham's) would do that. In Labours it felt like a whole different character.

      In the books the Countess has a son, Niki, whom some believe is Poirot's son. He is engaged to an Alice Cunningham at one point.

      Delete
    3. @ Silvia - I had this weird idea that Alice (of Labours) wasn't the Countess's daughter at all...she was too old to have been born AFTER the Countess and Poirot's fling, and their dynamic didn't seem mother/daughter, somehow. I had the idea that Alice had kidnapped the Countess's real child, and so the Countess played along with Alice to appease her, hoping to preserve her real child's safety. I thought of that partly because the Countess's child in the books, a son named Niki, is kidnapped, and Poirot is able to make the Countess switch sides by rescuing him (or so it seems - in The Big Four.)

      Delete
  13. Poirot actually goes a step beyond "letting the Countess get a way with it" when he actually creates a cover story that somewhat makes her a heroine (the part about her interrupting the theft in progress.)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Although none of Poirot's "big three" - Miss Lemon, Hastings, or Japp - seem to really suspect the Countess for most of the episode (perhaps Hastings does at the end?) - the way Hastings and Miss Lemon seem to be concealing from Japp Poirot's less-than-totally-professional relationship with the Countess suggests that they somehow sense something is wrong or scandalous with the relationship.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It’s a fairly personal subject, sure Hastings is a friend but Inspector Japp is a colleague and Miss Lemon an employee! Best not to talk too much under those circumstances. I also think it may scandalized them a fair bit. As neat, as charming, and as generally docile as he is an overt display of passion would be…incongruous. He’s not the youngest of men. We have a different view of mature adults engaging in romance these days. To go suddenly go waffling about after a lady may have seemed at best indulgent, at worst a bit silly. (Remember Emily Inglethrop?) They may be surprised at his behavior, even if we are not. They don't want to embarrass him.

      Delete
    2. Well, with the Inglethrops, the DIFFERENCE in age between the two of them was an issue. Poirot and the Countess are both "mature people." Which was one nice point about this adaptation: they didn't cast some typical young beauty-queen type and thus make Poirot a dirty old man. They show that he can see the beauty of a mature woman (and gave them some intellectual connection.)

      Hastings says, "I suppose it had to happen one day." "It" being, Poirot meets a woman he finds attractive. So Hastings thinks it was too be expected, despite his age. But I agree that Poirot's behavior in spending all his time with the Countess could make him look bad in a way. In particular, Japp would likely have been furious: "I need you to solve this case or I'll lose my job and you go off chasing a woman!"

      From what we see of Poirot and the Countess together, we know their behavior is very proper...but I wonder if Miss Lemon and Hastings wonder if it might possibly not be. The first time I watched it, when Hastings said, "Suppose he...Poirot and the Countess..." I thought maybe that's what he wondering about.

      Delete
    3. Hugh Fraser, who plays Hastings, believes that Hastings IS an employee...and that kind of would make sense, given that he (usually) takes orders from Poirot pretty unquestioningly, and doesn't seem to have a different job to get in the way of his work with Poirot. On the other hand, he's a little more familiar than an employee would be.

      Delete
  15. A lot of viewers/critics who have blogged about "Labours" suggested that, had Poirot acted differently here, he could have saved/redeemed the Countess (from a life of crime.) I'm not sure about that, but I think a more interesting question is: would he really, in his heart of hearts, have wanted her to reform? Weren't her (apparently harmless, or at least non-violent) criminal tendencies a big part of the attraction? He calls her "the most remarkable, the most unique woman I have ever met," but honestly, what is there about her to merit that, other than the way she pulls off these thefts? In the books, she is vivacious, boisterous, and seems she could be, well, fun or exciting. Here, I don't find her to have such an exceptional personality (which is not Markham's fault, more the way she's written.)

    ReplyDelete
  16. I read one review / blog where it was suggested that in The Double Clue, the Countess deliberately leaves her clues in such a way that Poirot can find her. Both Poirot's and the Countess's behavior on their outings is consistent with this, in a way: they almost seem to be using the crime / investigation as an excuse to see each other, and to flirt.

    We've seen something like that in the world of Poirot (namely, Celia in Hickory) And I can sort of believe in the Countess using that method to get someone's attention, but she didn't know Poirot when she first started her crime spree in London...and really didn't do any more robberies once they met.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I think the series ended up diluting, for lack of a better word, the premise of the Countess being "Poirot's greatest love," by having him too often "taken" with various women. There was Virginie in The Chocolate Box, of course, but also Jane Wilkinson and Nick Buckley. The latter two "bamboozle" Poirot to a much greater extent than does the Countess...he is aware she is the thief much sooner than he is onto the other two's plans. That makes him look...well, susceptible, in general.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. With Jane and Nick, I always felt that the audience was led to follow Hasting's assumptions about Poirot's preoccupation with their characters. We think that Poirot is romantically interested in them, when in fact (as Poirot himself later states) his curiosity is piqued by them. I think Poirot was able to read people well, and upon his meetings of Jane and Nick, he detected that something was "off" about them. Their abnormal and ultimately murderous psychology is what actually fascinates him and not in a romantic way at all.

      Delete
  18. I really wanted to know what happened during the two and half days which we don't see, but which apparently have passed between the scene where Poirot and the Countess are introduced and the following couple of scenes, where their spending time together has already become a bit of a pattern.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I find it ironic that Poirot has no clue how Miss Lemon feels. We are used to fictional detectives being brilliant, yet clueless when it comes to people's emotions toward them, due to Sherlock Holmes and those inspired by him...but Poirot has never been clueless like that. He's very good at picking up on sexual tension and who's in love with who among the parties to his cases.

    ReplyDelete
  20. In general, I am ok with resetting most of the stories to the 1930s...when there's no World War actively going on. That eliminates some issues, like making excuses why the younger, male characters aren't off fighting.

    However, The Double Clue has actually been moved to later in time compared with the stories...it seems to be one of the first Poirot cases when he gets to England, somewhere around 1917-1920. And the later time period works slightly less well for this story: if Rossakoff is really a Russian Countess, she would have had to leave Russia around 1917 when the czar was overthrown and other factions took over. She refers to one of the painters she and Poirot are studying as "another Russian in exile," meaning, "in addition to myself." And she refers to being lonely since she came to England. (The exile status and loneliness are obviously important points of commonality between her and Poirot, but the line about loneliness "since I came to this country" implies she's been there a while.)

    But if it's the 30s, even the early 30s, it is anywhere from 12 to 16 years since she would have left Russia. And yet the beginning of the episode makes it quite clear she has arrived in England very recently. And one of the other party guests says, "recently arrived from Russia."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To clarify, in the stories "The Double Clue" takes place between 1917 and 1920, and it's been re-set to the 30s for the series.

      Delete
  21. Suchet talks about Poirot's dislike of the English upperclass restraint, but at the same time, he uses words like "repressed" to describe Poirot when attracted to a woman. Some reviewers and watchers of The Double Clue and Labours seem to think Poirot holds back from taking some next step with the Countess for all the usual literary-cliche reasons - fear of being vulnerable; too constrained by propriety. Someone even said he let the Countess get away because he was "too set in his role" as the detective. Now, that doesn't quite make sense to me, because it seems like if he was really "set in his role" as a detective, he would have turned her over to the law. The fact that he didn't clearly means emotion won out.

    I think in The Double Clue, he is proper but shows how he feels. By the time of Labours, SHE really behaves toward him with familiarity, as if they were truly old friends, but HE is more restrained. Maybe he doesn't trust her? Or maybe he's not feeling as confident in HIMSELF, because of his failure to protect Lucinda? Maybe that carries over into being less confident that a woman could reciprocate his attraction, interest, whatever?

    ReplyDelete
  22. In Peter's Haining's book A Celebration of the Great Detective, in the synopsis of The Double Clue, the Countess is referred to as "a woman from Poirot's past!" Even though all indications in the adaptation itself are that they met for the very first time at Hardman's, the day Poirot came to investigate.

    Having said that, there is behavior by the Countess that suggests she's kind of flaunting her abilities as a thief to show off for and impress Poirot. I just re-watched conversation at the museum (starting with "what of the perfect crime" and leading into her description of a diamond theft) - and she really seems to be bragging. Her manner when they're first introduced, too. Very interested in him, as opposed to uncomfortable because they're at the scene of her crime - and he's on the case. Remember, for instance, Poirot noticed that his presence in Nile made Tim Allerton uncomfortable.

    ReplyDelete
  23. My wife and I have started the series now that they are all available on Netflix and we feel "conflicted" by the simple fact that he let a known criminal go free, regardless of his feelings for her. We have spent a bit of time researching online and reading reviews (kudos to this site which seems the most in depth) and we really find no comments on this. There is somewhat of a let down feeling. He let her go. He let Japp down. He put Lemon and Hastings at risk. We realize that 'Orient Express' he does not point the finger of the actual killer(s) but for other reasons.

    We certainly welcome your thoughts on this. Is this issue ever brought forth in later episodes?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Matt! The issue of letting criminals go is brought forth in a few episodes (The Chocolate Box, The Adventure of Johnny Waverley, Murder on the Orient Express and this one spring to mind). I've discussed this somewhat more in-depth in the post about Orient Express, especially in terms of what separates these different instances from each other. Many fans have questioned Poirot's breakdown in Orient Express (the adaptation), claiming that he has let people go without a second thought in the past. But I think there's a distinct line between murder and other crimes in Poirot's mind. The only reason he lets Mme Deroulard go in The Chocolate Box is because she is fatally ill and will face a higher justice in God (both Poirot and Mme Deroulard are Catholics). So to answer your question; yes, this is brought fourth in later episodes, but I would agree that it's possible to see his behaviour as inconsistent over the years. (Sorry for the late reply, the blog has been inactive for a while).

      Delete
    2. It is true that Madame Deroulard is terminally ill, and that's pretty much Poirot's reason in the story for letting her go. In this version, however, when asked why, he actually says he admires "her sacrifice, and moral courage," and acting for the greater good! That's not something we hear from him anywhere else, especially regarding murder.

      Double Clue: Taking into account Suchet's viewing Poirot as disliking classism and the upper class, I sort of felt like maybe he felt Vera really had no less right to have those jewels than the upper class people who officially owned them, if that makes any sense. But certainly he's working from the heart as much as (or more than) the little grey cells. He's either romantically attracted to Vera or feels a kinship with her because they're both refugees (neat of the writers to make that a point for connection between the two of them) or both.

      Delete
  24. There's no suggestion of Poirot falling in love in the original story. He's merely impressed by her audacity. And there's certainly no rekindled romance in The Big Four. The Capture of Cerberus does have more of a hint of attraction, but even then it's very vague, and certainly not enough to justify the full blown romance in this episode.

    The clue of the initials that could apply to more than one person is a detective fiction cliché, and Christie even used the Cyrillic twist more than once.

    ReplyDelete
  25. @ Stuart - it is certainly true that not much of a relationship happens in the books, and in fact, in The Big Four, they are adversaries. However, in The Capture of Cerberus, they behave as though they were friends, or even had a relationship, in the past. There are even references to conversations that they had that are not part of The Double Clue or The Big Four.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, there's definitely a stronger relationship in Cerberus, but it's a bit of a leap to turn it into the big romance seen here.

      Delete
    2. She is far from romantic about him in the books, even calling him "the little man", at least in The Big Four.

      Delete
    3. That's true. She reminds me of Madame Castafiore in the Tintin books.

      In fairness though (and going against my own argument) Poirot seems to think of her in a lustful way in One, Two, Buckle My Shoe.

      Delete
    4. Come to think of it, you may have hit the nail on the head there. While it's inconsistent in the books (mainly because of The Big Four), there are indications in Labours and Buckle that Poirot at least finds Vera attractive; but she doesn't really think of him the same way.

      Delete
    5. Also, in the original stories there is no suggestion that Miss Lemon has feelings for Poirot. She is very much all work and no play, and she actually helps reunite Poirot and the Countess in The Labours of Hercules story because she is familiar with the Countess's nightclub, Hell. With this version, it did occur to me that a private secretary like Miss Lemon might arrange social, as well as professional, appointments for her boss...but I really hope he didn't use her to arrange his outings with the Countess!

      Delete
    6. Miss Lemon's an entirely different character in the books. Apart from her filing system, there's really no resemblance. I suppose they needed to flesh her out for the TV series and decided to make her more human.

      Delete
    7. They did need to flesh the character of Miss Lemon out for the series. The producers wanted to merge the characters of Miss Lemon and George into one. Also, a lot of her character traits came from Pauline Moran's interests (spirituality, the occult, fashion etc).

      Delete
  26. The ending is kind of clumsy. It's not just that Poirot lets the Countess get away, because the whole episode has worked up to that by establishing that he has feelings for her. It's the WAY he does it. Japp seems very satisfied to have the necklace back and have the story of the tramp, but 1) he doesn't have a suspect in custody, and 2) the one emerald necklace is the ONLY think he has back. So, is the solution Poirot gives him really going to appease the higher-ups and upper-class robbery victims who are on Japp's case and threatening his job?

    ReplyDelete
  27. Most fanfiction based on this series is Poirot/Hastings slash. Now, I don't have a problem with slash in general, and I think there's a good case for Holmes/Watson, but Poirot/Hastings...I don't see it. And particularly in this adaptation, given that Poirot stages a ruse that involves some danger to Hastings "to lead him off the scent," thereby protecting the Countess.

    I will admit, however, that Hastings' reaction to Poirot's romance has something of a vibe of "being in love with Poirot and feeling rejected." He sees his and Poirot's professional partnership threatened; he makes the assumption that Poirot would stop being a detective if he (Poirot) got married.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I enjoy the blog, but have to disagree with you regarding this episode. In my opinion (a) Horowitz fails utterly to bring the story to life, with the 'romantic' scenes coming across as merely turgid, (b) the casting of the countess is a big mistake, with no chemistry at all between Markham and Suchet - or perhaps it is just that Markham is wholly unconvincing; (c) Gunning's music is irritating beyond belief. How many times is that love theme played??? (d) and so on. Eirik, I confess that I find you far too kind to some of the more appalling entries in the Suchet series, and this is a prime example. Oh well, perhaps it's just me :)

    ReplyDelete

About Me

I'm a passionate fan of Poirot, Agatha Christie and the ITV series. If you have any questions, comments, suggestions or requests, please e-mail me at poirotchronology@gmail.com, post a comment on one of my blogs, or get in touch on Twitter @pchronology. (I used to call myself HickoryDickory)