26 March 2014

ENDEAVOUR: Home


In this concluding episode of the first series, the histories of both Morse and Thursday come back to haunt them. Morse's father isn't well, having suffered from angina for years and so he's called back home whilst the rest of the team investigate what seems to be a hit-and-run of a university professor. Following a lead, Thursday visits the Moonlight Club only to find an old nemesis of his, Vic Kasper, is the new owner. 

As Morse returns, his father having just had a turn, it turns out that Professor Coke Norris was opposed to the sale of a plot of land owned by the university despite the fact that he personally would benefit financially from it. It has meant farmers have been displaced and there has been a lot of local disturbance. The College Master, Frobisher, is entirely for the sale and has been trying to convince him, to no avail. The vote goes ahead without Coke Norris and votes in favour of selling. Coke Norris had also discovered corrupt dealings between the university and the council, and had kept this in a briefcase at his local train station. Morse of course picks up on this, finding another motive for murder.

This is quite a complex episode to describe. Forgive me if I'm not wholly clear. So Frobisher had once borrowed Coke Norris' London flat (which they have to visit their institutionalised daughter), but made a copy of the key. A girl called Georgina Banning, who sometimes used other names during her work, often served a particular council employee at this flat, and so heard a lot of the Booth Hill business. Banning learned of the employee's dislike of Coke Norris and informed her girlfriend and flatmate Judy Vallens. Vallens then contacted Coke Norris, and Banning was later found dead. Ian Kern, a friend of Coke Norris, reveals that the professor was blackmailing members of the university in order to have them vote against the sale. However, Coke Norris' wife Millie was in love with Kern. She is the murderer of this story. She killed Banning thinking she was Vallens (she'd borrowed her lover's name whilst serving her council client) and killed her husband because he was opposed to the sale. She would stand to make a huge profit from Booth Hill as a result of his death, and hoped Kern would marry her for her money. 

The deceptions in this episode are particularly enjoyable. We meet the Kaspers to a great extent, with red herrings leading the audience into thinking their criminal underworld associates the Fletchers are involved. There are very many links between all of the characters introduced in Home but it's the characters closest to Morse and Thursday that make the biggest impressions. Mrs Thursday is so likeable, and a brilliant character. The moment when she finds Fred loading his old gun is a particular highlight. Morse's father is painted similarly expertly. In just a scene, you can picture the entire history between the two. He is intensely disappointed by Morse, and thinks much higher of his sister. He makes this quite explicit. In the final scenes of this episode, his father passes away after Morse is shot by Millie. 

The reason Kasper and Thursday have such a foul relationship is because Fred used to have a protege not dissimilar to Morse in London who Kasper's men were responsible for the death of. It's for this reason that Thursday warns Morse off Kasper right from the off. Vic comes to pay a house visit to Thursday, and it's not a pleasant experience. Roger Allam especially sells what a scumbag this man is. Bright tells Kasper to leave Oxford, and he duly does so. This episode is much less about Bright and Jakes, although their presence is felt throughout. When Morse is working at Moonlight, he sees Jakes there with Thursday's daughter, but when trouble breaks out he soon makes himself scarce leading the Inspector to think she was there with Endeavour. This is never corrected, and Morse doesn't betray Jakes. 

Another key aspect of this episode is the sergeants' exams. Both Morse and Strange are intending to take them, and the latter indeed does. Morse however misses it as he's back home, with his family. This means he'll remain a Detective Constable for another year and I think this was the right decision on the part of Russell Lewis. Having him rise in rank already would have been a badly-timed decision unless he only has a short-term vision for this series. Throughout this episode, Lewis does prove he's a master of his art though and Colm McCarthy likewise. I can't emphasise enough how good 1966 Oxford looks, the period features are all perfect. A superb production unit on this.

Looking back at the first series then, Rocket was my favourite, followed by Fugue and then Girl and Home. No episode in this series has been a letdown at all. The writing, direction and performances have all been exemplary. This series really has raised the bar of drama. I know it's said a lot nowadays, but not by me. This was truly fantastic and I can't wait to spend more time in this setting with these characters come the weekend. If the second series is anywhere near as good as these four, ITV are onto a winner; they'd be extremely dense to lose it.

In a Nutshell: An absolutely fantastic conclusion to the first series, and a firm assurance of a second.



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

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