Warning: contains spoilers for Endeavour Series 1 – 9, Episode 2.
Few would have foreseen the poignant turn DS Jakes’ story took in Endeavour. Jack Laskey’s Detective Sergeant character started out in Series 1 as a foil to Morse – the cynical, streetwise cad to Endeavour’s principled and bright-eyed scholar. He wasn’t an antagonist, more a buzzing fly in Morse’s periphery, and not a man to trust. By the time Jakes exited the drama in Series 3 though, everybody was rightly rooting for him, Morse included.
The turning point came in the Series 2 finale, when DS Peter Jakes was revealed to have once been Little Pete, the youngest of a group of “wayward” boys raised at Blenheim Vale residential home. In the 1940s and 1950s, Blenheim Vale was the site of a brutal paedophilia ring. So-called pillars of the community including a police officer, a local politician, a philanthropic business owner and the home’s doctor, colluded in the physical and sexual abuse of vulnerable children at the home. Little Pete Jakes was one of those children, and the return of the abuse scandal in Endeavour’s final series is doubtless the reason for his surprise appearance at the end of Series 9 episode ‘Uniform.’
‘Uniform’ saw Morse and DCI Fred Thursday threatened by corrupt police officers for refusing to back down on the Blenheim Vale investigation. A series of murders had been committed to cover up the scandal, and former detective-turned-private-investigator Ronnie Box had been run out of the country after a visit from heavies. So when Endeavour was alone at home and heard a knock at his door, viewers suspected he was the next target. Thankfully, not so. Morse’s caller was Jakes, not seen for six series. Sucking on his a cigarette, Jakes gave his customary greeting “Wotcha,” and fans rejoiced.
Jakes v Endeavour
Jakes was a down-to-Earth copper, there in the early days to raise an eyebrow at Morse’s latest erudite theory. He was a Jack the Lad, and very much of his time. “More likely we’re looking for some bloke called Dave than some bint called Desdemona,” he said when Morse pondered the connection between a monogrammed handkerchief and a quote from Verdi’s Otello in a murder scene.
Jakes was something of an anti-authoritarian and a clown, who used his mean streak to ingratiate himself with the other men. Not that it worked with Morse, who rightly called out Jakes’ mockery of ACC Bright’s speech disorder as “cheap”. He wasn’t a corrupt copper per se, but the sense was that Jakes was out for what he could get in the job, particularly when it came to women, or as he would have put it “a nice bit of homework.”
Jakes’ caddish love life was the cause of more rivalry with Morse. During an investigation of Oxford’s Moonlight Club (run by gangsters with links to Fred Thursday’s London days), Morse spotted Jakes dancing with Fred’s daughter Joan, and taking liberties. When it all kicked off in the club, Morse escorted Joan home, and the next day warned Jakes not to mess her around.
Surprised that Morse hadn’t told “the old man” about his date with Joan, Jakes offered Morse a glimpse of his upcoming sergeant’s exam paper as a thank you. Morse saw the offer as an attempt to pay him off, and refused, cementing the hostility between the pair.
In Series 2 finale ‘Neverland’, Endeavour escaped from an attempt on his life and realised that his superior ACC Clive Deare was at the heart of the Blenheim Vale cover-up. He attempted to gather the troops, recognising the threat to DCI Thursday, who was waiting for Deare at the now-derelict boys’ home. Jim Strange refused to disobey orders, so Morse tried Jakes, who buckled at the mention of Blenheim Vale. That’s when Endeavour realised that DS Peter Jakes was Little Pete, the missing part of the abuse survivor puzzle.
“To some of us bastards it’s more than just a name,” Jakes said about Blenheim Vale. “You don’t think of something for long enough, you think you’ve forgotten, then one day somebody comes along.” That somebody was ACC Clive Deare, one of the paedophile ring who had brutally abused Jakes and his friends. As a child, Jakes had been tortured for the name of a fellow resident who had sought revenge on one of the abusers by torching their car. Jakes gave up the name and the boy ‘Big Petey Williams’ disappeared, believed murdered and buried in the Blenheim Vale grounds. His guilt over Big Pete’s disappearance had kept him silent throughout the investigation.
Traumatised by the return of his past, Jakes stood to go with Morse to help DCI Thursday, but collapsed, unable. Morse went alone, and witnessed ACC Deare shoot Fred before another of his past victims arrived and fatally shot Deare. Morse was temporarily jailed after Deare framed him for the murder of another officer, but later freed, and the whole business was hushed up and the Blenheim Vale documents were officially sealed for 50 years.
Jakes the Hero
By Series 3, Episode 2 ‘Arcadia’, Morse and Jakes were on a much surer footing. When Jakes announced his resignation from the police and plan to move to the US with his pregnant American girlfriend, he invited Endeavour to his leaving drinks and our man was clearly touched by the addendum “mates only.”
Before Jakes and his girlfriend boarded the airport bus though, he was given an heroic exit. Faced with a hostage and a literal ticking time bomb in the chalk tunnels under Oxford, Jakes volunteered to remain with the victim and the bomb, pulling rank on Endeavour to send him out of the tunnel. He rescued the hostage and, just when we thought he’d been caught in the blast, emerged from the smoke like a hero. ACC Bright recommended him for the Queen’s Police Medal and he was sent on his way with warm handshakes all round.
The most moving of these was from Endeavour outside the pub. Morse had dodged the drinks do but slipped some Premium Bonds into Jakes’ luggage with the inscription “For the child”. Jakes and his girlfriend – the aptly named Hope – set off to America, where he planned to work on her father’s Wyoming cattle farm. (Cue plenty of cowboy puns in Fred Thursday’s leaving speech.)
The last word, of course, went to Morse. When Fred told him that he would miss his old sparring partner, he agreed that Peter kept him on his toes, and then said he was glad. “Any man finds a measure of happiness, got to be a good thing. The start he had, if anyone deserved it…”
As Peter and Hope made their way to their new life, Morse recited the closing lines of John Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’, about Adam and Eve leaving the Garden:
“The world was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide:
They hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow,
Through Eden took their solitary way.”
Now, presumably having read about the discovery of the bodies buried at Blenheim Vale, Peter Jakes is back from Wyoming and hopefully healing from his traumatic past. At this point the father of a child the same age he was when he was so cruelly abused, it seems as though Jakes has returned to face his demons…
Endeavour Series 9 concludes on Sunday the 12th of March at 8 p.m. on ITV1. It will air on PBS Masterpiece in the US at a later date.