By Reece Goodall - The Boar
Two separate killings strike Oxford. The first, the brutal murder of an old security guard during a lorry hijacking, infuriates Thursday with the senseless level of violence involved. In response, a team from the robbery division arrives to help the force try to solve the case. Morse, meanwhile, is distracted by a missing person’s investigation that soon turns up a body – the woman, strangled to death by the train tracks, her shoes stolen. A mystery lover who claims to have known the dead woman under a different name is identified but, after several similarities emerge with the killing of a schoolgirl, Morse suspects that there may be more going on.
‘Passenger’ feels like an episode of two distinct halves – the first half is the main case, and it is classic Endeavour. Thursday encourages Morse to follow the leads because he wants to deny robbery his best man, and so he mainly solves this case. As always, I shall provide no spoilers, but the ending is once again incredibly satisfying (I never cease to be impressed with the clues in Endeavour – they are logical and realistic, but require some actual thought to figure out).
The second strand – the lorry hijacking – appears that it will shape things later on in the series. Fancy investigates the case with the two robbery detectives (led by DI Ronnie Box (Simon Harrison, playing it suitably smarmy)), and receives a tiny bit of information from WPC Trewlove. He finds a low-level dealer of stolen supplies and arranges to buy some gear from him – the dealer is quickly and brutally killed, and it seems we may be building up to a clash of criminal gangs. We’ve already encountered Eddie Nero, but Thursday rapidly dismisses him as a suspect because of the level of gratuitous violence involved in the murders – add in the fact that Dr DeBryn states that killing is similar to that of one of Nero’s men last episode, and things are likely to start heating up.
A key element of ‘Passenger,’ and seemingly the fifth season of Endeavour, is the changing world. We’ve ended the past couple of episodes on radio reports of assassinations, and there seems to be a distinct clash between ideas and attitudes towards the world (aesthetically, too – compare the psychedelic tones of Marty Bedlow’s (Hadley Fraser) shop to the period trains and buses). This contrast is an underlying theme throughout the episode and the series thus far, and it will be interesting to see how it affects some of our characters – most notably, Superintendent Bright.
Bright is the subject of a key scene this episode. He clashes with Box in his office regarding some appalling sexist abuse of WPC Trewlove, and Box makes a slew of allegations about him and Trewlove (allegations of a nature that I’ve never seen hinted at since Blue Richards joined the show). Bright, rightly offended, orders Box to leave the station – Box responds by informing him that the future of policing will be results-driven, rather than caring particularly about the procedure. If this is something that we see pursued later on, I fear there may not be much of a place left for Bright, and that would be a shame given the quiet strength of Anton Lesser’s performance.
Shaun Evans always gets his own little moment to showcase his acting, and it once again connects to Joan Thursday. Here, she invites him to her housewarming, and they share a nice moment on the roof, but it seems that Morse is still unable to process his feelings for her. Unknowing, she sets him up with one of her friends, a French photographer called Claudine – he refuses the offer, but appears to bump into her on the street below. Perhaps there may be a bit more romance in the air for Morse this series? ‘Passenger’ was not perfect TV – more could have been done with the character of Cedric, the trainspotter, for example – but it was a typically strong and enjoyable episode of Endeavour. Even as the show is shifting into a darker time period, it stills proves itself to be relaxing Sunday evening viewing.