18 January 2016

TV Review: Endeavour - Prey

This is undoubtedly an unusual episode of Endeavour, but no less intriguing or enjoyable than normal. It's good to have episodes that tackle things completely differently once in a while, and this certainly does that, looking at a different family unit and examining relationships - one of the themes that forms the backbone of this stunning series - from fresh perspectives.

Perhaps the most notable instance of this is between Morse and newcomer WPC Trewlove. Sean Rigby's Strange, an amiable, honest plod since the series' inception, has been promoted to Detective Sergeant in the wake of Jakes' departure in the last episode and as such is more distant from Morse than ever. Shaun Evans and Dakota Blue Richards are afforded some of the most interesting and engaging material in this episode and are both - as always - simply fantastic. This is a very promising new friendship and I hope Trewlove is here to stay as she's perhaps the closest intellectual equal of Morse yet. There's a touching vulnerability to her as well that's quite refreshing in what's often quite a blokey show. I hope these two share many more scenes.

With his wife and daughter away, DI Fred Thursday also gets to spend more time with son Sam. This is a similarly engaging scene as the two catch up briefly. Roger Allam plays the scene with great aplomb, effortlessly mixing guilt, pride and fear. He's clearly reluctant to endorse Sam's upcoming appointment in the military but at the same time wants to give him his full support. In an episode that focuses on Fred's decreasing suitability for his job as both physical and mental problems and exhaustion pile up, it's a lovely quiet moment. I love all this great character work Allam is getting but I do fear we could be nearing the end for Thursday. Hopefully there's at least another series in the character as his pairing with Morse is one of my favourite in television history. But with next week's film entitled Coda, things don't look hopeful.

Apologies for digressing so much from Prey's main plot, but such is the depth of Russell Lewis'  writing. The episode concerns itself for the most part with a killer acting very much like a tiger - for a very good reason. It's an intriguing yarn Lewis has spun, one that involves a character who appeared in last year's series of Lewis (set nearly fifty years later) and a character whose assailant Thursday never managed to catch in 1963. The sequence in the maze towards the end of the episode had me on the edge of my seat, barely breathing. It's one of the tensest set pieces I've ever watched and the way it comes about and resolved are both completely logical and satisfying. This is the kind of narrative and character pay off I moan about other series not possessing. All credit to Lawrence Gough and John Lee for managing to make the shots match so convincingly; I can't imagine it was an easy job.

This is one of my favourite episodes so far, forming part of a third series that has been exceptionally strong. There are a few things that I don't quite get, such as why Professor Kemp's appearance was necessary - as lovely as it was to see Hugh Simon - but they don't mar this excellent story. Russell Lewis once again balances the personal and the greater stories with admirable skill and the cast and crew are uniformly excellent. Shaun Evans, Roger Allam and Dakota Blue Richards lead the show here in my eyes, but it's lovely to see Anton Lesser afforded a little more development. As we hurtle towards the end of the series (already) Endeavour shows no signs of letting up.


  1. "The sequence in the maze towards the end of the episode...(was) completely logical and satisfying." Logical? Really?! I sat there wondering why in heaven's name both Thursday and Morse would venture into the maze unarmed knowing full well that a man-eating tiger was there. That was sheer lunacy especially for such intelligent men. What did they intend to do if they came across it? Reason it into submission or invite it out to the pub for a pint? Pleeeease!

  2. I thought Prey was the most poorly written episode of Endeavour. Morse and Thursday wander into the maze unarmed, although Thursday somehow came up with a torch. There was mention that the tiger couldn't get through the maze walls; of course it could. And two guys with guns moving through with four unarmed others in there -- just not reasonable. Great acting; poor writing.