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.


  • 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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  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 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.

    1. Morse has always been interested in Joan, but I honestly can't remember any romantic interest on her all. She went to him when she was in trouble, but I don't think she ever indicated more than that. Trying to fix Morse up with the French girl is pretty clear to me. It's not even that she's moved on - she was never there for him in the first place!

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


  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.

    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.

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

  5. The storylines are becoming less plausible and more difficult to follow with every episode and I'm getting fed up with several aspects of the production. Does everything have to look as though they've forgotten to turn on the lights at Cowley Police Station? And some of the audio in the outside locations is pretty hard to follow. The personal relationships - particularly involving Joan - are in danger of being overdrawn. I still watch it, but don't care if I miss it.

  6. I didn't catch the name Dawson and connect it to "Second Time Around", but I was reminded of that episode and the reveal of the Police conference pin when Morse opened the trainspotter's drawer and found Linda's Prefect pin at the very end. A little call back, I think.

  7. The train hobbyist, why did he attack the pregnant woman? Didn’t understand that connection.

  8. I swear I could hear Morse's heart breaking when Joan hit him with the "introduction to the French journalist" idea. The look on his face honestly brought tears to my eyes! How many more times can this guy be flattened emotionally by this woman? Really hard for me to understand what Joan feels for Morse? I think she is trying (in her way) to let him know she would never consider a romantic relationship with a detective. So, leave him alone Joan! On a happier note, I do enjoy the interaction between Trewlove and George Fancy and his appreciation of her kindness, intelligence and quick wit!

  9. I don't understand why Morse never as much as asked Joan out for something as innocent as a drink or dinner? A simple way to spend some time alone? No one else has to know. They're adults and it's their business. Does it all come down to the fact that Joan is Thursday's daughter and Morse is uncomfortable with that? Ridiculous! If he has kept secret that Joan was physically abused by that disgusting idiot she was living with, became pregnant and had a miscarriage, I think he can keep quiet about the two of them going on a date! Is he so afraid of being turned down by Joan? Well, at least he would've made an effort instead of just standing around staring at her all the time. I think Joan has been baffled by his behavior as well!! Definitely one of the most frustrating romances (or lack thereof!) that I've witnessed!

  10. Your comments are too logical and I agree with them.

  11. I think Joan does love Morse and he feels as much as he "can". Yeah this attraction is driving me nuts. I do think Morse is right in not getting involved with her because of his dear boss though, that holds true even in this day and age. Confusing episode, but I loved it anyway.

  12. I just saw the episode on line in the US.

    While it is very engaging and well acted I had trouble following the plot involving the Frances/Jillian switch as anything in the range of believable. If it was Frances who was working at the Alice's Marmalade Cat why did she steal the shoes and how did they then get to Jilly? According to the plot line the killing of Jilly was one of opportunity offered by the spat with Don, her walking to the station, and there being no late train due to a blockage on the line so the transfer of the shoes and their subsequent removal could not have been some sort of super-engineered plan. The possibility that a picture of the murdered woman would not be in the papers or not shown to the staff at the "Cat" as it was to Don also seems beyond the realm of the vaguely possible. Perhaps unlikely plot lines and coincidences (Anoushka just happening to see Frances-Morse stumbling upon the body in an abandoned train station) are more a part of British vintage police dramas as compared to ours on this side of the Atlantic-since our unbelievable events seem to largely occur in the political arena.

  13. I enjoyed your review, Hannah. I enjoy this show a lot. However, I don't get the Morse-Joan romance. These two have NOTHING in common. If they got married, Morse would be pulling his hair out after just a few days, Joan's music choices being one reason.


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