My review of the previous episode: Game.
Ah, well. I guess it had to happen. Endeavour's a period show, and we can't get by too long without an object lesson. When I read the summary for this episode, I couldn't help but roll my eyes, not because of the subject material, but because I could so easily predict the plot.
Mrs. Joy Pettybon is on a crusade to Keep Britain Decent. An elderly widow, Mrs. Pettybon is quick to denounce anything to do with sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll, and - it seems - fun. She's accompanied by her timid daughter, Bettina, and happy-go-lucky colleague, the Reverend Mervyn Golightly.
Speaking of which, this is a glorious episode, visually. A fun opening sequence features brightly-clad dancers on an Oxford lawn (and original music from Russell Lewis and Matthew Slater). While the stand-out images from last week came from the eerie, atmospheric pool, Canticle revels in the vivid colors of The Wildwood's Bright Young Things, recalling the slightly otherworldly world of Joss Bixby in Ride.
Of course, there are more drugs involved this time, which brings to mind a Morse episode I recently revisited: Cherubim and Seraphim. In that episode, Morse is befuddled by insular teenage communities. He can't believe that his niece, Marilyn, could be involved in drugs and parties. When his colleague, Lewis, describes trying drugs years before, he's puzzled, as he is in this episode, when Thursday mentions trying kief in the desert.
Even in Canticle, Morse is a man out of his time. As Nick Wilding rambles on about their generation's search for enlightenment, he notes that Morse is wearing a suit. Morse doesn't fit in with the 60's, like Trewlove, or even the WWII era of Thursday. It's easier than ever to imagine Shaun Evans morphing into his older, contrarian self.
As for good old Fred, he's still taking Joan's loss hard, snapping at Win and refusing to discuss the situation without a scowl on his face. After a full season of Dark Thursday, I kind of wish we could get back to the heroic side of everyone's favorite mentor, but presumably this thread is going somewhere, since Morse appears to be in contact with Joan. (By the way, what's ever happened to poor, neglected Sam Thursday? Not a tear shed for his absence.)
All in all, Canticle's a bit hit or miss. It's competently directed, and I was never bored, but the melodramatic resolutions to its two main plots are unfortunate. I'm still invested with the main characters, but I hope for a better, more nuanced case next week.
My review of the next episode: Lazaretto.
- The tarot card at the end of the episode - Lovers - represents pretty much exactly what you'd think: a pair of lovers. Whether those lovers are Joan and Morse, Bettina and Morse, or (is it too late to hope?) Monica and Morse we must wait and see.
- "What a lyrical child you must have been, sergeant."
- At one point in the episode, Nick Wilding refers to Huxley's The Doors of Perception. In Cherubim & Seraphim, which deals with drug overdoses, Morse mentions The Doors of Perception to Lewis. I can't help but think Endeavour is making an intentional callback to that scene (working now, as foreshadowing). Of course, Canticle's conclusion casts an interesting light on Morse's later confusion about and aversion to drugs. I can see why he would dislike them, but pretending he completely missed the world of the 60's is a little disingenuous, in the context of this episode.
- If you're going to have Morse tripped out on drugs, let's at least get a glimpse of his mind palace. Though in his case, I suspect it would have been a mind pub.
- Most of this episode is written in very broad strokes, but I thought Bright and Thursday's conversation about evil was quietly profound. It was a nice touch after the overblown caricature of Mrs. Pettybon and the self-important hedonistic rambling of Nick Wilding.