A cartouche is oval with, at one end, a horizontal line – an Egyptian inscription of royalty. In the second episode of Endeavour’s fifth season, Detective Sergeant Endeavour Morse deciphers Egyptian hieroglyphs and other clues.
Cartouche opens to a film show at The Roxy. After watching The Pharaoh’s Curse, retired policeman, Ronald Beavis, goes home and is found dead in his bed by his landlady. There is alcohol in his room and the autopsy shows that his heart and liver are damaged. Death by natural causes?
But toxicology shows that strychnine, in orange squash, killed him. Endeavour finds a cinema ticket in the dead man’s possessions. Beavis had the squash at the Roxy.
Endeavour heads for the movie hall and discovers that it is struggling to survive. Gangsters are threatening the movie hall’s café owner. And one of the gang is killed while leaving the café.
Investigations reveal that the deceased Beavis worked for an Egyptian archaeologist, Dr Shoukry, at the nearby Pitt Rivers Museum. Shoukry, passionate about preserving his ancient heritage, does not like the British.
To compound matters, there are arson attacks on Kenyan Asians – Indians. Detective Inspector Fred Thursday and Chief Superintendent Bright are tense about rising racial tensions.
A brick is thrown at the glass window of a public advice centre, where Asians flock for help. DI Thursday’s daughter, Joan, works there. Endeavour has a crush on her but has never declared his love. She is fond of him. However, she will not give her heart to a policeman, seeing how life is with a Detective Inspector father.
Previously, on the show, Joan left home, feeling responsible for endangering her father. When she was hostage at a bank robbery, Thursday almost shot the gangster involved. Fred Thursday gets violent when it is a question of Joan.
Father and daughter are never on good terms. But, when she left home, Thursday grew bitter and withdrawn and her mother broke down.
Now she’s back. And Endeavour meets her when looking into the brick throwing incident at the advice centre. Will romance blossom?
When the detectives reflect on Beavis, dead “with only a bottle for company“, Endeavour looks worried. Thursday, almost father figure to young Endeavour, is reassuring:
You’ll make better choices.
However, we know better! Inspector Morse, Endeavour in the future, is a bachelor. Things can’t get too promising. As Dr. Shoukry puts it, perhaps that’s possible
In the afterlife.
And, as Thursday retorts:
That’s beyond our jurisdiction.
But, let’s return to Endeavour’s love life. Early in Cartouche, he meets a pretty young girl.
And the next thing we know is that she’s leaving the flat he shares with Detective Sergeant Strange and newcomer Fancy. Well, we say to ourselves, the boy’s getting over his shyness with the ladies and turning into the ladies man that Detective Inspector Morse is. Only this is not just any lady! It’s Joan’s cousin. And Morse is asked to show her around town!
Since the girl has no interest in the fine academic buildings of Oxford, Endeavour takes her to the Roxy. She’s thrilled as many film stars are there. Including the famous Emil Valdemar.
It’s a grand event and The Roxy wants to gift Valdemar a watch as appreciation. However, the gift box has an Egyptian cartouche! And the old actor fears the curses associated with robbing pyramids.
All hell breaks loose as the Egyptian archaeologist, also present, protests – the cartouche was taken from his museum. And Endeavour spots a major gangster among the guests. Now, there’s a third corpse as the movie hall organist drops dead after a drink. The mystery grows until it crescendos to a grand flaming finale – a tribute to the epic films of yore.
Shaun Evans, who plays Endeavour, also plays an actor in one of the films shown in the show. All the actors, regulars and new, do a splendid job of it.
Most Endeavour, Inspector Morse and Inspector Lewis episodes are written by Russell Lewis. It is he who brings in the many literary and other enriching references that make Endeavour so pleasurable. To know more, Meet Endeavour writer Russell Lewis: a real man of mystery.
The dialogues are rich and pithy. Making a parallel between anthropologists and detectives, Dr Shoukry says they are both
keepers of the dead.
Cartouche is directed by Andy Wilson who has a decent line of productions to his credit. Here’s a trailer for his Ripper Street.
This blog has followed a British drama for some posts now. A police show. So, what’s new? Don’t we have many police serials in India?
Yes, we do. But most are badly made, full of stomach churning brutality by cops or villains.
Endeavour is not just about crime and punishment. Episodes cover the routine circumstances of the police station and the historical forces acting on such units.
Endeavour is based on the main character in a series of novels written by Colin Dexter. The author was very much an academic. So it is natural that the setting is Oxford, a university town.
Colin Dexter loved crosswords as much as his detective does.
Dexter created Morse and, in time, Inspector Morse became a TV show.
Then followed a series called Inspector Lewis, based on Morse’s assistant.
And, eventually, a prequel to Morse was born, the marvellous Endeavour!
Endeavour rests on a network of references. And one ends up watching Inspector Morse and Inspector Lewis as well. In the next post, we continue to journey through Endeavour episodes with The Passenger.