“Janet King” recap (1.3): Janet (Madam Crown if you’re nasty).


Previously on Janet King, the police’s working theory was that Steven Blakely—a man of Rob Ford-ian proportions—was murdered and thrown off a cliff by little old lady Dianne Vaslich and her son the male nurse. Janet King, beautiful, elegant greyhound of justice, felt that the police’s case would be greatly strengthened by the inclusion of some evidence. Detective Rizzoli, growling bulldog, responded by throwing a tantrum and refusing to stop screaming until Janet prosecuted the case. In other news, Owen pressured a witness to testify against a gang of bikies and then she got shot outside the courthouse (YES I KNOW THIS WAS NOT TECHNICALLY OWEN’S FAULT; IT IS JUST SATISFYING TO BLAME HIM FOR THINGS.)

When we catch up a few minutes after the shooting, Erin is shaken but uninjured, but the witness is dead. Owen approaches Erin like “Hey sorry you got blood on you I’m sure that was traumatic but would you mind helping identify the shooters?” That is how quickly he gets back to business: it is a run-on sentence with his empathy. But he does insist on going after the bikie gang himself to avenge Erin’s trauma (no one really seems to care much that the witness is dead). Erin cares though, and feels a truckload of survivor’s guilt mixed up with her terror and dismay at the outfit Lina picked out to replace her blood-soaked clothes.

JanetKing3.1 Ooh girl, this day is just getting worse and worse for you.

Janet is so busy consoling Erin that she doesn’t even notice that Ash has sent her 50 S.O.S. texts in the past hour. If you’re keeping track of the narrative arc here, you’ve noticed that Janet has been ever more frequently emotionally distant or just absent from her marriage and family since returning to work. Anyway, Ash was calling her because their son ran in front a swing and gashed his forehead. Ash was distracted because she got an e-mail with a job offer and she was thrilled to feel like an adult for a moment.


I love this scene because both actors are so deft at playing a range of emotions. For Janet that is sympathy, a soft reproach at her wife, and also guilt that she gets to be the one being a grown-up every day. For Ash it is remorse, shame, and an ever-growing feeling of profound loneliness.

In the bikie case, Erin identifies the shooter by the distinctive spider tattoo on his hand (really, man? You wore a helmet but you couldn’t wear gloves?) Under pressure, he cracks and turns in his associate, the much-scarier Tony.

Next stop in Janet’s never-ending day is a meeting with Andy and Rizzoli, in which she suggests that the Dianne Vaslich case might have a better chance of working if they reduce the charge to manslaughter. The cops respond by howling, banging their fists on the floor, and pulling out their hair, because they have A Lot Of Feelings.

Even when Janet goes home she can’t get a break. When she innocently suggests that maybe they should get a nanny, Ash is mortally offended. It doesn’t help when Janet also mumbles “and if you could please check the pockets of my jeans before you wash them, that would be great.” And then Ash is like, “OK, FINE. I SEE THIS HAS TURNED IN TO A REFERENDUM ON MY MOTHERING AND HOUSEKEEPING. I’M SORRY YOU COULDN’T GET YOU FIRST CHOICE OF SPOUSES, ROSIE FROM THE JETSONS.”


And even though she is technically wrong, I sympathize with Ash, because being with someone who is good at everything is fucking exhausting. Also, Ash’s inferior laundry technique gives Janet an idea: to check the pockets of the coat Dianne Vaslich was wearing the night of Blakely’s disappearance. (Seriously, no one thought of that before? I don’t want to be rude, but do the TV police in Australia need some help? We have a ton of cop shows so I’m sure we could spare a few officers.)

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