Sunday, January 29, 2017

Endeavour Series 4 - Harvest - Episode Review

My review of the previous episode: Lazaretto.

In 1962, botanist Matthew Laxman went missing. In the first minutes of Harvest an atmospheric black-and-white flashback shows us his final moments, as he picked up a man on the side of the road, swerved to avoid a lorry and...black screen.

Back to the present. Relatively speaking.

It's 1967, and Courtney College archaeologists have just discovered a 2000-year-old body in Bramford Mere, close to where Laxman disappeared. Morse has a theory about the old body's cause of death, but the more pressing matter is that a pair of glasses were discovered close by that could have been Laxman's. Thursday was dissatisfied with the investigation last time around ("County," he grumbles, but he also suspects his previous bagman D.S. Lott wasn't "as thorough as he could have been") so he drags Morse along and they start to interview relatives.

First of all, there's Mrs. Alison Laxman, who doesn't have much help to offer. She directs them to Laxman's close colleague, Professor Donald Bagley. Bagley used to be a staunch supporter of nuclear power, but when his wife died from leukemia he revoked his support.

That's an interesting coincidence, because there's a huge nuclear power station near Bramford. When Morse and Thursday arrive in the village, they discover that the previous investigation didn't even attempt to interview power station employees. Morse tries to chase down the appropriate bureaucratic permission to get inside, but he's stonewalled. Enter the ever-entertaining Dorothea, who enlists Morse as her photographer "Snappy Jenkins" ("Snappy?" "Well, you can be.") He does a bit of investigating while she interviews the power station chief, Elliot Blake. Blake's American colleague, Dr. Jon Levin, is living in the village.

Morse ran into Mrs. Levin while he was interviewing a handful of villagers who feel like they've been pulled directly from the cornier portions of Hot Fuzz. I don't know much about Britain in the 60's, but a whole village of people whose belief system dates to around 1600 seems like a bit of a stretch. There's a shopkeeper who tells Morse "goddess bless thee." A surly man - Zebulon Sadler - tells Morse and Thursday a grim story about a witch burning. Morris men dance in the center of town. People slam doors and sharpen knives...creepily (it's a small town, you see - small towns are creepy - haven't you seen Midsomer Murders?)

The chief pagan is our very own tarot reader, Dowsable Chattox. "Morse. I've been expecting you," she says, waving her gun at him. She lives in a ramshackle mystical hut in the woods and isn't quite as important as the menacing tarot predictions scattered through the season seemed to imply. While she's an interesting, quirky character, the most important thing about Dowsable is that she's played by Sheila Hancock, John Thaw's wife and Abigail Thaw's step-mother. Hancock seems to have fun playing the absent-minded old biddy, whispering dire predictions and offering to read Morse's fortune, but as tribute characters go, she's no Dorothea.

Of course, there is one sane person in the village, Dr. Tristan Berger, who lives with his sister, Selina. Who would guess that Dr. Berger is, in fact, the head of the village...coven? Cult? Society for the Preservation of Historical Religious Customs? Selina tells Morse that she saw Laxman's car five years ago, right after seeing The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (a young John Thaw's first film).

Morse, meanwhile, has discovered Laxman's clothes on a scarecrow and his car in the barn of Morag Morrison. While Morrison owns up to stealing the car, he denies any involvement with the clothes. Other characters have confessions to make as well. Dowsable Chattox lied about never seeing Laxman, and he was having an affair with Selina Burgess.

Back in the city, D.C.S. Bright has returned to duty. The Cowley station gang go down the pub to have trivia night (Morse looks like he's suffering), and Strange gives Morse a tip about a possible job opportunity in London. It sounds like a good idea - even more so when Morse's flat is burgled by persons unknown. Some of his possessions end up back at the nick, and Thursday finds Morse's picture of Joan. Her address is written on the back, so he tracks her down. While she's surprised at first, she's as defiant as ever, refusing to return to her "9-to-5" life. She says that the married man who furnishes her flat  - Ray Morton - will leave his wife. She seems to believe it. Fred certainly doesn't. While he leaves Joan in peace, he catches up with Ray in the parking garage and puts the fear of God into him, Fred Thursday style.

When Thursday finally confronts Morse about Joan, the older man is surprisingly understanding. But then, I think he's come to realize Joan doesn't want to be saved. Or does she? She turns up at Morse's flat with a black eye and an empty purse. Morse finally makes his move, going from zero to 60 and proposing on the spot. She interprets the proposal as pity, and Morse doesn't correct her - partly, perhaps, because she's right. He has grand, largely abstract romantic feelings for her, but not ones he necessarily wants to make concrete. Her implication that her father wouldn't approve reminds him of his work failures and changes the subject permanently. Joan heads back into the night with a handful of Morse's money. By the end of the episode, Ray's abuse has resulted in the fulfillment of Dowsable's prophecy: Joan miscarries the baby she was carrying. Thus ends the saga of Joan Thursday.

Meanwhile, Morse and Thursday perform a bit of derring do to stop the nuclear power station from being blown up. The plot twist comes from left field, with a few suspects picked seemingly at random to break into what must be Britain's least secure power station and make vague incomprehensible demands. Nuclear power is bad...we will end it by...blowing up a nuclear power station and killing a ton of people....

Nah, me neither.

There are a ton of loose ends in this episode, and while the dramatic material regarding Joan is compelling, everything else is a mess. All the creepy superstitious villagers were red herrings. So were the Americans. The wacky Revelation quotes. Thursday's goofy grin at Buckingham palace is the only positive to come out of this trippy, Midsomer-like ending. (It also reminded me of the Doctor Who episode Hand of Fear, which began with the discovery of an ancient hand and continued to a stand-off at a nuclear power station.)

We're left on what's not-really-a-cliffhanger, since we know Morse never leaves Oxford. Which brings us to our series recap...

Season 4

The season produced two really strong episodes with Game and Lazaretto. Canticle improved on second viewing, but it's still definitely the low point of the series. As for Harvest, it's not the best finale Endeavour has produced, but its character-driven plot makes up for the rather silly mystery.

The choice to use Joan's disappearance as the engine for a season-long arc is one I'm still torn about. We know Morse ends up lonely and unmarried, so the painful scenes between the Morse and Joan, while exquisitely acted, don't quite hold the dramatic weight that earlier "Will they kill Thursday?" or "Will Thursday go bad?" arcs did. Plus, how many chances has Morse had to resolve that situation? The scene in Coda when she ran away felt like an ending, then in Leamington, then in his flat...it's starting to feel like Return of the King. On the other hand, that final scene with Joan was utterly heartbreaking, a tragedy worthy of Inspector Morse.

As for Morse's career, we don't need a Regina ex machina to resolve his promotion problems - we need Morse to actually do some investigating. I'm hankering for a return to the conspiracy story lines. Masonic Mysteries here we come.

Despite these criticisms, I did enjoy this season. Shaun Evans continues to grow as an actor, and can now more than hold his own against the towering Roger Allam. Evans and Vickers's scenes together were great. Anton Lesser, Sean Rigby, and Dakota Blue Richards haven't been utilized very much this season - let's hope that changes, because I like all of them.

If you enjoyed this article, check out my full list of detective reviews.

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Longish

68 comments:

  1. “Marry you? Morse, you must be joking. I don’t even know your first name and you still insist on calling me Miss Thursday. It would never work.”

    All kidding aside, a rewarding finale to an enjoyable series; ‘Harvest’ and indeed the entire 'Mirror, Mirror on the Wall' series 4 went a long way to tying up many loose ends, answering some of those burning questions and still leaving us with a cliff-hanger (of sorts) in the bargain.

    My favourite parts?

    The very touching conversation between ‘Snappy Jenkins’ Morse and Miss Frazil:
    “What’s this, girl trouble?”
    “I haven’t got a girl.”
    “Maybe that’s the trouble.”

    “You’ve made your bed,” Fred Thursday hisses at his daughter as he leaves her flat. Truer words have never been spoken; no need for Dowsable Chattox’s tarot cards to alert us to imminent danger.

    Thanks Hannah for your informative and perceptive reviews; I’ve enjoyed them and your comments section as much as I have all of ‘Endeavour’ Series 4. And you were right about Sheila Hancock; well spotted!

    Right then; bring on Series 5 – all six episodes!

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    1. I like it more the more I think about it. That last scene in the hospital has been on my mind all day.

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    2. I loved it too, it was my favorite episode of the season. We are just getting these in America. I love that Thursday is such a Bad Ass.

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  2. Thank you Hannah. I think, once more, that I enjoyed the episode slightly more than you did, though Russell Lewis could have used those extra episodes this season in order to resolve some of the many threads. The ambition and scope of season 4 were admirable, but maybe a little more focus on fewer story lines would have benefited the whole.

    I wasn't thrilled with the relatively shallow characterizations of the guest cast, but I was thankful for the increased amount of Endeavour-Fred scenes.

    I revisited all of the prior seasons before this season started, and I completely agree with your observation on Shaun Evans' growth as an actor. He's just been riveting - such a defined trajectory through each season.

    Roger Allam really shined in this episode. No wasted words as usual, and I always enjoy seeing Fred Thursday, Man of Action. I'm closer to Fred's age than Endeavour's, and I must admit to feeling immensely gratified as a parent when Fred confronted Ray in the parking garage. My wish fulfilled, thank you very kindly. Also it was great to see Win come alive when she'd finally heard from Joan.

    Thank you so much, Hannah, for taking the time to write these reviews. I appreciate your perspective greatly, and I'll look forward to keeping up with your blog.

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    1. I'm no parent, but Ray had that coming for a long time. Good to see Heroic Fred back again. And all's well with Win - hopefully this means the sandwich schedule will return to normal too. You can automatically tell if there's trouble in Paradise by the state of Fred Thursday's lunch.

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  3. Of course, there is one sane person in the village, Dr. Tristan Berger...

    There are two more, at least. And they are the Americans *shudder*

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    1. Played, as always in UK television, by English actors with perfect Mercun accents (although Alex Wyndham's comes across more Al Pacino than Generic Nebraska). It rarely works the other way, although Laura Linney did a passable UK accent in Mr. Holmes.

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  4. Thank you so much for the prompt reviews. I do enjoy "discussing" each episode right after viewing--it detracts from the experience if I don't. I thought it was a perfect Morse episode, despite the weaknesses you've pointed out. With Morse's promotion, there is no longer a need for him to leave town. Did Joan lose Morse's baby? That could be the only thing that could explain Joan's behavior this Series--in my mind. When she realized she was pregnant after the bank robbery, she left home Because she knew what her parents--and Morse-- would say (marriage). She met the married man later, after she left. Does that make sense? I took it that Morse worked that out when he saw Joan in the hospital, prompting him to leave so quickly.

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  5. I don’t know, Darrell. I saw things differently.

    In ‘Game’ the news on the radio informed us that Billie Jean King won Wimbledon in straight sets. I assume they were referring to the Women’s final, which was held on 6 July 1967. The autumn equinox occurred on 23 August, so 11 weeks and 3 days elapsed in Series 4.

    That’s sufficient time for Joan Thursday to become pregnant by Ray Morton. Or, before she left Oxford, by Morse, or any of the bad boys she ran with. It’s also sufficient time to have an abortion. Given Miss Thursday’s defiance of her father, I think she intended to keep the baby.

    Earlier Bright had said to Morse that he put others before himself. It seems completely uncharacteristic that Morse would walk out on Joan if it had been his child she had just lost. Indeed, I interpreted the opposite. Morse knew that the child could not possibly be his and concluded that Joan did not have feelings for him, and that’s why he left.

    Either way, my hat’s off to Russell Lewis for a wonderfully ambiguous ending.

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    1. But let's examine the whole situation. Joan started acting in an uncharacteristic manner before she left. That was compounded by leaving in the first place--then not phoning when she arrived at her destination--or a day or two later in any case. That would be normal "Joan" behavior. Why the break from everyone right at the start? Sure, the bank robbery and facing death made her re-evaluate her life--but that usually does not result in a break from your loved ones unless you have been in some sort of abusive situation. I'm thinking that Joan was using the cad/bounder while she pondered her choices--that why he was selected. Joan is not the type to hurt a completely innocent third party. Finally, we had Dowsable Chattox tell him he was on a journey that would end in death--not his, though. I don't think the death of the cad/bounder's child would fulfill that prophesy. Morse can't deal with personal issues, and there is the betrayal of Joan not telling him. He would have stayed with Joan if the child wasn't his. Of course they cheat by not revealing what went on off camera.

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    2. I thought the implication was that the baby daddy was Roy in Leamington, though I can see it having been Paul the murderer / bingo caller.

      As for Morse's journey ending in death, I thought Chattox knew what her grandson (was it grandson or son?) had done and knew that he was doomed if Morse were to continue his investigation.

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    3. Morse's flashback in Coda seemed more like a sudden revelation of new feelings than a memory of existing ones. Surely if he'd slept with Joan we would have gotten more of a hint. Instead, he was always (Joan thought: infuriatingly) professional and aloof.

      But Darrell's right that Joan leaving was sudden and out of character. It implies that she was already pregnant, or had some other reason to flee. If I had just been rescued from a bank robbery, I'd at least want to get a good night's sleep and think over my options before hitting the road. And that's another thing: it seemed that the events of the raid affected her in a way the audience doesn't quite understand. What if Ronnie Gidderton was the father? Joan dated him for a while, didn't she? If she'd been pregnant by him she would really have been in a pickle: couldn't stand marrying him, couldn't continue unmarried. When he died, that could have pushed her over the emotional brink. Same would work for Paul Morlock as the father. He was arrested for murder.

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    4. Morse never slept with Joan. Never made a move ever on all of those walks home together (as Joan remarked when he showed up in Leamington. The more I think about it, it I do see Darrell's point about Joan's behavior before she left, and Paul (or someone else in Oxford) as the father makes more sense.

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  6. Interesting that the press release for the new series doesn't mention a return for Sean Rigby as Strange. Perhaps that's how they'll get round the "no room for two sergeants" issue highlighted in the first episode - Strange takes up the job in London? Wider experience might well explain how he gets to be in charge in the original Morse series.

    Can't say I was entirely convinced by the "Wicker-Man-meets-Edge-Of-Darkness" plotline, personally.

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  7. In contrast I saw the village life depicted as it was with insular attitudes and pagan superstition as quite believable Having lived in very rural Dorset plus it's equally rural borders pretty much most of my life, even now there are people in my tiny hamlet who have lived here very specifically all their lives and are pretty non communicative with 'outsiders' (as I am, despite my fathers family having lived only twenty minutes away for over 80 years!, regarded). Growing up in places like the nearby village my father grew up (born 1940) would have been isolated and quiet, virtually no one having cars and little public transport.
    The rituals depicted are not much of a hop, skip and a jump (pun intended) from Morris dancing and maypole dancing which were commonplace all through my childhood in my rural homes and I was born in the 60s. These were simply people who had either lived here all their lives and had no intention of going elsewhere (or people who wanted to preserve/ participate in ancient ritual show.) No sacrifices were given to justify the whicker man criticism or to suggest these people were in any way weird - unless you do, after all,count being insular and superstious weird.......Anyone else here salute magpies....;) No one else ever had their palms read or tarot done? Just out of curiosity? Scratch the surface and an awful lot of us, despite university educations and professional jobs, want to make sense of the past, connect to the past.
    Can't see the problem with the nuclear issue of the plot - it wasn't shown as all bad.... Quite the opposite. Hands were shaken, no one was arrested. The argument that drove Bagley and the CND badge man to try to blow up the plant was completely undermined there and then by Thursday's common sense and compassion for Bagleys grief over his dead wife. Guilt - justified or not- can make people lose their mind. . Extreme views are allowed in 'Endeavour' - but at the end, the leak, while acknowledged, was not dealt with by policing as it wouldn't be. The 60s was a time of questioning everything happening now the immediate post war years were done. The old messages that the state and govnt knew best, that the future was glorious and shiny and clean.... And science (that had won the war) knew best was being challenged. Why wouldn't the series, set when it is, consider the dramatic questions being posed about the future of the rural places where the ways that still resonated through the centuries were embedded, contamination, cancer set against the 'modern' take on science, the future of power and the smaller personal costs as well as the environmental ones. Hell, we are still wrangling about those questions now 50 years later....

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    1. I thought the later rituals, which were viewed as positive, rather quaint cultural relics, felt more authentic than the primitive beat following Morse around the village earlier in the episode. I'm from a small town as well, and my grandmother still doesn't like black cats, so it's not odd to me.

      As for Bagley's anti-nuclear manifesto, I just wished it made a bit more sense. Simple rewrite would've been domestic terrorists who wanted to have revenge on England for [insert political reason.] A mixture of grief and weird religious fervor don't quite cut it for me.

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    3. But I guess that's what all drama is -mixing up what for most of us in our ordinary lives wouldn't consider possible...and presenting it to us in a heightened extreme form? The programme on BBC1 same time: affair, rape, secrets - all one woman, all suddenly happening - not authentic, Sherlock I personally can't watch - authenticity is a subjective topic based as it is on life experience and personal interests.
      As a rural person from largely farming and small holding ancestors I can find the rituals and insularity authentic. I'm not talking about small towns - small isolated villages and tiny hamlets in parts of the U.K. are isolated now let alone in the 60s and while increased mobility and affluence has changed rural dynamic (as the episode hinted at - the Bergers and the American couple will speak to outsiders - they are outsiders too though the doctor has immersed himself in local interests) those old values of the land and seasons and culture are still if we look for them. It's impossible not to feel those things walking as I do with my dogs everyday in landscapes steeped in these aspects of human history - as Morse is shown doing and experiencing in that episode. He might want his cerebral brain to turn away from it - does his brain ever switch off? - he has a crime to solve - but he experiences it nevertheless.
      The beating sounds were not only recognising the build up to the celebration of those things - people smiled and looked happy not murderous! - but also simply a dramatic device to get inside Morse' troubled and intense feelings that have been building through the series.
      In terms of drama also there is the issue of murders. While I really liked the fact the ' murder' storywas essentially unpremeditated and borne out of a gentle romantic chivalric code rather than sexual predation or a damaged mind and that there was only ONE death (unlike earlier episodes and which definitely refuted the 'Midsommer Murders' accusation (the two series are solar systems apart!), I recognise that there ARE grisly murders going on as we discuss this now. Body parts washed up on beaches (even here in Dorset!), children who kill parents, planned in minute detail and sometimes for the strangest of reasons. Many are solved away from the newspaper front pages. Many lie waiting for random chance circumstances....
      So yes, drama is drama. The weight of it is determined by the class of the acting and the class of the production. For me 'Endeavour' has both in spades. I'm happy to be transported to these people's lives as they are played out in impeccably turned out 60s sets. It isn't real but it reflects life - even if it's not our lives.

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    4. Second time of posting the above and still I see more of my typos 😩

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    5. Internet typos don't count.

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    6. Well said, nellie-bean. The contrast of ancient and modern cultures was major theme of the episode. The Morris Dancers served as a Chorus...dramatic staging. The modern power plant truck literally ran someone off the road and disturbed the local ecosystem.

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  8. Oh, no. I hate this ending for Joan. Say it ain't so. We won't get it over here until June...maybe I'll get over it.

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  9. Dear Hannah, thank you so much for your reviews (I have read only 2 for the most recent episodes). They are thorough and insightful as well as witty. While I may not always agree with everything you say immediately, it is certainly food for thought. I will go on to read your other blogs. I also enjoyed other people's reflections a lot - at the end of the day, we are talking about fiction and entertainment but it is of an exceedingly high quality. All thanks to Mr Colin Dexter basically. May the writers come up with plenty more series about such fascinating and (dis)likable characters. Cheers!

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    1. Thank you. Those first few Endeavour reviews date from my senior year in high school, so beware the clunky writing!

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  10. Great review. I agree with the Nah! Not explained to me at least was how come he got his Sergeant rank anyway? What about the missing paper? Anyone help here?

    Our comment was more Midsomer than Morse but still enjoyable. Mainly because we love Shaun Evans!

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    1. Presumably, the queen intervened.

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    2. The promotion is intended to be an inducement to make sure Morse doesn't mention the incident at the power plant as the government has covered it up.

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    3. Will Morse have to prevent a national disaster every time he gets a promotion? Getting to inspector ought to be interesting.

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  11. Hi all,

    Does anyone know the cards that were shown at the beginning to represent each character?

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    1. Here's a screenshot I took:
      https://archive.org/details/Screenshot2436

      I'm not sure they're necessarily meant to represent the characters.

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  12. Well, I feel a complete heel saying this, as I have enjoyed your Endeavour Series 4 recaps, but I think "Dowsabel" may be the more likely spelling. I haven't seen the episode yet, since it won't be shown in America until 10th September, but reading your recap (I need spoilers) triggered something. Googling showed that "Dowsabel" is the name of the kitchen maid in Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors, as described by the hapless Dromio of Syracuse in Act 4 Scene 1. It's one of the few Shakespeare plays I know well, for reasons I'll spare you, but they are pleasant ones. And so, out of this spelling question, I thank you for a Proustian moment :)

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    1. Well, IMDB shows that I am completely off base and that Dowsable is correct! Never mind...

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  13. Just watched the episode here in America. A note regarding Joan's pregnancy. The doctor told Morse that she took a fall that caused her to miscarry. In the old days, women would pitch themselves down a flight of stairs to induce labor - a do-it-yourself abortion. To an older viewer such as myself, it was clear what happened. Just an FYI.

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    1. That boyfriend had just beat her up. That caused the miscarry. She said she fell to cover up she was beaten. If she said she was beaten, the hospital would have called the police and Dad would then know everything.

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    2. There was nothing about Joan's actions that made me think she was seeking abortion. As Tom said above, her defiance of Fred made him think she meant to keep the baby. Besides she'd had plenty of time and Morse provided money, so I think she could have had an abortion if she'd wanted one. What seems far more obvious is that Ray Morton hit her, she fell, and miscarried.

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    3. I think that's a possibility, but I also thought it possible that she had told her cad lover she was pregnant and the black eye was just a prelude to his pitching her down the stairs - part of his physical abuse of her.

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    4. I think Joan did launch herself downstairs to miscarry. It’s hard to see on first viewing but I think the timing and Morse’s emotions show it. When Joan goes to Morse’s flat she told him Roy dumped her and had given her 2 weeks to vacate the flat he rented for her; showing he doesn’t want to see her again. Roy took Fred’s beating and threats not to see Joan very seriously. Also, Morse asked her if she was going back and she said “to get her things” [only]. So there’s nothing to indicate she ever saw Roy before the hospital.
      Morse’s emotions and reaction tell us he thinks Joan harmed herself to lose the baby. His emotions are sadness and empathy. If he thought Roy endangered her life by tossing her downstairs he would have been in a flurry of rage and have set out to find Roy. When he saw Joan’s black eye he wanted to get Roy right then and if he thought it happened again and worse he would have gone on the warpath. Instead he leaves the hospital calmly and we next see him picking up his medal. Joan had lived with Roy for 11 weeks as another reviewer pointed out. She would have known she was pregnant and when Fred got Roy out of the picture there went her only help to raise the baby. Fred said “you made your bed.” Meaning he wouldn’t help her; plus the reason she left home was to prevent Fred from finding out she accidentally helped the Mathews gang rob the bank and she felt she was responsible for her coworkers death during the raid.

      Want to add my thanks too, great blog!
      PS
      I meant to reply here but first put it below by mistake, dang!

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    5. Hannah, in those days it wasn't enough to have the money. One also had to know where to go. For example, in the pilot, the pathologist tells Morse that the murder victim, a 15-year-old girl, had been pregnant at one time, but had had an abortion that was very skillfully done. The assumption is that either the corrupt cops, the pimp, or the wealthy and powerful men had the connections to a surgeon who performed the procedure.

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    6. Agreed, but I think if Joan had really wanted to, she could have found someone to do the procedure. I think she had the ingenuity to figure out something. Her desperation in Morse's flat seemed to me that of someone who really wanted to grab the lifeline that he presented.

      Plus, I bet her scumbag boyfriend would've wanted her to abort the baby, and would've helped her find out how. The fact that she'd fallen out with Roy and wanted Morse's help implies to me that she did want to keep the baby. Of course, maybe she thought Morse would be the best person to ask about abortion, since none of her family members would approve...but I just can't see it. He seems like such a boy scout, and I think she saw him as the "good guy" that she wanted to be wooed by (but who's too hesitant to commit).

      I do think the fact that Morse didn't react by hunting down and running Roy down in his Jag implies Joan's actions could have been self-inflicted.

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    7. Sorry for the lateness - I just watched Harvest and am haunted by it. I agree with the Sept. comment - "Morse’s emotions and reaction tell us he thinks Joan harmed herself to lose the baby. His emotions are sadness and empathy."

      I think Morse was sitting in his flat thinking about Joan, his life, London, and the phone rings - Joan must of told them to call him before she fell asleep - Dr says he gave her something so she could sleep -

      He is shocked to learn she is pregnant, bemused that he is thought of as the husband, and then realizes that the romantic fantasy he had of Joan is not someone who would harm herself or the baby.

      I heard that children who had experienced trauma are stuck at that emotional age when it occurred until they deal with it, and Morse's mom died when he was 12, so a 12 yr boy would have a romantic fantasy of Joan and then not be able to face her when she doesn't meet the fantasy.

      Did you notice that Joan whispers "Dad" when Morse leaves? and Morse walks down the hall under two "way out" signs?



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  14. Apologies if I sound totally clueless, but what scene in episode 4 talks about Joan being pregnant??? Did I somehow totally miss that?? All i remember was Morse getting the phone call and the Dr telling him she'd had a bad fall...?

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    1. The doctor said something along the lines of - "you're a young couple - you can try again," because he thought Morse was the father of the miscarried baby.

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  15. We caught the Hot Fuzz vibes, too- complete with the shepherd reprising the role of Lurch ("Yarp, I killed im, narp, I didna mean ta"). Also, having spent yesterday, our live-broadcast-pre-emption night (damn PBS affiliate), watching the original Morse episode, when Max mentioned the 2,000 year old corpse in this one, I wondered if it was that chap Sophocles. (Also, if you follow Orphan Black, when they finally dug up the rest of Laxman, we were obligated to say, "Found the squishy!")

    Thanks as always for your thoughts on this series:)

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  16. I LOVE MORSE AND DI THURSDAY . DOES HE MARRY JOAN IN LONDON?
    HE NEEDS A LOVING WIFE AND I THINK THEY COULD MAKE IT
    IT MAKES ME MISS LONDON SOOOOO MUCH
    I CAN FEEL THE PAIN OF WINIFRED MISSING JOAN ,BUT , THE SON IS NEVER MENTIOED AGAIN . HOPE THEY CLEAR UP THESE ISSUES IN THE NEXT SEASON.




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  17. Thanks for this blog! I wanted to ask about the significance of the finding of the 2000 year old skeleton. Was it just to further characterize the differences between the old and the new in the village? Also, the finding of Laxman's body by the Geiger Counter was an interesting scene. However, the old nuclear spill from 5 years back contaminated the whole creek so how could they find Laxman's irradiated body near the contaminated creek? Probably best not to examine the science too closely in this episode.

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    1. It seemed like the skeleton's discovery was mainly an excuse for finding the glasses, though it could have contributed to that ancient-versus-modern aesthetic.

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  18. I just wanted to say, where as this blog been all my life, I found you by accident. Thank you so much for doing this. You are wonderful. I am a British cop/mystery whatever freak. I just love love love a British policeman who are totally "put upon".

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    1. Thank you! I write about this stuff pretty regularly, so hope you drop in from time to time.

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    2. Oh your blog is now in my long list of favorite writings to go to, and by the way I think you are spot on in your post of September 17th on the fact that Joan was p.g. and how her louse of a boyfriend reacted and how Endeavor reacted. Thanks kiddo!

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    3. Great! A good way to keep up with the mystery stuff is through this page:
      https://www.facebook.com/detectiveupdates/

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  19. I can understand Thursday and Morse getting the medal but how did Morse suddenly become DS? Did I miss something?

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    1. I think they gave him the promotion as a reward for saving the entire country of England and for having such fluffy hair. Snort Snort. It works for me.

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    2. I guess I assumed that Bright had something to do with both things happening -- he would have put it in his recommendations that they receive the medals, etc. I don't know. Leave his hair alone! It's lovely, he's lovely! :)

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  20. Has anyone mentioned this? Series 3 finale, She's Leaving Home--"meeting a man from the motor trade" was assumed as "going to get an abortion" by some of us who were young when it came out. Also I didn't think the American accents were all that good. Instantly heard as UK by this American (who has lived both places)

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    1. That's a good point. I'm not familiar with the song, but it was clearly evoked in the series 3 finale.

      I thought the accents sounded wrong too - rather like the typical, slightly-too-flat, Brit-trying-to-be-a-Midwestern-American accent. I'm an American too, and I can say that while American accents on British TV have improved over the years (there were some really pathetic attempts in the 80s and 90s) they still have some work to do.

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    2. I am familiar with that song, and you are spot on...that could well be....Well THAT JOAN...my dear, she really needs to invest in some good birth control that one.

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  21. Let's face it: Colin Dexter and Russell Lewis got lost in the woods after the first two seasons. And this, "Harvest" must be the worst one of all. How Morse treated the girl he's supposed to love like that is like he treated Monica (a wonderful Shvorne Marks). I think there maybe some sexual confusion between the two writers. God, it made me abandon Endeavor altogether. Major stupid.

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  22. Let's face it: Colin Dexter and Russell Lewis got lost in the woods after the first two seasons. And this, "Harvest" must be the worst one of all. How Morse treated the girl he's supposed to love like that is like he treated Monica (a wonderful Shvorne Marks). I think there maybe some sexual confusion between the two writers. God, it made me abandon Endeavor altogether. Major stupid.

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    1. I don't think you can blame CD for anything other than a few cameos in this series, especially seeing how he's now dead. As for the rest of the writing: you have to remember the four corners of Morsean reality within which they have to work. Morse can't die, and we all know it. Likewise, every other character who MUST be alive 20 years hence. (Wouldn't it be fun, though, if Russell Lewis just kills him off some week and it turns out we've been watching some OTHER Oxford CID dude who happens to be named Morse? Final scene, 20 years later. Strange: "Didn't you use to work here?" John Thaw Lookalike: "Nope, haven't been in town since Uni days.") So they've got to create their conflicts, and resolutions, in a way that won't disrupt the timeline but also bring in the culture and conflict of the times. Granted, this season's plots have hit the low-hanging fruit for that- the rock band trope, the No Nukes storyline- but we'll see where Series 5, with more room to roam, takes Morse- whoever the hell he is.

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  23. This has nothing to do with timelines and four corners. It's about blown plots and how Lewis first can't put together plot points in Morse suddenly and inexplicably ditches Monica and then, is in a position twice to do something about Joan and does nothing to the point where viewers like me went screaming out of the room. Screw Morse in the future. This is about losing audience because young morse played by Shawn Evans is the most uninteresting character on the face of television. Screw the future, the future is now.

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  24. I'm in the US and rather than wait for the US premiere on PBS in September, I saw them on Youtube. The production values weren't great and they had Spanish subtitles but...you know. When I saw the US version, I was horrified to see that PBS (?) did some editing on the originals. They don't show any part of the quiz night so we just see Strange and Morse walking down the street talking about the job in London. When Fred goes to see Joan, his unhappy conversation with her and her married man was sliced up with what was happening with the other detectives elsewhere. It took all the tension out of the scene. There were a couple of other differences as well.

    But, I did think the black eye was from the Leamington man, but I believe that Joan probably made herself fall to miscarry. As someone stated above, that's what girls did. Had Ray beat her to cause the miscarriage, I think that Joan would have more than a black eye. I'm not sure why Joan ran to Oxford except I guess she figured Morse might have an idea or two. So much of me wanted to have him tell her to come to London with him but that's like watching "Titanic" and expecting it to turn out differently.....

    Does anyone know whether Sara Vickers is expected to return for Season 5? Watching that heartbreaking scene in the hospital made me feel that this was the end of Joan for him...that whatever she does, she'll be out of his orbit. That's my head speaking, not my heart. Another almost equally heartbreaking scene is Morse putting his hand out to shake and Fred looking so bemused and puzzled. He knows something is changing and it killed me to see them together this season. Honestly, this is the one show where I'm really impatient to see the new season. I think this season has seen Shaun Evans really mature as Morse, as an actor and the character, and I so love the rest of the cast (although I will say it was disconcerting to watch "Game of Thrones" followed by "Endeavour" for the Sunday nights when they were together -- Anton Lesser is so himself in both. Love him. Obviously, I disagree heartily with the post above -- I find Shaun Evans' Morse much more interesting than John Thaw's....OK, let's just as least as interesting. I would have preferred a better closure for Monica. Morse is not insensitive and if they had conversations offstage, we should have been told. That is a very deep flaw in the writing.

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    1. Sara Vickers will be back for series 5. She's been spotted filming scenes.

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  25. Loved your post and I agree with you, I think I love this series even more than the original Morse series as well, mainly because I have a horrible crush on the young Morse, he is so good looking, and you know what they say about still waters. You did a great post, and yes there should have been better closure with Monica, she was really good to him. He's just so shy and messed up, but we love him just the same. I don't know if Sara Vickers is coming back to the show, but I'll snoop around and see what I can find out for ya. And yes, you are quite correct, I remember the 60's quite well, and yes, that is exactly what gals tried to do if they got into "trouble", fall down some stairs, go horseback riding like Betty Draper on Mad Men? Another terrific but gone American series, believe it or not.

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  26. Oh by the way, I checked on Sara Vickers, and she is scheduled to be filming Endeavour in 2018, so she will be back.

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  27. Great review! Sorry for the lateness - I just watched Harvest and am haunted by it. Among the things that have me puzzled is if Morse got burgled by kids in the neighborhood, how does he have a wad of cash to give to Joan?

    I think the Freemason cabal is involved and that they also arranged for the London job to get him out of town.

    Also, I think it's odd that Morse got his medal left on his new Sargent's desk (no office supplies or type writer, like on his desk) and that he didn't go to the medal ceremony with the Thursdays. Even though he doesn't like to play the "Game", it's the Queen, doesn't everyone want to meet the Queen? And he shows up in the Police Station in the same clothes as the hospital visit, so prior to the phone call from the hospital he wasn't getting ready for the ceremony since he didn't have on his tuxedo suit on (which we know he has)....

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  28. There is an interesting exchange near the end of "Harvest" where Thursday accuses young Chattox, the murderer, of objecting to Laxman because he (Chattox) feels Laxman was not worthy of Selina, that she deserved better, that she deserved him, Chattox. I haven't seen the episode for a while, but I believe Thursday says something to the effect that it is not his (Chattox) decision to make. Morse listens intently to this exchange and seems to understand something in that moment, perhaps about his feelings for Joan. I have been puzzling over what the next step will be for him with regard to Joan, and I think now that he will step back from Joan, understanding that his motivation in pursuing her has been similar to Seth's, but that it has to be her choice too. And she, who has spent five years sending him every possible signal that she wants him, will not do more. I had really hoped that the writers would let them be happy for a while. I do not believe that Inspector Morse would have been the vibrant,engaged man he was if his life had been one of unremitting loss and heartbreak. I think Joan does not want to be a policeman's wife, the waiting and the worry, the ruined anniversary parties and the long nights waiting for the hospital to call...that might be what drives them apart, since Morse won't give it up even for her, but I would like to see them have a little time of happiness. I note that Sara Vickers only appears in Episodes 1 and 6 in Season 5, so it seems it is not completely over, but fading away. Although the entire romance is only about 30 minutes of screen time, it has been so masterfully acted by Shaun Evans and Sara Vickers, that it has utterly captivated everyone I know. I cannot wait, although I guess I will have to, for Season 5.
    I enjoy reading everyone's thoughts on this great blog. Thanks for letting me comment. Such a great program!!

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