Endeavour: exclusive guide to episode two – Fugue

"it's a race-against-time serial killer film," says producer Dan McCulloch

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A new kind of murderer is haunting the streets of Oxford, keeping himself one step ahead of the law and leaving cryptic messages to goad the police. Sounds thrilling? Well, that’s definitely our intention. Endeavour isn’t a series where you have to wait until series three for an adrenaline ride. We’re doing it tonight in our second episode, a race-against-time serial killer film that will push DC Morse to his absolute limits.

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But despite the pace of the show being contemporary in the way it moves, this is still an authentic 1960s piece about a certain type of killer who was just coming to the fore. This was the decade that saw Brady, Hindley, Manson and the Zodiak Killer make their grisly mark on the world. Fugue very much strikes a chord with that time whilst exploring the subject in a modern story structure.

As ever, the professional mixes the personal. Each case is, in some way, about a family, and it’s here that we meet those who Fred Thursday holds most dear: his wife Win and children Joan and Sam. It’s also the episode in which we spend the most time alone with Endeavour – a conscious decision on our part as it highlights how difficult Morse finds it to form stable, domestic bonds. The contradiction of Endeavour’s character is that this lack of a family life makes him who he is. Would he be as good a detective if he were in a loving relationship? It’s doubtful. And there’s great tragedy and great storytelling potential in that.

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Long-time Inspector Morse fans will be interested to know that Masonic Mysteries was the influence on writer Russell Lewis for this film. Also, in Service of All the Dead, we saw that John Thaw’s Morse suffers from vertigo and it’s in Fugue that we see how he might have developed that condition. I wouldn’t wish to spoil it for you in advance, but a tense stand off on the roof of Trinity College sees Endeavour not thinking twice about stepping out on to a ledge that would mean certain death if he fell… Watch out for that and lots of opera and whisky, Endeavour style.