In Masterpiece's 'Endeavour,' a Masonic Mystery Takes Shape

The Prequel to 'Inspector Morse' Gives the Masonic Lodge the Third Degree.

By Ian A. Stewart

In an early episode of PBS’ Masterpiece mystery Endeavour, the prequel to the long-running mystery series Inspector Morse, a fellow detective mentions that he’s been invited to join “a certain ancient fraternity.” The young Morse replies, “A man can’t serve two masters.”

What’s probably a fairly oblique quip for most viewers is in fact one of several allusions in the series to Freemasonry. Often mysterious and sometimes more, the frequency of Masonic mysteries in Endeavour suggest someone with at least a passing familiarity with the craft. And indeed, series creator Russell Lewis tells California Freemason that while he’s never been a member himself, he had a relative who was and that he “did once work as a plongeur”—or hired help—“at a lodge in Surrey. I thought the building and its decor were quite beguiling, and the objects in [the] sundry display cabinet fascinating,” he says.

Fans of Lewis’s original Morse series may recall earlier nods to the craft. An episode titled “Masonic Mysteries” involved the titular detective being framed for a murder at a rehearsal of Mozart’s Magic Flute. In Endeavour, the series uses the secrecy surrounding Masonry to similar dramatic—though not always flattering—effect. For instance, a storyline in season eight implicates a lodge in a police-corruption ring—a reference to a real-life British scandal in the 1960s and ’70s.

It isn’t the only pop culture allusion to Freemasonry to show up on our screens recently, either. In just the past few years, the Netflix series The Pentaverate, Peacock’s adaptation of Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol, and an HBO remake of Perry Mason have all tipped their caps in various ways to the world’s oldest fraternal organization.

Still, for viewers with a connection to Masonry, the thrill of catching the odd glimpse of an apron or officer’s jewel may well outweigh any sinister insinuations. The ninth and final season of Endeavour is expected in late 2022 or early 2023.

Image via IMDB

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