List of Red Letters hidden in PBS Masterpiece Mystery Credits with Commentary !
A compilation of red letters in the closing credits in Masterpiece Theater's Masterpiece Mystery, a hidden message in each episode -- including these from: "Miss Scarlet and The Duke", "Annika", "Granchester", "Endeaver", "Sherlock", "Van Der Valk", "Unforgotten", and more. These are the ones I found; those mentioned by others are found at the bottom. Warning ! My commentary could spoil the plot . . .
- "Rachel" , the full, first name fingernail-scratched onto the wood floor by the lady in pink. She only managed 5 letters, but the credits bear all six in red.
- "Imagine", which is where my mind sits, drawing a blank for why this reference...
- "Pips", the pink phone's voice mail, sounding out a countdown of victims -- the first sounding a set of five.
- "The Woman", Sherlock's nom d'amour for Irene Adler.
- "Francis James Child" -- Episode 1, Season 2. Mr. Child is the 19th century author of a collection of English and Scottish ballads, with commentary. The work is now described as the "Child Ballads" -- a playful tie in to the story line, which revolves around children. In that collection of 305 ballads, number 113, "The Great Silkie of Sule Skerry", appears to be the ballad into which Annika's storyline tumbles as she contemplates disclosing to her male coworker his patrimony of her 16 y.o. daughter. The ballad, with variations, is the story of a seal who becomes a man when on land, meets a woman and snatches her son, and then predicts a sad ending. There is a version of this ballad set in Scandinavia,
and there are a slew of recordings
(see the Wikipedia entry.),
versions of the ballad by many well known artists. Thus, with each of the above tidbits, we have ties to the storyline and Annika's asides, inside the episode.
- " -- " -- Episode 2, Season 2. [I missed this one ... ]
- "Acrophobia" -- Episode 3, Season 2. The fear of heights. The only reference I caught was the penultimate chase, to the old quarry, where the suspect runs and is trapped by the cliff height above the water below. Annika does take a peak over the edge, her hand tethered to the arm of her accompanying police partner. Interestingly, this fear is a target within episode 4, where Annika is faced with a helicopter ride to the Islands of Jura and Islay.
- "Craighouse" -- Episode 4, Season 2. This is the main drag of Jura, the island of "choice" for this episode's murder. Not to be confused with "Craig House", an ancient bit of land with a castle whose additional buildings had become an insane asylum.
- "DVLA" -- seen in Unforgotten Season 3, the second-to-last episode, which ends with the arrest of a character triggered by evidence of his receiving a speeding ticket on the A4. D.V.L.A. is the "Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency"
- "Royal Court" -- found in episode 6 of Season 3, the final episode for that year. This appears to be a reference to the "Royal Court Theatre", where many of the series actors have played.
- "Museum ----ands" -- found in Season 4, episode 1. Missed the intervening letters. Netherlands? There are way too many words ending in "ands", even if it's just in English. Sorry...
- "Port Gaverne" -- located in Cornwall. from the final episode of Season 4
- "Arthur Wynne" -- from an unknown episode seen in July, 2023. He's the inventor of the modern crossword; but I'm not sure how that tied in to the episode.
- "Old Bill" -- from an episode seen in August, 2023.
- "Endochondral Ossification" -- from series 5, episode two(?) seen in September, 2023. A process of bone formation in the embryo.
- "Narrow Boat" -- seen in September, 2023.
- "Louis Vauxcelles" -- seen in Sepetember, 2023. He is credited with coing the terms Fauvism and Cubism. I wonder if this is reference to that brief moment, in an interrogation room, where the suspect notices and comments artwork on his counsel's phone. If I see this episode, again, I will be keen to listen closely.
- "Karl Westphal" -- Season 5, episode 4. This episode is filled with troubles and reverberations arising from sex and sexuality misplaced and misdirected, involving the various characters. Karl Westphal, among his other notable scholarly moments in medicine, particuarly neurology and neuroanatomy, published a paper in 1870 on "contrary sexual feeling", addressing within that paper observations on homosexuality. The paper is described as one of the early medical accounts on sexuality as a disorder. Seen in New Orleans, September, 2023.
- "Subscriber Identity Card" -- Season 5, episode 5. Seen in New Orleans, October, 2023.
- "Sperciliary Arch" -- Season 5, final episode. Seen in New Orleans, October, 2023. SPOILER: don't read further: The part of the skull which is the forehead and the roof of the orbit, basically at the eyebrow. I recall a comment by the on-site coroner that the bullet entered there -- consistent with a struggle over the pistol by Priscilla and her son. That shot would come from the front (at the hands of Priscilla) and striking Lord Hume's grandson in the front of his skull. This is just as Lord Hume described at his first interview on that day. And the same description by the daughter at her interview, where she repeats Lord Hume's statement from the time of the scene of the two deaths. Lord Hume, contradicts this at his second confession and said, I believe, that he shot his grandson in the back of the head. If I have this right, it all matches up with the superb plot twist, at the end. Lord Hume, left to fall on his sword, for his crime 57 years ago, and for all the ills that came from it -- guilty of rape and everything else, but innocent of murder.
- "Phasianus Colchicus" -- Season 8 Final Episode -- Common pheasant also known as a ring-neck pheasant. A non-migratory bird, introduced worldwide, originally native to Eurasia. The males are more colorful. But, poignantly, many sub-species have a distinctive white collar around their neck, from which comes their "ring-necked" name -- a likely reference to the lead character's calling....
- "Budapest Fifty Six" -- The August, 2023, second to last episode. Suspects had fled from Hungary, tying them to motive. In October, 1956, students began protests against the Soviet presence in Hungary; in November, Russians invaded.
- "Muirburn Code" -- Appears to be a code regulating heather burns in the area. Sorry, as again I can't recall the tie in to the specific episode. I think this was in Season 8, episode 4, also seen in July, 2023.
"Miss Scarlet & the Duke"
- "Tempus Fugit" -- Season 1, episode 5, seen in New Orleans in September, 2023. As engraved on the watch given to the Detective Inspector, it is Latin for "time flies".
- "Columbidae" -- Season 2, episode 1 -- "Pandora's Box". Seen in New Orleans in September, 2023. A bird family name, the sole member of the Cobumbiformes order, which includes doves and pidgeons -- gone missing in the story line.
- "Mariposa de la Muerte" -- Season 2, episode 2 -- "The Black Witch Moth". Seen in New Orleans in September, 2023. The spanish (or portugese?) name of the moth featured in the stolen artwork. Straight translation is the Moth of Death, for a night-time active moth present in North and South America.
- "Pirates of Penzance" -- Seen in New Orleans in September, 2023.
- "Papaver Somniferum" -- Seen in New Orleans in September, 2023. The latin name for the opium poppy, a common ingredient in some medical elixars of the time.
- "Horus The Child" -- a powerful egyptian sky god, a protector of royalty, avenged wrongs, and so on. One of a series of dieties named Horus, found in Egyptian and Greco/Roman mythology, the latter being source for the distinctive designation "...the child". Not sure how the reference tied in...
- "The Great Gold Robbery" -- Season 3, episode 1, "The Vanishing" -- an 1855 robbery of gold from safes on the train, in a scheme undertaken by a pair which included a discharged railroad employee. The movie, "The First Great Train Robbery", with Sean Connery and Donald Sutherland, was great fun, and recommended. The plot, for this episode, included bombs built from explosives stolen from railroad tunnel construction stores, with the complicity of a railroad employee. Seen in New Orleans September and October, 2023.
- "A Table Alphabeticall" -- Season 3, episode 2, "Arabella" -- a dictionary from the early 1600s, listing words and their simple synonyms, where most of the words were of foreign derivations. Ms. Scarlet turns to foreign dictionaries in her office to learn the meaning of the word "spilla", found on the calling card for the restauranteur, Ms. Arabella. Ms. Scarlet discovers that "spilla", is Italian for "brooch", and moves on the trail of evidence to recover hers, stolen after an evening at the restaurant. Seen in New Orleans September, 2023.
- "Lord Gordon Gordon" -- Season 3, episode 3, "Hotel St Marc" -- a reference to a con artist who had operated in England, the United States and Canada. The complexity of his intrigues almost equal the twists in this episode, where Ms. Scarlet and her competitor have chased this episode's con man to rural France. Seen in New Orleans September, 2023.
- "Fives and Threes" -- Season 3, episode 4, "Bloodline" -- A dominos game, common to English pubs, and the setting for Detective Fitzroy when he sees his nemisis detective cheating by secreting away dominos to gain an advantage. Seen in New Orleans September, 2023.
"Van der Valk"
- "Sébastien Foucan" -- The founder of "freerunning", and an early developer of "parkour" -- which form a principle element of the story line.
- "Thomas Bruce of Elgin" -- I want to suggest this is "Redemption in Amsterdam - part 1", which makes it part of episode 2 in season 3, seen in New Orleans in September, 2023. I suggest this because I saw the "part 2" notation on another episode's title credits; I haven't deciphered this, yet. Lord Elgin, now known for his collection of the "Elgin Marbles", from the Parthenon and other buildings on the Acropolis of Athens. An allusion, likely, to the episode's collector of the sword in the story, as he had removed it from Indonesia.
- "False Confession Syndrome" -- Season 3, episode 2 -- "Redemption in Amsterdam - part 2" (I believe that "part 2" rolled by quickly in the opening credits; I have no explanation for it.). This bit of the story is resolved, identifying the current murderer connected to a now-grown woman, accused of setting fire to her family as a child. Her childhood confession, countered by recent evidence gathered up by the team, becomes the fodder for the red letters. Seen in New Orleans in late September, 2023.
- " " -- Season 3, episode 3 -- "Magic in Amsterdam". Sadly, I fell asleep before the murder was resolved, and only woke after the show ended, the credits were long gone and the broadcast had moved on. Seen in New Orleans in late October, 2023.
- "Ornithomancy" -- Unknown episode, seen in New Orleans, September 24, 2023. Ornithmancy is the art of Prophesying based on the cries and flights of birds; I happened on the last minute of the episode and can't suggest how this ties in to the story line. The nursery rhyme referenced in another credit, "One for Sorrow", is connected to superstitions associated with magpies, and ill omens. I have to imagine Magpies, and someone's prediction of deaths somehow overlap in the story line . . .
- "One For Sorrow" -- Unknown episode, seen in New Orleans, October, 2023. This is a clear reference to the traditional nursery rhyme about Magpies. Within the episode, the inspector is discharged from a car out in the country; the long shot places him by a roadside tree. On that tree's dead branches: four Magpies, one per branch, offset from each other on either side of the tree. The early versions of this nursery rhyme, going back to the 18th and 19th century, read as:
- One for Sorrow
- Two for mirth
- Three for a wedding,
- Four for death,
- Five for silver,
- Six for gold;
- Seven for a secret,
- Not to be told;
- Eight for heaven,
- Nine for hell,
- And ten for the devils own self
A playful, brief moment in a murder mystery: four magpies and an appropriate hidden message in the credits.
"The Escape Artist"
- "Wallender Daughter" -- I think correctly decoded, from episode two of "The Escape Artist", another Masterpiece Theater", a three part series. Oddly, it seems to refer to yet another Masterpiece series, "Wallender". The reference, perhaps to Linda, the daughter of Kurt Wallender in that series.
Other assertions -- not confirmed by me
- "Believe" -- S2E3: The Reichenbach Fall
- "Weng Chiang" -- episode not clear, but the assertion is that it refers to an episode of Doctor Who ("The Talons of Weng-Chiang", S14E6 final), where the Doctor Dresses as Holmes and a Giant Rat.
- "Zborowski" -- Season 8 Episode 3 -- Leopold Zborowski, an art dealer, friend and patron of Modigliani, the painter of "Reclining Nude" (1917), which was a key element of the episode.
- "Dianthus Caryophyllus" -- Season ? Episode 2 -- a carnation.
- "Edmond Dantes" -- Season 6 Episode 5 -- He's a character in The Count of Monte Cristo. Perhaps, a nod to the comment by a librarian walking in to the police station: "This is all very thrilling, like the Count of Monte Cristo."
- "Dolce Domun" -- Endeavor Finale - Dulce Dumon, a bar/lunge in the George Hotel in Pangbourne, west of London, England. Dolce Domun, a song by Louie Zong. But I vote its transalation, however spelled, refers to "Peacefully at Home", or sleepily?
- "Lonsdale" -- Endeavor pilot (?) -- the name of the fictional Oxford college associated with Morse.
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