Dublin Murders episode 3 recap: can we talk about the naked man covered in cheap wine?

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Kayleigh Dray
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Dublin Murders episode 3 recap

Warning: this article contains spoilers for episode three of BBC One’s Dublin Murders, so do not read on unless you are fully up to date with the crime show…

Katy is dead, her body has been laid to rest, and the case has seemingly run cold in tonight’s episodes of BBC One’s Dublin Murders

Until, that is, Dr Mark Hanley, the academic head of the archaeological dig where Katy was found, is arrested in the woods while carrying out a strange ritual. You know the kind of strange ritual we mean: you strip stark-bollock naked, pour red wine all over yourself, and dance a merry jig in the middle of the night.

Why? Well, to put it in Mark’s own words, to appeal to the old gods in a desperate bid to put a stop to that bloody planned motorway.

“It’s alive,” he tells Rob Reilly (Killian Scott) and Cassie Maddox (Sarah Greene), both of whom are unable to wipe the thin veneer of horrified disgust from their faces. “It lives, and it breathes. And so I make an offering - of myself - to the King… ask him for a favour, for a miracle. Because if we don’t get a miracle, we’re going to lose that place.”

Rob is unmoved by Mark’s comments about the old Irish gods. “Was your ejaculate an offering?” he sneers, demanding to know whether Mark masturbated in the very same spot that a teen ballerina was murdered. (Mark insists that he did not, if you’re wondering.)

And so, just like that, the third episode of Dublin Murders has left us with even more questions than those posed in last week’s installments. 

Here, Stylist’s digital editor Kayleigh Dray does her best to unravel them all.

What did the shredded letter say?

The detective who worked on the 1985 case penned an unnerving letter before his death.

“There’s something here and it hates us. It is malevolence. Those children were taken as a tithe, a reckoning, to settle an account. You’re never going to find them. This place is laughing at us.”

Rob insists it’s the morphine talking, and calls for the letter to be ‘lost’… which it is, we suppose. Into a shredder. Later, though, he has a change of heart and we see him piecing the letter back together.

Could it have something to do with Mark Hanley’s woodland ritual?

On that note: who are the old gods? And what was Dr Mark Hanley’s naked ritual all about?

As we mentioned last week, Dublin Murders seems like a classic whodunnit. However, just underneath the surface, there are glimmers which suggest that this show is actually better categorised as a supernatural detective drama (think The X Files).

“The old gods have a portal between their world and this within the woods,” one fan of both books and show pointed out on GoodReads. “The woods are actually a place where an alternate universe does exist, in the form of the lives the animals lead, which we humans rarely see.”

We previously suggested that Katy died because someone decided to offer a blood sacrifice to the gods, in order to preserve and protect old Ireland (the forest) from the crashings and trappings of modern life (the motorway). And we thought it was a bonkers theory. As it turns out, though, Mark is a believer in the old ways, and we doubt he’s the only one: check out those, ‘He Rises’ graffiti scrawls all over town, if you don’t believe us.

Throw in that ever-watchful wolf (Rob/Adam, hun, you OK?), and the strange tears to his shirt as a child (antlers, anyone?), and you have a recipe for a bonkers theory that may just be true.

Tana French, who wrote the book upon which Dublin Murders is based, even hinted that this may be the case during an interview with Vulture.

“Some people hate [the book’s ending] and I don’t blame them for being annoyed with it, but I think it lies in how the book was positioned,” she told the site. “It was positioned as a murder mystery, which was a good call… But that means that people are expecting it to fit in with the genre conventions, which do include, if you set up a big mystery, you’re going to give us the answer. And people feel cheated if you don’t.”

Curiouser and curiouser, eh?

What has Sarah Phelps, who adapted the novels into the TV series, said about that uncanny fairytale theory?

“This is something I’m really interested in,” she previously told The Irish Times

“The deep tap root into the kind of ur-narratives of fairy tales and ancient myths and things like that. Ultimately, what the story is about is when a guillotine falls across your life, between the before and after, as it has for both Rob and Cassie, then how the f**k do you live? When everything that makes you a fully functioning human being becomes stripped away, you are a child, in essence, trying to make sense of the fact that you are a survivor and why you have survived. 

“That is the essence of those books: what does it mean to be human? When you pursue that [as an adapter] everything falls into place.”

So… it’s not an outright, “No, this isn’t a supernatural detective drama,” we suppose. But it’s not exactly a “yes” either, is it?

Oh, Lexie: we hardly knew ye. But who killed you?

In Wicklow, in the ruined shell of a famine cottage, Cassie comes face to face with her worst nightmare: her own dead face staring back at her.

Oh yes: Cassie is rudely awoken at the end of Dublin Murders’ third episode, ordered to cover that perfect sleek bob with a hood, and driven out to the back-end of nowhere. There, she’s confronted with a corpse - and a corpse that looks just like her at that (albeit with a heavy blunt fringe and a penchant for yellow satin).

Yup, it’s Lexie. And, as quickly becomes apparent, Lexie has been passing herself off as Cassie using a fake ID. But why? Because this isn’t just your average case of stolen identity: these women could be twins, they look that alike.

As we mentioned in last week’s recap, the books upon which Dublin Murders is based tackle this same plot. In them, we learn that Lexie Madison has been using an ID that Cassie once used while working undercover. Our heroine, utterly perturbed (and quite rightly, too), sets out to not only find out what happened to Lexie, but also to figure out why they look so alike and why she was using her fake ID. To do so, she goes undercover to live with Lexie’s housemates, with disastrous results.

Will this happen in the show? Presumably, yes. Does it make things feel any less confusing? Well, let’s put it to a vote, shall we?

What are people on Twitter saying about it all?

It’s no understatement to say that the people of Twitter are confused. Very confused.

Is Cassie also Jamie?

Some people have posed the question on Twitter. However, we think we’d lose our minds if Cassie turned out to be Lexie turned out to be Jamie, too. Surely there’s more than one person in Dublin with a shock of dark hair, eh?

What’s a fetch?

Forget what you learned in Mean Girls: a fetch, as one savvy viewer pointed out on Twitter, is a supernatural double or apparition of a living person in Irish folklore.

Could this mean that Cassie’s double is a bit more ‘woo-woo’ than we first thought? Could it mean that Rob isn’t actually Adam, but a strangeling left in his stead during that strange woodland incident in q985? Or could it all be a red herring, designed to lead us down the fantastical garden path?

Only time will tell, we guess.

What the eff is going on with Rob?

Rob is increasingly certain that his memories are leading him to the truth. Too bad, then, that he - or, to be more precise - Adam, is being accused of something seriously unsavoury. Jamie’s mum wants the police to ask Adam what happened in the woods. She’s convinced he knows more than he’s letting on. And, to be honest, so are we.

Surely a dash of hypnosis, a sit down with a therapist, could be conducive to unlocking the secrets hidden within his mind? Even if it’s only to figure out the symbolism of that bloody wolf?

What’s with the watch?

Rob isn’t interested in a bobble hat filled with human turds (fair enough), but he’s VERY interested in a watch that the archaeologists found in the woods. So much so that he takes it and places it, ever so carefully, in a little evidence tin.

It’s clear he recognises the watch, and that it’s triggered a memory of some kind in his mind, but what? 

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So, what do we know for sure?

Once again, we are left with more questions than answers, and we have very little to offer in terms of theories. However, we have a feeling that the trail of corrupt land deals will prove to be far more integral to the case of Katie Devlin’s death than we all realise…

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Dublin Murders: the big questions we have after watching episode one

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The next episode of Dublin Murders will air Tuesday 22 October, 9pm on BBC One. 

Read our episode one recap here.

Image: BBC One


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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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