Ralf Little as DI Neville Parker standing in front of a plane in Death in Paradise season 13

The ‘Death in Paradise’ Season 13 Finale Made Me Wish the Show Still Took Bigger Risks

Now that the Death in Paradise season 13 finale has finally aired in the U.S.—if you haven’t caught up yet, you can find all episodes on BritBox—it’s time to look towards the show’s future. And yet, I couldn’t help but look back on some of the show’s other biggest moments, as well.

Recommended Videos

As we all predicted and possibly feared, Ralf Little and the Death in Paradise team have confirmed that Death in Paradise’s latest episode would be Detective Inspector Neville Parker’s final episode, too. This isn’t necessarily surprising – the show has seen plenty of DIs come and go, each new iteration bringing a new set of skills, quirks, and personal drama to the show. Neville Parker did become the show’s most involved lead detective, however, having arrived on the sunny fictional island of Saint Marie a few years earlier, halfway through season 9.

Neville’s ending was exactly what he deserved. After all the heartbreak, betrayal, and confusion he’s had to overcome, Neville Parker finally got the chance to find true happiness with the woman he’s been in love with for years: his fellow police officer, Detective Sergeant Florence Cassell (Joséphine Jobert), who was freed from Witness Protection in the final stretch of Death in Paradise season 13, and who had discovered during her solitude that she cared for Neville more than she ever realized. In the season’s final moments, Neville and Florence literally and figuratively sailed off into the sunset together, ready to embark on an adventure and explore what their relationship might look like in the future. It was an undeniably lovely and satisfactory ending, but it’s clear that Death in Paradise is developing a pattern.  

Neville’s predecessor, Jack Mooney (Ardal O’Hanlon), also had a sentimental and emotional reason for leaving, as he realized that he’d only been staying in Saint Marie for so long to avoid grieving his wife’s death. Instead, he decided to move back to London to spend more time with his daughter, Siobhan. Jack’s predecessor, Humphrey Goodman (Kris Marshall), left Saint Marie to journey back to England so that he could be with Martha – they proved to be such a popular pairing that they’ve even returned in Death in Paradise’s first official spinoff, Beyond Paradise, which has been a huge hit for the BBC.

While all of these departures were well-written and made sense for the characters, I do feel like Death in Paradise has become slightly too risk-averse. Neville’s shift away from the show, like Jack’s and Humphrey’s before him, was rather predictable. Neville’s, especially, could be seen coming from a mile away, and though I’m glad that his character got the happy ending he deserved, my mind often wanders back to Death in Paradise’s first detective transition and just how shocking and fascinating that transition was.

Years later, my parents still talk about it. No one really saw it coming. Death in Paradise’s first Detective Inspector, Richard Poole (Ben Miller), was murdered at a university reunion party with an ice pick. Of course, having been such a brilliant detective, Richard Poole helped solve his own murder mystery, and the rest was history.

This was, of course, a controversial choice. Ben Miller had opted to leave the series, but did they really need to write him off in such a violent way? I have always understood why some viewers may have abhorred this particular narrative choice, but honestly, I’d argue it was one of the most creative and bold decisions Death in Paradise ever made. It was genuinely unforgettable. This cozy, sun-drenched murder mystery show had suddenly upped the ante. Anything could happen. Viewers would be kept on the edge of their seats for every future episode. While that showed great promise, I feel like that promise was never really followed up on.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I still love the show just as it is. It’s fun, humorous, clever, and cheering, and I enjoy discussing the intricate cases with my family. But aside from a few heart-stopping moments, like when Florence’s former partner was killed, when Neville’s ex-girlfriend betrayed him, and when Commissioner Selwyn Patterson (Don Warrington) was shot in the show’s landmark 100th episode, the characters we’ve come to know and love have all been relatively safe and well-cared for.

I feel conflicted; on the one hand, I enjoy these characters, and I don’t want to see bad things happen to them, and on the other hand, from a narrative point of view, I would love to see Death in Paradise be as deliciously audacious as it was in season 3’s premiere episode. That was such a risky move, but I wholeheartedly believe it paid off. Given season 14 is already on the way, the show certainly didn’t suffer because of it.

Death in Paradise is one of the BBC’s biggest exports—it’s been broadcast in over 240 territories worldwide and has spawned not one but two full-blown spinoffs. It doesn’t really need to take risks anymore; it’s found its perfect formula, and that formula works like a charm. The longer the detectives stay, the harder it is for the audience to say goodbye to them, and the more tempting it becomes to give them a happily-ever-after. I understand all that, but it doesn’t stop me fondly remembering just how daring this show used to be.

(featured image: BBC)


The Mary Sue is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more
related content
Read Article ‘X-Men ’97’ Directors Answer Some Important Questions…Like Do the X-Men Wear Wigs
The X-Men stand together in 'X-Men '97'.
Read Article I Need Bridgerton Season 3 Part 2 To Give Us More of One Thing Teased in Part 1
Kate and Anthony as married Viscount and Viscountess in the third season of Bridgerton
Read Article Is Violet’s Garden Finally About To Bloom on Bridgerton?
Lady Violet Bridgerton as portrayed by Ruth Gemmell in Netflix's show
Read Article I Hope Season 3 Is Just the Start of This Untapped ‘Bridgerton’ Musical Pairing
Queen Charlotte, Lady Danbury and Brimsely looking over the couples dancing at the ball in episode 2 of Bridgerton season 3
Read Article Fans Want to Know About the Fate of ‘Fire Country’
Bode Donovan looking to the mountains
Related Content
Read Article ‘X-Men ’97’ Directors Answer Some Important Questions…Like Do the X-Men Wear Wigs
The X-Men stand together in 'X-Men '97'.
Read Article I Need Bridgerton Season 3 Part 2 To Give Us More of One Thing Teased in Part 1
Kate and Anthony as married Viscount and Viscountess in the third season of Bridgerton
Read Article Is Violet’s Garden Finally About To Bloom on Bridgerton?
Lady Violet Bridgerton as portrayed by Ruth Gemmell in Netflix's show
Read Article I Hope Season 3 Is Just the Start of This Untapped ‘Bridgerton’ Musical Pairing
Queen Charlotte, Lady Danbury and Brimsely looking over the couples dancing at the ball in episode 2 of Bridgerton season 3
Read Article Fans Want to Know About the Fate of ‘Fire Country’
Bode Donovan looking to the mountains
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.