Endeavour, Season 2, Episode 1, “Trove”
Written by Russell Lewis
Directed by Kristoffer Nyholm
Airs Sundays at 9pm (ET) on PBS
“It’s all fun until the music stops”
With so much time between seasons, it’s easy to forget how stunningly brilliant Endeavour is. “Home”, the show’s first season finale, was one of the most devastating and perfectly constructed hours of television in 2013. Shaun Evans, given the daunting task of making a legendary character his own, consistently turned in a powerful, entertaining, and lived in performance that is always affecting.
Picking up four months after Endeavour was shot, as he is returning to duty with the Oxford police department, we see a much different man than the one we’ve gotten to know. His near death experience has left him jittery, an unusual sight for a character we know to be so composed. Even more concerning, he’s drinking too much. He’s been shot and lost his father, and he seems to be suffering from some form of PTSD.
Evans has always played Endeavour with an edge. The character’s general nature is prickly, but this new Endeavour is a sleep-deprived, drunken mess. Endeavour is barely holding things together and he appears to be angry and disaffected, but he’s still the smartest person in the room and he still loves a good puzzle. The problem is Thursday (Roger Allam), usually his greatest ally, is more wary of believing him. Given his trials, it’s ironic that Endeavour seems more focused than ever on the job. Evans plays both sides of Endeavour with ease, shifting between nervous energy and quiet brilliance at the drop of a hat.
As for the episode’s mystery, it’s a twisting and vaguely complicated one. There are a multitude of characters, but writer Russell Lewis weaves them together with a practiced hand. What’s so brilliant and fascinating about Endeavour is the way all the pieces fall together. We see that the usually friendly father/son relationship between Endeavour and Thursday is now very strained. The mysteries of Endeavour are always ambitious and exciting, but what really matters here are the relationships between our characters. Endeavour may be a genius, but Thursday is a longtime detective who just happens to care deeply for Endeavour; when Thursday tells his wife that the “light has gone out of him”, it adds to the viewer’s concern for Endeavour.
As usual, the best part of “Trove” is watching the characters interact and seeing Endeavour connect his three cases. Unlike other crime shows, Endeavour isn’t sensational about its reveals, instead it’s honest and to the point. It just presents the facts. This may still be true, but what’s startling about this particular episode is how frenzied and angry Endeavour is. It’s a distinct change for the character and the series and it will be interesting to see how long it takes our lead to get back to the man he’s been or continue towards the man viewers know he will become.
“Trove” is a great return to the world of Endeavour. The three central mysteries are intriguing and blend together incredibly well, the dialogue and character interactions are endlessly entertaining, and it’s these elements are aided by some of the best acting on TV. This premiere sets up what should be a powerful second season to an already brilliant show.