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"Murdochophobia" is the sixth episode of the seventh season of Murdoch Mysteries and the eighty-fourth episode of the series. It first aired on November 4, 2013.


Detective Murdoch investigates the death of Sarah Bosen who apparently threw herself from her hospital room window and breaking her neck in the fall. Sarah was being treated by Julia Ogden for arachnophobia and had been making some progress in overcoming her fears. Murdoch however finds a dead spider in her room, though Julia insists that Sarah had never been afraid of dead spiders. The three remaining members of the treatment group begin to have their doubts about their therapy. Julia's colleague, Dr. Charles Linden, thinks her therapy is a waste of time and as far as he is concerned, Sarah's death proves him correct. He launches a formal complaint to have her research terminated. When her other patients are forced to face their phobias, Murdoch concludes that someone is trying to kill her patients. Meanwhile, Crabtree tries to save his pet spider from Dr. Grace's experiments and Dr. Ogden helps Murdoch overcome his own irrational fear of butterflies.

Following Harry Phelps having a panic attack after a herd of horses run by him, he admits to Murdoch and Julia that he spotted Pauline Kerr and Sarah kissing each other and outraged, he wrote letters to their husbands. Murdoch questions Mr. Bosen about his wife being a lesbian, only to learn that Mr. Bosen admits to being homosexual, having only married Sarah to appease their families.

Jarius Kerr, Pauline's husband, decides to take his wife back home, though Julia is hesitant, as he would likely force himself upon Pauline. Jarius also confronts Julia about Harry's letter and criticizes her for not seeing this coming. Then suddenly, they heard screaming coming from Pauline's room, where they find her cowering amidst a shower of feathers.

One of the patients reveal that Linden was in the vicinity of Pauline's room before her attack. Murdoch then brings Linden in for questioning, revealing that they had found his usual horse riding boots smeared with manure, placing him in the stables to release the horses on Harry, and a feather, which was part of the collection he used on Pauline­. Linden attempts to deny his accusations, only for Crabtree to walk into the Interview Room to announce that they had also found a collection of live spiders at Linden's residence. Linden then admits to having attempted to sabotage Julia's project but when he arrived at Sarah's room to plant a dead spider, she had already jumped out the window.

Murdoch is nowhere to solving Sarah's death, until he spots a glass prism in Julia's office, made by Jarius' glass company, and realizes what killed her. He brings Julia to Sarah's room, where Crabtree opens a grate in the next room, Pauline's, and Julia realizes the answer.

Julia later tells Jarius that she's releasing Pauline into his care and claims that she's currently in Sarah's room. But when they arrive, they find only Murdoch, who asks Jarius if he's aware of how prisms work. He then signals Crabtree, who opens the grate, holding a spider up to the prism, causing multiple spider shadows to appear. He then relates his theory that Jarius was jealous that Sarah had taken Pauline's affections, so when he visited his wife that night, he used his prism and a live spider against the grate, making Sarah think that she was surrounded by spiders, causing her to jump out the window in terror. Jarius insists they can't prove that and that he never touched her. Pauline overhears everything and angrily lashes out at her husband, shouting that she loved Sarah. Jarius insists that she only loves him but she retorts that never loved him and walks away. Jarius attempts to rationalize that Sarah died of her own fear but Murdoch and Crabtree would have none of it and arrest him.

Dr. Clark later informs Julia that Linden has been dismissed by the asylum board.

Julia brings Murdoch to her office to discuss his fear of butterflies and asks how it started. Murdoch admits that when he was a child, he found his mother's body and all he could remember about that day is the butterflies on her body. With Julia's help, he lets go of his fear.

Character Revelations

  • It is revealed that William Murdoch is afraid of butterflies because when he found his dead mother, there were butterflies surrounding her, but overcomes the fear with the help of Julia Ogden.
  • Fellow doctors at the Provincial Lunatic Asylum do not approve of Dr. Ogden's test group, hoping to stay with older methods.


Historical References

  • This episode takes place in Toronto 1901 - The Edwardian Era (1901-1910) was the time in which the late Queen Victoria’s son, Edward VII is on the throne.
  • Julia references systematic desensitization, a form of therapy she was testing to help her patients overcome their phobias at the asylum.
  • Prisms as refractors have been known since the time of the Romans, who noted that when the light hit it in a certain way a rainbow would come out.
  • "Boston marriage" was a term used in New England in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to describe two women living together, independent of financial support from a man.



  • While systematic desensitization is real, it wasn't fully developed until the 1950s by Joseph Wolpe, a South African psychiatrist.


Main Cast

Yannick Bisson as William Murdoch
Hélène Joy as Julia Ogden
Thomas Craig as Thomas Brackenreid
Jonny Harris as George Crabtree
Georgina Reilly as Emily Grace

Recurring Cast

Lachlan Murdoch as Henry Higgins

Guest Cast

Tara Spencer-Nairn as Pauline Kerr
Joris Jarsky as Jarius Kerr
David Richmond-Peck as Dr. Charles Linden
Alexander De Jordy as Harry Phelps
Laura Condlin as Imelda Craske
Stephen Bogaert as Dr. Clark
Melissa Hood as Sarah Bosen
Ryan Kelly as Mr. Bosen


Murdoch Mysteries Season 7
"Murdoch Ahoy" • "Tour de Murdoch" • "The Filmed Adventures of Detective William Murdoch" • "Return of Sherlock Holmes" • "Murdoch of the Living Dead" • "Murdochophobia" • "Loch Ness Murdoch" • "Republic of Murdoch" • "A Midnight Train to Kingston" • "Murdoch in Ragtime" • "Journey to the Centre of Toronto" • "Unfinished Business" • "The Murdoch Sting"•"Friday the 13th, 1901"•"The Spy Who Came Up to the Cold"•"Kung Fu Crabtree"•"Blast of Silence"•"The Death of Dr. Ogden"
Season 1Season 2Season 3Season 4Season 5Season 6Season 7Season 8Season 9Season 10