“Be nice,” Chief Superintendent Jean Innocent warns Lewis not once but twice in this episode. As if Lewis wouldn’t be nice! (“I’m always happy; my face is misleading,” he explains to Dr. Hobson.)
Still there is a bit of topsy-turvy in this episode, starting with guest star Peter Davison. He was Albert Campion in the 1990s series based on Margery Allingham’s mystery novels and he was the fifth Doctor Who (which might explain the secret message in the closing credits of this episode). He’s usually a good guy, but he’s an obnoxious rich guy here. Is he convincing? You tell me. I sure wanted to slug him for talking to Lewis the way he does!
More topsy-turvy comes when Hathaway checks out for a week in Kosovo to rebuild an orphanage. Or, as Lewis puts it, his “churchy pals roped him into some do-goodery.”
While Hathaway’s rolling paint onto cinderblock, Lewis is presented with a new temporary partner, one Detective Constable Alex Gray, freshly promoted and eager to begin work. Lewis isn’t enthusiastic about breaking in the new guy, but Gray is really appealing and when he pulls out an electronic cigarette because he’s trying to quit smoking you can see Lewis figuring the lad just might have potential. (Hathaway’s cigs are always a problem for Lewis.)
Our first body turns up on schedule at about 10 minutes into the episode, only this one’s a little unusual seeing as how he’d already been embalmed and prepared for burial when was dumped in the woods. When Dr. Hobson visits the crime scene she and Lewis do their usual flirty thing with her teasing him about his Geordie vocabulary. (A Geordie is someone from North East England; it’ll help later on if you know this.)
From there on, the story is—in my opinion—a bit of jumble. There are a lot of plotlines to follow and they don’t always intersect neatly.
The rich guy has his fingers in all the pies, and Lewis is told to tread softly when interviewing him.
The rich guy’s wife is having an affair with a cop who Lewis considers a friend. (So happy to see Lucy Speed, aka Natalie from EastEnders, as the cop’s wife, even if it was just one scene.)
There are students with school troubles, and drug troubles, and parent troubles. Okay, so it’s all one student, but still…
There’s a bitter, spinster professor.
There’s a doctor who feels underappreciated, and who becomes Corpse Number Two.
There’s a creepy local businessman.
All the bases are covered, but we’re missing the scholarly stuff that makes Lewis a treat. For instance, it’s not clear what subject the bitter spinster teaches and there isn’t one reference to Chaucer, or quote from Themistocles, or cryptic message written in Aramaic. I’d also say in this episode the splendor of Oxford isn’t used to its potential, although the scene in which Dr. Hobson spies Lewis gazing at the river is sigh-worthy.
Loose ends are tied up sufficiently, but you almost don’t notice because of two major things that occur during the last few minutes of the episode. Please! No spoilers in the comments! All I’ll say is I didn’t see either of them coming. After all this time watching Inspector Lewis, I ought to have better deductive skills.
Leslie Gilbert Elman is the author of Weird But True: 200 Astounding, Outrageous, and Totally Off the Wall Facts. Follow her on Twitter @leslieelman.
Read all of Leslie Gilbert Elman’s posts for Criminal Element.