Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Endeavour Season 2 - Trove - Episode Review


My review of last year's season finale: Home

Endeavour Morse has always been the Doctor Who of detectives—a dynamic main character who draws us through plots of varying degrees of ridiculousness. If you can’t laugh at the inherent absurdity, it simply will not work. This episode is particularly tangled, with three wildly different threads turning out to be connected. I think.

Shaun Evans and Roger Allam return for a second series of this popular prequel to Inspector Morse, starring as, respectively, D.C. Endeavour Morse and his mentor-cum-sidekick, the lovingly decent Inspector Thursday. Overall, the episode is a welcome return to the homicidal society of Oxford (I immediately smiled to hear the closing theme song).

The ritual montage of suspects and clues punctuate the opening credits, intercut with scenes of Morse taking a medical exam. He’s back on the job after a four-month hiatus due to the injury he sustained during last year’s season finale (which, incidentally, explains John Thaw’s slight limp.) The transition is somewhat rocky, as Thursday and Morse find it difficult to slip back into the easy banter of earlier days (though they still have the same incipient chemistry). Thursday is worried by Morse’s increased reliance on drink and is trying his best to curb the young man’s habit.

Needless to say, Morse’s first day is full of excitement, with a missing persons report, an assault at a beauty pageant parade, and an ostensible suicide. Morse, being Morse, digs further into the suicide’s background, finds he is a private detective, and ends up mugged by some of the dead man’s enemies. This gives Thursday even more to worry about, though he recruits Morse’s attractive new neighbor to help out (we can predict where this is going.) Endeavour is more solemn in this episode, though surprisingly humble at times.

Besides an overly obvious feminism thread, most of the thematic development takes place in this shift to a darker tone, and an ending threatening more danger to come (I feel a Masonic Mysteries background story around the bend). The final unveiling itself is completely ridiculous, coming straight out of left-field with a number of unnecessary, randomly weird twists. The complexity and sheer improbability of it all would have made Agatha Christie blush.

Still, the atmospheric setting and operatic soundtrack are gorgeous, and the dialogue spins along with its characteristic bite. Shaun Evans’ Endeavour Morse is great, and Roger Allam as Thursday is as magnificent as ever. For once, the nasty-office-guy Jakes shows a little humanity, and C.S. Bright is amusingly oblivious to…practically everything. I appreciated a little tip of the hat to Morse’s tendency to gallop off in the wrong direction; I’ve been worried at times that Evans’s character will be more progressive and polished than Thaw’s, but this doesn’t seem to be the case, though they still haven’t taken on Morse’s amusing anti-feminism.

But hey, there's still time.

My review of next week's episode: Nocturne

3.5/5 stars

Hannah Long

3 comments:

  1. I love your blog..I've been following for help with VERA. I watch on PBS so am often episodes/seasons behind and the context your provide helps so much without me having to watch all previous seasons. Now thanks to you, this old lady and John Thaw fan is giving Endeavour a decent chance at gaining a new fan.

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    1. Glad you enjoy it. I'm a John Thaw fan too, and while I love Endeavour, Inspector Morse is still my favorite.

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  2. Wow. So nice to see that someone else finds the "solution" totally nuts. And, even if one accepts it -- how on earth did Morse figure it out? The characters, as always, are wonderful and the atmosphere is great but are the writers laughing at us?

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