The Pinkertons Episode 1: Kansas City

Now that’s how you start a series: a train robbery on horseback, with a gang of bad ole’ boys rampaging through the carriages and shooting one young fellow in cold blood after identifying him as a Yankee soldier.

The Pinkertons Episode 1

Yes, we're squarely in Wild West territory, right in the aftermath of the Civil War: a time when Southern rebels are still mighty furious about their defeat at the hands of the northern Yankees.

Of course, The Pinkertons is actually a crime procedural rather than a cowboy epic. So after this action-packed opening sequence, things quietened down a fair bit as we we're introduced to our trio of sleuths. There's Allan Pinkerton, founder of the legendary Pinkerton Detective Agency and possessor of the most soothingly soft Scottish accent on television (if he wasn't a scary detective guy built like a giant beardy barrel, he'd probably make a fine yoga instructor).

Then there's his son Will, a cocky young buck with a heart of gold and impeccably sculpted facial hair. Finally there's Kate Warne, Allan Pinkerton's protégé, forensics clever clogs and America's first lady detective. Which is a fact that Will has a hard time wrapping his head around ("Who's ever heard of a lady detective anyway?").

Still, when he wasn't busy having a strop about Kate being clever and female, Will came in pretty handy during the investigation, finding cash from the train heist amid some winnings he'd earnt in a card game. Before you can say "follow the money", the detectives went undercover to charm, schmooze and generally blag their way to the whereabouts of the bad guys.

Naturally, the whole train robbery thing was just the tip of the iceberg for these villains.

The gang's REAL plan was to re-ignite the Civil War by blowing up a train full of Yankee soldiers. And how would they do that? By using small bombs disguised as lumps of coal. Pretty ingenious for a group of unwashed bigoted hicks. James Bond's Q would have been tutting in appalled appreciation.

Luckily, Allan, Will and Kate swooped in to foil their plan. Which was a good excuse for a gunfight (one of the perks of setting a procedural in 19th Century America is you tend to get more gunfights than in your average episode of Lewis). Oh, and Will couldn't resist saying "Pinkertons always get their man". We thought that was the Mounties?

DID YOU SPOT?

  • Allan revealed that Will's a true hero, helping to save runaway slaves when he was a wee slip of a lad. A good thing to bear in mind whenever Will acts like a foolish man-child (which is often).
  • Is this a simmering flirtation we detect between Kate and Will, or are they just destined to be like a bickering brother and sister?
  • Posing as a Southern belle, Kate asked for a mint julep in the saloon. This is one of America's classic cocktails, made with crushed ice, fresh mint and bourbon. Remember it the next time you're in a bar and don't want to boringly order a mojito like everyone else.
  • The real-life Pinkertons really did hunt down America's first train robbers, the notorious Reno Gang, who really did commit their crimes in the wake of the Civil War. They probably didn't use those nifty coal-bomb things though.