My review of last week's episode.
With appropriate timing, this week’s Endeavour features a visit from royalty. After last week’s episode, Rocket’s comparatively lighter tone is welcome.
The prospect of a visit to Oxford by Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret, who is to unveil the British Imperial Electric Company's new "Standfast" Mark Two missile, has Chief Superintendent Bright, slated to provide security, on red alert. But when an unpopular worker is found murdered in a secluded area of the shop floor, Endeavour must pursue the truth -- and then justice -- from the sidelines…and in the intoxicating presence of Alice Vexin, an old acquaintance from his days at Oxford.
Featuring a plot involving factory owners, unions, and Middle Eastern businessmen, my political correctness detector was running on full spin. Perhaps it was unfair, but after the rampant PC in Lewis, I wanted to see how Endeavour measured up. And while it wasn’t as gutsy as good old very anachronistic Morse, neither did it descend to blatant caricaturing. The factory is owned by the Broom family, a group composed of five vindictive individuals. There’s the mother, a domineering, spiteful but practical businesswoman. The daughter, Estella, similar to the cold, enigmatic character of the same name from Dickens’s Great Expectations. Two awkward brothers, another brother dead four years back, and a shifty father round off that happy family.
Meanwhile, down on the floor, tensions are rising among the workers. Reg Tracepurcel (Craig Parkinson), the shop steward, is suspicious that the dead man might have been a spy. A recent accident has got the union up in arms, and the Brooms are trying to quell the unrest while simultaneously striking a deal with Crown Prince Nabil of the United Hashemite Kingdoms.
While the Broom family is hardly likeable, the union folks aren’t entirely righteous either. There’s a somewhat predictable dig at the UK from Prince Nabil, and an underlying theme of miscarriage of justice. C.S. Bright, who for a while at the beginning was beginning to seem like nothing more than comic relief, starts to unravel when his reputation is threatened, and will do anything to keep his place in the political scheme of things. Which, of course, drives Morse up the wall. Thursday, on the other hand, says a rather unhearty “aye, aye, sir,” and glumly takes it in stride. Good detective, bad policeman thing, I suppose. It is the first time, I notice, where Thursday is seen in a bad light, and there's one scene where he displays a prejudice against Germans which feels, while not inauthentic, superfluous the plot.
We now come to Alice Vexin, an old acquaintance of Morse’s from Oxford. Well aware that she must overcome the specter of Susan, Morse’s old flame, Alice makes awkward, slightly pathetic advances at the young policeman. The synopsis calls her intoxicating…I’d go more for irritating. Partly it’s just her makeup. Also, her seduction of Morse doesn’t feel likely. It’s very much in keeping with the sometimes ridiculous love affairs in the original (I shudder to remember Remorseful Day), but that doesn’t make it any better. It felt tacked on.
The conclusion was not particularly dramatic, somewhat unrealistic, but the method is witty, with a Poirot-esque twist. Overall, a good but not exceptional episode.
Next week's episode review.