It was obvious from the very beginning. “Endeavour” has to reach its end just before John Thaw‘s Detective Chief Inspector Morse takes over the role from Shaun Evans in the 1980s. But how all the loose ends would be taken up, woven together and explain all questions not only dedicated fans wanted answers for, was the challenge writer Russell Lewis had to master. And he did brilliantly.
“I know thee not, old man.”
As always throughout the whole sequel there are references to both “Morse” and “Lewis” but also to politics, literature (after all it’s Oxford, isn’t it) and apparently to everything in between. Starting with Endeavour’s love for music (a Wagner enthusiast and opera lover), his addiction to alcohol (which we apparently must blame Thursday for who offered the young Constable his first ever pint after he collapsed as Dr. Max DeBryn opens a corpse) and cars, especially the Jaguar which has become as iconic as the characters themselves and which will get a nod in the “Lewis” pilot and sighs from fans. Robert Lewis (“It’s Robbie”) himself is that “young cadet in Newcastle” who asks for his cousin’s body. Of course he (and Kevin Whately himself) couldn’t make an appearance in “Exeunt”, the last episode of “Endeavour” because he will meet Morse only in their first investigation “The Dead Of Jericho” in 1987.
“A career won’t hold you at 3 in the morning when the wolves come circling.”
Accompanying young Endeavour from the first scene when he is driven by bus back to Oxford, where he studied but did not finish his Greats studies, to help investigate the disappearance of a schoolgirl Mary Tremlit, watching him taking his first careful steps into the world of CID we – as Fred Thursday – know that this awkward Constable who apparently speaks Latin as perfect as English and quotes from literature as easily as his mentor prepares his pipe and unwraps his sandwiches will become one of the finest Detectives Oxford has ever seen.
“He has ever been the best and wisest of men. And a better friend to me than I could ever wish for or deserved. I let him down.”
But as Morse exegetes will know this father figure who took Endeavour the one that “was always the last to be chosen, the one nobody wanted in their team” under his wings, the Inspector who saw the “Detective material” and made a Constable his bag man, Fred Thursday and the whole of his family isn’t either mentioned in the books nor the original series. Wouldn’t Morse who might be an awkward sod who – as Lewis will say – like all great detectives had a problem with authority, mention this man whom he owned so much? Even if Morse is unable for one reason or another to establish what others would describe as a proper personal life, he does care for his colleagues: the later Morse mourns Max DeBryn, he mentions and talks to his retired boss McNutt but – no Thursday (and no Bright either).
Clearly there must be a reason for this? Some accident, murder even, some falling out that leaves Endeavour alone and emotional damaged that he can’t stand even mentioning his mentor and father’s substitute? As always things are not that easy with Endeavour who cuts further ties to protect Fred’s secret. A secret so huge and appalling that it could bring him down. A secret that Morse will take to his grave.
“Drown your sorrow?” – “Just marinate them a little.”
After the last ever “Endeavour” aired, there is not only a void on Sunday’s evening telly. There is a void in the heart of the fans that cared so much and feared the worst, a void that only can be filled by turning back to this and the two other series in the Morse universe, to re-watch and (re)discover hints and nods that might not be that obvious at first glance. Even if there is no hope for another spin-off (what about a Dorothea Frazil – Shirley Trewlove one?), we’ll turn Matthew Slater’s beautiful soundtrack on “as loud as it will play” and remember that this series, and all that comes with it, will always be cherished.