Endeavour, Season 2, Episode 2, “Nocturne”
Written by Russell Lewis
Directed by Giuseppe Capotondi
Airs Sundays at 9pm (ET) on PBS
“I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I have an overwhelming sense of dread”
Endeavour has always had a quiet and understated edge to it, which really isn’t all that different from our main character. Still struggling with the effects of his shooting, Endeavour (Shaun Evans) is put on a case involving the murder of a museum worker with a ceremonial dagger and a girl’s boarding school in a small town called Slepe. The opening scene, a flashback to a murder in July of 1866, is particularly disturbing and does an excellent job at setting up an eerie tone for the rest of the episode. Between the 100 year old murder, young girls convinced their school is haunted, and Endeavour’s bafflement, “Nocturne” is an unsettling episode.
Like most episodes of Endeavour, “Nocturne” is beautiful. It’s all shadows, mossy grounds, cold mansions, and museums. For a show that’s so rooted in a sense of reality, it’s a surprise to see a supernatural-themed episode, but director Giuseppe Capotondi and writer Russell Lewis manage to ground even the most unusual scenes. Endeavour is also aided by Evans, an incredibly deft and charming actor who consistently manages to make Morse one of the most compelling characters on television. Endeavour is such a rich character it would be easy to continue comparing the show to its predecessor, but thanks to Evan’s performance Endeavour has become its own powerful show.
“Nocturne” is an odd episode and has some truly frightening moments, like Endeavour’s investigation of a hidden attic or the final chase through the school. As with most things concerning Endeavour however, the crucial element is where the story takes our characters. Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of the episode is how lost Endeavour appears as he struggles to understand the case. It leaves the viewer disoriented; he’s lost and so are we. We’re used to seeing him completely in control, but “Nocturne” shows two of the most defining aspects of Endeavour’s personality. He’s an unflinching investigator, unable and unwilling to give up, and he cares deeply for the people who need his help.
“Nocturne” proves why Endeavour is such a brilliant show. The episode is smart and clever in its dialogue, acting, and storytelling but it takes a risk in its plot. While the final conclusions don’t really have anything to do with the supernatural, the fact that Endeavour is willing to even go there in the first place shows how fearless it is. Endeavour’s second season premiere was a great reminder of what the show can do and “Nocturne” is a great continuation on that opening episode.
It’s easy to forget that Endeavour can be very funny at times. Between Morse’s questioning of the teen girls, their later discussion of his “dishy looks”, and Morse’s disinterest in the World Cup, “Nocturne” has a number of very funny and charming moments.