'Endeavour' Recap: Season 8 Episode 1

Daniel Hautzinger
Thursday and Morse in season 8 of Endeavour. Photo: Mammoth Screen and Masterpiece
Thursday and Morse investigate a bombing at Oxford. Photo: Mammoth Screen and Masterpiece

Endeavour is available to stream. Recap the previous and following episodes.

Jack Swift wins games for the Oxford Wanderers, which may be why someone called from a public phone at the Plaza Hotel and threatened that he would be shot if he plays in his next soccer game. Morse doubts the threat is serious, but Bright assigns him to guard Swift: Morse doesn’t care about sports, so he won’t get distracted. The only thing that Swift says has been out of the ordinary recently was that he spotted George Sellars, a friend from back home, in town, but weirdly hasn’t heard from George.

Morse would rather be working a case involving the death of a young woman at Oxford. She was a secretary to an administrator of the college, Lucius Stamfield. She came into the office in the morning to find on her desk a Valentine’s card and a package addressed to Stamfield, which exploded and killed her, injuring the other secretary.

There’s a postal strike, and none of the Oxford services have records of delivering anything, so the package must have been hand-delivered. The explosive seems to have been made of dynamite rigged up to an alarm clock.

The victim was engaged to be married and had a sister who spends time at a safe house for abused women run by Joan Thursday. Strange visits to speak to the sister and learns that the victim visited occasionally, and had recently come to drop off some toys for her sister’s children. Before leaving, Strange asks Joan to join him at a charity ball, and she accepts.

Morse has to attend his own evening event: Robert Fenner, the owner of the Wanderers, runs a fashion house, and Swift is due to attend a fashion show of his at the Plaza Hotel. During the show, Morse overhears someone in the lobby saying they’ll “get him at the end of the show.” He immediately calls Thursday for back up, but it turns out that the man he overheard is a television host, and that Swift is being surprised with an appearance on a show where all his friends and family appear and tell stories.

Swift is from Northern Ireland, so many of the guests are staying at the Plaza Hotel—including Swift’s friend George, whom he spotted earlier; George’s wife Sarah; and Duke Ward, the talent coach who initially discovered Swift. John Paul Martinelli, a young Irishman who has been called the “next Jack Swift” and plays on the team opposing the Wanderers at their next match is also on the show as an admirer of Swift.

Martinelli and Swift share an agent, Ray Jubba, who gets them promotional deals and sponsorships, and is secretly negotiating a transfer of Martinelli to the Wanderers. Duke Ward, who also discovered Martinelli, hates Jubba for intruding on the talent of his finds for pure profit instead of cultivating their talent.

Swift leaves the party after the show early, with Morse in tow. He tires of the life of a celebrity. He has a wife, but regrets losing a girl from his youth, when he was forced to choose between her or pursuing soccer. He’s not faithful, calling a woman to spend the night, which leads to some yelling when his wife gets home the next day.

Swift plays at the match for which the threat was made, but disappears as the game ends, to Morse’s angst. The coach reassures Morse that Swift is just taking a bath. Morse eventually goes to check the locker rooms and finds Swift’s wife screaming: a body wearing Swift’s jersey is floating in the tub. But it’s not Swift: it’s Martinelli.

He died from drowning, but had also been hit on the back of the head, perhaps by a nearby champagne bottle. No fans could have gotten in, so the attacker must have been someone in the club or one of their guests.

Duke Ward saw the agent Jubba talking with what he thought was Swift but was actually Martinelli wearing Swift’s jersey, and accuses Jubba of killing him. Martinelli had asked Duke for advice before the game: Jubba had encouraged him to throw the match in order to make sure his transfer to the Wanderers went through. Martinelli did in fact miss a free kick and lose the game. Swift was also due to be traded, being a bit past his prime; the Wanderers coach was going to tell him after the match.

Speaking of Swift, Morse and Thursday find him safe at his home. He and Martinelli had had a little fight on the field but after the match they shook hands and traded jerseys as a sign of respect. Perhaps the assailant had meant to attack Swift but mistook the jersey.

Fingerprints on the champagne bottle are traced to Duke Ward, but he tells the police that he simply took the bottle away from Martinelli, who was about to open it. Ward feared that Martinelli would fritter away his talent on extravagances like Swift.

Morse is trying to determine whether the explosive package was meant for Stamfield or the secretary it actually killed. He visits the victim’s flat and finds another valentine, from her fiancé, as well as a paper from a student at Oxford. The fiancé explains that he hand-delivered his card, given the postal strike, and that the victim’s flat had recently been broken into but she hadn’t reported it. She was soon to come into money from a late great-aunt who had liked her best.

The student admits to Morse that he was in love with the victim, whom he paid to type up his papers. He had left the unsigned valentine for her in her office, coming in early to do so. He was nearly caught by someone he assumed was Stamfield, even though it was early.

Morse then visits Joan’s safe house, where he is rude to her and she is worried by his penchant for afternoon drinking. (He has recently had a tendency to fall asleep on couches and sleep in after a night of heavy drinking.) He searches the room of the victim’s sister: he believes the victim had something valuable that whoever broke into her flat was looking for, and so she may have moved it somewhere safe. Somewhere like the dollhouse she gave to her sister: Morse finds a cassette tape hidden in it.

The cassette comes from Stamfield’s Dictaphone, which the victim transcribed each day. It had accidentally been running during a conversation Stamfield had with Fenner, the owner of the Wanderers. The two men were conspiring to make money off the leasing of the Wanderers’ field, which the college owns. The victim heard the plan and then asked for money—this is the money she told her fiancé she would soon come into, from her aunt. Stamfield wanted to pay her off, but Fenner took matters into his own hands. The timer used in the bomb can be seen in his house in a photo spread in a magazine, while the paper the package was wrapped in had traces of designs from his fashion house.

But what about the threat to Swift? Morse and Thursday visit Sarah Sellars at the Plaza Hotel and learn that her husband George abuses her and that Swift found out—Sarah was Swift’s first love, whom he left to pursue soccer. Morse knew to come to Sarah because he recognized a ring on a chain that he saw at Swift’s house as one she had worn. She had just given it to Swift to finally put the past behind them.

She tells the police that George has a gun—he’s involved with militant groups fighting against the Catholics in Northern Ireland. Morse and Thursday rush to Swift’s house, where George has already shot the officer guarding Swift and is now threating the soccer player himself. Swift played in a charity event that benefited Catholic groups; George’s militia has sent him to punish Swift. Morse and Thursday manage to stop any more bloodshed and arrest George.