Felix Scott as Patrick Nash and Kate Phillips as Eliza Scarlet in Miss Scarlet and the Duke season 3

‘Miss Scarlet’ Doesn’t Need To Introduce a New Love Interest—It’s Already Got the Perfect Candidate

Miss Scarlet and the Duke has, thankfully, been renewed for season 5—but there’s a catch. The titular Duke, as portrayed by Stuart Martin, has left the show and Eliza for greener pastures in America. From now on, the show will simply be titled Miss Scarlet.

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Recently, co-broadcasters Alibi and PBS Masterpiece announced who would be replacing Martin as Eliza Scarlet’s foil, confidante, and possible love interest, and while there’s certainly potential, I can’t help but think the show could have taken a more surprising turn.

Stepping into the role of Scotland Yard detective is Tom Durant Pritchard. He will be portraying Detective Inspector Alexander Blake, a “handsome former soldier,” who, while respecting Eliza’s role as a detective, initially has no desire to work with her or any other private investigator. Fair enough, of course, but if the last four seasons of Miss Scarlet have taught us anything, it’s that Eliza Scarlet is nothing if not persistent. As they work on increasingly more cases together, she’ll undoubtedly prove her usefulness to him, and mutual respect and perhaps attraction will be on the cards. The showrunners have said as much, after all.

Now, I understand why Miss Scarlet is interested in introducing another love interest. The will-they-won’t-they trope is ingrained into the show’s structure, and Eliza’s stubbornness and independence make the trope all the more fun. However, DI Blake’s role in the upcoming season feels much too similar to DI Wellington’s former role as Eliza’s friend, professional partner, and possibly something more. A gruff detective, reluctant to work with a PI, slowly begins to fall for Eliza. It’s essentially the same role but without the added dimension of Eliza and William’s history.

Part of what made their relationship so compelling was their shared history as children. William was, at times, overprotective, but that side of him made sense because of who they have always been to one another. With Blake, that added layer is lost, and what we are left with is a lesser version of the show’s core relationship.

Obviously, we haven’t seen Pritchard’s character in action yet. There’s every chance he’ll be charming, mysterious, fun, and lovingly gruff, and I may very well change my mind from the season’s premiere episode. Right now, however, I kind of wish that Miss Scarlet season 5 would have taken a different turn. To be entirely honest, with the Duke “out of the way,” as it were, I think Felix Scott’s character, fellow private detective Patrick Nash, would have been a much more fun and interesting choice as Eliza’s new love interest.

Now, before I knew Stuart was leaving the show, I never really entertained the possibility. It was clear that Eliza and William were supposed to end up together, at some point, and any other flirtation would simply be a way to rile the other up or bring forth their jealousy.

And yet, one of my favorite episodes of the show is season 3, episode 3, “Hotel St Marc,” in which Eliza and Patrick both show up at a hotel in France chasing a cunning wanted criminal. Without William’s presence, Eliza and Patrick’s dynamic truly had a chance to shine, and what it revealed was that, together, they make a wonderfully compelling pair.

They’ve got great chemistry, honesty when it counts, and plenty of humorous interactions, and, from the moment they met, he respected her ambition and her work. So much so, that he eventually offered her a job with his private firm, a possibility which Eliza graciously accepted and explored in Miss Scarlet and the Duke season 4. Eliza has re-opened her own business, again, however, so there’s no conflict of interest left to speak of (and yes, I’m aware of Nash’s current police-related predicament, as it were, but still. He saved her life! He believes in her!).

Above all, they understand one another, perhaps even better than Eliza and William ever did. Now, I realize that putting Eliza and Nash together would be a big swing for the show, but I think it would be a worthwhile one. From what we know so far, Blake’s role feels like a way to hold on to what made the show so popular in the first place, a somewhat desperate attempt to fix what was broken by Stuart’s sudden departure (sudden to the fans, at least—the showrunners will have had to plan for his leaving, after all).

Introducing a new, romantic dimension to Eliza and Patrick’s relationship would help ease the sting of William’s departure while honoring his old dynamic with Eliza, as well. To me, the choice was obvious, but who knows? Perhaps the new season will prove me wrong, and I’ll begin shipping Eliza and Alexander from the first moment they’re on screen together. But in the back of my mind, I think I’ll always wonder what might have happened if the show had trusted that Eliza’s perfect match was already out there, in a charismatic, smart, mustachioed gentleman named Patrick Nash.

(featured imaged: Alibi/PBS Masterpiece)


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Author
El Kuiper
El (she/her) is The Mary Sue's U.K. editor and has been working as a freelance entertainment journalist for over two years, ever since she completed her Ph.D. in Creative Writing. El's primary focus is television and movie coverage for The Mary Sue, including British TV (she's seen every episode of Midsomer Murders ever made) and franchises like Marvel and Pokémon. As much as she enjoys analyzing other people's stories, her biggest dream is to one day publish an original fantasy novel of her own.