Last time on Endeavour, we got hints that one of the teams’ old cases was back to bite everyone in the ass, the return of Ronnie Box and Sam Thursday, and the consequences of Morse’s (in)action regarding Joan Thursday (her upcoming wedding with Strange). What’s happening THIS week? Oh, just a little show within a show, featuring a detective character called, I crap you not, Jolyon Jolliphant, which is apparently a name a British person can indeed have. Anyway, while Detective Superintendent Jolly Jolliphant does his doubly fictional detecting, at Oxford we’ve got some college shenanigans (members of what seems like a secret society threatening students regarding an upcoming election) and a man creating a painting that will become the book cover of one of the novels that originated the Jolly character.

Reader, I can’t wait for Endeavour Morse to meet the play within a play stand in for his future self as featured in the Inspector Morse books and television series, but unfortunately we will all have to wait. First, crime! It turns out that the college shenanigans are actually something much more sinister. The now devil mask-wearing members of the group I mentioned earlier have descended on an abandoned building, where they’re brutalizing an unhoused man. At Morse’s house, he’s sorting through evidence from back in season two, when he was framed for a murder and watched Fred get shot by Assistant Chief Constable Deare. Unsurprisingly, this review doesn’t reveal anything new, so we skip ahead to the next morning, when Morse arrives at the Thursday home and has a nice chat with Win.

Win: I hear you’re going to be Jim’s best man! So nice!
Morse, dying inside: Yep.
Win: It’ll mean so much to him! To both of them.
Morse, changing the subject: So how’s Sam doing?

Before Win can answer, Fred makes his appearance, and the two head off to the crime scene. Turns out the man we saw getting beaten last night has died. In addition to those injuries, there’s also a broken bottle stuck in his neck, which may or may not have been the cause of death.

Dr. DeBryn: You know the deal by now: more answers at the post mortem, see you at 2. Toodles!

As he leaves, Fred, Morse, and Strange go over the scene, finding a half burned £20 note on the ground. They agree it’s unlikely something their victim would do, and split up: Morse will interview other unhoused folks who might have known the victim and search the scene, and Strange will take Fred back to the station. Fred fills in Bright, who is appropriately freaked out, and ties this murder to a bunch of petty but still serious vandalism and bad behavior that’s been reported that day.

Bright: This is Oxford, not New York! Speaking of which, want to take that promotion in the countryside?
Fred: Yeah. I’m going to apply; I think it could be good for the family. Joan will be set, and I want to keep an eye on Sam. He’s doing ok, all things considered.

A man says "Is he though?"

I mean, if you consider getting hammered in the cemetery ok, I guess that’s true! At the college, one of the mask wearing creeps from last night wakes up another (and the two women sleeping in his bed) with a flourish and informs him that he’s won the election they were discussing earlier. Also of note: bloody brass knuckles hanging out in the guy’s wash basin. Reader, I don’t know what the heck is up with these kids but it’s not good. Is THIS dark academia?

Meanwhile, in the abandoned building, Morse finds a piece of plastic or ceramic with ribbon on it on the ground near a mattress, and also finds a woman who turns out to have witnessed the murder. She describes the perpetrators as devils in the shape of men, which confounds Fred, but obviously makes sense given the masks they were wearing. Unfortunately Fred doesn’t know about the masks, and makes an unfair assumption that the woman’s statement is colored by alcohol use.

Fred: Did she hear a name?
Morse: Hugh. or Hughie.
Fred: Well don’t get excited about solving this one. These thugs roll into town, cause mischief, and leave, without any useful witnesses. Anything about Brenda from last week?
Morse: There was a missing person’s case in her name in ‘63 but it was closed very quickly. She was the developer head honcho Landesman’s personal secretary.
Fred: Hm. And did you get any more info from Ronnie Box? He’s unpredictable; I could absolutely see him withholding something until he can figure out if it’ll help him get ahead. Might be worth another followup.

At the college, one of the creepy mask boys rolls up to the group with a newspaper that obviously includes a story about their bad behavior.

Weenie Creepy Mask Boy: Should we maybe cool it?
Hubris Creepy Mask Boy: No way, the cops will never do anything about a homeless guy.
Mean Creepy Mask Boy: You know, it sounds like someone’s being a WEENIE.
Weenie Creepy Mask Boy: Noooooo.

He also reveals that he hasn’t “gotten rid of it yet” which I’m sure is related to something horrible we’ll learn more about soon. At the post mortem, Dr. DeBryn confirms that the bottle to the victim’s neck was the ultimate cause of death, but that he might have died from his other injuries even without the stabbing, which was conducted in a near-frenzy. There were likely 3-4 assailants, and Dr. DeBryn has set the victim’s effects aside as usual.

Fred: He kept his wedding ring. Must’ve been sentimental, otherwise he’d have pawned it for booze money.
Me: OH. Fred, are you being a jerk about addiction to try and get to Morse? Because I don’t think it’s working.
Fred: There’s also these pictures of his kids; probably in their 30s now.
Morse: Not a lot to show for a life.
Dr. DeBryn: Well, you’re born with nothing and you die with nothing too. Doesn’t matter how much money you have in life.
Fred, picking up a hat: Where’d you find this beret?
Dr. DeBryn: In the coat.

I had no clue why that was significant, but it turns out to have a military insignia that Fred recognized from his time in the service: same unit! Returning to the station, Fred asks if Strange wants lunch, but he’s been busy dealing with the vandalism. Turns out that the mayor’s car got stolen by the vandals, and she’s understandably keen to have that back. There’s also a missing persons case from the outlying towns, where the local police have asked for assistance. Morse takes that on, arriving in the country at the home of the painter from the top of the episode. His daughter Freya, who watched him ride off on a motorcycle earlier and presumably called him in as missing, greets Morse.

Freya: I assumed he’d gone to the pub, but he didn’t come home at closing time.
Morse: Is there anyone he could have gone to stay with?
Freya, after a long pause: No. It’s just the two of us.
Me, noting the pause:

A man asks "you sure about that?"

Morse asks Freya for more info, and she explains that her dad is an illustrator for book covers and magazines, and that lately he’s been quiet, but not more than usual. She asks if Morse thinks something bad happened, to which he hedges: people disappear for a lot of reasons, and not all of them are bad.

Morse: We don’t usually consider someone missing until they’ve been gone for a week. Also, I too noticed that long pause: just the two of you?
Freya: My mother died when I was young.
Morse: Do you have a photo of your dad?

She explains that her dad is camera shy, but had to take a mirror selfie for a painting, and hands that over. While Morse ponders that, elsewhere in the country, Weenie Creepy Mask Boy, hereafter shortened to Weenie CMB, uncovers a very fancy, and given the givens, probably mayoral car. The car seems to be missing a piece from the front, which is notable because on his way back to town, Morse has pulled over to check out a patch of oil near a disturbed hedge, where he finds what looks like that exact piece smooshed into the mud on the side of the road.

A man says "Coincidence? I think not!"

Back at the office, the guys have gathered to speculate on the Mickey Flood case from last week when Bright strides in and calls everyone to attention. Why? Well, because the body of a uniformed constable has been found, and that’s obviously a pretty big deal. He’s headed to HQ, and tells everyone that if it’s murder, he wants the perpetrator found ASAP. Fred, Strange, and Morse head right over, where Dr. DeBryn is already examining the body. He tells them time of death based on the man’s watch, and that cause of death was probably a broken neck related to a significant fall. It’s possible that the man was pushed out a window, but not certain. None of them recognize the victim from work, and his ID number isn’t one from their precinct, but Fred’s certain he’s seen the man somewhere. Reader, for once, I actually know what’s happening before the guys, but I’m not spoiling anything. They’ll figure it out soon enough.

Fred: So maybe he was chasing someone?
Morse: At midnight? More likely a meeting.
Fred: Well, you and Strange wrap up here, I’ll go meet Bright.

Walking through the abandoned building from which our victim fell, Morse finds a condom wrapper, and a packet of cigarettes surrounded by a bunch of butts: someone was waiting inside for quite some time. Heading outside, he loops in Strange, who also concludes this was probably a romantic assignation. But I have doubts, because they’ve just found the mayor’s stolen car, and as I suspected, it’s the same one that Weenie CMB was uncovering just a few scenes ago.

Strange: I wondered if maybe he saw whoever dumped it and chased them inside.
Morse: It’s weird though; the car’s all banged up. If I stole it I’d have dumped it right away. Keys?
Strange: Didn’t find them. I sent for someone to pick it up, if you want to wait?

And it’s while Morse is waiting, examining the car, that he finds something curious: one of the Detective Superintendent Jolly books, checked out from the library, sitting underneath the car. Next stop? The library, where our boy asks who last borrowed the book.

Librarian: Kind of funny you ask; I remember him. He was the last one to leave that day, and he checked out 6 books by the same author. Must be a fan.

Morse gets the guy’s address, and sets off at once, only to find that our Super Fan’s address is a joke shop. And since murder isn’t actually funny, and Morse is a sad boy, they get off on a weird foot. He pulls his badge, and asks if Super Fan lives there.

Clerk: Sure does.
Morse: Then I’m very sorry to tell you his body was found this morning.
Clerk, cracking up: Hilarious! Who put you up to it?
Morse: This isn’t funny! I’m here about Super Fan.
Clerk: Yeah, and it is funny, because I am Super Fan.

A scene from the film Spartacus shows several men standing at once and saying "I am Spartacus"

Well, well, well. That is funny. Back at the station, which is humming with police officers eager to find the culprit, Fred finally realizes how he recognized their victim: he’s the young sidekick of Detective Superintendent Jolly on the “Jolly For Short” TV show! Bright is, understandably, unamused and a bit confused about the whole show business situation. Back at the joke shop, Super Fan/Clerk has recognized the victim from his picture.

Super Fan/Clerk: He must have borrowed my library card. And you said he fell? At least it was fast, I guess… was it an accident?
Morse: Did he live here?
Super Fan/Clerk: No, he lives out of town. I have his spare key for emergencies.
Morse: And what kind of car did he drive?
Super Fan/Clerk: A cute little Fiat. He bought it with the first money he made on Jolly.
Morse: Is it a popular show?
Super Fan/Clerk: Oh yeah, been on for five years. But last time I saw him he said they’d be finishing it this season.

A man looks directly into the camera as if to say "Seriously?"

Morse: That must have been a bummer for him; how did he react?
Super Fan/Clerk: He said it was all part of the business.

Super Fan/Clerk also confirms that our second victim had changed his name for work, and asks to see the body. That’s a pretty reasonable request, so Morse agrees. But first, we head to the set, where Morse and Fred have arrived to find things progressing as though a member of the cast didn’t just die mysteriously. The producer greets them both, and explains that he hasn’t told the cast and crew yet.

Fred: We understand that the victim was called to the set yesterday?
Producer: Yes, but he spent most of the day in his trailer. Pretty typical: he only had two lines, they were in the last scene of the day, and they both ended up getting cut. One for time, one because the man who plays the Sergeant thought his character should say it.

Morse: Uhuh. And the bus went back where?
Producer: The studio. He rode it alone. The others had private cars to take them back to their hotels; our lead is also in a play in town.
Fred: We need to speak to the cast who was here yesterday and anyone who had anything to do with him.
Producer: That’s hard today, but we’re starting rehearsal tomorrow at a cute little church. And I’m being called. See you tomorrow!
Fred: Well that sucks; sitting around all day and then getting cut?
Morse: If he wanted to do that he could have joined the actual police! I have the keys to his flat and car if you want to see?
Fred: Can’t; Win’s doing a dinner for Strange’s family. Well, his Gran. Apparently she raised him? You work for someone for 8 seasons and they’re still a mystery, I swear. Keep me posted?

Morse heads over to the victim’s flat, and finds his car parked outside. Unlocking the door, he finds the man’s wallet inside, which includes a ticket to a show called “Play Dead” and a stack of books from the Jolly series.

Meanwhile, Fred heads to the excruciating family dinner, where Strange’s gran is eating carrots judgmentally.

Strange: This is delicious, thank you Mrs. Thursday!
Win: Kid, call me Win, we’re about to be family.
Everyone: *awkward silence*
Strange: Sooooo… no Sam?
Joan, totally full of it: He had to go out.
Strange: Ah. Well since I’m grasping at conversational straws, boss, we found the mayor’s stolen car.
Fred: Morse told me.
Strange, not taking the hint: He found one of those Jolly books underneath it, so the car must have been dumped after he died. And I dropped everything in forensics, and that’s promising!
Everyone: *more awkward silence*

Just then, semi-mercifully, Sam Thursday drunkenly enters the house, leading Fred to jump up from the table to handle it like his chair was on fire. Strange wanders out to offer assistance, but Fred waves him off while hauling his son upstairs.

The next day, Morse arrives to get Fred and finds that everyone’s a little weird in the aftermath of yesterday’s dinner. Win’s distracted, and Fred’s busy yelling at Sam, so overall it’s just a great time. Rather than acknowledge what’s happening, Fred and Morse head straight to the “Jolly For Short” rehearsal, walking in mid-monologue and distracting everyone. First, they interview one of the actors, who claims to barely know the victim.

DI Actor: You know, now that you mention it, there was an altercation on set the other day. A couple of unhoused folks were helping themselves to the catering…
Producer: Ugh, look: I don’t want to be mean, but we have to set boundaries or they just stick around and get in everyone’s way.

Next, Morse and Fred sit down with the actor who plays Jolly. Jolly also didn’t know the victim well, but says that the man who plays the sergeant on the show would have known him better.

Morse: Did you see him the other day when they called him but he didn’t work?
Jolly: Maybe by lunch? But I’m not sure if anyone told you, I’m rehearsing a play now so I’m quite busy. It’s a fun little thriller; I play a writer whose young wife is murdered, and you wonder the whole time if I did it.
Fred, understands that he’s meant to ask: So, was it you?
Jolly: You’ll just have to come see it to find out! But for real, happy to pass along some tickets for you, or to raffle off for charity. We always like to support the police; you help us so much.
Morse: So, you were saying about our victim?
Jolly: Oh, right: when I’m not on, I’m in my trailer learning my lines. Between the play and the amount of changes they make to our shooting scripts, I really need the extra time.

Next stop? Interviewing the actor who plays the sergeant on the show.

Sergeant: It’s so funny, I was just talking to him the other day about fame. He’d been recognized for the first time you see; it’s a rite of passage.

As he continues to describe these fan interactions, he takes out cigarettes. Fred and Morse decline, but Morse notes that Sergeant’s brand is the same one that they found at the crime scene.

Sergeant: Anyway, he was a nice kid. Ambitious. But you have to be; some people just have all the luck.
Fred: You sound awful bitter, care to share?
Sergeant: Oh, nobody’s said? I’ve been written off the show.
Morse: We’d heard the show was getting canceled?
Sergeant: No, just me. Which is wild because I’m the second most popular character on the show! People like my character because he reminds them of bygone days, before everything went to pot.

Leaving the interview, Morse asks Fred if he also thought that last line was a pointed jibe at DI Actor, who did have a… swinging 60s vibe about him.

Fred: Probably, but more importantly, I also noticed Sergeant’s cigarette brand.
Morse: Yeah, but he can’t be the only one who smokes those.
Fred: No, but he’s the only one we’ve met so far.

Fair point! Unfortunately, their next stop is another murder scene, where Dr. DeBryn is already examining the body of our missing Artist, who has been dredged out of a lake. Morse fills the doctor in on the case, and Dr. DeBryn explains that Artist has likely been in the water almost since he went missing. More answers, of course, will come after the post mortem, but it seems that Artist suffered some injuries before he went into the lake, which seem consistent with being struck by a car while on his motorcycle. On his way out, Morse spots a piece of mask on the ground, which starts to explain how all of this may be linked. He goes to Freya’s house to inform her of her father’s death, and tells her that unfortunately he needs someone to identify his body. She immediately agrees, even when Morse gives her an out.

Freya: I know the drill; this isn't the first parent I’ve lost. She died by suicide and he wasn’t in a state to handle any of the red tape.
Morse: I’m sorry. It shouldn’t have fallen to you. One other question; do you know a lot about his paintings? Like his inspirations?
Freya: He liked to work from life; hence all the props. If a real place was featured in a story, he’d go there to paint, and if the place was fictional he’d base it on somewhere he’d visited.
Morse, pulling out a specific painting: What about this one?
Freya: Ah. It always seemed creepy to me, but I couldn’t get it out of him.

Reader, that building looks an awful lot like Blenhiem Vale, in my non-professional opinion. Morse also asks about the model in the photo, who is unfortunately unknown to Freya. Her dad hadn’t wanted to talk about that painting, and she didn’t want to push: about 10 years ago his mental health had taken a turn for the worse. Around that time he’d been drinking heavily and frequenting a members only club in town, going on benders for days at a time. And then, suddenly, he stopped drinking but became fearful, worrying when the phone rang, or someone walked around the house after dark. He never talked about it with Freya, but she describes her father’s recent behavior as “haunted.”

What happened to Artist? How was he tied into the Blenheim Vale situation, if indeed he was? One thing we do know for sure is that the private club where Artist spent time was also frequented by Clive Deare and John Landesman, the developer who owned the company where Brenda last worked.

A man says "I've connected two dots." His friend responds "You didn't connect shit." The first man insists "I've connected them.

Later, Fred calls up his old regimental office to try and identify their first victim, with limited success. Morse starts reading the Jolly books, looking for clues to a message he thinks Artist tried to leave on the covers. Fred, picking up one of the books, clearly also thinks the building on the cover looks mighty familiar.

Morse: See, I read that book, and nowhere in the story looks anything like Blenheim Vale. So what was he trying to say? I think he knew something about Brenda, and maybe even about one of the child victims who disappeared all those years ago. We should get a dog team out there, and maybe even people to dig.
Fred: Woah, slow your roll, and come into my office so I can berate you in private! You think I’ll get approval for that stuff based on a hunch and some paintings?
Morse: There’s more than that, and you know it!
Fred: If he had any info about a missing person he’d have gone to the cops.
Morse: Not if he was afraid! In ‘63 he was part of a club that ALL of those guys belonged to.
Fred: Yeah, but none of those guys would have gotten drunk enough to tell him about doing a murder!
Morse: At that same time, Artist got a new model. Look at the initials in this picture! I think it’s Brenda — she even looks like the picture of Andrew we have! We know she was working for Landesman, what if she told Artist something, and he accidentally let it slip to his drinking buddies. Maybe even to Clive; he was a cop!
Fred: And then Brenda disappears, and they push Artist to keep quiet.
Morse: But instead he keeps putting clues in his paintings.
Fred: I mean sure, it’s possible. But you really want to open that back up again? It almost killed us! We solved it!
Morse: Not the whole thing! We didn’t get Landesman!
Fred: He’s gone. Even if he wasn’t, it’s over.
Morse: Someone murdered Andrew Lewis; how over can it really be? It’s our responsibility!
Fred: Not mine. Not anymore. I applied for a Superintendent position in Carshall, and I can’t take you with me. I want to, but I can’t. There it is, happy?
Morse: I mean. No?
Fred: This wasn’t how I wanted to tell you, but I have to think about my family.
Morse, honest: No, I get it. Of course you do.
Fred: In two years, I’m out. I can’t deal with this Blenheim Vale stuff again, and neither should you.
Morse: Somebody has to.
Fred: Then let it be someone else. Not us again.

Ugh, I hate it when they make each other sad :( And you know what doesn’t improve my mood? Spending time with the Creepy Mask Boys, who are playing croquet when Weenie CMB arrives to ruin their fun with his pretty reasonable concerns: the cops found the car! And a body! The other CMBs brush him off: they only murdered ONE person, not more! Hubris CMB even suggests they go out and do MORE mischief that evening, which seems like bad news for everyone. These kids suck; I can’t wait for Morse to catch them.

Over at the Thursday home, Joan opens the shades in Sam’s room to give him some sisterly love.

Joan: What’s with all the stuff?
Sam: Looking through my collections to see if there’s anything good in there before I throw it out. There isn’t. Doesn’t this house feel small? Different from when we were kids? I used to think this stuff was everything in the world, and now I know it’s all a lie.
Joan: What is?
Sam: Everything. School, government, the movies. It’s all about killing.
Joan: That’s just your hangover. Let’s go for a walk, it’ll help.

I know what she’s trying to do, but also, we’re going to need a lot more than a walk and an ice cream to help Sam’s PTSD. And speaking of folks who need more than an ice cream, Morse tracks down Fred in a park.

Fred: I used to come here with the kids to feed the ducks when we first left London. I doubt they’ll have this in Carshall. I don’t know what I was thinking; I’m too old for this change.
Morse: They’d be lucky to have you. When do you leave?
Fred: After the wedding.
Morse: It’s the right thing.
Fred: Is it? I’ve never run away from a fight before.
Morse, trying to help: You aren’t! You said it; you’ve done your bit, and you’ve got a family to think of.
Fred: At the end of the war, when we knew it was over but they hadn’t ended it yet, I lost three of my guys who I’d been with the whole time. I can still picture them. They were just kids, and to get through all that only to be killed at the finish line just seemed wrong.
Morse: Speaking of your army days: any info on our victim?
Fred: His name was Hugh Sellers. Gives us something to go off, to look for his family. I want to let them know what happened, and get justice for him.
Morse: And what about Andrew Lewis? Doesn’t he deserve justice? Also, I wasn’t the first person to go to that private club; someone had already been there.

Who could it be? Why, Ronnie Box of course! Morse and Fred head to his office to ask if Ronnie might have a photo of Brenda, and, surprise surprise, he does.

Fred: This would have been helpful earlier, bud.
Ronnie Box: You never asked!
Morse, ignoring that: Did you go to a certain private drinking club?
Ronnie Box: LOL, sure did! Her boss was a member.
Morse: So was another accident victim that turned up this week. Seems likely he was connected to Brenda.
Ronnie Box: Then his death wasn’t an accident. I’ve heard rumors, but this case is a nightmare. Every little piece you think you’ve got solid turns to dust. This is something big, and there’s a London connection too. For instance: that informant you knew back in the day?
Fred: Mickey Flood?
Ronnie Box: Yeah. Sounds like he got a piece of information that connected all of this together, and that’s why he was killed.
Morse and Fred, realizing this just got even more complicated:

A man takes off his glasses and observes an enormous pile of crap

Fred: Who was Mickey connected with? Apparently he was involved in some kind of protection racket, and that just wasn’t him.
Ronnie Box: All I know is that he’d basically been a bouncer, but at the kind of place where he didn’t have to do that much. Good job for a guy like him.
Morse: And hard to see how that would lead to him getting nailed to a floor.

While our detective friends’ days get worse, Joan and Sam are having an ok time eating ice cream on a park bench. She starts asking some very direct questions, like “how was it over there” and “are you planning to just get hammered every day forever?” which feels like something only a sibling can do.

Sam: I don’t know what’s next for me, but I need to get away for a while. I want to go somewhere hot though, I know that. Anyway, let’s talk about the fact that you’re marrying Jim Strange.
Joan: What about it?
Sam: I mean, I don’t know, like most of the people reading this I kinda assumed you’d end up with someone else.
Joan, ignoring that: You find the right one when you’re not looking.
Sam: Oh, so you’re actually in love with him?
Joan: Seriously? He looks after me and he makes me feel safe.
Sam: My uniform made me feel safe, but that wasn’t love. I’ve seen how short life can be, dude, don’t waste time on regrets.

Surprisingly good advice from a man who’s having a worse time than our notoriously unhappy protagonist! Speaking of whom, leaving Ronnie’s office, Morse recaps what they just learned: if Mickey Flood knew something about Brenda, there’s a London connection to Blenheim Vale.

Fred: And it’s probably Landesman, but nobody’s seen him in six years.
Morse: We really need to search Blenheim Vale again.
Fred: What do you think we’re going to find? To reiterate, it’s been SIX YEARS, and we were investigating a cold case!
Morse: A body, duh!
Fred: If I approve that operation, it could cost me my promotion.
Morse: I’m not asking you to. You focus on tracking down Hugh’s family, and figuring out what happened to the actor. I’ll take the heat for this other stuff.

Back at the station, Morse sets out his normal evidence table, and in the process, realizes two important things. First, that the two chunks of plastic he found at the scenes combine into a mask, and second, that he knows a business that sells similar items: the joke shop owned by Super Fan/Clerk. Unfortunately, the shop is closed when he arrives to look into it, so he heads home to pour over Blenheim Vale evidence some more. He’s in the middle of that when the phone rings. Is it more police business? No, it’s Joan!

Morse: Is everything ok?
Joan: Yes. Um. But we never got that drink?
Morse, daring to hope, the silly man: We never did, that’s right.
Joan: Well, I’ll be at a pub we both know tomorrow around six.
Morse: I’ll see you there.

Reader, I’m going to level with you. I’m pretty sure he’s not gonna make it to that drink.

A man says "I'm sorry"

Across town, someone else is burning the midnight oil. It’s Ronnie Box, who’s actually literally burning some papers (SUSPICIOUS) when he hears breaking glass from nearby. We don’t get to find out who did it, or what happens next, but we do hear gunshots fired inside the office, which can’t be good.

The next day, Morse arrives at Blenheim Vale with a digger and starts work at the site. Back at the office, Bright’s distracted from work by a brochure about India (retirement plans, possibly?) when his phone rings. No clue who’s on the other end, but the next thing we see is Bright, Strange, and Fred rolling up to Blenheim Vale in a hurry.

Strange, running out of the car and over to Morse: What did you DO? Cavalry’s here.
Bright: MORSE. Who ordered this, and why?
Morse: I did. I think there’s a body here.
Bright: Did you get a tip?
Morse: Not exactly, but our Artist victim from this week? I think he left visual clues about the grave site.

Look, if it were anyone else I’d think this was bonkers. But Morse has LITERALLY solved at least one case a season based on something equally absurd, so I’m not sure why everyone’s acting like he’s the weird one here.

Bright: Uh, ok? Did you know about this, Thursday?
Fred, making a choice: I sure did.
Bright: I have orders from division to shut this down. But you know what, they aren’t here. I can buy you one day, but if we don’t find a body by then we are ALL going down for this. Is that good?
Morse: As good as it’s likely to get.
Bright: Great. Get after it.
Fred: Are you sure?
Bright: What are they gonna do, fire me? Look, I once screwed up in a way that left Morse in prison and you almost dying. I’m not doing that again.

A woman says "You know what that is? Growth."

Strange sums it all up: Morse better be right, or he’s burned every bridge he’s got. After a few hours of watching digging (not that exciting) Morse returns back to the office, where we get some updates on the other cases. Strange explains that info’s come back on the evidence from the actor’s murder scene: no prints. Morse shows the guys the mask chunks, and ties it to their first witness’ statement that the attackers’ faces were devilish. Having connected the mask pieces to both new murders, they come to the reasonable conclusion that the masked assailants are also linked to the stolen car.

Fred: So we think they beat our first victim to death, mowed down the Artist with the mayor’s stolen car, and then dumped the actor off a roof? That’s a LOT, unless they’re maniacs.
Strange: Regardless, we’re not closer to finding them?
Morse: Actually, I think I might know where they bought the masks.

Fred and Morse head back to the store to follow up, and this time Super Fan/Clerk is there, and confirms that the masks are his stock.

Super Fan/Clerk: Is this connected to my friend’s murder?
Morse: No, it’s another case.
Fred: Have you sold many of these lately?
Super Fan/Clerk, reluctantly: Well, there’s a young kid who comes in all the time. He’s posh; I think he’s a student. He bought 4 of these a while back, and then this week he purchased another when he returned the costumes. We actually got into an argument, because these were very damaged.
Morse: How?
Super Fan/Clerk: Ripped up? Covered in mud, and oil, and… blood. I just didn’t think anything of it. I unfortunately don't have his name, because he paid in cash, but this invitation was in one of the pockets.

The invitation has one of the CMBs surnames on it, so Fred and Morse are able to track him down at the college, where, as luck would have it, they run into his gang of friends. The invite belonged to Weenie CMB, who turns out to be a lord (and his horrible friends are also all titled, so this will be enormously fun, politically, for our friends). When Weenie CMB rocks up, Fred explains that he’s going to have to come with them to the station and be put under caution, as will the rest of the boys. One of them tries to pull a “now see here,” which Fred is just not having. Sure, he’s not titled, but he’s not getting talked down to by a bunch of children.

Weenie CMB: Look, my daddy is in the cabinet! And your boss shoots on our grounds?
Morse: Oh, the fancy beautiful grounds where we found a DEAD BODY earlier this episode?

There’s really nothing to say to that, but the CMBs are all bluster, and convinced that nothing bad will happen to them. Thankfully, we don’t have to hear more of their toff BS, because Strange arrives with a bunch of constables to arrest everyone. Back at the station, we learn that the CMBs are refusing to talk without solicitors, who have to come up from London: our friends will be waiting for a while.

Bright: Fun. I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that I’ve already gotten a call from the chief constable. Are you sure about this?
Fred: The evidence against them is pretty solid.
Morse: We can place them at all three crime scenes.
Strange: Sorry to interrupt, but there’s been news… at Blenheim Vale.
Fred: Morse, you go. Jim and I will handle the fancy boys.

Hey remember how I was like “there’s no way Morse is making that date with Joan”? Well, she’s arrived at the pub, and he’s just arrived at a huge hole in the ground, where Dr. DeBryn explains they’ve found the corpse of a man with a bullet wound in the back of his head.

Dr. DeBryn: You were right. We did find a body. And that means they can’t stop the investigation now.
Morse: Crap, I have somewhere to be.
Dr. DeBryn: Ok? OH, one more thing: I was wrong about the Artist. He was still alive when they put him in the water.

Horrible, thanks! Speaking of horrible, at the station, the first CMB to be interviewed comes right out and says what the rest are probably thinking. Fred and Strange are beneath him.

Fred: You know what *I* think? Over-privileged, entitled jerks who go around hurting people for fun will ALWAYS turn on each other. Like rats. They’ll give me you, or you’ll give me them, but the longer you wait the worse it’ll be.

The next CMB tells Fred that the man they brutalized was ok when they left him, and that they didn’t stab him in the neck. He might be telling the truth about the stabbing part, but since he describes a man that they beat nearly to death as “alive and well” I have my doubts.

Meanwhile, in the country, Morse, who’s doing his best to make it back in time to meet Joan, gets pulled over by a cop who seems intent on causing problems. He claims he’s pulled Morse over for having a broken tail light, and then breaks the tail light. He claims he can smell alcohol on Morse, which, for once, seems unlikely. As Morse takes a roadside breathalyzer, the cop gives him a lecture about following orders, and I get even more convinced that these guys were sent to threaten Morse off the Blenheim Vale thing.

Morse: I recognize you; you’re one of the county merger guys.
Mean Cop: Sure am.
Morse: Yeah, I’m Morse. Just came from Blenheim Vale.
Mean Cop, confirming my suspicions that this is a setup: We know.
Morse: Hang on a second, you’re not traffic.

But before he can finish that sentence, the officer hauls off and thumps him hard in the stomach with his billy club, explains that this is a “polite” warning, and chucks Morse’s keys in the bushes while they walk off. Lovely. And, of course, just enough of a delay that Morse misses Joan at the pub. He tries to call her, but doesn’t get through, and instead gets interrupted by DI Actor, who’s been drinking at the bar and is fairly chatty. He runs of for an audition, and is replaced by our favorite reporter Ms. Frazil, who offers Morse a drink.

Back at the station, Fred and Strange are finally getting somewhere with the CMBs. They explain that they were out for a joyride when they hit Artist, who they blame for the crash (he didn’t have his lights on). Knowing that Weenie CMB’s family was on vacation, they thought they’d hide the body there for a while until they could get a permanent location.

Strange: What I don’t get is why you killed our other victim. Did you think he was a real cop?
Weenie CMB: Who?
Strange: The man we found where you left the car.
Weenie CMB: WHAT? I just dumped the car. I mean, I saw this guy there, but he was leaving!

Again, seems like he might not be lying, but I don’t trust any of these kids one bit. Back at the pub, Ms. Frazil tells Morse that she’s been in the pub all day doing interviews, and that she was relieved when DI Actor left, because she’d assumed he was about to make a move on Joan.

Morse: What’d you think of them?
Ms. Frazil: They’re all kind of annoying, but the guy who plays Jolly’s good. You’d never know he was from up North with that accent work. Anyway, did you know he changed his name too? For the union, same as your victim. He used to be called Kenneth Sellers.

Our next scene is Morse and Fred arriving at a club to talk to Jolly. The way his face falls when he spots them speaks volumes: he knows he’s caught. Turns out that Jolly was the brother of the first victim, Hugh Sellers. He hadn’t seen his brother since the war, but ran into him when Hugh and his friends came to the set looking for food. Jolly hoped his brother wouldn’t recognize him, but he did.

Morse: What did he want?
Jolly: I’m not sure he knew? Money, at first, but that wasn’t the problem: I couldn’t take the risk of the news coming out. Can you imagine the press? It’d be so embarrassing for me! I had to think of the show!
Fred: The show was ending. You were thinking of yourself. So you arranged a meeting?
Jolly: Yes. I told him I’d give him the money, as long as he didn’t come to the set again. I had the money on me! I wasn’t going to hurt him! But then when I got there…
Morse: You could have saved him if you called an ambulance.
Jolly: He had always been a weight.
Fred: So you found a way to get rid of that weight.
Morse: And what about your coworker?
Jolly: He saw us together earlier that day. I don’t think he even realized what he’d seen, but he knew it could be used to his advantage. He told me he’d read in the paper that an unhoused person had been found dead, and that that was an interesting coincidence, wasn’t it? Did I think he should tell the police that there had been some people at the set? I told him we couldn’t talk then, but if he met me at the car park I’d have answers. And then I pushed him out the window. I thought maybe that kid in the other car recognized me; people may not know your name, but they know your face when you’re famous.

Fred and Morse’s reaction to this man’s whole vibe?

Alec Baldwin says "Shut it down" while Tina Fey looks disgusted.

Anyway, that’s two out of the three murders figured out, and all because the guy was ashamed to be related to someone who’d fallen on hard times. The next day, more news comes from Blenheim Vale: they’ve found another body. This time, when Morse arrives on the scene, there are a lot more people around. Mostly reporters, including Ms. Frazil, but hopefully there’s some safety in numbers. This body is that of an adult woman, who was also shot in the back of the head. They’ll need dental records to confirm, but it’s probably Brenda. Dr. DeBryn also confirms the identity of the first body: Josiah Landesman!

Bright: Whatever happened here… this time we are going to solve it, dammit.
Fred: Division?
Bright: They can’t bury this twice. We are going to get the truth, no matter the cost.
Strange, storming off: I thought we were done with this crap.
Morse, to Fred: You need to get him away from this case. I was threatened yesterday; being attached to this is dangerous. Send him on assignment somewhere!
Fred: Jim’s a good guy; he won’t go.
Morse: Well don’t give him a choice. They will come for Joan. We have to keep them safe.

Despite wanting to keep Joan away from this mess, Morse still tries one more time to talk to her, knocking on her door late, to no avail. And back at the station, Fred gets an interesting phone call. From Ronnie!

Ronnie Box: Look, I had some visitors after you and Morse left. This is a bad one: if you don’t get out of this case, you will be killed. I’m leaving the country. Please, don’t connect the dots here: you will NOT like the picture.

OMINOUS. Also ominous? The doorbell ringing at Morse’s house late at night, which he, for some godforsaken reason, decides to answer?? Thankfully, it’s not a bad guy here to murder him. It’s Peter Jakes, former colleague and Blenheim Vale victim, visiting from America??? WHAT???? Alas, that’s all our time for this week, so we’ll just have to wait and see how it all shakes out next time, on the series finale.