“I can’t figure you out,” a 20-something character says to Endeavour Morse (Shaun Evans). “You know that there’s something happening, right? Here, in the world, everywhere. People our age looking for answers. But you … are in a suit.”
“I’m happy in a suit,” Morse replies, buttoning his jacket.
Love is all around, as The Troggs told us, but the dandyish, Carnaby Street, go-ask-Alice, are-you-experienced, transcendental rock and roll circus of 1967 hasn’t infiltrated Endeavour’s private life. He wears a suit and tie even when he’s chopping wood or rowing a boat. At the end of a work day, he’s content to have Wagner waiting for him at home. He might be a solitary man, not in with the “In Crowd,” but he insists he isn’t Mr. Lonely, for what it’s worth.
Thus, our friend Endeavour is out of his element in this week’s mystery, which involves a rock band with all the trippy trimmings. There are drugs, there is dissolution, there are groupies reading Marquis de Sade’s Justine, for goodness sake! Morse is no prude, mind you, but he has good reason to avert his eyes from some of this week’s goings on.
The band in question is The Wildwood—reference to the favorite revivalist hymn duly noted. Brothers Nick and Ken Wilding (Will Payne and Michael Fox), Christopher Clark (Jonathan Barnwell), and Lee “Stix” Noble (Dario Coates) are topping the charts and capturing the hearts of teenage girls everywhere. Their manager, Ralph Spender (David Sturzaker)—ironic surname duly noted—is in the midst of planning their first American tour.
Called in to investigate a report of marijuana found amongst the group’s belongings, Morse lets them off with a caution. That’s not surprising. What is unexpected, however, is something much more serious: the discovery of a young man’s body in the storage area behind a local pub. That young man, Barry Finch—“like the bird”—was a laborer working out at Maplewick Hall, which The Wildwood just happen to be renting while they prepare their next album. Finch had been spending his free time with the band and their entourage. That’s a connection Morse and the Oxford constabulary can’t overlook.
Something else they can’t overlook: Mrs. Joy Pettybon (Sylvestra Le Touzel), “leader of the National Clean Up Television Society, figurehead of the Keep Britain Decent campaign, and guardian of the nation’s morals.” Patterned on Mary Whitehouse, a real-life crusader for decency in Britain and scourge of the BBC, Mrs. Pettybon spends her evenings watching the “filth” on television and keeping a tally of “bloodies,” “bleedings,” and other offensive language. By day, she rails about them at morality rallies attended by her supporters.
Endeavour Morse ought to be just the sort of clean-cut, law-abiding young man who would appeal to Joy Pettybon. He, on the other hand, is not pleased when he’s assigned to “babysit” that formidable lady after she receives anonymous threats in the mail. Morse travels with her to Birmingham where she’ll make a TV appearance on The Almanac Show, hosted by a fellow named Julian Calendar (geddit?). Also appearing on the show: The Wildwood.
What could possibly go wrong?
Let’s start with the live broadcast being interrupted by weirdy, beardy Dudley Jessop (Matthew Needham), a suspicious character with a legitimate, personal axe to grind against Mrs. Pettybon. But that’s not the worst of it. By the time that trip to Birmingham is through, Mrs. Pettybon’s colleague Reverend Mervyn Golightly (Paul Brown) will wind up dead—possibly poisoned by tainted chocolate—and Morse will narrowly avoid being seduced by Mrs. Pettybon’s daughter, Bettina (Pearl Chanda).
Things are about to become as inscrutable as the lyrics of a psychedelic pop song. Through it all, Morse remains nonplussed. “I’m just a policeman,” he says. The world may be changing, but Morse is doing his best to remain constant and consistent, even amidst the world of rock and roll excess.
WPC Trewlove (Dakota Blue Richards) might have been employed as a tour guide/translator for Morse on this journey. She knows what’s going on. Sadly, in this episode, she’s relegated to supplying key bits of information at opportune moments. Even DS Jim Strange (Sean Rigby) contributes useful thinking to the investigations. Reliable pathologist Max DeBryn (James Bradshaw) remains a scene-stealer as he tries to discern why both victims show signs of being “killed” in multiple ways.
Fred Thursday (Roger Allam) continues to be preoccupied with the absence of his daughter Joan (Sara Vickers), growing angrier and more withdrawn with each passing day. Being around The Wildwood doesn’t help. Joan was a fan of the group, as Win Thursday (Caroline O’Neill) points out. Fred says he doesn’t remember, but we know that’s not true. And the way he looks at the girls in the band’s entourage makes it clear he’s wondering whether Joan is now in similar circumstances. “If she was gonna call, she’d have called,” he says grimly.
But we know she’s gonna call, right? We also know that someone’s gonna tell us soon what’s going on with those tarot cards. Last week, the Hanged Man was revealed in the episode’s final scene. This week it’s the Lovers. Next week? We’ll have to wait and see.
See also: Endeavour 4.01: “Game” Episode Review
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.