Work Header

2x08 "The Blood of Juana the Mad"

Work Text:

I didn’t know what specifically I was going to talk about regarding this episode. I didn’t want it to just be a play-by-play. But I sat down to watch the episode, jotting down all the thoughts and reactions that came to mind. Then I looked it all over to see what stood out. So many hours later, I think I have two things that I wanted to focus on. I have kept all the other random thoughts I had so you can all enjoy those as well if you want to.


I think this whole episode is a dance (the whole show is to be honest). Neither of them can help themselves as they step in and out and around each other. Two steps forward - two steps back. Trying to establish if and how this will work. We start with the curtsy and bow in the morgue that is frustratingly polite. They dance side by side without touching - trying to work the case together but not actually together - eyes always drifting back to each other. She steps away. Unable to help himself, he closes the distance bringing them so very close together. They agree to two steps apart as they continue with their dance. However, the closeness proves all too much for him as he feels himself being pulled back in - all too close to his greatest passion. He thinks he has ended the dance, but true to form, she eases her way back in. He is less inclined to participate as she spins around him with clues and hunches. It is so familiar - so right. He falls back into step. But which dance will they decide on?

The use of dance as an analogy is perfect because, “Dance is a partnership between two individuals, not a performance by separate individuals. It is built on indication and response, trust and cooperation, and surrender. It is a display of a relationship between two people” (Dance with Feeling). 


Their relationship has so much potential. I feel that all of this has to happen - this stepping away to see what really matters - to see how much it matters. I think this discussion is them getting on the same page. They need to agree on a path (on a final destination?). They are making a plan and through the rest of the show they learn to perfect that dance. They both realized something after the events of BatW. Jack realized how much he cares for her. He stepped away to save himself, but then found that to be even more painful. At this point, he seems willing to follow her lead. He said “I’ll try to stay in step” - as if to say whatever dance she decides on, he is on board and will fall into step. In BatW, Phryne realized just how much a part of her life Jack had become. The idea of them not working together, not having after-case drinks together crushed her. She hadn’t wanted to think about it, but when he laid it all out at the end of BatW and she didn’t have a choice but to face it head on, it devastated her. So now that she has Jack Robinson back in her parlour what realization does she come to? What is going on in her head in that very last frame? It is so interesting to analyze these episodes, because it gives me something to look at more closely in episodes to come.



This isn’t directly related to Phryne’s coping strategy, but it comes around to it. When she follows Beatrice out of Katz’s office and finds her pressing her forehead against the pillar, I find it so endearing that she doesn’t dismiss Beatrice’s need for some solitude or her the way she goes about it. And not only that but she accepts it and does the same - needing that solitude herself. 

B - “There's too much. Too many people. People are confusing.” 

P - “Yes, they are.” 

It looks as if she is thinking about her and Jack. That sigh sounds like an awful weight on her heart. According to foxspirit1928’s timeline, this episode takes place anywhere from a few weeks to a month after BatW. So she has gone quite a while without Jack - without her friend and who knows what she has been doing in the meantime. But now that she has seen him again and the feeling of working together is renewed….it’s a lot to think about. Beatrice’s look questions Phryne’s genuineness. We have seen she is made fun of and of course she would wonder if Phryne is acting in jest. There is a smile; a look of understanding from Beatrice.


Later, Jack pleads with her: “I don’t want you to go, I need you to go. Please go home.” The look on her face is devastating to witness. She lists out parts of the case that she has helped with but it isn’t enough. Her hopes of their partnership being salvaged is shattered. With a defiance that is Phryne Fisher, she calls out “Sayonara” and with a jut of her chin she carries on to find Beatrice. She does what she always does - she finds the underdog and tries to take care of them. In this case Beatrice doesn’t immediately take her up on her offer to come stay at Wardlow but instead says she will consider it. Phryne looks surprised and almost lost. 

It was at this point I realized that this is how she copes. Jack took the case away from her, and she isn’t used to not having a purpose. I think she uses it as a way to cope with disappointment or stress or a way to keep her brain preoccupied. So, she finds a lost sheep to save to give her that purpose - to distract her from something else she doesn’t want to face maybe. 

But Beatrice needs time to process the offer, Phryne doesn’t get that instant satisfaction she usually gets, which leaves her in need of another way to cope. So, she finds the pillar and uses Beatrice’s coping strategy. I think it’s interesting that she holds onto the pillar. Is she looking for stability in the midst of uncertainty? I think this was my favorite part of the episode. 




[Morgue] Hadn’t noticed before - Phryne brings Mac a flask!

According to foxspirit1928’s timeline, Phryne and Jack have known each other for approximately 10 months. That is probably the longest, positive, male relationship she has had. As @omgimsarahtoo pointed out in the last analysis, Phryne’s friendship with Jack is very important to her, so the last couple of weeks have probably been torture. They have probably gone weeks without seeing each other before, but this is different. They are separated and both brokenhearted. It does surprise me that Phryne didn’t show up to the station hoping things had blown over or asking if Jack had given it some more thought. She seems to have taken his request of separation seriously - giving him the space he asked for. But once she sees him again, she just can’t help herself.  


Oh my gosh. Even though I have seen this episode a couple of times, the anticipation of their first interaction kills me. But it is totally worth the wait! I actually don’t know what’s better… Phrack’s faces or Mac’s glances and look of confusion. It is gone in an instant, so I might be looking too much into it, but for a split second, Phryne reacts to Jack’s presence as if her whole world is suddenly right again. It’s beautiful and painful at the same time. Because the editing of Jack walking in is kind of wonky, we don’t get a great clip of his reaction, but I see a slight smile laced with pain on his face when he sees her. Of course he masks his feelings pretty quickly.

Their conversation here is so phracking polite! 

P - “Hello, Jack.”

J - "I didn't realise you were on this case, Miss Fisher.”

P - “Likewise. I could have left it to you.”

I don’t really know what I feel about this, or what I think they are feeling. It’s definitely awkward. They are trying to be professional but avoiding direct eye contact. They still haven’t sorted out their own mess but now have been pushed together. 


The two of them eyeing each other from across the room as each one tries to conduct interviews……..separately. He sees her talking to a student and watches her leave. He just can’t help himself. He follows her out leaving the interviewing to whom? He says he has “men to help with that” but I think there was only one constable in the room with the students. One of them - it seems to be Jack - comes to a sliding stop. In a rush to catch up, Jack? The close proximity! Personal space seems non-existant with these two. She doesn’t look at all disappointed that they are working together - and at this point, he doesn’t really either. Jack says “I’ll keep my distance” to which she replies “why don’t you walk two steps behind.” An agreement to work together but not too closely.

They just can’t help working together because they are so good at it. How hard must it be to have such an easy flow that you find yourself slipping into old habits only to realize that you are suppose to be “keeping your distance”?

[Phryne opening the safe] I don’t know if that smile is Jack appreciating (1) her derriere, (2) her safe-cracking abilities, or (3) as has been pointed out, the metaphor of the “two tumblers … shifting … and … falling … and … open sesame.” Whatever the reason, it’s adorable.

[Beatrice standing in the puddle of blood] “Jack? Good catch.” Jack does an excellent job of catching women. And carrying them. I happened to rewatch this episode, “King Memses’ Curse,” and “Cocaine Blues” pretty closely together and noticed the difference between Jack’s catch and carry and Sasha’s.

A little callback to “Death at Victoria Dock” 1x04 when Phryne helped Hugh out. Then it was giving him the ring to help find the fiance - here she is telling him to go after the kid with the key.

Phryne - “You might like to, um follow that young man first, Collins….See what he just slipped into his pocket.”

Bradbury - “Well, I realise they may all look the same to your womanly gaze, Miss Fisher, but I assure you they're completely different. [ [Phryne’s eye flutter of disbelief at his statement and Jack’s furrowed brow]] The students have to make clinical judgements based on the pathology of a particular skull. I can give you the catalogue number.”

Phryne - “Alas, poor Yorick. Luckily Hamlet wasn't a woman, or I might not have recognised him.” [[Oh my gosh! Jack’s face - how does he not break a smile?]]

Mr B!! I honestly don’t know how any of them kept a straight face. Of course makes me think of the fudge episode in “Murder in the Dark.”

Oliver - ”Miss Beatrice Mason came to harass me again. The girl is clearly a nymphomaniac. Claimed I'd invited her. Patently ridiculous. Though she was amorous, and a man can only take so much of a woman throwing herself at him.”

[[Jack smiles a knowing smile?Makes him think of Phryne? Or is it because he does not believe what he is being told since he has met Beatrice]]  


P - “Even more troubling if she was drugged. Sorry, Inspector, your constable gave you away.

J - “We're in the middle of an interview, Miss Fisher. [She continues to walk in and passes him a nice smile. He nods and gives her a smile]

S - “As I was saying, Miss Mason is well aware that spending a night in the male dorms is against all college regulations, apart from matters of moral decency.

P - [as she takes a seat next to Jack at the table] ”Don't mind me.

J - [with an almost clenched jaw] ”But I do.

P - [she stands back up] “Oh, that's right. But [sits back down and turns to Jack] you might want to know we had an intruder last night who tried to strangle Beatrice, stole her notes and left me with a very bruised ribcage and a souvenir kerchief. It smells of tobacco [stuffs the handkerchief under Jack’s nose - he can’t help a slightly amused smile] , a very distinctive pipe tobacco. I believe Mr Spall smokes a pipe.

S - “I believe I'm not the only man to take up the habit.

J - “Do you have your pipe handy? 

P - “May I? Mmm. Vanilla. [what is that look on her face? Complete satisfaction at being right and flaunting it in Jack’s face - literally waving the pipe under his nose. Further wanting to prove that they are better together - that she has somethingt to bring to the table - literally]



Jack later watches Phryne leave the room and follows after her realizing she must have a hunch. They find Spall and Charlie out in the courtyard, the former with a gun. Jack and Phryne make eye contact and work together as Phryne distracts them while Jack takes Spall down. ‘Glad your timing’s not off, Inspector.”


Thoughts on the choice of song at the end?

Song lyrics:

I found out that I love you / And I thought you loved me too / You were only passing time with me / Many happy hours we spent / I thought you were heaven sent / You were only passing time with me / I remember all the things you told me / And the way you used to /Kiss and hold me / When you said you’d always care / I thought you were playing fair / You were only passing time with me.


A LITTLE EXTRA - Interesting article I read about the Tango -  In Search of Tango - “Tango Is a Feeling”

P - “So what kind of partners are we from hereon in, Jack? What’s our safe distance? Two steps behind, two steps in front? Perhaps a do-si-do? 

J - “I think we’re more of a waltz, Miss Fisher.

P - “Not a tango? A good waltz is slow, and close.

J - “I’ll try to stay in step, all the same.


Screencaps: cap-that