By Keith Watson for Metro.co.uk
TV review: ‘Every story has its hero… a young man on his journey from innocence to experience,’ said the learned academic to a captive student audience at the opening of the final part of Endeavour (ITV).
It was a line knowingly chosen, perfectly describing the journey this intriguing prequel has taken us on.
Taking its time to colour in the grey areas of Inspector Morse’s past, the clues have been sparingly dealt out over the course of this four-part investigation of the iconic detective’s backstory. But as the final tale, tellingly called Home, drew to a close, it felt like some light was finally filtering through the shadows flitting across the young Endeavour’s face. We were finally being let in on his secrets.
That the young Morse is a wounded soul has been evident from the start, but in brief visits to his mother’s grave and his ailing father’s bedside, the root of his pain became evident. We felt the emotional scars on such fleeting exposure so keenly because of how well Shaun Evans does pent-up emotion. With just a scrunch of the shoulders and a blue-eyed stare into the middle-distance you can feel him reliving his childhood grief.
Hang on a minute, you’re thinking, this is a crime show, isn’t it? Not some psychological drama. On that front, Endeavour gets the job done serviceably enough, though the excursion into gangland bosses and seedy clubland wasn’t anything we hadn’t seen before.
What lifts Endeavour to a class above is its characterisation. The paternal feelings Morse’s boss, Thursday, harbours towards his charge are played with masterly understatement by Roger Allam, just one of Endeavour’s subtle pleasures.
In fact, I hardly notice the crime at all. I’m just looking for the clues to the human stories ticking away like a time bomb beneath the action. As a result, the ending felt a touch rushed, the tangled storylines involving a hit and run, planning corruption and the usual amoral academics wrapped up in a rapid volley of gun-toting exposition. That works fine in Poirot but Endeavour feels cut from a different cloth.
Let’s hope the story doesn’t end here. The closing shot, the bent but not broken young Morse nursing his wounds, both emotional and physical, over a whisky glass, is no place to leave this complex and compelling character.