Series / Endeavour

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Endeavour (2012-) is the second spinoff series of Inspector Morse. A prequel set in The '60s, it relates the early cases of the young Detective Constable Morse, starting with his arrival at Oxford CID.

The central characters are Morse (Shaun Evans), the brilliant—if intolerable— detective in training; DI Fred Thursday (Roger Allam), his salty, quick-fisted mentor; and Reginald Blight—err, Bright (Anton Lesser), the eerily corrupt and incompetent Superintendent. Younger versions of Morse's pathologist Max and Chief Superintendent Strange (still just a uniformed constable) also appear.

Airs in the United States as part of PBS' Masterpiece Mystery.

This show provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: At the end of the first series, Thursday's daughter is dating Jakes. Thursday has got the wrong end of the stick and thinks she's dating Morse - which he isn't thrilled about, but is willing to let go because at least it's not Jakes. When the second series picks up four months later, the whole arc seems to have been resolved off-screen.
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: There is one beneath Beaufort College in "Trove". (Strictly speaking, it's a covered river.)
  • A Father to His Men: Thursday. It helps that he has two kids of his own.
  • All Germans Are Nazis: In "Rocket", Thursday becomes confrontational with an engineer of German extraction and questions him about his past in Germany prior to coming to England. While Thursday is presented as showing a less pleasant, paranoid side of his character, he might not be off base, as this is a rocket engineer who lived and worked in Germany during the War, a possible reference to Wernher von Braun.
  • Always Murder: "One day, Morse, I will send you out for a routine inquiry and that's all it will be."
  • And Your Little Dog, Too!: Thursday's family is threatened by the mobsters in "Home."
  • Bluffing the Murderer: How Morse wins the day in "Rocket": when he tells the murderer they already have the evidence they need, he replies that he never thought anyone would look there.
  • Boarding School of Horrors: Blenheim Vale in "Neverland".
  • Brand X: As usual in the Morse franchise, all Oxbridge colleges are fictional and brand names generally fake. However there is one significant aversion: the Oxford Mail is real, as is its forerunner Jackson's Oxford Journal (referenced in "Trove"). It never had an editor called Dorothea Frazil, though.
  • Break the Cutie: The events of "Coda" break Joan Thursday to the extent that she leaves town and, presumably, the series.
  • Buried Alive: One of the victims in "Fugue", in reference to Aida.
  • Call Forward: To Inspector Morse, naturally. The series addresses the origins of elements of Morse's character such as his taste for real ale, his limp and his friendship with Strange.
    • Subverted with the rooftop scenes in "Fugue", which could have provided an origin story for Morse's fear of heights. However, Morse does show some fear of heights on the rooftop in "Trove," after the events of "Fugue."
    • In "Trove," one of the judges of the beauty contest is race car driver Danny Griffon (whose family is at the center of the plot of the pilot of Lewis), and Dr. Matthew Copley-Barnes returns as a key character in the Inspector Morse episode "The Infernal Serpent."
    • Strange gets a significant Call Forward in "Trove" as well: the episode deals with his first brush with Freemasonry. He goes along with it, thinking it could be good for career advancement. Given that he goes on to rise higher in the police than the more capable Morse, maybe it was.
    • In "Neverland", Thursday suggests that if he retires, DS MacNutt could take Morse under his wing. Morse recalls MacNutt as his mentor in the Inspector Morse episode "Masonic Mysteries".
    • Also in "Neverland", when Thursday suggests he'll probably die as a policeman rather than retire, Morse quotes the last verse of "How clear, how lovely bright" — the same verse he quoted in "The Remorseful Day" shortly before his own death in harness.
    • "Ride" includes Morse's classmate Antony Donn, who reappears in the Inspector Morse episode "Deceived by Flight." Both episodes also feature drug trafficking plots that are unrelated to the initial murders.
    • Also in "Ride," a minor character makes a reference to dating Julian Hanbury, who appears in Inspector Morse episode "Ghost in the Machine."
    • In "Prey", Philip Hathaway and the Mortmaigne family (from the Lewis episode "The Dead of Winter") are central to the plot.
    • "Coda" depicts the bank robbery that eventually leads to the events of the Inspector Morse episode "Promised Land." The funeral scenes at the beginning of both episodes, in particular, are structured in a parallel manner, with Strange and a colleague (Thursday/Morse) watching the proceedings from a distance through binoculars and commentating on the participants.
    • The classics don Jerome Hogg (one of the hostages in "Coda") appears again in the Inspector Morse episode "Greeks Bearing Gifts."
  • The Cameo: The red Jaguar owned by Morse in Inspector Morse is seen on a garage forecourt in the pilot.
  • Chekhov's Gun: or in "Neverland" Chekhov's Scarf
  • Chekhov's Skill:
    • Subverted in "Home". Early on, Morse is established as an excellent shot, and this is brought up a couple more times in the episode. In the end, however, it's Inspector Thursday whose skill with a pistol saves Morse, not the other way around.
    • In "Prey", Chief Superintendent Bright's reminiscences of hunting a man-eating tiger in India prove crucial at the climax.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Chief Superintendent Bright in "Rocket", as the pressure of the murder investigation begins to tell on him.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Many characters from the pilot episode, in particular Superintendent Crisp and Sergeant Lott, disappear without any explanation in the first full series (although Thursday clearly wanted the corrupt Lott gone in the pilot, and it's plausible that others met a similar fate).
  • Comforting Comforter: Thursday drapes his coat over Morse in "Fugue."
  • Comforting the Widow: The killer in "Home" kills her husband to invoke this. It doesn't work.
  • Composite Character: The Series 3 premiere was a Whole Plot Reference to The Great Gatsby. Harry Rose is a combination of Meyer Wolfstein and George Wilson (as the killer of the Gatsby Expy), or so we're led to believe; in reality, it's Dan Cody, the man who mentors a young Gatsby.
  • Consulting Mister Puppet: In "Neverland", ventriloquist Benny Topling can only speak about his suppressed trauma through his dummy.
  • Continuity Nod: In "Trove", the Saxon buckle from the Inspector Morse episode "The Wolvercote Tongue" gets namechecked.
  • Corrupt Cop:
    • Most of the police force in the pilot, to the point that Thursday hires Morse partially because he actually trusts him.
    • In "Trove", a notebook was stolen from the crime scene, and it's strongly implied that the villains pulled this off using a mole inside the police force.
    • Becomes the main plot in "Neverland".
  • Covered in Gunge: In the opening of "Trove", a beauty queen is attacked with paint by a feminist protester.
  • Creator Cameo: Colin Dexter appears as one of the dons in "Home". He also appears in each episode of series 2, always within the first few minutes of the episode.
  • Cunning Linguist: In consecutive episodes, it is revealed that Thursday speaks both Italian and German fluently.
  • Da Chief: Superintendent Bright, although his air of authority is slightly undermined by his rhotacism.
  • Da Editor: Dorothea Frazil is a more subdued example being more of a subdued Deadpan Snarker rather than the Large Ham normally associated with the trope. She's normally the one doing the reporting so there's nobody for her to yell at, and she's one of the only characters from the Pilot to carry over into the series proper.
  • Day of the Week Name: DI Thursday.
  • Deadpan Snarker: If we had such a trope as Crowning Moment Of Snark, Thursday's deadpan response to Bright's anecdote about meeting Princess Margaret would definitely qualify.
    • Or his response in "Fugue" when Bright emphasizes Morse is only being taken off general duties to assist with this one case:
    Bright: I don't want him getting ideas.
    Thursday: That's kind of what I'm counting on.
    • Max DeBryn also has his moments.
    Morse: You're the, you're the pathologist, I presume.
    DeBryn: Better hope so, hadn't you. Otherwise I'm making one hell of a mess of your scene of crime.
  • Dying Clue: The Reverend in 'Girl' leaves one.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: The daughter of one of the victims in 'Fugue'.
  • Embarrassing First Name: It's right there in the title: Endeavour.
  • Floorboard Failure: While investigating an abandoned area of the school in "Nocturne", Morse falls through a rotten part of the floor.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Morse starts the series as a teetotaller, and is slowly introduced to alcohol through his time in the police force. If you've watched Inspector Morse, you know he eventually becomes very fond of beer and wine.
  • Grammar Nazi: In "Rocket", Morse is sent to keep an eye on a group of anarchist protesters and make sure they don't cause trouble. He can't resist pointing out a spelling mistake on one of their banners.
  • Hand of Death: One appears at the end of "Nocturne", opening a ring (one of the clues in the case) to reveal a Masonic emblem.
  • Happier Times Montage: At the end of "Coda": Realising that Joan Thursday has been traumatised by her experiences in the bank robbery, Morse gets a montage of her Ship Tease moments with him.
  • Happily Married: Fred and Win Thursday, who represent the happy family life that Morse himself never had.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: Strange tells Morse his colleagues think he's a "Queer fish, stand offish... rude".
  • Historical-Domain Character: Princess Margaret in "Rocket" and Lady Isobel Barnett in "Trove", both non-speaking parts.
  • Hospital Hottie: Monica, Morse's new neighbour in "Trove." He asks her out in "Nocturne".
  • Hyper-Competent Sidekick: Effectively, Morse himself is this to Thursday, at least when he's on form.
  • I Don't Pay You to Think: The only person who doesn't say this to Morse and actually listens to him is Thursday.
  • I Ain't Got Time to Bleed:
    • Morse chases after a suspect and doesn't collapse until after he's lost him entirely.
    • In "Coda", Thursday is slowly dying from a bullet fragment in his lung. Right before he launches a one-man assault on the bank where his daughter is being held, he coughs up the bullet through sheer force of willpower.
  • I Let Gwen Stacy Die: In a rare platonic example, Thursday's partner was killed by the mob earlier in his career, causing a lifelong hatred of the mobsters who killed him.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Through series 3. Thanks to his injuries in "Neverland", Thursday has a bullet in his lung, and suffers from coughing fits that get worse as the series progresses, much to everybody's concern. It's exacerbated by his refusal to seek medical attention. In the final episode it reaches the point that he's bent over a sink coughing up blood — and then subverted as he coughs out the bullet and after that everything's fine.
  • Jerkass: DS Jakes starts off as one, especially (though not only) toward Morse, but seems to have wised up by the second series.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: While Bright's attitude towards Morse seems unjustified, he points out that his role as Thursday's Number Two undermines the police rank system, it normally goes to a sergeant not a constable. He also believes that Morse is just too inexperienced to be a detective (reinforced by Morse making two big mistakes, a false arrest and overlooking a suspect in a murder investigation), something which Thursday reluctantly agrees is true.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: There's one between the Oxford City Police, which Morse and co. work for and the Oxford County Police, which arises when a student at a local girl's boarding school is murdered.
  • Just One Little Mistake: Happens very frequently, and mentioned by name in "Rocket."
  • Kansas City Shuffle: The killer's Evil Plan in "Fugue" involves pulling this on Morse and Thursday ... twice.
  • Last Name Basis: Already in full effect with Morse, who refuses to tell anyone his Embarrassing First Name. Thursday knows it and uses it to get his attention in the pilot, but otherwise he's just "Morse".
  • London Gangster: One of them, an old nemesis of Thursday, sets up a nightclub in Oxford during the events of "Home". Said gangster is an associate of the Fletcher Brothers, who are implied to be even worse, and he is rumored to have gone to Oxford to escape their wrath.
  • Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: Morse! Dear Morse!
  • Master-Apprentice Chain: Vimes -> Thursday -> Morse.
  • My Greatest Second Chance: "Prey" proves to be one for Bright. Before the war, he and a colleague had to hunt down a man-eating tiger; he killed the tiger, but couldn't save his colleague. This time, he kills the tiger and saves Morse.
  • Mythology Gag: In the pilot, the question of whether Morse's girlfriend at university was called Wendy (as in the books) or Susan (as in the series).
  • New Old Flame: Thursday acquires one in "Sway".
  • No Smoking: Very much averted.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Morse asks his neighbour Monica out, then has to cancel (and lies about it) because he's previously promised to accompany Constable Strange to the cinema with Strange's girlfriend and her friend. The friend turns out to be Thursday's daughter... and, of course, Monica sees them together and draws the worst possible conclusion.
  • Number Two: Morse is briefly this to Thursday, but his inexperience and Bright's criticism of the arrangement mean he's sent back to General Duties so Sgt. Jakes and later Strange take this role.
  • Old Cop, Young Cop: Inspector Thursday and Constable Morse.
  • Old-Fashioned Copper: Constable Strange, at the Dixon of Dock Green end of the spectrum.
  • Old Flame Fizzle: Alice in "Rocket", when she realises Morse is still carrying a torch for Susan / Wendy.
  • One-Word Title: Each episode has one, as does the series.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • Thursday pretending not to know what sort of sandwiches Win's made for him, and Morse telling him (because she always makes the same sort on the same day of the week) quickly becomes a bonding ritual. In "Trove", it's a sign that Morse is deeply troubled when he stops playing along.
    • Max, the coroner, is typically shown maintaining the utmost sang-froid examining every dead body he sees and usually making a few droll comments, but he's shown as very shaken by the murder of a schoolgirl in "Nocturne" and begs Morse to catch the person responsible.
    • Also in "Nocturne", while Bright is usually an Obstructive Bureaucrat, but he's furious when an office from the County Police tries to raise Jurisdiction Friction, angrily commenting that they shouldn't be butting heads over this kind of issue when there's the murder of a child to be solved.
  • Papa Wolf: Do not go after Thursday's family. You will regret it.
  • Parental Substitute: Thursday to Morse in a manner of speaking.
  • Plot-Based Photograph Obfuscation: In "Nocturne", Morse looks into an unsolved Victorian era murder of a wealthy family which was popularly blamed on the youngest daughter (who was the only person left alive who was in the household), and support seems to be lent to this by the fact that the daughter died in an institution and her father scratched her face out of all photographs and even painted over her portrait, leaving her The Blank. At the end of the episode, after having figured out she wasn't the killer, Morse comes across one photograph which was unscathed, and reveals the daughter had Downs Syndrome, indicating that far from being an Ax-Crazy monster, she was a disabled person who suffered horribly due to Victorian mores and her jerkass father.
  • Police Brutality: Thursday loses his temper and assaults a prisoner in "Prey". Bright, while bawling Thursday out, notes that the standard cover story for this trope will be given out: that the man fell down the stairs on his way to the cells.
    • Thursday escalates this behavior in "Coda," leading to his suspension from the force due to public complaints.
  • Rage Against the Legal System: This turns out to be the motive of the killer in "Fugue".
  • Rank Up: Strange becomes a Sergeant in Series 3 and Morse's immediate superior when Jakes leaves. Morse himself finally decides to take his Sergeant exams during the finale.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Thursday, he has no problem listening to Morse.
  • Right Behind Me: In "Neverland", while Strange is passing on station gossip about Thursday to Morse.
  • Running Gag:
    • Win always gives her husband Fred the same sandwiches on the same days of the week.
    • In the second series there's also a kind of running gag involving a billboard advertising Grimsby pilchards.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Strange admits that his Masonic connections may have helped him become a Sergeant and his transfer from being a general policeman to the Criminal Investigation Department.
  • Sequel Hook:
    • "Trove" ends with the criminals vowing to use their Masonic connections to get revenge on Morse, and Morse positive that he's overlooked something. We're then shown a shot of what he forgot: a notebook that went missing from the crime scene, being passed from one unknown figure to another.
    • Reiterated in "Nocturne" — see Hand of Death above.
    • Both of these pay off in "Neverland".
  • Setting Update: Reaps what the Inspector Morse series sowed in this regard. That series updated novels set from 1970 onwards to the then-present (1987 onwards). Endeavour, which is initially set in 1965, follows the TV chronology, so its setting is 20+ years before the original series, not five.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Inspector Thursday was clearly traumatized by his experiences in World War II, which left a darkness in him that he does his best to suppress.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In "Home", a London Gangster transplanted in Oxford fears his higher ups, who are identified as the "Fletcher Brothers", which is the name given to the London Gangster employers of Get Carter's Villain Protagonist.
    • In "Trove", when Morse is following up a clue, he sees a sign for "R Duck, Theatrical Agent, Fourth Floor." Withnail names his first agent as "Raymond Duck. Four floors up on the Charing Cross Road."
    • Also in "Trove", the prominent advertising for Grimsby Pilchards calls to mind Tony Hancock's unsuccessful attempts to advertise pilchards in "The Bowmans".
    • Yet again in "Trove", talent agent Val Todd has a phone call from Mr. White from Play-Tone and another from "Lane from SCDP."
    • In "Nocturne", part of the investigation involves an unsolved murder in 1866. One of the police at that time was Detective Constable Cuff. note 
    • In the same episode, the head of the College of Arms is mentioned as being "Sir Hilary."
    • In "Neverland", the law firm Morse visits has a Mr Vholes as one of its partners.
    • In "Prey", a body is found with marks suggesting an attack by a tiger or similar big cat. Morse raises the possibility that a weapon specially made to leave such marks could have been used. The Sherlock Holmes story "The Veiled Lodger" includes such a weapon, though in both cases the marks turn out to be from an actual animal attack.
    • Also in "Prey", Bright recalls being in India near Pankot, and mentions there being trouble with the Thuggee cult — implying that the events of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom are historical fact in the Morseverse.
    • Also in "Prey", characters say "It's in the trees...." "It's coming" — confirmed by Word of God as a reference to both Kate Bush's 'Hounds of Love', and the film 'Night of the Demon'.
    • In "Prey", the land agent, named Craven, is revealed to have been a big game hunter. This is a reference to the Marvel Comics character Kraven the Hunter.
    • In "Prey" one of the victims of a tiger attack is named Ricky Parker. Richard Parker is the name of the tiger in The Life Of Pi. In turn, the name in the novel was taken from a couple of people (both real and fictional) with that name who were victims of cannibalism.
    • In "Coda", Thursday reveals his mentor was Sergeant Vimes of Cable Street.
    • Also in "Coda", Morse distracts the villain by claiming he's fired all his six shots. As he's dragged away the man begs to know if he had or not.
    • In "Coda", Morse bumps into an old professor of his, the campy classical scholar Jerome Hogg. Hogg comments about a male student "preferring oysters despite all of his (Hogg's) blandishments". This is a reference to Spartacus which has a scene where snails and oysters are used as a metaphor for respectively homosexual and heterosexual relationships.
  • Significant Anagram: Repeatedly in "Fugue".
  • Sleazy Politician: Chief Inspector Bright has some definite shades of this, as he's shown on more than one occasion attempting to quash investigations by Morse and Thursday into criminal behavior by people of importance, clearly motivated by a fear that they could hurt his opportunities for advancement if angered (or would help him if he remained on their good side).
  • The '60s: The temporal setting, albeit not the "Swinging Sixties" but a much more true-to-life drab setting full of grey cars, brown suits, beige sofas and olive green paint.
  • Something We Forgot: At the end of "Trove" — see Sequel Hook.
  • Story Arc: Season 2 has a running theme of police corruption.
  • Stress Vomit: Morse throws up his socks after being saved just in the nick of time from a charging man-eating tiger in Prey. As he is shielding a woman and baby this came very close to being a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Combined with Mythology Gag in "Home". Morse's dad doesn't look much like the Endeavour Morse played by Shaun Evans... but he does look remarkably like John Thaw! In other words, there isn't a strong family resemblance yet, but there will be. (This isn't a Casting Gag, though - without the make-up, actor Alan Williams doesn't look like John Thaw at all.)
  • Tall Poppy Syndrome: Morse, he's extremely bright and talented, and he's clearly wasted on general duties, but Bright uses his rank as Constable and his relative inexpereince to keep him there, until he passes his sergeant exams.
  • Tempting Fate: It is, of course, at the very moment that Chief Superintendent Bright is congratulating himself how well the security operation in "Rocket" went, that the news comes in: somehow, he and his men missed a murder being committed under their very noses.
  • Title Drop: The last line of the pilot, as Thursday calls Morse by his given name.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass:
    • Strange starts out as Morse's friend and appears to be a trustworthy ally. However, he betrays Morse in "Neverland" to advance his career, and when promoted to Jakes' position in "Prey", immediately starts ordering Morse around. And then proceeds to follow Thursday's example of knocking around informants. This shift makes sense, as in the original Morse series, Strange, who risen to the position of Chief Superintendent, has a relationship of mutual respect with Morse, but is decidedly not a friend, let alone a close friend.
    • Thursday too, still reeling from being shot in "Neverland" begins to indulge more and more in Police Brutality in Series 3 much to Morse's shock and disgust.
  • Took a Level in Kindness:
    • Morse began the series as a bit of an arsehole. His personal growth is complete in "Arcadia": Rather than spoil DS Jakes' farewell party with his dour presence, he gift-wraps some savings bonds as a present to the soon-to-be Mrs. Jakes.
    • Jakes starts out appearing to be an all around Jerk Ass and stereotypical Old-Fashioned Copper. However, he starts to become somewhat more likable throughout series 2, culminating in the reveal of his horrendously abusive childhood. He then parts with Morse on friendly terms early in series 3.
    • Bright, of all people, goes from an Obstructive Bureaucrat with Sleazy Politician tendencies in the first two series to a much more sympathetic character in Series 3. As penance for railroading Morse in the 'Who Shot Thursday?' case, he exposes himself to serious danger while protecting his subordinates in "Prey" and "Coda." It is also revealed he personally watched over Thursday in hospital after the events of "Neverland", to protect him from the corrupt coppers trying to finish the job. This probably has something to do with the actor, Anton Lesser, striking gold with Game of Thrones and needing to be enticed back to his (rather thankless) old role.
  • Turn in Your Badge: In both the pilot and in "Girl".
  • Weak, but Skilled: As Thursday points out, Morse might be a good detective, but he is a horrible policeman, and that "no one can teach you the first, any fool can learn the second."
  • Weapons Understudies: The Standfast SAM in "Rocket" is played by a Bristol Bloodhound.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Cyril Morse (Alan Williams, incidentally a dead ringer for John Thaw). He's not exactly a people person, either. He never liked coppers — as he blithely admits to the newly-minted Constable Morse! Morse's stepmother, Gwen, has always treated him as an interloper and basically kicked him out of the house. By then Joyce had been born and Cyril probably didnít want to divide his time between the two.

    We do learn in "Home" that he took his son out shooting, and while this is probably not how lil' Endeavour wanted to spend his afternoons, he is nevertheless an expert shot. So the gist of it is that Cyril's personality (cold and exacting) rubbed off on Morse.
  • Wham Episode: "Neverland". It ends on a cliffhanger: Thursday has been shot and seriously, possibly fatally injured. Morse has been framed for the murder of the Chief Constable.
  • Whole Plot Reference:
    • "Rocket" features Henry Broom and his children Richard, John, and Harry (deceased)- all Plantagenet kings, but more specifically it is one of many references in the episode to The Lion in Winter. There's also the Broom matriarch returning from "exile" (like Eleanor of Aquitaine); the death of Harry, the favored son and heir, causing a Succession Crisis for the family; a proposed merger with the French; and an I Know You Know I Know line that can be seen as a Shout-Out to Geoffrey's famous one in The Lion in Winter. Even the last name is a reference: "Plantagenet" comes from planta genista, the medieval word for the broom flower.
    • The plot of "Ride" is fairly transparently a reference to both The Great Gatsby and The Prestige.
  • Wicked Cultured: The entire plot of "Fugue".
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Series/Endeavour