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The Endeavour Season Finale: The Shot Heard Round the World

Endeavour Poster
Endeavour Series on PBS Inspector Morse - Shaun Evans and DCI Thursday - Roger Allam

After nine seasons over 11 years, the prequel to the popular “Morse” series based on Colin Dexter’s novels, “Endeavour,” has come to a close.

The finale has left many fans, including me, with questions. (Spoiler alert: I will discuss details from the finale.)

One thing we know about Morse from the first series is that he always acts with integrity, but we don’t get the full picture of why he is also melancholy and regretful. “Endeavour” seeks to answer those question in the last episode. For example, in a scene when DCI Thursday’s daughter, Joan, is getting married there is a fantasy sequence where Endeavour tells Joan he’s in love with her, but it is too late. This is where Endeavour speaks his truth which differs from every other time he has a chance to sweep Joan off her feet and declare his love but holds back. It’s a satisfying scene because we see our fantasy of how we want things to turn out, but, of course, the real story plays out after. There is no declaration of love, only Endeavour’s weak smile as he congratulates Joan on her marriage to none other than the man who stepped up and asked Joan to marry him, DS Jim Strange, a man Endeavour has championed at the station.

Then there’s the gunshot near the end of the finale. The background is set up during the episode that Endeavour will take a secret to his grave before showing what a devil’s bargain that declaration becomes when he solves the last mystery: Who killed the gang member nicknamed Tomahawk (aka Peter Williams) who we discover was the boy that got away from Blenheim Vale. The scene plays out on screen. In order to save his son from being attacked and possibly killed, Thursday wrestles a knife away from Tomahawk and ends up stabbing him in the scuffle.

In a scene at the bar, Endeavour tells his mentor and father-figure, Thursday, that he knows the detective killed Peter Williams. This conflict, and the absolute loss of Joan, goes a long way to build the character of Morse, a loner who falls for the wrong women, listens to classical music that soothes his tortured soul, and fights for justice, even though he has the burden of keeping an injustice a secret.

Now we come to the famous off-screen gunshot. On the streets of Cambridge, Thursday and Endeavour say their final goodbye’s. With a “Mind how you go,” Thursday hands his friend and colleague over eight seasons his trusty gun.

In the next scene, Endeavour is sitting on a bench in front of the church holding the gun and looking around to make sure there are no people in the vicinity. The camera cuts to shots of birds and wide shots of picturesque scenery when a shot rings out. The shock is palpable. Did Endeavour shoot himself? Shoot someone else? It is only at the very end that we see Endeavour singing in the choir and know he is very much alive.

Why the shot? It has been speculated that Endeavour played Russian Roulette with the gun. If that was the intention, we would not have heard a shot but an empty chamber discharging and, again, where did the shot come from? Maybe he discharged the gun into the ground, symbolically burying the past. Endeavour is reborn, able to move forward with the pain he has endured (much of which is self-inflicted). The pain put at a distance so he can continue to solve crimes and absorb whatever psychic harm he must to save the day. Bidding farewell to his old self he is able to bury Thursday's terrible secret, but there would always be that lingering knowledge making Endeavour even more mournful and full of regret than usual.

In a nod to the first scene of the “Endeavour” series where young Endeavor drives his Jaguar through the gates of Blenheim Hall passing “Morse” driving out, the reverse plays out in the very last scene of the series. Endeavour drives out of the gates and passes Morse driving his red Jag into the gates. It is a poetic scene that Endeavour Morse would have appreciated.


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