Anyone else quietly losing it over the fact that this is the last Endeavour episode ever?

A man yells "oh my god! ok, it's happening." as other office workers mill around in panic

I guess there’s nothing for it: the episode is going to air whether we want it to or not, so we might as well crack on with the recap. “Exeunt” (aptly named as always) begins with a funeral. A fancy funeral, with extensive flower arrangements. Meanwhile, our main cast get up to shenanigans, specifically, Sam Thursday stealing money out of Win’s purse (and getting CAUGHT in the act), Joan Thursday having alterations to her wedding dress (not that any of us expected this wedding to get called off, but still), and Morse glumly staring into another excavation site at Blenheim Vale.

Back at the funeral, one of the staff members removes cards from the flowers and stumbles across something kinda odd: a note that says “minatur innocentibus qui parcit nocentibus.” For those of you who also don’t know Latin, that turns out to mean, roughly, “he who spares the guilty menaces the innocent,” and google informs me that the phrase is from a law dictionary from the early 1900s. No clue who the dead person was, but does this feel like a callout post for everyone involved in covering up the Blenheim Vale situation or what?

Speaking of which, it turns out that Morse has taken our blast from the past pal Jakes to the site to fill him in on the case: they’ve so far found Landesman and Brenda Lewis, but no luck on finding the body of the murdered boy Morse is actually hoping to uncover.

Jakes: Some of me never left this place.
Morse: We are SO close. I will find him. I promise.

Back at the station, Fred and Bright talk about this whole tragic mess. They confirm that neither of them knew that Jakes had been one of the Blenheim Vale victims, which honestly makes sense: most people don’t tell their coworkers about the worst parts of their childhood. More impressively, Morse knew, but never told anyone, because he’s a discreet guy like that. This convo is a little awkward, but not as much as the one happening out in the bullpen, where Jakes has just reunited with and congratulated Strange on his upcoming wedding.

Strange: Thanks man! You should come if you’re still in town when it happens!
Jakes: For sure!
Strange: The engagement announcement just came out, and it WOULD have happened sooner if a certain best man had told me this was on the list of wedding tasks.
Morse, somehow not ripping his own skin off: Technically the bride’s parents are supposed to post that, so…
Strange: I did it in their names; etiquette achieved! You only get married once, best do it properly.

Meanwhile, across town, a professor from the college notes something that makes him smile in the morning paper. Whatever it is is important enough that he immediately calls up someone else, or tries to: the mystery recipient doesn’t pick up, and based on what we see on that end of the call, might not be able to. There’s a disturbed carpet runner and missing shoe that look very much like the aftermath of a fall down the stairs.

Back at the office, Fred tells Morse that a friend of his from back in the day might know something about Mickey Flood. Morse offers to drive Fred, but is declined: said friend is nervous (fair enough) and Fred thinks it’ll go better if he’s solo. Turns out that’s probably fine, because Morse is wanted at a death scene, which I’m assuming is the fall we just saw.

Fred: It’s a good thing you took Jakes out to Blenheim Vale. He always liked you, you know.
Morse: LMAO, are we on the same show?
Fred: Ok, fair point, but he showed up at YOUR house. Did you find that kid’s remains yet?
Morse: No, but we’ll keep looking.
Fred: He might not be there.
Morse: I’m definitely not ready to acknowledge that possibility, so I’m going to keep looking, at least for another TV hour and a half!
Fred: Sure. Any info on who owns the site now?
Morse: It’s a bunch of shell companies, but we’ve traced one of them to a company in Bermuda registered to one Lionel Godfrey Chambers.
Fred: Makes sense that someone would want to keep the place: it’s basically a private body dumping ground.
Morse: Yeah, I think most people would like a place to hide all their secrets and mistakes.
Fred: Except someone always finds them eventually: nothing stays buried forever.

Especially not with our crew on the case! Speaking of whom, over at the death scene, Morse confers with Dr. DeBryn. As anticipated, it looks like a fall: the victim has a broken neck, but also a wound on his head. Dr. DeBryn does say that might have happened if he hit his head on the newel post on the way down, but I’m going to go ahead and assume foul play, given the givens. The death was called in by a friend of the victim, who was expecting him for lunch, and called the cops to check when our victim didn’t show up. As Morse examines the man’s unfinished crossword puzzle, Dr. DeBryn asks if he can remove the body.

Morse: Maniac!
Dr. DeBryn: Just doing my job.
Morse: LOL, no, it’s a clue he missed in the morning’s puzzle. Or maybe didn’t finish. Ugh, dying in the middle of a crossword would be a bummer.
Dr. DeBryn: We all end up six down and two across eventually.
Morse: Nice. Why would he leave his breakfast half way through?
Dr. DeBryn: Someone at the door? A phonecall?
Morse: Neither of those make sense though.
Dr. DeBryn: Whatever, you’re the detective. See ya at 2, nerd.

Morse agrees, and then notices something interesting in the paper: a letter to the editor written by the victim espousing the idea of Great Britain joining the European trading bloc. Deciding to wallow a bit, he next flips to the announcements section, where he sees the engagement notice, which is a bummer, but turns out to not be the most interesting thing on the page. That honor goes to a death announcement. For the victim they just found. With the Latin phrase “omnia mors aequat.” Rough translation? Death makes all things equal.

A woman makes a face and raises her eyebrows as if to say "yikes."

Meanwhile, at a bar, Sam Thursday’s day drinking is interrupted by a brief staring contest with a biker. The bartender tells Sam to maybe NOT pick a fight with the guy, which Sam kinda ignores, but mostly because he’s unbothered by and simultaneously bothered by everything at present: he’s Schrodinger's bothered.

While Sam chills, his dad walks into the creepiest possible meeting place, leaving me to pull an Admiral Ackbar in my home office:

An alien yells "It's a trap!"

Fred, not born yesterday: What’s with the meeting location, bud?
Former Colleague: Dude, not sure if you noticed, but the last person who came to talk to you had his tongue cut out and got crucified. So.
Fred: He lived on the wrong side of the law, and you’re a police officer?
Former Colleague: LMAO, you think the badge protects us? Whatever you’re into at Blenheim Vale, drop it.
Fred: Who killed Landesman, Brenda, and Andrew? Is that what Mickey Flood was coming here to tell me?
Former Colleague: Just listen to me, ok?

This is getting more ominous by the second. Meanwhile, Morse goes to the paper office to ask about the death notice. They tell him it was called in by a Dr. McMurdo via letter. Their process is to then confirm the death, which they did in this case with an undertaker, and then put the notice to print.

Ms. Frazil, coming over to say hi: Thought I heard a familiar voice in my place of business. How’s it hanging?
Morse: Weird. It’s hanging weird. If there’s anything to tell you I will, but in the meantime, off the record ok?

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

Back at the office, Fred is sitting glumly at his desk staring at a picture of Joan when Strange walks in.

Fred: Hey, so here’s the thing: another station needs a guy on secondment through the end of the year, maybe more. I thought you’d be a good fit.
Strange: Uh. OK?
Fred: It comes with married quarters.
Strange, good boy: I need to talk it over with Joan, obviously.
Fred: Obviously.
Strange: Did I do something wrong?
Fred: NO! Absolutely not. But with me moving away, I want to make sure you’re settled, and this town seems like a good bet. More scope for advancement there than here!
Strange: Well, thank you. I appreciate it.

Have to say, I am relieved, for once, that Strange is this exact combination of too polite to dig and not as good of a detective as Morse, because it means he’ll be safe. And speaking of Morse, he’s arrived at what looks like the wake from the funeral we saw earlier. A woman approaches to greet him, and after they exchange intros, she gets right down to it: is he here about the accident?

Morse: I’m here to speak to a Dr. McMurdo.
Dr. Massey: I’m one of his colleagues. Today was his funeral.
Morse: Oh. OH. I’m so sorry. When did he die?
Dr. Massey: 12 days ago. Fell from a train on his way to work; apparently another passenger didn’t close the door properly and he leaned on it.
Morse: Was he married?
Dr. Massey: Nope, very single. Why did you want to talk to him?
Morse: I was hoping to find out if he knew a Professor Bevin.
Dr. Massey: Never heard him mention Professor Bevin.

Morse asks about Dr. McMurdo, whom Dr. Massey describes glowingly, and then makes a polite exit, thwarted. Before he gets to the door, Dr. Massey calls after him.

Dr. Massey: We should tell people if they mean something to us before it’s too late, don’t you think?
Me: Sure do, Dr. Massey! Thanks for saying what we were all thinking!

Back at the office, Morse fills Fred in on the whole pre-death death notice situation. Given that the man who called in the death is now also dead, this is for sure worth following up on, so Fred tells Morse to do just that.

Morse: Oh, btw: any luck with your former colleague?
Fred: Not really. But I did what you suggested and got Strange a job far away. Listen, if you find that kid’s body at Blenheim Vale, let that be the end of it. Whoever killed him is long gone.
Morse, like a dog with a bone: What about Andrew Lewis though? I can’t stop until he gets justice; he matters.
Fred: To whom? His mom’s dead, his dad was awful.
Morse: He has a cousin; a police cadet in Newcastle.

A man says "Oh yeah. It's all coming together."

Morse: He’s been asking when we’ll release the body; he’s making the arrangements on behalf of the family. So see, there IS a family, and also I want to know what happened!
Fred: You won't be allowed to! The people behind this won’t hesitate to take you out and I don’t want that to happen.
Morse, flippant: You tried to stop me and I wouldn’t listen! You’re absolved.
Fred, rightly furious: You are such a fancy boy when you want to be! Do you want to die or something?

Fun! Back at home, Fred arrives to find Win packing and Sam passed out on the couch. He also finds drugs in Sam’s pocket when he picks up the kid’s coat, which we hate. Fred tucks them away rather than start something, and has just said hello to Win when the phone rings. The caller says “Fred, it’s Charlie” and then nothing else, hanging up. Fred, spooked and/or confused, hangs up and then lies to Win, telling her it was a wrong number.

Back at the station, Bright approaches Morse’s clue wall.

Bright: Things are changing, kid.
Morse: Sorry, what?
Bright: I’m retiring, Fred’s leaving, Strange is getting seconded… what about you?
Morse: Uh. Well I guess I’m not sure. I figured things would just continue on, but obviously they don’t.
Bright: In a couple of years you should put in for Inspector. They’re re-opening Cowley under a DCI I know; I can talk to him about making you bag man if you like?
Morse: Thank you, sir. I’ll think about it.
Bright: Sleep on it and let me know. Goodnight.

What’s a boy who’s being abandoned by everyone and also can’t leave well enough alone to do? Presumably lurk around the office and stare at the clue wall, but we don’t stay to watch. Instead, we go to the Thursday home, where Fred’s sneaking about in the dark and pulling down a box off a high shelf. A box, as it happens, that contains his old gun!

The next day, Strange and Joan pull up to a cute little house that I’m assuming comes with the secondment.

Strange: It’s not bad, right? What do you think?
Joan: It’s… totally fine! Really a great option to settle!
Strange: We don’t have to do this, you know. If you don’t like it.
Joan: Look, you said this is a great opportunity for you, right?
Strange: You’re all that matters to me; if you’re unhappy, all the promotions in the world don’t mean anything.
Me: Gee, I wish Morse could be here to see how healthy communication happens when you open your mouth and use actual words!
Joan: I know, right?

Meanwhile, back in Oxford, Fred and Morse talk to the dead professor’s friend who called him up the morning he died. Despite the death of his friend, the man seems pretty dang chipper, and gets distracted from the conversation by a passing student at least once.

Morse: Why did you call him that morning?
Dr. Cheery: I wanted to tell him I saw his letter to the editor! He wrote letters a LOT, especially since he retired. We were meant to get lunch at the club, but then he never showed up and I got worried.
Fred: How well did you know him? And what can you tell me about next of kin?
Dr. Cheery: Just from school, and we both played cricket together. I think he has a cousin out of town, but he was a confirmed bachelor.
Fred: Did he have any enemies you know of?
Dr. Cheery: No way! Hang on, why are you asking so many questions, wasn’t it an accident?
Morse: Did he ever mention a Dr. McMurdo?
Dr. Cheery: I don’t think so, but the name is familiar? Maybe I saw his name on a paper – this is a small town.

As Morse and Fred leave, they discuss a poem that Dr. Cheery covered with his students, which Fred also heard when he served in the war, and I shamelessly stole for the title of this recap. Fred is in the middle of wondering why Dr. Cheery would call his friend about a letter to the editor if writing such letters was a weekly occurrence when he suddenly takes a turn and swoons, gray in the face. Morse helps him to a bench, and tries to get help, but Fred demurs, saying it’s probably just the heat or lack of sleep. They take a breather, while we soldier on with the plot.

Across town, the undertakers who we saw earlier at the funeral chat about business matters, including flower deliveries. One of the employees, who is the grandfather of the younger two men, asks if his grandson has a cold since he’s got the sniffles. The kid claims it’s allergies, but given the drugs Fred found on Sam earlier I’m going to go ahead and guess the kids are using cocaine (a leap, sure, but a tiny one in the scheme of things!). Their jocular family convo is interrupted by our pals Fred and Morse, who arrive to speak to Grandpa Mortician.

Fred: The paper says they called you to confirm the details of our victim’s death.
Grandpa Mortician: Well that’s not true — until you mentioned him, I’d never heard of the guy. Who placed the death notice?
Fred: A Dr. McMurdo.
Grandpa Mortician: Him I know; we did his service. Cremation was yesterday.
Morse: When did he die?
Grandpa Mortician: I’d have to check; Grandson Mortician, can you look? It was a challenging embalming; his face was pretty damaged in the accident.
Grandson Mortician: He died on the 10th.
Me: So six days before the fall victim. Interesting.
Fred: Indeed. And you’re SURE nobody from the paper called about that death notice? Your name is right here on the form.
Grandpa Mortician: Well, yeah, that is our name, but that’s not our telephone number!

The plot, as they say, thickens. On the way out, Fred wonders why the admin at the paper would have called a wrong number, since she makes these verification calls often.

Morse: I mean, if you were reading off the paper it’d make sense to just dial what you see. We need to go back to the office and get you looked at by the medic.
Fred: You can take me back, but I don’t need a doctor.
Morse: But —
Fred: But nothing, kid. Get in the car.

Well, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him take care of his health. Morse heads back to the paper to ask the admin about the notice. She says she probably DID just read the paper, and grabs Morse a back issue from the 10th at his request. He also asks her for any correspondence requesting a death notice for Dr. McMurdo. While she looks for the latter, he flips through the former, and finds, just as he and I expected, a death notice, which appeared, impossibly, the same day the doctor passed away, saying he’d died on the 8th. This one ends with “mortui vivos docent” which means “the dead teach the living.”

Back at the office, Morse updates everyone else, and tells them that he thinks the killer is an academic, probably a classicist. He also tells them that a Mrs. McMurdo put in the death notice for Dr. McMurdo, which is odd, since we know he never married. Both death notices referenced the same undertaker, but both used a different phony number.

Fred: Both deaths look like accidents, so he didn’t want to get caught.
Morse: But he clearly did want to be noticed; with the Latin, he wants us to think he’s smart.
Bright: So you think there will be more?
Morse: Yeah :/
Strange: Just got back the trace on that number; it’s an office building.

Morse heads right over there, only to find that the office from which the call was placed is now vacant. A helpful janitor informs him that there’s a lot of tenant turnover in the building, and it’s hard to say how many people worked in the office, or anything more about them. Morse gives the man his card, in case he remembers anything.

Helpful Janitor: Oh snap, police? What, did they make off with the insurance money?
Morse: … something like that.

Meanwhile, back at the pub, Sam’s bartender friend tells him that the biker from before is back, and that Sam should avoid him since he seems… intense. Sam seems to follow the advice, kind of, heading to the gents with barely a glance at the biker. But the glance part makes me wonder if perhaps he’s buying drugs from the biker? Regardless, he’s definitely made off with more money stolen from his folks, which we find out alongside Fred. Win’s willing to believe that Sam will pay them back, but not Fred, who storms out to confront their kid. Turns out, by the way, that I was wrong: it wasn’t Biker Sam was buying drugs from, it was Grandson Mortician. While they complete their transaction in the parking lot, Biker’s friend (also a biker) walks past and definitely notices what they’re up to. So that’s not great! Later that night, the bartender tells Sam to head home. First, he hits the bathroom, and is followed by Biker’s friend.

A woman says "I don't like the sound of that."

Across town, Morse notices something interesting in the paper. Something interesting enough that he leaves home pretty late at night and heads to the Thursday residence, where Joan lets him in.

Joan: Dad’s out.
Morse: Look, about the other night, I got delayed…
Joan: Don’t worry about it. It wasn’t important.

He doesn’t get time to tell her that actually, it kind of WAS important, to him, at least, because Win arrives at the door and invites him in, explaining that between the wedding and the move, they’re all in an uproar.

Win: But I’m sure you feel that way too; between Fred and Strange’s job, everyone’s leaving!
Morse, brave face: People move on, it’s ok! So you found a place in Carshall?
Win: Yeah, didn’t Fred say? Oh, speaking of whom, just heard the door, that must be him. FRED, Morse is here!
Fred, still furious from earlier: This time of night? What couldn’t wait for the morning?!

Win, in a total coward’s move that I really respect, reads the mood and gets out of there as fast as her little legs can carry her, leaving Morse with her irate husband.

Morse: I was flipping through the paper and found a letter to the editor by McMurdo!
Fred: And so you came here to my home at night to tell me that? Come on, dude, take a night off!
Morse, kicked puppy vibes: I thought it was important and that you’d want to know.
Fred: Well I don’t, not tonight! If you want to talk after work, call me like a normal person; some of us have a life! Don’t bother picking me up tomorrow, I’ll figure out my own way to the office.
Morse: Uh, ok. I just came to check on you after this morning.
Fred, furious: I’m. Fine.

Now look: is it a normal thing for groups that are about to disband to get into conflict to try and lessen the pain of separation? Yes! Does it make this any easier to watch? Decidedly no! The next day, Strange explains that they’ve gotten a trace on the second phony phone number, which goes to an abandoned clothing store. Morse checks it out, but misses something interesting: while he’s peering into the window, the phone rings. And as he leaves, a hand reaches out to pick up the phone. On the other end, the caller asks for the funeral home. Is another murder victim being set up at this moment? Unclear, but Morse’s happiness does seem to be an inch from getting killed completely, as he returns to the office to check in with Fred, who doesn’t acknowledge last night’s tiff.

Fred: So basically the main connection between our two victims is that they’re both loner nerds who thought they were smart.

A man says "And we were like, 'we know but hey.'"

Fred: And Bright tells me that division is asking for a progress update on Blenheim Vale. I told them that if we didn’t have more progress by the end of the month we’d have to shut it down.
Morse: That body is still there.
Fred: You don’t know that! We can’t just keep digging random holes hoping to find him, this isn’t a beloved YA novel published in 2000. I’m sorry, but that’s my final answer.

Not classically great, but we’ve worked with worse. And speaking of worse, remember how Biker’s Friend was creeping about last night? Well this morning, his stabbed body is found hidden behind empty kegs behind the bar by the friendly bartender. Fred and Morse arrive on the scene, where said bartender tells them that Biker’s Friend and Biker are regulars, and that Biker got into a staring contest with a young man the other night.

Morse: Can you describe that young man?
Bartender: *Sam Thursday, but vague enough that Morse doesn’t put it together as fast as Fred*
Morse: Was this kid in last night?
Bartender: Yes, and he was very drunk as usual.
Fred: What about Biker?
Bartender: He was here. I didn’t see him go to the bathroom with his friend, but I did see him cleaning his nails with a knife earlier in the evening.

Outside, they get the update from Dr. DeBryn: the murder weapon is still in the body, and while there isn’t an ID in Biker’s Friend’s wallet, they may be able to ID him via his tattoos.

Dr. DeBryn: I’ll give you a tattoo list after the post mortem. Also I think this giant bag of white powder is probably relevant. Can’t be sure, of course, but I somehow don’t think it’s powdered milk.
Fred: So a fallout between him and his friend over drugs?
Morse: Maybe.
Strange: My guess would be rival gang or outsider. Whoever did this better hope we find him before the rest of the victim’s gang does though; these kids are into blood feud type stuff. Cross one of them and the rest won’t stop until they have vengeance.

Morse, following a trail of bloody footsteps away from the crime scene, finds a button on the ground. A button that just happens to match the one missing from Sam’s jacket.

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

Later, at the postmortem, Dr. DeBryn tells the guys that the knife hit Biker’s Friend right in the heart, although he won’t speculate on whether that was on purpose or just luck. The knife handle had been very thoroughly wiped, so no prints there. Dr. DeBryn has just handed over a sketch of the victim’s tattoos when Morse notices that there are no keys in his personal effects.

Fred: Maybe they rode there together.
Morse: But the barkeeper said they arrived separately.

Arriving back at the office, Strange has just told Morse that Ms. Frazil tried to call when Fred is surprised by a visitor in his office: his former bag man who took a role on the vice squad in London, and is now a DI on the drugs team.

Fred: Well it’s been ages; what brings you here?
DI Drugs: This dead biker of yours.
Fred: News gets around, apparently.
DI Drugs: Well we’ve had an eye on that gang for a while. They’re just starting to try and expand into London, and we want to catch them.

DI Drugs goes on to explain that this gang is bad news: they’re tied to a number of murders, and they’re likely trying to get a toehold in Oxford because of the student market. He also offers to help identify the victim and to share resources, which seems like a good thing, but everyone is still not ready to forgive this guy for what happened way back in the pilot, so they’re suspicious.

DI Drugs: Anyway, look, we’ll be here overnight. Stop by the hotel if you want to catch up; maybe even make up? We didn’t part on great terms.
Fred: Well, all water under the bridge.
DI Drugs: It certainly is for me. Life’s too short, right? See ya then.

He leaves, to everyone’s relief, and yet Fred’s still annoyed when Morse says the quiet part loud.

Fred: Look, it’s been 7 years, people change.
Morse: Not often for the better!

Later, Fred and Morse arrive at their “fall victim’s” funeral. While Fred awkwardly stands at the back of the service, Morse approaches the only person he sees outside, an older man, and asks what he’s doing.

Older Man: I like to read headstones?
Morse: Isn’t that a weird pastime?
Older Man: I don’t think so! It’s more about life than death; you can learn a lot about a person from their headstone.
Morse: Have you ever noticed someone lurking around who’s obviously not part of the funeral. Maybe someone taking photos?
Older Man: Other than you and me? No.

Back at the office, Morse is in the middle of going over the sympathy cards from the flowers (a good idea, if what we saw earlier is anything to go on) when Strange reminds him not to be late to the rehearsal later. Morse is saved from having to reply by noticing a card that reads “mors cum terore novo venit”: death has come with a new terror. Cheerful! In Fred’s office, he gets another call from Charlie, this time asking him to meet at 7pm that evening. And in Bright’s office, he packs up his desk into a suitcase, preparing for retirement. Fred gets ready to leave, having grabbed the gun out of his desk (!), and runs into Morse on the way out. Looking at the Latin card, they both agree it’s pretty creepy.

Morse: According to the morticians, there were only two flower deliveries, and both from regular suppliers. I asked them to send any info on Latin phrases for McMurdo.
Bright: Ah, Thursday: I’m about to go make my final report before handing things over to the new guy, Chief Superintendent Prettyman. They’re going to ask about Blenheim Vale.
Fred: No news yet.
Bright: Ugh. I guess it’s normal, but I’m annoyed to not have an answer yet. Maybe time makes failures of us all.
Fred: Don’t say that! It’s just the nature of our job. We do our best and pass it on. Doesn’t matter who finishes a thing, as long as it gets done.
Morse, salty: IF it gets done. This wouldn’t be the first time they closed down an investigation at Blenheim Vale.
Bright: Well there is the budget. And as much as we want to find this kid, we can’t dig forever.
Strange: Sorry to interrupt, but we got an ID on the biker: he went by Tomahawk. Had a tough childhood, and we’ve had him in for beating people up and dealing drugs. Amphetamines, which is also what we found on his body. He’s got a LOT of outstanding warrants.
Bright: Well, I’m going to leave that with you: my best boys. Look, I know we’ll say goodbye at the church, but in case we’re all distracted by the wedding, it’s been an honor. Spending this time with you all has been the greatest privilege of my years of service. Carry on.
Me, and all the boys:

A crying man says "I'm not crying, you're crying."

Next, Morse heads to the florist shop, where he is able to confirm that the Latin messages were written on the shop’s cards, but not by the florist.

Florist: We’ve never had a card in Latin, I’d remember. Maybe they swiped some cards when they came to buy flowers?
Morse: Then how would it end up on the flower arrangements?
Florist: They might have added it later. Or the undertaker did?

Something fishy is afoot, but we’ll have to wait to find out what. First, we get to rehearse a wedding! Despite Strange’s worry that Morse would get distracted and show up late, our pal is early. So early, in fact, that when he arrives at the church the only other person there is Joan. You couldn’t have been this prompt last episode, huh, dude? Anyway, they just kind of look at each other awkwardly until the priest comes out and asks if Morse is the groom (lol).

Priest, thinks he’s funny (because he accidentally is): Don’t worry: if the groom doesn’t show we won’t make you take over the role. Everyone knows it’s 7, right?
Sam, walking in the back door: Dad says they’re running late; I’m here so if he can’t make it I can fill him in.
Priest: Well, don’t worry: bad dress rehearsal, good show.

Morse is too busy noticing that Sam’s buttons match the one he bagged as evidence earlier to participate in the chitchat, but he’s saved by the arrival of Strange. Meanwhile, Fred arrives at that same creepy abandoned building from earlier.

Charlie, presumably: I’ve been lying low. Look, you need to drop this Blenheim Vale stuff. And that Ostrich Fanciers Club thing from last season, and the situation with the Lewis boy. ALL of it.
Fred: What do you know about Blenheim Vale? You weren’t around when that happened, who dragged you in?
DI Drugs, entering dramatically: You should have met me for drinks, Fred.
Fred: UGH, of course. So you’re just on the take across the board, huh? Is that why Mickey came to see me?
Charlie: Mickey always had a big mouth.
Fred: So what is it? Sex work and drugs?
DI Drugs: People want what they want. No point in judging.
Fred: No, just an opportunity for you to make money. Who killed Mickey? Same guy who came after Ronnie Box?
DI Drugs: Doesn’t really matter; I have a LOT of guys. Now look, I think we can come to an arrangement… once we hear Blenheim Vale is wrapped up.
Fred: How were you involved in that, BTW? I’m just curious.
DI Drugs: Clive Deare and I came up together. We made a good team: I had a scheme, he had a fancy accent. These people aren’t better than us working class types, Fred.
Fred: Well no wonder you want this kept quiet! Sex workers and drugs are one thing, but pedophilia? Child murder?
DI Drugs: Just cover it up.
Fred: And what if I don’t want to?
DI Drugs: Well then I’d have to vaguely threaten your life and also Joan’s! Look, you’re only still alive because you’re Charlie’s brother.
Me, totally forgot that Fred had a brother named Charlie: WHAT?
DI Drugs, continuing: But he doesn’t always get his way. He can’t protect you this time.
Fred: You’ve got something of mine. I want it back, in cash.
DI Drugs: As soon as you shut down the investigation. And you better get Morse in line, or we will. Charlie, you coming? I don’t want to interrupt the family reunion.

Back at the church, Morse sulks quietly, the rehearsal proceeds, and I don’t care because I want more info on what’s happening with the Thursday brothers! I get my wish: back at the creepy abandoned building, Fred clarifies. Remember when Charlie borrowed a bunch of money from Fred a few seasons back? That was so that the dirty cop syndicate would always have something hanging over Fred if they needed to apply leverage, and not because Charlie actually needed the cash.

Charlie: Who cares, just do what he says! Go to Carshall, and leave it. Why do you care?

A woman says "Kim, there's people that are dying."

Charlie: Other people’s kids! We were raised to look out for number one!

Not sure where this argument was going, because just then, DI Drugs comes back with a couple of gunmen and shoots Charlie. Fred shoves him down behind a barrier and pursues, hitting one of the attackers before the other gets away in a car with DI Drugs. Fred fires after them, but doesn’t stop the car. Returning back inside, he looks for Charlie, but his brother is gone.

Back at the church, rehearsal over, Strange asks Joan if Sam is ok.

Joan: I think so.
Strange: And are you ok? If you changed your mind I wouldn’t think less of you.
Joan: I’ve never been more sure of anything.

A man asks "you sure about that?"

As they walk off into the sunset, Morse checks in on Sam.

Morse: We should go for a drink and catch up. Where have you been hanging out?

Sam demurs, and before Morse can press, Sam catches sight of a biker from Tomahawk’s gang round the corner, and makes an excuse to leave in a hurry. Given what Strange said earlier, probably a good idea! Abandoned in the churchyard, Morse catches sight of a grave marked Lionel Godfrey Chambers.

A girl says "Wait, what was that?" then presses rewind on a remote

The next day, everyone gathers at the station for Prettyman’s “I’m your new boss” speech, when the phone rings on Morse’s desk. He answers, and finds out from Ms. Frazil that another death notice has come in with a Latin phrase. It’s meant to be published the next day, and the intended victim is a Dr. Fortescue, who we know by his recap name: Dr. Cheery. Morse hangs up, and tries to discreetly update Fred, but they get called out by Prettyman. They fill him in, broad strokes only, and then hasten to check on Dr. Cheery (Fred) and the abandoned shop posing as the undertakers (Morse).

Dr. Cheery: Why me?
Fred: So far all the victims have sent in strong opinions to the newspaper. Would that describe you as well?
Dr. Cheery: Not really? I gave an interview to the mail earlier this year, but that’s it.

At the office, Morse mostly sees normal abandoned shop stuff, with the exception of Dr. Cheery’s article, which turns out to be about gay rights, specifically among academics. Given that our first two victims were lifelong “bachelors,” I immediately assume we’ve come across the connection between the victims, but that turns out to be a rainbow herring: walking deeper into the abandoned shop, Morse spots more news clippings taped to the wall, and is so occupied with reading the clipping that he doesn’t notice the man sneaking up behind him. Reader, I can’t blame Morse for focusing on the clip, because it’s a death notice for himself, which reads, in part, “killed in the line of duty” and “mors cetra, hora incerta”: death certain, time unknown

A man screams in fear

Behind our friend, his attacker makes himself known, and explains that since he knew Morse was monitoring the Mail, he’d gone to the Times for Morse. Oh, also, the murderer is Helpful Janitor from earlier.

Morse: Wouldn’t the people at the Times know if a cop was killed?
Helpful Janitor: A friend is a typesetter there. He snuck it in!
Morse: Whatever you’re up to is done now; we’ve got you surrounded.

As he tells that very unconvincing lie, the phone starts ringing. Helpful Janitor looks at the phone with a grin.

Helpful Janitor: See, this is one of two things: either you’re telling the truth, and as long as I don’t pick up that phone they won’t know I’m here. Or you’re lying, and that’s someone from your office who saw your death notice and is calling to warn you. I will say, I really hoped I’d get to kill a few more before someone figured it out, but then you turned up.
Morse: So Dr. Cheery was just bait? You used this number again knowing I’d realize?
Helpful Janitor: I couldn’t be sure, obviously. But I hoped you’d want to come arrest me.

Outside, a siren approaches, and that’s enough to make Helpful Janitor swing into action. Literally. He comes at Morse with a hammer, but our boy holds his own long enough for Strange and the cavalry to arrive. They drag the murderer off, while Strange checks on his friend. Later, at the station, Fred sums it up for Prettyman: Helpful Janitor worked at a lot of abandoned offices, so it was easy for him to pose as the undertaker. And he’s married to Florist, which made sneaking his own cards into arrangements simple. They don’t think she’s involved, but follow up anyway.

Florist: I knew something was off. I mean, we’ve been together 36 years, and he’s never been right, but you get used to it. He’s just like his dad, who was a stonemason. My husband trained with his dad but didn’t go into the field; that’s how he learned some Latin. Anyway he lost it because he’s a horrible bigot and couldn’t handle any of the increasing diversity around us.

Charming. In interrogation, Helpful Janitor expands on that, explaining that Fred and Morse should thank him: he killed two very dangerous men, after all.

Helpful Janitor: They had terrible ideas! They’re socialists, and they want godless queer folks running everything. All of this “progress” is about ruining the family and ruining our country. Diversity is a scourge. I killed traitors, not men. We used to be the greatest country in the world, and I refuse to be ashamed of being English.
Morse and Fred:

A woman points at someone, says "Ew" and nods.

Yuck, ew indeed. Murderer caught, everyone heads to the pub for Strange’s stag do, which involves a classic weird tv show set of circumstances. Dr. DeBryn shows up late hoping to avoid a stripper. Sam’s hammered. Jakes is musing about how he never got any action when he casually dated Joan. Morse is sulking. Fred’s decided now is the time to confront his son about Sam’s drug use. It’s just a great party all around, is what I’m saying.

Fred: Are you using, or dealing, or both?
Morse, across the room: 👀
Sam: Why do you care?
Fred: You live in my house. It stops now or I’ll sort you out.

Over at Morse’s table, he’s getting a sloppy side hug from Strange, who’s a little drunk and in the mood to expound about how much he cares for his friend (within British man limits, of course). Strange doesn’t get too far, because across the pub, Sam punches his dad in the face. Everyone springs to action, but as Fred gets to his feet pretty quickly and says he’s fine, and Sam runs away, they all pivot to pretending nothing happened (again, these are British men). Morse asks what happened, but Fred won’t tell him, of course. Later that night, back at Morse’s house, Jakes asks what our boy’s next move is, with everyone else moving on.

Jakes: You’re the odd man out, just like always. You should come back to the states with me.
Morse: Seriously?
Jakes: Yeah, why not! It’s a huge country. And here you’re on your own, with no ties. What’s keeping you?

Justice, presumably, but he doesn’t say that. Instead, the next day, he tries to go after it, starting with a call to the archives for a copy of Deare’s service record. They tell him he has to come look at the record in person, and after he does that off screen, Morse meets Fred at the church. Turns out that Lionel Godfrey Chambers, the name from that gravestone, is also the name of the man who owns Blenheim Vale. That real owner has created a fictional identity using this dead person, and could have fake identities all over the world. But why is Morse so sure that the culprit used this Lionel Chambers for his identity theft?

Morse: Because this grave is really close to the family plot for someone we know: DI Drugs. I looked into his service history, and he came up with Deare. They worked together! I don’t know what he’s doing in vice, but I’m pretty sure he was deeply involved at Blenheim Vale.
Fred, inside: Could you not be just a little worse at your job, kid?
Fred, out loud: I know, I saw him.
Morse: What? When?
Fred: Doesn’t matter.
Morse: What did he want?
Fred: What do you think?? Ugh, ok fine: four years ago I tried to do a good deed and it went bad. Left me vulnerable. I “lent” my brother mine and Win’s life savings.
Morse: And now they’re calling it in. For what?
Fred: Blenheim Vale.
Morse: So they want you to shut it down before you leave. But I know you; you wouldn’t do it for money alone.
Fred: I told you, dude, they come at you through what you love. Family. You have to drop it, for everyone’s sake.

Now that’s a conundrum huh? Later, while Morse tries to figure out what to do, and gets a well earned “hey buddy, you better leave soon or you’ll be late to the wedding you’re the best man of” from Jakes, Win and Joan chat at the Thursday house.

Win: You’re going to be the most beautiful bride. I’ve always been proud of you, and if I ever let you think otherwise I’m sorry.
Joan: Don’t make me cry!
Sam: Come on mum, we better go to the church. Love you Joanie!

On their way out, they see Fred waiting, and Fred and Sam exchange a real long father son look. That’s… headed somewhere bad, I fear. But no time to worry about them: Morse is driving somewhere in a hurry, and I have a bad feeling it’s Blenheim Vale. At the wedding, Ms. Frazil, Bright, and Dr. DeBryn all arrive at the same time looking adorable. Inside, Strange looks terrified, but in a good way (also pretty cute). He starts looking significantly more pissed off when Jakes arrives and explains that Morse won’t be there.

Strange: WTF? He’s got the ring!
Jakes: Don’t worry baby, I got it!
Strange: I’m going to kill him. Where did he go?
Me: Come on Strange, you know the answer to that.

You know who else is out at Blenheim Vale? DI Drugs, who arrives to meet Morse at the dig site. They exchange some unpleasantries, and DI Drugs points out his armed goons hiding in the treeline to keep Morse in line.

DI Drugs: So where’s Fred? He couldn’t face it and sent you to do the dirty work?
Morse: Kinda!
DI Drugs: Good boy. I’m surprised; Fred said you were kinda obsessed with solving this one.
Morse: Nope, like I said on the phone: Fred set it up with the new Chief Superintendent. We’re finished here. But there’s one thing I want to know, for me: who killed Andrew Lewis?
DI Drugs: Kid was nosing around.
Morse: He just wanted to find his mom! Who killed her? And Landesman?
DI Drugs: Dead people can’t talk.
Morse: Ok, so what about the kid: Peter Williams. Is he buried here?
DI Drugs: We didn’t kill him! Why would we? Nobody would believe him with his background, so we gave him to a couple that wanted a kid.

Reader, once again we are foiled by my use of nicknames for these people, but after hearing the family’s surname, Morse quickly realizes that the dead person we now know as Tomahawk is that same kid Morse’s been searching for at Blenheim Vale. Questions answered, DI Drugs proclaims their business done, and hands over a case with Fred’s money to Morse. But DI Drugs also takes the opportunity to stab our boy when his back is turned, like the snake we knew him to be all along. While Morse is on the ground, DI Drugs starts kicking him and explains that he never intended to really give the money back: the plan had been to kill Fred, and while he kicks our friend, DI Drugs says he’ll track down Fred next and finish the job. But then, out of nowhere, the day is saved by what I, a nerd, am forced to call deus ex motorcyclia: Tomahawk’s biker friends arrive as a group and take out the armed goons before circling DI Drugs.

DI Drugs: Morse, are these guys with you?
Biker: Nope! We don’t care about him, but we’ve had business with you since you had one of our guys stabbed back in Camden.
DI Drugs:

A woman asks "how was i supposed to know there'd be consequences for my actions?"

While all this was happening, the wedding went off without a hitch, and has now proceeded to the reception. Everyone’s having a great time, and Fred and Joan are having a very cute father daughter dance. Fred heads off to dance with Win when Morse arrives in such soft focus I kind of assume this is a dream sequence, and makes his way across the dance floor to Joan.

Morse: I’m sorry I’m late Miss Thursday.
Joan: You know you’ve literally never called me my first name?
Morse: Well that’s probably good, because if I had I wouldn’t have been able to stop. The truth is I love you, and have from the first time I saw you. I should have said something. But now it’s too late.
Joan: No, it’s not.

And then they kiss right in the middle of the wedding reception and I become 100% sure that this is a dream sequence, which turns out to be correct. Instead, Morse answers Joan’s “why are you a weirdo who won’t use my first name” with a “well now I have to call you Mrs. Strange” and they have a super long hug. Strange busts that up jocularly, and then when Joan heads off to say goodbye to her parents, he asks Morse what the heck happened.

Morse: I’m sorry. Something came up about work.
Strange: All work and no play, dude…

Strange and Joan leave (Joan drives) and Morse is left alone in the reception hall thinking about what might have been, until he finally sits down and immediately collapses on the floor, because even Morse can’t get stabbed and beaten and just go about his day. Some time later, he wakes up in the hospital, as one does, on a beautiful day. Across town, Win and Fred stand in their packed up house and reminisce about all the happy memories they’ve had in their home. There are tears (I’m not admitting to anything!) and then Win heads for the door and runs into Morse, who’s up and about.

Win: Morse! I thought you’d be at work?
Morse: Got the afternoon off for choir practice — we’re doing a performance.
Win: I’m so happy to see you back on your feet. Been worried about you, kid. Speaking of which, you don’t eat enough: here’s Fred’s normal Wednesday sandwich. We’re not that far away, so come visit. I’ll miss you! OH, and ask Sam his news!

Not me getting weepy over a SANDWICH! Are you kidding with this, MASTERPIECE? Anyway, Morse heads inside to talk to the male Thursdays. Sam’s news? He’s planning to join the police force, with a little assist from Strange. Morse wishes him luck, and after Sam leaves, Morse is left in a half empty house with his dad/boss.

Fred: I’m waiting on the movers. Time for a pint?
Morse: Yeah, but only half.

Morse looks awfully somber about that, but it’s probably not entirely because of his issues with alcohol, and has more to do with the conversation that follows, where he has to explain what happened at Blenheim Vale.

Fred, making a GREAT point: What were you thinking, running off to do this solo?
Morse: I had to tell him we were closing down the investigation.
Fred: You did that for me? What about the kid?
Morse: Someone told me not every question gets an answer…. The thing is, the kid Jakes knew died a long time ago.
Fred: Wherever he is, I hope he’s at peace. And if the bikers killed DI Drugs, that’s justice, in a way. Did you see it?

Morse doesn’t answer, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that he was too busy covering up his wounds and attending a wedding to “notice” anything. Fred also asks about his brother, who Morse unfortunately doesn’t have any information about, but given the whole situation, Fred’s mostly ok with that.

Morse: Look, I have to address this: did Tomahawk deserve what happened to him? I told the bikers that he was an informant; DI Drugs’ man on the inside. I’m hoping that buys some time, and they won’t start looking for whoever really killed him. It wasn’t Sam, although I did find this button on the ground by the body; the barman said he wouldn’t have been able to defend himself. But someone else… someone sober, and aware of the situation, who’d killed before and came home looking like a total stranger instead of the work dad I’d follow anywhere…

Look, at this point Morse starts crying which I just cannot handle, and frankly neither can Fred. At least Fred has a good explanation, which is essentially that he acted on instinct in self defense (Tomahawk was probably going to stab Sam AND Fred), but Morse, and this recapper, TBH, think this is still both legally and morally dicey, to say the least.

Fred: He was going to kill Sam. I’d do it again in a second; he was nothing.
Morse, seriously thinking about telling Fred Tomahawk’s actual identity: He was someone’s kid!
Fred: But not mine. Who else knows?
Morse: Just us. What happened with DI Drugs and Tomahawk stays between us, but with these bikers they will not stop until they get revenge. They haven’t seen you, but they know Sam, and if he comes back here it’s all over. He has to disappear.
Fred: He does. And it’s my fault. We’ll go somewhere further than Carshall, I guess. Joan and Strange?
Morse: They’re not connected. They’ll be ok; I’ll keep an eye on them.

Look, it’s my feeling that they should just send Sam to America with Jakes, but nobody listens to me (which I’m sure has nothing to do with the fact that I’m just yelling at a laptop). Morse drops Fred at the station, and then leaves him with one last surprise: the case full of cash. Fred takes it gratefully.

Fred: You turned out ok, you know. Knew you would. I mean, you had a good teacher.
Morse: The best.
Fred: Since we’re giving gifts, have this pocket gun. You might need it.

Morse accepts the revolver, and then Fred tells him to “mind how you go” one last time. Do they hug? No, that’s for people who are allowed to feel. But they DO have a very long handshake before Fred walks off into the sunset, leaving Endeavour Morse to calcify into the grumpy old detective so many will come to love in his other incarnation. Morse heads to the churchyard, where he examines and loads Fred’s gun, which he then fires. You can check out this great article about what this might mean, symbolically, but I’ll leave it up to you to interpret that, reader.

While we’re treated to a lovely reading of some of the more iconic lines from "The Tempest," courtesy of Bright, we get to see all the characters from Endeavour as they first appeared; baby-faced and untouched by the weight of what’s to come. Finally, at the very end of the episode, there’s a really neat moment when Morse leaves his choir practice: as he drives away, a man passes him in the red Jaguar famously driven by John Thaw in the original Morse series, in a subtle and lovely tribute to the other show. And with that, as they say in the theatre: