In the second season’s penultimate episode, the Declan Eames directed ‘Facilis Descensus,’ we saw Fern Harrow (Ella Newton) kidnapped by Francis Chester (Grant Bowler). ‘Pater Familias’ brings the second season to a close. In the second season finale, Dr Daniel Harrow (Ioan Gruffudd) comes face-to-face with his greatest fears as Chester initiates the endgame.

“Harrow” promotional poster. Image Credit: IMDb

SPOILER ALERT: If you have yet to see the ‘Harrow’ second season finale, stop reading now. There are spoilers ahead.

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The second season finale begins with a flashback to one year ago. A letter arrives at the Chester residence informing Dr Maurice Chester (Patrick Frost) and Louise Chester (Heather Mitchell) that their son, Francis, had lost his final appeal for a stay of execution. While the doctor sits at the dining room table comfortably with his soup, Louise cannot stomach it and consequently pushes her bowl away from her.

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We do not immediately get the significance of a closeup of the Monk’s Hood in the garden until later in the episode. Cue opening credits…

Even though it was Francis Chester that almost caused Callan Prowd (Hunter Page-Lochard) death, only Fern Harrow (Ella Newton) believes Harrow when he says that Chester is still alive. What does the forensic pathologist have to do to convince everyone around him Chester is not dead?

When Det Bryan Nichols (Damien Garvey) tells Harrow his daughter’s moped is parked across the road from the hospital, Harrow begins to suspect Fern is missing. As Harrow leaves the hospital, Stephanie Tolson (Anna Lise Phillips) is arriving at the front entrance to the building. Harrow tells her to say on Bryan until he can find something which proves Chester is still alive.

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Later, at the hospital, Superintendent Crowley (Virginie Laverdure) arrives to speak with Bryan about Harrow. Even though the detective is not completely convinced himself, Bryan was not been able to convince Crowley that Chester is still alive. The superintendent believes the forensic pathologist has gone off the rails. Consequently, a psychiatric hold has been ordered for Harrow. The superintendent assures Bryan that Harrow will get all the help he needs at Southside.

At the Department of Health…

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Across town, at the Department of Health, Harrow is posing as Dr Fairley to acquire information pertaining to Chester’s dental records. The Admin Clerk (Shanay De Marco) provides the fake Fairley with the information he needs. The documentation clearly references Dr Harry Briggs (Marty Rhone) as the Chester family dentist.

The real Dr Lyle Fairley (Darren Gilshenan) is attending an emergency medical tribunal with QIFM (Queensland Institute of Forensic Medicine) Director Maxine Pavich (Robyn Malcolm) to determine Harrow’s future as a forensic pathologist.

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Meanwhile, at QIFM, Dr Grace Molyneux (Jolene Anderson) is wanting DNA samples for Francis Chester sent to her but it is taking too much time. When Edwina Gharam (Faustina Agolley) arrives, she immediately asks the trainee pathologist if she has checked her email. Grace is surprised to discover the police are looking for Harrow.

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There is an involuntary treatment order out for him. Consequently, anyone that sees Harrow is supposed to call security immediately.

The Tribunal…

At the tribunal, Maxine is giving testimony. While Doug Hinton (Hugh Parker) notes the QIFM director has brought with her significant documentation to support Harrow, it seems from the questioning, Maxine’s position as the QIFM director is every bit as much in jeopardy as Harrow’s position as a forensic pathologist.

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When it comes to Lyle’s turn to speak in front of the medical board, the forensic pathologist defends Harrow’s actions. Without Harrow as a forensic pathologist, in Lyle’s words, “I can’t tell you what to do. But I can say this. If you take away that doctor’s ability to do his job, we’ll all be the poorer for it.”

Later, in Harrow’s absence, the medical board arrives at “the unanimous decision to recommend to the Board of Forensic Surgeons that Dr Daniel Harrow be struck immediately from the register.”

At the Police Station…

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Stephanie is concerned for the whereabouts of her daughter, Fern, but cannot seem to convince Bryan that she is in danger. The detective is more focused on locating Harrow than he is with the possibility Fern has been kidnapped.

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Consequently, because of Stephanie’s outburst in his office, Bryan visits the Chester residence. While it initially looks like Louise is simply ignoring the detective by not answering the door, after Bryan leaves his business card at the door, we soon discover Chester is in the dining room with his mother and Fern. Fern is seated in the same chair Chester’s father was a year earlier when he received a letter telling him his son’s final appeal had been rejected.

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At the Dentist’s Office…

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At the Dentist’s office, Harrow finds the evidence he needs to convince everyone Chester is still alive. Chester’s dental records do not match the ones for the burned body.

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Later, as Grace enters her QIFM office, Harrow is immediately behind the door. He tells his trainee he has something he needs to show her. Consequently, they must go to his office, immediately next door, to see what it is the forensic pathologist’s new information.

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Unbeknownst to either Harrow or Grace, Lab Assistant Julie Sewell (Ellie Popov) sees them enter Harrow’s office. Julie, by following the directive in the email pertaining to Harrow, brings to Harrow’s office Security Guard Glen (Nicholas Cooper).

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As Glen opens the door to view inside Harrow’s office, the forensic pathologist is seated directly in plain view. When Glen says, “OK, you are right,” a smug expression crosses Julie’s face, but this soon disappears when the security guard says, “He’s not in there!”

Seriously? Who calls their cat Fuzznuts? Harrow apparently saved Glen’s cat when he gave mouth-to-mouth to it. The security guard evidently felt her owed the forensic pathologist a favour.

When Grace returns to Harrow’s office, Harrow tells her he must go but he insists that she show the dental record to Bryan. This might convince the detective Harrow is telling the truth.

On Bryan’s arrival at QIFM, when the detective asks the trainee pathologist where Harrow is, she says that she let him go. As Harrow requested, Grace shows Bryan the dental records. They do not all match the ones for the burned body.

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Chester Has Harrow…

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While Grace is away from Harrow’s office, Harrow answers the phone on his desk. It’s Chester. Chester wants Harrow to meet him at the front of the building. With the threat of not knowing what happens to Fern, Harrow meets with Chester. The forensic pathologist gets into Chester’s car.

Later, in the car, Harrow tells Chester of the repeated mistakes he has made. Chester has made many mistakes, not killing Harrow with that one shot, killing Simon Van Reyk (Remy Hii) and kidnapping Fern.

The Truth Comes Out…

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Chester believes Harrow planted evidence which got him convicted. While Chester admits he used Succinylcholine for the boys, he contests at no time did he use Propofol. The reason for using Succinylcholine is readily apparent. Because there would be no substantial trace post-mortem, Chester knew there would be no evidence. Propofol is another matter.

With Propofol, a trace residue will be found during the post-mortem. The only reason police suspected Chester is that they found Propofol at his house. He used it to help his mother sleep. How did Harrow find Propofol in the liver tissue of the girls Chester killed? Because Harrow presented the evidence, it was Harrow that convinced the jury of Chester’s guilt.

All this time, while Chester has been blaming Harrow for planting evidence, the forensic pathologist was the patsy for something his superior did. Harrow was not the only person to work the case. Maxine planted the Propofol in the liver tissue for Harrow to find.

At the Chester Residence…

Outside the house, as Chester and Harrow approach the building, the forensic pathologist realises it must have been Louise that told her son about the exhumation. Harrow begs her to call the police, but she refuses. She tells him that it’s too late.

Later, after awakening from an injection of Propofol, Harrow is given an injection of Succinylcholine. Because Chester was in prison at the time of his father’s death, he blames Harrow because he did not get the opportunity to kill him himself. Harrow tells Chester that his father died of respiratory failure. When Chester asks why Harrow should mention his father’s cause of death, the forensic pathologist starts talking about the person that does the gardening. Who does the gardening at the Chester residence? That would be Louise.

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While Harrow saw the roses when Chester drove up to the house, the forensic pathologist also saw the Monk’s Hood. Aconitum napellus is the Latin name for the plant. It is also known as Wolfsbane. It is highly toxic

We now discover the reason Louise did not consume her soup was nothing to do with an apparent lack of appetite. It was because the soup was laced with Monk’s Hood. If ingested, its only post-mortem sign is asphyxia. Louise grew the Monk’s Hood so that she could kill Chester’s father. Chester becomes angry at his mother because she did not protect him when he as a kid. Francis shoots his mother.

Butyrylcholinesterase…

Because the effects of the Succinylcholine did not last as long with Harrow as it should have done, Chester correctly concludes the forensic pathologist took something to counteract the injection. It was BChE. BChE is Butyrylcholinesterase. Butyrylcholinesterase is a nonspecific cholinesterase enzyme that hydrolyses many different choline-based esters.

Later, Fern has a chance to kill Chester, but Harrow talks her out of it. The scene transitions to the police escorting Chester from the house in handcuffs. During Harrow’s last conversation with Chester, the forensic pathologist gives him a Mr Lincoln Rose. How did Chester not notice Harrow injecting with Propofol into his hand? Chester dies on route to the police station.

Simultaneous Discoveries…

While Bryan is reviewing camera footage taken from the helmet camera of a firefighter entering the hospital, Grace and Edwina are examining information sent to the QIFM from the National DNA Database. Bryan, Grace and Edwina all find evidence Harrow is telling the truth. Chester is alive.

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On the video footage, Bryan recognises Chester. Across town at the QIFM, Grace and Edwina find the DNA sample they are reviewing does not match the burned body. The body in the cold room is not Francis Chester.

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Bryan later apologies to Harrow for not believing him when he said that Chester was still alive.

Maxine’s Office…

Because of Edwina discovered sample slides missing, when Maxine returns from the tribunal, she finds Grace waiting for her in the office. Grace correctly observes the reason Chester was convicted is that Harrow found Propofol in the liver tissue of the female victims. Since there was Propofol in the liver tissue, there should have been Propofol found in brain tissue. The brain tissue samples are gone.

“I think someone at the trial discovered that Chester had been in possession of Propofol,” Grace tells Maxine. “So, that same someone added Propofol to the liver tissue samples to convict him. But they forgot to add it to the brain tissue. And when Harrow started poking around about Chester, that someone remembered those brain tissue samples. If they were found, it could all come unstuck. Impossible to alter them now, so … easier to just get rid of them and put their absence down to bad housekeeping.”

Harrow’s testimony in Chester’s original trial was the truth. He did find Propofol in the liver tissue of Chester’s female victims. The Propofol being there was not of Chester’s doing. That was entirely Maxine. Maxine desperately wanted a conviction; therefore, she planted the Propofol for Harrow to find.

Later, as Harrow enters Maxine’s Office, the QIFM director can be seen packing up her things in preparation for leaving her position. While Harrow insists that Maxine can’t leave, she tells him that she can’t stay.

The Body at the Shipyard…

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Even though the detective knows Harrow is on leave, Bryan calls the forensic pathologist in to investigate a body found at a shipyard. The emergency contact in the passport found on the body is Dr Daniel Harrow because the forensic pathologist is apparently the dead guy’s father.

Final Thoughts…

People like to see television productions which resonate with them on a personal level. One of the reasons Jessica Miller likes Harrow is that it’s set in Australia. Miller, a resident of Brisbane, has a double degree in a Bachelor of Journalism and Communications majoring in Public Relations from The University of Queensland.

The comment Miller tweeted to her Twitter account reflects the attitude of a lot of people. Australians, like Britons, New Zealanders and Canadians, prefer to spend their television viewing hours watching home-produced shows rather than imported productions.

My second thought pertains to the use of voicemails in the series. What is it with the characters not able to leave detailed voicemails? Valerie Leung nails the problem perfectly. Leung, a self-proclaimed television addict, is an accomplished Australian blogger. The Sydney resident took to Twitter to ask an important question.

“Why can’t people leave voicemails with the critical information on the message instead of just “call me back ASAP, it’s important”? If the information were that important, they would express it in the voicemail as concisely as possible so that the receiving party got the gist. In the episode where Chester confronts Simon Van Reyk (Remy Hii), Simon is seen leaving Harrow a “call me back” message. Fern did the same thing in ‘Facilis Descensus.’ Is getting to the point difficult?

Harrow was not able to speak with Simon because Chester kills him before Harrow realises there is voicemail message on his cell phone. Of course, as the blogger correctly notes, leaving more detailed messages would significantly shorten the case and there would not be a need for ten episodes.