A Review of MORSE Episode, 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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Morse, Series six, Episode five.

Chronologically this is episode 25

First broadcast 15 April 1992.

Where’s Colin?

At around the 36 minute mark.


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)


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.

(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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Thanks to Nancy who spotted this art work at 9 and a half minutes above Morse’s fireplace.

The picture is “Hertford Magdalen Hall Oxford.”


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.




Joyce and Keith’s house.

I think it is a street is in London.



Where Vicky and friends go for the ‘party’.

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


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).


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.


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.



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.


We also meet Joyce in this episode.

We meet the younger Joyce in the Endeavour episode Home.

Sonya Cassidy as Joyce Morse


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


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.


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.


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


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


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)


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

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.

110 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.

      1. If Vicki’s mother had paid more attention to what her minor child was doing, she might have not had to deal with so much.

    2. Hi there! Thank you for the great reviews!
      I love how the musical references are always thoughtful and spot-on.
      In the myth, Orpheus, the great singer and lute-player tries to rescue Eurydike from Hades by his enchanting singing. His quest starts out well but in a moment of uncertainty he does one forbidden move (looking back at Eurydike) and loses her forever.
      Marilyn is lost to everyone in a moment of uncertainty.
      Did you see that in the opening scene outside the club where she sits alone two strand of her hair seemingly coincidentally encircle her head like a gloriole?
      I actually really liked how Morse, coming from a totally different generation, by his wits and perception figures out what dance music and culture is about. (Dance music is eclectic. Sex isn‘t safe any more. Dancing and pills are an orgy.) I think everybody‘s done really well in this episode.

      1. Hello Eli and welcome to my website. Thank you for your interesting take on the episode.

  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.

  6. In another Star Trek connection, Jason Isaacs would go on to play Captain Gabriel Lorca for 11 episodes in the first season of Star Trek: Discovery.

  7. Loved this Morse episode, deep insight into his values.
    The real estate business in England lol
    Morse’s commitment to a parent who he thought didn’t like him. “I only read poetry to annoy her,”
    Morses music vs Dance , what we call House Music in Chicago .
    Morse and Lewis in deep reflections.
    The art of Hieronymus Bosch
    The Painting of Michael vs Lucifer
    The Pied Piper analogy.
    The ending was not to my liking.
    However, I loved this episode.

  8. Beautiful touching scene between Morse and Lewis, Chris. Being a mom of two (now grown and married) boys I know what Joyce meant, “They are only lent to us.” And even though one must have fortitude for those teenage years, I’ve always loved that my boys had minds of their own. Very nice episode mainly due to the insights into Morse’s background, and not so much the music but then my parents thought the same thing when I listed to The Rolling Stones. And wow, I did not realize that Joyce was later to be Mrs. McCarthy!

  9. Chris, having watched Cherubim and then Endeavour, I realized what may be a discrepancy between the two. On several occasions in a few episodes of Endeavour, he says that his mother died when he was 12. In Cherubim/Seraphim, Morse tells Lewis that his parents divorced when he was 12 and his mother died when he was 15. Just an oversight on the part of the writer?

    1. Hi Kathleen. I think I mentioned this in one of my posts. It is again an example of Russell Lewis playing fast and loose with Morse lore.

      1. Big fan of Morse and a big dance music fan. One thing I’ve always thought is that if the classic composers were alive today a lot of them would be dance producers. Not the commercial dance, but the progressive side of dance.

  10. Dear Chris, thanks for the clip on Morse waxing philosophical on his family. Explains a lot. To be fair, and not to disrespect anyone’s taste, but as I’m coming into Insp. Morse series very late, I have had difficulty getting into the shows. Perhaps because they’re dated to me and I didn’t view them at the time. This was the first one that got me glued, even though the ending was rushed—I read somewhere they were going to do it in three parts, and ran out of time and/or money? Who knows. But there’s hope for me. On the other hand, I’ve seen every one of Endeavour. Great to have a thread that lasts over three different series. PS Does anyone ever call him Endeavour?Thanks for the conversation and your attention to detail. (I have a dislocated right forefinger, excuse any typos) 😉

    1. These last 3 of season 6 I think are so good. I had never seen them although I thought I’d watched them all on first run.

    2. In the episode, Death is Now My Neighbour he gives a cryptic clue to Judy Loe’s character, Adele Cecil and in a pub later on with Lewis getting drinks at the bar, Adele tells Morse that all she can come up with is the word, Endeavour and she points out that no one would be called that, and Lewis overhears and when he tells Adele that his mother was a Quaker, and that his father was fond of Captain Cook and his ship being called Endeavour, they decided to name him that, due to the name being “Quaker ish”. Lewis responds by saying “You poor sod”. Just a bit of trivia, Thaw is only 49 years old in this episode – only 1 year older than I am now!! Alcohol and heavy smoking aged him terribly and of course whilst he quit the former, he didn’t quit the latter and sadly it took his life, he had actually signed a new contract with ITV a few weeks before he died.

      1. I was watching my tape of a Morse last night. In it , he kept pronouncing the word ‘garage’ (pronounced as garAJ) as ‘GARRidge.’ What was wrong with him?

      2. That is the way the Brits pronounce this. And I would think much of Europe. And although I’m an American, because I watch so many British/Australian shows and love them , I find myself pronouncing some of their words the same way! They seem so much more polished and classier than mine.

      3. It’s an American word and it’s pronounced ‘garaj.’ There is nothing elegant about garridge.

  11. Just finished watching the episode. Surprised to find I had never seen it before. One comment: Joyce is Morse’s half-sister, not stepsister. Morse explains that after his parents split his father and Gwen had Joyce together.

  12. Love the site and insight. Watched these with my husband when originally aired, then on DVD, then streaming, and Lewis and Endeavor. One art work I just caught is a postcard size image of Lady of Shalott by William Holman Hunt, like one above my desk. Know you can’t mention everything but this one I noticed as it is a favorite after seeing it at Mia exhibit

    1. Hi Laura and welcome to my website. Can you give me a timestamp in reference to the Hunt postcard. Thanks.

  13. Terrific review, thank you Chris, and a good episode with a lot of depth. On last night’s viewing (probably my fifth) I felt the last quarter sagged a bit with the prolonged arrival to the rave, the trek through the basement of the mansion up to the party, with attempted slapstick as they climbed the stairs, Lewis mishandling the flashlight and knocking over things while wearing a silly hat and Morse barking at him a few too many times. Very strong performances, with Lewis as well as Morse shaken by the events, radiating helplessness near the end as he stood outside his daughter’s firmly closed bedroom door.

    1. Morse always barked at Lewis. Too often he treated him like a not-very-bright child. Morse was not an attractive character. Lewis never treated Hathaway like that. He treated him more as an equal – even if he did go to Cambridge!

    1. Hi Robin. I believe the music was specifically written for the episode by Barrington Pheloung.

  14. It was a really good depiction of the Rave scene and I did like the atmosphere created by that industrial setting in the beginning (they could have started with silence and an establishing shot and slowly raised the volume from nothing to loud) but Morse is too alienated from the themes

  15. There’s a piece of music that features a couple of times that samples Thomas Tallis’ work “Spem In Alium”.

      1. Difficult to believe that Morse said he heard the Hallelujah Chorus, when we could all hear it was Allegri. He would never make that mistake!

  16. As I grew up in New Orleans, I was struck that the chemist wears a New Orleans Saints cap when he attends the raves. [00;46]

  17. Chris – you mentioned the unsatisfactory element at the end. Something that niggled me was the relationship between Collier and Bristowe. Did they actually know each other as associates or what? It’s never clear.

  18. Pedantic trainspotter note: At the scene where the dead boy is found in the branch line tunnel, we see an Inter City train pass by on the main line. It’s hauled by an electric loco. This places the action well to the east of Oxford. Perhaps somewhere in Buckinghamshire or Hertfordshire, given other locations in the series, on the West Coast main line. In 1992 the mainline in or close to Oxford was still strictly diesel.

  19. Hi Chris. Like everyone else says, I love your reviews. As this is my first time through the Morse series (coming here after completing Endeavour and before Lewis) it helps me to understand a lot of what is going on through the individual episodes and the series.

    This was a very good, well written episode, but also very, very emotional for the reasons I delineate below. Like others, I must agree that the end seemed rushed, but that was not what makes this episode so very right to me.

    What makes this episode so personal, and quite emotional is that we lost our 26 year old son, Robby, to suicide just 2.5 years ago. As a parent, or as we call it, a “Survivor of Suicide,” many episodes concerning suicide are not very realistic. However, due to the great writing and acting, this one showed and sounded like real life experiences.

    The scene with Joyce, played by Sorcha Cusak (love her on Father Brown), and Morse in the kitchen, where Joyce keeps asking “why” is very true to real life. The question nags at you and haunts every day of your post suicide life. It is a question that generally cannot be answered satisfactorily, but Morse helps to explain why it cant be answered in the scene that you posted above

    That scene is especially touching because of the line that Morse has, and the fact that our son’s name, ike Lewis’s, is Robby, although spelled differently. (My son, with a “y” would have pointed out the Lewis’s Robbie, with an “ie” is spelled incorrectly!, at least in his mind.) Morse’s line, that rings true every day in my life, and is also a very unsatisfactory answer to Joyce’s question of why, is, “No one can imagine someone else’s pain, Robby. It’s the human tragedy.” How right that is.

    Again, thanks for the review, and thank you to the writers for, in many instances, expressing how us parents of children that die by suicide feel in the tragic aftermath.

    1. Hi Chuck, I am so sorry for you and your family and you are right no one can imagine pain like this, it truly is unimaginable. My very sincere condolences and my wishes for better days ahead.

  20. Chris, you ask how the police cars could have known about Collier escaping. Morse and Lewis were there when Collier saw them and left. Could not have Lewis called it in to report it after Morse left to chase him?

    1. Coincidentally, the police are raiding the rave. Morse points out Liz, the drug cop, while he and Lewis are overlooking the rave, and we subsequently see some police in the crowd. Not hard to overlook, though, as they never show the police actually breaking it up.

  21. I noticed in the picture you posted of Freddie Brooks as Jacko Lever that on the wall in back of him is a painting of a bird, perhaps a dove, accompanied by the phrase “Deep Joy”; the phrase with a more abstract bird design was also posted on Lyn Lewis’s closed bedroom door, seen at the end of the episode when Lewis is asking her where she got the music she’s playing. I was wondering if we were meant to suspect Lyn was one of the teens attending the raves; although they didn’t make a direct association in the episode, this connection seems to indicate maybe so. And thank you so much for your reviews, as I am just getting to the Inspector Morse episodes for the first time & your insights are adding a great deal to my enjoyment. I’m currently catching up on Endeavour also, with Inspector Lewis yet to come!

  22. I seem to remember a brief scene in this episode with someone (Morse and Lewis?) sitting in a car at what I think is the car park of Cheddington station. It’s very close to the Mentmore Towers location (it’s the station symbol near Horton on your map showing Mentmore Towers). I come from round there, so I thought I recognised it, but I haven’t watched it for quite a long time!

  23. Was surprised to see this was directed by Danny Boyle, although considering the subject material and lack of a truly satisfying narrative perhaps I ought not to have been. Sadly this Morse episode is no threat to either Trainspotting or Shallow Grave in his canon.

    An episode littered with references, some far more opaque than others. But in an episode with no real mystery to unravel, they are rather lost and mainly wasted among the shuffle. The final act is almost a complete abomination, with very little of it standing up to any scrutiny whatsoever. Why would a chemist on the verge of creating a cure for dementia have a sideline punting party drugs? What connection did the chemist, the DJ and the nightclub owner share and why was it not better developed? Morse observation that entering the party/rave would be incongruous was more than waylaid by holding this discussion parked next to a vintage Jaguar in front of all the partygoers. Suspicion hardly begins inside the front door! Why did he send Lewis to talk to Vicky Wilson? How does Strange not surmise or know that Morse is investigating the suicide of one of his few relatives?

    The Drug Squad officer was a plot convenience and little else, ditto for the real estate agent. (Also about to get married as it happens). Morse’ rant on starter homes and the type of society they were encouraging sounded like a good old fashioned backhander to Thatcherism. This too seemed rather out of place; I can imagine Morse not casting a ballot but could you see him voting for Neil Kinnock as an example? Me neither.

    The better parts of the episode for me are the continued development of Morse and his background. There is also some neat interplay between Morse and Lewis, including the scene where he once again calls him Robbie. There was a neat allegory from Lewis’ family to that of the Garretts but it was no more than a nice touch. The same drug giving hope to Morse stepmother at the same time it helps take their grandchild was in a similar vein. The script and directors constantly hammering the point that Morse understands the young like the average Brit understands written Korean was overdone to a point resembling abuse.

    Just couldn’t really get into this one at all, although the grim photography was eye catching and the performances were better than adequate. The score was also uniquely dreadful for the Morse series, and has aged terribly. You really would have to be off your head on drugs to derive any enjoyment from such rubbish, which I suppose was kind of the point.

    Two jags from ten for me, and I was being generous.

  24. A fantastic episode, with Morse attempting to solve a different kind of mystery: the workings of the adolescent mind. He’s clearly out of his depth trying to understand youth culture, and his grief for his niece allows him to be vulnerable in ways not seen before. Some genuinely moving scenes between Morse and Lewis, but also between the parents of the teenage victims. Great performances too from the guest cast (Liza Walker, John Junkin)

  25. I’ve never understood why this episode is probably the least popular in the Morse series. For me it’s better paced, more substantial and more ultimately rewarding than dreary letdowns like Fat Chance and Who Killed Harry Field? I also like the insight into Morse’s softer side, family history and character formation.

    As for the music, I wasn’t a fan of rave even at the time. That being said and with no disrespect to anyone who does like it, I find a lot of opera unbearable. That especially applies to soprano, which means it’s Death Of The Self I struggle with from a background noise viewpoint.

    However, rewatching Cherubim and Seraphim today I switched off after less than 20 minutes in. The reason? The only West Indian man I have ever seen in Morse was depicted as an aggressive, authoritarian and unreasonable man vowing corporal punishment for his missing son.

    His wife was in fairness a far more gentle and reasonable parent but then so were both of Marilyn’s white ones. Surely this was perpetuating the myth of the angry black man waging a reign of patriarchal terror over his family?

    1. It depends on who is doing the singing. I will not listen to wobbly sopranos or bleating tenors. Morse had terrible taste in music – he liked Wagner.

      1. I flatly refuse to listen to, watch or read anything by known racists – just completely puts me off it!

      2. Hi Sarah, While I’m not a fan of Wagner’s music, I feel that music per se transcends countries and politics, just as art and appreciation of the world’s treasures do.

      3. Who are these known racists that you won’t read or watch Sarah?

      4. I always think of my grandma when sopranos start up – Trilly Lilys, she used to call them!

      5. I like Wagner. Does that make me and the Morse character racists? Don’t simply brand Wagner without evidence. Jacob Katz an Professor Emeritus at Brandeis wrote ” that Wagner’s music is untainted by his anti-Semitism, that there is, in fact, very little in Wagner’s art that, without forced speculation, can be related to his racist views.”

    2. The father was terrified that his son would get involved with the wrong kind of kids and with good reason. He never used or vowed corporal punishment and never abused his son in any way. His wife explained this to Lewis.

      1. Thanks for the better context and I appreciate there are plenty of white parents whose fears would make them come across as too strict and controlling. Those fears are as you say well founded with drugs, especially when popular culture glamorises them. That was one reason I didn’t like the rave scene myself.

        I must also add I do have problems with how the white Americans in The Wolvercote Tongue get depicted. The argument it’s not racism if it’s prejudiced stereotyping of people the same skin colour has never flown with me!

      2. This is so true Patricia. He was scared for his son and it ended up he had been right to.

  26. As a child of the Sixties, John Junkin will always be Shake, the tall gofer for the Fabs in A Hard Day’s Night.

    1. Yes, Sheldon he was a stalwart of the British film and TV industries for many years.

  27. What’s the old saying ? Hate the artist – Love their art. Picasso was an arsehole, but his art is transcendent.

    1. My dislike for Wagner’s music has nothing to do with his politics. I simply can not stand his music.

      1. Well, as a great person once said, bully for you. Wagner would probably have disliked you, too.

  28. Chris Sullivan – of course listening to Wagner doesn’t make anybody a racist and I wasn’t suggesting it did. Yes, people’s work is separate from them and with classically, wordless music no views are expressed.

    The majority of work by racists I won’t touch express racism within it. Examples are Bernard Manning and Jethro in comedy and Rudyard Kipling/Enid Blyton when it comes to authors. I also stopped reading Inspector Gamache and Aurora Teagarden books because of how non white people are referred to.

    However, I think for most people there are certain faults or actions which it is very difficult not to think of rather than a person’s work. Without saying it makes me right and others wrong racism is one of those.

    1. I expect/hope that in the future, works by “woke” artists will be seen with the same level of contempt.

      1. Woke artists have no talent and will not be remembered at all. I have no idea of the politics of Handel, the Bach family, Hadyn or Mozart were. I don’t care.

  29. I don’t specifically look into anybody’s politics before I’ll watch, read or listen to anything by them because life’s too short and most people are basically decent. It’s just if I hear something absolutely repellant about those it prevents my personal enjoyment.

    Also I think there is a difference between woke and PC mania or inverted racism. Woke is basically being aware of people’s rights and how those have been/still are being infringed. Surely that’s a good thing?

    1. WOKE has nothing to do with being aware of people’s rights and any alleged infringements. It is refusing to listen to a point of view other than one’s own, trying to drown out or ‘ cancel’ those people’s points of view. It is the same sappy people who claim that men can be women and vice versa, who use a convoluted system of pronouns, who call women ‘birthing persons and who demand ‘safe spaces’ in college. this has nothing to do with anyone’s rights. These are not very bright people who see racism in everything.

  30. “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.”

    Morse and Strange knew each other as “young” adults but they did not know each other as children or teenagers. To me knowing someone at 25 to 30 is not knowing someone when they are young.

  31. Hi Chris–I finally subscribed to BritBox and am re-watching all of the Morse episodes, following each one with your wonderful reviews and references. Thank you again for all of your very enriching research. I hope you and your family are well and that your other activities are proceeding apace.

    I have to say that I think some of the very angry and judgmental political comments above are inappropriate and completely off the subject. Name-calling and belittlement of others for their beliefs is not acceptable in this venue, and I found several of them personally offensive.

    Some of your followers should emulate your approach, which is always to stick to commenting on the episodes; remind the rest of us that this is your opinion and we should feel free to express ours; and even when you’re being critical, not to denigrate others. You also have a great sense of humor and don’t take yourself too seriously. Fortunately, most of your commenters observe these basic decent rules of courtesy and respect for others.

  32. I do not come to this website to be called “sappy” and “not very bright” for my beliefs. I waited several days to see if that and the other insulting angry comments would be removed, as per the stated policy. Since they have not been, I wish you much joy of each other and hope your beliefs will make you as happy as mine make me.

    1. What a shame. It’s sad to see such decay. But there are not many people in the world who have the kind of money to buy and and repair all the damage. Holly, welcome to my website.

      1. it is very sad to see this. Such a grand place it must have been. Too bad one of the billionaires we read about today won’t step up and restore this piece of history. I thought I read where something like a heritage trust in Britain sometimes will restore these historic places and then open them up to the public for viewing (admission fees supporting the upkeep)? Now that would be money well spent.

  33. Finally chiming in with my two’ cents, and worth every penny of it! I loved seeing Jason Isaacs — he’s one of those rare gems who can pull off a bad guy (Lucius Malfoy) just as well as a good guy (Jackson Brodie). Also great seeing Anna Chancellor and a young Sorcha Cusack, the “angel and saint in one” from Father Brown.

    As for all the debates on this episode, it didn’t seem odd to me that the cruisers blocked the road — I figured the drugs squad had called them in and they were parking there to stop people who were fleeing the party. I also had no problem with the soundtrack. In fact, I thought mixing in the Hallelujah chorus with the house music was inspired. As for Dr. Collier’s motives, it looked to me like, in addition to being “smart science man in lab coat” and “important business man in board meeting,” he also wanted to be “cool older man wearing a dope hat at the party.” He had to be the center of everything.

    The one thing I did have a problem with is the deaths themselves. I was never clear on why/how the drugs inspired suicide. (Plus, those plot are just hard to watch, as a mom.) It looked like Vicky was about to provide some insight at the end but got distracted by wanting a cup of tea, dang it. I can’t believe Morse didn’t force her to answer!

    My favorite part of the episode: The super-zoom close-up of Lewis’s face while he’s reading his book in bed. He never looked more like a dad than he did right then.

    1. You’re absolutely right about that shot of Lewis’s face when he is thinking about his kids and can he protect them.

    2. [quote]
      The one thing I did have a problem with is the deaths themselves. I was never clear on why/how the drugs inspired suicide.

      If it is any help, I spent a lot of time wondering about that, too. In fact, looking for the answer to that question is what brought me to this website.

      The key to the mystery is, I think, contained in a couple of lines of dialogue near the *beginning* of the episode rather than the end. The problem is that these lines are buried in otherwise inconsequential chatter of the kind that is very easy to overlook. To complicate things even further, the lines are spoken in a half-whisper and the character saying them is talking more to herself than those around her.

      When Marilyn is picked up by her friends, she tells them what a wonderful time she has just had. When Vicky tries to reassure her that the *next* rave will be even better, Marilyn says:

      lt can’t be as good as tonight.

      lt could never be as good as tonight.

      She goes on to say:

      Tonight was it for me. Tonight was it.

      l saw the world as it really is.

      *Then* she says (and this is the key part):

      (Softly) l know now. l know everything.

      Frankly, the line was delivered so faintly, I couldn’t make it out at all. Thank God for transcript sites, or I would have remained forever mystified.

      It looked like Vicky was about to provide some insight at the end but got distracted by wanting a cup of tea, dang it. I can’t believe Morse didn’t force her to answer!

      Remember that Morse had the ill luck to interrogate Vicky at the end of a long, drug-fueled night. All of the other cars are gone when the camera zooms in on them sitting in Morse’s Jaguar, so you *know* a lot of time has passed before Morse finally gets a chance to talk to her.

      Trained interrogator though he is, I don’t think he would have gotten much more out of her. When Morse asks:

      Then why did Marilyn want to end it?

      Vicky asks, “Marilyn?” as though she doesn’t know who she is (and in her drug-addled condition, she probably doesn’t). After that, Vicky’s only concern is getting a cup of tea to slake her thirst.

      At the end of it all, we are reminded that Vicky is, after all, still a child.

      Anyway, the crux of the mystery is when Morse asks Vicky near the end of the episode:

      Because she’d seen everything
      and there was nothing more?

      As near as I can tell, this is exactly what Marilyn felt: that she *had* seen Heaven and, having done so, what was the point in living any longer?

      (Or so she thought.)

      This, for me, was the great tragedy: the belief that you have had it all before you’ve even been on the planet for two decades. If you are, say, 40 years old, take a moment and try to imagine what you were like at age 20, and how much more there was ahead of you to learn and experience.

      I know this episode gets panned a lot as being one of the more boring and/or ill-fitting entries of the Morse series, but I think it has a lot to offer. The problem may be that what it has to offer may not be obvious after seeing it just one time and it may take a second go before it all comes together for the viewer.

      1. Those girls seemed to have no fathers. Just rather self-absorbed mothers.

  34. @Sarah Morgan – Dearie me, if you clutch them pearls any tighter they’ll crumble to dust, me old china. You should try watching It Ain’t Half Hot Mum and Love Thy Neighbour. Love those old comedies. Generally, the more offensive to the professionally-offended something is, the more I want to watch it. Chuffed I have a myriad of unedited classic media on hard copy. Most are purged from TV. Those that still get repeated are edited to within an inch of their lives.

    Bernard Manning wasn’t racist – he was Northern.

    I always Endeavour (ha!) to read racist books too – especially those by race grifting black, brown and white academic woke folks. Know thine enemy, as the old adage goes.

    Cracking episode of Morse this. Our zombied teen character Vicky is a great prelude to the youth of today, whom have now evolved into an even higher state of zombifaction, thanks to smartphones and Tik Tok. The estate agent bloke popped up in Coronation Street circa the mid-noughties.

  35. Some rather off-topic, less than kind comments developing on here. Chris – maybe you might like to moderate.

  36. I agree, Marcus. Certain individuals have ruined the safe tone of this blog with lots of offensive, attention-seeking posts. The internet at its worst. Can you look into it please, Chris

    1. I certainly will Leon. Like my FB and Twitch places, I try to make this website a safe haven for all.

  37. Hi Chris! I count Morse as one of the most watchable series available – in fact I think I may be slightly (!) in love with his character. However, having been driving when alcohol limits were imposed and managed to get away with breaking those early on – was there ever any question that Morse was driving under the influence?

  38. Not one of my favourites and has dated the most. However, it does have for me Morse and Lewis’s best scene that needed the great John Thaw at his best. This is the one in the pub where Morse is telling Lewis about his background.

    It was definitely a story of its time, but an important one for adults to be aware of what their children were doing and the “new” dangers that were out there.

    One question which has been asked on one of the FaceBook groups on the name of Lewis’ son. You’ve put Ken, at the end of the episode in the credits there is no name, just Lewis’s son. IMDB has the name Ken though, but I can’t recall where Ken’s name is spoken in the episode.

  39. Been thinking about this episode a bit lately. I think it’s hugely underrated. Really poignant and insightful with a great cast. I don’t see the problem with the 90’s music; it’s there because it’s integral to the plot. It also contains just the right amount of back story for me. Not the suffocating amounts to come (are you listening Russell Lewis?)

  40. Chris your review is superb. Completely on point story for the time with the moral panic about rave music and teenage drug deaths. In 1993 the Tories introduced their ‘criminal justice bill’ banning gatherings where music with a ‘persistent repetitive beat’ was played. Danny Boyle was incredibly sympathetic to youth culture and provided something of an education to the mainly middle aged middle class adults watching Morse.
    I’ve just watched this as off work feeling rubbish. I feel even more depressed now as I first watched this as a 15 year old- a few years younger than the actors such as Liza Walker- on whom I had a massive crush at the time- now I realise I am only a few years younger than Morse ! How time flies.
    In the episode itself some brilliant moments- when Morse says to Holroyd “if you’d like to process out of my office…”
    Also we find out that Strange and Joan have a child, a son, who he says looks angelic like his mother. Morse smiles and seems to nod in agreement. I wonder if that was the scene that inspired Russell Lewis to create the Endeavour and Joan unrequited love plot?
    9 Jags for me.

    1. Howard, Very interesting comments. I had to go back to watch that part with strange mentioning his son. I didn’t pay much attention to it when I first saw this episode but now that we know about strange and Joan…must say though I still don’t like them ending up together!

  41. One of the best exchanges of the series….
    “Breaking and entering, Lewis?”
    “Yes, sir.”
    “Get on with it, then…”

    And, yes, my ears perked up when Strange talked about his son looking like his mother. JOAN!
    It is a bit surreal to watch this episode after having recently watched “Endeavour” — gives us a bit more perspective into our beloved, yet humanly flawed, Morse.

  42. Good comments here, in my opinion. I agree, not a smashing episode overall but quite excellent for insight into Morse and Lewis characters. Ending rushed, but not sure I care. I´ll remember this episode, it´ll stick in my mind, which means it´s better than it seems at first glance. As Chris said, a “meh” Morse is better than most things on TV anyday.

      1. And Morse never married and had children. He would have made a terrible father. He knew nothing about children and how they think.

      2. We didn’t invent lanuage, but an American, Henry Ford, invented the automobile and hence, the need for a garage. Not a garridge.

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