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Endeavour – ‘Confection’

We’re nearing the finale of this sixth season of Endeavour, and it feels like we’ve covered a lot of ground in comparatively little time. ‘Confection’ is a good episode, offering a solid murder mystery (if not the show’s strongest), but it really succeeds in driving forward the emotional aspects of this series.

Morse is summoned to the sleepy Oxfordshire village of Chigton Green after the owner of a local confectionary factory is found dead, shot and killed while out with the local hunt. His investigation turns up the bodies of one of his employees and her husband, an apparent murder-suicide, but Morse suspects that there is more to the deaths – and, when he learns about a spate of poison pen letters that have been terrorising the village, he is convinced that there is a connection.

Bright and Thursday have been suffering emotionally throughout this series, and their agony gets worse tonight

‘Confection’ is a dark episode of Endeavour. This is highlighted in a beautifully shot opening (the day-to-day life of the hunt and the factory workers lead up to a woman being shot in the back), and in the amount of death we see – by the time of the first ad break, we’re up to four deaths already, and things only get unhappier for our characters from then on.

Bright and Thursday have been suffering emotionally throughout this series, and their agony gets worse tonight. Lesser always plays Bright with such quiet, understated dignity, and that really shone through in a deeply sad scene with James Bradshaw (Dr Max DeBryn) about the tragedy he is facing at home. Thursday has been struggling with the disconnect through his wife, and a scene in which he buys her some chocolates is all the more painful because it fails despite the hints of a happy former life between them. In his despair, Thursday crosses a line that was hinted at, but which all Endeavour fans had hoped he wouldn’t (and which, I predict, will set up a huge conflict between him and Morse in the final episode).

Speaking of Morse, ‘Confection’ gives him the potential for a bit of romance – in this case, he meets the young widow Isla Fairford (Olivia Chenery), and a spark develops between the two. It’s sad that, because of the curse of the prequel, we know that Morse must end up the eternal bachelor, but this romance is incredibly sweet and it’s a shame that there is little time spent off it.

Morse’s other subplot begins at ‘Confection’s opening, on the discovery of another heroin death. Strange is finally ready to let Morse in on his theory – that it is incredibly suspicious that DI Box is so disinterested in looking into it – which, given some of the series’ developments, seems not at all improbable. We look to be heading into a big finale next week too as, at the episode’s end, it seems as though Morse and Bright may have answered one of those lingering questions – who killed DS George Fancy?

The supporting cast doesn’t get too much to do in ‘Confection’, but this is an ensemble piece and everyone pulls their weight.

With all this talk about subplots, I don’t want to avoid the episode’s mystery, which was enjoyable, even though I thought the identity of the culprit was perhaps a little more obvious than in previous instalments of Endeavour. This chocolate-box village (no pun intended) and the general plot were very reminiscent of both Agatha Christie’s The Moving Finger and Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Le Corbeau, and it created a similar vibe of a place where everyone is on edge and suspicion of each other runs high. The supporting cast doesn’t get too much to do in ‘Confection’, but this is an ensemble piece and everyone pulls their weight.

‘Confection’ is a solid and quite dark episode of Endeavour, which finely balances the line between offering up a crime story and setting up elements for next week’s finale. I expect that the emotional beats will stick with the audience long after the mystery elements do but, after this showing, it’s going to be a long week waiting to see how the series will conclude.

Next week: Morse and Thursday investigate the gruesome murder of a librarian at the Bodleian, with little to go on besides a set of muddy boot prints.

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