I have to say, this UK thing of making seasons hilariously short just kills me. How are we already at the end of this season?? On the plus side, this episode is shaping up to be a real delight. There’s a creepy, potentially haunted country hotel that once saw a horrific multiple murder. And nearby, there’s a late night bus with a laughably small passenger list, including a fashionably dressed young lady in go go boots and a severe middle aged man. When both passengers disembark, one of the bus attendants pervily follows the young woman, claiming he needs to pee. At this point, reader, I become fairly convinced that this poor gal is about to get murdered and/or assualted, but lucky for her, I’m wrong: for the next day, it’s the dead body of the middle aged man that Fred and Strange are looking at in the freezing morning air.

Anyway, the guy was an Oxford don, and since his wallet wasn’t taken, they’re pretty sure this wasn’t a robbery. They found his bus ticket, but that only adds more questions: Dead Don didn’t live out this way, and there’s not a lot in town for him to be doing, unless he was inexplicably leaving flowers in the cemetery in the middle of the night. Hopefully, someone in town knows something. Approaching the body, they find Dr. DeBryn, who explains that given the cold, time of death is harder to lock down, but he can confirm that the cause of death was blood loss from being stabbed. A lot. Dead Don also has large crosses, or xs, carved into his eyes.

Strange: Religious motive?
Dr. DeBryn: Looks like old fashioned clown makeup to me, actually.
Fred: Well, it’s definitely not FUNNY.
Dr. DeBryn: Regardless, this is a weird one. Speaking of which, where’s Morse? This is exactly his type of nonsense!
Fred, fooling no one: He’s… sick.

You guessed it: in this instance, sick just means super hungover. Whilst Morse suffers through that, Fred debriefs with Bright: apparently Dead Don was well liked, lived alone in town, and didn’t seem to have any enemies. Bright, like Dr. DeBryn, wonders where the heck the Morsel is in all this, but he isn’t willing to play along with Fred’s “he’s just run down” platitudes.

Bright: I’m not a fool, and neither are you. He’s been off since last season.
Fred: He blames himself.
Bright: Sure, but he needs to pull himself together! Look at me, I had an awful year too, and I’m out here taking adorable art classes, not pickling my liver. Wasn’t there some plan to transfer him? Get a change of scenery?
Fred: Yes… but he’s my special boy!
Bright: Fred. We’re adults in a workplace. And we need to do what’s right for everyone, even if it hurts.

Good advice wrapped in a problematic, just get over it package: that’s Bright for ya. Anyway, at the post mortem we find out that Dead Don really was stabbed a lot, specifically in the torso, including the heart and his aorta: poor guy really didn’t stand a chance. Dr. DeBryn can’t be sure if the killer was right or left handed, but goes with the balance of probability: likely a righty. Meanwhile, Strange rifles through the guy’s stuff (marked up papers and a letter he got the day before he was killed) and tells Fred that they had basically no luck in the small town: nobody recognized Dead Don. Next up? Talking to the bus guys, who also don’t recognize the man (probably because they were distracted by their other, more female passenger).

Pervy Conductor: Look, it was the normal group of passengers, no one stood out. I didn’t think I’d have to remember anyone, did I?
Driver: I don’t see the passengers much anyway from the cab, but it was also a rough night on the road: SUPER foggy. We got back late.
Fred: Can anyone vouch for you?
Pervy Conductor: Maybe one of the mechanics?
Driver: And when I got home I took my mother in law a cuppa; she’s a light sleeper.
Fred: And you?
Pervy Conductor: Proudly single!
Fred: Hmmm. Ok, well, Strange is going to hang out on your bus tonight. Tell him if you recognize anyone.

Not a bad strategy, as it goes, but it does feel just a little desperate, no? Fred and Strange agree that Driver seems on the up and up, whilst Pervy Conductor is, well, pervy. Fred’s just encouraging Strange to talk to all the other passengers when another bus station employee runs up and tells Fred he’s got a phone call. It’s Bright, who just tells Fred that Win’s called and told him to come home ASAP. Cellphones are in many ways a scourge, but it’s times like these that I do appreciate them! While we stew and hope that whatever Win’s calling about isn’t too serious, Morse does what he does best this season: lurk around like a sad sack in the pub, and find out about important work stuff via the newspaper.

Finally back at the Thursday home, Fred returns to find Joan and Win in the dining room looking worried. Here’s the deal: Sam Thursday’s captain called and asked Win if they’d seen their son, because he’s gone AWOL. Sam had an afternoon pass the day before, but never returned: they don’t know where he is.

A woman says "Oh that is... that is bad news"

The next day, Morse finally drags his skinny ass into work and is busy looking over all the evidence, including the papers Dead Don was grading, when Strange arrives.

Strange: Hey bud! I was worried you’d be out again — feeling better?
Morse: Yeah, much! Where’s Fred?
Strange: Oh, right, you don’t know about the last scene!

While Strange presumably fills in Morse, Fred talks to Bright. It seems that Sam went missing from a local pub, and while many of the other guys in his unit have gone AWOL to be with local girls, that isn’t really Sam’s style.

Bright: Do you want to go out there?
Fred: They told me I’d just get in the way.
Bright: Well, then take some time off. I’m sure Win will want you at home.
Fred: Joan is there, and they won’t want me in the way either. I’ll be better off here distracting myself with work.
Bright: Wow, we as a group may need to take a look at our mental health and coping strategies, huh?

Yeah, buddy. Back in the bullpen, Strange lays out what he’s found regarding the other passengers (a business man, the cute gal we saw, who I’m calling Go Go Boots, an elderly woman, a drunk, and a student type), and Morse looks at the envelope again.

Strange: Kind of weird for an Oxford professor to be bad at spelling; why’d he write wych with a y?
Fred, arriving: Ah, you’re back. Feeling better?
Morse: Yes! Any news?
Fred: No. Should you maybe go to the doctor? You’ve been sick a lot.
Morse: No. I’m fine.

So, you know, just a lot of evasiveness all around. Also a lot of tension, obviously, which makes it even more ill advised for Morse to do his usual know-it-all routine. Alas, good choices are not his forte these days, so he does it anyway.

Morse: Didn’t you guys check this very specialized clock the bus drivers are supposed to punch at the end of their route? The Bundy clock? Seems like an obvious way to corroborate their story.
Fred: A of all, how do you know this crap? B of all, we were kind of understaffed yesterday!
Strange, about as shirty as he gets: We did get some things done, even without you telling us what to do.

Between the two reactions, it’s enough for Morse to see the error of his ways, and he heads into Fred’s office to apologize.

Fred, hurt: We don’t need Monday morning quarterbacking, dude.
Morse: I know. Would it help for me to go check out Dead Don’s offices?
Fred: Sure. If you want. Sam had a friend that got killed right next to him. Sniper took him out at a checkpoint as a reprisal. Maybe that’s why he left? I just don’t get the reprisals! Sam is supposed to be there to keep the two sides from hurting each other; to keep them safe! He and his buddies aren’t supposed to be targets!

Look, not to get too political, but this does tend to happen when one intervenes in another group’s conflict, particularly when there’s sectarian violence going down! Anyway, after doing his best to comfort Fred (which I’m sure was… not helpful, bless him), Morse pops in on Dr. DeBryn, pours the doc some liquor from the hip flask Morse has taken to carrying around AT WORK, and asks for insights. Dr. DeBryn basically reiterates what he already told us, but does add that he examined Dead Don’s stomach contents and found drunk food and a WHOLE lot of booze.

Morse: Maybe he was the drunk on the bus. The conductor said the guy was around the same age and build.

Maybe indeed. Later, Morse drops in at the Thursday residence, and is greeted by Joan, just like old times (but somehow way worse!).

Morse: How are they doing? How are YOU doing?
Joan: I mean, fine I guess? It’s weird but I assumed I would know if anything happened, you know? He’s my baby brother; I always knew when people were messing with him when we were little.
Morse: If you need anything, if there’s anything I can do… let me know.
Win, entering the chat: Oh hey, Morse, thought I heard someone. Look, we are FINE, and if anyone should be here it’s FRED, not his goons!
Morse, being cool for once: Oh, no, I wasn’t sent Mrs. Thursday, just wanted to check on you.
Win: Oh, ok. Bye.

Joan makes an unneeded excuse for her mum, asks Morse to keep an eye on Fred, and then walks him out. Could everyone be getting their crap together at last?

A man says "hmmmm... doubt it."

Meanwhile, Strange calls Fred about that Bundy clock situation. Apparently, the bus crew didn’t clock in, but they have a good reason: they claim that the hatch was frozen shut, something that apparently can indeed happen when it’s too cold. And speaking of the weather, it’s only getting worse: there’s about to be a snow storm, and Strange elects to stay out at the station to keep showing the photo of Dead Don around.

Over at the college, Morse does his typical snooping around in Dead Don’s office, finding the usual trappings of an academic, but also an advert for a lottery where one of the pictures has stars over his eyes, which looks suspiciously like what happened to Dead Don. There’s also a half smoked cigar, and a ripped piece of paper with a random code on it. I can’t make heads or tails of it, but somehow I think Morse will blow this thing wide open by the end of the episode.

Returning to the office, he finds Fred, who’s just been tidying up around Morse’s desk and found a bus ticket much like the one they have in evidence on the floor.

Morse: Hey, so I think I found the missing letter! It has some kind of code on it: WSW3MA? West south west something maybe?
Fred: Look, you have a bunch of leave coming up. Bright thinks you should take it now, and so do I. Deal with… whatever you need to deal with. We have people who can help you, if you need it.
Morse, playing it cool: I do not know to what you are referring.
Fred: Seriously, dude? I’ve talked to you about your drinking before. I just picked up your coat from the floor and this fell out of the pocket.
Morse: Uh, yeah, it’s a bus ticket for the route I take home from work.
Fred: Right, it’s from two nights ago, on the same route our murder victim was on, at the same time! If you hadn’t been so drunk, maybe you’d remember and we’d have a credible witness. YOU are the drunk on the bus we’ve been looking for!

OH SNAP. Clearly Morse doesn’t remember this, but we get to see it anyway: he indeed was the drunk on the bus, and made a real scene falling down the steps on his way out. Their Dead Don actually went to his aid, so everything Fred just said is, alas, completely true.

Fred, continuing to drop truth bombs: My dad was an alcoholic, and it’s what killed him. I’d hate to see the same thing happen to you. Break the habit before it breaks you.
Morse, remembering: He was wearing cufflinks. Silver ones, with numbers on them. I just remembered.
Fred: There’s a place in Sussex… discrete health farm kind of place. Look, there’s no shame in needing help.
Morse: Well I don’t!
Fred: Whatever dude, but I’m sending you out anyway. I have enough to worry about without adding you to the mix. Take the month off or don’t come back; I can’t use you like this.

YIKES. Harsh, but fair. Outside, Morse trudges through the worsening snow storm to the bus stop, where he just happens to see Go Go Boots, who he follows onto the bus. Mid-drive, while Pervy Conductor is once again hitting on Go Go Boots, the bus abruptly swerves, sending Pervy Conductor into a handrail head first, and then loses power. Morse quickly asks if everyone is alright, and as they realize the conductor is injured, a doctor makes herself known and joins the two men on the floor. Her verdict: the injury isn’t that bad, but they need to watch out for concussion. After confirming that no one else is hurt, they’re joined by Driver, who explains that they hit some black ice, ran into a snow drift, and damaged the engine.

Snobby Passenger: So fix it!
Driver: Did you even read my recap name? I’m not a mechanic!
Snobby Passenger: Well then I guess you should go get help; your duty is to your passengers.
Driver: Wrong again, friendo; my duty is to the bus company property. I’m staying with the bus.

And with that, the rest of the passengers descend into bickering over who should venture out into the storm. They quickly establish that the next stop is about two miles away (too far to walk in this weather), but that they’ve just passed the Potentially Haunted Country Hotel we saw all those grisly headlines about at the start of the episode. Go Go Boots used to work there, and thinks there might be a phone. Everyone is a bit creeped out given the whole terrible murder site/potentially haunted part, but most of the passengers agree that it’s better than sitting in an unheated bus for much longer. Driver and Pervy Conductor want to stay with the bus, assuming someone will come find them, but when they lose power for good, the matter is pretty well settled. And so with Go Go Boots leading the way, everyone heads out into the storm. Destination: Potentially Haunted Country Hotel.

Back at the office, Bright finds Fred still lurking about: he’s waiting for Strange, who was meant to be arriving on a bus.

Bright: Oh, ok. Mind if I hang out and wait with you?
Fred: Not at all! But it could be a while; the weather is only getting worse. You might want to head home while you still can.
Bright: Dude, I have no one waiting for me.
Fred: Well then I’d be glad to have your company.
Bright: Any word?
Fred: On Sam? Not yet.
Bright: Maybe that’s a good sign.

Maybe! Back out in the storm, the group from the bus arrives at Potentially Haunted Country Hotel only to find the front door locked. Morse grabs the flashlight and starts circling the building, looking for a way in, and finally finds a boarded up window he can pry open. Once inside, he tries the light switch to no avail, and finally lets everyone else inside.

Morse: Hey, Go Go Boots, is there a generator?
Go Go Boots: I think so! I can show you.

And while they do that, one of the other passengers ambles off to start a fire, while another tries the phone (dead, as expected). Realizing they’re all probably going to be there for a while, one of the lady passengers suggests they all introduce themselves, with some pushback from Snobby Passenger, who apparently thinks he’s better than everyone else and would rather not associate with the riffraff, even if they appear to be trapped in an Agatha Christie novel.

Dramatis Personae:

  • Working Stiff, a “jack of all trades” who’s attempting to start the fire
  • Retired Postmistress, who started the introductions
  • Student, who’s playing away at the (out of tune) piano in the corner
  • Plucky Housewife, who tried the phone earlier
  • Retired Examiner, who was also once a teacher
  • Go Go Boots, who works in a shop
  • Driver and Pervy Conductor, self explanatory
  • Doctor, also self explanatory
  • Snobby, who’s a solicitor, if we must know


  • Morse, a rapidly descending into alcoholism detective who neglects to inform his comrades about his line of work, presumably so he can later reveal it at the opportune moment, Poirot style.

As everyone gets as comfortable as possible, Doctor suggests that she and Go Go Boots should go look through the stores for painkillers and more candles.

Morse: We can go together; that way Go Go Boots can also point out that backup generator.
Student: Who cares about logistics, isn’t anyone else a true crime fan and excited that we’re in the room where it happened?
Plucky Housewife: Where WHAT happened?
Pervy Conductor: The murderer was some posh kid from one of those fancy schools.
Student: Apparently he lost it and tried to kill one of the teachers, so they locked him up. And then he and another patient escaped a medical transport, came here, and murdered a whole bunch of people.
Retired Examiner: Uh, you sure know a lot about this?
Student: I read a book about it!
Doctor: Well, it might not be the best topic of conversation, given the circumstances.
Pervy Conductor: We have to do something to pass the time, might as well tell scary stories. Ugh, my head hurts.
Conductor: Just lie down, that’ll help.
Retired Postmistress: Wait, but what happened to the murderer?
Snobby: He was caught and sent back to the asylum.
Student: Well, he was supposed to be sent back, but the night before he died by suicide.
Plucky Housewife: That’s an awful story! And you guys know Go Go Boots used to work here, right? For all you know she was here when that happened; be cool.

Naturally, that just has the unintended consequence of everyone, including, it must be said, this recapper, only getting more curious about what Go Go Boots might know. But they’re more polite than I, apparently. Working Stiff is interested in finding the bar, assuming there’s one left, and Morse, maybe having listened to Fred’s advice, isn’t into it: he thinks they should all stay together. A few of the company find this funny; the Hotel isn’t actually haunted, after all, but having played my share of D&D in my time, I’m with Morse: don’t split the party! Of course, right after he says this, Morse heads off with Go Go Boots and Doctor to find the store room and generator, so…

A woman, annoyed, asks "what are we doing here?"

Remember how I said these people were more polite than I am? WRONG. Whilst they look around the basement, which eerily looks as though the workers just stepped out a moment ago, and not 8 years ago, Doctor starts prodding Go Go Boots for information. Go Go Boots, however, isn’t keen to discuss the matter.

A woman emphatically says "good for her."

She quickly finds a couple boxes of candles, which she hands to Doctor. After she gets Morse to light one, Doctor says she’ll head back to the group with the bounty while the other two look for the generator. Seems like Morse was more worried about booze than splitting up, because he is totally fine with this plan. I, having seen a lot of murder mysteries, am less cool with it. Speaking of splitting up, in the main group, Working Stiff has gone off in search of a bar, which he quickly finds. But while he’s admiring a particularly dusty bottle, he’s surprised from behind by a loud noise! A murderer? No clue; first, we head into the storm where Morse and Go Go Boots are trying to turn on the generator despite a complete lack of knowledge of how the thing works.

Morse: How hard can it be though, right? Also, I’m sure the doc didn’t mean anything earlier.
Go Go Boots: No, I know; it’s normal to be curious. But also people wouldn’t ask stuff like that if they’d been here.
Morse: Yeah, I’m sure.
Go Go Boots, taking his taciturn agreement as an opportunity to open up: I was 14. My parents agreed to let me do a bit of waitressing for extra cash. We didn’t know what was going on at first; people were disappearing one by one, but we thought they were just off having fun. Then the police showed up, and the place closed that very night; who would want to come here?

Back at the station, Fred and Bright look over the murder board. They both feel like it’s ringing a bell, but can’t figure out why: if it is reminding them of an old case, it wasn’t one of theirs. Just then Strange finally gets back: service has been shut down because of the snow, and it was all quiet at the station anyway. There was one bus still out there though… a 33, with Morse on it!

Fred: He’s on leave. As of this afternoon. WTF?
Strange: I don’t know what to tell you man, I saw him.
Bright: He might have just been catching the bus home — that one goes by his house!
Strange: It does. Regardless, he’s left his car here.

While Fred and Strange exchange significant looks about WHY Morse might prefer not to drive, Bright, who is either more optimistic or hasn’t noticed the drinking problem, suggests that Morse might just not have wanted to drive in this weather, which is probably a good call. Now that everyone is accounted for, Bright heads on home, and Fred tells the guys he’s planning to stay just a little longer to look at the case.

Strange: Don't leave it too long. The roads are already really bad and they said on the radio this snow is going to keep up until the morning, at least.
Fred, completely ignoring the good advice: Drive safe.

Back at the hotel, Morse and Go Go Boots have somehow successfully gotten the generator going. In their triumph, Morse uses the opportunity to confirm that she was on the bus the night of the murder as well.

Go Go Boots: Yeah, I take the bus to meet my boyfriend!
Morse: Did you hear that awful news about the guy who got murdered? It was in all the papers!
Me: Smooth, Morse, smooth.
Go Go Boots, suddenly way less cheery: Oh, yes.
Morse: Did you see him?
Go Go Boots: I don’t think so… I fell asleep and when I got to my stop it was only the Driver saying I needed to get off the bus that woke me up.

Interesting. Heading back inside, they turn on the lights to everyone’s glee, but find a few people missing. Driver has taken Pervy Conductor upstairs to lie down, and Working Stiff, as we know, went off to look for the bar and hasn’t returned. They aren’t worried, but I am, partly because we also get a shot of the door to the generator room, which bangs open in the howling wind and lets in enough light from outside that we can see that a small ax that had been hanging next to the door is now very much gone.

A woman, concerned, says "that's not good."

Back at the office, Fred thinks back to what Dr. DeBryn said in the most mortem, and remembers a particular case, from which he still has the file stored in his office. You guessed it: it’s the murders at Potentially Haunted Country Hotel. Looking for more details, Fred calls up Ms. Frazil to see what she’s got.

And at Potentially Haunted Country Hotel, Morse steps into the hall to take a nip from his cheeky flask, only to come up empty. The solution? Follow in Working Stiff’s footsteps and look for the bar. Once there, he pops open a bottle and takes a swig, only to immediately regret it. Reluctantly putting the bottle back down, he notices a handprint in the dusty bar top, a shattered bottle on the floor, and worst of all, a hefty splash of blood. Heading back to the group, Morse reports back on what he found, but as you might expect, everyone is keen to find a non-terrifying explanation. Maybe Working Stiff cut himself on the glass and went to clean up! Maybe he thought better of staying in this creepy place and went to look for help! Taking charge, Morse tells everyone to stay put: he’s going to go look for Working Stiff, but they should stick together.

Retired Examiner, as soon as Morse leaves: He’s weird.
Driver: He’s a drunk, that’s what he is! Didn’t any of you smell it?
Plucky Housewife: Oh, come on, you can’t just say stuff like that about people.
Driver: No, I’m serious! Pervy Conductor recognized him right away; the guy was on the bus two nights back and didn’t even know what day it was. Go Go Boots, back me up, you must have seen him!
Go Go Boots: I really don’t remember, honest.
Driver: I’m serious, they guy fell down the stairs disembarking!

Yikes, this isn’t going to be a good look for our friend’s credibility when he solves this thing later, is it? While they talk about him, Morse looks around the creepy abandoned dining room, and is startled by Retired Examiner, who’s come to help look. As they begin their search, Retired Examiner starts peppering Morse with questions as they go. Upstairs, someone walks into the room where Pervy Conductor is sleeping. Someone, I fear, who isn’t there to make sure he’s alright.

Retired Examiner: So, what do you do, Morse?
Morse, obfuscating: I’m a civil servant.
Retired Examiner: Cool! Which department? I ask because some of my former students went into the service!

Morse is saved from having to answer by a loud banging sound, which they immediately go to investigate. Obviously, it’s not a murder in progress; that would be too simple. It’s just Driver, attempting to crack open a tin can with a large knife.

Driver, cheerfully: Look, I can’t not eat anything all night, and figured others might feel the same way.
Morse: I think you should go back in there with the others.
Driver, annoyed: I don’t mean to disrespect a passenger, but mind your own business!
Morse: I’m not trying to be nosy, I’m trying to keep everyone safe! There was a passenger murdered on your bus two nights ago!
Driver: Yeah, the bus YOU were hammered on! So if anyone should be careful, it’s you! Working Stiff probably just went into town, and you’re acting like he’s been murdered. Why are you trying to scare my passengers!?

If this were any other show, I’d be firmly on the driver’s side. But since we know there’s a murderer afoot, well… team Morse: let’s all stick together and play it safe! Speaking of sticking together, over at the Thursday house, they're doing the opposite. Fred has finally returned home, and has to face the music: Win’s mad, both because he’s been gone all day AND because he encouraged Sam to go into the army in the first place.

Win: If anything happens to him, it’s your fault!

YIKES. Post fight, Joan goes to comfort her dad, and asks what else is bothering him (she’s a perceptive one, our Joanie).

Fred: Strange saw Morse on the bus earlier, and it hasn’t gotten back to the depot in this weather.
Joan: You’re not worried, though, right?
Fred: He’s been off lately.
Joan: He came by earlier, actually, just to see if there was anything he could do. And cut mum some slack, she’s stressed.

Good advice, Joan. Just then, Ms. Frazil appears with a whole bunch of papers. Fred hands her a whiskey, and they sit down to look at what she’s brought.

At Potentially Haunted Country Hotel, Student shoots his shot with Go Go Boots by asking if she likes a particular band (classic move). Morse and Retired Examiner return empty handed, and Morse, being Morse, starts going through Working Stiff’s coat pockets over the objections of Student and Snobby. Ignoring them, he finds similar papers to the ones he saw in Dead Don’s study earlier in the episode, and the same typed code: WSW3MA? Some time later, Retired Postmistress suggests cards: she doesn’t have any, but surely there’s a deck somewhere!

Go Go Boots: Oh, all the cards and games are in the library bar. I’ll go grab some.
Doctor: Uh… I don’t know if you should go?
Go Go Boots: I’ll be fine, I know my way around and I’ll be right back.
Plucky Housewife: Well, if we’re walking around: where’s the restroom?

Meanwhile, in the billiards room, Snobby and Retired Examiner play a game and chitchat.

Snobby: You saw the letter that drunken busybody was looking at: what did it say?
Retired Examiner: I don’t know, didn’t see it that well. But I think SOMEONE has it in for all of us. Alliance?

The host of the show Survivor says "outwit, outplay, outlast."

Just then, Student pops in and asks if he can play with them, but they deploy a full upper class lockout and send him on his way. So I guess it is to be an alliance after all. In one of the offices, Morse paces around looking pained and then abruptly pretends everything is fine when Doctor enters. He even hands her a notebook to ask what she thinks of it. Seems like everyone is getting an alliance.

Doctor: Looks like a debt collector’s tally, but there’s nothing about specific amounts? Where did you get it?
Morse: Working Stiff’s coat.
Doctor: Ah, well then put it back, weirdo! He won’t be happy you looked through his stuff, and stealing is bad. Oh, shit, you’re detoxing huh?

Yeah, about that: it’s not a great call to quit drinking abruptly, as Morse is currently discovering. Detox is no joke, which is why Fred wanted him to go to that facility in the first place! Speaking of Fred, he’s currently looking over those files with Ms. Frazil.

Ms. Frazil: So here’s the deal: two prisoners were getting transported that day. The fancy murder boy, and a completley unhinged guy who was apparently looking to get written on to Criminal Minds OR complete serial killer bingo, whichever came first. Murderer, necrophile, alleged cannibal, kept his mom’s head in a hat box. The usual. Anyway, the psychiatrists thought this second dude was pure evil, but he obviously liked Fancy Murder Boy.
Fred: Do we think Fancy Murder Boy and Pure Evil engineered the crash?
Ms. Frazil: They never figured it out. Weather was bad that night, kind of like today. Don’t know how any of the guests got to Potentially Haunted Country Hotel in the first place.
Fred: I bet they wished they hadn’t.

Probably! Speaking of which, back at Potentially Haunted Country Hotel, Morse and Doctor rejoin the party just in time to hear someone let out a horrified scream from another room. Everyone naturally runs to investigate, and they find Go Go Boots absolutely freaking out at the sight of Working Stiff’s dead body. You guessed it: his eyes have been crossed out, just like Dead Don. Morse tries to comfort her, and then, the power goes. Hustling back to the drawing room by flashlight, the panic starts to set in, despite Morse’s best efforts.

Snobby: It’s not going to be alright! There’s a body! And who are you to tell us what to do, Mr. Morse?
Morse, pulling out his badge: Detective Sergeant, actually.
Snobby: Why didn’t you say earlier?
Morse: I was hoping I wouldn’t have to.
Driver, re-joining the group: Uh, what’s up?
Snobby: Working Stiff’s in the ballroom with his throat cut and his face mutilated!!
Go Go Boots: It’s just like what happened to Mr. Churchyard the hotel manager that night with Fancy Murder Boy!
Student: But Fancy Murder Boy is dead though!
Snobby, annoying but correct: So either there’s some weirdo sneaking around the hotel, or whoever did that is one of us!
Retired Postmistress: No, impossible!
Morse: Well. I’m going to look at the generator. I suggest you all stay together while I’m out.
Retired Postmistress: But what if something happens to you?
Snobby: He’s a cop; that’s what he’s paid to do.

And with that, Morse storms out, but not directly to the generator. First, he stops in the manager's office to snoop around, finding a set of cufflinks very like the ones Dead Don was wearing the night he was murdered, and a telegram that reads “Reunion booked for 23rd Feb. Get the shampoo on ice.”

A young woman says "oh, curiouser and curiouser."

Back in the drawing room, poor Go Go Boots is out cold on the couch after that shock. Driver asks if someone will come with him to go check on Pervy Conductor. Retired Postmistress volunteers, but Doctor intercedes: she should check on his head injury anyway. Retired Examiner also goes upstairs, leaving the rest of the group together by the fire. Well, everyone except for Snobby, who decides to strike out on his own, because anyone who tries to hurt him “will get more than they bargained for.” Student, annoyed, also leaves to go try and find Morse. After a little more tense waiting, Plucky Housewife also elects to leave, and not just the room, the hotel full stop. Retired Postmistress points out the dangers of the storm, but Plucky Housewife can’t be dissuaded: better a storm than a murder hotel!

Two women make faces that say "Hmmm maybe?"

Outside, Morse putters around in the shed looking for more fuel for the generator. Snobby heads into the kitchen, presumably to get a knife from the knife rack. And upstairs, the party arrives at Pervy Conductor’s room, only to find it mysteriously locked.

Doctor: He might have taken a turn; you’ll need to break down the door.
Driver: Lady, this is private property! I can’t do that.
Retired Examiner: Look, let’s wait for Morse. If something has happened, he’ll have authority to figure it out.

Returning downstairs, they find Go Go Boots still conked out on the couch, but totally alone. Morse arrives around the same time, and hatches a plan: all five of them will go check on Pervy Conductor together. Morse makes short work of the door, but to no avail: Pervy Conductor is also missing. Did he go out the open window? Unclear! Meanwhile, Snobby is in the process of trying to break open the hotel safe when the door behind him slowly shuts, revealing a figure in a jester costume lurking in the shadows.

While all this is happening, Ms. Frazil gives Fred an overview of the previous crime. Fancy Murder Boy started in one of the guest’s rooms, killing the man and then stealing his costume in order to move around the house undetected. That costume? You guessed it: creepy jester.

Ms. Frazil: So what do you think is happening?
Fred: I’m not sure, but it’s weird that of all the victims, only one of them had the crosses over his eyes. Maybe both Fancy Murder Boy AND Pure Evil did this?
Joan, arriving with an update: Morse isn’t answering the phone, but the storm’s brought down a lot of lines. Strange is going to go check on him.

Welp, he’s not going to find anything, because Morse is at that moment assisting a very chilly Student, who just got back inside after almost getting lost in the storm while out looking for Morse.

Student: I waved, didn’t you see me? Maybe it was someone else. I thought you’d come out and get me!
Doctor: You didn’t see who it was?
Student: It was just a shadow in the snow.
Morse: Well, hopefully whoever it was will make their way back inside, and if not, we’ll send out a search party. Doc, come with me, we’re going to go look at Working Stiff’s body.

At the Thursday residence, Fred thanks Ms. Frazil and walks her to the door.

Ms. Frazil: Happy to help, but honestly if you want to solve this one, there’s only one person left alive who actually knows what happened: Pure Evil.

So, Fred starts getting ready to go out into the storm to do just that. Win is, obviously, furious about his plan. Why the heck is Fred heading out to look for a coworker when he should be looking for their own son?

Win: You aren’t over there because you’re a coward. If something has happened to him…
Joan: Come on mom, be cool.
Win: NO. This is my house, I can say what I want. I’m not one of your clients! You think you know it all, but where did THAT get you?
Fred: Uh, what am I missing?
Joan and Win: NOTHING.
Win: I’m your mom. Respect me. Fred, go if you must, but if you do leave don’t come back, I’m sick of you. Goodnight.
Joan: She doesn’t mean it.
Fred: She does. And she’s right. Doing nothing takes a different kind of bravery, and I just don’t have that in me. If I could do something to help find Sam, I would tear the world down. But there’s nothing I can do, and it’s killing me. If I can’t fix that, I’ll fix Morse. Sam’s like mum: slow to anger, quick to forgive. You and me, Joan? Opposite.

Ugh, this whole thing just stinks all around! Can’t these folks catch a break!? Anyway, back at Potentially Haunted Country Hotel, while Doctor examines the body, Morse talks to Driver: what exactly happened at the last stop the other night? He doesn’t care about rule breaking, he just needs to know about anything that might be related to the murders.

Driver: Ok, fine: Pervy Conductor has a girlfriend. Her husband works away from home during the week, so while I have my break, he… has his.
Morse: How long was he gone?
Driver: Half hour, maybe 45 minutes.
Doctor: Well, cause of death isn’t all that mysterious, and I’m not a medical examiner, but I think the eyes were done post mortem.
Morse, looking through his pockets: Ah, now that notebook makes sense: he was a bookie. And there was an address on an envelope to a halfway house; maybe he was in prison.
Doctor: There’s something else in his pocket — an engraved cufflink with the number 37.

And when they search his other pocket, they find the second link: this one says 22. Driver suggests they cover him with a tablecloth, and it’s when Morse goes to grab the cloth that he notices the placecards at that table, which include Dead Don and Snobby! Checking out the seating chart, he also sees Retired Examiner on the list.

Speaking of whom, in the drawing room, Retired Examiner tells Student and Go Go Boots that he just saw someone go up the stairs… didn’t they? They all go into the lobby to take a look, just in time to hear jingling bells from upstairs. Retired Examiner runs after the sound, and Go Go Boots fetches the rest of the group. Morse, naturally, pursues.

Meanwhile, Fred sits down with Pure Evil at the psychiatric hospital. It’s… about as cinematically creepy as you want it to be.

Pure Evil: I killed a cop once! He was going door to door like a salesman looking for a kid I was… enjoying. You know, I had a sample case just like a salesman. But I wasn’t an Avon Lady.
Fred: You kept bits of people in it, yes, I know. This picture was taken just the other day… just like one of Fancy Murder Boy’s victims.
Pure Evil: Not just anyone… Working Stiff is out on parole. There will be three more, if it hasn’t happened already. I’m surprised they let the grass grow.
Fred: Who?
Pure Evil: The Furies. Three goddesses of vengeance who punish uncaught criminals. Fancy Murder Boy… what a rich kid.
Fred: He wasn’t rich though; he was at that fancy school on scholarship.
Pure Evil: Uh, yes he was rich. Or he should have been… that’s what they really put him away for. There were four of them.

Well, that’s a starting point. And back at Potentially Haunted Country Hotel, another victim has reached his ending point: in the manager’s office, Morse finds Snobby dressed in the jester outfit and dying, with crosses on his eyes. Morse tries to get some deathbed info, but to no avail.

Downstairs, the group wonders if they should go check on Morse, and ultimately Doctor decides she’ll do it: Student and Go Go Boots won’t be able to defend themselves, and Driver hopefully can. Walking through the hall, she’s pulled into a room by Morse, who covers her mouth to keep her quiet and points down the hall to where a figure in a jester costume is creeping around.

Morse: You have to get out of here now; this has something to do with those old murders.
Doctor: What, the ones from the costume party eight years ago?
Morse: It was also a school reunion.
Doctor: You think Fancy Murder Boy came here to get revenge on bullying classmates?
Morse: I’m not sure, but whatever he started back then, someone came here to finish the job.

Back at the Thursday home, Strange arrives with an update for Joan, who answers the door: Morse’s house is definitely empty, but he doesn’t think they need to worry: this is Morse after all. Then, he asks how they’re all doing, but most importantly, how Joan is doing. This kindness is the last straw for our friend, who starts crying. Thankfully, Strange is there to comfort her with a hug.

At the psychiatric hospital, Fred confirms that Pure Evil was at Potentially Haunted Country Hotel the night of the murders.

Fred: How did you see Fancy Murder Boy? Apprentice? But he didn’t have the nerve for it, did he… that’s why he only killed the manager. If he even did that.
Pure Evil: Look, he had a great head for numbers, but no stomach for blood. They were all at the hotel for that fancy party; waiting for the payoff. So it fell to me to put things right for him. The manager was easy enough; he was in the office. But I didn’t know what anyone else looked like and I got… distracted.
Fred: Tell me about his family.
Pure Evil: Well, the paper was doing a story about life in the hospital. The head shrink was super excited about it, but I wasn’t there; I’m not allowed in the gardens. Everyone had visitors that day… see for yourself. He had a sister; the grandmother brought her every week but I think she was camera shy.

And wouldn’t you know it: in the background of that very photo there’s a hospital staff member who looks QUITE familiar: it’s Driver! We don’t have to wait long to find out whether or not he’s in on what’s happening either, because at that very moment, student slumps over and passes out on the couch, having drunk a glass of obviously laced booze Driver gave him. Also in on it? Go Go Boots, who I’m now pretty sure is also Fancy Murder Boy’s sister.

At the front door, Morse sends Doctor out into the storm with instructions to go to the first house she sees and call for backup. Thankfully, backup is already on the way in the form of Fred, who’s making his way to them via the road. On the way, he picks up Plucky Housewife (phew, I was really starting to worry about her), and Pervy Conductor, who apparently escaped the hotel and has been deliriously attempting to take fares on the abandoned bus. While Fred tries to calm down Pervy Conductor, Doctor arrives, and Fred sets her to caring for both chilled people while he goes in to help Morse.

Morse, as it happens, has come upon Retired Examiner, who’s ignoring his dead friend in favor of attempting to break into the safe.

Morse: No honor amongst thieves, I guess. Look, you’d do better if you had the right safe in the first place: that’s the hotel safe. The manager’s personal safe is behind that painting.
Retired Examiner: I have no idea what you're talking about!
Morse: Ugh, yes you do! These murders have something to do with Fancy Murder Boy, and I’m pretty sure that it’s related to whatever’s been hidden in that safe for the last eight years. You can tell me, or you can tell them, but I’m the only one who I know for sure will help try and save you from getting murdered as well, so… your call.
Retired Examiner: I don’t have anything to tell you.
Morse: I know your group went by WYCH: that’s what made Dead Don come out here in the first place. He must have assumed the letter came from you. It spells out your real names, you see, which would make more sense if this recapper hadn’t tried to get cute with it and give you fun monikers. But yeah, WYCH is you, Snobby, the manager who got killed the first time around, and Working Stiff. So Dead Don thought you guys were talking to him because of that code: WSW3MA?. I had trouble with it at first, but then I realized it was “when shall we three meet again?” For Dead Don, it was the bus, and I know that because I was also on the bus and I saw him!

You know who else was on that bus? Driver and Go Go Boots, obviously, and their third accomplice: Retired Postmistress, who I’m assuming is Fancy Murder Boy’s granny. Retired Examiner tells Morse that his bus invitation came today: he assumed it came from Snobby, and that his friend had wanted to talk about Dead Don’s murder.

Morse: And I’m assuming he thought the invite came from you. Or Working Stiff. But why didn’t you guys sit together?
Retired Examiner: There’s a rule that we never acknowledge each other in public.
Me, really not a fan of secret societies:

A woman rolls her eyes

Retired Examiner: At first I thought it was just a horrible coincidence that we’d all ended up here.
Morse: Oh, definitely not: you were always meant to end up here. If you want to get out of here alive, you better come with me now. And on the way you can tell me about these cufflinks: I know who, and I know how, but I don’t know WHY. If I do, I might be able to talk your way out of this.
Go Go Boots, entering the chat with a knife: I thought you were a detective; can’t believe you haven’t figured it out yet! The numbers represent a football betting pool. You mark the numbers you want with Xs; winner gets a LOT of cash.
Morse: Ah, and the manager won, huh? So he has a huge cash prize locked in the safe?
Go Go Boots: Exactly. And to prevent anyone from making off with all the cash, Dead Don created a system that required all of the members of the syndicate to hold part of the key; it’s on their cufflinks.
Retired Examiner: It could only be opened if we were all together. It was foolproof.

Until the manager got killed. And it turns out the group didn’t really trust each other very much. See, Working Stiff had been in prison, and he wasn’t keen to share his numbers with the group, believing that they’d just steal his share. But where did Fancy Murder Boy come in? Apparently, he was great at math, and figured out a way to predict the pool results. He told a teacher what he’d figured out, and that jerk (Retired Examiner) played the numbers with his group of pals. They had the manger put the numbers in so that Fancy Murder Boy wouldn’t realize he’d been betrayed. But it didn’t work. He did indeed realize, and attacked the teacher, resulting in Fancy Murder Boy getting unjustly sent away to the psychiatric ward. The poor kid was stuck in there for a year until his sister, Go Go Boots, cracked a coded message between the members of the syndicate, and planned to infiltrate their reunion.

Story explained, Morse does his best to get between the murderers and their inteded last victim.

Driver: Move aside! We don’t want to hurt you!
Morse: Why are you here anyway?
Fred, arriving: He was an orderly at the hospital.
Driver: Fancy Murder Boy told me the whole story, and when he died I looked up his family. They convinced me it was all real. This wasn’t about money; it was about justice.
Morse: But they stole from him, they didn’t kill him!
Retired Postmistress: They might as well have; his death was their fault!

At a stalemate, Morse springs into action and subdues Go Go Boots while Fred grabs Retired Postmistress. Luckily, backup also arrives and takes away Driver and Retired Examiner.

Yes, this case is sorted out, but unfortunately, there’s still no news on Sam Thursday. As the next day dawns, Morse and Thursday stand outside the abandoned hotel and breathe in the freezing air. Fred asks Morse to brief Bright on the situation so he can go home to his family.

Morse: Of course. And uh… if you’re still offering, I will take those four weeks.
Fred: Take as long as you need. The sun always comes up. You just have to hold on for it a bit longer sometimes, that’s it.

Wow do I hope he’s right, for both of their sakes. What’s to happen to our friends? Alas, we now have to wait for that final season to air. In the meantime, there’s never a shortage of mysteries on our screens, starting next week with the return of Grantchester.

If you or a loved one is considering suicide, please call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255.

Episode 1 'Striker' recap: ancient grudge break to new mutiny
Episode 2 'Scherzo' recap: unworthy of your love