Sunday night saw the penultimate instalment of the fifth season of ITV’s crime drama Endeavour: the vibrant prequel to the Inspector Morse series. Exploding back onto our screens after a year’s hiatus, the series picked up in mid 1968, a year which was punctuated by protest and change. Having passed his Sergeant’s exam, Morse is faced with a new dynamic at the station as he has to take charge of a new junior constable. Colin Dexter’s enigmatic detective is expertly portrayed by Shaun Evans, who for the past five series has developed the initially introverted and reclusive Morse
into a younger version of the detective that many know and love. Evans portrays Morse’s perplexing countenance in a way that allows those unfamiliar with the quirks and idiosyncrasies of the older detective to observe his progression without the need of background knowledge.
Series Five has maintained the quiet intelligence of the earlier series whilst preventing the overall plot line from becoming repetitive. Featuring key issues from the period, such as racism and the impending threat of the Cold War, the writers manage to deliver a succinct insight into the workings of a 1960s police station. The dynamic between Morse and his mentor, Inspector Fred Thursday, is the glue which holds the show together. A stellar performance from Roger Allam shows an aging Thursday questioning whether to keep going in the job to which he is devoted, or to retire following years of dedicated service. Allam’s performance skilfully demonstrates the changes in the police force, as the traditional aspects of his character provide much needed nostalgia for the earlier series, contrasting aptly against the fresh new characters.
Constable Trewlove, the only female member of the team, played by Dakota Blue Richards, is an important addition to Endeavour’s ranks. Richards subtly demonstrates the challenges for women beginning careers in the 1960s, and this is especially poignant considering the traditionally masculine nature of the police force. Trewlove is a key example of a woman coming into her own and embracing her own femininity rather than trying to fit in with her male colleagues. Richards’ performance excellently complements that of Shaun Evans; viewers are able to observe a delicate similarity through both of their characters’ shared inquisitivenesses and sensitive intelligences, keeping the dynamics of the plot fluid and unique.
Endeavour’s only downfall is Morse’s will-they-won’t-they relationship with Joan Thursday, played by Sarah Vickers. Although initially romantic, the tragic and painful dynamics between the two as they fumble to express their true feelings for one another has become awkward and repetitive. Although long-time fans of Morse know what is in store for the passionate detective, it would be interesting to see what other directions this side of the plot can delve into.
That being said, Russell Lewis’s wonderful drama is constantly and refreshingly original whilst still maintaining the charm of the traditional Morse series, making it a classic in its own right.
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