REVIEW: Endeavour (S6 E4/4)

In Degüello, it’s 1969, (still), and the face of Oxford is changing – Cllr. Clive Burkitt’s building schemes are raising (shoddy) tower blocks in Martyrs’ Field, and we’re in for a torrid tale of corruption in government, business and the police.

Meanwhile, Bright’s wife is dying of cancer, Fred’s agonising over taking bungs from Box, and Morse is looking for a flat.

Elsewhere, according to a news piece written by a D Parton (Dolly?!), Garstang College has received a bequest of a valuable stamp collection from the Teagarden family. Teagarden Sr was lost in a Lancaster over Dresden – is this significant?

Box investigates two more deaths of heroin users (this week’s Colin Dexter cameo is the grafitti ‘Dexter Was Here’ on the wall in their squat).

At the Bodleian Library, mathematician Dr Nicholson (Aidan McArdel) is receiving cryptic notes about a ‘Dora’; while the chief librarian, Osbert Page, is being chiselled in the back, and someone has turned over his rooms. All Morse and Fred can find is a map of the Gower Peninsula.

It looks as if Strange and Bright are onto Box’s corruption, but he’s onto them being onto him, so a showdown seems inevitable. Meanwhile Win is fed up with Fred and threatens divorce; he’s too worn out to object.

When Fred and Morse question Nicholson, we get a reference to pseudonymous writer Holly Martins (played by Joseph Cotton in The Third Man); and when they talk to geologist Burrowes (Paul Jesson), he reveals that’s he’s a philatelist and has been in Germany. Does this tie in with the Teagarden bequest?

Morse questions Deborah Teagarden (Laura Donoughue) and discovers a link to Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp – aha, here’s the explanation of ‘Dora’. Other clues point to Jewish myth about the Golem, an animated figure made of clay. It sounds like all this is leading back to the Holocaust.

Morse is on the spot when Cranmer House collapses (the reference is obviously to Ronan Point in Canning Town, which collapsed in 1968). Is Cllr Burkit’s shoddy building to blame? Going through the corpses, Max finds a bound figure buried in concrete; he’s been shot by the same gun that killed George Fancy, and evidently buried in the foundations of the building a year ago. His effects identify him as Hollis Binks, a borough surveyor with connections to the murdered Page and to Dr Burrowes.

Morse questions Cllr Burkitt about Binks, and he’s obviously hiding something; Binks was a student of Burrowes, and clearly suspected that the geology of Martyrs’ Field was unsuitable for building; presumably, he’s been killed to shut him up.

Bright, meanwhile, is being suborned by his boss Bottoms, and by Cllr Burkitt; offered a way out of Traffic and treatment for his wife’s cancer if he shuts down Morse’s investigations. But he puts them in their place. Strange is also being pressured by the Grand Master of his Masonic lodge.

Strange ties the gun that killed Fancy to an old case of Box’s in Reading – is the net closing in? Fred’s frozen out of the investigation – has Morse finally lost trust in him completely? But Fred hands the bungs back to Box and Jago, seemingly having recovered his moral compass.

Deborah Teagarden hands Morse some letters suggesting that Nicholson had betrayed her family to the Nazis; did he do it to steal important notebooks? Burrowes admits to persecuting Nicholson, but he claims the notebooks were worthless, and he had nothing to do with the killing of Page.

So who left the muddy footprints at the murder scene? Morse makes a link with dodgy builder McGyffyn, who has been supplying substandard sand for concrete. Did McGyffyn kill Binks, then also Binks’ fellow rambler Page, when he figured out what had happened?

Child fans help Bright narrowly escape an ambush set up by Bottoms; being on TV as the Pelican Man has finally done him some good after all. But Fred is stitched up by Box, told in no uncertain terms by Burkitt and McGyffin that either he shuts down Morse, or they’re both for the chop.

Max is kidnapped to force Morse into a showdown at the quarry; will this turn into the Gunfight at the OK Corral? It turns out that Box’s sidekick Jago is the real brains behind the heroin business, using Max Nero’s gear, and was also the killer of George Fancy.

Bright, Fred and Strange arrive tooled up, with Bright’s faithful Traffic cops in support, and a standoff ensues; Box takes a bullet while shooting Jago, and the other conspirators are captured.

All is neatly tied up when Burkitt turns Queen’s Evidence, Bright gets control of Castle Gate, and gets Fred, Strange and Morse on board; Fred reconciles with Win, and Morse gets a Jag and buys the house where the junkies died (that will need renovating then).

In all, a teriffic amount got sorted in this episode; Fred and Box are redeemed, Jago is dealt with, Morse is returned to his rightful place, and the Masons gets their noses put out of joint.

But the murder plots are never quite squared away; a great deal seems to revolve around rambling, some of the clues are never explained, there’s no particular reason why Page was killed with a wood chisel, and there’s a lot of gratuitous philately. The whole Holocaust sub-plot seems somehow unresolved, and even the title of the episode doesn’t seem relevant.

Nonetheless, after a fairly disjointed season – the Thunderbirds and Camberwick Green episodes feeling particularly throwaway – we do seem to have reached a resolution by the end, even if it does bring us back to the beginning, with the old team reunited and refreshed.

Season seven is now on the cards – the hippy decade of the 70s looms.

So long as it doesn’t feature Morse adopting a Serpico beard and haircut, we’ll be happy to see him back.

Chris Jenkins





6 Comments Add yours

  1. Jane says:

    Enjoyed it and glad of resolutions but yes the murder was all a bit throwaway and actually the muddy footprints a bit laughable. Good to have the old team back together and how good is Anton Lesser.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Andy D says:

    Great review Chris and a cracking episode overall. Loved Thursday spit out the line “two-bob shitehawk” to McGyffin. “Degüello” is apparently a type of bugle call, related to the Battle of the Alamo – so in other words a last stand against the odds (thanks Wikipedia). I absolutely lost track of the murder of Page with all the excitement and gun fights – it all felt very surplus to requirements in the race to the end. I would actually like to see Box come back and get a second chance. Bit of an uneven season, but these feature-length short runs always suffer from this. Will we get some flares and cravats next season??

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Elaine S says:

      Yes, definitely an uneven season.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Tom says:

    A very satisfying finale to a satisfying sixth series (Confection aside), I thought. Several themes and motifs from the entire series were resolved: Morse is reconnected to the Jag and after years of a nomadic lifestyle he settles into his permanent home; Fred and Win reconcile; poor Bright loses his wife (in addition having already lost his daughter) but is promoted; Strange ignores the Grand Master from the lodge; there was even a visible thaw (no pun intended) to the iciness between Morse and Miss Thursday. Although there were still loose ends, I was very pleased with the ending.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. J. Creasey says:

    Enjoyed this episode immensely. The confrontation between all the players at the end had me on the edge of my seat. It was like a gunfight at the OK Corral. And now the gang is all back together. I too would like Box to come back. I think he would be a good addition to the team.


  5. TIM SAVILLE says:

    I noted that Fred said to Win “I’ve been loving you too long to stop now”. Never had Fred down as an Otis Redding fan (track was from 1965, not 1969 – Redding was dead by then).

    But 1970s the hippy decade? The decade of bad hair and bad taste clothes would be more appropriate. Hippies were more late 60s.


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