The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency | Season 1 | Episode 3


TV-PG | 56 MIN

Written by Nicholas Wright and Robert Jones
Directed by Charles Sturridge

Another mysterious death, occurring at exactly the same time of day, has created panic at the Tlokweng Hospital and suspicion that Dr. Sibenke is somehow to blame.

"Is that all you brought?" Off a hot dusty road, the rambunctious children of New Nazareth Orphanage laugh and scream, as their busy house mother Mma Potokwane chides her friend Precious Ramotswe for donating so little to the coming charity sale. Before tending to a new minor emergency, she points out fellow house mother, Tabitha, teaching the kids rugby, complains of Mr. Patel's meager contributions to the charity event and asks Motholeli, a wheelchair-bound girl (whose bones have been wracked by tuberculosis), to fetch Botswana's No. 1 Ladies' Detective a glass of water.

It turns out Tabitha would like the detective to find out what's bothering her usually happy and honest father who owns the curio shop at the African Mall. A now very-on-edge Rra Lisindi has warned his concerned daughter not to ask questions because it is too dangerous. Promising to look into the case, Mma Ramotswe assures the house mother not to worry about money, handing her an agency's leaflet printed with its contact info.

On the drive back, Precious' fear of snakes sends her running for help when one gets caught up underneath her little white truck. At the Speedy Motors garage, Mr. Matekoni's assistants, Charlie and Fanwell, chase each other with the severed parts of a deadly poisonous Mamba and Mma Ramotswe learns that JLB's birthday is the next day. Precious insists on taking him out to dinner to celebrate.

"Fear drives common sense right out of their heads." At the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, Dr. Sibenke tells Mma Ramotswe that since he started at the hospital a patient has died every Friday at exactly 2 pm. Other than the coincidence that he was the doctor of the first patient, there is no logical cause to these mysterious deaths. Although, being a refuge of troubled Zimbabwe, he understands how easy it is to blame a foreigner - but he is still innocent.

Mma Ramotswe, having shopped at Rra Lisindi's store many times, convinces BK to check out the curio shop for her. Under the guise of buying a birthday gift for Mr. Matekoni, a jumpy BK pokes around and returns convinced Lisindi is hiding something in the store room.

All day on the Agency porch, a homeless Wellington has been idly constructing a wire frame car model but when Grace suggests he might like to live in a place where he could eat regularly, with a bed to sleep in and school lessons to learn, he quickly jumps into the bushes.

That night, Tabitha and Mma Ramostwe rendezvous at her father's shop. She's got his keys and the code to the alarm written on the Agency leaflet Precious gave her earlier. Without much trouble the inexperienced "burglurs" manage to get inside the store room. But after they realize that Lisindi is mixed up with ivory smugglers, their nerves get the best of them as they set off the alarm on their way out.

"Shouldn't we bring in the police?" In the morning, Charlie and Fanwell give JLB a flashy tie and some aftershave for his birthday, telling him all the ladies prefer a smart-smelling man. Meanwhile, Grace frets that last night's discoveries will lead murderous ivory smugglers to Mma Ramotswe. Unworried, Precious won't involve the police, insisting Lisindi is a good man and somehow he's been forced into this situation.

At the hospital, Precious informs hospital supervisor Dr. Gulubane she will not allow Dr. Sibenke's life to be ruined by groundless accusations, arranging to return Friday to see for herself what is going on.

A wealthy and pushy Rra Makgothi wants Mma Ramotswe to solve a mysterious poisoning at his family's farm in Pilane. All under the same roof, his old fashioned and now-blind father lives with his two warring wives, Makgothi's fool of a half-brother, Jobe, and his shrill newlywed wife Mmaphala. Ever since Jobe's wife moved in there's been trouble, then one night after dinner everyone became violently ill and Makgothi Senior's wives suspect Mmaphala is behind it. Now Mmaphala wants a lady detective to clear her name. Precious agrees to take the case for a 1,000 pula fee.

"The people who run the ivory trade are more dangerous than any mamba." At a fancy restaurant, hoping BK chose well, Precious gives JLB his birthday gift - a percussionist's carving. A pleased JLB reveals he used to dream of being the world's greatest drummer. Knowing the instrument came from the store she broke into, JLB gets overly protective, suggesting he could support her and she rebuffs him.

Posing as Rra Makgothi's exhausted employee, Mma Ramotswe arrives at the family compound in Pilane. After meeting Big Mma and Makgothi Sr's first wife and running into an angry and scornful Mmaphala, Precious learns the family dirt from the young and pretty house keeper Doralene. Apparently, Jobe's wife is unhappy not to own a big house in the city like his successful big brother. Plus, she brags that when the dirty old goat's two bickering wives aren't looking he comes after her.

At the orphanage, Mma Potokwane suggests to a troubled JLB that Precious is looking for a different kind of companion. But laughing she tells the mechanic that his recent dream of saving a completely naked Mma Ramotswe from a lion attack is a very good sign.

Before dinner in Pilane, Precious pokes into the kitchen. The family cook confides he was once a respected chef at Gaborone's Imperial Hotel and hates the bickering Makgothi family. When Precious noses around the herb jars, the bitter cook roughly sends her on her way. Entering Jobe's study to find a phone, Mma Ramotswe catches him stuffing some papers into the wall safe and learns that he and his wife specifically asked for her to clear Mmaphala's name. It was just bad food that made everyone sick the last time. After he leaves, the No. 1 Ladies' Detective reaches Mma Makutsi at the agency. She suspects the cook now more than Mmaphala but it's possible any one of the family could be poisoning the others. Just as a worried Grace says she'll wait for her to call after dinner, the line goes dead.

At the table, Jobe and Mmaphala explain it may take days for the phone company to make repairs out here. Everyone eats as Mma's Big and Small dual over who will feed old man Makgothi, who sniffs them both away. Later that night, the household erupts with food poisoning. As Precious walks off the sickness she discovers the phone line has simply been unplugged and finds the blind Makgothi calmly eating porridge in the kitchen. He hadn't eaten the food because he could smell the same funny odor from the last family poisoning. Precious recalls a certain herb from her childhood that causes illness but wasn't at all fatal and sure enough finds it among the cook's spice jars.

"Perhaps you are a clever detective after all." The next morning while BK finds Mma Makutsi asleep at the agency, Precious is about to sip from a cup of bush tea when Doralene comes in with another cup and a kettle. Realizing someone's tried to poison her, Mma Ramotswe cracks Jobe's safe and finds her Agency leaflet inside. Now she knows what has happened...

First, Botswana's No. 1 Detective calls her frantically worried assistant, asking Grace to go to the hospital in her place and ordering her not to move from the ward where the previous patients have died.

Then she gathers the Makgothi clan in the dinning room. Admitting he was hoping to be fired after everyone got sick the first time, the cook says he had nothing to do with last night's poisoning. But Mma Ramotswe knows who's responsible for this family's despicable behavior and as she ticks off the ills each one has been responsible for, she tricks Jobe and Mmaphala into revealing themselves.

Desperate to be a success, Rra Makgothi's scorned younger brother and his ambitious wife got involved with smuggling ivory. When Mma Ramostwe stumbled across their crimes at Lisindi's shop, they panicked and were hatching their plan to get rid of her. Under the pretense of clearing Mmaphala's name, they got Mma Ramotswe to the farm, recreated the previous poisoning and then when Precious sipped from the deadly tea, would let the cook take the fall.

Because of the dangers she was subjected to, a disgusted Mma Ramostwe leaves her high-and-mighty client speechless with an amended bill for her services.

"That's the most outrageous argument I've ever heard." 2 pm at the hospital and a commotion in another ward almost draws Mma Makutsi away from her assignment. But when she notices a cleaning woman enter the room with a floor polisher, Grace saves the day as she stops the employee from pulling the plug of a respirator to get power for her appliance. Afterwards in Dr. Gulubane's office, Botswana's No. 1 Ladies' Detective convinces the administrator not the fire the lowly-paid woman. Reasoning with him, more people would fear to be cared for were the hospital to admit inadequate training was the real culprit. And truthfully, weren't these old and sick patients very close to death already? Off the record, Dr. Gulubane concedes her point.

At the orphanage's charity sale, Rra Makgothi is thanked for his donation of one hundred thousand pulas, while Precious notices JLB's colorful new tie and a grinning Wellington playfully pushes Motholei around in her wheelchair.