We start off in some sort of opium-induced dream. A man stands in a burning desert, staring at a mirage-like building in the distance. Then, he’s inside a church, where a blonde woman in an orange dress walks towards the altar, where a young blonde man waits for her. Oh, god, the woman’s played by Tamzin Merchant, who played that idiotic Katherine Howard on The Tudors. I’m sorry, I’m sure she’s a very nice person, but every time I see her in something, I cringe, because she just always seems to have this blank, dim look on her face and she drives me crazy. Anyway, she drapes a black tie around the blonde man’s neck and looks back at the other guy, smiling. Blonde guy smiles too, and she hands first guy the end of the tie, which he uses to strangle blonde guy to death while she just stands there blandly. First guy stands and looks around and sees her far, far away, in a dark part of the church, and then she’s running through an upper chamber, and he wakes himself, shouting “Ned!” in his dingy opium den.
An older, rough-looking woman urges him to smoke another pipe and chill out, but he’s a bit freaked and tries shaking some of the other addicts awake before tossing out some coins and leaving. He stumbles a bit into the street as we go into some rather nice-looking pen-and-ink drawing credits.
He hurries through the church from his dream, which is apparently where he works in real life. The vicar’s stalling impressively, because apparently our main man, the choir master, is hugely late. He finally shows and gets the choir singing. He tries not to vomit, even as he directs.
After the service, he catches up with the vicar—Mr . Crisparkle (good God but that’s a name you’d only find in Dickens, isn’t it?)—and apologizes for being late. Crisp’s pretty tolerant and figures the guy—Mr. John Jasper—is ill. Crisp offers up his Mum’s medicine chest (no, that’s not code for anything) but Jasper waves it off, since his nephew’s coming into town.
The nephew—the blonde guy from the dream, who looks all of 12, even though he’s definitely older—is on the carriage coming into town, and then he’s walking up the front drive of some girls’ school, while the pupils all giggle and sigh about how hot he is and Tamzin rolls her eyes. She tells them all to shut up and they clear the room as she shoves a candy into her mouth.
Nephew—Edwin Drood—knocks and asks to see Rosa Budd. He’s shown in and Rosa (Tamzin) immediately starts complaining about everyone giggling every time he comes to call, like that’s his fault somehow. He mentions that he’s her fiancé and goes to kiss her, but she tells him she can’t kiss him, because she’s got a candy in her mouth. She’s a treasure, isn’t she? The headmistress comes in to say hi, and Edwin’s polite to her, but giggles a little after she leaves. Rosa has no sense of humor, and since she’s a total pill, Edwin offers to leave. I don’t blame him. But Rosa won’t let him leave, because then the girls will ask questions. So what? Tell them to buzz off! She finally asks how he is and he says he wishes he could say he’s happier for having seen her. But of course that’s not the case now.
Jasper’s asleep at home, listening to a metronome and dreaming again when Edwin comes in and wakes him, almost getting strangled in the process. Jasper recovers and tightly hugs his nephew before telling him he’s late (Edwin can’t please anyone today). Edwin notices a drawing of Rosie on the wall that he did some time ago and bemoans it, which makes sense, because it’s awful. He says he’d do another one, except he’s not sure she’ll ever show him that smile again. Marital bliss in the making here! Jasper thinks she’s nervous but Edwin thinks she’s just a spiteful little brat. I’m kind of on his side, based on what we’ve seen. Jasper tells him that the prettiest girl on earth is his through will and testament, which sounds pretty awful, and Edwin should be grateful. Wow, people still willed their own kids away in the 1840s? I know things were old-fashioned back then, but that seems like a pretty shockingly medieval custom. Ned bemoans the fact that his whole damn life has been mapped out for him, but then he notices that Jasper’s looking pretty poorly. Withdrawl will do that. Jasper dispatches him for some medicine, which Ned fetches, observing with some surprise that Jasper’s an opium eater. Like half the population of Victorian England wasn’t at some time or another. Jasper says he takes it to forget his pain and forget his life. Ned can’t believe that, because Jasper’s life seems pretty awesome, but Jasper’s bored to tears in this charming, picturesque town with his nice, safe job. Poor darling. Get thee to London and do something else, then, if you’re so very unhappy. It’s a better bet than drugs. He hopes Ned won’t fall into a similar despair, but Ned’s pretty happy-go-lucky and is sure he won’t, even with Rosa by his side sourpussing all the way.
Man, that’s a gorgeous little town. Thanks for the establishing shot!
Crisp’s practicing his boxing moves in front of a mirror when his Mum comes in and pulls him away to carry some extra blankets up to the guest room. Apparently, they’re having visitors from the tropics and she’s worried they’ll feel the cold.
As an older man unwraps his lunch, he’s struck in the head with a pinecone or something, thrown by a little workhouse kid who knows and apparently regularly shares lunch with him. The man—Durdles—calls the kid over and quickly proves to be one of those stock Dickens characters who exudes quirkiness by talking about himself in the third person. I hate those characters, it’s such a dumb characteristic. Have you ever known anyone in real life who did that regularly? I’ll bet not many have. I know I haven’t, because usually it makes you either seem crazy or douchy. Durdles settles down for some bread and cheese with the kid.
Inside, Jasper’s leading choral practice and, for once, actually seems pretty sober and good at his job. The music’s lovely.
Later, Jasper’s listening to some guy read the inscription he’s written for his wife’s grave. Jasper (why’s he weighing in on this?) asks Durdles if it’ll fit, because I guess Durdles is the local stonemason, and Durdles says it will, just. The man—apparently the mayor—hands over a key to something. The wife’s crypt, maybe? Although her tomb is right in front of them and not locked away, so maybe not. And Durdles has a whole bunch of other keys—what are they for? Mayor pompously walks away and Jasper butters up Durdles a bit and tells him (not asks, mind) to show him around the area sometime, since he knows it so well.
Crisp and Mum meet the coach, which discharges their guests: a heavily veiled woman and her brother, Neville. Neville’s clearly mixed-race, which Crisp wasn’t expecting at all, and which also explains the Sis’s veil. It wasn’t exactly fun to be anything but white in Victorian England. Hell, even being white was no picnic for most. Crisp recovers, and his Mum joyfully welcomes both guests.
Back at the rectory, everyone’s settled in for a really uncomfortable tea. Crisp gamely tries to keep conversation going, but the guests are ciphers and can’t seem to be bothered with talking politely with the people hosting them. It’s revealed that they’re orphans, but Mum quickly says that it’s ok, because they have each other.
Crisp and Mum go inside and burst out laughing at the absurdity of it, and Mum says it’s like talking to a pair of brick walls. Seriously. These two kids could at least try. He hopes they’ll come out of their shells a bit with some other young people.
The only young people they can get, apparently, are Edwin and Rosa, who’s bitching at him for talking about boilers and canals and other things that were rather important to the development of the Industrial Age. She couldn’t care less and tells Ned to talk about something else. They arrive at the rectory and are introduced to Neville and Helena (yay, a name!). Jasper’s there too. Edwin and Rosa don’t bat an eye when they meet Neville and Helena, which I find somewhat unlikely, just because of prejudices of the times, but we’ll just assume they’re really liberal or something. Helena recognizes the name Drood as being one of the benefactors of their mission school, but Edwin jovially says there’s no relation.
Rosa is urged to sing by Mum, and then Edwin. Jasper plays and Rosa sings, rather poorly, to be honest. I mean, she’s not out of tune, but her voice is thin and unremarkable. She’s also clearly nervous, sweat trickling down her neck, which Jasper notices. She wipes it away and then wipes her hand on her dress, which seems like a poor idea with silk. When she finishes, everyone applauds and Edwin urges her to keep going, but Neville rather fiercely tells him he shouldn’t force her. Damn, Neville, chill out. And try smiling—what’s with these two? Helena takes Rosie over to the fire and Jasper acts all pissy and tells Mum he has a headache. She goes to a nearby chest and hands him some medicine in the form of laudanum.
Later, Jasper stops by the grave of Edwin Drood Sr., but his reverie is interrupted by that kid who’s friends with Durdles, who throws a stone or something at Jasper’s head. Jasper gets super creepy as he tells the kid he’ll kill him if he tries that again. I actually believe him, but the kid doesn’t, so Jasper chases him down, holds him up by the neck, then throws him aside, scaring the hell out of him. Man, what a psycho.
Helena and Rosa are now going to be roomies at the school. Helena finally starts to seem a bit human and they girl talk for a little about Rosa’s upcoming marriage. Helena asks if Rosa loves Edwin and Rosa says they’ve been engaged forever, so of course she loves him. But then, she can’t really be sure that this is what love feels like. Helena whispers that she only knows what she hopes it feels like, and Rosa giggles and embraces her. Wow, they went from 0 to besties pretty fast, didn’t they? Helena mentions Jasper and tells Rosa he loves her. Rosa clearly knows it and tells her not to say that out loud.
Jasper’s still in the graveyard, smiling like a total creepster. Really, this guy has the creepiest smile I’ve ever seen. He intercepts Durdles and asks for that tour Durdles never actually agreed to. He absolutely won’t take no for an answer, so Durdles takes him down to the crypt. He goes along, hammering on the wall for no apparent reason, then takes a bottle of wine from Jasper as payment for the tour. Jasper takes the lantern and goes off to find a grave he was clearly on a specific quest for. I think the name is Sapsea, same as the mayor. Dirdles drunkenly talks about how, the year before, he thought he heard a ghost down there, a woman crying to be released. And then he either passes out or dies. Jasper takes the opportunity to help himself to the mayor’s key, which apparently is for the crypt after all, and he lets himself in.
Rosa and Helena are in bed and Rosa’s admitting that Jasper kind of scares her, because he seems a bit like a stalker. But he’s made a slave of her with his music. Oh, teenagers. Helena promises not to tell anyone about it and reassures Rosa that there’s no reason to be scared. Yes there is, have you seen the guy smile, Helena?
Edwin’s heading home with Neville and talking about how his father, whom he barely knew, died in a mining accident in upper Egypt. He left behind a nice business, which Ned will inherit when he turns 21. Neville congratulates him on that and on having Rosa, but Ned’s done with Neville’s questions, and considering the fact that Neville called him out at the rectory earlier, I don’t blame him for being a little short with the guy. Neville accuses Ned of being discourteous, and Ned calls him an “odd little thing” which prompts Neville to take a swing at him. Fortunately, Jasper appears and intervenes, reminding Ned that he’s a host here and needs to be polite.
All the boys retire to Jasper’s and Jasper explains that Ned will soon be sailing to Egypt with Rosa, while the “lesser mortals” must remain behind. They all drink a toast, but the wine’s a bit much for Neville, who nonetheless insists he can handle it. Jasper also proposes a toast to Neville, who swiftly explains that he comes from Ceylon and is an orphan. Ned’s muttering rude things the other two choose to ignore for a while, but then Neville says Ned would be worth more if he’d had to work at anything in life. He calls Ned a common boast and Ned takes it up a notch by telling Neville he might know a black common boast, but he’s no judge of white men. And there we have it. I was wondering when the racism would come out. Neville flies right off the handle and grabs the poker, ready to brain Ned right then and there, but once again, Jasper intervenes.
The next morning, Crisp has just enough time to castigate Neville for being drunk the night before when Jasper shows up to tell Crisp that Neville’s dangerous and would most certainly have done Ned harm if he’d had the chance. While I’m not defending Ned’s actions, I will say that it seems Neville has kind of an anger management problem. Not to mention the personality of an acorn.
Jasper then goes to Mum, and apparently to the mayor, who tells him that “natives” can’t be trusted with strong drink. Jasper ignores that and tells Mum he’s a little worried for her safety, since Neville’s staying in her house and all. She appreciates his concern and heads home, looking worried.
There, Neville’s having some lessons with Crisp. Mum bursts in and seems a bit startled to find Neville there, so she dashes off. Crisp tells Neville to continue reading, and after lunch, they’ll talk about his apology to Edwin. Neville refuses to apologize but Crisp won’t allow him to weasel out of it. Neville tries to use his past—specifically, an abusive stepfather—to excuse his behavior, but really, everyone should be apologizing here.
In the hall, Mum talks about the fight with Crisp. He thinks both young men were at fault but Ma Crisp doesn’t. He goes out and finds Jasper and castigates him a bit for blabbing to the mayor, who’s a huge gossip. Jasper won’t apologize and urges Crisp to send the brother and sister away. He’s completely unsympathetic, because he’s kind of a jerk.
Girls’ school. The young ladies are sent away so Rosa can meet with her guardian. After some awkward babbling on his part, he brings up marriage and Rosa suddenly suggests they take a walk. Outside, she works up the courage to ask him what’ll happen if she doesn’t marry Edwin, as her father’s will dictates. Guardian tells her she’ll continue to be his guardian until she turns 21, and then she’ll inherit in her own right. With some concern, he asks her if she really thought she’d lose everything if she didn’t marry Edwin, and it’s clear that she did. He kindly tells her that nobody can be forced to marry anymore, and she hugs him in relief.
He next goes to see Edwin, who’s hungover and trying to put his room in some order. He fetches glasses of water for them both, and drains his in record time. Once they’re settled, Guardian shows him Rosa’s father’s will and tells him there was a little bequest added to it—a ring worn by Rosa’s mother, which Edwin can use as a wedding band for Rosa. He hands the ring over and Edwin seems to sober up fast and realizes the importance of this little bauble. Guardian urges him to talk to Rosa and figure out if this is all really right for both of them.
Jasper comes across Edwin in the cathedral, reflecting on everything that’s happened. He feels like a dick for having taken Rosa for granted and now he’s all happy and ready to marry Rosa as soon as he turns 21 that summer. He embraces Jasper excitedly and Jasper hugs him back, though he’s clearly not all that happy.
Neville and Helena are out for a walk, and Helena’s urging him to just apologize already. They’re spotted by Crisp, who’s out for a jog, and Crisp approaches, apologizing for interrupting and telling Helena that the whole town now thinks Neville’s dangerous. She says he can’t help it but Crisp says that’s no excuse. Sorry, folks, but you’re living fully in civilization now, and you have to behave and curb your temper every now and then. Neville says that Edwin treats Rosa like a doll and he hates him for it. Wow, he’s sure formed a strong opinion after only having met these people once and not really knowing anything about them or their relationship. Crisp realizes that Neville has a crush on Rosa and urges them to keep this secret, because Rosa’s not available. And honestly, according to the mores of the day, even if she were single she wouldn’t be available to Neville. Crisp begs him to just apologize already, for the sake of peace, and at Helena’s urging he finally agrees. As thanks, Rosa kisses Crisp’s hand and he gets all fluttery.
Guardian finds Jasper outside the cathedral and not-so-subtly tells him to back the hell off of Rosa. But then he also mentions that Rosa seemed to want to back out of the engagement, so I don’t really know what this guy’s goal is at this point.
Rosa and Edwin meet in the cathedral, and while he goes to bring out her ring, she swiftly gives him the “let’s just be friends” speech. Ouch. Edwin looks like he’s been punched in the face and the stomach at the same time. He recovers admirably, tucks the ring away and commends her on her bravery and clarity of thought. Jasper comes around a corner just in time to see the two of them embrace, talk about how wonderful things will be now, and walk away happily, hand-in-hand.
Jasper hits the opium bottle hard and starts having hallucinations in the churchyard, where he’s unfortunately found by the old woman from his favorite opium den. She’s come to try and blackmail him, but he slams her head into the church wall and runs off.
In the churchyard, that urchin kid randomly barrels into Ned, who tells him to watch where he’s going. He’s then startled by the sudden appearance of Opium Lady, who’s a bloodied mess. She starts to pass out and he helps her sit down. She asks him for some money and he gives her some coins readily. She thanks him and asks his name. He tells her it’s Edwin and she not only IDs his nickname, which apparently only Jasper uses, but also tells him that his “little rosebud” has been picked by another. That gets his attention right quick as he puts all the pieces together.
Jasper bursts into his rooms and starts trashing the place in an opium rage, although I thought opium was supposed to be a sedative.
Neville returns to the Crisp home and shows Crisp and Mum his new walking stick, which Mum thinks looks more like a weapon. She disappears and Jasper approaches the door. Crisp lets him in and Jasper, who’s sobered up considerably, says this nonsense has gone on long enough and Neville should come dine with him and Ned that night so they can all bury the hatchet. Neville thanks him.
Later, Jasper takes more opium until the room gets hazy and he starts going back to that church hallucination/dream of his. He hangs his silk scarf on a peg, menacingly wrapping it around a few times and tightening it.
At the school, Rosa gives Helena a pretty piece of lace as a gift. She notices Helena’s distracted and Helena says she’s worried about this dinner.
It’s a dark and stormy night, so clearly Dickens wasn’t at all above using cliché. Edwin pulls himself together and goes into Jasper’s rooms, where he finds Jasper and Neville waiting for him. He’s surprised to see Neville but shakes hands with him readily enough. You know, the actor who plays Jasper looks freakishly like a young Geoffrey Rush to me. Must be the eyes. Sorry, just observing.
Crisp and mum are having a singalong at home and Mum listens to the wind, says it’s a bad night to be out, and goes to bed.
Helena, dressed for bed, sits up as Rosa sleeps peacefully.
Jasper’s apparently still high, looking kind of weird as he listens to Neville talk about monsoon season. Ned’s watching Jasper almost catatonically, but when Neville excuses himself to go home, he jumps up and offers to go with him and show him the cathedral.
Jasper downs what’s left in the opium bottle while the boys explore the cathedral and Neville talks about how beautiful it is. Ned briefly disappears and Neville finds him at the altar, where Ned sadly observes that he was supposed to stand there and marry Rosa someday and says he’s been betrayed by someone he loves. Edwin figures Neville doesn’t understand disappointment, but Neville tells him it’s his constant companion, before he turns and leaves in a bit of a snit.
Jasper paces his rooms, freaks out, and grabs his scarf off the peg and goes into the cathedral. There, he finds Ned and slowly strangles him to death, just like in his dream. Except this time, Rosa’s not there to give her approval. Poor Ned, he didn’t seem like such a bad guy, despite his drunken fight with Neville.
The next day, Ned’s still dead (apparently) and Jasper’s just coming ‘round post opium-binge-turned-murderous-rage. He looks down and sees the scarf he used to strangle his nephew still wrapped around his hand, flashes back to the murder, sees that Edwin’s bed hasn’t been slept in, and starts to freak out a bit.
He runs into the cathedral, but there’s no body lying on the altar, just sunlight after the storm (which trashed the town, by the way).
Outside, Durdles tells Crisp the roof and clock have been damaged, as Crisp surveys the cleanup operations. Jasper comes stumbling out, crying, and tells Crisp that Ned’s gone.
Off they go to the school, to ask Rosa if she’s seen or heard from Edwin. No, she hasn’t. She asks what happened and Jasper tells her he left with Neville the night before and never came back. Rosa’s horrified, and can’t even track Helena’s concern that they’ll just dump this on Neville’s head. Rosa sinks to the floor, thinking this is all her fault, for dumping Edwin.
A search party heads out to the coast and comes across Neville, taking a walk. Since the search party looks super creepy and intimidating and he doesn’t know what the hell’s going on, Neville strikes out at a few of them before he’s subdued by sheer force of number. Jasper hurries over and demands to know what Neville did to Ned. Neville doesn’t know what he’s talking about and tells Jasper he left Ned in the cathedral the night before. All Ned said was that he wanted some fresh air and the smell of open water, which isn’t odd or ominous at all in the middle of the night during a violent storm.
That kid finds Rosa’s ring in the churchyard.
A summons arrives at the office of Rosa’s guardian, Mr. Grewgious, which oddly excites his rather bored assistant. Grewgious sets out to answer said summons and sends his assistant to go check out Edwin Drood Sr.’s last will.
Jasper and the others are still searching the coast for Ned, but if he’s there, he’s not answering. Jasper cries and Crisp comforts him, even as Jasper insists he must be dead.
Grewgious, meanwhile, is taking a meeting with Rosa, who’s upset and thinks Edwin might have killed himself, even though he seemed ok with the breakup. Grewgious listens sympathetically and gently brings up the ring Edwin had on him. Rosa shakes her head.
Kid’s playing with the ring when Durdles finds him. The kid insists the ring’s his but Durdles isn’t an idiot and knows it must belong to some young lady. He spots a crying Rosa passing and guesses it’s hers.
Jasper’s in the cathedral, praying and flashing back on the murder again. So, what’s his deal, exactly? Is he just putting on a really convincing show for everyone that he thinks Ned’s killed himself, or does he really think these flashbacks never happened? I think he might be putting on a good show. Or he’s just batshit crazy, which is also a definite possibility. Crisp joins him in prayer, but Jasper says he can’t forgive anyone who brought his nephew to harm. Crisp realizes Jasper’s blaming himself and tells him there’s no need to do so, because he so clearly loved Edwin. Jasper agrees and adds that some stranger has now taken him away, so he’s going to devote himself to finding his killer.
Mayor’s urging the arrest of Neville, despite the fact that there’s no evidence against him or, indeed, evidence of any wrongdoing aside from Neville and Ned not having gotten along so famously in the past. Neville, who’s in on this unpleasant meeting, insists again that they were getting along just fine, as Jasper paces menacingly behind the mayor. Mayor doesn’t care about things like evidence, but Crisp does and points out that you can’t just accuse someone of murder, particularly without a body. Neville intercedes and drops a bombshell: he couldn’t have ever brought himself to kill Edwin Drood because he’s Neville’s brother. Apparently Drood Senior was doing a bit more than mining while he was in Ceylon. Neville makes the fatal misstep of telling Jasper they’re relatives, but Jasper sharply reminds him that they’re only related because Captain Drood, allegedly one of the best husbands ever, cheated on Jasper’s sister, so he’s not really feeling the familial warmth right now. Valid. Though his follow-up insult to Neville’s mother is unnecessary and only serves to piss the little hothead off. Neville’s bundled out of the room, but Crisp says that, if he thought Edwin was his brother, why would he want to harm him? For money? Jealousy? People do these things to their relatives, Crisp. Jasper says as much and urges the mayor to remand him into custody, which the mayor immediately does. Grewgious steps in and offers to take Neville into his own house and keep watch over him. Huh. I heard in the original novel fragment that Crisp was the one who offered to make sure Neville didn’t run. I wonder why they changed that.
Helena shows up at the rectory and finds a rather irate Crisp, who’s pissed that they didn’t tell him earlier about the Drood connection. Helena insists they were just trying to find their dad, but Mrs. Crisp thinks they’re just fortune hunters. Crisp reminds them that Drood never married their mother, so they have no documentation to prove their claim. Neville insists, as he has many times before, that their mother was a Christian lady, as if that would matter as much as the color of her skin. Sorry, but it was true. Different standards. He says she never told a lie in her life, which Crisp observes she failed to pass on to her children. He shortly tells Neville to get his coat, and once he’s gone, Helena tells Crisp that Jasper’s in love/obsessed with Rosa, which Crisp kind of scoffs at. He even scolds her for bringing it up. Guess you see what you want to see, huh?
Crisp next goes to his mom and asks her not to keep supplying Jasper with opium. So, I guess he’s not totally clueless.
At home, Jasper looks at that awful drawing of Rosa on his wall.
At Grewgious’s, Neville keeps obsessively reading his father’s last will, which clearly states he leaves his whole estate to his only son, Edwin. The assistant comes in to say the post has arrived. “Oh, the excitement,” he deadpans. Hee! Believe me, sir, I know how mind-numbing it can be to be stuck in a smallish town. Grewgious ignores him and tells Neville that his situation isn’t exactly unusual, sadly. Assistant (Bazzard) leaves and comes back with a letter from the trustees of Neville’s mission school, which confirms that Drood Sr. became a trustee in 1834. Hang on, how much time has passed? How fast did he get his letter delivered and get his reply? Are the trustees next door? This seems like fast turnaround considering it’s based on information I think the players only received very, very recently. Anyway, Neville’s very excited, even though the trusteeship only lasted a couple of years. Bazzard suggests Senior’s regiment might have moved on, so now Neville wants to check the regimental records, but he can’t go back to Cloisterham, the town where all this is taking place (and where I thought Grewgious’s office was, but I guess they’re in London or something now), so Grewgious sends Bazzard instead. Bazzard practically dances a jig at the opportunity to get out of the office. As he leaves, Grewgious urges him not to talk to too many people, and especially don’t talk to Jasper. Bazzard, after screwing around with the idea of employing a pseudonym and a Scottish accent to evade detection, agrees.
In Cloisterham, Ma Crisp’s trying to gently cut Jasper off from his opium supply. He talks about how awesome it is to be high, but he doesn’t want it now, because he’s so depressed about Ned.
Bazzard makes his way through the town and arrives at the regimental office, where he’s given several giant volumes that contain the regimental muster rolls.
At the girls’ school, Helena’s departing to be with her brother, conducted by the ever-helpful Crisp. She’s clearly a bit pissed at him, which I can’t blame her for, but after a little persuading and a sort-of apology, she allows him to carry her luggage and strolls into town with him to catch the coach. He stumblingly accidentally admits he has a little bit of a thing for her, but covers poorly and then she has to get on the coach before it leaves. She leans out the window and kisses him on the cheek, thanking him for being a friend. Jasper, who’s everywhere, all the time, looks down from some upper balcony on the scene.
He then goes to the girls’ school, where a servant shows him where Rosa’s reading out in the garden. Hey, Rosa finally got to change her costume! About time—that pale blue silk was pretty but totally impractical, and it made no sense that a young woman of means would wear the same dress every single day. She’s now in proper mourning.
Jasper startles her a bit by interrupting her reading and asking why she hasn’t called him to teach her lately (he’s also her music master—I’m not sure this was actually mentioned earlier). She says she’ll never play the piano again, and he gets inappropriately flirty, reaching for her hand. She jerks away and, after acting a little creepy, he agrees not to come near her again. He notices that she has her ring around her neck, which he incorrectly identifies as belonging to Ned. Rosa reminds him that it’s actually her mother’s and she wears it in both her and Ned’s memory. Jasper moves right from that to admitting he loves her, which Rosa doesn’t want to hear. She accuses him of having betrayed Ned with his love for Rosa and Jasper goes full-on creepycrazy by insisting that she’ll love him someday, and she can rage at him all she likes, because it’s kinda hot. Yikes! She tries to escape but he grabs her arm, tearing her dress, and she tells him she’ll never love him, because he’s an asshole who drove her friends away with false accusations. He can’t believe she’s defending Neville and tells her he’s stacked the suspicions against him so high it doesn’t really matter if he killed Ned or not anymore. Furthermore, he blames Rosa for making him do awful things to innocent people (wow, this guy’s just ticking down the Abusive Lover list fast, isn’t he?) and says he’ll have her eventually. She wrenches her arm from his grasp and tells him he absolutely will not. He tells her that, if that’s the case, Neville will hang. The maid shows back up and Jasper gets one more creepy declaration of love in before leaving. Rosa, clearly freaked out, and for very good reason, snaps at the maid to stop staring.
Bazzard’s deep in the rolls and notices there’s no death in service record for Drood Senior, which there should be, if he died as everyone thought he did. Which means he’s probably not dead.
Rosa flees the school, armed only with a valise.
Bazzard hits the cathedral, where he checks out some graves before finding a memorial to Drood Senior on the wall. That obnoxious kid draws his attention by abusing a nearby sheep and Bazzard asks for directions to Jasper’s. The kid won’t take him, because he knows Jasper’s a psycho. He does, however, show Bazzard where he can find the mayor, who’s inside the cathedral, admiring the memorial stone he wrote up for his wife and had installed. Bazzard sucks up by admiring it and Mayor Sapsea falls for it like a ton of bricks. Bazzard’s kind of awesome, he should be allowed out more often. He asks Sapsea to recommend somewhere for him to stay, and I’m sure Sapsea obliges.
Grewgious and Neville are reading by candlelight when someone knocks on the door. Neville goes to answer it and finds Rosa, completely freaked out. Helena gently helps Rosa to bed and Rosa muses that it was silly of her to be afraid to marry Ned, when the real danger was his uncle.
The following day, that uncle is striding through the cathedral, singing brightly, which seems like rather odd behavior for someone supposedly grief-stricken over his nephew’s loss. It also proves how crazy he is, that he can do this so soon after horribly threatening Rosa. Crisp hears him, and when Jasper spies him, he breaks off his song and says he finds comfort in thinking about heaven.
At Grewgious’s, Neville and Helena have a sibling moment and she warns him to back off Rosa for a bit, because she’s scared and in mourning. He’s cool with that, because apparently he’s totally over that crush and now only thinks of Rosa as a sort of sister. Well, that was easy. Wasn’t he all over her, like, three days ago? I do rather wish the timeline was clearer. Grewgious joins them and tells them he wrote to the head of the school and told her Rosa’s with them and she’s not to tell Jasper. Rosa comes down and Grewgious sweetly offers her food, but she’s not interested in eating. She’s more interested in exploring the possibility that Jasper killed his nephew. After all, who had the most to gain from Ned’s death?
Jasper shows up at the school, where he’s immediately told by the headmistress that Rosa’s missing. I guess Grewgious’s note hasn’t reached them yet. Off Jasper goes, straight to Grewgious’s (where else would she go, right?) where he tears through the place until he finds Rosa in her room with Helena. He tells Rosa to come with him but Helena gets in between them, and Neville attempts to intervene, only to be punched in the face for his pains. Helena draws herself up and tells him she’s not scared of him because all he has to throw around are lies. He tells her it doesn’t matter, and that Rosa’s not scared of him, she’s afraid of what’s in her own heart. Man! No, she’s not scared of me, she’s scared of how much she loves me. Creepy! Helena pulls the terrified Rosa forward and says all she sees is a monster and murderer when she looks at Jasper. Rosa looks at him and somehow discerns that Jasper did kill Ned after all.
Jasper stumbles down the stairs and out of the building, where he meets Grewgious coming back from some errand. He attacks Grewgious, accusing him of having poisoned Rosa’s mind against him. Grewgious calmly tells him that Rosa doesn’t love him, and what’s more No means No, douchebag! She’s an independent human being who can make her own choices, just like she did when she ended her engagement to Ned. That’s news to Jasper, who suddenly realizes he killed Ned for nothing. Jasper starts to fall to pieces at the realization and hallucinates Ned standing next to him and then in doorways around the courtyard, like he’s the ghost of Jacob Marley now.
Jasper heads back to his favorite opium den, where he finds that woman who told Ned about Jasper having the hots for Rosa. Jasper knows nothing about that, of course, which is probably lucky for her. She notices his mourning clothes and asks what happened. He just says he wants to smoke up and she offers him a pipe.
Bazzard, having gotten the key off the mayor, breaks into Jasper’s rooms.
The headmistress, Miss Twinkleton, has finally received Grewgious’s letter and no doubt realized just how thoroughly she’s screwed up. She takes it, weeping, to Ma Crisp, who hands it to her son. Crisp starts to make his way to Jasper’s rooms, where Bazzard’s going through the desk. The kid’s stationed outside and tries to warn Bazzard that Crisp is coming, but Bazzard keeps looking, eventually finding a key in a drawer. Crisp sees the kid outside and seems to know immediately what’s up. He hauls the kid upstairs, where he finds Bazzard. Bazzard immediately says Grewgious sent him, but Crisp thinks this is some kind of burglary. He also throws the kid rather violently against a chair, which seems really out of character for him. And also a bit harsh. The kid’s annoying, yeah, but that seems a bit much, Crisp. Bazzard helps the kid to his feet and tells Crisp that the supposedly dead Drood Senior has been picking up his pension for the past nine years. And nobody noticed that? That didn’t ring any alarm bells? It’s not like this man’s alleged death was some sort of secret.
There’s also no record of Drood’s death, so either he’s not dead, or someone’s committing fraud and picking up the money in his name. Crisp seems to half listen as he goes through the desk himself, eventually finding a copy of Drood Senior’s will, which has a bunch of words scratched out. Crisp observes that Jasper’s crossed out Edwin’s name every time it appears. Not suspicious at all! Bazzard wonders where the body was hidden and the kid chirps up that he might know.
Why, where all the other bodies are hidden, in the crypt! Durdles shows Crisp and Bazzard around the place and they realize there are plenty of hiding places down there. Durdles tells them he’s got all the keys…well, all except one, which seems to have gone missing. Bazzard thinks it’s the key he found in the desk but Durdles says it isn’t; the missing key was much bigger. Crisp immediately guesses it’s the key to the Sapsea tomb, which they can get a copy of from the mayor himself, though they’re not sure he’s going to be cool with him disentombing his wife on a hunch.
Jasper, meanwhile, is puffing away in that opium den. He talks about how he fantasized all the time about killing Edwin, but it wasn’t quite like how it was in his fantasies. He flashes back to dragging the body down below to the crypt.
At Grewgious’s, he observes that Rosa looks a lot like her mom, and she correctly guesses he was in love with her mother. Fortunately, that has not translated into some creepy obsession with young Rosa. If anything, he’s more like a father to her, which is appropriate. Rosa asks him what being in love is like and he tells her that true love is always returned.
Jasper wakes from his opium stupor and is told by the opium lady that he was talking about killing his nephew the night before. She urges him to tell her what he did and he only admits to being nearly damned.
Still pretty out of it, Jack heads to Grewgious’s, where he runs into Rosa, who’s heading out on an errand. That seems like a poor idea on her part. She tells Jasper to tell her what happened to Ned, and she’ll go with him willingly. Smiling creepily, he takes her arm and drags her away.
Bazzard has taken his case to Sapsea, who’s fine with them going into the tomb, just as long as his inscription isn’t disturbed. Isn’t that inscription up on the wall in the main part of the cathedral? How would going into the tomb harm that? Bazzard reassures him that the inscription will be saved, so Sapsea hands over the key.
Into the tomb go Bazzard and Crisp. It takes both of them to move the top of the coffin, which raises serious doubts that Jasper could have managed it alone, even (or, rather, especially) while drugged. Turns out the tomb’s empty, save for Mrs. S. The men are disappointed, but then the kid reminds Bazzard of the key he found in Jasper’s desk. Durdles id’s the key as belonging to the Drood tomb, so off they go to open that one.
Jasper and Rosa, meanwhile, arrive at the cathedral and she steels herself to go in with him. Inside, Jasper rather perkily tells her how he came up with the plan to murder Edwin and how he eventually carried it out. Down in the crypt, Crisp starts to pray, and his echoing voice freaks Rosa out. Jasper babbles about how the corpse was safe enough in the Sapsea tomb, until Sapsea wanted his inscription put on. Didn’t the inscription get put on before the murder even took place? The timeline really has me confused here.
Rosa finally manages to escape and runs off, while down in the crypt, the kid looks into the tomb and realizes the fresh body in there isn’t Ned’s at all, but some old guy’s. Rosa, upstairs, runs around a corner and slams straight into…Ned.
Okaaaaay. So, Ned apparently just up and went to Egypt in the middle of the night, which is pretty implausible, and also makes no sense, because why wouldn’t he tell anyone? At least his uncle? And he didn’t bother to tell anyone after the fact for no reason whatsoever, something Rosa calls him out on. Also, journeying to Egypt took weeks back then, both to get there and get back, so seriously, timeline, start making sense! Have months passed? A year? Who would know? It’s not like the foliage outside has changed a bit, making it seem like it’s only been a few days, a couple of weeks, at most. Ned says he was too mad to write, and, in fact, he was so mad he threw out Rosa’s ring, which was never his to throw out at all.
Jasper heads down to the crypt and flashes back on the murder again, only this time, it’s an older gentleman he’s killing, not Ned. Gasping and crying a bit, he makes his way along the line of crypts.
Bazzard and Durdles put their heads together and guess the man in the tomb has been dead “a bit less than one year.” It’s been almost a YEAR since Ned’s disappearance? Has Rosa really been hidden at Grewgious’s that whole time? Or did Jasper never actually stir a step from his rooms that dark and stormy night, instead just dreaming back on a murder that took place ages ago? Jasper finally arrives at the crypt and Crisp asks him who the body belongs to. It’s Edwin Drood Sr., of course. And apparently he’s both Ned’s and Jasper’s father, a fact even Ned was able to dig up in Egypt, where it was apparently common knowledge. According to Ned, the date of Jasper’s birth was “inconvenient” so he was just passed off as Ned’s mother’s brother.
Ok, hang on while I try and wrap my head around all this. So, Drood Sr. met and apparently seduced his future wife somewhere in Egypt, and she gave birth to his kid, who was then passed off as her brother. And then she went on to marry Senior and had Edwin (presumably several years later). What? First off, let’s put ourselves in the Victorian period. Your daughter comes home knocked up and you’re going to move heaven and earth to get her married to the father of the baby right quick. If she just went on to marry the guy later anyway, why didn’t she do it before Jasper was born? The fact that they were able to pull off a lie like “Jasper’s her brother” makes me think she must have been really, really young when she had him, which might explain the no-marriage thing. Looks a little odd to be marrying off your 14-year-old daughter. Still, though. For the sibling thing to work, her parents would have had to have been alive and complicit, which I find really unlikely. They probably would have gotten her married to this guy instead of just trying to pass off this extra kid as a sibling. So, this whole plot twist just seems incredibly weird to me, and unlikely for the time.
Rosa tells Ned everyone thought Jasper killed him, which Ned thinks is preposterous, because Jasper loves him oh so very much. Rosa gently tells him that even Jasper thinks he killed Ned. Because he’s a crazed drug addict.
In the crypt, Jack kneels beside the tomb and weepily says he doesn’t really remember what happened. Crisp asks the others to leave, which they’re reluctant to do, because Jasper’s a crazed drug addict, but Crisp thinks that the power of friendship will overcome, even though this is a guy they all believed would have killed his much-beloved nephew/brother just a little while ago.
Crisp remembers that Senior’s will left everything to Ned and absolutely nothing to Jasper. Jasper says it’s because daddy never loved him. If I’m going to go academic here, I’d say that Jasper was the product of rape. Whether his mother consented or not, if she was young enough to pass him off as a sibling, it’s probably some kind of rape either way (not that it necessarily would have been viewed that way at the time). So every time he saw Jasper, the father recoiled, seeing him as a living reminder of his terrible sin, as well as a reminder that he really hadn’t been the “best of husbands” after all (though, you’d think the other two out-of-wedlock kids would be enough for that). But Ned’s the (literal) golden child, so he got everything. Honestly, I think I’m giving this too much credit. Dickens never got this far in the novel before he died, but his notes and letters to friends indicate that he did intend for Jasper to have been Ned’s killer all along, and Ned really was, in fact, deceased. This weirdo ending is totally tacked on and obviously goes against all that. This is why I generally avoid authors’ works that are “finished” by other people. The seam usually shows big time.
Jasper has a freakout, remembering being seven years old when he was sent away to make room for little Edwin. Jasper’s only supposed to be 28? Bad casting, then, this guy looks much older than that. Ned and Rosa arrive at the top of the stairs in time to hear most of the rest of the confession, which is as follows: when Senior allegedly died, Jasper was sad, but of course he wasn’t really dead, and a year ago he came back, coming upon Jasper practicing some music in the cathedral late at night. Jasper recognizes him instantly, calls him father (and if they were going to give him the knowledge that this man was his father, why the sibling charade?), and tries to embrace him, but Dad won’t have it. He’s only come to see Ned. Dick. Why’d he come to the cathedral looking for Ned? Jack loses his temper and strangles the old man to death with his scarf.
Jasper’s gone off the deep end and is babbling as he paces around the crypt. And then Ned shows up and totally freaks him out, because he thinks Ned’s dead, though how he thinks Ned died now that he realizes he killed his father, not Ned, is a bit of a mystery.
With that crazy smile, Jasper observes that his dad loved Ned, not him. Ned goes to stand directly in the sunlight, so he really is the golden child, and all this seems a bit much, as he tells Jasper how sorry he is that their dad was a douchebag. Jasper points to Ned and says he’s the only human that ever loved him. I wonder where their mom stood in all this? Did she reject Jasper too? Ned holds out his arms, and at this point, all he needs is a cross behind him and 12 apostles. This is getting ridiculous. Jasper thinks Ned’s a ghost and races up into the cathedral, followed (not closely, apparently) by Ned and Crisp. Jasper makes it into an upper area of the cathedral, where he perches like a big, scary bird. Crisp tries to get Ned out of there, because he’s scaring Jasper, but Ned won’t leave, thinking he can magically help Jasper, now that they’re brothers. Crisp sends Rosa to get help and then tries to talk Jasper down. And down he comes, but not the way Crisp was hoping. He leaps, just as Ned reaches him, and dies when he hits the stone floor below. I’d feel bad, but he was such a totally insane jerk I really can’t. Crisp seems a bit sad, though.
Later, Crisp is sitting in his incredibly lovely garden as, inside, Ma Crisp hands drinks to everyone and they cheerfully drink to Ned, mostly because he’s still alive. Ned’s ready to hit the road to Egypt again, with his other brother/partner Neville, whom he’s now BFFs with, all past problems forgotten. Ned raises a glass to Jasper, and Neville chimes in by toasting the man Jasper might have been. Helena puts her wine aside and goes out to the garden, where she sits on the bench with Crisp. After a moment’s silence, they both talk at once, and then Crisp, I guess, proposes as his mother watches happily from a window with Rosa. So, now his mum’s cool with Neville and Helena? That was a fast turnaround.
Um, ok, here’s my biggest question: why did Senior fake his death and stay hidden for nine years? What purpose did that serve? If he was really so attached to Edwin, why did he make him think he was orphaned all those years ago? Why not stay in his life? And if you’re going to fake being dead for nine years, why suddenly decide to come back? And why did he start endowing Helena and Neville’s school when they were 6, only to stop after a couple of years? None of this made sense, but then, neither did most of the ending. Really, this just strengthened my conviction to avoid these types of finished unfinished works. People seem to think they can get into the original author’s head, but they can’t, and frankly, I think it’s a bit arrogant of anyone to think they can complete a work by the acknowledged great authors. You’re pretty much assuming you’re as good as them, right? You’d have to, to think you could complete their work. This wasn’t all bad—there were good performances (and I’ve come around a bit on Tamzin Merchant, who was better in this than most other things I’ve seen her in), but the script was a bit of a mess, which really does screw things up a lot. Oh well. We can hope for better things with Birdsong, and if that lets us down, there’s always Game of Thrones.