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
Last Bus to Woodstock is one of the best Morse episodes,, certainly my favorite episode of season two. It gets the balance just right. Morse is at his most courteous - there's plenty of Lewis and Max (unfortunately, this is Max's last episode) - there's talk about religion, literature, sex, love, all the stuff we love about the show. It also manages to be reasonably coherent; I could keep up with the characters; the conclusion only had one out-of-place coincidence.
There are a few men, but the focus is really on the splendid female characters, from Fabia Drake, above, as the lovely, lovely Mrs. Jarman (this terrific sequence is exactly what would happen if Marple met Morse - and come to think of it, that's a series crossover that really should happen) to Holly Aird as Angie Hartmann, a young woman who shares Morse's love of literature.
Morse has lots of good conversations with interesting women, but doesn't date any of them, interestingly. (I understand this was not the case in the book.) Relationships (as noted in this review) tend to be shown in a very poor light - and Morse is about the only positive male character. The theme is most blatant in a scene in which Morse lectures Lewis for adopting a proprietorial tone towards Valerie: "I don't want to own anyone." Could a relationship based not on possession but on love be the answer? Is that even possible? The question is left hanging.
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