1/10: The Blue Cross

Midnight mass and the mysterious handkerchief.

It was a curious opening. There were menacing cackles by moonlight … then it turned out that was just Father Brown listening to the wireless. But! A mystery note is dropped through the letterbox. ‘To catch a thief,’ it reads, ‘Look to the cross.’

Well, that’s a red rag to a bull.

It turns out that not only is there an international criminal mastermind on the loose (Hrithik? Aamir?) but that a certain sleepy Catholic church houses a priceless artefact: the blue cross. And, our perfect thief wants to play cat and mouse with Father Brown.

Yes, the set-up is rather tiresome (as will later be the thief’s dialogue). But it does make for an entertaining romp as Father Brown decides to flush the thief … by wrapping the cross in a brown package and taking it on a train ride. By the time it gets to four men playing pass the parcel in a carriage cubicle, we know that one of them is the thief in disguise.

Father Brown does indeed rumble the wrong ‘un. But, criminal masterminds with pistols are more than a match for priests with umbrellas.

With the blue cross lost and Father Brown’s railway hijinks rather to blame, the bishop descendeth. Uh-oh, basically. Though Father Brown gets his marching orders from the parish, there’s a second series to come so it’s obviously not going to really happen. Though, the crisis does afford Mrs McCarthy ample opportunities to pronounce ‘thief’ like ‘teef‘.

This is when things do get a little on the silly side, because the thief keeps coming back, apparently motivated by a feverishly scripted desire for priestly absolution. Or just to fill out 49 minutes and add an excuse for a torture scene. Of course, he’s French, which takes the series out on a final note of never trusting a foreigner. (See also: Susie burning the chops.)

Things learnt this episode:

  • Never trust a foreigner.
  • The possibilities for making cryptic cross references are endless.
  • Pinching a bike is a childhood gateway to a life of crime and international intrigue.
  • A moustache confuses the memory.
  • Don’t worry about the bishop.