The previous two episodes of this so far excellent fourth series of Endeavour showed two distinct stories: the first a dark serial killer whodunit; the second, also a whodunit but one wrapped up in the winds of social change and the oncoming wave of the so-called permissive society. Now the third, titled Lazaretto, focuses in on the ward of a hospital, where bed 10 in particular is proving to be a bit of a death hole.
NB: Spoiler ahoy
So yet again, the tone and the tenor of the story changes. This is really excellent work by Russell Lewis, especially in this series, where the stories and the plausibility and the consistency seem to be firing on all cylinders. In this third episode we had a single location whodunit, but, as ever, things started outside the Fosdick ward (very Carry On) – it started with an elderly lady, a Mrs Zacharides, laying dead on her living room floor, her pet parrot chirping way in the background and Mantovani’s Charmaine swooning on the soundtrack.
But back to Fosdick. The elderly lady’s husband died in bed 10 six months previously, and now another chap had carked it, and just as he was getting better, too. In an interesting twist – and a bit of red herring – a lag, a star witness no less, was brought in to the hospital for an operation. Morse was instructed to go in and keep an armed guard – the prisoner was a witness to a criminal gang, the Matthews gang, and he had to be kept safe at all costs. Overseeing the prisoner’s operation was Sir Merlyn Chubb, a respected surgeon but who was beginning to show the signs of Parkinson’s.
So initially it looked like a gangland-related story, especially when there was an attempt on the prisoner’s life by a Scottish hitman (there was fun sequence when Tuesday was chasing an informant and told him not to mess with him because “I hadn’t had me breakfast” which reminded me instantly of John Thaw-era Sweeney), but when the lag was also murdered under the noses of Morse and Trewlove, and Dr Max found, post-mortem, a small, barely perceptible pin prick near the victim’s buttock and evidence of insulin overdose, a serial killer – an Angel Of Death – was now the focus. And, with Bright – rushed into hospital with a perforated peptic ulcer – was moved to bed 10, you just knew that an endgame was in sight – the countdown was on to find the killer and to save Bright, who was surely next for the Angel’s needle. So who was Morse chasing? Also on the ward was lothario surgeon Dean Powell, a stern and oppressive sister, Clodagh MacMahon, and three young nurses – Daisy, Flora and Jo. These were our suspects, and the single-location mystery played out. Not in a claustrophobic sort of way, but in a very Morse sort of way.
Aside from this race-against-time whodunit, which was again satisfying, there was a strong undercurrent swirling about just beneath the surface of Lazaretto; that of Morse and an idea that he had let opportunities slip through his fingers. As part of the serial killer investigation he came into contact with nurse Mona, his old flame from the first series, who ruefully suggested he “treat the next one better”. He also ran into the bitter mother of his ex-fiance – whose husband was on Fosdick ward – who took great pleasure in chiding him (somewhat inexplicably) for being a failure and that she always knew he would be a failure. And then there was Joan. There’s always Joan. He managed to find her in Leamington, where an awkward meeting between the two produced a comment from her along the lines of, “all those times you walked me home and you never made a move”. They were standing face to face, almost in silhouette, and I was hoping he was going to take the bull by the horns and lean in for a kiss. He didn’t, of course, because this is Morse we’re talking about. He did what he’s always done – he ran away, timid and tail between his legs. What is it that makes him like this, I wonder?
So another case wrapped up, but the final shot suggested bad things to come – a hand picked a tarot card. The death card.
Series finale next week.
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