Predictable and formulaic, Three Pines struggles to break free of its own trappings again. Although the Blue Two-Rivers case packs an emotional punch, opening up the story to further police corruption.
We recap the Prime Video series Three Pines season 1, episode 7, “The Hangman Part One,” which contains spoilers.
Armand Gamache (Alfred Molina) has been investigating the disappearance of Blue Two-Rivers (Anna Lambe) for the majority of the season now. It’s an unsolved case that has plagued his thoughts and nightmares since he undertook the job around Christmas. In “The Hangman Part One,” the case is finally laid to rest. Alongside this overarching investigation, Armand and the gang take on one final murder investigation in the troubled village of Three Pines. As the title suggests, this one involves a hanged man.
Three Pines season 1, episode 7 recap
The hanged man in question starts the episode stumbling through the empty streets of Three Pines, drunk. He enters Olivier’s Bistro, filled with happy guests as usual. The mystery man starts to shout, unprovoked, at them all, then squares up to Gabri and punches him in the face. As a couple of men pull the stranger back, he shouts about knowing all of their secrets. Of course, he’ll be found dead the very next day.
Blue Two-Rivers’ family are the unfortunate souls that come across this corpse. They are searching the forests again, looking for clues of Blue’s whereabouts. Beau finds the hanged man. Isabelle, who is helping with the search, puts it through as a suicide, but Beau points out that there are multiple footprints on the ground around the body. This may be another homicide investigation.
Armand joins Isabelle at the crime scene while Jean-Guy is away with his partner on a break. The Chief Inspector comments on how clean the victim’s hands are, indicating that he didn’t climb the tree himself. And there are marks around his neck that point towards strangulation, not suicide. Armand also finds long pine needles on the body, something he hasn’t seen before. Beau explains that they are from a white pine, a rare tree in these parts.
Walking the crime scene, Armand and Isabelle change the topic of conversation back to Blue. Isabelle wants to find and talk to the driver of the patrol car. They’ve identified him as Dan Chowski, a traffic cop, but he’s since gone missing, possibly tipped off about the investigation and questioning. Meanwhile, Kevin’s death points toward an overdose, but Isabelle knows that Kevin wasn’t into drugs. It all seems rather suspicious. She blames herself for Kevin’s death and seems to be trying to make amends by helping the family with their search. Armand agrees to help the best he can with their ongoing hunt.
The gang finds themselves back at the Be Calm Center in their old situation room once again, where Armand believes they are after a group of killers. Clara pops by with baked goods and points out the murdered man from his photograph. He was seen last night in the Bistro, looking for a fight. Clara adds that he was staying at the local B&B. They head straight there and question the owner. Angela states that the man was called Arthur Ellis. He paid cash for the stay and asked for a quiet room. In this bedroom, they find what appears to be a suicide note but no wallet or phone. Armand proposes a staged suicide and a fake suicide note.
Isabelle compiles a list of all the guests at the Bistro that night, and Armand interviews Gabri, the man punched by the victim. Everyone says the same scripted response that the man was drunk and rambling on about revealing their secrets. Paperwork from Arthur’s rental car matches the suicide note, maybe it wasn’t a fake after all.
At the weekly book club, the locals discuss murder and whether it is justifiable. The debate heats up, and Gabri storms off in a huff. Then Myrna unveils their next assignment. Ironically their next book is called The Hangman by Arthur Ellis – quite the coincidence, don’t you think? Clara notices this striking link and rushes to tell Armand. The biography was written by an executioner under a pseudonym. Looks like the hanged man used the same name as a nod to his plans. He wanted to deliver the death penalty to someone who had wronged him. Armand quotes the line: sometimes vengeance is the only path to peace.
While the two investigations continue to move forward side by side, Armand has his own personal crisis. He’s starting to remember painful memories from his past, about his dead parents. He has a nightmare in which he coughs up a pine needle, then phones his wife for reassurance on waking. Jean-Guy is having relationship issues of his own. He pretends to be taking a break with his partner, but it is all a lie; they seem to have separated instead.
Ending Explained – what happened to Blue Two-Rivers?
Sensing a connection between the pine needles found at Kevin’s and Arthur’s crime scene, Isabelle hunts for a connection. Armand discovers that there is only one area in the local vicinity that contains white pines, and he heads straight there. Armand quickly finds a shallow grave containing two body bags, with bullets surrounding these corpses. It is later revealed to be Blue and Tommy’s bodies. It would appear the police officer shot them both and buried them nearby – Kevin’s story holds up.
Isabelle and Armand visit Blue Two-Rivers’ family in an emotional sequence. They promise to find Blue’s killer and continue their investigation promptly. Meanwhile, Olivier hunts around Gabri’s desk and finds Arthur’s wallet, although his actual name is James Hill, as spotted on his ID. Isabelle finds Arthur’s home and, again, points out his real identity. She notes that his whole house was packed up and ready for moving. Photographs prove he had a family, but neighbors state that he lived alone.
In the final moments, Armand and Isabelle meet with forensics to get the match on the bullets found at the crime scene. There are two suspects, Dan Chowski, as already assumed, and Pierre Arnot, as I predicted. This twist ending devastates Armand, who realizes that his close friend is intimately involved in the murder.
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