Before Endeavour returns for Season 6, here's a rundown of where our characters currently stand.
Last season was a banner year for Endeavour, the surprisingly successful prequel to the hit1980s ITV Inspector Morse series. The series chose to expand the format from the now-typical four-episode series up to six installments, having reached the 30th anniversary of the show's original 1987-1988 debut. This also served the story at hand as well. Having initially begun the story of young Morse (Shaun Evans) in 1964-65, the series had reached the critical year of 1969, which saw an entire reshuffling of the U.K.'s police force with an eye towards modernization when the 99-year charter, first put into effect in 1869, expired.
The changes at work take up most of Morse's time over six cases. Now promoted to Sargent alongside Strange (Sean Rigby), he's also rooming with his coworker in what is not exactly the most comfortable of arrangements. At work, Morse finds himself either being the senior partner to the very green George Fancy (Lewis Peek) or the far more capable PC Shirley Trewlove (Dakota Blue Richards). This is due to Morse's old partner, DCI Thursday (Roger Allam) being pushed up towards desk work, with an eye towards retirement when the reorg comes through, a change Superintendent Bright (Anton Lesser) is trying to manage, and failing.
Throughout six episodes, not only do viewers see Bright push to keep Oxford's police station open, so his team is not folded into the new Thames Valley Constabulary, but everyone gets an eyeful of the potential ugliness of the new coworkers to come. Newcomers DCI Ronnie Box (Simon Harrison) and his partner in not-giving-a-damn-about-crime, DS Patrick Dawson (Thomas Coombes), are loaned out to help with a case, but mostly send up red flags that at Thames Valley, there's a ring of those who are far more interested in lining their own pockets.
Speaking of cases, though each episode had its own mystery to solve, as the show always does, Season 5 was the first year to feature an overall mystery arc that did not get resolved by season's end. It started with the introduction of Eddie Nero (Mark Arden), the current head of Oxford's underbelly, with his fingers in every pie from call-girl rings to gambling to racketeering. But Nero is not the only game in town. With the flood of refugees (referred to by most as "Kenyan-Asians"), a new kingpin has arrived, one Cromwell Ames (David Jonsson), and he's not interested in a little old man like Nero. It turns out what he really wants is to take over Nero's heroin & hashish trade, and there is continuing gang violence laced with voodoo symbols throughout the season. Unfortunately, despite Thursday and Bright's ongoing hope to take both gangs down, the case sits on the backburner for too long, and by the time Morse turns up a suspect that ties this drug trade to both characters and could finally take them out, they've already taken out each other, in a massive shootout.
But this isn't the end of that case, despite both Ames and Nero's bodies lying dead on the floor. Fancy's body is there too, the poor kid undercover at the wrong place, wrong time. But it gets stranger. Fancy wasn't killed by either Nero or Ames' gangsters. The bullets his body are riddled with are from a completely different gun, one not found on the scene. Apparently, there was a third party involved with all this who took out Fancy deliberately and walked away. It's a heartbreak, especially for Trewlove, who was dating Fancy (though was not planning on accepting his offer of marriage.)
As the season ends, and Strange, Morse and Dr. DeBryn (Max Bradshaw) all find themselves heading to their new workplace, they make a pact. Justice for Fancy will be served, one way or another. Thursday and Bright are coming too, as Thursday's retirement plans fall through. Trewlove, on the other hand, decides to make a play to become a female DCI and heads out for London and a new life, where I'm sure she and a young Helen Mirren as Jane Tennison will become best buds in a far better Prime Suspect prequel to come.
Season 5 was a banner year in other ways as well. Throughout the series, Morse has harbored a tendre towards Joan (Sara Vickers), Thursday's daughter. Up until now, he's never made a move, as the timing never seems to be right. (And seriously, it's his partner's daughter.) Between this and Joan's own disastrous love life choices, it's seemed like the two would be forever destined to be the one that never happened. But Season 5 saw a change in Morse's behavior towards women in general. First, he falls into bed with Joan's cousin Carol after she seems to have been stood up by her date. (That "date" was Joan.) Then he finds himself a photographer to date, Claudine (Claire Ganaye). Neither of these works out long term, but Morse's ironclad isolationism is shattered. The finale ends with him and Joan face to face. Morse is making his move for the first time.
Will Morse and Joan make a go of it in the new season? Will justice for Fancy be served? How will Thursday take his inability to retire on time? And good god, are we really stuck with that mustache all season?
The new season returns to the four-episode format, so whatever happens, fans will have answers soon. Endeavour Season 6 premieres on Sunday, June 16, 2019, on most PBS stations at 9 p.m. ET. As always, check your local listings.