This week’s Indian Summers episode simultaneously moved the story forward and also gave us a little more insight into the characters. Secrets were revealed, alliances were strengthened, and it looks like someone is going to get their heart broken.
Let’s start with the biggest storyline of the episode, the aftermath of the attempted murder of Ralph Whelan. Following the shooting, Ralph’s assistant Ronnie brings in a journalist named Naseem Ali Khan, a reporter from the Delhi Herald, to raise Ralph’s profile. But Khan has another agenda: he’s been tipped off that the attempted murder is not political as everyone assumes, but may be more personal. He starts asking questions that Ralph doesn’t want answered. The civil servants try manipulating him, giving him the run around, and that old tactic, keeping him waiting, hoping that he will get frustrated and leave. But Khan is like a dog with a bone; he senses that Ralph has something to hide.
Meanwhile, Aafrin is lying injured in hospital, in incredible pain. He’s gotten a bacterial infection from wearing sacred clothes that a doctor terms ‘filthy.’ Aafrin’s mother and two sisters scour the newspaper to make sure that there is nothing in it about the shooting. It appears that Papa Dalal has a dodgy ticker, so they have lied and told him that Aafrin had to go away for a few days for work. Aafrin’s girlfriend Sita tries to talk to his mother Roshana and his sister Sooni but Roshana is not having it. Later Sita tries to give Sooni a letter for Aafrin, saying “Gandhiji says we are one Bharat, so why can’t I love as I choose?” But Sooni disagrees, although she does read the letter. She burns it instead of giving it to her brother. Alice goes to see if she can help Aafrin’s family, but realizes that the father doesn’t know that Aafrin’s been shot. Roshana and Sooni are forced to tell him the truth. There is a rather poignant scene when Papa Dalal dresses up in his finest suit with all his medals to go visit his son in the hospital.
One of the policeman finds the shooter’s identity card hidden inside the stitching of his bag; his name is Chandru Mohan. Ralph claims that he doesn’t know Chandru Mohan, but when he visits the gunman in prison he whispers to him “We’re in a bit of a hole. What are we going to do?” Mohan attacks him brutally until the guards intervene. Clearly Ralph knows his would-be assassin but how? What is their relationship? Ralph turns to Cynthia for both solace and help. She has Kaiser, one of her employees, forge Chandru Mohan’s signature onto a counterfeit document from the Indian National Congress, which connects him to the independence movement. The journalist Khan is not convinced, it’s too convenient, and he thinks that he has found a connection between the two men. Mohan was from Madras, where Ralph was Assistant Magistrate in the summer of 1923. Clearly that can’t be a coincidence. But before Khan can speak with Mohan, he is found dead in his cell, a suicide. After his death, more proof is seemingly found, including a receipt of 4 annas for membership in the Indian National Congress. Ralph steers Khan to Aafir, giving him an exclusive interview with the man who saved his life.
It’s clear that despite their affection for each other, Ralph and Alice don’t know each other very well. Ralph buys a piano for Alice, he has fond memories of her playing when they were children, but Alice tells him that she has no talent for the piano. When Ralph questions why she is in India, she refuses to tell him the real reason, that she’s left her husband. Sarah Raworth is clearly a both a gossip and a social climber. Invited for tea, she makes a point of asking why there are not pictures of Alice’s ‘late’ husband. Sarah’s a pain, but she’s also a lonely woman. Her husband spends more time at the orphanage and with his lovely companion Leena, then he does with her. Even when they are together physically in the same room, he’s elsewhere. Unfortunately, Sarah has absolutely no social skills whatsoever. When her later attempts to ingratiate herself with others at the polo match fall flat, Sarah writes to a friend back in England, hoping to dig up some dirt on Alice. Adam, the young child that Leena and Dougie found last week, disappears from the orphanage. Leena later finds him in the woods torturing himself in the belly with a knife. Her heart breaks for him. Who abandoned this poor child and why is he so intent on hurting himself? Is it solely because he’s mixed race?
Madeleine’s brother Eugene informs Cynthia that Ralph seems to have gone off her. I’m not quite sure what Eugene’s stake is in all this yet. Determined to get these two hitched, Cynthia gives Ralph a copy of Madeleine’s medical records. It confirms her reproductive health and reveals that she’s been lying about her age! At the club, Madeleine tries flirting with Stafford Armitage, teaching him how to do a dance called the ‘Grizzly.’ Ralph and Madeleine come to a détente of sorts later when she joins him in the bathtub. He assures her that he is interested in her.
Aafrin’s dreams are all about Alice, that she has come to see him but when he finally awakens from his coma it is actually Sita by his bedside.