Endeavour, Season 2, Episode 3, “Sway”
Directed by Andy Wilson
Written by Russell Lewis
Airs Sundays at 9pm (ET) on PBS
“There’s more to life then coppering, or at least there should be for a man your age”
The exploration of character and character development on Endeavour has always been the show’s strongest suit. It has never been afraid to examine the darkest sides of a character’s personality. Endeavour (Shaun Evans) is sometimes a frustratingly closed off man, incapable of making human connections and often baffled by things that don’t concern his job or the puzzles he must solve. Since his shooting at the end of last season, his estranged father’s death, and his subsequent return home, he seems too have evolved, at least to a degree. He’s developed a relationship with his pretty next door neighbor, nurse Monica (Shvorvne Marks) and though he’s still the best at what he does, now he seems wearier, more aware of the changing world around him.
“Sway”, the second season’s penultimate episode, is a moody, atmospheric, and effective mystery revolving around a serial killer. As a fog descends on Oxford, Endeavour and Thursday (Roger Allam) investigate the strangulation of middle aged married women searching for passion. The case puts Thursday in the uncomfortable but not unusual position of defending Endeavour when he questions a senior officer. Endeavour has always been suspicious of those in power but this trait is more pronounced now. Though Endeavour has become its own show, we can see that the character is starting to turn into the man we know he’ll be in the future.
As for the mystery, “Sway” is a smart and scary episode. The various suspects threaten to become confused at first but it all falls into place by the end in a rather spectacular reveal. Late in the episode Thursday talks about wounds that work their way to the heart and eventually kill you. With just one episode left this season it’s obvious that Endeavour is in a place where he is thinking about the future but terrified that he could receive one of those mortal wounds.
The episode has an unusual structure, more artistic and experimental than previous episodes. There are unusual and intriguing camera angles, a choice by director Andy Wilson that adds a noir feel to the whole episode that suits it perfectly. More than anything, “Sway” is about relationships: haunting reminders of the past (Thursday’s relationship with a French shop woman he knew in the war) and Endeavour’s hopes for the future. He seems to be both perplexed by and desirous of a long term romance. “Home”, the season 1 finale, was one of the most deeply felt and emotional episodes of the show’s run but “Sway” is a close second. The only false note in the episode is the choice to frame Endeavour and Monica’s first kiss as fireworks go off in the background, a mistake easily forgiven because of the episode’s honesty and emotion.