As the Christmas special begins, Sidney Chambers (James Norton) tries to prepare a group of kids for the upcoming Christmas play. It quickly goes awry when the kids lose interest. Outside, we see locals collecting Christmas trees and Geordie’s children peering through the window of Tannen’s Toyshop. Sidney and Leonard Finch (Al Weaver) fail miserably to get their tree decorated. Geordie (Robson Green) is forced to distract Cathy (Kacey Ainsworth) and prevent her from bringing home a new television. Geordie and Sidney meet at the local bar. There, Geordie dumps all of his grievances on his old pal. Leonard joins them seconds later and reveals he has assumed the responsibility of preparing the kids for the Christmas Nativity. Their attention turns to Sidney and his situation, but he refuses to open up about it.
Sidney pays a visit to Amanda Hopkins (Morven Christie). He finds her decorating a Christmas tree. When Aunt Cece (Anna Chancellor) turns her back, Sidney gets a quick smooch in. As Sidney makes his exit, Cece once again goes over the house rules of no canoodling. She expresses concerns that the house staff is beginning to catch on. Seconds later, guests begin arrive at the church for an upcoming wedding. Felix Davis (Enzo Cilenti) enters and makes it clear he isn’t happy with the arrangement. Larry Simpkins (Terence Maynard) admits to Sidney that the bride still hasn’t arrived. Eventually, Linda Morgan (Maime McCoy) arrives. She begs for time for a cigarette, before learning her soon to be husband hasn’t arrived yet. Once they learn he isn’t coming, Sidney tries to comfort Linda outside. Felix joins them and quickly makes matter worse.
Linda gives him a hard slap across the face. Geordie, Sidney and Felix visit Bill’s place of work. They find the place ransacked and Bill dead on the ground. Sidney confronts Linda at the church. She references the detectives’ assumptions that it was a break-in gone wrong. She also admits nobody wanted them to be together. She suggests Sidney could personally sympathize with their situation. She also confesses the couple intended to escape on a cruise from Southampton on Christmas Eve. Back at home, Mrs. Maguire (Tessa Peake-Jones) prepares a ton of food, while simultaneously arguing with Sidney about his relationship choice. Meanwhile, Geordie scours over the crime scene. He also discusses Bill and Linda’s relationship with Felix. Bill’s son admits his father bought Linda whatever she wanted.
He confirms it was never enough for Linda. Geordie spots scratches on the door, while Felix reveals his dad usually kept 300 in single notes. At the station, Felix adamantly tells the detective that Linda killed his father. However, Geordie learns that Felix had keys to the property, as well as the safe. Felix claims he tried to protect his father from Linda. Next, Geordie goes over the evidence with Sidney. He suspects Bill made the scratches, while being threatened with something. Sidney displays a newspaper revealing Linda Morgan is a widow. They concur she looks much different as a brunette. Felix learns about Linda’s previous marriage seconds later. He exclaims that they knew nothing about her. Sidney makes a reference to a country club, where the couple supposedly met. Felix quickly confirms, but also explains the club has nothing to do with the country.
Sidney and Geordie visit the club only to learn it is a strip club. They speak with another dancer, who suggests Linda was different from the other girls. She confesses Linda profusely spoke about Bill and their relationship together. Shortly thereafter, Linda takes to the stage. She breaks down and flees backstage. Sidney and Geordie follow. They overhear Larry giving her a hard time. Sidney spots glamorous photographs on Linda’s wall, as she explains Bill was different from the other patrons. She also admits she needs to start again and avoid looking back. Back at home, Mrs. Maguire and Sidney get a visit from Amanda. Mrs. Maguire does not attempt to hide her discomfort with the situation. Once in private, Amanda asks Sidney how their relationship is going to work. Sidney dares Amanda to call her father. Meanwhile, Geordie sends Phil Wilkinson (Lorne MacFadyen) into the club to collect evidence.
Geordie rolls up his window, so he doesn’t have to hear the Christmas carolers nearby. Larry continues harassing Linda. Amanda tells Sidney goodbye, before departing. Mrs. Maguire spots her outside and gives her a gift. Amanda explains that it was Maguire’s words that gave her the courage to act on her feelings. Phil stumbles out of the club drunk. Geordie watches as Larry tries to steal his wallet. That gives Geordie enough to take him to the station. In the interrogation room, Geordie quickly accuses Larry of killing Bill Davis. Larry admits he isn’t perfect, but denies killing anyone. Geordie refuses to believe the alibi provided by Larry’s girls. Larry suggests delving deeper into Bill’s son, Felix. Larry suggests Felix might’ve wanted to step out of his daddy’s shadow. Next, Geordie shows Sidney two rings found stuffed in Bill’s mouth.
Then, Geordie reveals a very similar murder occurred on Christmas of 1946. They were never able to find Charlie Parsons’ killer at the time. Geordie explains that Albert Tannen (Julian Glover) was their primary suspect. The man’s daughter was pregnant and had planned to marry Charlie. Albert wasn’t willing to accept it. While Albert was arrested and questioned, the charges never stuck. They visit the man’s toyshop seconds later. Albert is asked for an alibi for Friday night. During this time, a young boy, Neville Grant (Frankie Fox), peers through the window. The troublemaker is quickly rushed away. Then, Albert admits they tried to ruin his life once before. He suggests they have proof this time. After they leave, they quickly visit Albert’s daughter, Gail (Mariah Gale). She is told about the new murder. Gail quickly accuses her father. Her daughter, Jessica (Lexie Benbow-Hart), is escorted out of the room.
Gail admits her father has no heart. Geordie tells Sidney about the prior murder. Afterwards, Sidney visits Albert alone and confesses he believes Albert to be innocent. Neville returns again and throws firecrackers in the shop. Sidney chases the kids and is surprised to find Jessica among them. She is returned to the shop. Albert gives Jessica a teddy bear. Sidney walks her home and agrees not to tell Gail. He also learns that they visit the shop everyday. However, Albert wasn’t there last Friday. Back at home, Geordie’s daughter asks what a womb is, before Cathy unveils their new television. Geordie isn’t happy and suggests taking it back immediately. Sidney delivers the new evidence to Geordie seconds later.
They visit the shop together and find a bloodied Albert on the floor. A note reading “confess” is found nearby. Edward Kendall (Pip Torrens) finally arrives and meets with Amanda. It is clear he is not happy at all. He admits Guy would accept Amanda back, but she has no intention of returning. He encourages her to apologize. She refuses. Edward leaves with haste. Sidney and Geordie speak with Gail. She is asked about having keys to the toyshop. She insists she wasn’t involved. Before they leave, Gail gives the teddy bear back to Sidney and tells him to stay away from Jessica. Geordie and Sidney contemplate the case, but are no closer to finding the culprit. They all meet at the church for the Nativity. It turns out to be a major disaster. Amanda decides to leave her aunt’s house.
Geordie and Sidney speak with Neville. The boy admits he liked his job, but was fired unexpectedly by Albert. He also confesses to writing the confess note, because he had heard the rumors about his old boss. Once they return to Albert’s shop, they find a tool, which they believe could’ve made the scratches on the door. Albert is immediately taken down to the police station. Meanwhile, Amanda cannot find a place to stay. She sits on a bench in the snow. Leonard joins her seconds later. They sit down and discuss their current woes. Amanda pretends she needs to catch a train. Leonard calls her out on the lie and demands she return home with him. At that seconds, Amanda goes into labor. She is escorted home, where Mrs. Maguire tries to get things under control. Geordie and Sidney speak with Felix and Linda at the station. They confirm Tannen is in custody for Bill’s murder.
After that, Phil enters and tells Sidney about the situation. Leonard informs Maguire and Amanda that the doctor and midwife are both out of town. With that, Maguire insists she’ll preside over the birth. Sidney arrives home and finds Amanda in the bed upstairs. He is escorted out. Geordie and Sidney listen to jazz and drink whiskey. Eventually, Sidney rushes out. Geordie follows with alcohol in hand. Sidney admits he is worried about the future. Geordie convinces him that everything will be fine. Once they return home, Geordie passes out on the couch. Sidney looks through old photographs and something clicks. He wakes up Geordie and exclaims that someone spurned carried out the murders. He insists it has to be the redhead, Linda. Leonard rushes downstairs for a drink, before we hear the baby cry from upstairs.
Sidney enters. Amanda speaks to Grace and tells her that Sidney is one of the good ones. In the morning, Sidney sits with the baby, while telling her about Bechet. Geordie and his comrades head for the club to pick up Linda. Sidney realizes that the woman has likely already fled. He calls the station and informs Margaret Ward (Seline Hizli). Linda is captured after boarding a bus. Geordie questions her. He insists Linda put the rings in the men’s mouths as an act of anger for their disappointment. He eventually learns Linda to be with his friends and family. Later, Geordie takes Jessica and Gail to see Albert. The Christmas party begins. Amanda admits she is concerned for the future. Sidney takes her under the mistletoe for a kiss and reassurance.
The Christmas special of Grantchester was great. It followed up with the previous season and delved deeper into the budding relationship between Amanda and Sidney. We also learned that Sidney has seemingly agreed to care for Guy’s child, who was born in this episode. The murder case was very similar to Sidney’s own situation. It took a lot of effort, but Sidney and Geordie managed to solve the crime. In doing so, they set Albert Tannen free from suspicion and reunited him with his daughter and granddaughter.
The episode had the perfect combination of intrigue, emotion and humor. Now, I cannot wait to get started on the 3rd season. The Christmas special scores a 9 out of 10. Catch up with previous recaps of Grantchester right away!