Episode 1 Recap

After Flesh and Blood‘s gripping premiere of secrets, surprises, and sex, we have even more unanswered questions than the detectives investigating the crime itself! In a recap of Episode 1, let’s focus our binoculars, Mary-style, on the episode’s action, and revisit what we know, what we don’t know, and what we suspect!


  1. 1.

    The Body in Question...and More Questions

    Stephen Rea and Francesca Annis in Flesh and Blood as seen on MASTERPIECE on PBS

    What We Know
    Flesh and Blood opens with a beach house crime scene and a mysterious body being carried away on a stretcher as plain Jane nosy neighbor Mary, interrogated by a pair of detectives, tells them about the family next door, where the accident/crime occurred. Through Mary’s narrative and a shift in the action to an earlier time, we find glamorous Vivien, widowed 18 months earlier, hosting dinner with her three adult children to a tell them about her new romance with retired surgeon Mark. Her oldest, beleaguered corporate exec, mom, and heavy drinker, Helen, is skeptical. Her son, separated family man and personal trainer Jake, is outraged. And her youngest, an office assistant who’s sleeping with her married boss, Natalie, is happy for her mom. The dinner ends, but the secrets and resentments are just beginning to boil to the surface!

    What We Don’t Know
    Whose body is being carried away? What happened? Who is responsible? And will the victim survive?

  2. 2.

    Vivien: Surprise Boyfriend, Sudden Collapse

    What We Know
    Vivien is enjoying her new-found freedom after a marriage was not all it appeared—her husband only put his long-running affair to an end to when Vivien agreed not to tell their children about it. Despite Mark’s surprising proposal, she doesn’t want to rush into marriage. But a sudden health scare that lands her in the hospital has her feeling more vulnerable, so she accepts Mark’s offer to (temporarily) move in with her, and before long, she accepts his marriage proposal, too.

    What We Don’t Know
    Though Vivien is open-hearted, she’s no fool. So when she finds out that Mark has gone through her drawers to find her passport, and when he proposes to her out of the blue, microexpressions of concern pass over her face. Just how uncomfortable is she with Mark’s boundary-violating intensity? What caused her sudden collapse? How worried should we be for her health…and how worried should we be about Mark?

  3. 3.

    Mark: Passports and Pills

    What We Know
    He’s a retired surgeon and the father of an adult daughter. He cultivates a caring and supportive persona, but is also unnervingly intense. He loves a surprise, is researching “Gibralter: one of the easiest places in Europe to get married at short notice,” and has tranquilizers at the ready to dispense to his unofficial patient, Vivien. And we know that he saw Mary spying on them.

    What We Don’t Know
    Is Mark actually a retired surgeon or a father? After all, none of his biographical information has been confirmed… Why is he in such a hurry to marry Vivien? Should she trust him by taking his proffered pills? And what’s behind his super-sinister expression, when he saw Mary spying on them?

  4. 4.

    Mary: Sinister or Just Sad?

    Imelda Staunton stars as Mary in Flesh and Blood on MASTERPIECE PBS

    What We Know
    Mary’s modus operandi is to be cheerfully helpful, but a slyness lies beneath her eager honesty (and notably, her story is the one that the detectives are hearing…). Having helped with Vivien’s children when the young working mother was busy, Mary thinks of herself as a part of the family, and resents Mark’s role in her friend’s life. She watches everything going on at the house next door and never misses a chance to try to insert herself into a family event or her old friend’s life. She even intercepted the delivery of a package that Mark sent to Vivien, steaming it open to see what was inside, then actually wearing (and staining) the silk dressing gown as she eats dinner in front of the TV!

    What We Don’t Know
    Is Mary a sinister stalker or just sad? Will her over-the-top devotion to Vivien help or hurt her old friend? Is she telling the detectives the truth? And what will she do, now that Mark has caught her spying?

  5. 5.

    Jake: Money, Problems

    Russell Tovey in Flesh and Blood on MASTERPIECE on PBS

    What We Know
    We know that Jake and his wife, Leila, are split up because Jake accrued some serious gambling debts, and paying them off is one step towards his desperate desire to repair his marriage. But the extra cash is payment for sleeping with one of his clients, Stella, and at the end of the episode, he accepts her offer to live rent-free in one of her investment apartments, in exchange for more of the same.

    What We Don’t Know
    Will Leila find out how Jake is making all that money?

  6. 6.

    Helen: Trouble at Work, Trouble at Home

    Claudie Blakley in Flesh and Blood on MASTERPIECE on PBS

    What We Know
    We know that Helen drinks in an effort to escape from the pressure of her stressful job, where she’s in charge of restructuring three troubled hospitals and laying off employees, one of whom, Meera, bitterly confronts her. Her emotionally checked-out husband feels brow-beaten, and her teenage daughter filmed her drunk and vomiting into their toilet.

    What We Don’t Know
    Was Meera really watching Helen through the window of the bar, or did she hallucinate it? And what is her daughter, Lily, going to do with that video?

  7. 7.

    Natalie: The Other Woman

    Lydia Leonard in Flesh and Blood on MASTERPIECE on PBS

    What We Know
    We know that Natalie hasn’t had the ambition or success of her older siblings, as Mary describes, “She was going to be a dancer, then an actress, then an artist, but it all came to nothing,” and her father gave her money to buy her apartment (but didn’t do the same for her siblings). She’s sleeping with Tony, her married boss; his wife knows; and at the end of the episode, she finally reaches him after calling and calling to tell him that she’s pregnant.

    What We Don’t Know
    Is Tony on the up-and-up about leaving his wife and children for Natalie? What will his wife do? And how will Tony react to learning that Natalie is pregnant?

  8. 8.

    What We Suspect

    It’s not unreasonable to suspect that Natalie’s boyfriend is going to dump her; Jake’s wife is going to find out about the whole sex-for-money thing; Helen’s daughter is going to post that video to a social network, and the tension around the Mark issue is going to tear these siblings apart! As for creepy Mark and unbalanced Mary, virtually anything is on the table. We’ll just have to wait and see!


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