MORSE: S7E2, THE DAY OF THE DEVIL. Review + Locations, Literary References, Music etc. SPOILERS

Hello fellow Morsonians and welcome to this review of episode 27, THE DAY OF THE DEVIL. I have already reviewed episodes 1 to 26. To read those reviews click this link Morse episode reviews. 

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Series Seven, Episode two.

Chronologically this is episode 27.

First broadcast 13th January. 1993.

Where’s Colin?

At one hour and 19 and a half minutes, Morse, Dr Martin and WPC Curtis are sitting in the gardens of the hotel.

Is that Colin in the blue jumper? I’m not wholly convinced but…

Directed by Stephen Whittaker: He only directed this episode. He sadly died in 2003.

Written by Daniel Boyle: (Not to be confused with Danny Boyle the director of Slumdog Millionaire, Trainspotting etc). Daniel also wrote the Morse episodes Dead on Time, Happy Families, Second Time Around and Deadly Slumber. He also wrote the Lewis episode, Whom the Gods Would Destroy.


John Peter Barrie convicted rapist and self proclaimed devil’s disciple escapes from prison/asylum. The police immediately start a search for a man who is declared as dangerous. However, Barrie stays one step ahead of the police by way of using various disguises and managing to obtain vehicles that don’t appear to have been stolen. For Morse and Lewis this adds another dimension to the case; who is helping Barrie? Morse and Lewis must apprehend Barrie before he rapes or kills anyone else. But first they have to manoeuvre their way through the mire of the occult, Devil worship and exegesis on Ancient Grimoire.

(warning, this review will contain some spoilers)

This episode has never made my top ten of favourite Morse episodes but that’s not because it’s a bad episode. It’s because there are far better episodes in the Morse oeuvre. So, let’s have a shufty.

This is going to seem a strange thing to write in a review but I cannot put my finger on why it is not one of my favourites. The acting from all those in the episode is very good especially Harriet Walters, Keith Allen and Richard Griffiths. In fact Allen should be commended for not playing John Peter Barrie as an overwrought psychotic. Allen has menace but there is an undercurrent of charm and guile in his portrayal. No, there is nothing wrong with the acting.

The soundtrack cannot be faulted. Barrington Pheloung has chosen some sublime pieces of classical music. His incidental music is as good as always. So, nothing wrong with the music.

It may be the storyline. At times it is a bit heavy handed especially in regard to women’s rights. The theme of the show was about violence against women and the lack of women’s rights especially in the police force. Daniel Boyle admitted that he was heavy handed and clumsy in the way he had WPC Curtis relate why she believed Morse’s view of women was wrong.

I agree with much of what WPC Curtis says but I do believe that Morse has a point when he says that women lose some part themselves when trying to compete with men. It’s the problem I have with films like Bridesmaids and the TV series Fleabag. All they say to me is that women are trying to prove that they can be as horrible, disgusting, sexually motivated as so many men. That they can talk about bodily functions, show bodily functions and be lacking a moral compass as do many men. Why is showing this type of equality a good thing?

Though the story is a dark one there is humour in the episode, most of which is supplied by Lewis.

The directing is pretty solid but nothing that makes it stand out from the other episodes. With the subject matter in hand the episode could have been helped with better directing to create a more sinister, unnerving tone. But it doesn’t.

There are a few things I have a problem with in regard to the script. It is somewhat incredulous that intelligent men would believe they had conjured up the Devil. But, not outwith the bounds of possibility. However, why did they stand by and watch ‘the Devil’ stab Trevors and then pour petrol over him and subsequently set light to him. Surely watching something/someone pouring petrol from a canister and then producing matches should have given them a clue that this was not thee Devil. Did the burning happen after they had ran through the fire to escape?

Why didn’t Appleton tell the police that Barrie had changed his look? Barrie tells Appleton to get Morse. Barrie walks into the light. They only find out sometime much later when Mrs Trevors is hospitalized.

I can understand why Barrie visited a pub. He is so arrogant he believes he is ‘invisible’. But why flash his tattoo? That tattoo identifies who he is. And why oh why does he feel the need to dress as a woman? It doesn’t make sense.

It is a good episode and I do know that many Morse fans thoroughly enjoy this episode. But for me it is good but no better than that.

Episode Jag Rating – out of 10.


The times shown below are approximate and are based on the British DVDs.


String Sextet No. 1 In B Flat Major Op. 18 by Johannes Brahms. Morse and Lewis meet Canon Humphrey Appleton.


Busoni Chorale Prelude BWV 639 Ich ruf zu dir,Herr by Johann Sebastian Bach. Appleton playing in the church.


From the opera Manon – Massenet – Adieu notre petite table by Jules Massenet. Morse’s office. In the episode the singer is Janis Kelly who has voiced many of the singers ain all three series in the Morse Universe.


Toccata and Fugue in D Minor by Johann Sebastian Bach. Appleby’s church, played by Barrie.


Sextet No. 1 in B-flat major – 2. Andante ma moderato by Johannes Brahms. Morse meets Appleton in the college.

I have gathered together all the music played in the Morse series.

Click Morse Music to download the excel sheet.

Click Morse Music 20th sept 2019 to download the above as a PDF.


One could count ‘Exegesis on Ancient Grimoires.’ Grimoires is a “book of spells”. Exegesis is an interpretation of a text.

Thank you to Philipp who pointed out the quote from Macbeth, “Fair is foul and foul is fair’. This is said by Appleton to Morse outside his church.



Morse and Lewis visit Appleton while he stands with the sextet. This is Exeter College

(1). This is John Collier Jones (1770–1838).

(2) Walter de Stapeldon (1261–1326).

(3) Sir John Taylor Coleridge (1790–1876)

(4) Sir William Peryam (1534–1604).

(5) Henry Richards (1747–1807).

(6) Sir William Petre (1506–1572/1573).

(7) Thomas Bray (c.1706–1785).

(8) John Prideaux (1578–1650).

(9) Hugh Shortrudge (c.1652–1720)

(10) Sir William Noye (1577–1634)

(11) Sir Cyril Norman Hinshelwood (1897–1967)

The painting behind Lewis’s head of a man who looks a bit like Colin Dexter is Norman Crowther Hunt (1920–1987), Baron Crowther-Hunt of Eccleshill.

Thank you to Nancy who has identified the opera poster in Morse’s office.

This is “The Royal Opera I Puritani Bellini” from The Royal Opera House, by David Scheinmann photographers. This poster is currently in storage at the Victoria and Albert Museum.


Mental Institution where Barrie escapes from. UNIDENTIFIED.


Cafe where Barrie gets a lift in a HGV. The location is Colnbrook By-Pass, Slough, SL3 0EA.


Doctor Martin has collected her shopping and watches the police car speed past her. Around the four minute mark.

The shop has now gone and been redesigned as a house. It has renamed The Old Post Office. Weedon Hill, Hyde Heath.


Car park where journalists get briefing. UNIDENTIFIED.


At 13m and 16 seconds Morse and Lewis visit Canon Appleton.

This is Exeter College. Below is part of my filming of Exeter College in the location shown in the picture above. I filmed the video in April 2019.


After Morse, Lewis and Appleton leave the dining hall where they first met, they move into the gardens of Exeter College.

This is part of Exeter gardens that back onto the Clarendon Building that can be seen in the background.


Canon Appleby’s church.

This is St. Mary’s Church, Church St, Chesham HP5 1HY.


Canon Appleby’s rectory.

His rectory is close to the church.

St Mary’s Church in the background.


Home of Mr and Mrs Trevors. UNIDENTIFIED.


At 34 minutes Morse and Lewis visit Mr Trevors place of work. Balliol College. Here they arrive to meet Maugham Willowbank. Location is Balliol College.

The area in the above photo is the main quad of Balliol College.

Morse, Lewis and Maugham Willowbank move on to meet Trevors.

The large stone work behind Morse and Lewis can be seen more clearly below.

Morse and Lewis after talking to Trevors.

Here is that area minus the ivy.


Hotel where Dr. Esther Martin is being located. Unidentified.


Where Mrs Trevors is being hospitalised is probably The John Radcliffe. The old John Radcliffe that is as it was closed down and relocated.


Train Station where Barrie meets the man going on his holidays.

This could be Oxford train station as it looked in 1993. It has changed so much in the past 27 years I can’t be sure it is Oxford train station.


Where estate agent sees picture of Barrie on TV in shop window. Around the 56 minute mark.

In the top picture you can see on the right, through the window, the Martyr’s Memorial.


At around the 58 minute mark Morse and Lewis leave estate agent’s office.

The shop today is called Toast at 103 High Street, Oxford.


Lewis visits the Esoterica shop.

The shop is located in High Street, Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire.

Below is how it looks today.


Pub where Barrie has a drink. See details below in Pub Location section.


Petrol Station where Barrie stops after being recognised by the barmaid.


Thank you to John Burling and John in the comments section who identified the location. The petrol station is now a Tesco supermarket.


Morse decides to visit Willowbank after the death of Trevors around the one hour and 14 minute mark.

This is Balliol College.

In David Bishop’s excellent book, The Complete Inspector Morse, plus some other publications the location for the above is Christ Church. But it is quite clearly Balliol.

I believe these are also shot in Balliol.


Police Station at one hour and 25 minutes. The same location was used as the police station in the last three series of Morse;

The area used was Wellington Place, High Street, Harefield, Uxbridge. The area has since been demolished and houses erected. In a nice nod to the Morse series the streets have been named in honour of the show. There is Dexter Road, Morse Close, Lewis Close and Childs Avenue. Childs is Ted Childs one of the executive producers who was instrumental in bringing the Morse series to television.


House 10 Oakroad (the address in the episode but not necessarily the actual address), where Barrie holes up. UNIDENTIFIED.


Mill Cottage where Barrie stays while holding Holly Trevors hostage.

Thank you to John Burling for identifying the above. It is Mapledurham Watermill, near Reading. It’s a museum.


The only pub location is one visited by Barrie.

The location is Old Berkeley House, Owlswick, Princes Risborough HP27 9RH. The pub was called Shoulder of Mutton and closed down sometime ago.



Actors who appeared in Day of the Devil and/or Endeavour and Lewis.

Lloyd McGuire as Clough.

Lloyd McGuire also appeared in the Endeavour episode, Home as Charlie Ayers.


John Bleasdale who played the Desk Sergeant also appeared in the Morse episode, The Secret of Bay 5B.


Beverley Klein as the barmaid.

She also appeared in the Endeavour episode, Oracle as Mrs Carlin.



Richard Griffiths who appears in this episode as Canon Humphrey Appleton was himself a detective in the British TV show Pie in the Sky. The Griffiths character retires from the police and buys himself a restaurant. That restaurant’s exterior, 64 High Street Old Town in Hemel Hempstead, was seen in the episode Confection.


Strange in his office surrounded by pictures and models of submarines. These things are seen in many episodes yet Russell Lewis the writer and creator of Endeavour didn’t see fit to include this in the young Strange’s backstory.


I do like the scene in the Esoterica shop with Lewis mispronounces St John’s name.

It reminds me of the Rowan Atkinson scene in the brilliant Four Weddings and a Funeral.

Oxford Colleges Used as Locations.

Balliol College and Exeter College.


Only two deaths in the episode. Unless you count the cat.

Trevors is killed by Barrie. Barrie stabs him and sets him alight.

Barrie is shot by WPC Curtis.

The Trevors cat is killed by Barrie.

In Memoriam

John Bleasdale who played the desk sergeant. 1946 – 2003.

Richard Griffiths who played Canon Appleton. 1947 – 2013.

Gilly Corman who played Holly Trevors. 1955 – 2010.

Kevin Stoney as Heironymous St John. 1921 – 2008.

Apologies if I have missed anyone. Thank you all for making the Morse Universe a better place.


John Thaw as Chief Inspector Morse

Kevin Whately as Detective Sergeant Lewis.

Keith Allen as John Peter Barrie.

Harriet Walter as Dr. Esther Martin.

Lloyd McGuire as Clough.

John Bleasdale as Desk Sergeant.

Aran Bell as PC Pringle.

Richard Graham as PC Cobbs.

James Grout as Chief Superintendent Strange.

Patrick Drury as Frank McTeer.

Peter Attard as Mack Shaw.

Wayne Norman as Larry Broomfield.

Katrina Levon as WPC Nora Curtis

Gilly Coman as Holly Trevors.

Michael Culver as Maugham Willowbank.

Gavin Richards as Steven Trevors.

Martin Read as Sergeant Brenner.

Naomi Capron as Identikit Officer.

Kevin Stoney as Heironymous St John.

Beverley Klein as Barmaid.

Antony Carrick as George Granger.

David Griffith as Timothy Perry (Estate agent)

All maps are the copyright of Google.

All images of paintings are copyright of All images from

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.

38 thoughts

  1. Chris, I agree with your opinion of the preachy, heavy dialogue from Curtis. And I like Morse’s thought that he always felt that women were the guarantors of civilization because of their humanity and gentleness. And gentleness, as we know, doesn’t mean weakness.

    1. That is so true Kathleen in regard to gentleness is not necessarily a sign of weakness.

  2. Thank you Chris, for all the hard work, that must have gone into producing this excellent and detailed analysis. “Day of the Devil”, has never been one of my favourite Morse episodes either, as it is a little too dark and macabre for my liking. To give it some credit, it is a very different and creative Morse episode, and it does have some humorous moments as well, but ultimately it would seem, I prefer the more traditional murder investigation.
    Having said all of that, I believe I have read somewhere before, that when this episode was first broadcast in 1993 on British television, it achieved the highest viewing figures of the entire Morse series, apparently about 18.5 million, if, I have remembered correctly.

    It pains me to slightly disagree, or pick you up on something, Chris, but you mentioned “Day of the Devil”, has never been in your top ten favourite Morse episodes. However, I remember watching a video you created, a few years ago on this website, showing classic scenes from your top ten, and “The Day of the Devil”, was very much in that compilation. I think you said, that you had difficulty choosing, your tenth personal favourite, it was a close run thing between “Second Time Around” and “Day of the Devil”. Anyway, it doesn’t really matter, everyone is freely entitled to form their own opinion, about favourite episodes, as it is just a bit of fun, and of course, there is no right or wrong answer.

    Perhaps Chris, I sprung on you too quickly the other day, a couple of “new” locations, I discovered in the Lewis episode, “Allegory of Love”. Sorry, if I am giving you too much information, when you have been through such a challenging period, over the past few weeks. I noticed you were about to restart your Sunday Night Lewis Club, and I couldn’t resist telling you something I had recently learnt about that great Lewis episode. I will have to join, all your good followers on a Sunday night, at some point, if I can find the time, because as you say, seeing an episode again, you never know what new things you may pick up, you didn’t catch before. Thank you, and all the best.

    1. Hi James. The viewing figure is correct. Surprising when Remorseful Day attracted 12 million. I knew all but one piece information you wrote about in your previous post. When I wrote the book I came to the realisation that I would have to be brutal in regard to editing or the book would have been double it’s final size. What I left out would have filled another book.

  3. I should have added the word “informed”, in front of opinion, regarding my earlier comment. I would also like to say, I very much value your informed opinion, Chris, of each episode you review in the Morse universe. It is very interesting, reading your verdict and analysis on all these episodes, and thank you very much, for taking the time to do that.

    1. Thanks James, I’m glad you enjoyed it. Up next will be a review of the Endeavour episode Nocturne.

  4. so happy that you’re reviewing more of the Morse episodes. Some wonderful episodes for the future!

  5. I am always puzzled that Appleby says it was important that Barrie was playing a piece of ‘religious music’ on the organ in his church (The Toccata and Fugue in D Minor by Johann Sebastian Bach). The piece is written for organ…. but not necessarily the CHURCH organ.

  6. I always liked this episode. It is dark and covers some disturbing themes but it was quite thrilling.

    I can identify the location where Barrie visits the petrol station as being in Princes Risborough. The petrol station is now a Tesco’s.

  7. Thank you Chris for very kindly replying, so quickly. I look forward to reading your next episode review, in the Endeavour series, when you can find the time. They do say keeping busy helps, but given all what you have recently been through, try not to push yourself too hard. Thank you, and all the best.

  8. On further reflection, Chris, you didn’t address one issue, I spoke about, in my comments above. Sorry to nitpick, but in September 2015, on this website, you created five excellent videos, portraying your ten favourite Morse episodes. This was where, I noticed you chose, “The Day of the Devil”, as your personal, tenth best episode. Sorry to drag this up, it was nearly five years ago, so I expect it is easy to forget about that, given, everything that must be on your plate at the moment, and the distressing period you are going through. I also realise, when picking your favourites, it is all subjective, and one can easily change their mind frequently, over where to position a top ten. Anyway that is all for now. It is time for me, to shut up, as you are probably getting fed up hearing from me. Thank you, and all the best.

  9. To make myself clearer, one can easily change their mind frequently, when selecting their personal favourite top ten Morse episodes, because there are so many great episodes to choose from. Finally, that really is enough from me for now, sorry I have spoken for far too long about this subject. Thank you, and all the best.

  10. Hi Chris. Sorry to trouble you, I just wondered if you had found the chance to read my most recent comments, above. As I said, I am greatly interested in your knowledgeable opinion of your favourite top ten Morse episodes, even though it is just a bit of fun really. I have a memory for strange details, and I thought you once had “The Day of the Devil”, in your personal top ten, portrayed in a video, on this excellent website of yours, or am I mistaken? Thank you for furthering my interest in the Morse universe, through all your hard work, on these web pages. All the best to you.

  11. Thanks for kindly replying, Chris. I believe I have read, you once said, that you will eventually re-upload all those YouTube videos on this website, that at the moment are not viewable, due to unforseen circumstances, possibly because of copyright reasons, etc. It would thus be great to see one day, videos of your ten favourite Morse episodes, updated, to reflect your current choice. You could create videos on the same subject for Lewis and Endeavour, as well.

    Listen to me, what I am doing, giving you more jobs to do, when I had previously suggested, for you not to push yourself too hard, after what you have recently been through. Sorry, my enthusiasm for the Morse universe is getting the better of me, and I was starting to wax lyrical. Anyway, that is enough from me, for now. Thank you, and all the best.

  12. Thanks for another great review, Chris. I like this episode (and have watched it lots of times) but agree that it’s not a classic. It’s lacking a bit of suspense and credibility. Devil worship is so ludicrous, it’s more the kind of thing I’d expect to see in a 1970’s episode of The New Avengers, not a Morse from 1992. Plus, Keith Allen dressed as a woman turns the climactic scene into something unintentionally funny. A real shame.
    On another note, would you consider starting a Twitter page for Morse fans? Twitter is crying out for it. There’s nowhere else for fans of the show to chat

    1. Hi Neil. I actually have a Twitter account but it’s more about what I do here. I have a FB Page where various discussions take place. The addresses for these accounts can be found in any post.

  13. I’d also like to add that, after the preachy women’s speech by Curtis, it is a bit contrived to have her be the one to kill Barrie especially with a whole cadre of armed policemen there.

  14. I have discovered a few more interesting pieces of information about this Morse episode, thanks to David Bishop’s excellent book, “The Complete Inspector Morse”. This seventh series, would of course, prove to be the final full series of Morse, before the five one-off annual specials, that were later broadcast. Ahead of this seventh series, John Thaw and Kevin Whately were both ready to move on, with new projects on the horizon. Thaw had been cast in a big budget BBC drama based on the hit novel “A Year in Provence”, while Whately was taking the lead in “Peak Practice”, for ITV.

    Executive producer, Ted Childs, thus reached an agreement for one last, full series of Morse, cut from five episodes to three. Even then, finding suitable scripts proved problematic. In fact, Daniel Boyle, wrote the episode, “The Day of the Devil” (which you have superbly analysed above, Chris), as a quick replacement, after another story was abandoned. Despite writing it, he still felt it was out of character, for the series. In analysing this information, perhaps the speed with which this episode was written, explains why the script appears a little heavy handed and clumsy, in regard to feminism and women’s rights.

    Nevertheless, this news to the British public, that the seventh series would be the final, full series of Inspector Morse, drove British TV ratings for the programme, to a new high. Indeed, the Oxford sleuth, in 1993, was a ratings juggernaut, destroying all in its path.

    According to David Bishop’s Morse guide, episode one, “Deadly Slumber”, was watched by 18.59 million, in Britain. Previously in my comments above, I said that “The Day of the Devil”, was viewed by 18.5 million people, and I will now correct myself, and say, thanks to Bishop’s book, it was viewed by 18.77 million. As I had alluded to, in my earlier comment, but with slightly the wrong figure, this is officially, the highest ever rating for a Morse episode. Incidentally, the final episode of this series, “Twilight of the Gods”, was watched by 18.76 million British people, just 10,000 fewer, than the previous episode.

    It’s unlikely these figures will ever be exceeded, by another cerebral two-hour murder mystery in Britain, thanks to the rise of multi-channel viewing, and internet streaming. To put it, into context, in 1993, satellite television in the UK, was still in its infancy, or very early days. By the time we reached the final ever Morse episode, “The Remorseful Day” in the year 2000, digital and satellite viewing, had significantly grown. Nonetheless, the very last Morse episode, still achieved a highy considerable rating of 13.66 million. This is very similar to the very first episode, in 1987, “The Dead of Jericho”, which had viewing figures of 13.87 million. Consequently, thirteen years on from the first episode, the final episode attracted almost as many viewers, and this is a significant testament to the programme’s enduring power.

  15. I noticed a small mistake I made in my previous comment. I should have said, “Nevertheless, the very last Morse episode, still achieved a fairly high, and considerable rating of 13.66 million”.

  16. Just finished watching Day of the Devil, and I agree that it is not one of the “top ten” but it does get a little better in the second half than the first. But I after all the explanation, I do not see where Dr. Martin got the gun she brought with her, or how she would have removed the bullets without Barrie having seen her do it. From what I saw WPC Curtis just took the gun with her. She did not give Dr. Martin a gun.

  17. I have to agree that this is one of the weakest episodes: how does Barrie get out of dr. Martin’s trunk? You can easily open trunks from the OUTSIDE but not from the INSIDE.
    What makes dr. Martin so sure that that was the day to leave her car unlocked for Barrie to slip in? There is no way for her to know when Barrie will execute his escape.
    Why does Appleton believe that it is important that Barrie can execute the Bach Toccata so well and Why does Morse ignore his opinion?
    Why does Holly open the door to Barrie dressed as Norman Bates in Psycho?
    Five jags (and this is being charitable)

    1. Hi Adrian. Your first two points can be answered with the same reply; the doctor and Barrie were in colusion from the very start. Maybe, Appleton was surprised that such an evil man could play such a beautiful piece of music. Why was Barrie in drag? The police were looking for a man so… Hope that helps.

  18. Hi Chris – fantastic resource. I’m fairly sure both the hotel Dr Martin is kept at, and the interior of Willowbank’s office are Missenden Abbey, Great Missenden.

  19. Fantastic work as always Chris. This website is as thorough, thoughtful and useful as I’ve seen on any such show.

    What makes this plot very weak to me is that it follows deadly slumbers – a story where a once bad man who became reformed is brought back to his most brutal nature after discovering that he didn’t get justice in the courts for his daughter because the clinic lied and felt they were above the law. His rage is understandable and his actions seem realistic for someone who had been a gambler/gangster for much of his life.

    Here – a woman was raped and terrorized by two men a decade earlier. One of them is in a prison psychiatric hospital forever and the other wasn’t caught. But she is an extremely well educated, trained psychiatrist who is well liked by her colleagues. Yet, somehow she can’t get past this event and goes to all the trouble (years in planning and pretending to go into the occult herself) to help him escape so that he can identify and brutally kill the other man who raped her and so she can kill him herself. It’s almost a cartoonish twist. But in the end – it makes her look very weak. The Writer might have tried to write a feminist tale – but it turns out like a rape survivor fantasy – heavy handed and makes her look rather pathetic as a result (she has this education to deal with this, but does this instead)

    What makes it worse is that rather then reveal that the two men raped her sister it is revealed that SHE was the woman. So this homicidal maniac Morse is chasing who is supposedly among the most clever he has ever faced can’t realize one of his victims is now his doctor and pulling his strings. It seems as if he only did this to a handful of women, so this bit seems sloppy and very unbelievable.

    The greatest tragedy of this is that the escaped killer who at the beginning seems like he has an amazing plan that will test morse’s legendary wit actually is NOT very clever at all here – he is content to be a pawn for someone he is too stupid to see was once his victims. Makes everything anti-climatic.

    The first time through the twist was fascinating. Rewatching it years later is very disappointing.

  20. Hi Chris: You write,
    “I can understand why Barrie visited a pub. He is so arrogant he believes he is ‘invisible’. But why flash his tattoo? That tattoo identifies who he is.”
    Isn’t the answer that Barrie’s visit to the pub was an attempt to mislead Morse? After sitting at the table and ostentatiously reading a guide to London, he deliberately shows the tattoo to the waitress, hoping that she will contact Morse and tell him what Barrie was reading, thus persuading Morse that Barrie has gone to London. Morse, however, is too smart to be fooled by this ploy.

  21. Thought this was a very good episode for about two thirds of it, but the conclusion ultimately never really squares the circle.

    Introducing the bookshop owner “Heironymous St John”, and then following that scene with a cryptic crossword nod I thought was a fine red herring.

    But ultimately too many plot holes sink this episode. Why does Holly Trevors end up hysterical in her loft for example? As another commenter noted, where did Esther Martin get the gun? And how did she know that Barrie would not throw the gun she’d given him away and not keep the gun he was shot with hidden instead?
    Why would she speak to Morse at the end other than for for the purposes of attempting to wrap up the story for the viewer? Why would she have mentioned owning the motorbike in his presence?

    All largely worthless questions I suppose. An enjoyable enough watch until the final act though, and with some subtle and not so subtle humour – the solicitor as one of the satanists was just such a touch; shame Boyle didn’t extend this to it’s logical end and include the journalist and real estate agent in their number.

    Five jags from ten.

  22. Just watched this episode and have read the review and comments. I thought it was quite a far-fetched story and the scene of the devil-worshippers in the woods was ridiculous. The appearance of the murderer wearing an obvious pantomime costume devil’s/goat’s head walking through all the flames was laughable. You would think that the worshippers would have wondered why there was a strong smell of petrol in the woods. Also as pointed out by others there were a lot of plot holes. For instance how did Mrs Trevors get into the attic/loft? There was no chair or ladder there!

    Lewis would have thought that the name of the bookshop owner was pronounced Saint John because the famous Liverpool FC footballer and later TV personality, the Scot Ian St. John pronounced his name that way. Especially as Lewis is from the North East of England. The pronunciation as “Sinjin” is used in the more southern parts of the UK.

  23. “Exegesis on ancient grimoire, I should think, sir.” — quote from Lewis, worth 5 Jags all by itself 🙂

  24. Another good review. A tour-de-force performance from Keith Allen here. He gets the balance just right, as you said, playing an evil nutcase who’s able to keep himself in check in order to evade the authorities. Glad he was apprehended in the end though – you know he was really evil because he killed a cat. Never kill a cat. It is a sure guarantee you shall meet your doom.

    WPC Curtis was annoying, as most feminists are. Still, every episode needs one annoying character.

    R.E the devil worshippers – not too far-fetched here in my neck of the woods (Somerset). There’s a lot of inbreeding down here, and I think that explains it. Our very own Devil, Fred West hailed from round here.

  25. I think Daniel Boyle was having an off day with this one. I really struggle to accept that a group of intelligent, middle-aged men would believe they had just witnessed the devil in the woods. And why on earth did they have Barrie in such comedic drag. I laugh every time I see it. Watchable but very silly, and full of plot holes. In the bottom five Morse episodes for me I’m afraid

  26. Sadly i put this episode in my bottom 5. I say sadly because it has good actors in it, but it just all seems a bit ridiculous to me. Definitely the weakest in the three episodes that make up the “final” series.

  27. Other contributors have talked about a ‘jump the shark’ episode; well, if there is one, this is it in my opinion. It’s very hard to believe this was written by the same person that wrote ‘Second Time Around’. Ludicrous ‘Hammer House of Horror ‘style themes of the occult, with enough plot holes to drive a large lorry through. It’s not devoid of entertainment value, and features a very good performance from Harriet Walter, but Keith Allen in drag talking about ‘shaman’ and the like? I mean come on. I think Daniel Boyle may have been on the Absinthe. Bottom 5

  28. Great review Chris- I’d agree pretty much with all of your comments. The story line is quite weak isn’t it? But this is more than made up for in the acting- especially Keith Allen and the wonderful much missed Richard Griffiths. I think this episode works as a bit of a black comedy in parts- and some of the dialogue made me laugh out loud- but the disturbing theme of violence against women doesn’t make it a funny episode.
    Is it just me or did anyone else think Amanda Hillwood had returned as Grayling Russell when we first saw Dr Martin? Harriet Walter and Amanda look very alike.

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