A pretty ambitious departure for the show, then. But you wouldn't have guessed all of this was coming from the opening sequence, which seemed to set up a pretty straightforward whodunit.
The victim: a card player named Bob. The crime scene: the stables outside the Dubois saloon, where Bob had been playing a few hands with a group of guys. It looked like a robbery gone wrong, at least until the arrival of a mysterious young Japanese man named Kenji.
He almost caused a riot when he walked into the Dubois saloon, mainly on account of not being a grizzled white man like almost everyone else in there. The reaction to Kenji's appearance was a useful reminder that, while The Pinkertons is a pretty cosy show most of the time, it does take place in a world where snarling xenophobia was all fine and dandy.
Announcing himself as a friend of Bob's, Kenji hired Will and Kate to find the culprit. Trouble was, Kenji wasn't content to just sit back and let the Pinkertons do their thing. He had more of a "hands on" approach, constantly dogging Kate and Will wherever they went, and even swooping in to apprehend a suspect.
In fact, he seemed more on the ball than the actual Pinkertons, but that was probably because he was keeping secrets from them. Like the fact that Bob, the dead man, was actually a bounty hunter. Now that's the kind of detail that could come in very useful in a murder investigation.
So was the killer actually one of these captive card players?
Meanwhile, what about the three men Bob had been playing cards with on the night he died? The series once again showed how funny it can be with some almost slapstick scenes where each one of the card players was arrested for various reasons. One of them was a wanted swindler, for example. And one was rude to Sheriff Logan, which is a big no-no in Kansas City (though seeing him take Logan down a peg or two made us want to clap from the sidelines, quite frankly).
So was the killer actually one of these captive card players? Well, it slowly transpired that one of the men was in fact a former US diplomat who Bob and Kenji were hunting for his part in the murder of a Japanese minister. Turns out the diplomat was dead against a new trade agreement between their nations, and wanted it scuppered.
It was the diplomat who killed Bob, sensing the bounty hunter was on his tail. As for Kenji - he was the dead Japanese minister's son, out to avenge his slain father's honour. And that led to the most surreal moment we've seen on The Pinkertons so far, with Kenji and the diplomat having an actual, swashbuckling sword fight in the desert. Fortunately, Kate and Will arrived in time to stop Kenji from actually killing the diplomat and getting himself a death sentence. That would have been quite a downer.
DID YOU SPOT?
- Pompous yet charismatic, the diplomat was definitely the most entertaining bad guy we've seen in the show so far. Facing off against Kenji, he almost sounded like a character in a samurai epic: "By putting desire before duty, you commit a greater treachery."
- Was that really the last we'll see of Kenji? At one point, Will joked about recruiting him as a Pinkerton. Could be an idea...
- Running for re-election, Sheriff Logan's campaign slogan is "He hangs 'em high". Well, you've got to give him points for directness.