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"Jagged Little Pill" is the fifth episode of the tenth season of the Murdoch Mysteries and the one hundred thirty-seventh of the series. It first aired on November 7, 2016.


Murdoch and Ogden investigate the poisoning of a philandering businessman; Miss James is suspicious of a fellow student's suicide.

In the dead of night, a young woman is running for her life and a prominent Toronto businessman is found dead in his automobile by a night watchman. The next morning in the City Morgue, Dr. Ogden and Miss James begin the autopsy of the murder victim. Murdoch informs them that Mrs. McInnis reported her husband missing two days ago. Along with Mr. Ed McInnis' body, Sarah Franklin's body was fished out of the river and arrives at morgue– to Miss James' disbelief and distress: Rebecca can not believe her friend and fellow medical student committed suicide because she had just received a research scholarship and had every reason to live.  

Enid McInnes identifies the bespoke suit her husband was wearing when he disappeared, and claims her husband was well liked and an astute businessman; however, their marriage was such that her husband took mistresses, a situation she accepted. His current mistress is one Lucy Stone who claims she and Edward had a two-year relationship; but he had stopped seeing her three months ago, but kept her rent and cash current.

At the Ontario Medical College for Women, Rebecca begins questioning Sarah's study group; Ann and Katherine share Rebecca disbelief because Sarah was looking forward to assisting Professor Lawrence Hempel in his research of the cause and treatment of African sleeping sickness after graduation; and Bernard Winston insists Sarah was happy and excited about her future.

Meanwhile, Dr. Ogden determines McInnes died as a result of having arsenic delivered in small doses over a period of time. When his mistress Lucy visits the morgue to say her good-bye to Edward, both the Detective and the Doctor they notice her pale complexion, heavy perspiration, and odorous breath. Perhaps a result of mercury treatments used in the treatment of syphilis. With further testing, Julia discovers McInnes was suffering from ocular syphilis. This explains why he stayed away from his wife and stopped seeing his mistress, though too late for Miss Stone. The insidious disease may have played a role in Mr. McInnes' death.

Continuing her own investigation, Miss James discovers that Sarah Franklin had the exam in advance and shared it with Bernard Winston and the rest of her study group, but then handed in a blank exam. Rebecca breaks into Sarah's locker and shares her discovery with the Detective: an address RS-100, 2040 Rosehill Avenue and who lives there – Edward Mclnnes. The two cases are connected. Sarah’s blank exam suggests that she was going to report the cheating but it does not explain the address of a murdered businessman in her locker. A new mistress? She killed him for whatever reason and then took her own life? Or perhaps someone killed them both?

After Mrs. Mclnnes confirms that a distraught Miss Franklin did indeed come to their home looking for Mr. Mclnnes the day after he died– though she had no idea why, Murdoch interviews Dr. Stowe-Gullen and Professor Hempel at the medical school about their once promising and ambitious student, Rebecca asks to ride with him as she has an assignment to finish and hand in.

Later that evening at the City Morgue, William and Julia study Miss Franklin's research notebooks: arsenic kills but when in combination with other elements, could also cure. Some of her formulas are very sophisticated and she had been using rats as test subjects with some success. What if she was onto something? Miss Franklin was trying to eradicate "Trypanosome", spiral-shaped parasite that causes sleeping sickness. Which looks very familiar to...the causal agent for syphilis. Julia tells William that the scientists who discovered the syphilis bacteria made that same observation. If the treatment for one also can treat the other – it's the stuff of Nobel Prizes. Did they need a human subject? Is the secret formula worth murdering for?

Meanwhile, Miss James has missed her date with Nate Desmond at the church social. Still at the medical college, Rebecca finds herself in grave danger after discovering pieces of Mr. McInnes's medical records from Prof. Hempel's office fireplace.

Character Revelations

  • Murdoch never did get the hang of morgue humor; on the other hand, Miss James is a quick study.
  • Rebecca James is called Becca by Nate.
  • William interviews his seventh contractor who made the short list based on his budget parsimony but he doesn't fully appreciate the intricacies of Murdoch's design. Julia asks if he needs to appreciate it to build for Mr. Blink's was the contractor on the King Edward Hotel and it hasn't fallen.


Historical References

  • Ontario Medical College for Women and its beginnings as Women’s Medical College with its ties to Dr. Emily Stowe; her daughter Augusta Stowe-Gullen taught at the medical college at that time.
  • Gutzeit test is a test for arsenic used esp. in toxicology that is based on the formation of arsine (as in the Marsh test) and the production by the arsine of a brown stain on filter paper moistened with mercuric chloride solution; named after Ernst Wilhelm Heinrich Gutzeit (1845-1888) who developed the method.
  • In 1905, two scientists from Germany, Fritz Schaudinn (1871-1096) and Erich Hoffmann (1869-1959), have identified the causative bacteria of syphilis – "Treponema pallidum spirochete". The research into syphilis and the sleeping sickness is historically accurate.
  • The "modern day" pencil with eraser was invented in 1858 and mass produced in North America by 1904.
  • Professor Hempel stealing Sarah Franklin's notes to further his research could be a possible allusion to how James Watson and Francis Crick stole Rosalind Franklin's notes which led to them winning the Nobel Prize in Physiology for the discovery of the DNA double helix.



Main Cast

Yannick Bisson as Detective William Murdoch
Hélène Joy as Dr. Julia Ogden
Thomas Craig as Inspector Thomas Brackenreid
Jonny Harris as Constable George Crabtree

Recurring Cast

Mouna Traoré as Rebecca James
Jordan Johnson-Hinds as Nate Desmond

Guest Cast

James Gallanders as Professor Lawrence Hempel
Julie Khaner as Dr. Stowe-Gullen
Clare Stone as Anne Baxter
Erin Carter as Katherine Roy
.PNG Matt O’Connor as Bernard Winston
Kiran Friesen as Lucy Stone
Brittany Bennett as Enid McInnes
Anthony Ulc as Mr. Banks
Jennifer Balen as Sarah Franklin
Kevin Charles Hopper as Night Watchman


Murdoch Mysteries Season 10
Great Balls of Fire, Part 1Great Balls of Fire, Part 2A Study in PinkConcocting A KillerJagged Little PillBend It Like BrackenreidPainted LadiesWeekend at Murdoch'sExcitable ChapThe Devil InsideA Murdog MysteryThe MissingMr. Murdoch's NeighbourhoodFrom Murdoch to EternityHades Hath No FuryMaster LovecraftHot Wheels of ThunderHell to Pay
Season 1Season 2Season 3Season 4Season 5Season 6Season 7Season 8Season 9Season 10Season 11Season 12