Did you see the previous episode? The ending was seriously hot stuff for one character. With ‘Locus Poenitentiae’ revolving around Dr Lyle Fairley’s (Darren Gilshenan) and the visit to his hometown of Euralla Creek (Darren Gilshenan), even though this episode shines a significant new light on Lyle’s background, the main focus is taken off what is happening in the city with Fern Harrow (Ella Newton) following every lead she can to prove her father’s theories correct. Dr Daniel Harrow (Ioan Gruffudd) is not one to get anything wrong. Harrow look at everything through the lens of being an experienced forensic pathologist.
Fern believes there is something significant going on and her father is at the centre of everything. She also suspects, the person responsible for her father’s shooting, is also connected with the stolen fentanyl having been planted in her flat, Simon Van Reyk’s (Remy Hii) death and everything else that has transpired since.
Towards the end of ‘Locus Poenitentiae’ we find Francis Chester (Grant Bowler) covering his tracks with his associates. Everyone knows the best way for two people to keep a secret safe from discovery is if one of those individuals is dead. Tim Markides (Anthony Standish) discovers this truth the hard way when Chester injects him with Succinylcholine.
Succinylcholine, Chester’s go-to-medication of choice to paralyse his victims, is typically used cause short-term paralysis during general anaesthesia. One of the usages of Succinylcholine is during a tracheal intubation procedure. Chester uses the medication to immobilise his victims so that he can murder his victims in a manner that might suggest either natural causes or that someone else is responsible for the deaths. With the newspaper and cardboard surrounding Markides’ chair set ablaze, Chester walks away from his latest victim with not a shred of remorse or regret showing on his face.
SPOILER ALERT: If you have yet to watch the Mairi Cameron directed Harrow episode ‘Parce Sepulto,’ you might want to rethink reading beyond this point of this article, as there are spoilers ahead.
In the pre-opening titles, there is a close-up of a television screen showing an infomercial about an alternative medication MFL (Minerals for Living). According to Taylor Ford (Melanie Jarnson), while conventional medicine was not able to save her, alternative medicine has accomplished what she was looking for.
When the MFL delivery person (Clementine Anderson) enters Taylor’s residence, she finds Taylor dead at the bottom of the staircase and sees Connor Harris (Jason Wilder) kneeling over her body. The natural conclusion, not that first thoughts are always correct, is Connor murdered Taylor. He was at the scene of the apparent crime when the body was discovered. Consequently, he must have been the one that murdered the victim. There are too many neat bows in this scenario. Nothing is ever quite that simple. Cue opening titles…
Arrested for Arson and Murder…
The episode begins with an image of Fern running down a back alley. There is the sound of dogs barking in the background. Fern rushes into her mother’s home as a police car pulls up in front of the residence.
Stephanie Tolson (Anna Lise Phillips) and Harrow are arguing about their daughter not having returned home when Fern rushes past them to look out of the window.
Fern tells her parents about the situation before Det. Jill McCloud (Tasneem Roc) gains access to the house and arrests her for arson and the subsequent murder of Tim Markides. Even though Harrow believes his daughter, McCloud is steadfast in her belief Fern is guilty of illegally acquiring the fentanyl discovered in her possession. The quantity of fentanyl found in Fern’s flat suggests an intent to distribute it illegally. The detective now has charges of arson and murder she can now add to Fern’s growing list of criminal activities.
Harrow explains to Stephanie when Simon’s death was deemed an accident, he began to doubt everything else. Stephanie correctly concluded Fern did not doubt her father’s beliefs. Simon’s death was no accident. Consequently, Fern kept looking for evidence supporting her father’s theories. Harrow just needs to prove he is right Chester is still alive and is responsible for the shooting, the fentanyl, Simon’s death, the arson and Markides’ subsequent murder.
At QIFM (Queensland Institute of Forensic Medicine) …
Harrow tries to talk Maxine Pavich (Robyn Malcolm) into exhuming Chester’s body because he does not believe it is Chester’s body in the grave. Maxine, because she does not want to question Dr Laurie Badcoe’s (Geoff Morrell) original post-mortem findings, is reluctant to sign off on such an order. Badcoe, at different points in his career, was the supervising pathologist for both Maxine and Harrow. Because Badcoe is one of the most respected forensic pathologists in the state, the likelihood of the deputy coroner agreeing to the exhumation order is remote.
Before heading out to assist Dr Grace Molyneux (Jolene Anderson) with her case, Harrow asks Lyle to check Markides’ body for the presence of Succinylcholine. Lyle immediately questions the request. Harrow is desperate to find evidence that proves his theories correct. Without any substantive evidence tying Chester to Markides’ murder, the likelihood of Fern spending decades in prison is significant.
At Taylor Ford’s Residence…
Conner blames Taylor for his girlfriend, Rebecca McDonald (Airlie Dodds), turning her back on conventional medicine. Rebecca has stage four breast cancer. Even though Conner claims he found Taylor dead, he cannot give an adequate explanation for the reason he was at Taylor’s residence. Did Taylor fall down the staircase or was she pushed? “That my friends,” as Det. Bryan Nichols (Damien Garvey) correctly observes, “is the question.”
When Harrow and the detective are investigating Taylor’s home studio, the sound of screams and hysterics can be heard coming from the ground floor. Taylor’s manager, Danica (Nicole da Silva), has arrived on the scene.
Scrubbing up for the Autopsy…
Harrow is at work scrubbing in to assist Grace with the autopsy on Taylor’s body. Anyone with at least an ounce of intelligence could see Fern’s situation is playing heavily on the forensic pathologist’s mind. Grace tells her supervising forensic pathologist she has heard of his daughter’s situation. Even though Harrow probably should talk about his theories with Grace, the pathologist is trying to focus his efforts on the case at hand. He cannot allow personal issues to cloud his judgement.
At Harrow’s Boat…
Callan Prowd (Hunter Page-Lochard) and Stephanie are at Harrow’s boat. From the way Stephanie is speaking with Callan, it looks like she might have finally accepted he was not involved in the fentanyl found in Fern’s flat. “The chemist,” Callan said to Stephanie, “I told her not to go there.” Because Fern has been arrested for arson and murder, she is in currently in custody. No one can see her.
When Stephanie offers Callan a lift to work, he declines the offer because he has a colleague picking him up. The colleague in the vehicle is Chester. Even though Harrow is finding it difficult to get anyone to believe Chester is still alive, it is extraordinary he can hide in plain sight and no one notices him.
At the Autopsy…
When Harrow asks Grace about the type of cancer Taylor suffered from, the pathologist confirmed she had a brain tumour. Grace clarifies the brain tumour as being a “Hemangioblastoma.” Hemangioblastoma, a benign brain tumour which most often arises in the cerebellum or brainstem, typically require surgical removal. Arising sporadically, there is no known cause for hemangioblastomas. Despite the sporadic nature of hemangioblastomas, Harrow correctly references von Hippel-Lindau Syndrome as being significant in the case.
The yellowness of the eyes could be attributed to either chemotherapy or cancer itself. Since Taylor was not apparently on chemo, the leaves cancer as being the most likely cause for the yellowness in Taylor’s eyes. Taylor’s entire diet consisted of fruit, vegetables and the MFL supplement she talked about in her infomercials.
Harrow suggests the petechial haemorrhaging Grace noted could be a result of body placement. If Taylor’s head was below, that would explain the haemorrhaging. Even though Taylor’s head was below her body, Grace does not believe she was in that position long enough for that kind of vessel damage to occur.
There are signs of asphyxiation, notes Harrow. “Perhaps her throat is obstructed,” Harrow tells Grace. Despite there being external signs of asphyxiation, Grace confirms the jaw is still intact and there are no external signs of her having been choked.
Significant Health Issues…
On closer examination of the mouth and throat, Harrow finds a significant amount of scar tissue. “Frequent and violent vomiting,” Harrow suggests, is the cause of the scar tissue. Grace said that she has seen such scar tissue in bulimia sufferers. Bulimia is a serious eating disorder. It is marked by binge eating and forced vomiting to control weight gain. Stomach acid explains the extensive scar tissue in the mouth and throat. It also explains the damage to Taylor’s teeth.
“I’ve seen better livers in 50-year-old alcoholics,” Harrow tells Grace. Grace’s response prompts the forensic pathologist to tell her “I’m not 50 and my liver might have a few dents but not like this.”
While Taylor might have had tumours in her organs, Grace clarifies to her supervisory pathologist, “the organs themselves should not be damaged.”
There is no brain tumour. “With VHL Syndrome,” Grace correctly observes, “there should be tumours in her brain, on her spine and even her eyes.” There is nothing. Did Taylor’s alternative theory work? According to Grace’s findings, there is no evidence of a brain tumour.
“I’d like to know how Taylor ever got a cancer diagnosis in the first place,” Harrow said to Grace.
At St. Catherine’s Hospital…
When Harrow visits the hospital where Taylor got her cancer diagnosis, Dr Sally Peterson (Ling Cooper Tang) confirms to the forensic pathologist the patient presented with symptoms of dizziness and headaches three years ago. “She was terrified she had a brain tumour,” the doctor said. Nothing the doctor could say would convince her otherwise.
The reason conventional medicine could not treat her condition is that she did not have a condition for conventional medicine to treat. Even though the doctor tried to follow up with Taylor, Danica would not allow Peterson anywhere near her.
At Danica’s Office…
Danica is feigns surprise when Harrow tells her Taylor never had a brain tumour. All scans were negative for the presence of a brain tumour. In a letter from Peterson dated 28 July 2016, the doctor confirms “CT and MRI scans display no traces of a brain tumour, past or present.” Even though Taylor refused to accept the doctor’s conclusions, Danica blames Conner for the business folding.
In Lyle’s Office…
When Harrow finds Lyle has completed the autopsy, he immediately goes to his office to ask him if he ran the test for Succinylcholine. Speaking from a hypothetical perspective to Harrow, Lyle confirms a body that has been in a significant fire would not be a candidate for the testing of something in such slight traces as Succinylcholine.
Harrow Places a Call to Badcoe…
Harrow calls Badcoe in the hopes that the senior pathologist might see that there is a possibility the body he autopsied was not Chester. Who, if it were not Chester, could the body have belonged to? When he gets nowhere with Badcoe, later in the episode, Harrow places a call to Deputy Coroner Doug Hinton (Hugh Parker).
Harrow leaves a message on Doug’s voicemail pertaining to a sensitive matter. While the forensic pathologist does not specify in the message what that sensitive matter is, the likelihood of it not being the exhumation of Francis Chester’s body is remote.
Almost as soon as he hangs up from leaving a message on Doug’s voicemail, Harrow receives a call from the Adult Woman’s Remand Centre. The woman calling Harrow asks if he will accept a call from Fern Harrow. Fern tells her father, she’s fine, but the marks around her right eye indicate she has already been in a fight with someone in the facility.
Taylor’s Oncologist Visits QIFM…
Peterson provides Harrow with a vital clue which helps him wrap up the case. Harrow realises the letter from Peterson he saw in the files must not have been there until after Taylor’s death because she would have known about it. The only way the letter could have gotten into the files is if Danica put it there. Because all mail went through Danica to Taylor, the likelihood of Taylor having seen it is slim.
When Taylor went back to the oncologist, she discovered the truth about her diagnosis. Even though Danica had a lot to lose if Taylor had gone public over the fraud, the manager has a solid alibi for the time of Taylor’s death. When Harrow speaks with Bryan, the detective confirms Danica was at a management meeting all morning. “Five other people confirm she was there,” Bryan said to Harrow. Any theories Harrow may have had pertaining to the manager being the killer are now dust.
Once again, Harrow was correct. Taylor had been smothered. The person that smothered Taylor was someone that had been using cannabis. Conner takes the blame for smothering Taylor Ford. “Why’s he going to cop to 15-years jail for a murder he did not commit?” Bryan asks Harrow and Grace. While the question was rhetorical, the detective sparks in Harrow a sudden revelation. Consequently, Harrow rushes to his office to retrieve vital evidence before the cleaning crew can trash it. Harrow arrives in his office in the nick of time. Spreading the trash out on his desk, Harrow finds the piece of evidence he needs. Rebecca’s fingerprints are clearly visible.
Rebecca Killed Taylor…
When Rebecca last visited Taylor to pick up a new supply of MFL, she discovered everything she was told was a lie. Because of Danica concealing the doctor’s letter from Taylor, and Taylor not knowing that she never had cancer, Rebecca was angry and subsequently killed her. During an argument, Rebecca accidentally pushes Taylor down the staircase. If Rebecca had dialled 911 and called for an ambulance, Taylor would still be alive. Rebecca didn’t call for an ambulance because of her anger. Instead of dialling 911, Rebecca murdered Taylor. After killing Taylor, Rebecca deletes the confession video.
After Speaking with Doug Hinton…
When Harrow finally gets to speak with the deputy coroner, Doug says if he can get Chester’s mother (Heather Mitchell) to sign off on the exhumation order, the order will be granted because there are too many coincidences. Chester’s mother goes by the name Louise Whitehall. Louise is a professor of criminology at a local academic institution.
Harrow tells Louise he does not believe her son is dead. Consequently, he wants Chester’s body exhumed so that a formal identification can be confirmed. Louise refuses to give permission to have Chester exhumed. Consequently, because Harrow cannot think of any other way to get what he needs, the forensic pathologist forged Maxine’s signature.
It does not take long for Maxine to discover what Harrow has done. Consequently, because Harrow forged Maxine’s signature, she walks into his office and effectively suspends him. Consequently, Harrow has no choice but to leave the building. Is this the end of Harrow’s career as a forensic pathologist? The anger on Maxine’s face is readily apparent. Maxine is responsible for destroying evidence. What would Harrow say about what Maxine did?
Laurie Looks Over His Files…
When Laurie asks Rhonda Roberts (Neveen Hanna) about the prison fire, she confirms there was another death the same day. It was an old inmate. The cause of death was apparently a heart attack. He was in the shower block when he died. When Laurie asks Rhonda about whether she was the one that brought the body into the morgue, she looks apprehensive. Laurie’s facial expression suggests he is questioning his own results.
The Tail End of the Episode…
Desperate measures all for desperate actions. In the closing minutes of the episode, we find Harrow beginning to dig up Francis Andrew Chester’s body himself. With no other options open to him, Harrow is out of choices.