Vera Broken Promise sees Ann Cleeves' no-nonsense detective delving into the past to solve one of the ITV drama's most tragic cases

In Vera Broken Promise is airing again and with so much going on, past and present, some fans might have a few questions

Vera Broken Promise season 7 episode 3 explained. Seen here is Vera played by Brenda Blethyn
(Image credit: BritBox/ITV)

Vera Broken Promise is episode 3 of season 7 and shows how much the past can haunt the present and how not everyone you love can truly be trusted. 

With a special episode still to come ahead of the new series of Vera finally landing, fans of the Northumberland-based raincoat-wearing DCI Vera Stanhope have been patiently waiting for more news for many months now after Vera The Darkest Evening aired. Until release dates are finally given, ITV3 has been treating us this summer by re-showing some of the drama’s most intriguing and heartbreaking episodes. This includes the latest one set to air on 24th August which is Vera season 7 episode 3, cryptically entitled Broken Promise. This episode is every bit as full of betrayal as the name would suggest as Vera investigates the death of Jamie Marshall.

Here we explain Vera Broken Promise including who killed Jamie Marshall in this heart-wrenching episode and why he changed his name…

*Warning: Spoilers ahead*

When does Vera season 12 start? Seen here are stars Brenda Blethyn and Kenny Doughty

(Image credit: ITV STUDIOS FOR ITV1)

Vera Broken Promise explained: Who killed Jamie Marshall? 

Following some brilliantly intriguing episodes like Vera Natural Selection and Vera The Sea Glass, Vera Broken Promise certainly didn’t let up in the emotional intensity stakes. In season 7 episode 3 DCI Vera Stanhope and her team were called out to investigate the sudden death of Jamie Marshall - a student at the fictional University of Northumberland who broke big news stories. He’d apparently either fallen or jumped from the old science block while a party was going on nearby.  

Not one to accept the obvious conclusion, Vera was eager to look into all aspects of Jamie’s life and the pathologist later confirmed that Jamie had been punched hard in the face prior to his fall. Knowing that someone else was at the very least with Jamie before he died, Vera soon managed to uncover some seriously intriguing revelations about the student. He’d not only changed his name but his relationship with his best friend Lucy had grown distant recently. 

PC Mark Edwards also showed Vera one of the last video logs (vlogs) that he recorded less than two hours before his death that saw a drunk and distraught Jamie saying he knew “a lot of things about a lot of people” and that he could “make them pay”. Vera commented that Jamie was in “self-destruct” mode and throughout the Vera Broken Promise episode the team learnt more about his home life. 

BRENDA BLETHYN as Vera Stanhope and KENNY DOUGHTY as DS Aiden Healy.

(Image credit: ITV STUDIOS FOR ITV)

He’d lied in his vlogs saying his father was an investment banker and his sister worked in Shanghai. In reality his father Derek was battling addiction and Jamie’s sister had passed away due to taking heroin before he left for uni. It’s only towards the end of Vera Broken Promise that the determined DCI draws a loose comparison between Jamie’s home life and his fellow student Rory Marston.

Rory was on the rugby team and was the son of the wealthy Alan Marston - a man described by DS Kenny Lockhart as the “defence lawyer from hell”. Rory was also brought up by his dad and had a vulnerable sister, except his sister Jennifer had recently undergone an operation after being diagnosed with kidney failure. 

During a visit to the hospital to question Derek about a case from the past, Jennifer came across Vera and told her that Jamie had visited her the day of her operation looking for Rory.

BRENDA BLETHYN as Vera Stanhope SARAH KAMEELA IMPEY as Paula. and KENNY DOUGHTY as DS Aiden Healy.

(Image credit: ITV STUDIOS FOR ITV)

He’d been threatening and she’d told her brother, who’d been furious and had set out to confront him. Vera had the extra suspicion about Rory as he’d said he never knew Jamie, but he was the best friend of Lucy, Rory’s girlfriend. They then discovered Rory had been having an affair with Jamie but had ended it, leading to Jamie drinking and going to see Jennifer.

Convinced that Rory was responsible, Vera tracked him down to the old science block where Jamie died. Alan Marston also made his way there and the whole truth of what really happened came out. Alan had been away on business and Jamie had been invited to the Marston’s house by Rory and seen Alan’s things.

Still of Rory and Vera in the Vera season 7 trailer

(Image credit: YouTube/ITV)

The budding investigative journalist had found evidence that Alan was involved in a property scam to defraud the university out of millions. It was when Vera and Aiden explained what had happened that Rory broke down in tears, saying to his father, “You said he was drunk and he fell.”

Rory broke down as he realised his father had killed his ex-boyfriend and that he’d lied about how Jamie had really died. Alan then confessed that he’d met Jamie up there and told him that Jamie had wanted to “destroy” the Marstons because he was jealous of them. In a truly tragic twist of fate, Vera Broken Promise ended with Vera telling Aiden that she believes Alan genuinely hadn’t meant to kill Jamie when he’d punched him. 

Why did Jamie Marshall change his name? 

Jamie Marshall was born Jamie Stoddart but changed his name before coming to university and lying about his background and his family situation. It’s possible that part of it could’ve been to try and fit in with the middle class students around him, but Jamie primarily seemed keen to escape his past and the death of Nicky Holland which haunted him and his family. Changing his name was a way of distancing himself from Nicky's death and in particular his father Derek Stoddart.

Who attacked Jamie and why? 

It emerged during Jamie Marshall’s post-mortem that he’d been attacked recently but the pattern of the bruising suggested that this had taken place days earlier. It later emerged that the perpetrator was Ian Holland - the father of Nicky. He’d been killed in a hit-and-run incident and it seems like Derek did it and his refusal to admit it had appalled Jamie, inspiring him to leave home and never look back. Derek had never confessed, though, even when Vera asked.

Still of Ian Holland from the Vera season 7 trailer

(Image credit: YouTube/ITV)

Ian and Jamie had come into contact because the student told him that he was writing a book about the men who’d been trapped in the Allenby pit in the 1970s. Ian’s father had been one of them but it soon emerged that Jamie’s real reason for making contact with Ian seemed to be out of guilt over his knowledge about Nicky’s death. 

After Vera and Aiden had put two-and-two together they found Ian by his son’s grave and confronted him. He admitted that Jamie had told him what Derek had done “eventually” and Ian had attacked Jamie and then later went on to violently attack Derek at his home as an act of revenge. 

BRENDA BLETHYN as DCI Vera Stanhope and KENNY DOUGHTY as DS Aiden Healy

(Image credit: ITV STUDIOS FOR ITV1)

Did Jamie know about the property scam? 

It turned out that Jamie did know about the property scam and had been working on a story about it. He’d found the evidence against Alan but he wasn’t the only one involved. Greenhill the surveyor had done a survey falsifying findings that suggested the building was in need of major structural work and was dangerous. This meant that the building could be sold off cheaply but that once renovated it could apparently be worth many millions. Tyneford Estates purchased the science block to turn it into luxury accommodation and Alan Marston was an investor in the company, as Jamie found out.

Vera seasons 1-12 are available to watch via ITVX.

Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Royal Editor with eight years experience working in publishing. Her specialist areas include the British Royal Family, ranging from protocol to outfits. Alongside putting her royal knowledge to good use, Emma knows all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV and more. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, Emma enjoys cooking, long walks and watching yet more crime dramas!