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Partners in Crime episode 3 review

Episode Two of Partners In Crime left Tommy blackmailed by Brown’s gang and Tuppence transfixed by a mysterious clue etched into a wall: Anassa. What could it mean?

The third and final part of The Secret Adversary, the first of two Agatha Christie stories re-imagined for the BBC as Partners In Crime, opens with Tuppence back in their marital home fretting over what’s become of Tommy, and a quaking Tommy held in the basement of a Soho brothel by Brown’s gang as they deliver their ultimatum. Tommy must steal a file from Military Intelligence, code name ‘Linden Tree’, or son George gets it.

Released to undertake his mission, Tommy is reunited with Tuppence, who immediately knows something’s up. After a failed attempt to steal the file on his own, Tuppence forces Tommy to confess what’s really going on. Tuppence takes matters into her own hands and before you know it, they’ve stolen the file and are on their way to hand it over to Brown’s gang.

There is much less stalling and much more action in this episode, giving both central characters purpose and urgency, as they work together to drive the narrative forward. As an audience we’re with them, invested in the journey they’ve been on so far, and eager for an action-packed and rewarding dénouement.

As soon as the file is handed over to Brown’s gang, Tommy is more than happy to retreat to their ‘normal’ life. When a mission to bug the car of one of Brown’s cohorts backfires, a reluctant Tuppence agrees to bow out with her husband. But, like every good crime villain, Brown has other ideas.

Tommy and Tuppence return to the safety of their home to find it ransacked – with a Greek language book belonging to missing girl, Jane Finn, open amongst the chaos. This leads them to make the connection that the word ‘Anassa’ is Greek, and was etched by Jane as a clue as to where the precious recording she hid is.

Of course as an audience we’ve known this all along, as we saw her hide it in the opening to episode one, and Tommy and Tuppence’s sudden realisation makes this plot point quite sticky. But does this mean Tommy and Tuppence have solved the mystery of who Brown really is? Not quite. But they know they’re close, and so do we.

The renewed urgency continues through the rest of the episode, as Jane’s desperate lover reveals himself, an energetic Tuppence comes into her own again when she smashes a vase over a man’s head to grant them restricted access, and even Tommy confronts a man with a gun and comes out on top. It’s all go.

Finally, the true identity of Brown is revealed in a classic rooftop-with-a-flailing-gun moment, where our unlikely heroes come face to face with their villain. This is the pinnacle of The Secret Adversary, the revelation of Brown, who turns out to be a man with nothing to lose. Proving Tommy and Tuppence as super-sleuths, or at least amateur sleuths who are pretty persistent.

But the real highlight of this heightened climax is Zinnie Harris’ script, which gives a nod to Agatha Christie, as her villain confesses, “I was brilliant in my day”. Yes, you were.

Suddenly we’re at the end of the caper and Tommy and Tuppence return home to their ordinary life, the moment Tommy’s been waiting for since they boarded the homeward-bound train at the start of episode one.

But, like every good story, are the characters irreversibly changed? It appears Tuppence is at least, “think of all the adventures we could have”, delivered by Jessica Raine with just the right amount of twinkle in her eye. A convincing David Walliams gives an apt look of disgust, and we know Tommy and Tuppence’s adventures have only just begun.

Tommy and Tuppence are back solving mysteries next week in N or M? The second story in the Partners In Crime adventure.

Did you catch Partners In Crime episode 3? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Don’t miss episode 4 on BBC1 at 9pm on Sunday 16th August.

Isla Gray

Isla is a screenwriter and playwright who writes for television and theatre, as well as online for BBC, ITV and The Huffington Post. She’s a drama obsessive who watches far too much television and loves a good plot twist.

Follow Isla on Twitter.

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