This week's Endeavour finds Morse and company involved in their oddest case to date: the Deaths of Bed 10 in Fosdick Ward. You wouldn't think it a murder mystery, just bad luck.
Thursday: (On the phone) Yes sir.... no sir.... (Hangs up.) Three bags full, sir.
Is there anything more menacing than a hospital at night? Especially when the nurses come, in their unnaturally crisp white uniforms, and take the bodies away? But of course, people die in hospital all the time. They're sick. They're elderly. Even when things seem like they might be off, like three deaths in five weeks, all in the same #10 hospital bed, it's just coincidence right? Just like there's nothing really suspicious when an old lady, one Mrs. Zacharides, dies in her home.
Before we can think too hard, our alpha plot is rolled in via wheelchair, one Terence Bakewell. He's been transferred from his jailcell to Fosdick Ward, due to illness. One might think the Oxford police wouldn't care about a career criminal's health, but this one just agreed to turn Queen's evidence against the Matthews Gang. Yes *that* Matthews Gang, that held Morse and Joan hostage at the end of Season 3. Thursday is damned if they'll get to his star witness, and puts Morse on duty 24-7 to keep Bakewell alive, as the hospital sitcks him in the cursed #10 Bed.
The complications mount as Chief Superintendent Bright is taken ill -- a bad ulcer, very inconvenient. (Bless ITV for sparing us a vomiting blood bath this time.) Bright's now abed in the same hospital ward as Bakewell, with Morse on guard, while Thursday's stuck trying to balance his own workload and Bright's for the duration. With so many police floating about the ward, Bakewell seems well covered.
Things get a bit more interesting when we learn the now-late Mrs. Zacharides is also tied to Bed #10 -- her husband was one of those who died in it. Sister McMahon insists Bed #10 isn't unlucky, it's just the one on the end, so "patients most likely to die" go in it. And yet, the one we saw go in the night at the top of the episode was, according to the surgeon Sir Merlyn, was "recovering well," ...as was Mr. Zacharides. And as is Mr. Bakewell.
Caroline: A policeman?
Morse: A detective.
Meanwhile, this seems to be the episode of "Morse's Lovelife On Parade." It starts with Caroline, the terrible mother of Morse's former fiancée Susan, who happens to be leaving the hospital as Bright is checking in. As he puts it to WPC Trewlove: "We were engaged to be married... and then we weren't." We even get a glimpse of Susan at the end of the hour.
Monica also turns back up, to share dirt on Fosdick Ward. Not that much is made of her relationship with Morse, other than a passing suggestion that he should "treat the next one better." The next one being Joan, we hope? It might just be, as the missing girl finally turns back up. Morse tracks her down in Leamington Spa, based on last week's phone call, just an hour or so north from Oxford.
Even though she's working hard to act as if she's fine, Joan clearly still blames herself for everything that happens, and thinks continuing to run away is solving everything. Somehow despite searching her down and finding her, Morse doesn't make a move. (Their scene is charged enough, I suppose.) Instead, as he leaves he sees someone coming by for her, with flowers...as he slips off his wedding ring.
Morse promises to keep her secret, suggesting next week will bring a showdown between him and Thursday, when her father finds out. Especially since Thursday's wife Win is starting to collapse from the stress of Joan's disappearance. She's even started taking the 1960s era anti depressants, much to her husband's confusion. It's utter helplessness between them, she no longer mentally ok, and he wanting to fix it, with no idea how to go about doing that.
Nurse Mills: One doesn't get into nusing for the money.
Morse: A calling?
Nurse Mills: Yeah. And what's being a policeman?
Morse: A failing.
Back at the station, Thursday is also miserable, tied to a desk doing Bright's job, while Morse is out putting the pieces together. There have been eight deaths of the "recovering well" nature on Fosdick Ward in the last six months, starting with Zacharides, all Bed #10. Rumors suggest it's due to Sir Merlyn no longer up to his job, but Dr. DeByrn says that's nonsensical, while noting that Merlyn's second, Dr. Powell is gunning for his job.
Dr. Powell is a man who is abusing his position, as we see Nurse Bennett dressing up to go out with him, and trying to be very familiar with him once she has. But is he abusing Sir Merlyn's good name? Or are his concerns real? In the operating room, Merlyn's hands are shaking, even as he refuses to allow Powell to step in.
When Bakewell turns up dead, Powell was the attending physician the night before. It only gets more worrisome when Bright finds himself moved into Bed #10 as a result, on Powell's orders. (Anton Lesser's facial expression is priceless.) Clearly, something is happening. Thursday might want it to be the Matthews Gang who killed his star witness, but it's starting to look like a serial killer, doing in patients who land in that bed, via (of all things) insulin shock.
Suspicion flits from nurse to nurse, including Sister MacMahon and Nurse Barrett, but in the end, it traces back to Nurse Mills. She turns out to be the cousin of Powell's first death via insulin, an 11 year-old-girl named Molly Keenan, years ago. It was a tragic accident, both the giving it to her in the first place, and the then not being there to save her, because he and MacMahon were off having, shall we say, horizontal refreshments, (which little girl Mills witnessed.) Mills was a nurse on the ward when Powell and MacMahon moved in six months ago, causing her to completely snap.
Morse: How are you?
Thursday: Wanna drink?
She's the one planting Sweet Pea flowers at Bed #10 (Sweet Pea flowers are a symbol of children who died in hospital. Bed #10 was the one Molly Keenan died in.) She's the one injecting the patients with insulin, in the bizarre hope that eventually Powell will be framed for it. (Or something? It's not quite clear what her endgame was, other than she'd gone insane.) As we guessed, she didn't care who Bakewell was, or Bright. At least Thursday gets back to the ward to save the latter, just in time.
The episode ends once again with a tarot card flipping, laying over top of "The Tower." It's "Death." Naturally. The Hanged Man, The Lovers, The Tower and Death. What will that add up to in the finale? We'll find out next week.