Endeavour: Cartouche. Television Review.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 8.5/10

Cast: Shaun Evans, Roger Allam, Anton Lesser, Sara Vickers, Sean Rigby, Dakota Blue Richards, James Bradshaw, Caroline O’ Neill, Phil Daniels, Donald Sumpter, Emma Rigby, Linette Beaumont, Abby Wilson, Iain Stuart Robertson, Christopher Sciueref, Ray Polhill, Alan David, John McAndrew, Simon Dutton, Luke Hornsby, Sophia Capasso, Pano Masti, Alister Hawke, David Shaw Parker, Lewis Peek, Robin Weaver, Betty Denville, Michael Levi Harris, Mark Arden, Steven Flynn, Christian J. Parkinson, Billy Rowlands.

It is hard sometimes to take on board the fact that as a nation, we are perhaps the Gemini of countries, that we are held up sometimes as beacon of fair play, of heroic failure and the one that will fight for the smaller nation’s rights, that we doggedly never give up and hang on to the bitter end, for a while the lone fighter in the ring against the rising tide of Fascism that enveloped in Europe. Yet on the other hand we are seen as equally arrogant, politically naive and reckless, a nation not only of shopkeepers but of pirates, of thieves, of holding out a hand of friendship whilst stripping a sovereign nation of its own valuable resources. We have in effect become the standard bearer of honest deceit and it is a den of thieves in which the only moral person around is the one guarding the door to the treasures stolen.

One such issue arises when it comes to the way we have treated Northern Africa, especially in Egypt and the systematic grave robbing of the country’s former rulers and kings, an artefact here, a work of art there, all for the benefit of British museums and private collectors shelves. We are not alone in this artistic vandalism, but we are seen as being untrustworthy when it comes smiling with an open wallet and tough negations.

It is a premise that the second episode of the new series of Endeavour takes to task, the falseness of heroism and the fatal poison administered when revenge festers. It is in Cartouche that the mighty can fall, that the once proud keeper of law and order can be seen scurrying in the darkness like a rat, and in which the criminal class have the edge over the honest and law-abiding.

1960s Oxford, as today, is still revered for its supposed gentility, a marker of respect, of learning, but it is one that like every city and town has its fair share of underworld activity, for every sincere object d’art on loan and carefully surveyed, there is someone who covets the prize on offer; it is a prize that often by passes Endeavour Morse as he sees the world in the cryptic and not so often in the opportune.

With the great Phil Daniels being introduced as Inspector Thursday’s brother and Emma Rigby as his daughter, the sense of temptation, of old lies and new secrets to keep is very much at play and whilst the curse placed upon the stolen is one to explore, it is in the age old institution of cinema that the reveal is most revealing.

A slightly less harangued Morse, a true moment in which the gentler side of the man is revealed but one in which his life takes a step away from happiness; the secret text always hidden in plain sight of the Cartouche.

Ian D. Hall