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Recap / Inside No 9 S 2 E 3 The Trial Of Elizabeth Gadge

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In 17th-century England, Sir Andrew Pike summons professional witch-finders Mr. Warren and Mr. Clarke to the village of Little Happens. A local woman named Elizabeth Gadge is accused of witchcraft, and Warren and Clarke are to preside over her trial. Clarke believes in giving her a fair trial, although it is clear that Pike has devised the trial to revive outside interest in the village and intends for Elizabeth to be executed.

In court the following day, Elizabeth's daughter and son-in-law claim to have seen her talking to a demon in the form of a mouse, and drinking from the teats of a furry creature. George Waterhouse, to whom Elizabeth's late husband had owed money, testifies to witnessing her fly on a shovel and "kissing the Devil's arse" at a witches' sabbath. Warren seems determined to find Elizabeth guilty, while Clarke is more cautious. Meanwhile, Pike is unusually interested in the witch-finders' instruments of torture, and the lewd acts Elizabeth is accused of engaging in with the devil. Elizabeth gives a humorous, foul-mouthed defence and everyone in the court starts laughing, causing Pike and the witch-finders to decide the rest of the trial should be conducted in private. Elizabeth claims the "furry creature" is the village cobbler, Two-Shoes, who wears a fur coat; he has been secretly paying her for sex. Two-Shoes is questioned but denies it.

Clarke believes Elizabeth is innocent and questions whether the trial should be going ahead. Warren makes it plain that he wants to execute her, and will also have Clarke burned as a witch if Clarke objects. When the trial resumes the following morning, Warren covertly crumbles some cheese on the floor in front of Elizabeth; then brings in her supposed familiar (her pet mouse), asking it to point out the witch. When the mouse goes directly to Elizabeth, she is sentenced to be burned at the stake. However Clarke, believing Warren to be possessed by the devil, substitutes Warren in Elizabeth's place (bound and gagged under a hood so that no one notices.) Clarke frees Elizabeth, only for her to reveal that she is a real witch. She kills Clarke by breaking his neck. Outside, the flames from the pyre rage out of control, and screams are heard. Elizabeth tells the mouse they must go to the sabbath and return to "their master"; before turning into a raven and flying away.

This episode contains examples of:

  • All Witches Have Cats: Averted - Elizabeth's familiar is a mouse.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comparison: Two-Shoes and his wife are asked if it is true that he has been spending his nights with "this vile hag" (Elizabeth.) Two-Shoes says yes, thinking the question refers to his wife.
  • Bat Deduction: Elizabeth's pet mouse has a name, and since "named" backwards spells "deman", Warren decides the mouse must be a demon. He's right.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Elizabeth.
  • Bound and Gagged: Elizabeth (actually Warren) before her execution.
  • Burn the Witch!: This is Elizabeth's sentence. Inverted - she apparently uses her magic to burn down the whole village.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Clarke throughout the trial.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Thomas brags about having Elizabeth executed and tells her she's going to hell (unaware he's actually speaking to Warren), but thinks it would be a little excessive if everyone in the village accused their elderly mothers of witchcraft.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Clarke warns Warren against this. Also applies to Clarke himself when he has Warren killed in Elizabeth's place.
  • Hypocritical Humor: After warning the court that Elizabeth must not be referred to as a witch unless found guilty, Pike shouts out "Bring forth the witch!"
  • Kangaroo Court
  • Kill 'em All: Implied by the ending.
  • Punny Name: The villages of Little Happens and Much Happens; cobbler Richard Two-Shoes and his wife Goody Two-Shoes ("Goody" being the standard address for a married woman at the time), and Mr. and Mrs. Nutter (after Alice Nutter, a defendant in the real-life Pendle witch trials, but also British slang for a crazy person.)
  • Shout-Out:
    • The witch-finders are named in homage to the actor Warren Clarke of A Clockwork Orange fame.
    • Warren's first name is Matthew, after England's real-life "Witchfinder General" Matthew Hopkins.
    • Mr Warren and Mr Clarke are named in homage to Dalziel And Pascoe actor Warren Clarke.
  • Something Completely Different: The only episode of the first three series with a straightforward period setting.
  • Too Kinky to Torture: Pike's reaction to Warren and Clarke's torture implements, and to the reports of Elizabeth engaging in sexual acts with the devil, suggests this.
  • Torture Always Works: How Warren and Clarke get accused witches to confess.
  • Wicked Witch: Elizabeth is correctly accused of being one.
  • The Witch Hunter: Warren and Clarke's profession.