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.
FOR OUR EPISODE ONE REVIEW CLICK HERE
FOR OUR EPISODE TWO REVIEW CLICK HERE
FOR OUR EPISODE THREE REVIEW CLICK HERE