Monday, February 19, 2018

Endeavour Series 5 - Passenger - Episode Review

 My review of the previous episode: Cartouche.

"It won't do, Morse. It won't bloody do." 

If I was a wrongdoer and heard Fred Thursday speak those words, I'd be quaking in my boots. It means things are serious. And indeed they are.

Passenger begins with the usual intercut scenes. A trainspotter watches an engine whoosh into the station while a giggling couple cavort in bed. Meanwhile, some thugs hijack a lorry, brutally striking down the driver.

Back at the office, the pressure is on for officers to prove their worth to division. Thursday is put in a managerial role as two obviously smarmy bastards from Robbery arrive to assist with the lorry investigation: D.I. Ronnie Box and D.S. Patrick Dawson.



Fancy's on his first serious job looking for missing person Frances Porter. He doesn't get off to a good start, failing to ask Frances' husband Noel and sister-in-law Jilly Conway for a picture of the missing woman. Morse looks longsuffering and helps him out. Ultimately, Thursday assigns Morse to the case as well.

Morse goes to Frances's last known location, her job at a boutique called Alice's Marmalade Cat. An unrecognizable Hadley Fraser plays the owner, Marty Bedlo. A slim, timid employee named Anoushka Nolan tips Morse off that Frances had stolen a red hat and shoes to go see her lover, "Don," in King's Cross. Morse tracks him down via a car registration number left at the lovers' hotel. He's really Don Mercer, a married dessert salesman. He said he left Frances on the train to Oxford (he later backtracks and said he let her walk to the station), but when Morse talks to Station Master Karl Patterson, he says there were no trains to Oxford that night.

Not quite true, says "railway enthusiast" Cedric Naughton who's definitely this episode's Obvious Suspect. There's a special train that goes through the station sometimes, Naughton says, and Morse, on a hunch, follows this route and tracks down a distant, abandoned station where he finds Frances's body, absent her shoes. When Dorothea turns up soon afterward and brings up an old local murder - Linda Gresham, she mentions that the killer - nicknamed "Prince Charming" - took his victim's shoes as a souvenir. Morse is appreciative, but Thursday is grumpily tight-lipped. "We both have jobs to do," she says, sassily. I love her so much.

A few things happen with the Thursday family this episode. Fred hears from his scummy brother Charlie again - sounds like he needs more help. Morse goes to Joan's housewarming party, where she tries to set him up with a pretty French girl. Joan and Morse's interactions, hesitant, polite, not quite easy with one another, show that while Joan seems to genuinely be moving on, Morse can't give her up. He keeps hoping, and then losing himself in casual sex with other women. Not the healthiest way of coping.

Meanwhile, on her rounds, Trewlove is looking through a pile of records at a roadside stall when she notices one of them was the Rosalind Calloway record stolen from Morse's flat last season (all you armchair detectives in the comments can rest easy, Russell Lewis is on the case). Noting the vendors' number, she passes the information on to George, sorry, Fancy, with whom she is almost-but-not-quite flirting.

The two division scumbags gang up on Trewlove in the office, and Box is on the verge of striking her when all the Cowley boys dive in to fight back. The scene is over too quickly. I wanted to see Strange batter Dawson with his trombone. Poor Bright throws all his ha'penny grandeur at Ronnie Box, who is surly and goes on about a whole new world of politics and power. Bright is such an interesting character.

Fancy makes a deal with the vendor, Jamaican Lloyd Collins, to get some whisky stolen in the lorry hijacking, but when he arrives at the meeting place he finds Collins done to death, croaking the name of his killer, "Cromwell Ames." A dead cockerel lies beside him, and the voodoo sign leads Thursday and Strange to track down a Jamaican bar and start asking questions. That's the end of that storyline for this week, but presumably it will pick up again next Sunday as we find out more about this mysterious (and marvelously named) threat to Eddie Nero's criminal empire.

The next body discovered raises more questions, as several mistakes make it seem like we may be dealing not with the same killer but a copycat murder. Eventually, it's a visit to Frances's aged mother which provides the cinching clue in a mystery which keeps our interest every step of the way.

I don't really have anything to critique about this episode. It's not the most ambitious of stories, but it's a solid story executed beautifully. Stunning direction and use of location and color. The cinematography is full of interesting lighting and framing, approaching familiar locales and people with new angles. Even the mise en scène is done with unusual precision and delicacy. It all adds up to a terrific and beautiful atmosphere.

The plots interweave gracefully and it's easy to follow everything. It kept me guessing who the killer was all the way through (not that I didn't suspect that person, but the episode made me suspect everyone). There's just enough personal stuff to spice up what's a refreshingly mystery-central story. This one is a winner.

My review of the next episode: Colours.

Notes:

  • Trewlove delivering savage burns the two idiots from Division is amazing. This episode is the first one where I completely love her character. 
  • Don: "Christ." Thursday: "He's nothing to do with it, but you are." I much approve.
  • "Man would come by better moral instruction in a monkey-house" - Bright on modern sexual morality.
  • Not commented on, though, is the casual racism - this has turned up several times in this series, and I trust Russell Lewis enough to think it's probably building up to an indictment of the characters we love in coming episodes. 
  • Boy, does Dorothea own every scene she's in.
  • D.I. Box's smarmy sidekick, D.S. Dawson will turn up in Inspector Morse: Second Time Around as D.I. Patrick Dawson. In that, he's played by the great character actor Kenneth Colley.

If you enjoyed this article, check out my full list of detective reviews.

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Longish

5 comments:

  1. Thanks for this outstanding review. I too really enjoyed this episode, exactly the high-quality, beautifully rendered story we expect from the Endeavour team.
    Trewlove is awesome-- sweet, strong, smart, and totally fearless. I am enjoying her character more and more and find Dakota's performance very engaging. I loved the way she called out the Robbery Detective for being drunk on the job. Excellent!! Question: why didn't she purchase Rosamund Calloway's autographed record and return it to Morse? Guess she did not know--before her time.
    Loved the trains, the Marmalade Cat, the sense of everything changing and very unsettled. It seems Morse got one thing settled- Joan. After all that has happened, all he has done for her, how can she be so mean? Cruel or clueless, we know she is neither, so why? He becomes more heroic than ever to me..so classy the way he leaves her party, so kind. Why can't they speak frankly? He tried. said "this is as far as I can go. You come up here to me" He has been doing all the work to this point. When she said, "I won't jump" did she really mean 'you should ask me out on a date, we should get to know each other, really know each other, and then we'll decide if we can be in love....' Even though it seems not, there is still something powerful between them and she is upset she has hurt him. Does she feel she "jumped" with Mr. Leamington and is afraid of another mess? She is trying to move on, I see, but why? Gosh, this romance drives me nuts, but I love it. Some of the best acting and writing ever!
    Has anyone heard anything about Season 6? I am worried.

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  2. A well crafted drama without the gravitas of John Thaw’s Morse..



    -Jane@showboxbuzz

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  3. When the body count started to mount, for a moment I wondered if I hadn’t stumble onto an episode of Midsomer Murders instead of Endeavour.

    I have to admit, I was so distracted by Joan Thursday’s mini-skirt I couldn’t concentrate on much else about the episode. As a 14-year-old boy in 1968, I thought mini-skirts were the greatest invention of the 20th Century. Still do.

    It’s interesting to note that Russell Lewis seems to be leading Fancy/Trewlove and possibly Strange/Joan Thursday into relationships; in contrast to Morse, who’s embarking on a series of one-night-stands. I wonder if Joan will find out about Morse's night with her cousin.

    My favourite scene: Chief Superintendent Bright dressing down D.I. Ronnie Box. I didn’t know Bright had it in him.

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    Replies
    1. I did start to feel like they were just adding bodies to spice up the second half. And the whole train enthusiast serial killer thing was a stretch and an unwelcome stereotype, to boot.

      Interesting too that they're still talking Thursday family drama. This whole season is focusing on the Thursdays, and Sam will be back next week.

      Love it when Bright is the Cowley Station Dad. But why are you surprised? The man shot a tiger! By the end of this show he's going to be Arnold Schwarzenegger in a police flat cap.

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  4. I missed the last 20 mnts of this episode. Can someone tell me who is the killer please

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