Nemesis is the fourth episode of the third series of Agatha Christie's Marple and the last episode featuring Geraldine McEwan as Miss Marple. It was broadcast on ITV by Granada Television on 1 January 2009. The screenplay was written by Stephen Churchett and the episode was directed by Nicolas Winding Refn. It was an adaptation of the Agatha Christie novel of the same name.

Synopsis

Miss Marple is called upon to solve her most perplexing case yet. Upon his death, financier John Rafiel asks her to solve a murder. Only problem is that the murder may or may not have place as yet and the victim is unknown. All that he has given her is two tickets on the Daffodil Tour Company's Mystery Tour. It soon becomes obvious that others on the tour were also "selected" by Mr. Rafiel. Jane Marple, assisted by her nephew Raymond West, concludes that the case must be related to that of Verity Hunt, a young woman who in 1939 was running away from an overattentive landlord and eventually disappeared. When a member of the tour dies mysteriously, she also realizes that someone is desperate to keep a deep, dark secret.

Comparison with the original story

(may contain spoilers - click on expand to read)

  • Nemesis was only very loosely based on the novel, and has very little to do with the original Christie story. Only a few plot elements have been retained:
    • Mr Rafiel has died and asks Miss Marple to investigate an injustice and/or a possible crime. And this involves his son Michael and Verity Hunt. Here there is no backstory about the events of "A Caribbean Mystery", Mr Rafiel is simply an old friend of Miss Marple. Mr Rafiel does say she must once again be "Nemesis" but the antecedent is not stated.
    • Miss Marple is sent on a coach tour arranged by Mr Rafiel. In this case, everyone appears to have something to do with the case, and also appears to have obtained the tickets through Mr Rafiel's arrangements by different means. Most the passengers have different names and backstories compared with the original. Only Sister Clotilde Merryweather has a name and role which parallels the original.
    • As things turn out, Verity Hunt has a very different backstory. But like in the original, she was killed because she had chosen to leave someone who loved her. The denouement has some similarities to the original. The killer Sister Clotilde tries to kill Miss Marple with a poisoned cup of cocoa. Miss Marple avoids this and confronts her, forcing her to confess after which she kills herself.

Plot Summary

Miss Marple's friend, Jason Rafiel has died. In his will he has a small legacy for her and some instructions, delivered by a gramophone voice recording: he asks her to solve a possible crime and right a possible wrong but gives no further details beyond attaching tickets for two for the "Daffodil Mystery Bus tour".

With her nephew Raymond West, Miss Marple embarks on the tour which is mysterious in more ways than one. Most of the passengers, from diverse backgrounds seem to have links with one another. Characteristically, Miss Marple attempts to learn more from each of them. Most of them seem to have obtained tickets by chance or through some fortuitous source. At the first stop, Forrester Grange, one of the passengers, Laurence Raeburn is very unsettled. Too many coincidences, he tells Miss Marple. He used to be the butler of Lord Forrester who owns the grange. Amanda Dalrymple, another passenger on the tour is the heiress, expects to inherit when the ailing Lord Forrester dies. Laurence Raeburn tells Miss Marple he got the ticket for the tour from one Amos Flaire, who claims to know him but he does not remember him at all. Miss Marple later discovers that Flaire is an anagram for "Rafiel". The tour of Forrester Grange is brought to an abrupt halt when Amanda Dalrymple spots a photo of a woman. She loses her temper, smashes the photo and tells everyone to leave--she owns the grange or soon will be.

Next stop is Medhurst near the scenic Bonaventure Rocks. Another clue falls in place when a young German tourist Michael Faber, a former Luftwaffe pilot, tells Miss Marple that he is Michael Rafiel, Jason's son. He has negative feelings for his father but doesn't say why. Later that first night, Laurence Raeburn suffers an accidental fall down the stairs. Looking up the stairs, he calls out "Verity". A blonde woman on the tour, Mrs Lumley replies that she is not Verity but Margaret.

Next morning Raeburn is discovered dead. The local policeman, Detective Constable Colin Hards does not think a postmortem is needed because Raeburn had a heart condition. Hards is a budding author and fan of Raymon West's books. Miss Marple persuades Raymond to peruse Hard's "jottings" and give him some tips. Now on Colin's good side, Miss Marple persuades him to order a postmortem.

Over breakfast, Miss Marple mentions how Raeburn had called out "Verity" and this sparks conversation. It seems many on the tour are linked to her. Amanda Dalrymple admits Verity was the woman in the photo at the Grange--a housemaid's daughter but was caught stealing and dismissed. Mr Lumley, husband of Margaret, next admits that Verity lodged with him in his house at Kilburn but she then left, owing him money. Two nuns on the tour, Sister Agnes and Sister Clotilde challenge this. Verity had found Lumley overly attentive and ran away. She took refuge in their convent at St. Elspeth's and became a novice. And then there is the German pilot, Michael Faber. Sister Agnes tells Miss Marple later that she knows his real name is Michael Rafiel. He was shot down near the convent. The nuns found him and harboured him without declaring him to the authorities. Gradually Michael and Verity who was nursing him fell in love and they arranged to run away together. Sisters Agnes and Clotilde persuade her to pray and change her mind, which she apparently did but then she disappeared at about the same time Michael escaped. She must have met him to tell him she had changed her mind and he must have killed her in a fit of rage.

The tough going at the Bonaventure Rocks causes many to split up. Some make their way back individually to the hotel. Later, the tour learns that Mrs Rowena Waddy, the wife of an injured soldier Captain Martin Waddy did not return. She had fallen down and died from the top of a high point on the Bonaventure Rocks. Raymond West had seen a man run up to the rock in a overcoat and hat. Colin Hards, Miss Marple and Raymond West question the guests and more facts emerge. Captain Waddy said that for many years he had been haunted by a name "Verity" and cannot understand why. Amanda Dalrymple admits Verity was fathered by Lord Forrester. When Verity turned 21, he changed his will to favour her, which upset and angered Amanda. But in any case, Verity had disappeared, and after 7 years, Amada had her legally declared dead.

That night, Sydney and Margaret Lumley try to leave the inn but the mysterious tour guide Georgina Barrow has locked the door. She rouses everyone and plays a recording from Jason Rafiel in which he tells everyone that they must stay with the tour to the next stop.

This turns out to be St. Elspeth's convent. Here the bus mysteriously breaks down and Georgina Barrow announces that they must spend the night in the derelict convent buildings. While unloading the bags, one breaks open. Inside is the ivercoat and hat Raymond West had seen at Bonaventure Rocks and a book in Michael Faber's name. Colin Hards promptly arrests Michael and locks him in the bus. However he escapes that night and takes Amanda Dalrymple hostage. He wants her to confess to killing Verity--but she protests that she cannot because Verity is still alive! Amanda explains that she had received a letter from Margaret Lumley claiming to be Verity, but she would keep quiet if Amanda paid her off. Amanda had sent Derek Turnbull to check Verity's identity and he confirmed it. But it turns out that Margaret was an imposter, coached to answer questions about Verity by Sydney Lumley. Turnbull saw through Margaret but betrayed Amanda by agreeing to allow the deception if Margaret would come to his room and "do things for him". But this still leaves the mystery of what happened to the real Verity. Miss Marple tells everyone the picture will be clearer the next morning.

Just like in the original novel, Clotilde brings Miss Marple a hot cup of cocoa, but Miss Marple wisely avoids it. Later, Miss Marple confronts Clotilde in the convent chapel. In a cleverly staged denouement Miss Marple explains that when Raeburn called out to Verity, it was not because he saw Margaret Lumley (who does look like Verity), but because Clotilde was next to her. She was wearing a locket which Raeburn had given to Verity and which she had promised in a letter to him to wear forever. Clotilde insists there is no proof but now Margaret Lumley appears dressed up as Verity in a nun's habit. Clotilde breaks down and confesses. Like in the original novel, Clotilde killed Verity because she loved her and could not bear the idea of her leaving for Michael. Clotilde then wrapped Verity's body in bandages and pretended that body was that of an unidentified badly wounded at the convent. Verity's body is buried in the grave for the unknown soldier. Meanwhile, Clotilde had to get rid of the unidentified soldier. This she did by bringing him to a grieving widow Rowena Waddy who could not accept that her husband Martin was missing at Dunkirk. The unidentified soldier, all wrapped in bandages is thus returned to Rowena as Martin, even though he was someone else. Having explained everything, Clotilde then kills herself.

Cast

Mentioned

Tropes and Themes

Filming Locations

Research notes

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References

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