Endeavour S4E1 ‘Game’: A review with Literary References, Locations etc. !!SPOILERS!!


I originally posted this in January of this year so I am reposting this for my American followers who are now seeing the fourth series of Endeavour. Enjoy.

!!SPOILERS!! !!SPOILERS!! In this post I will be not only reviewing the episode but also looking at the locations, music, literary references and other interesting facts and trivia within the episode. So, if you haven’t seen the episode, look away now.

Endeavour. Series 4, Episode 1. ‘Game’.

First shown on the 8th January 2017 in the UK.

Chronologically this would be episode 14.

Directed by Ashley Pearce: Ashley Pearce is a veteran director of crime dramas on TV: Maigret Sets a Trap 2016, Agatha Christie’s Poirot 2008-2010, Silent Witness (TV Series) (2 episodes) 2004. He also directed a few episodes of one of my favourite TV shows of recent years, Downton Abbey.

Written and devised by Russell Lewis.


It is two weeks after the traumatic Wessex Raid, Joan Thursday leaving home and Morse realising he loved Joan. Fred and Win are still trying to cope with Joan’s departure as is Endeavour.

ice_screenshot_20170109-195412 Sara Vickers  as Joan Thursday seen in flashback during the episode, ‘Game’.

A body is found floating in the Cherwell river and is identified as Richard Neilson. Neilson was part of team who built and designed the  Joint Computng  Nexus  –  a  “thinking machine”  at Lovelace  College.

With what looks like a suicide as Richard Neilson had stones in his pockets, becomes more like foulplay to Endeavour when another body is found drowned but this time in a bath at the local swimming baths. Endeavour believes there is a connection but Thursday and Strange do not.


Magdalene Bridge over the Cherwell where Neilson’s body is seen floating.

While these events are happening Endeavour has to cope with having failed his sergeant’s exam. An automatic fail as his exam paper was mislaid and never reached the appropriate authorities.

Meanwhile the Joint Computng  Nexus  (known as JCN -Jason) is being readied to compete against a Russian chess master Prof. Yuri Gradenko.

Murder, chess, Oxford, mysteries and dark secrets it can only be another Endeavour episode.


This episode was an excellent opener for the new series. After a few, in my opinion, lacklustre episodes in the last series, (‘Prey’ anyone), this was a great leap forward in style, writing and direction. Russell Lewis the writer of the episode has done all Endeavour Morse fans proud. I can’t imagine anyone being disappointed with this episode.

The episode was beautiful in its rich, dark tones not just in the story but in its lighting and cinematography. The scares within the episode were real and visceral and never cheap. So many of today’s horror films are based on the ‘cattle prod’ jump to scare. What I mean by ‘cattle prod’ is that a scare will come out of someone jumping out in front of the screen or something dropping onto the camera. All very tedious. This episode never plumbed any such depths when it would have been so easy to do so especially when Morse and Endeavour were searching the tunnel that ran beneath the swimming baths. The abduction of Tessa Knight was subtly done but still give us all a little jump and scare.

Roger Allam and Caroline O’Neill as Fred and Win Thursday were excellent as two parents trying to cope with a missing daughter and what feels like an empty house.


Roger Allam and Caroline O’Neill as Fred and Win Thursday

The scenes between Fred Thursday and Shaun Evans were sublime. It was like watching a father and son trying cope with each other’s belief in their feelings of blame regarding Joan’s leaving home. I got the impression that Fred not only blamed himself but also in a small way, Endeavour. I believe Fred felt that if Endeavour had let Joan know of his feelings sooner she may have stayed. Morse was probably thinking the same thing.

However, the rest of cast especially the regulars were in fine fettle especially I thought James Bradshaw as Max DeBryn. Max had one of the best lines in the episode, “This one is as ripe and runny as a rancid Roquefort” referring to the body of Richard Neilson.


Of course the episode wasn’t perfect. As with some other episodes Russell can write lines that sound Miss Marpleish or wouldn’t sound out of place in Murder, She Wrote. By this I mean is that the lines are rather too obvious and signal what is coming next with the subtlety of a foghorn and disco lights. For example, when Tessa Knight says to Dorothea Frazil that the next time she will see her it will be on the front page of a newspaper one knew that she was going to be the next victim. The episode ‘Prey’ was the worst with such telegraphed plot lines. In that episode when Chief Superintendent Bright was relating his story about his encounter with a man eating tiger in India it became obvious how the episode was going to end.

But putting that all aside it was a pleasurable way to spend two hours. I hope they haven’t set the bar too high with this episode when it comes to the next three episodes.

The episode’s cinematography and direction reminded me of the Morse episode ‘Service of all the Dead’. Like that episode the camera lens looked into mirrors, looked through glass often distorted and the sets and scenes were awash (pardon the pun) with a lot of reflective surfaces. Water played a major role in the episode and of course is forever referred to as looking like glass. Of course, water has many meanings from an element that cleanses, gives life, takes life. In dream interpretation water can represent an attempt to not deal with a toxic situation; to sweep it under the proverbial carpet. The crime writer Kent Finn’s latest book is titled ‘Jolly Deep Water’. More on Kent Finn later.


The episode had some lovely nods to the original Morse series which I will go into later.

So my rating for this episode is 8 jags out of ten.



As most of you will know Colin Dexter will not be appearing in the series four episodes due to ill health. However the producers have made sure that he appears in the episode in one way or another. In this episode Colin’s picture hangs in the office of Dorothea Frazil.



The first piece of music we hear is Erik Satie’s (1866-1925) wonderful Gnossiene.

I literally smiled that this piece was played as I love Satie’s work. Probably his best known work is Gymnopédie No.1.

Next up we again have a favourite song of mine. (Have the producers of the show been looking at my CD collection?). It is song by Jefferson Airplane called ‘White Rabbit‘.

There is also a piece of Jazz being played when Morse visits Kent Finn’s house but it was too quiet to identify.


The first quote is by Max Debryn to Endeavour when Morse enquires about his thoughts on love. Max replies, “and one was fond of me and all are slain”. I personally didn’t recognize the quote but thanks to two  of my blog readers, Lazaro and Edward who pointed out that this quote is from Alfred Edward Housman (1859 – 1936).

Ask me no more, for fear I should reply;
Others have held their tongues, and so can I;
Hundreds have died, and told no tale before:
Ask me no more, for fear I should reply—

How one was true and one was clean of stain
And one was braver than the heavens are high,
And one was fond of me; and all are slain.
Ask me no more, for fear I should reply.

After JCN the computer has beaten the Russian and all the team are celebrating outside, Professor George Amory tries to get the Russian to take some champagne by saying, “Napoleon’s dictum”, (this is around the 50 minute mark). This is a reference to Napoleon saying, ‘it is better to fight against a coalition than to fight as part of one’. There are quite a few dictums related to Napoleon but I think the afore mentioned one is appropriate in relation to the cold war during the 1960s.

The next is said around the one hour and ten minute mark. It is said by Dorothea to Tessa Knight, “Tread lightly child, tread lightly.” This is probably paraphrasing Aldous Huxley’s quote from his novel Island;

It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them. I was so preposterously serious in those days… Lightly, lightly – it’s the best advice ever given me…So throw away your baggage and go forward. There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet, trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. That’s why you must walk so lightly. Lightly my darling…

The book is more or less about a a cynical journalist who is shipwrecked on the fictional island.

“What piece of work is man” is said by Kent Finn. The quote is from Hamlet.


The team behind the building of the JCN computer are based at the Lovelace College. The scenes in the college were filmed at St. Catherine’s College, Manor Rd, Oxford OX1 3UJ.

Image result for St. Catherine's College, Oxford.

Is the use of Lovelace a reference to Augusta Ada King-Noel, Countess of Lovelace (10 December 1815 – 27 November 1852) an English mathematician and writer, chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage’s early mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine.


The body of Richard Neilson was seen floating under a bridge at Addison’s Walk.



The area of Binsey was mentioned in the episode as the place where the Leighton-Asbury family lived. I cannot be sure it was filmed in Binsey and cannot locate the house but here is a map as to where Binsey is in relation to the centre of Oxford.


The opening scene was filmed in the Sheldonian theatre in Oxford.



The painted ceiling is by Robert Streater.


Up next is the location of the swimming baths. A huge thanks to a blog reader who goes by the name Shirewitch for telling me about this important location in this episode. The internal shots were shot at the Health Hydro in Swindon. However, I am not sure where the external shots of the swimming baths were shot.


Image result for health hydro swindon


Interesting Facts and Trivia.

Around 15 minutes into the episode we find DS Strange and some fellow officers watching a tennis game on television. This was the Wimbledon women’s final between Billie Jean King and Ann Haydon-Jones. Billie Jean won.


When Morse and Thursday decide to look for the location of a house in Binsey owned by someone with a surname that begins ‘AS’ they ask for help from the team that built the JCN computer at Lovelace College. The computer was originally designed to sort through postcodes etc. Dr. Broderick Castle volunteers to enter the information but Dr Clifford Gibbs points out that Castle had entered ‘rudrum’ when he should have entered ‘redrum’. Of course ‘redrum’ backwards is ‘MURDER‘.

The computer has been named Jason in regards to its initials JCN. Is this in reference to the killer Jason in the Friday the 13th series of films?

Dr Clifford Gibbs has on his shoulder at all times a small white mouse.


This is probably a reference to the James Cameron film, ‘The Abyss‘. The character in that film was called Alan ‘Hippy’ Carnes and he also carried around a small white mouse on his shoulder. 1967 is of course the summer of love and the hippy movement is at its height.


Todd Graff as Alan ‘Hippy’ Carnes in ‘The Abyss’.

I believe that the chess game and situation was a nod to the man who Endeavour was named after, Jeremy Morse. Jeremy Morse was the template on which Colin Dexter based Endeavour Morse on. Apart from being a English banker he was also a chess composer. A chess composer is a person who creates endgame studies or chess problems. A lovely nod to Jeremy by Russell Lewis the writer.

I personally believe that the character of Kent Finn is the future Hugo DeVries, Morse’s nemesis in the episode, ‘Masonic Mysteries.


Adam James as Kent Finn


Ian McDiarmid as Hugo DeVries in Masonic Mysteries.

My reasons are twofold for why I believe Kent is Hugo. Firstly, Kent’s knowledge and love of wine but more importantly Kent’s surname of Finn is the main character’s name from the film ‘Star Wars; The Force Awakens‘. Ian McDiarmid who played Hugo DeVries was a main character in the Star Wars universe playing Supreme Chancellor Palpatine. Tada. I am feeling rather chuffed to have seen this and I make no apologies for my boast and chuffed demeanour. Also it is almost 2am and I am knackered. I couldn’t get started on this until about 9:30pm as that is when my mum fell asleep. Meanwhile back on Tatooine I mean my blog. Oh God my geeky nerd self is loose.

The nice reference to the original Morse series was the inclusion of the actor James Laurenson who played Professor George Amory.


James was of course in the first Morse episode, ‘The Dead of Jericho‘ thirty years ago.


I don’t think there is any real need to point out that a two characters had the names of Chess pieces: Dr. Broderick Castle and Tessa Knight.

One of my very observant blog readers pointed out a well observed connection: “32 minutes in after the body of Daniel is found in the swimming pool, the pool receptionist says “In 1959 nobody died, in 1960 nobody died, in 1961 nobody died”.
This is lifted from The Day Today current affairs show parody, where Steve Coogan as a pool attendant says “in 1975 no one died, in 1976 no one died, in 1977 no one died, in 1978 no one died….”
I don’t know if there is any connection to the writer or whether he’s just a fan of The Day Today.”

Here is the scene Julie is referring to;

The big question of the episode is who was the tarot card reader. I have racked my brains, what’s left of them, but to no avail. I am sure we will soon find out.

CAST of ‘Game’.


Shaun Evans as Endeavour Morse.


Roger Allam as Fred Thursday


Dawn Hope as Adelaide Smalls


Tristan Sturrock as Dr. Bernard Gould.


Chris Fulton as Dr. Broderick Castle


Abram Rooney as Dr. Clifford Gibbs


Gillian Saker as Dr. Pat Amory


Geff Francis as Grantly Smalls


Ms Porfrey played by uncredited actress.


Anton Lesser as Chief Superintendent Reginald Bright


James Bradshaw as Max DeBryn.


Daniel Attwell as Mick Mitchell


Katherine Kingsley as Mona Davies


Richard Neilson played by uncredited actor.

penelope-leighton-asburyEleanor Inglis Penelope Leighton Asbury.


Ruby Thomas as Tessa Knight. Ruby appeared in the Lewis (TV Series) as Kate Cameron. The episode was – Dark Matter (2010).


Sean Rigby as DS Jim Strange


Caroline O’Neill as Win Thursday


Abigail Thaw as Dorothea Frazil


Adam James as Kent Finn. Adam appeared in the Lewis (TV Series) as Ethan Croft in the episode – Your Sudden Death Question (2010).


Dakota Blue Richards as WPC Shirley Trewlove


Robert Luckay as Prof. Yuri Gradenko


Natalie Grady as Ruth Hargreaves

Well people that is it. I’m sure i have made errors in my tired state so please forgive me. I hope you have enjoyed this post and I will do this all over again for episode two. So, until then, thank you for all your support and take care.

Oh as a P.S. you may have noticed I have changed the sides of the blog by the addition of photos of actors from the Morse universe.

Author: Chris Sullivan

Up until a few years ago I was my mum's full time carer. She died in, 2020, of Covid. At the moment I am attempting to write a novel.

32 thoughts

  1. Thank you so much for this Christ. I love the musical and cultural references and the best thing is when you link an Endeavour actor to a previous Lewis or Morse episode. Brilliant links and hypotheses – particularly the Fiin-DeVries suggestion

  2. The beautiful arrangement of Satie for glass harmonica at the beginning fit in nicely with this episode’s water motif. (The glass harmonica uses water in producing its sounds.)

    1. Almost right. The instruments were created by the Baschet brothers, two French artists in the 1950’s. They were known as “Les Stucture Sonore”. There’s more info on Wikipedia and videos on YouTube. It would be interesting to know who the two musicians in this episode were.

  3. I’ve seen a number of places quoting Napoleon saying, “Champagne! In victory one deserves it, in defeat one needs it.” That strikes me as maybe a more appropriate “dictum” here, given that Amory was handling the Russian some champagne?

  4. The computer name, JCN, are th next letters in the alphabet from IBM. IBM’s computer beat Gary Kasparov in the first game of a six game match. Kasparov ended up winning the match overall.

    I thought the white mouse, in the context of a computer lab, was likely a reference to the Hitchiker’s Guide to the Gallaxy series.

  5. Nice review and very interesting page. I just re-watched this episode and find all your research very illuminating One thought, Miss Palfrey looks so much like him, she could be Shaun Evans’ mother. Wouldn’t that be fun! I know Roger Allam’s wife was in a recent episode.
    I agree that Napoleon’s dictum was most likely the one about champagne being deserved in victory and necessary in defeat. Perfect choice by the writer.

  6. Very informative blog! Could the reference to “treading lightly” be an allusion to Yeats’ poem Aedh wishes for the cloths of heaven? Is there also a link between IBM, JCN and HAL (the mad computer in 2001) all being linked by the transposition of one letter either side of International Business Machines initials?

  7. Thanks for your hard work as always Chris. Seems like the only time I have to watch these delightful shows is when I’m sick. Love the correlations too all the programs. Wonder what has happened to Monica? Think that’s her name she and Morse dated for awhile at his old flat

    The mouse reminded me of Flowers for Algernon.

    1. You’re welcome Melinda, i’m glad you enjoyed my post. Monica was written out of the series all too quickly.

  8. Like your good self Chris I thought likewise with respect to the verbal exchange between Dr Broderick Castle and Dr Clifford Gibbs and the “redrum” remark Gibbs claims Castle erroneously entered into Jason. But, watching the episode with subtitles, as I do, it reads the input code Dr Castle should have entered was “Read drum,” but he mistakenly put in “Rude dram.” So, if correct, there’s no anagrammatic connection with “murder” at all, I’m afraid. It would’ve made for a tasty tidbit I agree, though.

    1. Oh, you can’t trust subtitles! They are often laughably wrong. Just yesterday on the BBC coverage of the Chelsea Flower Show I saw “High vis and booze” for “High vis and boots.”

  9. Hi Chris
    A bit late to come up with anything – but- I think the external shots of the swimming baths were taken at Prince of Wales swimming baths in Kentish Town London NW5.

    A bit far from Oxford but Hey Ho!


    1. You are correct, Philip! A bit of CGI to put East Cowley Baths on the gable, but why bother? That gable is otherwise blank. That side of the baths is in Grafton Road.

  10. Chris, there was a need for you to point out the names of Dr. Castle and Tessa Knight, for me, as I did not make that connection.🤪 I can be very dense at times!

    1. Oh can’t we all at times Kathleen as has been witnessed during my live streams.😉

      1. Ha! But that’s just one more thing that I really like about your reviews- when I re-read them I always catch a fact or nuance that I missed the first time around.

  11. What a coincidence – I just finished re-watching this episode when I saw your comment Kathleen (and I too did not make the connection) – what a difference in the quality (not filming quality but writing) to this to S7 – I tried to re-watch that to give it another go (as it is currently running on PBS so much chatter on social media) and if anything it was actually worse (for me) – so I actually decided to re-watch S4 and yes Morse/Thursday at loggerheads but it made sense why and they worked it well into the script.

    Have realised that with S7 (apart for the appalling plot holes with the murders poor given they had all 3 episodes to explain it) where it really fell down for me was by focussing so much on Ludo/Violetta (and interesting in the DVD extras Evans says that Morse got nothing out of the relationships so what was the point ?) they wasted valuable time to explain the rift. Which considering the issues during S6 they could have taken that and pushed that in S7 (I think the continuity really suffered without any mention of Box and Thursdays ‘fall’) surely that would have been the perfect segue into their issues in S7.

    I have not commented on the social media platforms as to not have any spoilers also obviously so many are excited to watch it and I truly hope they enjoy it!

  12. Another reason why I think Kent Finn might be Hugo DeVries is the scene in Game where he brags about his wine collection and offers Endeavour a glass from a good bottle but not his best, as he says, which is still in his wine cellar. Apparently a connoisseur of wine. In the Morse episode Masonic Mysteries, Morse gets a clue when he is in Marion’s house and sees the crate of very very good wine which he knows DeVries likes and especially ordered, as the manager of the wine shop had told him. I could be stretching it a bit but maybe a hint. “In vino veritas.” 🍷

  13. I thought I detected a subtle sub-plot in the almost hysterical reaction shown by Morse when he learned that Castle’s sister had committed suicide to escape her brother’s unwanted attentions. Perhaps Morse’s mixed feelings towards Joan Thursday resulted from the fact that he thought of her as a sister, given that Fred Thursday was like a father-figure to him. He believed that he should not love Joan, and now that she has disappeared, he may be thinking that she may have committed suicide because of his attentions towards her.

    I was surprised at the lack of action from Morse’s superiors in connection with the apparent disappearance of his Sergeant’s Examination paper. Surely that would be a serious offence that should be investigated?

  14. I’m in the US watching on Prime/PBS so perhaps the music is different but I never caught “White Rabbit” in the episode. In the episode here it’s said that Dr. Castle typed in rude dram instead of read drum. I know it’s only one letter difference but I just took it to be associated with his dyslexia. As a scientist rather than an artist I’m probably limited in my imagination in that regard.

  15. Alan ‘Hippy’ Carnes and he also carried around a small white mouse on his shoulder. — I’m no rodent expert, but that animal on Carnes’s sholder looks more like a rat than a mouse.
    Was Neilson murdered by Castle/ Leighton-Asbury? This is the second episode I’ve seen where the murderer has changed his name, so that it’s not too obvious that he’s the murderer. I can’t think of the other one right now.

  16. OK, Castle/ Leighton-Asbury did murder Neilson. The wrong fly was the clue. Why do murderers in fiction always leave clues that can only be solved by the cleverest of detectives? Do they really want to be caught? But WHY did he murder Neilson? Kent Finn read from his novel “What a piece of work is a man” whereas the correct Shakespeare quotation is “What a piece of work is man”. Was this designed to show that Jolliphant didn’t know Shakespeare, or that Finn didn’t know Shakespeare, or does it show that Russell Lewis doesn’t know Shakespeare? Also I was a little surprised that Max DeBryn pronounced ‘Roquefort’ incorrectly (he pronounced the ‘t’ at the end). Was there no one in the cast or crew who knew the correct pronunciation? If you’re going to make alliterative statements like “This one’s as ripe and runny as a rancid Roquefort”, you shouldn’t spoil it by mispronouncing ‘Roquefort’.

  17. The jazz in Kent Finn’s house features soprano saxophone, of which there are relatively few exponents in jazz.

    I believe this music was John Coltrane ‘My Favorite Things’. Although Coltrane was a tenor sax player, I think he always played soprano on this piece. There are many recordings of the piece, but the definitive recording was from his 1961 Atlantic LP of the same name. He has piano, bass and drums backing, which you can just about detect from the scene.

    On this LP, the title track is about 13 minutes. The LP side lasts about 19 minutes, but we don’t see Finn turning over the LP or restarting it.

  18. The character Kent Finn said he went to “Lowlands”. This is the University in the mid 80s Comedy Drama “A Very Peculiar Practice”

  19. Greetings from Germany,

    during the press conference at the beginning, around the 2 minute mark, the chess board hanging on the wall is correct. At least, the white Queen is on the correct square.

    At the 8 minute mark, where Morse is looking at the flags on the wall, you can see that the black Queen is on the (white) king position, which is of course, incorrect.

    A minute later you can see the bottom of the board and the white Queen is now in an incorrect positron (black square).

    Advancing to around the 20 minute mark, the white Queen is still incorrect.


  20. Possible support for the Kent Finn/Hugo DeVries theory :
    In Anglo-Saxon history/legend, Finn is a Fresian hero who ends up in Kent. So the Kent Finn is literally “de vries”, the Fresian.

  21. This was an enjoyable episode, particularly the interactions between Morse and Endeavour.

    I always found Strange’s reaction to Morse’s exam paper going missing – oh bad luck Matey – a bit suspicious. Not saying he had taken it, but seemed to just dismiss it offhand.

    1. I believe Strange didn’t realise implication of Endeavour’s paper going missing, i.e. that it was intentionally lost. Maybe Strange was glad that he would have one less rival for sergeant at the police station.

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