At the gangster’s funeral, police officers and journalists are tucked none too discreetly behind trees and tombstones—but not Endeavour Morse (Shaun Evans). He’s off taking his sergeant’s exam, as he promised his boss Fred Thursday (Roger Allam) he would. And, ever the smarty pants, he finishes so quickly that he has time to do the crossword as well.
Thursday scans the cast of characters at the funeral with disgust. These are just the type of thugs that left him with a bullet lodged precariously inside him. “They’re all villains,” he growls. (A policeman’s lot is not a happy one.)
Meanwhile, somewhere in Oxford, the housewives gather for bingo with their favorite cheeky caller Paul Marlock. And, at the Wessex Bank, Cedric Clissold, of Clissold Fashions, arrives to collect the cash for his company’s payroll.
It’s all more or less business as usual in Endeavour. Thus, we know we’ll barely make it through another minute without another corpse.
It’s Cedric Clissold—waylaid in his car, shot twice in the chest, and robbed of the payroll. Something else is missing too: the order book he always carried with him.
Morse and the ever-alert W.P.C. Shirley Trewlove (Dakota Blue Richards) comb the car for the missing order book and find instead a box of films with names such as “Mucky Beth” and “Moaning Becomes Electra.” (Feel free to groan at any time.)
“Stag films,” Morse reports.
“Nature studies?” asks adorable pathologist Max DeBryn (James Bradshaw), not quite innocently.
It seems our well-liked, widowed business owner Mr. Clissold had more than a passing interest in nudie cuties. Now, why would he also have in his pocket a take-out menu from a long-gone Chinese restaurant? The dish he’d circled certainly wasn’t his last meal.
The puzzles are adding up.
Of course, Morse enjoys a good puzzle. A trip down memory lane is another story. So, when he runs into his former college tutor, Felix Lorimer (Mark Heap), at a classical music concert, Morse is not eager for anything more than casual talk. Lorimer, on the other hand, clearly has something weighing on his mind. It’s his wife, Lorimer tells Morse. His beautiful, very young wife seems to be involved with that shady bingo caller Paul Marlock.
And, as Morse soon discovers, Fred Thursday’s daughter—the beautiful, young Joan Thursday (Sara Vickers)—is involved with Marlock as well.
What are the odds?
That’s a question worth keeping in mind, since much of this episode revolves around gambles and calculated risks. When the stakes are raised to life or death, we learn what kind of a poker player our friend Morse is and just who comes out a winner in the end. (Temporarily done with clichés now.)
Easter eggs and allusions abound—including a tender nod to the late fantasy author Terry Pratchett and his Discworld books, with a little Dog Day Afternoon thrown in for good measure.
Digging back into the Morse archives, Endeavour meets up with a college acquaintance named Jerome Hogg (Kevin Trainor), now a member of the Oxford faculty. That character also appeared in the 1991 Inspector Morse episode “Greeks Bearing Gifts,” which could be most notable today for featuring a teenage Jonny Lee Miller in the role of Student.
“Coda,” fittingly, takes us to the end of another series of Endeavour. I’d argue this is the strongest episode of the season—a bittersweet note, well played—and it does precisely what a season finale should do: it leaves us wanting more.
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.