25 January 2016

TV Review: Endeavour - Coda

And so another series of Endeavour draws to a close. This show always wraps up with a bang but this time it's thankfully not the sound of one of the leads getting shot. This episode, against some stiff competition, is probably the biggest of the series and certainly one of my favourites of the programme as a whole.

As always, writer Russell Lewis is spinning a lot of plates in this episode, but the consequences have more of a bearing on our protagonists. In the wake of notorious local crime boss Harry Rose's passing, Oxford's CID are on the lookout for those attempting to take the crown. Two cases arise, each highlighting Morse and Thursday's weaknesses in different ways. Come the end of the story, however, the pair are stronger than ever.

The incident taking the lion's share of the limelight is undoubtedly the failed bank robbery. This is literally the meeting point of all the episode's storylines as Morse's investigation on behalf of his university professor, Thursday's old enemies and the pair's fractured friendship all cross paths. Although we know Morse can't die, anything else is possible and with twenty years for him to recover before we catch up with him in the guise of John Thaw, things really do feel dangerous. The tension is high throughout Coda but reaches its peak in a climactic scene where Morse is a split-second away from death, sacrificing himself for Joan, Thursday's daughter.

This episode unquestionably has it all: there's the thrilling action of the bank robbery, the intellectual puzzle of the first murder, all the usual mystery, but with a strong emotional core. It's deeply unsettling to see Fred acting out of character, and the friction it causes between him and Morse. Shaun Evans and Roger Allam are always fantastic but this episode gives them even more opportunity than usual to prove it. It looks like we'll have at least another series fronted by these two, happily. The only concern might be if Morse has to move to another station, Strange promoted in his absence since we know by the 1980s he's in Bright's chair. It's heartening that in a series that has written out the wonderful Monica Hicks, Peter Jakes and Thursday's own two children, these two remain.

Oliver Blackburn's direction is certainly commendable, and his pairing with Baz Irvine is an entirely successful one. I wasn't completely sold on the few 'wobbly zooming' shots promoted by series like Line of Duty. They seemed out of place with the rest of the episode, but since there are only about three or four instances of it, it's a very minor point. This aside, I cannot think of a way the episode could be improved in any respect.

The third series of Endeavour has showcased a group of cast and crew at their peak. A big hand must go to Tom Mullens as an exemplary producer. Producing anything is hard enough, but to get to this standard of programming is no mean feat. Russell Lewis constantly surprises with new innovations and revelations and, like the rest of the production team, shows no signs of letting up yet. In front of the cameras, Shaun Evans and Roger Allam have continued to lead a faultless cast, and I've really enjoyed the introduction of Dakota Blue Richards. This episode is certainly one of the best the show has produced, and I couldn't pick between this, Arcadia, 2014's Nocturne and 2013's Rocket for a favourite. The emotional punch at the end of this series comes out of nowhere, and so hits the hardest.

I just hope we don't have to wait another two years for the next series.

You can pre-order the Series Three DVD, due out on 1 February, here.

Catch up on our other 2016 Endeavour reviews (and click here for the full list):
- Ride
- Arcadia
- Prey

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