As man lands on the moon, Morse lands in Thames Valley in this week's Endeavour. The world will never be the same.
Morse: How much does it cost, this treatment?
Van Horne: What price freedom?
The second episode of Endeavour Season 6 opens with another historic event. In "Pylon" it was the investiture of the Prince of Wales. This week, it's Apollo 11, and Oxford's astrophysicists are all atwitter over it, especially Professor Adam Drake, a.k.a "The Moon Man." Sadly, he won't live to see Neil Armstrong's famous walk, as he and his girlfriend die in a car crash on the way home from a party celebrating the successful launch.
A single-vehicle crash normally wouldn't land on CID's lap, but the high-profile name means Bright calls it in to be safe. Morse, having arrived at an empty office on his first day, heads over. The car isn't Drake's, making it look like a drunk in a car he's not used to. But the girl was dead before the car went off the road. A murder-suicide? Morse heads back to the office, arriving to find everyone has returned from the stakeout, and his new office is in the basement. (Box and Jago are not pleased someone at Division "pulled strings.") Thursday, meanwhile, took a beating during the raid, causing Box to put him on "light duties." And with Morse looking for assistance on what they convince Box is an easy case, the two are teamed back up.
A visit to Larry Humbolt (Sargon Yelda) confirms the car was his, and that Drake took it at the last minute when his own car wouldn't start. This explains the extra set of car keys in Drake's pocket. Colleague Wingqvist (Oliver Chris) notes Drake was both a ladies man and a math genius who also recognized the power of television, appearing to talk about the Apollo mission on the BBC, but also working as an advisor on a sci-fi puppet show called "Moon Mages." This is clearly a direct reference to Gerry and Sylvia Anderson's Supermarionations of the 1960s, run by Jeff and Hildegard Slayton (Matthew Cottle and Mary Stockley).
Drake's date was Christine Chase, who worked on "Moon Mages." Puppeteers Eric and Marilyn Gidby (Robert Hands and Terenia Edwards) describe him in nasty terms, but he might not have killed her. Humbolt's brakes had been tampered with. This also means Christine must have been dead before they left the party. More weirdly, the other set of car keys in Drake's pocket don't go to his own car.
Once the case starts getting interesting, Box puts himself in charge, busting down Morse to "exhibit officer." Despite both Jago and Thursday warning Morse to stay in his lane, he ignores them, checking out the "Single Way Institute" Drake attended. It's run by Gabriel Van Horne (Blake Ritson), and it's all New Age claptrap, white decor, and primal scream therapy. Meanwhile, there's another body, as puppeteer Eric Gidby has offed himself. This one sends Strange down from Division. Gidby attempted suicide once before after his first wife died in a hit-and-run, and current wife Marilyn admits he had dark days. He would see the car that hit his wife everywhere, including claiming to have seen it at the studio a week ago.
Elsewhere, the Humbolts have problems of their own, and that's before their car got mixed up in a crash of dubious origins. Isobel (Sophie Winkleman) drinks, hates her husband and was obsessed with Drake, who she was sleeping with. Daughter Flora is known to Joanie via Welfare, but she can tell the girl is just acting out. The Wingqvists aren't doing great either, as wife Natalie (Alice Orr-Ewing) was seen burning the contents of the purse left behind by Christine. She's also not very forthcoming with her guest list when the police start expanding their search, leaving off the make and models of the cars they drove.
When Strange mentions Humbolt's daughter at Division, Morse decides to pay her a visit. He learns from Flora that Isobel drove them to a studio visit with Drake recently. He also pops by the Wingqvists, and discovers the remains of Christine's purse in the bonfire. The maid found it upstairs the morning after. Turns out the Wingqvists are regular partiers, a.k.a. swingers. There is a key bowl with a random set in it too. Those keys are to Drake's car, meaning the extra set must belong to another car that was there. One trip to test the mystery keys in the car parked outside Single Way answers it. Van Horn was there, and he found Christine dead after she fell down the stairs. He slipped away by taxi, and the rest have been scrambling to cover up ever since.
Since Van Horn had drawn Drake's keys, Isobel handed him her car in a panic. What she didn't know was that Gidby had seen the car when they were at the studio. It was the one he'd ranted to Marilyn about. It looks like he cut the brake lines, hoping to kill whoever owned it in revenge for his wife's death, and then when he discovered he'd killed Christine instead, he killed himself. Except that's not quite it. Instead, Hildegard Slayton was the one who made it look like Gidby did that, once she realized he'd seen the car and was freaking out about it. Hildy was Drake's former lover, the one he left for Isobel, and it was Isobel she tried to kill, and Gidby she murdered to frame for it.
One small detail: Bright turns up for Morse that the Humbolt's car was owned by Eddie Nero and company when it hit and run Gidby's wife. Perhaps Strange continuing to look into them over Fancy's death won't go down a dead end. Also? When Joanie rescues Flora after she and brother Matthew run away (with Morse's help), Matthew innocently asks if they can be his parents now.
At least someone recognizes Morse and Joanie belong together, even if they still don't.