That’s the thing about fear. It makes you weak. The fear of God, strength, or power intimates us to commit unwilful acts and dilutes our sense of judgment. A frightened person relies on other entities, like God, a priest, a politician, or a leader. But what if these godly beings are corrupt, and we are too scared to revolt? Will our miseries ever end? The Long Call, a television series, follows a mysterious murder in an evangelical community in the Shire Country, Devon. A detective, Matthew Venn, who once was a part of the community, returns to attend his father’s funeral. He looks into the murder case, but will he be able to investigate his own ex-cult where everyone hides a secret and refuses to share the information?
The Long Call is created by Kelly Jones, who weaves a captivating tale in just 4 episodes. Let’s dive into the mystery.
‘The Long Call’ Plot Summary
D.I.Matthew Venn (Ben Aldridge) returns to his hometown, Devon, to attend his father’s funeral. He has recently shifted to the town with his boyfriend, Jonathan Roberts (Declan Bennett). Matthew wants to pacify his relationship with his mother, Dorothy, who is a part of an evangelical community, The Barun Brethren. When Matthew came out of the closet during his teenage years, the Church Elder, Dennis Stephenson (Martin Shaw), banished him from the community. Later, Dorothy asked Matthew to leave the house, and he had no option but to run away.
While Matthew attends his father’s funeral, he gets a call from DC Jen Rafferty (Pearl Mackie). She informs him about a murder near crow point. At the crime scene, detectives find the dead body of 40 years old Simon Walten with a single stab wound to his chest. Walten was a professional chef who volunteered at the café at Woodyard community center. He lived in a lodge with two other housemates, Caroline Reasley and Gaby Chadwell.
The detectives find out that his original name was Simon Walden. He was involved in a traffic collision in Bristol four years ago. In the accident, a drunk Walden killed a girl and was sentenced to four years. He came out of it in two, but the guilt followed him through.
Matthew assumes that Walden came to Devon to start a new life and shed his grief. And maybe his past followed him that got him killed. The detectives interrogate the parents who lost their daughter, suspecting Walden’s murder was an act of revenge. But this mystery gets further complicated when a church girl, Rosa Shapland, is abducted. Matthew links her kidnapping with Walden’s murder that leads him to the real murderer.
What happened to Rosa Shapland?
Despite having differences, Matthew’s mother, Dorothy, called Matthew to inform him about a missing church girl, Rosa Shapland. The people in the community were living in fear after Walden’s murder and thus didn’t want to take a chance. Dorothy informed Mathew that Rosa invited Walden to one of their church meetings a month ago, and maybe her disappearance and Walden’s murder could be linked. Later that night, Rosa called 999 to ask for help from the authorities.
The detectives conducted a search and found a mysterious chalet in the Sautan Sands area. A painter at the Woodyard, Gaby confessed to the detectives that she and Walden used the chalet to spend time together. They shared a romantic relationship, and Gaby was pregnant with Walden’s child. The detectives found Walden’s laptop in the chalet that notified them about 200 grand that Walden wanted to give to Woodyard as a form of charity.
Before the detectives could solve the mystery, Rosa was found in the woods near Lovacott. At first, Rosa lied to the detectives, saying that she couldn’t remember anything about the night. The Barun Brethren cult guru, Dennis Stephenson, had asked Rosa to stay silent, convincing her that the world is sinful, savage, and dangerous. He persuaded Rosa that the only way to find peace is to submit oneself to God and leave the secret of the past life behind. Like an evangelical commune, Dennis preached the doctrine of being “born again” into a new life, a life devoted to the Church.
Who abducted Rosa Shapland?
Matthew convinced Dennis’s wife, Grace, to persuade Rosa to speak to the police and not submit to the fear spread by Dennis. Finally, Rosa visited the station and revealed that about 2 months ago, she volunteered at the Woodyard. After the session, Rosa got drunk at the cafe along with other volunteers. Ed Raveley kept topping her glass up, and when Rosa came out of the cafe to leave for home, Ed tried to touch Rosa inappropriately without her consent. Simon Walden, who was a volunteer too, stopped Ed.
Rosa informed Dennis about the attack. He stopped Rosa from going to the police, and one of the trustees of the Woodyard, Christopher Reasley, gave a 120 dollar necklace to Rosa to keep her mouth shut. A few days later, Simon came to Rosa’s church meeting and asked her to go to the police. Simon had recorded Ed on his phone secretly and wanted Rosa to put her preparator behind bars. But before they could file a complaint, Walden was murdered.
After Walden’s murder, Ed Raveley approached Rosa and asked about the chalet. The police didn’t find Walden’s phone at the crime scene, and Ed thought he could get it before the detectives to save himself from punishment and embarrassment. Rosa surmised that Ed could be the murderer and thus followed him to the chalet. However, Ed found Rosa following him and therefore locked her inside the chalet. In a panic, she called 999 and hurt herself in fear. She hit her head, and the following morning, when she woke up, Ed was gone.
Detectives arrested Ed Raveley and found out that he had a history of sexual harassment. However, he told Mathew that he didn’t kill Walden and Mathew believed because he knew who the actual murderer was.
Why did Simon Walden come to the Barun Brethren?
Mathew returned to Devon so that Dorothy could finally accept her son, irrespective of his sexual orientation. But Dorothy’s faith in the Church and its orthodox doctrines blinded her. The religious values separated a mother from a son, and Mathew blamed Dennis for it. Mathew could see what others couldn’t. He saw how coercive, narcissistic, and bullying Church elder Dennis terrorized his wife, Grace. Dennis intimidated the disciples of the Church through false fear of God and his principles. Mathew did everything in his power to bring down the Godman.
Mathew surmised that Walden came to the Barun Brethren to help Rosa, but at the church meeting, he saw someone else who needed his help even more. The night before he died, he went to the Newland Hotel to meet Grace. Dennis had been emotionally traumatizing Grace, controlling her like property. Walden convinced Grace to file a complaint against Dennis for domestic violence. On the day of his death, Walden was about to meet Grace and visit the police, but someone stabbed him before Dennis’ crime could be reported.
‘The Long Call’ Ending, Explained – Who killed Simon Walden?
Mathew strongly believed that Dennis killed Walden. On Grace’s statement, the detectives searched Dennis’ shed and found Walden’s cell phone. However, the police had to let him go due to the lack of substantial evidence and Dennis’s strong alibi.
Dennis never hit Grace, but he tormented her with fear. He made her feel worthless. Through the years, Grace became so weak that she became a slave to Dennis. When Walden came to his sanctuary, he feared that the man could destroy his house of cards. Dennis convinced Grace that Walden was a sinner who wanted to take his place. In all his might, Dennis convinced and manipulated Grace to stab Simon Walden. But the mystery remained a secret until Mathew finally solved the last piece of the puzzle. Dorothy hinted that Dennis was present at Mathew’s father’s funeral, but Grace was missing.
Mathew visited Dennis’ house at night to interrogate Grace about it. Dennis tried to stop Mathew and hit him on his head. Grace, who had seen and felt enough, took out a knife, from which she stabbed Walden, and pointed it at Dennis. At the crucial moment, Mathew stopped Grace from committing another crime and arrested the couple.
At first, Grace took the blame all to herself. Mathew believed that Dennis would be set free with Grace’s statement, and he would continue to exploit people. However, at night, inside the cell, Grace remembered the moments, how in 45 years of marriage, Dennis created hell for her in God’s name. She changed her mind and confessed to killing Simon Walden on Dennis’ command. The police arrested Dennis for soliciting the murder.
In the end of The Long Call, Dorothy became the new church elder. She influenced the members to speak to God directly instead of letting someone else speak for them. The Barun Brethren church saw a new dawn. Probably, after the incident, Dorothy would finally accept Mathew and Jonathan.
The Long Call is a 2021 Crime Thriller mini-series created by Kelly Jones.