After last week’s excellent (and dark) start to the series, I had no idea where Endeavour was going to go next. And that’s one of the beauties of something like Endeavour – each story is different, and the tone can sometimes be different, too. As long as Morse and Thursday are, well, Morse and Thursday, it doesn’t really matter where it goes. And this week it really did go somewhere else.
In stark contrast to last week’s episode, this week’s instalment started in upbeat, dayglo fashion as a pop video was being shot at Maplewick Hall by a hip new band with a rocking new sound. As the stuffy and classics-loving Morse observed proceedings with a mixture of confusion and disdain, it reminded me of the first episode of series three – Ride – which also featured more privileged toffs playing about in country houses. But this episode was different. The band making the video – The Wildwood – had a coterie of groupies and hangers-on at their side, and a butter-wouldn’t-melt, Brian Epstein-style manager, keen to help smooth over an incident with a small amount of hash that was found about the band’s person.
While a rock band were enjoying themselves in splendour, the body of a brickie had been found back in Oxford. It wasn’t long before Morse and Thursday had made connections between the dead man and Maplewick Hall.
But there was another narrative strand at play here. Joy Pettybon, a proto-Mary Whitehouse figure, was visiting the city and had received threats as she spouted her God-fearing, pro-censorship rhetoric. By her side was daughter Bettina, a repressed young woman who was clearly taken with our young detective. She got the chance to see more of him when Morse was assigned to protect Pettybon on a trip to a TV studio. In a slightly hilarious scene, Bettina asked Morse in for a drink at the end of the day… in her hotel room. She had a bottle of vodka among her personal affects (handy), but no extra glass. She suggested she could use a glass from the bathroom. “Are you sure that’s ok?” asked Morse.
“Oh, I like it minty,” replied Bettina.
Morse was taken off the case because of his extra-curricular mintiness, so he worked the Maplewick hall case exclusively, while Thursday worked on the Pettybon case (her reverend friend had been poisoned). So we had two different stories at play here and half way through I wondered where all this was going and how it was going to be tied up.
There were some choice lines in this episode (during a briefing, Morse explained that The Wildwood’s shenanigans included bisexual orgies at the country house. “Blimey,” huffed DS Strange. “You wouldn’t like it Sergeant, not with your back,” quipped Thursday. I did chuckle heartily at that.)
Of course there was a connection between the two murders – poisoning, which led, eventually too on of The Wildwood’s coterie. There was a lot to take in during this episode – an examination of the new ‘permissive society’ that was starting to infiltrate the mainstream in the 1960s; sex, repression and religion; jealousy and death. All big, meaty subjects and stories woven around them that really shouldn’t worked but did, even though things got a teenie bit Midsomer Murders in one or two places (the reverend died from eating a box of laxative-infused chocolates and, literally, shat the bed in the process).
Another good, but different episode. Oh, and look out… a mysterious phone call from Leamington (my home towm, MY HOME TOWN!) might have just brought Joan back into the mix.
For our episode one review, go here