Endeavour, The Last Season On PBS

Jul 29, 2023 | 2023 Articles, Kathleen Costa, Mysteryrat's Maze, TV

by Kathleen Costa

PBS stations, like KVIE (Sacramento/Stockton), KQED (San Francisco), and KVPT (Fresno), provide viewers with a variety of programs including some of the most iconic mysteries and crime dramas. There’s VERA, Death in Paradise, Annika, Grantchester, Father Brown, Shakespeare & Hathaway, and so much more, including Endeavour, the popular prequel to the iconic Inspector Morse series. Sadly, Endeavour is airing its ninth and final season with three ninety-minute episodes, but at least, the entertaining, engaging, and often insightful drama, gives fans a way to experience closure.

The End of the Beginning.

Endeavour: The Last Season was a bittersweet experience that in its final moments brought more than a few tears. Each of the three ninety-minute episodes (Prelude, Uniform, and Exeunt) had several compelling cases needing to be solved by our intrepid Thames Valley squad including a devastating, yet unresolved, case first introduced in season two, Neverland. The case involved serious allegations of abuse, murder, and police corruption in connection to Blenheim Vale Boys’ Home. The investigation led to perpetrators fleeing jurisdiction, others hiding behind their positions, Thursday being shot, and Endeavour arrested. But, it’s the personal side of these characters to whom for nine seasons fans, like me, have become attached, so loose ends involving career paths and personal relationships will need to be tied up neatly for fans to get the closure they deserve.

DS Endeavour Morse (Shaun Evans) has returned from an extended leave of absence with a refreshed look and clear-eyed perspective. His problematic issues with alcohol seem manageable, but not completely resolved. His personal life has always been filled with temporary entanglements or disappointments, so his recent broken heart may be ill-prepared for a close friend’s surprise announcement.

DCI Fred Thursday (Roger Allam) has his own family’s struggles, beyond his relationship with Morse. His son Sam (Jack Bannon) just released from prison for being AWOL from the military suffers from the ill-effects of the violence he witnessed during his attachment in Northern Ireland. An opportunity for a detective superintendency position is of great interest, but his wife Win (Caroline O’Neill) is not happy about the prospect of relocating.

DS Jim Strange (Sean Rigby) continues to be successful in his leadership role, eager for advancement, and despite any professional disappointments when Morse was spiraling into the bottle, he still is a close friend. His relationship with Joan Thursday (Sarah Vickers) has been resolved with an engagement ring and who better than Morse to act as his best man. But, the job may again interfere with his expected participation.

Police Chief Superintendent Reginald Bright (Anton Lesser) is still mourning the loss of his wife from a tragic criminal act, so he is seriously considering retirement and exotic travel. His final hope is to ensure a “safe harbour” for the men who have for years been under his long-time supervision.

It’s summer, 1972, and the Thames Valley squad are called to investigate two murders, a case of harassing vandalism, and a suspicious death on stage during a performance by the Oxford Concert Orchestra. Of course, Endeavour is the best choice to lead the investigation due to his personal knowledge of classical performances. But, who knew such beautiful music would include egos, jealousy, bullying, schemes, and murder?

Endeavour has become aware of links to a former unresolved case involving Blenheim Vale Boys’ Home when more than one dead body is discovered. The first victim’s last movements lead Morse and Thursday to a former cop turned private investigator, and the other’s last call was an attempt to contact Thursday. Morse has never been able to handle “unsolved” well, so his interest is piqued, despite other’s resistance. Are the two cases related?

Case closed. Of course, a surprise arrest is made in the case of a dead violinist which provided long overdue closure as well as appropriate justice. Endeavour and Thursday finds themselves being harassed and threatened about their attempts to reopen the investigation into Blenheim Vale.

ICYMI: This episode was the fourth one directed by Shaun Evans.

More work for the Thames Valley team involving several suspicious deaths. First, a body thought to be that of a young constable is in fact an actor, still in costume, from the television show filming in the Oxford area. Then, a homeless man having seen pandering on the film set is found dead in an abandoned building as the result of a severe beating. Next, the daughter of the man who illustrated the detective books, on which the television show is based, reports him missing. Last, a quartet of rich and entitled Oxford students, costumed and masked, roam the streets causing havoc.

The reopening of the Blenheim Vale case has put Endeavour and Thursday on someone’s radar. Details of a missing person case opened in 1963 has great significance, and Endeavour starts to excavate parts of Blenheim Vale grounds. Chief Superintendent Bright is told to shut down the search, and Endeavour is pulled over and physically threatened. It is agreed that, despite the serious efforts to stop them, they will finish what they’ve started.

Cases closed. The cases of the actor and the homeless man converge in a complex surprise, and the students learn their status doesn’t shield them from consequences. Closure is swift and justice is served. However, Endeavour and Thursday are dealing with the serious fallout from the Blenheim Vale case, bodies are discovered, threats are real, and family needs protecting.

ICYMI: The actor Kevin McNally guests stars. He is an alumni of many detective shows and husband of Phyllis Logan, aka Mrs. Hughes on Downton Abbey.

An apparent accidental death turns to a possible murder when the man’s death notice is found having been published prior to his death. The notice was verified before printing, so there was no reason to be suspicious. Further investigation reveals other death notices, accidental deaths, cryptic Latin phrases, similarities among the victims, and an empty office space. Thursday’s son is spiraling into alcohol and drugs, and Morse finds a piece of evidence implicating the son in the murder of his “connection.”

The attempts to ward off Morse have ramped up, but are unsuccessful, and Thursday gets a call from his brother and visit from a former colleague, both with whom he has a very troubled relationship. Someone is very nervous about what Endeavour has discovered about Blenheim Vale and his dogged approach to bringing closure to the horrific scandal.

Cases closed. The arrest of the “Death Notice” killer revealed a surprise motive, somewhat a nod to a few contemporary issues, but not without a few bruises to get closure. The issue with Thursday’s son is serious, and Morse worries what he knows could destroy a family. And, even after so many years, closure is achieved for the victims of Blenheim Vale, just not necessarily with public justice. However, closure comes at a cost. Can a friendship survive the truth?

ICYMI: Did you see the editor of the paper? She is Abigail Thaw, the daughter of the iconic actor John Thaw who made Morse a household name. An extra Easter egg in this episode is a mention that one victim has a relative, Robert Lewis, who is a police cadet. Also, the episode title is very appropriate; the word “exeunt” is a stage direction found on a printed play indicating a group of characters leave the stage. As Endeavour leaves choir rehearsal and turns in his music book, he says, “So, is that it?” The choir master, who for while was believed to have been a cameo of the creator/writer Russell Lewis, says “That’s it.” [Grab the Kleenex]

Earns 5+/5 Cold Cases. Closure. That’s what fans of the trilogy, Inspector Morse, Inspector Lewis, and Endeavour, are expecting, and that’s what we got. A case that caused so much anguish was finally closed with a sense of justice, the squad all begin new career paths or chapters in their lives, and although friendships are severely tested, the goodbyes are emotional and sincere. There was an endearing “what if” scene between Endeavour and Joan Thursday, now Joan Strange, and the last scene between Endeavor and Thursday was more than I could handle. The final scene has images that made me weep for the joy of a series well done but sad it’s over, and the waterworks exploded with an endearing nod to one of my favorite actors, John Thaw, the original Endeavour Morse. The individual murder investigations were clever with the typical intrigue, conflict, missteps, and surprise twists, and I applauded the use of a previous case, one that effected the squad so deeply, as a way to punctuate the theme of “closure.” A fond farewell indeed … But, what’s next? I plan to rewatch Inspector Morse from the beginning. Knowing what I know from the prequel, it’ll be enjoyable to see how well it all connects.

Finally. After thirty-six years (1987-2023), the franchise — Inspector Morse, Inspector Lewis, and longest running Endeavour — concludes. Colin Dexter, whose Inspector Morse books are the basis of the series, didn’t spend much energy in his books providing glimpses into Morse’s life as a younger man. So, Russell Lewis, the writer and creator of all thirty-six episodes of the Endeavour series, had near free rein to link the iconic Morse, made famous by John Thaw, to the younger Morse, brought to life by Shaun Evans. He had some insights with his passion for classical music and crosswords and dogged efforts for closure along with his bad luck with permanent relationships and chronic alcoholism. Russ Lewis did include some characters that had been in the original series and using some creative license provided a look into D.S. Jim Strange (who would become Morse’s chief superintendent and the man who would be in the room when he dies) and the pathologist Dr, Max Debryn (who would later become the head of forensics presenting Morse with all the details). It has been an extraordinary journey!

Next up!

Ridley (2022) follows retired Detective Inspector Alex Ridley (Adrian Dunbar) whose been enlisted by his former partner, now DI, Carol Farman, as a consultant providing his unique insights on some complex murder investigations.

DI Ray (2022) follows Detective Inspector Rachita Ray (Parminder Nagra) who has been promoted to homicide to lead an investigation into a “culturally specific homicide.” She’s suspicious her ethnicity is the reason she was chosen, but is not deterred.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. A new episode went up this week.

Kathleen Costa is a long-time resident of the Central Valley, and although born in Idaho, she considers herself a “California Girl.” Graduating from CSU-Sacramento, she is 35+ year veteran teacher having taught in grades 1-8 in schools from Sacramento to Los Angeles to Stockton to Lodi. Currently Kathleen is enjoying year 2 of retirement revitalizing hobbies along with exploring writing, reading for pleasure, and spending 24/7 with her husband of 26+ years.


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