The release of Constable George Crabtree's adventure novel, The Curse of the Pharaohs, fortuitously coincides with the exhibition of a recently discovered mummy's tomb, The Unknown Princess. At the event, Detective Murdoch is charmed by Iris Bajjali, a Doctor of Archeology, involved in the recent discovery. When Professor Alger Greenwood opens the sarcophagus for the audience, a cobra strikes and he's killed instantly, Murdoch immediately shuts down the exhibition, taking the casket as evidence. Organizer Desmond Rutherford is outraged, but his ailing associate Phillip Uxbridge is relieved. Uxbridge tells Murdoch that everyone involved in the expedition is cursed.
Soon after, Mrs. Xavier McAllister, a Toronto socialite who is a patron of the expedition, collapses and dies at the unwrapping of the mummy of the princess' servant girl held in her home. The Toronto Gazette has a field day with story, blaming the mummy's curse. Crabtree is in agreement with that point of view and appreciates that the sudden publicity is doing wonders for his book's popularity and sales. Murdoch, however, believes there is a more scientific explanation for what is happening. Suspects include Mr. Sharif, an Egyptian protester of the exhibit, and exhibition organizer Rutherford, who is the next to die, falling victim to electrocution due to frayed wiring.
Given the research he did for his novel, Crabtree presents the mummy's curse on the chalkboard to Brackenreid and Murdoch. The first three stages of the curse have already been fulfilled: "Stage 1... death by brain fire." A fever, that was Burrows, the first man into the tomb. "Stage 2... suffering that never ends." Uxbridge believes that to be himself. Clearly, he's suffering from some strange illness. "Stage 3... the bite of an asp." The fourth stage is somewhat harder to explain, "The cessation of the soul." And the fifth, even stranger: "The revenge of Anubis." A god of the Underworld, it is said he guides souls on their journey. Crabtree adds, "He had the head of a jackal."
Dr. Grace informs Murdoch that the last meal of the gerbil which was found in the stomach of the snake consisted of ingredients for an herbal paste used for fevers – it's Egyptian camomile, which Uxbridge uses: he put the snake in the casket.
While packing up the exhibition, Uxbridge is agitated that Dr. Bajjali does not intend on returning everything to Egypt to break the curse, but instead is taking the exhibit on to Chicago. He attacks her, Murdoch intervenes and attempts to arrest the man, but he breaks free and runs into the street where he is hit by a fire wagon and killed instantly.
Dr. Grace's postmortem finds that the fever remedy he had been taking was laced with mandrake, a poison, in an amount that would not have caused his illness but likely gave him hallucinations. The death of Mrs. MacAllister is re-confirmed as a heart attack.
Since the exhibition has found a permanent home where it can be displayed with dignity, Iris plans to join another expedition into Mexico's Mayan pyramids. Iris tells William that he would likely enjoy it, as discovery is rewarding no matter what is being discovered. She points out that Uxbridge's death is consistent with the final stage of the curse, so perhaps not everything can be explained by science.
- George's novel The Curse of the Pharaohs is a bestseller due to Egypt fever (Egyptomania).
- George tells Henry, "My Aunt Primrose once caught a snake with her bare hands."
- Dr. Grace does not knock when the Detective's office door is closed.
- Emily Grace is a member of the Toronto Historical Society who sponsors the "Unknown Princess" exhibition.
- Dr. Julia Ogden does not appear in this episode but is mentioned and referenced.
- Since gypsum is calcium sulphate and fluoresces, Murdoch uses his UV Light Box to reveal the hidden symbols on the Unknown Princess' sarcophagus to reveal she is indeed Queen Ma'at.
- This is the first appearance of Dr. Iris Bajjali, she returns in Murdoch and the Temple of Death.
- In the early 20th century, a 'cup of tea' was such a synonym for acceptability that people or things with which one felt an affinity began to be called 'my cup of tea'. 'My cup of tea' is just one of the many tea-related phrases that are still in common use in the UK, such as 'Not for all the tea in China', 'Tea and sympathy', 'Storm in a teacup' and so on. By the 1940s, the earlier positive 'my cup of tea' phrase changes to the dismissive 'not my cup of tea' which prescient Murdoch says to Iris' "Though, there is a certain allure in the idea that the responsibility of choice is out of our control."
- The Book of the Dead is the modern name of an ancient Egyptian funerary text, used from the beginning of the New Kingdom (around 1550 BC) to around 50 BC.
- Queen Maat, also known as Ma’at or Mayet, was a female goddess in the ancient Egyptian religion who represented truth, justice, balance and morality. The daughter of the Egyptian sun deity Ra and wife of the moon god Thoth, she served as a kind of spirit of justice to the Egyptians and was the personification of the cosmic order and a representation of the stability of the universe.
- Mummy unwrapping parties were only one symptom of the Egyptomania sweeping England in the 19th century. Europeans had been buying mummies since Shakespeare's time (1564 to 1616) using them for medicine.
- In this episode, Crabtree has written a book. When Brackenreid asks him for a signed copy, he opens the book, dips his pen in ink, and signs the book, and closes it. Without using a blotter.
- Three snakes where used in the filming: The first, a King cobra is later switched for an Water python before it was brought to the police station to be dissected where there it was a smaller python.
Aidan Devine as Desmond Rutherford
Athena Karkanis as Dr. Iris Bajjali
Julian Richings as Phillip Uxbridge
Keon Alexander as Fouad Sharif
Jill Frappier as Mrs. Xavier McAllister
Mike Petersen as Professor Alger Greenwood
Gabriel Giammaria as Newsboy
|Murdoch Mysteries Season 5|
|"Murdoch of the Klondike" • "Back and to the Left" • "Evil Eye of Egypt" • "War on Terror" • "Murdoch at the Opera" • "Who Killed the Electric Carriage?" • "Stroll on the Wild Side (Part 1)" • "Stroll on the Wild Side (Part 2)" • "Invention Convention" • "Staircase to Heaven" • "Murdoch in Toyland" • "Murdoch Night in Canada" • "Twentieth Century Murdoch"|
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