I’ve been watching the various television series inspired by Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse mysteries since my late teens: the original BBC series starring John Thaw as Morse, then the spin-off series Inspector Lewis (about Morse’s younger assistant), and now Endeavour. This one is set in the late 1960s and offers a backstory (or origin story, if you want to think of it that way) for the mysterious Morse.
The latest episode of Endeavour to air in the United States, “Quartet” (Season 5, Ep. 5), is a tale of murder and espionage set in—where else?—Oxford, England. One of its subplots includes references to a fictional perfume brand called Fenix.
If you thought I wasn’t going to notice this advertisement in the background of a scene that takes place in an Underground station, then you have another think coming.
On the other hand, we were probably supposed to notice this sign, at least subconsciously…
Later in the episode, for reasons I won’t divulge here, Morse (Shaun Evans) visits Fenix headquarters to find out more about the company and requests a meeting with owner and “perfumier” Sebastian Fenix (Paul Ready).
When Morse somewhat condescendingly asks Fenix about his work, Fenix replies, “To make great perfume takes genius and a nose that would shame the greatest sommelier in the world. Thankfully, I possess both.”
There’s an arrangement of several bottles on the coffee table in Fenix’s office…
…including Vespertine, the fragrance featured in the previously glimpsed advertisement. The adjective “vespertine” means “occurring in, appearing in, or related to the evening.”
Is Vespertine a sultry fragrance for nights out?
And is that yellow flower on its label an interpretation of the five-petaled night-blooming jasmine, which blooms in the dark and emits a heady scent?
And a little later, recurring character Joan Thursday (played by Sara Vickers) is wearing Vespertine when she seeks out Morse at a pub and then allows him to walk her home. After an awkward good-night kiss, he pulls away and comments on her scent: “Is that Vespertine?”
I won’t spoil the episode’s plot for you, but if you’d like to watch the whole thing, you can find it streaming on PBS.org until August 5th.