Plot: At this point, you’d think Sydney (James Norton) would be so used to working cases alongside the police, nothing could surprise him. But the dark world of crime is full of nasty little surprises, as he discovers when he once again lends a hand to his friend, Detective Inspector Geordie (Robson Green). In the beginning, Sydney would lean on his faith and routine as a minister to comfort him when facing these dark crimes, but he has also struggled in that aspect. His faith remains strong, but he continues to doubt his actions and of course, his love for beautiful Amanda (Morvin Christie) always has him second guessing his decisions. But he will need his mind clear, as the duo will soon embark on some of the toughest cases they’ve ever handled, including some that prove to be quite personal. As he walks through these haunting reminders of the dark side of man, can Sydney hold on to his faith and continue his work, or will he finally be pushed to make some serious changes?

Entertainment Value: While I enjoyed the first two seasons of Grantchester, the shift away from more personal elements was a disappointment. The move toward more focus on the cases wasn’t a severe one, but it was evident and I wondered if that would keep going here. As it turns out, the show reels back the focus somewhat and gives us more of the personal side of things. Now some cases remain self contained and don’t work into the personal aspect much, but some are very personal and in those instances, we’re given a lot of development. So it is a nice balance for those interested in the cases and those who prefer the character driven approach. I think that balance is nailed here, which is no small feat. Sydney continues to be one of the more interesting characters in the genre, but at some point, we know he will have to take a side and make a final choice in some of his conflicts. But his struggle to keep things together is what drives the show at times, so I am glad that resolution wasn’t rushed. This third season includes six episodes and a Christmas special, with the season finale offering up the moment we’ve waited for, as Sydney must confront his feelings for Amanda. So this season delivers and fans should be quite pleased.

The regular cast seems to have settled into their roles by this point, which means the performances are more natural. The acting has been strong throughout the series, but everyone seems especially on point in these episodes. James Norton brings Sydney’s inner turmoil to life quite well, being able to convey that troubled side, but also his more optimistic traits, so the character works well. Given his prominence as the lead, his turn is crucial and Norton really nails the part once again. Robson Green is terrific as well, playing off Norton well and giving our crime fighting duo good chemistry and some lively banter. Morvin Christie shines here as well, given some extra time to develop Amanda, not to mention we finally get some confrontation on the dynamics of their relationship. I also think the supporting cast are quite good, but Norton and Green carry the load here, for sure. I was pleased with this third season of Grantchester, as I feel it righted a shift in focus from the second season, then pushed some issues we wanted to see confronted. A well made, well performed show that is well worth a look for fans of the genre.

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