There have been some wonderful reviews posted on this web site, so its not without some trepidation that I have decided to post one of my own. I have just seen this 3rd series episode (no thanks to the BBC) and really enjoyed it, so here goes.
For me, this episode is what DS is all about - its funny, touching and dramatic. The theme is forgiveness and seeking forgiveness - in the course of the story several characters acknowledge their own failings, question their assumptions and say that they're sorry.
There are echoes of The Deal, this time with Fraser stubbornly standing up to a bully and trying to persuade others to do the same. The villain in this case is Willy Warfield, even more arrogant than Frank Zuko in his blatant contempt for his fellow men and the law.
The story begins when Ray and Fraser, out Xmas shopping, witness a man (Warfield) abusing a young waiter who has spilt water on him. Ben intervenes and invites Warfield to apologise to the boy. Warfield then slaps the boy and Ray arrests him for assault. It becomes apparent that Warfield is a feared mob boss, the boy will not press charges and no witnesses will come forward.
The backdrop of the story is Xmas. The childlike enjoyment of the season displayed by Franny and Turnbull contrasts with the cynicism of Warfield and indeed the police officers who can see no point in pursuing him. For Fraser there are memories of miserable Christmases without the usual treats and more importantly with an absent father.
There are some poignant encounters between the Mountie and his dead father. Ben is determined to persuade the boy and an elderly waiter to come forward and give evidence. Fraser senior questions the wisdom of this, saying he has learned a thing or two since he died."The branch that will not bend must break" he tells Ben.
The conclusion to the story proves him correct. Beaten by Warfield's goons, unable to protect the witnesses, Ben gives in. "I've been selfish and single minded" he tells his father. "You've been obsessive, overbearing and possibly arrogant" replies Bob Fraser "but right". It is at this point that Ray and the other officers decide that they too have been wrong and that they will do something about Warfield. "I'm proud of you" Ray tells Ben "you were right all along".
Indeed it is Warfield who proves to be the branch that will not bend and he is broken by his own arrogance. By the time he is forced to apologise to the boy, his empire is crumbling. Fraser's persistence has taken its toll on Warfield's image and the shady world of organised crime smells blood in the water. He ends up where he belongs - in jail.
This episode sees the beginning of a resolution between Ben and his father. They are unbending toward each other. Fraser Snr acknowledges that he failed his family in many ways and his son forgives him.
I have concentrated on the serious side of the story, but it is also full of humour. The ghost of Bob Fraser appears frequently, interfering with the real world, singing carols, searching for his present on the tree and kissing Franny under the mistletoe. Franny gets to tend to the bruised and battered Fraser, though does not manage to get his shirt off - "he's suffered enough already" says Ray. Turnbull's rendition of "Santa Drives a Pickup" is a joy to behold, though my favourite joke was definitely Inspector Thatcher's gift for Fraser.......
A wonderful episode, great performances all round - classic Due South.
Only, I don't feel that he deserved that dressing down.
I'll never look at Fraser the same way again. Ray and Welsh neither for that matter. In Good for the Soul, I gained a respect for Fraser I never thought I'd find. As for Ray and Welsh, what single minded... bastards they were in this ep. This coming from someone who used to find them her favourite characters.
Why the hell did it take Fraser's senseless beating to wake up Kowalski and Welsh?! The *real* Ray would have been standing guard over Fraser, maybe not agreeing with the Mountie's stubborn stand, but at least knowing enough about the mob to know that Fraser might possibly be in trouble.
I am so very proud of Fraser's actions in Good for the Soul. It's about time someone explicitly told the ‘system' that if cops, states attorneys, judges, etc., stood up to people like Warfield, then men like him would not be able to get away with slapping a kid, much less committing murder. Fraser *was* right to stand up to Warfield and his so-called friends were wrong not to back him up.
It's obvious that Warfield broke Fraser (‘Understood.'), but he didn't do it alone. The very system Fraser has sought his whole career to uphold has betrayed him (‘You were right, Ray. You can't beat the system.'). His 'friends' have betrayed him. I know exactly what was going on through Fraser's mind as he walked along after Frannie fixed him up. ‘I *must* be wrong. Ray and Leftenant Welsh would have supported me if I was right'. This shows such a human side of Fraser: like anyone else, he needs to feel supported and respected.
He was obviously angry with Welsh and Ray. ‘Let me give you a ride home.' ‘No.' No? Not, ‘no, thank you'? Of course. Frannie was the only one to show any real concern for his well being ‘Hey, Frase, take it easy, okay?' ‘You know, Ray, I really *would* rather walk', ie 'Leave me alone you miserable (*/*$"$$, I feel bad enough as it is.'
But, ‘Christmas is about forgiveness', and Fraser's friends come through for him and he forgives them because that is the kind of man he is, someone who deserves to be held and loved and respected.
Other rifts were settled here: Dewey and Ray, Ray giving Turnbull the gun (that was so *sweet*!!!), Fraser and his father. I just about lost it when Fraser pulled the photograph out of the box and said ‘It's my family'.
A truly remarkable episode, well in line with the spirit of Christmas, and giving 'The Ladies Man' a run for its money for the title of best dS ep of all time.
There are resonances here to many other episodes from throughout DS's four seasons; for example, Chinatown, in which Fraser urges the kidnapped boy's father to place his trust in the law; Juliet is Bleeding, where Fraser's single-minded pursuit of the truth almost leads to the loss of everyone he regards as his friends; and the Victoria's Secret back-story, where Fraser turns in the only woman he ever loved because it was his duty to do so.
VS has other echoes too; in GFTS the producers/directors return to the snow imagery used to such powerful effect before. It loses none of its force here. The first sign is the snow-globe (similar to the one which played such a pivotal role in VS) on Frannie's computer. Then, over a soundtrack perfectly designed to enhance the pervading mood of threat, Fraser stands in Warfield's club, the light from a glitter-ball artificially recreating a snowstorm around him. Later, when Fraser is lured into the alley, it is a dark-haired woman who baits the trap and, as the snow falls, it is she who administers the coup-de-grace.
The injury inflicted on Fraser is the catalyst, which convinces Welsh and the others that they were wrong not to support him. When Fraser says, "You were right, Ray. You can't beat the system", the devastatingly un-Fraser-like comment reverberates around the room, leading to horrified looks from everyone (including the usually superficial Frannie) at the apparent destruction of Fraser's principles.
I think Marie-Andrée is a little hard on Welsh and Ray K; they had themselves been beaten into submission by the system over many years. It took Fraser's actions to show them that good men can stand up and defeat evil. In the best drama, each character should learn something about himself and those around him - they certainly did in this story.
As Alison says, there are also DS's trademark lighter moments, seamlessly interwoven into the story:
Fraser cracking a joke with Frannie - a beautifully played scene as Fraser glances across to see her reaction;
Fraser Sr. kissing Frannie under the mistletoe;
Constable "Trouble is my middle name" Turnbull - a gem!
The episode ends on a wonderful scene which could so easily have descended into sentimental mush but is handled with such skill that it becomes immensely moving. Fraser, having felt alone and abandoned by everyone, has forgiven RayK and Welsh for letting him down, and his father for not being around during his childhood Christmases. Even now, though, Fraser is unable to address his father directly about his feelings; the point is made via the Christmas toast. But both father and son know what is being said.
And to underscore the friendship that has developed between Ray K and Fraser, in the final scene Ray K is wearing the Stetson.