“They come at you through what you care about,” D.I. Fred Thursday tells Morse, explaining the intimidation tactics of mobsters and thugs.
He’s talking in generalities about one specific “face” called Vic Kasper. Thursday and Kasper have history dating back to Thursday’s time working in London. Kasper resurfacing in Oxford as the proprietor of a nightclub called the Moonlight Rooms does not please Thursday one little bit.
We know who Thursday cares about: his wife and kids. He cares so much he maintains a non-negotiable policy of checking his work life at the front door. He’d do anything to protect his family from the darkness he sees during the course of a workday. Home is a sacred thing.
But what about Morse? What does he care about? Based on what we know of him as an older man, his one true love is music, and “home” is a place with a phonograph, an unopened bottle, and a sharpened pencil for the crossword. Not much to threaten there. Still it makes you wonder: was Morse’s life always that way?
This week we find out—a bit—as “home” intrudes on work in a variety of ways.
Our first death is an apparent hit-and-run involving an Oxford professor of Classics (what else?)—a Mr. Alastair Coke Norris. He’s not especially popular among his colleagues since he’s trying to block the sale of some college land that would net everyone on the staff a nice sum. That’s a reasonable motive for murder; certainly enough to categorize the apparent hit-and-run as suspicious.
Morse is on the case—following up leads; interviewing the usual array of Oxford types—until a phone call from his sister (Is she his stepsister?) summons him home to see his dying father. As we long suspected, “home” for Morse isn’t anything like the nurturing environment that Fred and Win Thursday have created for their kids. No wonder Morse has that look of pleased disbelief on his face when he picks up Thursday for work in the morning.
The visit with his father is just as awkward as we’d expect and Morse is soon on the train back to Oxford.
Pursuing the death of Alastair Coke Norris takes Morse to the Moonlight Rooms and another awkward encounter: Joan Thursday on a date with D.S. Jakes. Then, just as Morse is trying to decide what to make of this new development, in walks Thursday himself. Jakes disappears into the crowd and Morse, ever-chivalrous Knight of the Furrowed Brow, is left to see Joan home. Misunderstandings follow.
With each episode, more details of Morse’s past come to light. Of course there’s a mystery in “Home,” and of course it’s complicated, but the primary mystery of Endeavour is Endeavour himself and how he became the man we know he became. Little by little we learn more, and we watch Morse develop and mature. He’s about to take his sergeant’s exam...and where did he learn to shoot like that?
At the same time, D.I. Fred Thursday is proving to be quite the mystery man himself. We’ve already discovered that he speaks fluent Italian and German. In this episode we learn what brought him to Oxford and perhaps gather some insight into why he feels so protective of Morse. Roger Allam portrays Thursday as such a rock, it always takes me by surprise to be reminded that his wisdom and composure are hard-won.
Literary references aren’t quite as obvious as in last week’s episode (to me, anyway). However a little research reveals that a man named J.W. Coke Norris, who taught Classics at Harrow, was the inspiration for the character of Classics master Andrew Crocker-Harris in Terence Rattigan’s play, The Browning Version. Millicent was the name of his wife in the play and in this episode of Endeavour; and the copy of Robert Browning’s translation of Agamemnon (aka “the Browning version”) found on Coke Norris’s bookshelf confirms that reference. “June Buckridge”—a name casually tossed off in this episode—is a character in the 1964 play, The Killing of Sister George by Frank Marcus. I’m sure there are more allusions. There always are.
More obviously, that’s Colin Dexter about four minutes in, seated front and center at the college staff meeting so even I can notice him.
The petite singer with the big voice who’s featured in the Moonlight Rooms scenes is Rachel D’Arcy. You might want to know that, too.
“Home” concludes this series of Endeavour. Creator/writer Russell Lewis is already at work on series 2 and it will be coming our way in 2014. Masterpiece Mystery! returns on August 18 with a new version of The Lady Vanishes, followed by Silk (starring Rupert Penry-Jones for all you MI5 and Whitechapel fans) and (yippee!) an all-new series of Foyle’s War.
Leslie Gilbert Elman is the author of Weird But True: 200 Astounding, Outrageous, and Totally Off the Wall Facts. Follow her on Twitter @leslieelman.
Read all of Leslie Gilbert Elman’s posts for Criminal Element.