The final episode of Endeavour Series 2 was a corker.
We don’t do spoilers on Masterpiece Mystery programs, but I would suggest that you go and watch “Neverland” right now if you haven’t already. Then go back and watch it again, knowing what you know. It’s better the second time.
We begin, as we tend to do, with a montage of characters and situations: DI Thursday is in for his physical exam; a young man, who bears a passing resemblance to Morse himself, is in prison; an Oxford professor lectures on the Siege Perilous in the legend of the Knights of the Round Table; a ventriloquist prepares for a Vaudeville-style show; there’s a benefit for the Police Widows and Orphans; and Morse is in the choir singing “as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.” There’s so much going on that Colin Dexter’s cameo flashes by within seconds of the episode’s start.
Then the prisoner escapes, a young boy runs away from home, and Thursday and Morse are off and running.
As the episode title implies, we’re dealing here with Lost Boys of one sort or another, especially as all plot roads lead to a place called Blenheim Vale, a home for “wayward boys” that’s been closed for 11 years. You might recall that in last week’s episode, “Sway,” we were told Norman Parkis, the lovelorn department store porter, had spent time at Blenheim Vale. In this episode we learn that Blenheim Vale was replaced by another care home called Boxgrove, which figured into the “Fearful Symmetry” episode of Inspector Lewis back in 2012. In case you’re keeping track…
In what is now November 1966 Endeavour time, Blenheim Vale is about to be turned into the new HQ for the consolidated police force we will come to know as the Thames Valley Constabulary. This “amalgamation” of local police forces into larger regional entities was a real initiative specified in the Police Act of 1964. It cut the number of existing police forces from 117 to 67 throughout England, Scotland, and Wales. It cut quite a few jobs in the process.
Anyone who’s been through a workforce consolidation knows the cream does not always rise to the top. Real talent and loyal service are sacrificed in the name of “streamlining,” as Chief Superintendent Bright (Anton Lesser) so delicately terms it. In this case, it seems our beloved Fred Thursday (Roger Allam), aka Best. Boss. Ever., will be part of that sacrifice. Without Thursday, Endeavour Morse will be a Lost Boy indeed. But he’s not the only one.
Until now DS Peter Jakes (Jack Laskey) has been a sullen presence in the background, occasionally hinting at a rough past. In “Neverland” he finally reveals more of his character. So does PC Strange (Sean Rigby), who I continue to find fascinating (and I hope you do, too).
The grown-up Lost Boys from Blenheim Vale are an interesting bunch, especially ventriloquist Benny Topling (Oliver Lansley, in a poignant homage to William Goldman’s Magic) and Nicholas Myers (Andrew Gower) a clerk at the firm of Vholes, Jaggers, and Lightwood – Solicitors. (Did you catch that, Dickens fans?)
As Endeavour progresses, we see more and more how Morse manages to simultaneously succeed wildly and commit career suicide. Bright is willing to tolerate Morse so long as he’s useful. Others aren’t as accommodating. DI Chard hasn’t been a fan ever since Morse pointed out his mistakes in the strangler case at the center of “Sway.” Influential local politician Gerald Wintergreen objects to Morse’s demeanor (“Do I detect a note of rebuke?” he asks threateningly), and another character simply terms Morse “a boy from the sticks with a chip on his shoulder and a library card.” Powerful enemies such as these are going to land our friend Endeavour in trouble—sooner rather than later.
The episode climax is completely over the top, but then we’re not watching Endeavour for its realism. (Are we?) We know this is a fictional universe with elements of fact woven into its fabric. We know that along with the case of the week we’ll be presented with other puzzles to solve, references to unravel, Easter eggs to find. We know that Endeavour along with Inspector Lewis is part of what has become the Morse canon.
It’s not a spoiler to say that “Neverland” leaves us hanging from the cliff by our bent and broken fingernails. Series 3 seems inevitable, but it hasn’t been officially announced and IMDb has it listed for 2016. If Endeavour doesn’t continue, it will be a “Remorseful Day” indeed.
Leslie Gilbert Elmanis 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.