So that’s it then. The last episode of Inspector Lewis leaves us with plenty of food for thought, plenty of beautiful Oxford scenery, and plenty of dead bodies.
Because punctuality is a Lewis hallmark (the show, if not the character), our first corpse arrives promptly within ten minutes of the opening credits. It’s Professor Richard Seager, a biochemist found in his own driveway, under the wheels of his own car. Dr. Hobson informs Lewis that the good professor was knocked down and driven over several times, and the murder inquiry is officially open.
Of course the “good” professor isn’t so good after all. We already know this, because when we meet him he’s in the process of packing up the contents of his prison cell and preparing for his release into society. (The book on his shelf is The Atmosphere of Heaven by Mike Jay about the Pneumatic Institution, a late 18th-century scientific research lab.)
Seager’s been incarcerated for running over and killing a young girl while he was driving under the influence of alcohol.
Although he was sentenced to three years, he only served one, which isn’t much justice as far as the family of his victim is concerned. But they’re merely among the several people who might have wanted the professor dead.
His wife, the Reverend Martha Seager, is withholding some pertinent information about the state of their marriage. (Blessed union? Perhaps not.) And Seager’s colleagues appear to be less than enthused about him. The episode’s many allusions to molecular bonds and chain reactions underscore the fact that in criminal investigation, as in scientific research, one thing will always lead to another.
Or, you might say, everything’s related. In this episode, that’s especially true since Professor Seager’s boss is played by Edward Fox, the real-life uncle of Laurence Fox. (Was that a little Hathaway smirk I saw in the first scene they do together?) He does play a wonderful doddering don.
Another familiar face for telly spotters is Miranda Raison (aka Jo Portman from MI5, she of the bottomless blue eyes) as Stella Drew, a brilliant young chemist conducting research into Alzheimer’s disease, and in particular the Amyloid Hypothesis—a genuine area of study in the pursuit of a treatment for Alzheimer’s.
Despite the fact that we encounter four dead bodies along the way, the mystery isn’t especially surprising and you’ll probably figure out the killer—or at least have a hunch—about halfway through. But the criminal investigation isn’t really the point in this episode. We have more important issues to address, such as what’s going to happen to our friends Lewis and Hathaway?
As always, I won’t spoil the secrets, but I will say that we do have a pretty good idea of what directions they will follow and the paths they choose could make it difficult to bring them back for future episodes.
It was the sort of bittersweet ending you’d expect from Lewis and Hathaway. I’ll admit I shed a tear over that last pint. How about you?
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.