Reader, recapping the final season of a beloved series like Endeavour is bittersweet. Yes, it’s another opportunity to spend some time with wonderful characters, watching fascinating stories unspool on screen. But also, it’s the end of the line; we won’t get more of these people, ever again (somewhat untrue in this case, since Endeavour is part of an extended universe of shows; nothing but respect for my Marvel Cinematic Universe). Anyway, it’s with mixed feelings that I sit down to write these last three recaps, but putting it off won’t do us any favors. Excelsior!

This episode kicks off with a bunch of musicians heading to the theater for a concert. A fancy concert, featuring a renowned concert orchestra, who’ve just returned from a year abroad, at that. As the young soloist prepares to go on, across town, Fred Thursday’s desk phone goes unanswered, and a middle aged man runs down the street. And where’s Morse in all this? Surprisingly, he’s not in the orchestra audience, at least as far as I can tell: he’s on a park bench with a crossword, so maybe he’s actually gone and taken that leave to sort out his drinking problem after all.

Remember that running guy? He’s heading for a phone box, where he places a call to the Thursday home before being dragged into a car by two men who’ve been pursuing him. Fred tries to find out who’s called, eventually giving up, and in the background we hear Win asking if the caller was Sam Thursday, who it seems must unfortunately still be as missing as he was at the end of last season.

Bad news for the running guy: the two men take him to an abandoned warehouse to work him over with an array of torture tools that look like they mean business. Back at the concert hall, Soloist returns to her dressing room, getting congratulations from her fellows on the way back. But it seems someone is less impressed: scrawled on her mirror, in lipstick, is the word “BITCH.”

Later, Morse ambles up to Dr. DeBryn at a crime scene, just barely beating out Fred and Strange. All three men greet our friend in a bit of surprise: it’s clearly been a minute since they’ve seen each other.

Strange: Great to see you. Anyway: here’s the deal — the staff found this guy this morning when they came to clean up after last night’s event. Nobody recognizes him.
Morse: Maybe he’s an undergrad from another college. What was the party?
Fred: Afterparty for the orchestra; invite only. About 100 people, mostly college folks.
Dr. DeBryn: No obvious signs of injury. Time of death sometime between 9 and 3am.
Strange: And the party wrapped up between midnight and 1, so…
Dr. DeBryn: We can assume he wasn’t just lying around being a corpse in the middle of the reception, Strange. Even drunk college students notice that.
Morse: Why’s he only got one shoe?
Strange: I’ve got a guy looking.
Dr. DeBryn: Well, you know my line as well as I do at this point. More info to come after the post mortem; see me at 2!
Strange, reminding us all that none of these guys can talk about their feelings: So how was vacation, Morse? Good snacks?
Morse: I was mostly being… solo.
Strange: Cool, cool. I’m going to go look for a guest list.
Fred: Well obviously we’ll have you talk to the orchestra members, given everyone’s skill set. Thanks for the postcard, btw. I’m assuming the sea air was good after your… “extended leave of absence.” How’s the… uh…
Morse: I’m totally fine now! Totally sober, and look, I’m even smiling.
Fred: Good. I’ll see you at the office.

Hmmm. I want to believe him, but also, I am aware of the reputation of future Morse, so: doubts. Anyway, over at the orchestra’s rehearsal space, the members arrive and grab tea and biscuits before the rehearsal starts. Well, I say that, but the preferred biscuit of one of our young musicians is missing: apparently, that type is the orchestra leader, and has thus been reserved for her. Everyone seems to take this somewhat in stride, and frankly, as a former orchestra member who played a woodwind, I’m just jealous they have biscuits and tea as an option. While they wait for the water to heat up, they gossip about the party the night before, or try to: before they can really get into it, the conductor, who’s got a sir before his title and is thus DOUBLY fancy, strides into the room.

Sir Conductor:

A woman taps her wristwatch and then bangs on the surface in front of her as if to say "hurry up."

The orchestra:

A man, about to take a bite of cake, throws the whole thing down and walks away

While they take their seats, tea un-drunk, Ms. Frazil finds Morse grubbing around in the rose patch, where he’s found an abandoned bracelet on the ground.

Frazil: Look, if you want to start writing our gardener’s tips column you just have to ask. Where have you BEEN, by the way? I thought you’d moved and forgotten to say goodbye. Your coworkers haven’t told me anything either. Care to share?
Morse: Nope.

A hobbit says "alright then, keep your secrets."

So what’s up here?
Morse: Not sure. Still trying to figure out who the dead guy is.
Frazil: Well if you want to get a drink later, it’s my turn to buy.
Morse: Nah, I’m good.
Frazil: WHAT. Skipping a drink? You sure you’re ok?
Morse: Ha. Yes, I’m great!

For NOW. Ahem. Back at the office, Fred gives Bright the Morse update: no time for a long talk, but he seems to be ok.

Bright: Great! I’m sure he’s permanently fine now!
Fred: Yup. Anyway, there’s a musical situation with this murder, so obviously I’ve put Morse on it. Um, is there anything else?
Bright: Actually, there is. There’s a Detective Superintendent gig opening up in a town called Carshall Newtown. And I think you’d be a good fit.
Fred: The boonies? Have I been doing a bad job or something?
Bright: NO! No, here’s the thing: I’ve decided it’s past time for me to retire. And before I go I want to see all my boys taken care of: you, Strange, Morse.
Fred: I don’t know what to say — after the last few seasons I kind of assumed we’d finish out our careers together?
Bright: Sorry to be a bummer…
Fred: No chance!
Bright: Look, Carshall would mean moving, and that’s something you need to talk about with Win. But that’s a big promotion.
Fred: What about Morse?
Bright: I know you’d want to bring him with you, but the person reporting to you would need to be an inspector or above. And Morse, let’s not forget, is so singularly bad at office politics that he’s just a Sergeant. Remember the demotion mustache?
Fred: Unfortunately, yes.
Bright: Look, we have to let them leave the nest eventually.

Do I agree? Kind of. But since he just said he didn’t want to leave until he had taken care of his coworkers this feels a little unfair to Fred! At the orchestra rehearsal, things are NOT going great. Sir Conductor is in the midst of a meltdown at the bassist (armchair quarterback opinion: seems justified if rude) when Morse wanders in, drawing the ire to himself.

Sir Conductor: I don’t know who you are, but get the hell out of my rehearsal.

Sir Conductor’s lackey hustles over to the door to scoot Morse outside, and has just started his “press interviews must happen later” schpiel when Morse cuts him off with his badge.

Morse: So, I’m a detective, and you are?
Conductor’s Lackey: I’m the orchestra manager.
Morse: Neat. So I hear a number of your principals went to a party last night.
Conductor’s Lackey: Ugh. Did they break something?

Morse never gets a chance to follow that up, because at that moment, Soloist arrives, tripping over Morse in her effort to get into the classroom. Reader, she’s an accomplished and attractive young person, so I’m sure it will surprise no one to hear me say that Morse immediately blushes and starts flirting with her awkwardly. He’s so preoccupied that Conductor’s Lackey has to try twice to get his attention after Soloist scoots into the rehearsal, which, obviously, is about to be cut short. Morse passes around a photo of the victim to the students, who all say they never saw the guy.

Sir Conductor: And I didn’t either, so I think we’ll get back to rehearsal.
Morse, not about to be dismissed so easily: Are you sure?
Sir Conductor: Yeah. I never forget a face. Speaking of which, I know you?
Morse: We haven’t been introduced, but I’m part of the chorus. We did a performance together in 1969.
Sir Conductor: Oh, right. That was an embarrassing show; amateurs really do ruin everything. Consider yourself snubbed!

Look, not every jerk is a murderer, but I can dream. This guy is the worst. Heading outside, Morse bumps into the bassist and viola player, both of whom groan at seeing Conductor’s Lackey, who’s there to fetch them back to rehearsal, and make a mean comment about how much the guy sucks up to his boss. Putting out their cigarettes, they head back inside, just as Soloist approaches Morse. To thank him, and to ask him if he’d like to come to the concert that night.

Soloist: We’re premiering a new piece Sir Conductor wrote for me especially. There’s also an event this afternoon? Look, you’d be my guest, and I kind of need your professional advice.
Morse: Regarding?

But whether she tells him about the mean graffito or not, we don’t find out, because we’re off to visit Dr. DeBryn in the morgue. He explains that he still doesn’t see a clear cause of death, but hopes that blood analysis will help. He also says it could just be natural causes, which would be weird, but not impossible.

Dr. DeBryn: Also, he had alphabet spaghetti for his last meal, about an hour before he died.
Morse: So he didn’t eat in a dining hall. What do you think about the shoe?
Dr. DeBryn: This is gonna shock you, buddy, but I don’t know anything about fashion.
Morse: What I MEANT was that these look practically brand new. No wear on the bottom!
Dr. DeBryn: Well I guess he’s not a cop. Anyway, drink?
Morse: No thanks.
Dr. DeBryn: Huh. Turning over a new leaf I see.

While they talk shoes, Strange and Fred have lunch at the pub.

Strange: I was thinking of asking Morse.
Me: Asking him what?
Fred: Oh. Good idea, who better?
Strange: What’s your sandwich?

And at that, Fred looks so utterly gutted I can barely stand it. I love Strange. He’s a sweet guy, and a diligent worker. But this detail perfectly captures how different he is from Morse, who sussed out Fred’s sandwich schedule way back in season 1.

Woman says "Ugh, it's a metaphor."

Returning to the station Morse runs into Bright who asks him, in code, how rehab went, and then beats a retreat. Heading into Fred’s office, Morse shares the update on his interviews earlier: no luck so far.

Morse: I did find an identity bracelet with A L on it, and his shoes are from a store in town. They’re new enough it’s worth following up. Thought I’d go over, but maybe we can get a late lunch together first if you like?
Fred: I just got back from the pub with Strange. Sorry, I wasn’t sure when you’d be back, and we got into the habit with you away.
Morse: No worries!
Me: I mean, you say that, but your face says SOME worries, Endeavour.
Morse: OH, one other thing. The soloist said she found a mean graffito on her mirror after the show. I don’t think it’s connected but I offered to check it out. She’s got some awards thing at a kids’ music school, so I’ll go there and then head to the shoe store.
Strange, poking his head in: Hey, there was a body found. Looks like a murder.

That’ll derail your plans! They all three head over to the new crime scene (the abandoned building where the guy was getting tortured at the top of the episode), where Dr. DeBryn informs them that this is too many bodies in one day, and also points out that with the victim’s hand’s nailed to the floor he might be posed to look like Jesus. But also his tongue was torn out.

Fred: Was that the cause of death?
Dr. DeBryn: Nope. He was shot twice: in the heart and in the head. And he was beaten badly about half a day before he was shot.
Strange: ID?
Dr. DeBryn: No. His wallet’s there. And he’s got our phone number on his cuff?
Fred, bending down to look more carefully: Uh. That’s Mickey Flood.
Morse: You know him?
Fred: Back in the day — he was a thief and informant.
Strange: He’s got a train ticket here, which explains why he’s in town.
Morse: How did you know him?
Fred: I met him when I was just starting out. Before the war. We’re about the same age, but he was in my brother’s year in school. Was always up to no good; his whole family were thieves. He just wasn’t good at the family business.
Morse: Do you know who’d be his next of kin?
Fred: His wife’s dead, but his daughter would be about Joan’s age. Anyway, you better get to that awards thing. Strange and I will finish up here.

Out at the music school, Morse and Soloist chat after she finishes up.

Soloist: I come out here when they ask. I remember former students used to visit when I was here, so I feel like I have to. Also they gave me everything, so.
Morse: That sounds like something you think you have to say.
Soloist: You sure are a detective. People think a school like this is fun, but it’s not. They train you mercilessly.
Morse: Kids should probably just be kids, huh?

Just then, Conductor’s Lackey tries to spirit Soloist away, so Morse gets down to business. Was this the first time someone left her a mean message?

Soloist: After a concert, yes. But I’ve had some pushed under my door at the hotel.
Morse, shockingly cool move: Could it be a jealous girlfriend, or?
Soloist: Can’t see how… I’m very single.
Morse, inside:

A man says YES!

Soloist: I mean, I get weird letters from lonely men. Anything too creepy I send over to Conductor’s Lackey. Speaking of whom, I better not keep Sir Conductor waiting. Thank you for coming, and for not dismissing me.

Meanwhile, in the less fancy side of the orchestra, the head orchestra member Margeaux looks over a pretty impressive hotel bill while behind her, a young musician (presumably her student) tortures a violin. Back in the city, Morse heads to the department store to ask about their murder victim’s shoe. The clerk doesn’t recognize the victim picture or the shoe, but promises to look into it.

Lead a bust, Morse heads back to the office just in time to catch Fred on his way out. Fred explains that there’s a warrant out for Mickey’s arrest in London, where he was apparently involved in some kind of protection racket, which Fred thinks is way outside of Mickey’s scope. Reader, I’m slightly concerned that this is going to tie back to Fred’s ominous run in with his former colleague, the crooked vice cop, from last season, but time will tell.

Fred: How’d it go for you?
Morse: I don’t think the messages are related. Probably just bad blood within the orchestra: she’s a guest soloist, and an outsider, so someone might just be jealous. And at the store, one of the clerks told me that she had someone return a pair of those shoes for exchange recently. She wasn’t 100% sure, but thought it might be the same guy. She asked accounts to see if they’ve got his address saved.
Fred: Cool. Assuming you’ve got this concert I’ll see you tomorrow.

While Morse walks into the show all dressed up, we get to hear a television interview with Sir Conductor, which delves into some classical music lore. Apparently, this is his 9th symphony, and there’s a superstition that composers have to die before their 10th symphony can be published. Naturally, he goes into the history of this superstition, seeming cool as a cucumber on camera. But in his dressing room, where he’s listening to this interview before the show, he’s starting to look decidedly nervous. Elsewhere backstage, things are also not going super smoothly. Margeaux isn’t on stage, and gets a telling off from Conductor’s Lackey, even though she explains she’s there to get spare materials for her seatmate.

Back at the office, Fred goes through Mickey’s stuff, finding a matchbook that has his own phone number inside. Speaking to Bright later, the older man muses that Mickey’s removed tongue might be a reaction to his work as an informant.

Bright: And you last saw him a quarter of a century ago? Why’d he come all this way? What couldn’t he tell you over the phone?
Fred: Maybe he wanted to talk in person.
Bright: But in that case why not come straight here. It’s far enough away from the city that he wouldn’t be recognized.
Fred: He’d never come to a cop station.
Bright: I don’t like this. Big city nonsense here in Oxford never ends well.

At the performance, Morse watches from the wings. On stage, Margeaux seems to start struggling to breathe, and then keels over. Conductor’s Lackey runs on stage and calls into the audience for a doctor, and in a fun coincidence, Dr. DeBryn hops out of his seat and starts making his way down from the gallery. Morse, meanwhile, runs for a phone and calls for assistance, returning back just in time to make eye contact with Dr. DeBryn, who’s just checked Margeaux’s pulse. Morse’s face says it all, so it’s no surprise when they meet up later to talk about whether Dr. DeBryn has any idea about cause of death.

Dr. DeBryn: Too early to say, but everyone said she was in good health. Might have been a stroke. Or a heart attack.
Morse: Anything back from the lab about our first victim’s blood?
Dr. DeBryn: They don’t work THAT fast, Morse. I sent it this afternoon, and it’s not like I haven’t been busy with the whole crucifixion situation. I did rush it. Anyway, we’ll meet at 9am?

Later, backstage, Sir Conductor gives a little speech to try and rally the troops, telling the orchestra that they’d lost a friend and a leader.

Viola Player, muttered: Hypocrite.
Morse, apparently the only one who heard that:

A man snacks while watching a scene play out with delight

Sir Conductor: Given the givens, I’ve told Conductor’s Lackey that we’ll start rehearsal an hour later than usual tomorrow. Now I’ll go talk to the rest of the orchestra.

As he leaves, Morse approaches Conductor’s Lackey for next of kin information for Margeaux. Conductor’s Lackey tells Morse she’s got elderly parents in the country, and when Morse asks about a spouse or boyfriend, Conductor’s Lackey SAYS Margeaux was single, but he does it in a way that makes me think he’s omitting something important. Morse asks if Margeaux was well liked, which, understandably, sets off her friend and second in command, who’s ushered away for a drink by another orchestra member, and followed by the viola and bass players. Morse gets Conductor’s Lackey to confirm which of the instruments belonged to Margeaux, and explains that because her death happened in these circumstances, he has to take her stuff in for examining.

At the Thursday residence, Win’s less than excited about the Carshall promotion opportunity.

Fred: I mean, it’s more money, and more in the pension when I do retire.
Win: But we live HERE. This is our home.
Fred: Home is wherever you are.
Win: That’s very nice dear but you won’t talk me around with platitudes. I can’t think about this right now when everything is uncertain with Sam. Let’s get this week out of the way. Also we’ve got Joan to think about!
Fred: Joan will be fine.
Win: Oh, so you’ve decided?
Fred: NO! I wouldn’t do it if you didn’t like it.
Win: And what about Morse? What’ll happen to him if you leave?
Fred: I have nothing left to teach him.
Win: So he’s ok? After his… issue?
Fred: Yeah. I mean, I think so? Seems to be?
Win: Hmmm.

I agree, Win. I agree. Back at the concert hall, Morse knocks on Soloist’s dressing room to find her inside, crying, in front of a mirror emblazoned with a lipstick “WHORE.” Charming.

Soloist: UGH, it’s awful. She was lovely, this is the worst.
Morse: And you’ve had someone in here.
Soloist: Oh, yeah. It was here when I got back from the DEATH.
Morse, examining the lipstick: Were you and Margeaux close?
Soloist: I’m not sure I’d say that… guest soloists are always outsiders. But she was very welcoming.
Conductor’s Lackey, walking in: I have a table booked for dinner. You gotta eat. Right, Morse?
Morse: Sure. Look, call me with contact information for Margeaux’s parents please.

Back at the station, Morse rifles through Margeaux’s things, finding a lipstick that sure looks like it might match the one on Soloist’s mirror. Speaking of whom, she returns to her hotel to find that someone is waiting in her room.

Sir Conductor: I told the maid I lost my key. I tried to find you after the performance.
Soloist: Conductor’s Lackey took me to dinner.
Sir Conductor: Ugh, him. Do I have to remind you that fancy people like us have to make sacrifices.
Soloist: What does that mean?
Sir Conductor: I can’t believe you’d squander your time and talent on a loser like him after all the work I’ve put into turning you into a great artist.
Soloist: First of all, I’m not dating him. Second, what about MY work? Normal children have friends and fun, and I rehearsed.
Sir Conductor: But you’re special!
Soloist: I didn’t ask to be! What do you want?
Sir Conductor: I want things to be the way they were! When you listened to me! We can go on vacation. There’s so much more I want to teach you.
Soloist: I know, and I do appreciate you. But I’m so tired. What happened to Margeaux was terrible.
Sir Conductor, kissing her hand: Of course. Goodnight!

The next morning, at the Thursday home, Fred’s attempting to talk Win around in earnest. His case: after a couple of years at Carshall, they can afford to go literally anywhere. Wherever Joan’s settled, or even to the coast, like they’ve always talked about! His case is interrupted by Morse, who’s arrived on schedule to pick his dad boss up for work. Win welcomes him in, and heads off to get sandwiches rather than hear about the murder, which Morse catches Fred up on.

At the morgue, Dr. DeBryn confirms that Margeaux died of a cardiac event, brought on by breathing issues. Seems, again, like it could be natural causes, but there are some signs of swelling that don’t quite add up: she might have had a severe allergic reaction and gone into anaphylaxis. Dr. DeBryn explains that he’s sent her stomach contents for analysis, and messaged her doctor to ask about allergens. Yes, there was a medical option for folks with serious allergies at this time, so its weird that she didn’t have that on her, unless she didn’t know about her allergy, or thought it was a less serious exposure than it was. While they wait for answers, the two head to Margeaux’s place, where they do find some syringes of adrenaline in her bathroom.

Fred: Is there a good living in being a musician?
Morse: As orchestra leader she’d have been paid the most, but she wouldn’t be rich. She probably had to teach on the side.
Fred: What’s this?
Morse: Rosin. String players use it. Huh — check this out. She was drafting a letter.
Fred, reading aloud: “If you think you’re going to dump me, think again. I won’t go quietly, and I’ll make you regret it.”
Morse: And her colleagues all said she was single.
Fred: Maybe they just aren’t close like that?
Morse: Here’s the other thing: the shade of lipstick she wore looks a lot like what I found on Soloist’s mirror.
Fred: That’d explain this. If she thought she’d been thrown over for Soloist she’d want revenge.

Next up, the guys hit up rehearsal to talk to the orchestra members, starting with a rank and file violinist, Lindsay, who explains that Margeaux could be pretty competitive (normal, for someone in her line of work, IMO, and in the violinist’s opinion as well).

Lindsay: She wasn’t threatened by me; I’m too young and low-ranking. But she was intense about maintaining her position, and that’s reasonable. This business is competitive and a boys club.
Morse: So who gets her job now?
Lindsay: Well… typically her co leader would step in, but she’s refused; can’t face it.
Fred: They were very close, right?
Lindsay: Very.
Fred: And do you know anything about Margeaux’s private life?
Lindsay: This is all hearsay, but there’s always been gossip that she had some kind of on again/off again thing with Sir Conductor. But we never would have talked about it; if anyone would know, it’d be her co leader.

Naturally, our pals’ next interview is said co leader, Mabs. Fred starts by handing her a handkerchief, and gently asking her if she remembers her friend having any allergic reactions.

Mabs: There were some things that she didn’t eat, but I just assumed she was following trends. Like in the summer she’d never eat strawberries.
Morse: And do you know if she was dating anyone?
Mabs: No. I mean, not recently. There were some casual boyfriends but with our travel schedule it’s hard to keep a relationship going.
Fred: We heard she might have had a relationship with Sir Conductor.
Mabs: Oh, he was her mentor when she was younger. But the idea that they were dating? Ew. I mean, she’d have told me.

Later, Morse corners that Viola player outside to question him.

Viola: Let’s just say, she liked being in charge a little too much for my taste. We didn’t like each other, but like, a normal amount. I wasn’t alone in that, either.
Morse: What aren’t you saying?
Viola: Well, you talked to Conductor’s Lackey, right? He isn’t the only one who’s besotted with Soloist, and let’s just say there’s more than one way to get to Carnegie Hall, and Margeaux knew that as much as anyone.

It’s hard to judge whether the implication that Soloist and Margeaux both got their positions unfairly holds water from here, reader, but given how men still react to women (and especially BIPOC women, like Soloist) in power today, almost half a century after this takes place, I’m pretty inclined to assume a lot of this is sour grapes. Anyway, Fred and Morse have to ask questions anyway, so they do just that, cornering Sir Conductor to find out if he ever had a relationship with Margeaux.

Sir Conductor: Who said that?? Look, she was very promising, and I did what I could to help her develop her talent.
Me: See, that just sounded skeevy, dude.
Fred: Yeah, and also: it’d be normal for a young person to see all that attention from a powerful superior and think it was intended romantically… if it wasn’t intended that way, which, based on your vibes, I think it might have been.
Sir Conductor: Whatever weird ideas she had, it was never anything more than a professional relationship.
Fred: What weird ideas are you referring to? Like for instance that you and Soloist have been dating?
Sir Conductor, laughing awkwardly: Well, Margeaux maybe thought that, but again: professional. I mean we’re very close, almost spiritually: you might not get it because you’re just a cop, but she’s my instrument; an extension of myself. I express myself through her.

Fred: I’m sure Margeaux loved that.

Indeed, and also:

A woman says "Oh my god. Ew, David!"

While Fred is getting the ick from Sir Conductor, Morse talks to the tea lady, who explains that Margeaux was particular about her biscuits, and wouldn’t take loose ones from the box. She also tells our friend, not without affection, that the orchestra are mostly good kids, as long as there’s hot water for their caffeine. They’re interrupted by Soloist, who asks if Morse has any updates regarding the mean mirror messages.

Morse: I’m still investigating, but don’t worry: these types of things rarely escalate. You sure there’s nobody in the orchestra who might be upset with you?
Soloist: No way! I mean not on purpose?
Morse: What about Margeaux?
Soloist: She was great — so supportive! You don’t think she did this?
Morse: Just something we’re looking into.

Leaving the rehearsal, Fred tells Morse he’s now pretty sure Margeaux was the one leaving those notes, but Morse isn’t sure just yet: they can’t be sure the letter in Margeaux’s flat was meant for Sir Conductor.

Fred: I’m pretty sure it was; he was a creep.
Morse: Based on what they all said, it does seem like Margeaux had an allergy, but no one agreed on what it was to?
Fred: It’s weird that she didn’t have a way to deal with an attack.
Morse: Maybe she had one and someone took it.
Fred: Or we’re on a wild goose chase looking for something that wasn’t there. It could still be an accident, and unless we find a solid motive, the coroner is going to rule this misadventure.

Given the givens, I’m disinclined to think this was an accident, especially when we see that bassist from earlier has been eavesdropping on this convo and looks concerned about it. Why? We’ll have to wait and see, because first our friends go back to the station, where Strange tells Morse that the department store called with a shoe update, and, more interestingly, that the bloodwork from their John Doe came back positive for heroine and barbiturates. The victim had no signs of regular drug use, and the injection site was between his toes, so everyone agrees the drugs were probably not self administered. Morse immediately trots off to the department store, where the clerk brings Morse into a back room to look at the sales book. He carefully jots down the name and address of the shoe buyer, and then stops in his tracks, because there’s a familiar name on the same page: Joan Thursday, order: BRIDAL.

A man, horrified, says "What? No!"

Morse, being Morse, does a face journey about it and then pushes any feelings he might be having down deep, but I am not Morse, so again I say: WHAT? At least that explains what Strange wanted to ask him about, I guess, but jeepers! Anyway, Morse and Fred head right over to the shoe buyer’s flat, where they find no trace of drug paraphernalia, but some traces of alphabet spaghetti, the victim’s last meal, which confirms they’ve found their victim’s flat. They find one shoe on the floor (hard to imagine him leaving home without it) and a private detective’s business card on the table. Clue acquired, they head to the PI’s office.

When they get there, they wander in following an invitation from said PI, who’s about to exit the lavatory. Reader, you will never guess who this PI is, so I’m just going to come out and say it: it’s disgraced former DCI Ronnie Box from season 6!

A woman excitedly walks through a door

Everybody just kind of stares at each other in shock for a second, and then they get down to it: didn’t he leave town?

Ronnie: I mean, obviously not? Why are you guys here?
Morse: A potential client of yours was found dead. Here’s a picture.
Fred: He had your card in his house. Lived in a boarding house.
Ronnie: You guys know the drill. I’m not a cop anymore, why would I tell you anything?
Morse: Because he’s dead?
Ronnie: Yeah, dummy, I saw the picture, I know.
Morse: It’s murder. Please.
Ronnie: Fine: he wanted help finding his missing mother Brenda. She left home in 1962, moved down here to Oxford. She sent semi-regular letters for a while, and then stopped writing. Here’s the last one.
Fred: Did you get anywhere with this?
Ronnie: Yup. Drink?

Fred obviously says yes, Morse says no, and Ronnie, naturally, makes a weird comment about it, but thankfully doesn’t press. While he pours, Ronnie explains that Brenda did a fair amount of temp work, with her last known job being for a construction company that built the police station. As far as Ronnie can tell, neither the victim nor Brenda had a connection to the orchestra.

Ronnie: So. How is it at work? Bright still in charge?
Fred: Yup.
Ronnie: That dude is gonna die at his desk. We didn’t get along, but I’m sorry about what happened with him.
Fred: I think there’s probably a lot we wish happened differently, huh? But it went the way it did.
Ronnie: Look, I wasn’t being a pain in the ass earlier: when the kid came here he didn’t call himself by the name you gave me. He said his name was Andrew Lewis.

AL: the same initials as the bracelet Morse found in the bushes earlier. Did Ronnie uncover something interesting? After they leave, Fred posits that someone found out Andrew was digging into what happened to his mum, and killed him for his trouble. Morse is less sure that something DID happen to Brenda; she may have just started a new life.

Fred: The thing is, I can’t tell how Brenda’s disappearance and Andrew’s murder ties in to what happened to Margeaux.
Morse: What if it doesn’t?
Fred: Let’s split up: you take Margeaux, I’ll follow up with Brenda’s last job.
Morse: And what about Mickey?
Fred: I’m waiting to hear back about a trace: I think he called my house the day before he died. I missed a call, and he had my number. He might have thought I could help him with his outstanding warrant.
Morse: Why would you do that? Unless he had some good info to give you…

The plot, as they say, thickens. And hey, remember how at the beginning of this recap I was like “oh, I guess Sam Thursday is still missing”? Turns out I was wrong, because the next scene finds Fred waiting outside a military prison to pick up his boy.

Sam: You didn’t have to come. I was going to figure transportation out for myself.
Fred: I just wanted to make sure you were safe. Are you ok?

Sam doesn’t answer, just gets in the car. But he does have a request: that they stop somewhere so he can build up the courage to go see Win. Fair! While Sam practically chugs his beer, he tells his dad he hadn’t actually planned to head home: he was going to try and run away from everything.

Fred: Look, we didn’t expect you to move home or anything, but you have to have somewhere to crash, and your mom’s been freaking out. She loves you best, you know that. You should have called.
Sam: Sure, and say what: sorry I boofed it? Ran away like a baby? That I’m a huge coward?
Fred: You’re not a coward. You weren’t yourself; watching a friend killed right next to you would mess up anybody. If it helps, I know what you’ve been through.
Sam: No, you don’t. It’s not the same as it was: the enemy doesn’t wear a uniform. They’re just normal people.

Meanwhile, Morse interviews the director of the music school that was attended by Soloist, Margeaux, and Mabs. Director explains that Margeaux and Mabs weren’t close in school (they were a year apart, and initially played different instruments), but Margeaux had been friends with a girl named Rose. Rose had been extremely gifted, but died in a swimming accident at school, something that had an understandably large impact on Margeaux and left her suffering from a bad case of survivors’ guilt.

Back at the Thursday house, Win smothers Sam in a hug, which he returns (barely) and then does pretty normal “coping with tragedy while everyone around me is fine” crummy behavior, i.e. raiding the fridge instead of waiting for the fancy dinner Win’s cooked. Later, back at the office, Fred checks in with Bright, telling his boss that it’s possible that Brenda’s disappearance, and Andrew’s death, might be tied to an old case from all the way back in Seasons one and two: Brenda worked at a corrupt construction company helmed by a well-off baddie who’s evading justice on the continent; a construction company that was also tied to a boy’s school called Blenheim Vale which was the site of some extremely horrific child abuse. Bright thinks it’s just a coincidence, but it’s clear that Fred isn’t so sure.

A man says "so much plot and intrigue."

Naturally, Morse is right there with Fred, and his next stop is the abandoned Blenheim Vale site, where he has some flashbacks to remind all of us normal people who don’t have an encyclopedic memory for every plot point in Endeavour history about the Blenheim Vale situation. Back at the office, Strange pops into Fred’s meeting with Bright to give the update that Margeaux was apparently allergic to nuts. After Strange leaves, Bright insists that Fred better wrap up the case with Mickey soon; Bright doesn’t want torture murders on his patch, for some reason.

Across town, at Margeaux’s flat, Morse finds the expensive hotel bill Margeaux was worrying about earlier in the episode, and returns back to the office to show them to Fred. Morse’s interpretation? That letter wasn’t meant for Sir Conductor: it was for Bassist, whom they hasten to question. Why did Margeaux have his hotel bill in her flat?

Bassist: No clue!
Morse: Nice try, but we talked to the hotel manager, and he remembers very clearly that your room and her room had connecting doors.
Bassist: So we hooked up — big deal!
Fred: Well she clearly thought your hook up was a big deal.
Bassist: I was up front about the fact that it wasn’t anything serious.
Fred: Hm. And did she threaten to out you?
Bassist: Yeah, but it’s not like we’re married or anything.
Fred: Sure, but I’m pretty certain that Sir Conductor wouldn’t have been pleased to know you were sniffing around his protege.
Bassist: Ugh, whatever. Look, she made a big deal, I called her bluff, and then she said she was going to leave our orchestra to go work with the Munich Symphony.
Morse: Was she serious?
Bassist: No way. She was just dramatic. I heard her threatening Conductor’s Lackey backstage right before the show. She said she could ruin him. When we were dating she told me she thought he was running some kind of racket; something to do with when we were touring. If you want all the dirt you better talk to Mabs.

And so off they trot to talk to Mabs again. She confirms that Margeaux went backstage before the show, but claims that whatever Bassist heard was a misunderstanding.

Mabs: Ok, look. Margeaux was sure that the amount we were getting charged when we toured was less than what Conductor’s Lackey was billing for.
Fred: And he was taking the extra?
Mabs: Yeah. I don’t believe it — he’s a good manager — but she’d get ideas in her head and not be able to drop them.

Next stop: Conductor’s Lackey, who insists that he wasn’t skimming, but then says that balancing the books required “creativity.”

Morse: So, fraud?
Conductor’s Lackey: Ugh, no! Look, I have to move money around to keep things afloat. The foreign tours finance our sad bookings here at home where we can’t fill the audience. We have to keep doing those sad bookings though! Those shows mean a lot to people!
Morse: And Margeaux would have gotten in the way of that…
Conductor’s Lackey: Oh, I wasn’t worried about Margeaux. We were just about to fire her. I caught her putting up the graffiti on Soloist’s mirror. That’s not a good look for the orchestra.
Fred: Thought she might have been to blame. Did you talk to her?
Conductor’s Lackey: I was going to once this week’s concert was over.

At a dead end, Morse starts looking into the death of Margeaux’s school friend Rose, who was a nervous kid who suffered some oddly familiar bullying (notes taped up inside her desk with… familiar handwriting). The head of the school had tried to cover up the bullying, and the coroner ended up deciding there wasn’t enough evidence that bullying may have led to Rose’s death. They never found a note, which was the only reason they didn’t record her death as suicide. Morse also finds out something else of note: Rose had been adopted by the woman who prepared tea for the orchestra. She tells him that Rose was an evacuee during the war, and her family all died. She wasn’t formally adopted, but they considered each other family.

Morse: And she was close with Margeaux at school?
Tea Lady: VERY. Margeaux was one of the nice ones. We had no idea Rose was unhappy; she hid it from us. But years after I found one of the messages in the pocket of her blazer; those kids told her to kill herself. It was too late then, but the woman in charge MUST have known.
Morse: Did you keep that message by any chance?
Tea Lady: Of course. We kept everything.

Meanwhile, Fred examines the phone booth where Mickey made the call to Fred’s home, finding the phone book open to the Th section. At home, Sam Thursday continues to drink heavily, and then heads out to look for Joan’s place. He’s wandering the streets when Morse runs into him and offers him a ride. Joan lets her brother in, and directs him to the bathroom (classic drunk move).

Morse: I hope it’s ok I brought him here? I think he’ll be fine once he sleeps it off. Says he left the army?
Joan: Oh, yeah. And you’re ok?
Morse: Yup.
Joan: And you’ve been away?
Morse: Sure have.
Joan: And now you’re back?
Morse: Mhm. Oh, random: I was doing some work at the department store and saw you’d returned some bridal gloves! You in a wedding or something? Because if you need a date…
Joan, holding up her finger, which sure does have an engagement ring on it: Morse…

Hey, does anyone else hear super loud circus music playing the background all of a sudden? Morse gets his shit together enough to congratulate her in a relatively normal way, and then asks the million dollar question: who’s the lucky guy? Reader, I can’t even tell you how much I don’t want to watch this next scene, where Morse runs into Strange back at the office, but watch it I must, and yes, it is super awkward. Strange doesn’t seem to realize it’s weird, which makes the whole thing WORSE, and he asks Morse to keep it on the DL so that Bright doesn’t think there’s any weird nepotism going on. Hilarious, since we all know that it’s MORSE that Fred thinks of as his very special work son, and not Strange (sorry Strange).

Strange: I do need a best man though; will you do it? You’re the best I can think of, and you’d never let me down.
Morse, somehow tamping down the internal screaming: Sure!

LMAO, WHAT? Anyway, Morse sits down to pretend to go over some evidence while he’s actually having a full on breakdown on the inside. And I am very sorry to tell you that our boy’s next stop is the pub, where he orders what I sure hope is only going to be one beer. He takes one sip before noticing the man next to him using his fingers to get all the salt out of a packet of chips. This gives our pal an idea, and must put a stop to the drinking, because he’s up and about bright and early the next morning, dropping in at the morgue first thing with a violin case.

Dr. DeBryn: Ooooh, very mafia! What’s in there, a tommy gun?
Morse: Possibly just as deadly. I need you to do some tests.

Later, he fills all the guys in at the station. It turns out that Margeaux’s rosin was tampered with; melted down and doctored with nuts, which essentially poisoned her. Her violin tested positive for nuts, but her rosin was clean, meaning that someone must have swapped the rosin back to try and hide their crime.

Bright: If that’s the method, you must have an idea who did it?
Morse: Yeah. I think some people get very competitive at a very early age. They know they won’t win, and they seek out revenge.
Strange: So Margeaux killed that girl, but who killed Margeaux?
Morse: Some people know they’ll always be second best. So we’re going to go arrest the literal second fiddle. It’s Mabs.

The rest ends almost exactly as you’d imagine. Mabs explains that she’d always lived in Margeaux’s shadow; that she was obsessed with the older girl and would do anything for her. Including, as it turns out, pushing Rose to die by suicide alongside Margeaux. But their shared secret only festered over time, and when Margeaux shared her intention to leave, Mabs lost it. One case is officially wrapped up, but the other is very much unresolved, and with it now tied to dark and shady business from early seasons, I worry about where it will lead. Even worse, Fred finds Morse at least a beer deep at the pub after he debriefs Bright.

Morse: Everything in moderation, it’s ok.
Fred: I’m sure you know best.
Morse: Look, I’ve been thinking: if Mickey had something big enough that it’d get him out of the life, something big enough to die for, why didn’t he sell that info to someone in London? Why come to you?
Fred: I’m sure we’ll find out.
Morse: Shall I get your usual round?
Fred: Nah, I’ll head home to the family. Joan’s joining us for dinner.
Morse: That’s nice. Congratulations, by the way. Strange will be a good son in law.
Fred: Oh. Thanks. Thought it’d be better if it came from them. I kinda forgot with Sam coming home.
Me: BS, Fred, but I get it.
Morse: I’m sure they’ll be happy. That’s what it’s all about, or at least I hear. Good night, I’m off to have another beer.
Fred: Be careful? It’s good to have you home.

I mean, that’s basically an “I love you, son” from Fred, but it’s not enough to override Morse’s need to get self destructive over the fact that he never got his act together vis a vis Joan. UGH I just want everyone to be happy, and obviously that’s not possible at this point. Thanks, I hate it, but also I love the drama and can’t wait for more. See you all next week, when hopefully we’ll get some answers on the outstanding murders, and some solace regarding Morse’s mental state. Until then, reader!