My review of the previous episode: Canticle.
"I suppose everyone's got their own secret sadness, 'aven't they?"
"I suppose. What's yours?"
"Flat feet."Lazaretto begins quite simply, for a Morse episode. Perhaps thanks to director Börkur Sigþórsson (a Scandinavian, if there ever was one), the episode has a bare simplicity and white light that's unusual for the usually warm, cozy show. The color palette reflects the sterile hospital at the center of this week's plot. It takes Morse and co. a while to get there however, because they've another death to attend to first.
Quickly enough, Morse finds something is afoot on Fosdick Ward. Another patient, Burt Talbot, is convinced that Bed 10 is jinxed, given the amount of people who have died in it lately. Even more suspiciously, each death comes accompanied by a single white sweet pea, that Nurse Clodagh MacMahon presses and hides away in her office.
But it's not "the next one" that Morse has on his mind, but rather a sequence of old ones. While at Cowley Hospital, Morse runs into the mother of his original lady love. Caroline Bryce-Morgan is not overly thrilled to see him. She clearly thinks Susan had a lucky escape when she refused to marry the beleaguered constable. Caroline makes her feelings even more clear as the episode progresses, rubbing Morse's failed sergeant's exam in his face (she's a bit of detective herself, sussing out the information from the assistant chief constable.) The use of Schubert's Quintet for C is a nice reference to Susan's cameo in Inspector Morse.
And the latest romance? After that confusing telephone call from Leamington, Morse decides to track down the caller. Sure enough, it's Joan. While she's in a comfortable situation, she's in the same pickle as Monica with regard to Morse. She likes him, but he continues to give mixed signals, waiting for her to make the move. The opening Joan gives him this time isn't quite as welcoming as her wide-eyed "help me" look in Coda, but it's still enough that his refusal to act leaves me with very little sympathy for the indecisive constable.
Joan still has a penchant for bad boys. Her well-furnished flat appears to be funded by her latest beau: an older, married man. Morse sees, but doesn't say anything, to either Joan or Fred, when the latter asks him where he's been.
Of course, Fred has other things to deal with. Early in the episode, Mr. Bright collapses with a stomach ulcer, leading to an intriguing suggestion for the future of our favorite chief inspector. Could we be looking at Chief Superintendent Thursday instead of Dead Thursday or Retired Thursday or Arrested for Beating Up a Suspect Thursday? On the one hand, answering phones doesn't suit Fred, but as the episode continues, he seems to lean into the necessary responsibility. "Hell of a responsibility though," he muses. "The power over life and death."
It'd keep Win from worrying, too. Mrs. Thursday has sunk into a deep depression. She misses Joan and blames herself for her daughter's disappearance. When Fred finds a bottle of pills, he discovers that Win is so jittery these days that she can hardly bring herself to go out of doors.
The final solution is surprisingly straightforward after all the plot twists and turns. That's not necessarily a criticism. With an episode this eventful, it's probably a good thing that the mystery is a bit rote, and the murderer makes up for an obvious motivation with a creative method. It's a thematically coherent episode, reminding us of Morse's two main conflicts this season - his failures in life and love. There's even a bit of a hint about Bright's missing child(?) when Bakewell talks about his daughter. Sterling direction and a manageable plot make this a solid installment.
My review of next week's episode: Harvest.
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- The tarot card for this week is "Death." I don't think I need to explain the meaning of that one, though, according to my extensive five-minutes-on-google research, it can mean figurative death. Very convenient, tarot readers. Very convenient. The other, "The Tower," has to do with sudden and negative change. My prediction for the Tarot card woman? Sheila Hancock's character, according to IMDb, is called Dowsable Chattox. That's my bet.
- Never talk in front of the parrot.
- I think this is the last we'll see of Monica. As for Joan, while I think any hope of a relationship with Morse is off the table, she still needs to face her parents. So does Morse. When that time comes, will that mean a permanent split between Morse and Thursday?
- Speaking of which, "Chief Superintendent" Thursday would shuffle the whole deck. Would that mean Inspector Strange and Sergeant Morse? Or would Strange leave and provide us with Inspector McNutt and Sergeant Morse, reporting to Chief Super Thursday? Comments?
- Bright is strangely underutilized, considering this amazing opportunity to provide us with Undercover Agent Reginald Bright. (Hey, last year, the man shot a tiger, give him a chance to use his Skills).
- "Maybe she needed to prove to herself that she wasn't wholly lost."
- A lazaretto is a quarantine area for people travelling by sea.
- With all the effort put into explaining the conflict between "Wendy Spencer" (the name of Morse's old flame in the books) and "Susan Fallon" (her name in the TV series), I'm surprised her mother's surname wasn't Spencer.