Archaeological excavations are underway at Oxford, and the student diggers have unearthed something they probably didn’t expect to find: a dead body wrapped in recycling bags.
It’s enough to send police cars screaming to the scene, followed at a slightly less frantic pace by Inspector Lewis (Kevin Whately) and his no-longer-unrequited love, pathologist Laura Hobson (Clare Holman).
“Do we make a wish?” asks Lewis, peering down into the old stone well where the body was stashed.
“I did,” says Dr. Hobson wistfully. “It involved gin and a slice of lemon.”
Poor Dr. Hobson. She might not have gotten what she wished for, but Lewis fans did. We got another series of Lewis on Masterpiece Mystery.
Comfortably ensconced, Lewis and Dr. Hobson have been kicking around the idea of retirement for ages. They’d be leaving the Oxford police in good hands. Lewis’s partner in crime-solving, James Hathaway (Laurence Fox), is now a detective inspector and DS Lizzie Maddox (Angela Griffin) has proven herself to be a capable addition to the team. Still, there always seems to be another dead body…or two…to lure Lewis and Hobson back into action.
Of course, if Lewis were to retire, it would make the new boss DCI Joseph Moody (Steve Toussaint) very happy. “Call Me Joe” has been on the job five minutes—replacing our old pal Jean Innocent (Rebecca Front), who’s gone to Suffolk—and he’s looking to trim the fat. “This guy they dragged back from retirement. Robert Lewis. What do you make of him?” Moody asks Hathaway, proverbial fat-trimming knife at the ready.
Joe, we hate you already.
It takes Maddox no time at all to find out that the body down the well was put there in 2012 at the earliest. The case isn’t exactly cold, but it’s lukewarm and possibly not enough to keep everyone busy. Reliably then, within 12 minutes of the start, Lewis, Hathaway, and Maddox are called to investigate body number 2.
This time, the deceased is a 20-something psychology student/artist who appears to have overdosed on heroin. Not entirely implausible, but suspicious just the same. Hathaway thinks it looks more like a staged murder than a death by misadventure. If he’s right (and you know he is), who’s in the frame for the crime? Her creepy boss, the taxidermist? The taxidermist’s smarmy nephew, who also happens to be her agent? Her sister, the video blogger? The law student with cuts on his face and a sketchy explanation for how they got there?
And, what could this possibly have to do with our unidentified man down the well? (Because you know they’re connected somehow!)
Writer Helen Jenkins, who also wrote the Lewis episodes “Entry Wounds” and “Intelligent Design,” has given us a puzzler with the best sort of classic clues: a missing necklace, heraldic crests, old photos, poetry, journals, and pompous academics. These are all the things we love about Lewis, including Lewis himself slogging through hours of performance art videos (gah!) to reach a breakthrough—because Robbie Lewis is the definition of dogged, and in Lewis, dogged always wins.
And there’s more…
More James Hathaway and his complicated personal life. His father, Philip, is in a care facility suffering from dementia. (Remember Philip? You just saw him in Endeavour.) That’s bound to bring up some feelings James would prefer to ignore. But, will he be able to?
There’s so much ground to cover, and this series is going to be the last of Lewis. (Yes, they’ve said that before, but I think they mean it this time!) If this really is the end, it’s off to a promising start.
See also: Inspector Lewis: “Beyond Good and Evil”
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.