The Ruthven Inheritance

ruthvenThere have been a lot of Sherlock Holmes references since this series started but color me amazed that it escaped my attention before, Litefoot has a housekeeper named Mrs. Hudson!  Ormand Sacker, the original name for Dr. Watson, is back too, but this’ll be the last time we see him, I think!  And we are in for a decidedly different story with this finale.  This time, I found myself completely hooked as Litefoot and Sacker explore some burial catacombs under the Ruthven estate.  Jago, meanwhile, is tricked out of his theater, and I’m curious to know how that’s going to go down!  “I speak as an expert on bringing the house down!”

So look, here’s the thing: I love this pairing.  These two are delightful and have some truly great adventures.  I was genuinely engrossed as Litefoot and Sacker went exploring the Ruthven catacombs but it fails a bit.  I mean the story is great and utterly charming, but it doesn’t hold up well under scrutiny.  Logic, it seems, took a vacation. First of all, Ruthven invites Litefoot and Sacker over to his mansion during which time, they ask about the animals on the wall; did he hunt them himself with the weapons he has on display?  No, “I killed the animal with my bare hands,” he says.  We’re talking lions, tigers, narwhal and bears!  Oh, my!  Now me?  I’d be on the first coach out.  They take it in stride.  But here’s the problem: Ruthven is the baddie!  Why didn’t Ruthven kill them on the spot?  Even if he waited until they were in the catacombs, why chance them escaping?  If the plan was always to kill them, kill them!  I feel like Scott in Austin Powers.  I’ve got a gun in the other room, we can just shoot them!  Then when Jago breaks into Ruthven’s house later, he decides to talk the audience through all of his inner ramblings.  When I’m sneaking around, the last thing I do is talk!  Jago may have “dibs on witty repartee”, but that doesn’t make this a good time to be using it!  (Although as a fan of the first season, I did love his “lovely wood; mahogany!” as a little allusion to The Mahogany Murderers!)

But, like any good infomercial, wait, there’s more!  At the end, our season 2 Moriarty, (Sanders) has become something of a winged gargoyle and Jago has a plan to dispatch him.  The logical thing to do is to do it without announcing it, but instead he yells to Litefoot that he’s not trying to hit Sanders, but the chandelier!  If there’s one thing I did appreciate about this, it was that from the outset of the play, there was a comment about axe throwers, so it was well placed.  What seemed idle chatter was, in fact, a well placed Chekov’s gun!

Speaking of things I did like, Lord Ruthven goes by the name Varney, and turns out to be a vampire, which is a great hint to one of the early vampire stories, Varney the Vampire (1847).  There’s also a nice little think-piece about nature vs nurture, although under the circumstances, we barely touch upon it.  (I still enjoy it!)  And there’s such a great sense of camaraderie between Litefoot and Ellie towards Jago, that when they find out he’s in a potentially crumbling house, they immediate race back into danger to help him.  And who can’t use a good “buddy story” these days, eh?  And with Sander’s dispatched, there’s a chance Ellie is cured, so good news all around.  (Although in fairness, I did see that coming from the start of episode 2!)  Even the ending has a funny bit with Jago jesting about the next case, featuring lights under the Thames, being one for him and “Phillips!”  After a moments pause, he says “Just kidding!  I don’t know anyone named Phillips!”  It’s Jago and litefoot, as it always will be!  And you have to leave with a smile after a thing like that!

Coming in at just under 1 hour, it’s another easy story to get hooked on.  And I again have to compliment the artist for the “cover art”.  But as I was nearing the end, I thought I’d perhaps take a small break.  With the current Covid lockdown, I can’t drive as much as I had been which messes with my listening enjoyment so I thought it might be a good time to write about something else.  And then Litefoot’s doorbell rang.  He opened it and said “YOU!” and I was utterly convinced it would be another villain.  But when the voice spoke, I felt a chill of joy race down my spine.  An old friend had come back:  Leela!  And they are in for a big adventure.  But first they’re “taking tea, before we save the world!”

Well, just because I’m not driving doesn’t meant I can’t keep up with these stories… Season 3 starts next week!  ML

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