Set against the backdrop of Fred and Win Thursday’s 25th wedding anniversary and Fireworks Night comes Russell Lewis’s third installment in Endeavour’s second series.
(07 May 2014) The story starts in typical fashion – the death by strangling of three married women, none of which appear connected until Morse makes the sharp observation that none of the victims were found with their wedding rings. In the course of the inquiry, DI Thursday comes across a woman he had “known during the war”, (and, in fact, “known” during the war) who is so shocked at the sight of him she faints – not that he looks any less stunned. Who she is and why she’s important to him are made clear pretty quickly, but what this means for their lives two decades on is less so.
As per usual, Morse makes quite a few leaps of highly educated deductive reasoning, though as is frequently the case in the story of Endeavour’s evolution as a policeman, they’re not always on the nose. In fact, it’s Sergeant Jakes (Jack Laskey) who gleans the key piece of information from a clue left at one murder scene, in his typical salt-of-the-earth manner. The director, Andy Wilson (who has plenty of mysteries under his belt, including Wallander, Miss Marple, and Poirot), is given to leading the audience astray with throwaway red herring shots, so that we’re never quite sure which piece of information might be more important than another – much like actual detecting. Does that raven signify a morbidity that might lead to murder? Or is it just a fascination with a 120 year old poem? ‘Sway’ is not the most delicate of the Endeavour episodes, but perhaps that’s with some intent. After all, war itself (like murder) isn’t a delicate undertaking, as we’re reminded in the story Thursday’s 48-hour pass wedding, the department store manager’s half-rueful, half-wistful remembrance of his RAF days, and the tragic events of Thursday and Luisa’s shared past in war-torn Italy.
While the murder mystery is solved fairly mundanely, with fewer convolutions than is perhaps normal for a Morse story, the personal mysteries are by far more intricate and interesting. Thursday’s once-lost love (Mrs Luisa Armstrong, elegantly played by Cécile Paoli) makes an appearance, with a tragic story trailing behind. The nuanced performances of Mr Allam and Ms Paoli, coupled with the always-on-point score from Barrington Pheloung are in stark contrast to the blunt direction, and remind us that love doesn’t end where war begins – it finds shelter in the soft, intimate moments between people of united heart.
Caroline O’Neill’s delightful Win Thursday gets quite a bit more air time than before, her steadily burning love for Fred providing a striking foil to the white-hot flame of amore between Thursday and Luisa. As it plays out, the episode takes us through twists and turns in which we see young Morse begin to understand that not every facet of his mentor is open to his understanding while we’re left holding our breaths in will he/won’t he anticipation. It’s a sign of Fred’s distraction in this episode that he nearly leaves home without his sandwiches.
Morse’s personal life, on the other hand, takes a turn for the better, as his relationship with Monica Hicks (the lovely Shvorne Marks) blossoms with literal fireworks – though those of us familiar with Morse’s record with women can’t help but be fearful for our favorite nurse’s future. Also, we’re given more hints that not all is well in the Bright marriage to match the “No man likes to be thought a cuckold” from Fugue. In an episode centered around fidelity – in marriage, in service, in a common cause – the wages of betrayal are grim.
Mr Allam gives a master class in emotion throughout, and gets to run the gamut from adoration to shock to grief, each playing out clearly in his voice and every aspect of expression and body language. The ending is magnificently bittersweet, and will leave you emotional, either for the heartaches of the past or the solidity of the present. All in all, it’s a fantastic episode and fits in nicely with the superb craftsmanship in all facets displayed by the rest of the Endeavour series.