Part One: After working to break German codes at Bletchley Park during the war, four friends have had to adjust to ordinary life in postwar London. But when they discover one of their former coworkers will hang for murder, they determine to investigate the case themselves and clear her name.
Part Two: Millie brings in cash by taking orders for smuggled goods, but when the people she works for begin to suspect she’s been stealing from them, she finds herself in more trouble than she bargained for.
Season two of The Bletchley Circle had a lot to live up, having introduced readers to an incredibly engrossing and complex mystery in season one. The addition of a new Bletchley girl, Alice, also worried me, as often shows add characters in a vain attempt to keep the interest of viewers. After only one mystery, this move seemed premature. However, though the season begins a bit roughly, in time I found myself fully invested once more in the world of the Bletchley girls.
I will admit that part one of the season seems much weaker than part two. This is where the show introduces Alice, falsely accused of murder, and for some reason willing to take the blame. Rallying behind her or even sympathizing with her proves difficult as she speaks little, acts roughly toward her friends, and refuses to cooperate with Jean and the rest. Thus, viewers have to have enough love for and trust in Jean to invest their emotions in the story. I myself had difficulty doing this.
Furthermore, I found this mystery less compelling than the previous one. It showcases fewer logic puzzles and relies more on old-fashioned sleuthing (or breaking and entering. It is truly amazing how many crimes these women commit to solve crimes.). I simply found it less interesting to watch the girls dig through old files than to watch them actively puzzling over clues.
Part two committed me to the show once more, however. It focuses on Millie, whom viewers already know, so it’s easier to feel invested in the mystery surrounding her. It also showcases a female villain as Millie’s match, which changes the dynamics of the mystery, somehow making it threatening in a different way.
Part two addresses the trafficking of women, which the female villain orchestrates. I think, because the Bletchley Circle is often motivated to aid women whom the law has failed to protect, this betrayal of women by another woman wounds more deeply and makes the crime personal to Millie. Her need to help is the driving force behind the episodes, and gives them a power that the previous ones lacked.
I really don’t know why The Bletchley Circle was cancelled as it features sympathetic characters and compelling mysteries, and delves into important issues such as mental illness, war crimes, and corruption, always with sensitivity but also with honesty. If more shows like this were offered, I would watch more television!