This article comes from Den of Geek UK.
This review contains spoilers.
Endeavour’s fifth series has already touched upon a number of major political debates, with racism and immigration proving to be a major theme in its account of the volatile events of 1968. This week’s episode sees that topic revisited in disturbingly topical style. A debate on the repatriation of settled immigrants attracts a large audience to its rhetorical battle between Fascist sympathiser, Lady Bayswater (Caroline Goodall) and anti-racism activist, Marcus X (Marcus Griffiths). The daughter of the former leader of the British Union of Fascists is attacked outside by student protestor Kit Hutchens (Greg Austin), who’s soon hauled in for his actions. Morse and new girlfriend Claudine (Claire Ganaye) get caught up in the fracas, but are having far too much fun to let that spoil their day. Quite a lot has happened since Joan’s flatwarming party, it turns out. Morse’s own personal summer of love comes a year after everyone else’s, but better late than never.
Elsewhere, happiness is in short supply. A modelling shoot at a nearby army barracks is a source of great excitement for the young recruits, among them none other than Sam Thursday (Jack Bannon), making a welcome return after such a long absence from the show. The models’ arrival draws longing gazes from his fellow soldiers, while attracting more guarded interest from academic-in-residence, Dr Rex Laidlaw (Dominic Thorburn). The glamorous Jean Ward (Leo Hatton) catches Sam’s eye and enjoys a spot of heavy flirting before revealing that she’s already taken. When she goes missing after the shoot ends, a thorough search is undertaken, leading to Sam’s grim discovery of her body. DeBryn reveals that she was stabbed through the heart once in an attack from behind. The elder Thursday is troubled to hear of the murder and of his son’s connection to it, but Bright suggests that he’s too close to events to get involved and sends Morse to investigate. Matters soon grow more complicated when it emerges that ‘Jean’ is actually Moira, and the stepdaughter of Charity Mudford, otherwise known as Lady Bayswater.
The darkness behind the swinging decade is once again sharply conveyed through the juxtaposition of the modelling shoot, all bright clothes and apparent insouciance, with the fury and violence of the protests in an era infamous for political unrest. Key figures in the discourse of the period are conjured – a Mitford analogue, a British cousin to Malcolm X – with the disturbing spectre of older turmoil evoked by Thursday as he and Morse discuss the Mudford family’s chilling history. Hitler may not have actually danced at her wedding reception, but the cold ease with which she reminds Morse that she could once have had him and Thursday shot with a click of her fingers is all too real. As Morse reminds her, however, that was then, and this is now. Even the exuberance of the modelling party descends into bloodshed, with the added sting of the autopsy results on the murdered woman; Jean Ward’s carefree persona had been maintained by a cocktail of drugs. As DeBryn sadly notes, their purpose was to render the user numb. To what, though? ‘Life.’
Morse, so often distanced from the joys of human contact, has thrown himself into a new love affair with Claudine, the charming French photographer Joan tried to set him up with at her party. He hasn’t forgotten his previous love for her friend, but the easy sensuality of his new amour is a tonic, and despite the no-strings-attached simplicity of the fling, this is shaping up to be far more than a histoire de cul. The New Wave frolics of Morse’s cross-Channel passion are brought right back down to earth by an envious Strange, inevitably, who has choice words on the subject of his colleague’s recent success with the ladies (‘The way you’ve been filling your dance card lately, you’d think rationing was coming in.’) Ganaye’s warmth and rapport with Shaun Evans make Morse’s current relationship a welcome respite from the awkwardness and heartbreak of his ill-starred involvement with Joan. It’s too easy to bemoan Morse’s dating woes with the benefit of our knowledge of his future, but fleeting happiness is still happiness, when all’s said and done.
His luck seems to have rubbed off on Fancy and Trewlove, who are edging their way towards a relationship; that sweet scene in the car promises much for the future, George’s clumsiness notwithstanding. As befits a romance-heavy episode, the innuendo game is strong in this one. I’ll let you pick your favourites, but Morse’s excuse for being late to work is delivered just innocently enough to sneak by. Something came up, you see. Thursday’s a bit lost without his lunch companion, but at least he and Win have their ballroom dancing contest to focus on. Oh, and how many of my fellow campers remembered the 80s sitcom nodded to with the name of that dance school?