An artist named Simon Hallward is sleeping peacefully in his flat when the clock strikes 5 a.m. and the place goes up in flames. Accidental or deliberate? You can guess what our friend Endeavour Morse (Shaun Evans) thinks.
His suspicion is enough to convince D.I. Fred Thursday (Roger Allam) that Hallward might have been done in by someone else—and from what we’ve seen, murder seems a likely assumption.
Endeavour has himself a case. He also has himself a new colleague, one WPC Shirley Trewlove (Dakota Blue Richards, late of The Golden Compass and Skins). If her name is any indication, we have a pretty good idea where this will lead. (We know by now that characters in Endeavour are rarely named arbitrarily.) Morse has already pronounced her work “commendably thorough.” That’s a veritable valentine.
One person who hasn’t been receiving valentines is Leo Richardson (Richard Dillane), head of the Richardson’s supermarket chain. Someone has been leaving threatening letters for him in his stores. A rumor that Richardson’s is selling embargoed sugar from Rhodesia brings protestors out in force. And the merchandise in Richardson’s stores has been tampered with. The consequences are dire—someone’s already died from the tainted food.
Things are turning ugly in Series 3, Episode 2 of Endeavour. And that’s not even counting the bloater paste Mrs. Thursday packed for Fred’s lunch.
Morse is chasing leads everywhere from Hallward’s burnt out flat to the Richardson family estate to a Quaker meeting house and a perplexingly well-funded commune. He even encounters his old flame Monica Hicks (Shvorne Marks), the cute nurse from across the hall in series 2. They had a thing. There were fireworks. Now it’s as if it never happened.
Connections begin to fall into place, many revolving around an activist organization advocating for oppressed people in foreign lands…like Rhodesia. The tension ramps up when Richardson’s daughter Verity (Gala Gordon) is kidnapped and it’s up to Morse to save the day.
DS Peter Jakes (Jack Laskey) announces that he’s leaving. Going to America, of all places, to ride the range.
Dorothea Frazil (Abigail Thaw) is back, this time using her reporter’s investigative skills to give Morse the lowdown on the history of Richardson’s supermarkets. It involves Quakers. Morse is one, albeit lapsed. “Still your mind. I never had the knack,” he explains. Indeed.
References fly fast and furious in this episode, some of which undoubtedly plucked the strings of nostalgia for folks in the U.K. and won’t necessarily resonate with Americans. The bedside alarm clock/kettle gizmo that blew up Hallward’s flat? It’s called a teasmade. See also, bloater paste (above) and possibly Savoy Truffle (if you’re a Beatles fan, you got this). Allusions to the 1967 Dustin Hoffman film The Graduate are overlaid here as well, not always effectively I have to say. And there’s a callback to House Beautiful from a years-ago episode of Inspector Lewis that also was written by Endeavour series creator/writer Russell Lewis.
Parenthetically, here’s a thing I learned in the Endeavour “off-season”: Frazil ice is a slushy sort of ice that forms on bodies of water like rivers and seas. Slushy equals partly thawed, as Dorothea Frazil equals Abigail Thaw. This is why Endeavour is such a pleasure. Even when the episodes don’t quite solidify (and this one didn’t for me), they give us lots to ponder. Still your mind? Unlikely.
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.