My knowledge of Agatha Christie is embarrassingly limited. I know she wrote mysteries and just recently learned she is the best selling female author of all time, likely rivaling Shakespeare in number of copies of her work sold. Maybe that fact wasn't enough to convince me her work is worth my time, but the Amazon Prime’s new mini series based on her book “Ordeal of Innocence” has prompted me to wonder if a trip to the library is in order.
The only three episode series works not just because every shot in “In Ordeal of Innocence” is beautiful or because of the way secrets simmer throughout only to finally bubble to the surface in the completely engrossing final episode, although that stuff is part of it. This show pulls you in because it's about the very relatable impulse to fake it. But pretending all is well, no matter what is actually occuring, can actually be our undoing, as it was for the character murder in the opening scene, Rachel Argyll.
It’s hard to write about it too much without giving it all away, and you don’t want me to give it away. But everyone associated with the wealthy Argyll family is hiding something. From the five adopted children to the housekeeper Kirsten, everyone has more going on than what you see on the surface. It’s hiding under their sleeves, or behind their eyes, or in their very British tea cups. But it's not until everyone decides to just come out with it, to have no more secrets, that the real truth of who murdered Rachel Argyll can be discovered.
Rachel herself is so afraid of the world that might be that she has a cellar in the basement in case “the bomb” were to drop. However, she grips on to the world she wants to the point of abuse and manipulation and in doing so she creates her own metaphorical bombs throughout her own life. When the bombs of truth start to drop, it's the desire to maintain the semblance of appearances that leaves her vulnerable in the end. And that’s the where the real beauty of this little miniseries lies. I don’t live in post Korean War England, but it rings correct in my life that a veneer of a good life is not better than dealing with what is actually happening.
And that is how the truth becomes a double edged sword for the far from virtuous characters of “Ordeal of Innocence”. Some put down the facade in time to have the truth set them free. Others are crushed by it because they just couldn’t drop the mask in time. The question for us is, would we rather keep on smiling or deal with our messes before our messes deals with us.