17 March 2014

ENDEAVOUR: Fugue


Having established the modus operandi of Endeavour in Girl, Fugue examines the relationship between our two leads - Morse and Thursday - in more depth. In this way, it was a very shrewd move of writer Russell Lewis to construct this plot all around Morse's love of opera, and Tom Vaughn has assembled a very strong guest cast to accompany this.

It begins with a series of unconnected murders, all different methods. This is probably familiar territory to seasoned crime viewers, but I thought the way the build-up was unravelled and explained was really neat. Watching the team squirm in the palm of the murderer was particularly compelling given that he appeared to be working with them (unknown to them). The diversion he creates, which Morse cracks towards the end, is his undoing and a really neat idea from Lewis. 

Morse realises after the third killing what links them; the letters of a chord from a particular opera. The first letters of the victims' names all match. He quickly guesses the identity of the murderer's next prey - or at least thinks he does. Twice in the concluding thirty minutes, Morse makes an error in judgement that could have had seriously bad consequences. First he becomes too enveloped in the diversion the killer has created with the kidnap of a young girl, her name being Dorothy, when instead he should have been focusing on Daniel - a doctor we meet early on. Finally, he falls for the same trick again when Fay is taken when Fred is the intended victim. 

That's something I'm enjoying about this series. Morse is shown to get things wrong at times, but you know he'll work it out eventually. He's not full of the bumbling self-confidence so many television detectives exhibit nowadays. Shaun Evans plays this uncertainty with real clarity and emphasis. The bobby even falls asleep at the wheel once, leading Fred to take him into his home. The bonding between this pair really in special in this episode. Morse's determination shines throughout, if a little too much at times. He's stabbed when following a lead in a library and beyond a few stains the injury is barely mentioned for the remainder of the episode. The young detective is shown running up stairs easily towards the conclusion, when a wound by the hip would surely obstruct that kind of movement. 

Elsewhere, there's plenty to enjoy in the regular cast. As Bright is putting his foot down, Jakes (who outranks Morse) has taken over duties as Thursday's right hand man while Endeavour has to make do on generals. Order is quickly restored however when Morse's special knowledge of the subject of opera becomes useful - for obvious reasons. It seems that the killer knew about Morse all along. Look away if you don't want to know, but our murderer is a released mad man. He poses as an expert, when in fact he kills for the 'beauty' of it. This disturbing personality is well-realised on the page and on the screen. 

Tom Vaughn's direction is swift and flowing, with only a few framing errors. It matches the tone of the piece, and fits the era beautifully. I don't know if there's a distinction to be made, but the way he shoots does seem very ITV to me. Not necessarily in a good or bad way, but I can't really imagine this sort of thing appearing on the BBC. Of course the same techniques may be employed and so on, but there's a feel about the whole thing. I'm really liking the identity the show is creating for its genre and its characters. The two leads are undeniably talented.

In summary, a clever little mystery that was a really enjoyable ride. It didn't quite live up to the first episode for me, but was certainly a step in the right direction. It got very tense at a few points, and I was on the edge of my seat. It was only as the credits rolled that I realised. Going forward, I hope to see more interactions between Roger Allam and Shaun Evans as they are both supreme actors. Just see the final scene of this episode for evidence.

Terrific.





You can buy Fugue as part of Endeavour Series One here; the IMDb page is here.

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