Endeavour takes advantage of their period piece setting for a mystery of the week episode that doubles as a commentary on tolerance in the present.
Morse: ...I like to keep a clear head.
Thursday: You put enough beer away.
Morse: Beer is brain food.
Did you wonder for a second if you were on the right channel tonight? It's not Dancing With The Stars, it's the opening of this week's episode of Endeavour, where the summer of 1967 came crashing through the opening titles in pop hit form, juxtaposed against the arrival of "moral crusader" Joy Pettybon to Oxford. (Guest star Sylvestra Le Touzel, doing her very best Margaret Thatcher inspired vocals.) Oh, and, of course, the discovery of a body behind a pub.
Morse and Trewlove are initially there for the marijuana, found in the dressing room of "The Wildwoods," a early Pink Floyd-Lite band with Beatles esque heartthrob levels, whose manager insists, against all evidence, to be "good clean boys." But while they issue informal warnings, Mrs. Pettybon is in Bright's office, demanding a security guard due to the death threats she's received, which becomes Morse's next assignment. As you can imagine, he's less than thrilled.
He's more interested in the body behind the pub, one Barry Finch, who seems to have been obsessed with said Wildwoods. The band members insist they barely knew him, even as their eyes and body language says otherwise. It only gets more interesting when it turned out he wasn't murdered -- his heart gave out. Yet someone tried to make it look like it was murder? Or murdered him anyway? None of this adds up.
While Morse and Thursday are trying to assemble the puzzle pieces of these two seemingly unconnected issues, the spectre of Joan still haunts the place. You can see it in Thursday's barely concealed rage at The Wildwoods 18- and 19-year-old groupies, and the dimissive attitude that the band members have towards them. You see it again, as he's watching the great Joy Pettybon/Nick Wilding showdown on the weekly Almanac program at home on the telly. (Morse is on scene, as Pettybon's guard.) For Thursday, we learn it's more personal than just seeing groupies: Joan loved this band, and he bought her their first album as a birthday present. Not that he cares to be reminded of that now, but it still hurts, however he denies it.
Jessop: How can love be dirty?
Morse: Well, if it isn't, I expect you aren't doing it right.
You see it again when Morse agrees to go up to Bettina Pettybon's room (Joy's daughter), despite his misgivings that she's probably wanting a little more than a drink. Nothing happens, but the moment of two lonely souls, passing in the middle of the night under strange circumstances, is still a moving one. Morse denies how isolated he is, while Bettina cries out at how her life is slowly slipping away, under the thumb of a truely unkind and self righteous woman, one who's crusade began after her husband's death a few years ago.
The Almanac showdown begins to tie it all together, with the connecting thread of homosexuality. The Wildwoods, especially lead singer Nick, aren't fazed by it. Nick seems almost amused by Pettybon's loudly objecting horror. This is the heart of her mission, which we learn when a heckler in the audience, Dudley Jessop, stands up and disrupts the proceedings. Following him outside, Morse learns Jessop's "schoolboy" magazine was persecuted out of existence by Pettybon, for suggesting Jesus might have swung some kinda way. (Meanwhile Pettybon's followers beat him up for looking as if he does the same. It's all ugly.)
A box of poisoned chocolates in her dressing room seems to confirm Pettybon's fears, when it accidentally kills her Reverend sidekick. But just as the case heats up, Morse gets moved off. Joy realizes he and her daughter have formed a connection, and freaks out. Thursday and Strange are left to deal with it, working out that Jessop isn't behind the threatening letters, Mrs. Pettybon sent them to herself for attention. Their investigation also turns up that the husband committed suicide when he was caught out for gay sex. Confronted by reality, Bettina finally snaps, calling out her mother for driving her husband to do himself in, and leaving.
The Finch case also turns out to have non-hetero-nomative overtones, as photos surface of Finch, Nick Wildling and one of the groupies all in the same bed together. Also? LSD turns up, enough that Nick goes off his rocker, with suggestions of a Syd Barrett type madness that he'll never recover from. Dr. DeBryn agrees this might be what Finch took that caused heart failure. The "poison" that killed off the Reverend wasn't LSD, though. It wasn't poison at all, just laxatives -- his already poor health just caused it to do him in. If Pettybon had eaten them, it just would have been an embarrasing situation. So how do these tie together?
Nick Wilding: Me and Chris you to go looking for mushrooms after school. You ever tried 'em?
Morse: Only as part of an English breakfast.
The cases merge when Jessop, who is now more or less in the clear, but still under questioning, says he stumbled on one of the groupie girls from The Wildwood's band backstage in the Pettybon dressing room. Thursday adds together that she, the one who keeps insisting the band's hit song is about her, must have been enraged by Pettybon's crusade, especially having learned the truth about Nick the night before. Like Pettybon, she found Nick's choices disgusting, but less so because of god's opinions on it, and more to sexual jealousy. She wanted Nick to herself, a thing that would never happen. So instead she takes incriminating photos, and strangled Finch, not realizing he was basically already dead.
Morse and Thursday both reach this conclusion independantly of each other: Thursday back in the police station, while Morse doesn't puzzle it out until he's already on site, and sadly drank the lemonade before he did the math and realized the danger. Thursday arrives in time to stop the girl from stabbing Morse, but not in time to stop the beginnings of Endeavour having a very bad acid trip. Still, it's a sweet scene at the end, with Morse waking up after he comes down, only to find Thursday there, having watched over him the whole time. Their father-son style dynamic is still the heart of the show. Let's hope that continues to hold true, even after the very end of the episode, when Morse's phone rings, and Joan is silently on the other end.
Morse is ok, but lives have still been destroyed. Mrs Pettybon watches her daughter leave without a single look back. The Wildwoods' career is over. A little more tolerance, love and understanding that the 60s preached could have gone a long way.
And then, somewhere, a second tarot card is flipped. I didn't think much of it last week when we saw the episode end with "The Hanged Man" card, it just seemed a weird ending. But two in a row is deliberate, and this week's is "The Lovers." If nothing else, I'm now looking forward to next week's episode "Lazaretto," to see what the tarot card is.