White Out – Part 1
Episode 1 of Three Pines starts with a whole bunch of protestors demanding justice for their loved ones going missing. They claim the SQ are doing nothing to help, and show up in their numbers at the police station. As things begin escalating, Inspector Armand Gamache heads outside to calm things down.
Blue Two-Rivers is one of the girls and she’s been missing for over a year (13 months and 11 days to be precise). No one has taken the case on and apparently this originated when she stepped into a car. Peacekeepers asked SQ for help 9 months ago and since then they’ve heard nothing. Blue was only 18 as well and there’s no way she’d just up and leave, at least according to her mother, Missy. After driving the family home, Gamache promises to try and find the young girl.
That night, during a Christmas party, Gamache speaks to Pierre Arnot, a colleague who happens to be running the division overseeing the Two-Rivers case. They couldn’t find anything out the ordinary and believe that Blue and her boyfriend Tommy took a ride out in a truck and left town. Since then, they haven’t been seen again. Pierre warns that Gamache is going to obsess over this case and it’s going to break his heart, knowing what how obsessive the inspector can get.
Although it looks beautiful on the surface, beneath the surface of Quebec village Three Pines, there’s a lot of secrets and grudges. This much is especially true during a choir performance at a church, as numerous dirty looks are thrown at CC, a woman who’s having an affair on her husband Richard. She regrets having her daughter Crie and calls out Richard (in French) as a bad husband.
CC is not well liked in the community, with some clearly likening her to a modern day Cruella De Vil (and not the Disneyfied “This puppy murderer is just misunderstood” way).
CC is having an affair with her close colleague and photographer Saul Petrov. She also shuts down Clara Morrow, a promising painter who wants to show Petrov her portfolio but CC rudely blows her off completely.
The community has a big curling match going on, explaining why they’re all gathered together, but tellingly CC sits separately to everyone else. She starts to feel hot, taking off her gloves and attempts to stand up. As she does, CC touches the arms of her metal chair and ends up electrocuted.
Inspector Gamache is called to the scene, along with several other investigators. Apparently no one saw anything awry, but whoever did this must have been meticulous and bold. To electrocute someone in front of the whole village, and to do so in this manner means they must be intelligent.
Investigating the crime scene, Gamache deduces that whoever the killer is used jumper cables with a generator to electrocute CC intentionally. But why do this so publicly and elaborately in front of everyone?
CC’s next of kin is her husband Richard Lyon and his daughter, Crie. Gamache speaks to Richard in confidence, who tentatively admits that she and Saul spent a lot of time together. He’s a portrait photographer and was also helping with her new book.
That night, Inspector Gamache and his team head to the local bistro, where the entire village are together joyously laughing and eating on one big table. Gamache notices a beautiful painting up on the wall and learns that Clara painted it. After a brief chat with her, and Clara’s partner (Peter) who doesn’t seem best pleased that Clara is still an undiscovered talent, it’s down to brass tacks – dinner.
Gamache’s team includes the local rookie, Yvette Nichol, second-in-command Jean-Guy and Isabelle. Be Calm (the name of CC’s book) also happens to be the name of the community center up in town. While setting up their base of operations there, Yvette gets working on the list of credit card transactions and all those hotel rooms CC ended up paying for.
As for Isabelle, she looks into how all of this is connected. Washer fluid was found under CC’s seat at the Curling match, and she was wearing metal clawed boots too, essentially turning her seat into an electric chair. An electric chair execution that the whole village witnessed.
In the morning, Gamache speaks to Saul Petrov, who has a rather flaky story and it doesn’t help that his hand shakes while putting his USB stick in the drive. Gamache warns him not to leave Three Pines for the time being.
Gamache and Jean-Guy do the preliminary reports for various different residents in town, including the eccentric writer Ruth Zardo who really doesn’t seem all that bothered about CC’s death. And in fact, Gamache shows up and speaks to all the residents at their book club, pointing out their grievances with the deceased and how CC ruffled their feathers (no pun intended, given Ruth is cradling a duck).
That night, Pierre rings with an update on the Blue Two-Rivers case. Tracing the registration plates and social media feeds, they find a picture of Blue and Tommy together under the Red Rook hashtag. It was posted two weeks ago. Isabelle joins Gamache as they head to the Blue Rivers residence to let them know the good news. Only… something isn’t right.
Despite the picture being posted a few weeks back, it would appear that Blue’s jacket is actually still hanging in the closet. In the morning, Gamache heads back to the Community Center, where he works out just how many suspects there actually are. It’s the whole village. So how on earth are they going to whittle down the list? An what if it was really all of them together that’s responsible?
The Episode Review
Three Pines gets this crime drama off to a deliciously dark start, with a shocking crime, an intriguing group of characters and lots of possible suspects. The show has some similarities to more elaborate murder mystery series like Midsomer Murders, but it also manages to elevate its material with Armand Gamache, who’s a really likable protagonist.
I’m thinking we don’t know the full story here and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Indigenous community has something to do with this. We already know that CC was into her paintings and getting her portrait taken, and we also know that no one in the community likes her.
It seems like a bit of a red herring to point the finger at everyone in the village and yet run this Blue Two-Rivers story parallel to what’s happening. It must be all connected but quite how remains a mystery right now.
Either way though, this is a very solid and promising start to this show and it sets things up nicely for the second part of this opening chapter.