In the latest episode of Harrow, the Grant Brown-directed ‘Locus Poenitentiae,’ we find Dr Daniel Harrow (Ioan Gruffudd) accompanying Dr Lyle Fairley (Darren Gilshenan) back to his hometown to work a double-fatality. This is a trip that could test their already-strained relationship. We will probably get to the issue of how to correctly spell Lyle’s last name later in the article.
Like all other episodes of the series, the title is in Latin. Locus Poenitentiae, typically associated with contractual law, is the Latin phrase which translates to means “opportunity to withdraw from a contract or obligation before it is completed or to decide not to commit an intended crime.”
In the pre-opening credits scene, in what seems a deserted road in the middle of nowhere, the aftermath of a fatal road accident is seen. With two fatalities, there is one survivor. Seconds before the opening credits begin to roll, the survivor appears to collapse.
Immediately after the opening credits, Simon Van Reyk (Remy Hii) is seen floating in the water. He calls Harrow’s name. This makes the forensic pathologist wake up. It was a nightmare. Harrow fell asleep reading Simon’s journal.
Harrow feels responsible for Simon’s death. In the closing scene of ‘Aegri Somnia,’ we were left with the intimation Simon was in danger from Francis Chester (Grant Bowler). The following episode, ‘Ab Initio,’ confirmed our worst suspicions.
A call comes in from Maxine Pavich (Robyn Malcolm). “Pack a bog,” Maxine said. “I’m sending you west.” According to Pavich, it will do Harrow “good to get away for a couple of days.” We should not feel any real concern for the forensic pathologist because he is not taking the trip alone.
Welcome to Euralla Creek: The Town without a Frown…
The middle of nowhere is possibly putting it politely. Euralla Creek is Lyle’s hometown. On arrival at the local airport, while Lyle looks invigorated, the same cannot be said for Harrow. Harrow does not like “the Outback.” It simply does not agree with him in any fashion.
“It’s a beautiful country,” Lyle said, “Isn’t it?” Harrow is not impressed, nor is he partial to “dust, flies and duelling banjos.” Not surprisingly, Lyle suggests Harrow chooses his “clever remarks more carefully” because he is likely to get lynched by the locals. This is possibly something Lyle would like to see happen.
Being in the middle of nowhere, there is no cell reception. Since it is the twenty-first century, one would think a bright spark with significant intelligence would have thought placing cell phone reception towers in the Outback would be beneficial for the locals.
Harrow is surprised to learn Lyle grew up in Euralla. The only reason the forensic pathologist did not mention it to Harrow is that he “didn’t ask.” Considering everyone Lyle drives past is waking enthusiastically at him, Harrow concludes he locals apparently love Lyle. “What’s wrong with them?” Harrow said. Harrow thinks there must be something wrong with the locals because of their apparent liking for his colleague.
Meet the Local Sergeant…
The police sergeant in charge of the case, Senior Sergeant Colin Fairley (Christopher Morris), is Lyle’s little brother. The double-fatality the sergeant is investigating is local bakery owners Bob (James Lugton) and Diane Shepard (Jessica Stafford). With Euralla being a close-knit community, everyone knew Bob and Diane.
I could not help but notice on the IMDb page for Locus Poenitentiae, Lyle’s last name is spelt differently to that of the one his brother has. Since this is the first-time meeting Colin, I automatically assumed that there is a typo in the way Colin’s name is presented on the page. After looking at the ABC website page for the Harrow series, it is Lyle’s name that holds the typo. If it were not for the fact this episode takes us back to Lyle’s hometown, I am sure I would not have noticed the error.
“No airbags,” Harrow notes of the vehicle. This was unusual for Bob and Diane. Even more unusual is the fact the couple were not wearing seatbelts. The driver of the other vehicle, a 26-year-old male, was Ethan Chambers (Joel Greasley). According to the senior sergeant, he must have died on impact.
At the crash site, Constable Georgie Shanahan (Kimberley Hodgson) finds a severed fingertip. Where did this fingertip come from?
At the Hospital…
Beverly McIntyre (Sally McKenzie) welcomes Lyle with open arms. Beverly is the local pathologist. Not surprisingly, Beverly does not appear impressed with Harrow. Why would she be? Beverly does not know Harrow in the same way we do. When Harrow tells her is also a pathologist, she seems shocked. Edwina Gharam (Faustina Agolley) is there is assist with the autopsy.
When Beverly introduces Lyle and Harrow to Edwina, even though it had only been a few seconds since he had said his name, the local pathologist had already forgotten it.
Lyle is clearly in his element. Harrow is lost for words because everyone is flocking to Lyle like he is the long-lost son returned home.
“You live here, and you have never heard of the famous Lyle Fairly?” Harrow asks Edwina. When she responds, “Should I have?” Harrow takes an immediate liking to the young pathologist.
The autopsy scene in Locus Poenitentiae is every bit as graphic as that seen in other episodes of the series. One of the things that people like about this series is that producers do not shy away from showing realism on screen. Lyle discovers some interesting makes indicative of fingernail scratches. It looks like these marks are at least several days old.
Meanwhile, in Adelaide…
Because Harrow has taken with him his laptop, Fern Harrow (Ella Newton) asks Maxine if she can use her father’s work desktop to print her curriculum vitae.
Knowing Fern, because she does not believe her father’s comment about there not being a conspiracy to destroy his life, the probability of her being in Harrow’s office for more than just printing out her CV is significant.
While Harrow isn’t always predictable, there are certain things Fern knows about her father which speaks to his habits. His password choices, for instance, will probably be influenced by things and or people in his life that matter to him on a deeply personal level. His father’s car is one such object that meant a great deal to Harrow. Fern correctly surmises her father’s password is linked to the car.
Later in the episode, we discover the QIFM monitor every keystroke that is made on one of their computers. Fern’s digging into Harrow’s files did not go unnoticed. Maxine tells Harrow to let the investigation go before anyone else gets hurt.
The Mysterious Fingertip…
Where did the fingertip come from? Bob, still alive after the crash, still had all his fingertips. His now late wife, Diane, was not missing a fingertip. The same is true for the driver of the other vehicle.
In closer inspection of Ethan’s car, a hunting knife is discovered. From the looks of the blade, there are is dried blood still on the knife. With it being a hunting knife, that blood could be from an animal. It is not necessarily from a human being.
Ethan “sounds like a man with something to hide,” Harrow remarks to Colin.
Harrow takes a closer look at the Hot Bread Shop van. While his facial expressions indicate there is something perplexing about what he sees in the vehicle, Harrow remains silent. He is not ready to express in word his thoughts.
While it is true finding the cause of death is a significant part of the forensic pathologist’s job, according to Maxine, it is only half the job. Up until this point, Dr Grace Molyneux (Jolene Anderson), focused solely on finding the cause of death.
“We don’t perform autopsies for the sake of the dead,” Maxine said. Consequently “we do them for the living. We find answers to provide some comfort. Harrow lost someone he really loved. He was absolutely wrong to challenge you like that but it’s just his way of dealing with his grief. And if you weren’t so busy avoiding your own, you might have seen that.”
The expression on Grace’s face indicates she gets where Maxine is coming from. She understands the pain of grief.
On the Boat…
Back at Harrow’s boat, Fern and her boyfriend, Callan Prowd (Hunter Page-Lochard), discuss Ross Moran’s involvement (Brad McMurray) in Harrow’s conspiracy theory. Do you remember the dead body discovered in the bathtub? Think back to ‘Ab Initio.’ It was last week’s episode. That was Ross. But who is the chemist? The chemist is Tim Markides (Anthony Standish). We have seen Tim in previous episodes.
Ross apparently knew the chemist from the racetrack. Because of his gambling addiction, Ross may have owed the chemist significant money.
Any promises Fern makes, especially concerning the case, are not worth much because she is determined to see it throw to the bitter end. Consequently, Callan would be foolish to think Fern would not take risks. From a distance, unknown to either Fern or Callan, Stephanie Tolson (Anna Lise Phillips) is watching her daughter’s every move.
What Exactly do They Say About You?
Harrow is determined to uncover the truth about Lyle and the reason the entire town seems to love the forensic pathologist? Why does the whole town love Lyle? According to Harrow, it cannot be Lyle’s personality or his looks. Something must have happened in Euralla which makes the town’s residents think of Lyle as being their local hero.
The cell phone reception must only be bad at the local airport because when a call comes into Lyle’s rental car, the reception is perfectly clear. When the display shows the incoming call coming from QIFM (Queensland Institute of Forensic Medicine), Lyle automatically thinks it must be Maxine checking up on their progress. Unfortunately for Harrow, it is Grace.
Harrow tries to get Grace to call him back later, but he fails miserably. Grace correctly observes “things have been a bit tense lately, which is weird considering we had sex the first night we met…” Unaware Lyle can hear every word she utters, Grace lets the metaphorical cat out of the bag about Harrow and her having had sex. The expression on Lyle’s face, especially considering he is Grace’s uncle, is priceless. There is not a single sign of amusement anywhere in his facial expression. As for Harrow, he looks worried.
When Harrow and Grace first met, in ‘Abo Imo Pectore,’ neither of them knew what the other did for a living. Further, neither Harrow nor Grace knew they would be working together at QIFM. It came as a significant surprise to both when they discovered Harrow would be Grace’s supervising pathologist. It was even more of a surprise to Harrow to find Lyle is Grace’s uncle.
Relatively speaking, since Grace is an adult, the people she decides to have sex with is entirely her choice. It is none of Lyle’s business. Lyle thinks of Harrow as being a good man, but he ruins people. Harrow gets out of the car and Lyle drives away.
At the Racetrack…
Fern, even though Callan explicitly asks her to not put herself in danger, goes to the local racetrack. Before Fern can confront the chemist, her mother pulls her away. Stephanie is concerned Fern will do something seriously stupid.
“You think dad is wrong about this, but he’s not,” Fern tells her mother. “Dad is never wrong.”
Just because Harrow has seemingly given up on chasing his conspiracy theory, it does not mean Fern will follow his example.
At the Free Beer Yesterday pub…
Harrow is sitting at the bar with a plate of food hardly touched and an almost finished drink. When the forensic pathologist tries to call Grace, he finds there is no cell phone signal at the pub. The title forensic pathologist seriously “hates the Outback.”
The forensic pathologist notices a framed magazine article featuring a picture of Lyle. Published on Friday, 7 March 2008, the article reveals significant details pertaining to “the good doctor [and] his life in the city.” In other areas of the bar, there are other framed articles pertaining to Lyle and his significance to the Euralla Creek residence.
A Revealing Truth…
Back in the day, when Lyle was a resident of Euralla Creek, there was a house fire at one of the cattle stations close to town. “Lyle was the first on the scene,” the barmaid (Teah Fraser) tells Harrow. “The place was an inferno, but he ran into those flames and pulled those boys out one by one. He saved three lives that night.”
He never said anything about the incident to anyone at QIFM, especially Harrow, “because he could not save the fourth” child. The fourth child, Thomas Cameron, was four years old when the fire occurred.
While Ruth Camerson (Sallyanne Ryan) is grateful to Lyle for all he was able to do, he still blames himself for the fourth child’s death. If only he could have been quicker, Thomas would have been saved.
The truth of Lyle’s backstory is grippingly powerful. Once one understands where the forensic pathologist comes from, it is fairly (pun intended) to like the fellow.
Not long after the barmaid finishes telling Harrow about Lyle’s past, the visiting pathologist notices something odd about one of the people working at the pub. She is missing a fingertip. Was she the fourth person at the crash site?
Harrow Returns to the Hospital…
Harrow asks Edwina for assistance with solving the case. When Edwina asks the visiting forensic pathologist what he’s looking for, he tells her “three blood cells.” She looks positively perplexed by his response.
On closer examination of the fingertip, Harrow notices the blood cells are everywhere. This means the blood was still circulating when it was frozen. The individual that lost their fingertip was alive when freezing occurred. “Alive but suffering from frostbit,” Harrow observes.
Even though Colin is surprised about the frostbite, especially considering how hot it gets in the Outback, he pursues this new line of inquiry because there could be a fourth person yet unaccounted for walking around in a serious condition.
When Harrow notices an unusual stain on the passenger seat in the transit van, he cuts a piece from it to examine. Harrow believes, because the seatbelt was set to extra-long, the third person in the vehicle was pregnant. He is correct. The third person is pregnant.
When Beverly enters the lab, she questions want the visiting pathologist is doing. She brought with her a package addressed to Diane Shepard. Lyle correctly observes bob and Diane could not have children. Since Diane is known to have undergone a hysterectomy at some point in her life, the content of the pack could not have been for her personally because it was contraception pills.
Harrow borrows a vehicle to drive to Glendale. Glendale, Bob and Diane’s residence close to town, might hold the key to solving the case. Meanwhile, at the hospital, Lyle discovers Bob has awoken and has subsequently left the building. No one knows where he is or what he’s doing.
Even though Lyle does not like the way Harrow works, there is no denying the younger forensic pathologist gets conclusive results from his “maverick behaviour.”
On further investigation of the Glendale grounds, Harrow uncovers a shocking truth about Bob and Diane. It looks like the Hot Bread Shop owners were keeping a woman captive in one of the stables. Considering the location of Glenvale in relation to the town, it would not be difficult for them to accomplish it.
The town’s residence would have no idea what was going on at the residence. They have always appeared upstanding pillars of the community. Bob and Diane would never do such a criminally negligent thing as to kidnap a backpacking woman. Is this the only instance of their duplicity or have there been other occasions?
Locked Away from Prying Eyes…
Harrow investigates the interior of a converted cargo container. When Bob discovers Harrow looking around his property, he closes the cargo container door. Harrow understands what happened. He knows what Bob and Diane did to the girl.
Bob kept the girl locked in the stable so that he could use her as a sex slave. The contraceptives addressed to Diane were for her. Bob seems to have thought giving her contraception pills would prevent the girl from becoming pregnant. He did not stop to think the girl would stop taking the pills of her own accord. There is a possibility the girl believed, if she was pregnant, there would be a chance Bob and Diane would let her go.
Lyle Saves the Day…
Harrow fuses the electrical circuitry in the container in a hope of escaping, but Lyle comes to his aid. Lyle opens the container door. Lyle manages to disarm Bob. While the forensic pathologist does not look the type, he possesses significant martial arts skills. Consequently, despite his outward appearance, one should never judge a book by its cover.
Harrow, surprised Lyle has full bars on his cell phone, calls Colin to inform him Bob has been apprehended. Colin cuts Harrow off mid-sentence. Because there is something significantly more pressing, the visiting pathologists must attend to Colin’s needs before any consideration is given to Bob.
There is a Baby on the Way…
There is a baby on the way and there is nothing Colin can do to stop it. The girl carrying Bob’s child is Kyra Greene (Mia Morrissey). When Harrow tells Kyra Lyle will be the doctor delivering her baby, it is clear he has significant confidence in his colleague’s abilities.
While it is evident Lyle is initially not as sure of himself as Harrow is, because of Harrow’s confidence, Lyle pushes ahead with delivering the baby. Never in the series have these two characters been on the same page about anything. This is a first for both Harrow and Lyle.
The two forensic pathologists work together as a team to bring the new-born into the world. “It’s a little girl,” Lyle said.
“I was hitchhiking down to Adelaide when they picked me up,” Kyra tells the title forensic pathologist. “They seemed nice.” Kyra was at Glenvale for three years.
Even though Harrow said that Kyra saved her baby, the new mother correctly observes it is the baby that saved her.
Edwina understands Harrow. For both medical professionals, when it comes to what they do, it is all about the puzzle. Both Harrow and Edwina like solving puzzles.
At Euralla Creek Airport…
“Wasn’t the pane supposed to be here at four?” Harrow asks Lyle. Lyle remains silent. He is obviously mulling something over in his mind.
Lyle apologies for what he said to Harrow the previous day. Despite this, Harrow insists his colleague “has nothing to apologise for.” Harrow tells Lyle he was right. “Simon was obsessing over my case,” Harrow said. “If he had not mixed his epilepsy drugs with modafinil, then … I will never forgive myself for what happened.”
A Touching Moment…
Lyle has a love-hate relationship with his hometown. Lyle was supposed to have been at the hospital the night of the fire, but he was investigating an unusual death when the call came through. Back then, the now forensic pathologist was in the local fire brigade.
Lyle blames himself for Thomas’ death because he “was off indulging his curiosity in a case that wasn’t even [his].” This explains why it is Lyle is frequently angry at Harrow for indulging his curiosity.
Lyle receives a text from his brother telling him that the flight has been cancelled. Maxine has apparently said that they can keep the rental car for the six-hour drive to Adelaide. The prospect of being in a car with Lyle for six hours does not appeal to Harrow. Let’s hope Harrow likes Chinese opera. Lyle has downloaded a new opera for the trip back home. It’s in Cantonese. As Lyle tells Harrow this, his facial expression seems to indicate the journey will not be pleasurable for him.
The Investigation Continues…
Tim arrives back at his residence to find Fern waiting for him. He recognises her from the racetrack. Not surprisingly, Tim wants to know why she has been following him. Fern accuses him of “planting that fentanyl in [her] apartment.”
When Fern asks Tim if he killed Ross, he looks genuinely surprised to learn of his death. Tim forcefully tells Fern to leave because she is in great danger. “The less you know, the better,” Tim said. There is something Tim is not saying because he could be afraid of the consequences.
On the Balcony…
Grace wants to know why Harrow hung up on her. She did not seem pleased. Lyle now knows about Harrow and Grace having been intimate.
“Maxine suggested I may have been insensitive about Simon,” Grace said. “The way I was proprietary about his autopsy. And I’m not good with dealing with grief.”
While Grace is “not good with dealing with grief,” Harrow isn’t good with “being wrong.” The forensic pathologist believes he was wrong about the “modafinil.” Despite Lyle thinking he ruins people; Grace is more interested in knowing what Harrow thinks of himself.
The End of the Episode…
In the closing sequence to the episode, we find Francis Chester (Grant Bowler) injecting Tim with Succinylcholine. This is the same substance Chester used on his previous victims. Succinylcholine is a medication used to cause short-term paralysis as part of general anaesthesia. While this is done to help with tracheal intubation, Chester uses the medication to immobilise his victims.
With newspaper scattered around the chair the immobilised Tim is seated in, Chester removes the ropes restraining his victim because he knows Tim cannot escape what’s coming. From the way the newspaper is placed around the chair, it is clear Chester plans to set a fire. Tim is quickly enveloped in flames. Chester walks away as Tim burns to death.