Morse and Lewis investigate the murder of a young woman, Sylvia Kane, found dead in a pub car park. She was last seen at a bus stop asking for the times of the bus to Woodstock and was to meet as friend at the same pub where she was found. She had accepted a lift from someone in a red car and the police find an envelope on the dead girl addressed to Jennifer Coleby, a co-worker. This leads Morse to uncover a complex set of social inter-relationships and eventually, the girl's killer. Written by
"You're going to like this one. Quite a puzzle", says Max in this adaptation of Colin Dexter's first novel. Quite right: A girl is dead, and in her purse is a mysterious envelope, empty but for a coded letter, reading "Take this, please."
One of the best Morse episodes, Last Bus to Woodstock has a plot that twists and turns, keeping both Morse and the viewer stumped until the last moment, when the dreadful truth sinks in.
Gender roles and loneliness are the recurring themes that serve as the foundation for this visit to Oxford: Among the dozens of characters introduced, all but two live hauntingly lonely lives, coping as they may -- through drinking, gambling, sex and adultery.
The first exception is an old miss Marple type. She has learned to deal with the loneliness, or even appreciate it. The second exception is Angie, a young and amiable English literature student, who has yet to face the harsh facts of life. Of course, her innocence can't last, and eventually she gets her unpleasant rite of passage into adulthood.
As often with Morse, the conclusion is only half satisfying: Although the case is closed, there's no sense of justice being fulfilled, only lives ruined, a little more misery in an already miserable world. The Inspector Morse series never drew the nicest picture of society, but in this episode, it seems particularly grim.
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