“Janet King” recap (2.1): Ashes to Ash

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Well, here we are again. Again again again again. We’re returning to Janet King, a show I couldn’t praise enough last season, but we’re also returning to news we are all very tired of hearing: another queer female character on television has died.

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I’m going to go light on plot in this recap because I want to focus on the main issue, and because Janet King’s season tend to be a bit Byzantine and we’re about to have a whole season to untangle them.

So. It’s Australia Day. People are happy, because people are complex, intelligent creatures capable of understanding their country’s problematic racial history while simultaneously enjoying fireworks. The music is a minor-key cover of “Don’t Dream It’s Over,” a plea for optimism in a broken world. Amidst the merrymaking, a laughing couple pulls over on a dark street. The man exits the car just as a pair of headlights appears. In a moment, he is shot dead, and his female companion flees.

51af9a21-c73b-4ff7-809a-461eadbb97a8OH MY GOD, TODD! YOU WERE A LESBIAN??

First on the scene is Andy Campbell, who you will remember from last season as the cop who maintained an astonishing 0.000 batting average when it came to solving mysteries. But he’s respectful to Janet and married to Lina, so we let him stay.

The dead man is (was) Todd WhoCaresLearnItLater, and the woman in the car with him was not his wife, but a bartender he was giving a ride to. Todd’s wife would like some more info on that situation.

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Todd’s death makes him the 19th person to be murdered in southwest Australia in the last year, a situation so dire that the government feels they must take drastic action. We’ll get deeper into the gun control angle later this season, but it’s worth pausing to note how jarring it is, as an American viewer, to hear that there is a number, any number, that a government feels is unacceptably high for gun deaths, much less 19. And that the government would then feel it was incumbent upon them to do something about it? Whoa, whoa, whoa. Slow down, Australia. Have you even tried the American method of making preschoolers wear bulletproof backpacks?

Of course, the government brings in Janet King to head a royal commission to stop the illegal guns.

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