MORSE: S6E5, CHERUBIM & SERAPHIM. Review + Locations, Literary References, Music etc. SPOILERS

Hello fellow Morsonians and welcome to this review of episode 25, Cherubim and Seraphim. I have already reviewed episodes 1 to 24. To read those reviews click this link Morse episode reviews.

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SPOILERS AHEAD!

Morse, Series six, Episode five.

Chronologically this is episode 25

First broadcast 15 April 1992.

Where’s Colin?

At around the 36 minute mark.

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Directed by Danny Boyle. Also directed the Morse episode Masonic Mysteries.

Written by Julian Mitchell. Also wrote the Morse episodes,

Death Is Now My Neighbour (1997)
The Daughters of Cain (1996)
Twilight of the Gods (1993)
Promised Land (1991)
Masonic Mysteries (1990)
Ghost in the Machine (1989)
The Wolvercote Tongue (1987)
Service of All the Dead (1987)
The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn (1987)

SYNOPSIS

While Morse is on leave Lewis is partnered with the soon to be retiring Chief Inspector Holroyd. Lewis is also swotting up on his traffic procedures in an attempt for promotion. Meanwhile Morse is visiting his step mother, Gwen, in a nursing home which he is helping to pay for alongside his step sister, Joyce.

Morse is brokenhearted to be told that Joyce’s daughter, Marilyn has committed suicide. Morse is unwilling to believe that his niece took her own life and decides to investigate the circumstances surrounding her death. During his investigations he learns of two more teenage suicides and becomes convinced that the suicides may not be what they seem.

REVIEW.
(warning, this review will contain some spoilers)

Cherubim is the plural of Cherub. Cherubim are generally depicted with two or four wings. Seraphim are generally depicted with six wings (three pairs of wings). Cherubim and Seraphim appear in Scripture. Although not specifically called angels, cherubim and seraphim are revealed as living creatures or heavenly beings whose primary purpose is to worship God at His throne.

In Christian Angelology the Seraphim are the most powerful, then Cherubim and then finally Archangels. Seraphim: the Burning ones, they have six wings (two covering the eyes, two covering the feet and two used to fly), they are the protectors of the throne of God. Seraphim also act as messengers, it was a Seraphim who visited Moses in a burning bush and commanded him to “remove your shoes, this is holy ground.” Cherubim: have four faces, an Ox, a Lion, an Eagle and a man, they have four wings covered with eyes. The Cherubim guard the garden of Eden and the tree of Life. Archangels are commanders of the Angels.

This episode is not one my favourites but then the worst Morse episode is better than most of what is classed as entertainment on today’s television. My main gripe about the episode is the music. The incongruity of listening to dance music in an episode of Morse is akin to hearing classical music on the MTV channel. It’s the same problem I have with the ‘modern’ music in episodes of Endeavour. It doesn’t belong in the Morse universe.

It is nothing to do with snobbery or having a dislike of any modern music. My taste in music is eclectic. When people ask what my favourite music is I always answer in the same way, ‘everything between Bach and Bacharach’. I still listen to dance music from the eighties and seventies and some from the nineties like the Chemical Brothers but there is a time and place for everything and dance and modern music in a Morse episode is neither the time or the place.

I understand the purpose of the episode soundtrack was to show the incongruous nature of the music to what Morse listens to. It is to make Morse look out of his depth and unable to comprehend the younger generation and how different their likes and needs are and why they are so far removed from when he was a youth.

The music is the first of only two problems I had with the episode. The second was the ending and the death of Dr. Desmond Collier. The car chase and subsequent crash seemed an odd way of ending the episode.

I did like Morse’s response while watching the car burn; “The bastard. The evil bastard. He got away.”

The death of Dr. Desmond Collier seemed hurried and reeked of the writer appearing to have run out of ideas on how to end the episode. Don’t get me started on where those two police cars came from that blocked the doctor’s way and caused him to crash. How did they know the doctor was trying to escape? We never saw Morse call it in. It all adds up to an unsatisfactory conclusion.

However, I enjoyed everything else about the episode. It was wonderful to learn more about Morse’s life and his past. We got to meet his step mother and step sister, two characters who turned up in their younger days in the Endeavour episode, Home.

A lovely well acted and well written scene is when Morse relates to Lewis about his father and mother and how he knows Joyce and the dead girl, his niece, Marilyn.

In this scene we learn something about Morse. Morse also for only the second time (the first being in the episode The Promised Land) calls Lewis, Robbie. It’s a lovely scene.

It was nice to see the great British character actor John Junkin in the episode. He is probably unknown outside the UK but he was a familiar face on television  and in film in the 60s through to the 90s. He also made regular appearances on radio and was a renown screenwriter. He was a sought after comedy actor who could be relied upon to give a great performance.

John Junkin’s character Chief Inspector Holroyd was interesting in that he was used as a cipher for two reasons. Firstly Chief Inspector Holroyd was there to show us how the old guard worked within the police force and the way they did detective work. It is contrary to how Morse operates. Secondly John Junkin’s character was there to show us not only how much Morse has taught Lewis in regard to detective work but had Lewis been assigned to another Chief Inspector he may have become a very different and not so good detective.

It is an interesting episode as it allowed us to watch Morse come to terms with the modern world and with the death of a loved one who was so young. Both things he is unable to fathom or comprehend. Marilyn was in many ways Morse’s surrogate child. He bought her books and they discussed literature together. He had pinned hopes in her going to university. Marilyn was the closet he would have to a daughter.

The episode is well written, nicely paced and performed and illustrates all too well the feelings of helplessness that parents sometimes have in regard to their children. When we as parents read of some horror especially one that happens on a local level we want to bring our children back to the nest and protect them. This of course is impossible if they have have become fledglings and left the nest but it never stops parents worrying.

Not only do we get to meet Morse’s relatives but we get to see Lewis’s son, daughter and his mother in law. Lewis having children makes the suicides even harder for him as he tries to come to terms with having a teenage daughter.

Julian Mitchel wrote some lovely lines for Joyce’s character about children. Joyce tells Morse;

Joyce – “They’re onIy Ient to us. Before you know it, there’s a person there with very different ideas about things to you.You don’t Iove her any Iess. But you see there’s no… You want to mouId them and protect them and keep them for ever. But you can’t. They’re not yours.”

Interestingly we find out why Morse’s step mother disliked him. Joyce tells Morse “She was jealous. Of your mum. She’d had all that time with Dad before her. Hasn’t forgiven her yet.” Morse then realises that part of who he became is because of Gwen. Morse says “l only read poetry to annoy her. ‘What’s this rubbish?’ she’d say. l owe all the things that l love to the fact that she couldn’t stand me.”

Episode Jag Rating – out of 10.

MUSIC.

The dance music was specifically written for the episode.

In Morse’s house around the 10 minute mark.

Che Faro Senza Euridice? (“What shall I do without Euridice?”) by Christoph Willibald Gluck.

The piece is played again at 29 minutes when Morse is looking through the photo album.

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In Vicky’s room at around the 59 minute mark Morse puts on a pair of headphones to listen to dance music. He identifies the Hallelujah Chorus! Conducted by Sir Adrian Boult. Morse is referring to Georg Friedrich Händel – Oratorio – Messiah, HWV 56. Part 2, No. 44 Chorus
Hallelujah Chorus.

LITERARY REFERENCES.

A book found in Marilyn’s bedroom.

At around the 22 minute mark Morse is talking to Marilyn’s teacher. Morse says, “Dying Is an art, like everything else. I do it exceptionally well.”  This is a line form Plath’s wonderful poem, Lady Lazarus.

Sylvia Plath committed suicide on 11 February 1963.

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At around the 46 minute mark Lewis and Morse are talking to Dr.Hayward the pathologist.

Morse – Are you suggesting this boy…

Hayward – Did an Aldous Huxley? – Yes.

Lewis – HuxIey? ls that Brave New World?

Morse – l think Dr Hayward is thinking more of The Doors Of Perception, Lewis.

Hayward – Heaven And Hell, actually.

Morse – When HuxIey was dying of cancer, he got his wife to inject him with LSD.
He had this notion, you see, that he would enter the next life in a state of euphoric bliss.

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Morse and Lewis are following the cars going to the party at the one hour and 28 minute mark. Morse says that the procession reminds him of the Pied Piper of Hamelin.

Morse – Out came the children running. All the little boys and girls, With rosy cheeks and fIaxen curIs.

Lewis – And sparkling eyes and teeth like pearls, Tripping and skipping, ran merrily after the wonderful music With shouting and Iaughter.
Morse – And we know what happened to the children.

ART

The picture on the left is pa print of part of the Hieronymus Bosch triptych painting, The Garden of Earthly Delights.

The right hand picture is a print of part of a fresco, The Expulsion Of Adam and Eve from Eden by Masaccio.

Three hundred years after the fresco was created (1425) Cosimo III de’ Medici Medici Grand Duke of Tuscany ordered that fig leaves be added. The fig leaves were removed in the 1980s.

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On Vicky Wilson’s bedroom wall.

This is a version of Guido Reni’s, Archangel Michael. Painted around 1636. In the painting Michael is standing on Satan’s head. the original painting did not have the halo.

It can’t be a coincidence that this is a picture of an angel while Cherubim and Seraphim are types of angels. The original painting hangs in Jesus College Church.

LOCATIONS.

This is Gwen’s nursing home. The location is Hanworth Park House, Feltham TW13 7EY. Unfortunately it has become something of a ruin.

To read more about the building click the following links.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-41971387

https://www.hanworthparkhouse.london/

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Joyce and Keith’s house.

I think it is a street is in London.

 

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Where Vicky and friends go for the ‘party’.

It is called Swanwick Park in the episode but is actually Mentmore Towers, Mentmore, Buckinghamshire.

PUB LOCATIONS.

There is a pub scene at around the one hour mark and then again around one hour and 26 minutes. It is the same pub.

I have been told that this is the Ye Olde Greene Manne pub, London Road, Batchworth Heath, Hertfordshire. However, I can’t confirm it was the location.

 

Actors who appeared in Cherubim & Seraphim and/or Endeavour and Lewis.

Anna Chancellor played Sally Smith in this episode.

She appeared as Judith Suskin in the Lewis episode – The Gift of Promise (2011).

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Up next we have Sorcha Cusack .who played Joyce Garrett in this episode.

In the Lewis series she played Prof Joanna Pinnock in the episode – Wild Justice.

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David Baukham appeared in three Morse episodes. As well as Cherubim he appeared as a police sergeant in Happy Families and Second Time Around.

He also appeared as Norman the journalist in the Lewis episode Old School Ties.

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CONNECTIONS OTHER THAN ACTORS TO THE LEWIS AND ENDEAVOUR SERIES.

We meet Joyce’s mother Gwen, Morse’s step mother his father’s second wife.

Gwen Morse played by Edwina Day.

We meet the younger Gwen in the Endeavour episode Home.

Lynda Rooke as Gwen Morse.

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We also meet Joyce in this episode.

We meet the younger Joyce in the Endeavour episode Home.

Sonya Cassidy as Joyce Morse

Miscellaneous.

Lewis’s son is referred to as Ken in this episode.

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At around the 43 minute mark in Strange’s office they have this conversation:

Morse – We were all young once.
Strange – l can’t imagine you young, Morse.
Morse – l can imagine you.

Through the Endeavour series they did know each other when they were younger but how could Julian Mitchell, the episode writer, know that would happen.

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At around the one hour mark when Lewis and Morse are in the pub, Morse tells Lewis that his parents divorced when he was twelve. In Endeavour I recall he said that his parents divorced when he was 10. He then tells Lewis that his mother died when he was 15.

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We learn that Morse’s dad was a taxi driver.

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The pub landlord was played by the writer of the episode, Julian Mitchell.

THE MURDERED, THEIR MURDERER/S AND THEIR METHODS.

No murders as such in this episode. Maybe Dr. Desmond Collier could have been charged with manslaughter.

Marilyn Garrett‘s death is suicide but a contributing factor were the pills manufactured by Dr. Desmond Collier.

Jacko Lever committed suicide by leaping in front of a moving train. Like Marilyn, affected by Dr. Collier’s drug.

Another suicide of a girl called Beccie who was at the rave with Jacko and Marilyn.

 

In Memoriam

Edwina Day (1922–1996)

James Grout (1927–2012)

John Junkin (1930–2006)

Larrington Walker (1947–2017)

Kay Clayton (1918–1994)

CAST

Jason Isaacs as Dr. Desmond Collier.

Charlotte Chatton as Marilyn Garrett

Freddie Brooks as Jacko Lever

Beccie. No mention of actress.

Liza Walker as Vicky Wilson

Edwina Day as Gwen Morse.

Sorcha Cusack as Joyce Garrett.

Matt Terdre as Ken Lewis.

Glen Mead as Wayne Garrett.

Christopher Benjamin as Professor Furlong.

James Grout as Chief Superintendent Strange.

Kevin Whately as Detective Sergeant Lewis.

Larrington Walker as Charley Lever.

Doreen Ingleton as Annie Lever.

John Junkin as Chief Inspector Holroyd.

Anita Wright as Mrs. Venables (Lewis’s mother in law).

Cinnamon Bone as Lyn Lewis.

John Thaw as Chief Inspector Morse.

Kay Clayton as Lady on Video.

David Meyer as Dr. Hallett.

Charlie Caine as Charlie Paget.

Isla Blair as Janey Wilson.

Bill Wallis as Dr. Hayward.

Phillip Joseph as Keith Garrett.

David Baukham as Desk Sergeant.

Louise Beattie as Lizzy Haines.

 

Anna Chancellor as Sally Smith.

Ian Reddington as Oakley – Estate Agent.

Paul Brightwell as Bristowe.

Natasha Pope as Bristowe’s Girlfriend.

 

Author: Chris Sullivan

After having looked after my mum for some 11 years she is now unfortunately in a nursing home. I'm afraid her dementia worsened as did her physical capabilities. So, for the first time in 21 years I find myself no longer caring for anyone. Apart from my mum I was also a single parent to two children and also looked after my dad who had Alzheimers, (he died in 2005). So, I have decided to return to University to try and get another degree this time in English Literature. (My other degree I got some 30 years ago is one in Ecological Science). After a year at college I have passed all grades and now will start Edinburgh University in September 2019. A busy time ahead made even busier by my writing a book on the TV series, Lewis.

9 thoughts

  1. Great review. I agree the ending is so abrupt and unsatisfying that I missed it the first time I watched, almost like they needed to wrap it up quickly to avoid going too long. The scenes exploring Morse’s family were wonderful and the way he handles Marilyn’s death is very poignant. Excellent acting as expected but, the most intense for me was the scene when Vicky’s mother is downstairs and calling up to Vicky. The fear in her eyes when she opens the door to the bathroom, not knowing what she’ll find, was chilling.

    1. Hi Tom. Yes that particular scene involving Vicky’s mum is certainly chilling and certainly reinforces what parents have to deal with in regard to their children.

  2. Chris, I have now caught up to your finished Morse reviews alongside my first viewings of the series. I have to say, I am dreading finishing the next episode and not having your wonderful review to read afterwards. You have spoiled us.

    Thank you for all of your efforts with this website. Cheers.

    1. Thank you Bill for your kind comment. There are eight Morse episodes left for me to review and I am and I plan to return to the earlier episodes and make them as comprehensive as the more recent ones. If you like the Lewis series I am hoping to have my book on that show out by the beginning of August.

  3. If “enjoyed” is the right term for an episode with the unnecessary deaths of so many young people, including Morse’s own niece, then I will say my wife and I enjoyed this episode for the impact it had on Morse, the intimate conversation he had with Lewis and the stark contrast between the musical world and culture Morse typically surrounds himself with and the rave culture of the younger generation.

    I didn’t have as much of a problem with the sudden, shocking ending in that it pretty much assures that the doctor’s formula for the tragic medication (and hence the associated problems) dies with him. Not sure about where the patrol cars come from, although I though Morse told Lewis to “call it in.” Also possible is that they were just en route in order to shut down the rave.

    Is it worth noting in the cast notes Sorcha Cusack’s long association with “Father Brown” as his housekeeper Mrs. McCarthy? It was fascinating to see her that young. Also, our household’s introduction to Joyce (and Gwen) was via “Endeavour,” so seeing this portrayal second was more like the natural order of a character’s maturation. I also loved that Morse exclaims that everything he grew to love was a direct result of trying to annoy his stepmother!

  4. I meant to also note that when Morse references Aldous Huxley’s “The Doors of Perception,” I immediately remembered that Marilyn’s room contained a cutout of Jim Morrison of The Doors pasted onto one of the large pop-art spiral posters. The Doors group name came from Huxley. (The cut-out actually looked more like Val Kilmer AS Jim Morrison from the 1991 movie by Oliver Stone, which would have fit the timeline this episode aired.)

    Also under “Art,” Marilyn’s room appears to have several prints by M. C. Escher (or a very close facsimile) in the background. He was famous for his meticulous interlocking fish designs and other geometric designs. Had I more time, I would consult one of two coffee-table tomes on Escher my late sister gave me to see if I can find the exact prints I believe are shown.

    1. Hi and thanks for commenting. I did mention The Doors of Perception in my review. I did check out the Escher like prints but I don’t believe they are actual Eschers. As you wrote I think they are close facsimiles.

  5. This is one of my favourite Morse episodes as it provides such an insight into the character of Morse and the close relationship that has developed between Morse and Lewis.
    I’d like to build on some of the themes that you cover in your excellent review. Namely the title of the episode, the conversation between Morse, Lewis and the pathologist and the unsatisfactory aspects of the ending.
    When discussing the pill that he has discovered the pathologist refers Morse to Huxley’s “Heaven and Hell”.
    As Morse tells us, Huxley wrote about his experiences with mind altering drugs in “The Doors of Perception”. In a later essay entitled “Heaven and Hell” Huxley describes how visionary experiences manifest themselves in geometric forms – Lewis’s fractals on the bedroom walls of the teenagers.
    When Huxley selected the titles for these works he was referencing Blake who himself was influenced by Milton’s Paradise Lost. Epic discussions of Adam and Eve, the nature of heaven and hell and the battle between good and evil . These are the themes depicted in the art works that you identified in Vicky’s room.
    In “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell” Blake wrote of the “cherub with his flaming sword” in the context of a world being consumed in the “fire of hell”. He went on to say “If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.”
    Unlike Huxley, Blake was not talking about drugs when he wrote this line. Blake’s drug of choice to cleanse the doors of perception was free love, clearly something that is on Vicky’s mind too.
    There is a lot of symbolism around these themes in this episode. Under the influence of drugs Vicky talks of that sense of infinity, “loving everyone”, “seeing it all from heaven”. The crude conclusion shows fire (hell) destroying the creator of the drug.
    In their final conversation Morse says “I hope that man is in hell fire” and Lewis replies “you don’t believe in hell”.
    Morse cannot understand the hedonistic world of Marilyn and Vicky and the devastating loss that it has brought to his family but also has a deep dissatisfaction with his own repressed and unfulfilled life.

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