Inspector Lewis: “Beyond Good and Evil”

Lewis and Hathaway go to the book bindery because they can.

Was Inspector Lewis responsible for sending an innocent man to prison thirteen years ago?

Of course not. This is Lewis we’re talking about. He would never. (And no one really believes he did.)

Yet doubts are raised when it’s revealed that the forensic lab contaminated DNA from the original case. Now the convicted murderer—who’s protested his innocence all along—could go free. And Lewis is left to explain why and how the murders could have started up again if the right man is behind bars.

Graham Lawrie (Alec Newman) looks like such a nice guy.

We begin with a halfhearted attempt to cast doubts on Lewis’s investigation of a man named Graham Lawrie, who was convicted in 2001 of killing three police officers. Lewis (Kevin Whately) stands his ground. Hathaway (Laurence Fox) waves some misfiled paperwork in his face. And Superintendent Innocent (Rebecca Front) tells them to get on with things.

About ten minutes into the episode a police officer is killed. (He might was well have been wearing a red shirt on the Starship Enterprise.) The M.O. is nearly identical to the one used in 2001, which means that either Lawrie didn’t do the original murders or he now has an accomplice who’s trying to make it seem like he didn’t.

The latter option seems more likely, which leaves us with the question of who that accomplice might be.

Is it Pamela, the meek bookbinder, who sees Lawrie’s incarceration as a grave miscarriage of justice? (There are still working bookbinders. Who knew?)

Is it Sally, Lawrie’s shrink, who proudly refers to him as a “perfect psychopath”?

Is it Lawrie’s smug lawyer? The professor who discusses Nietzsche with him? The orderly who helpfully looks the other way when Lawrie smuggles various things in and out of his psychiatric facility? The philosophy student who got lost on his way to audition for The Following? Or is someone else involved?

As Lawrie, Alec Newman is a convincing psychopath, charming, laser-focused, and utterly devoid of morality. (Thus the Nietzsche connection to the question of what “good” and “evil” really mean.) The “If I’d done it” conversation was particularly effective, and writer Noel Farragher did a nice job of demonstrating how a person who is so obviously evil manages to enlist others to his cause.

We know that Lewis’s reputation won’t suffer because of this case, but he does have a weak spot he never had before: Dr. Hobson (Clare Holman), who could be in danger if Lawrie finds her. (Her response to Lewis’s concern is just so…Hobson.)

Hathaway is not pleased with the evidence before him.

And then there’s Lizzie Maddox (Angela Griffin), who’s proving herself more valuable with each case. If you thought—as I did—there might be sparks between her and Hathaway, probably not, she has a husband. Then again, I’m not speculating about anything Lewis-related anymore. Will they be back for another series? Who knows? Do I hope they will be. Of course I do. Don’t you? Will I believe what Kevin Whately tells the press about the future of the series. I’ll get back to you on that.

But first things first: I have to finish reading Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James so I’m prepared for next week’s Masterpiece Mystery.

Leslie Gilbert Elmanis 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.


  1. david hartzog

    Fine post. I understand that there will be another season, I certainly hope so, this remains a quality series.

  2. Leslie Gilbert Elman

    Thank you and I think you’re right about another series. Fingers crossed!

  3. Ted

    Does anyone know the name of the classical piece that is heard several times in this episode?

  4. Leslie Gilbert Elman

    @Ted, it’s the Prelude to Act III of Lohengrin, by Wagner. Or, if you’re me, it’s that classical music from The Beatles’ Help. 🙂

    Wagner was a favorite of Nietzsche’s (for a while) and, of course, of Morse’s.

  5. Maggie Boyd

    I am so bummed that this season was so short! I had just settled in to getting my weekly fix and poof! it’s over.

    I certainly hope we have another series. This is one of my favorite shows. Although I am looking forward to Death Comes to Pemberley.

  6. Terrie Farley Moran

    Really enjoyed the return of Lewis and Hathaway but was surprised that there were only 3 episodes. I hope there will be more. And am looking forward to Death Comes to Pemberley. Thanks as always for a great writeup.

  7. John Joss

    There was an immense logical and procedural hole in this otherwise excellent program. Not only was a DNA error in the lab alleged but–crucial to the retrial in which the psychopath was released–a file mistakenly lost at the time of the trial offered an alibi that was the reason for his release. This was never resolved at the end of the show. Does anyone have a comment about this or am I adrift yet again?

  8. Terrie Farley Moran

    John, I don’t think you are adrift at all, but the way the episode ended, nothing about the old case seemed relevent anymore.

  9. John Joss

    Thanks for your explanation, Terrie. I was simply disappointed that the key elements considered earlier–Hathaway accusing Lews if being lazy in not revealing that critical ‘alibi’ file, Lewis saying he was too busy at the time, the killer getting released because of it–did not get resolved. They are central to the relationship between the two men in addition to being, along with the DNA issue, vital story elements. It has always seemed to me that logical and procedural precision are essential to credible writing of any kind. Mais que sais-je?

  10. ElizaFrank

    Remember these are two-hour movies in the UK, and 90 minutes (including Ralph Lauren commercials, intros, sponsor thanking) on PBS. In short, PBS cuts stuff. I particularly noticed it during these last three episodes, where relationship problems seem to have been smoothed offscreen (Maddox putting in for a transfer, Maddox not transferring after all!)

  11. John Joss

    Yes, Eliza, I was aware of it, and thank you, though there is no logical reason or justification for cutting the program that I could imagine. But PBS’ behavior is in many ways contemptible, including the endless use of promotional ‘bugs’ for future programs that clutter the screen again and again. I contacted the PBS Ombudsman about this and found that we (the poor, pathetic viewers and de facto supporters of PBS) have no recourse or defense against their actions.

  12. CAG

    What did Hathaway give to Maddox at the beer garden and also at the end when Maddox was in the hospital?

  13. Leslie Gilbert Elman

    CAG, he gave her pork scratchings

    JohnJoss, I agree with your comments about the appeal. I thought the misplaced file with the alibi was an unnecessary detail. The lab error was enough to create a problem. Not for one second would anyone–characters and/or viewers–believe that Lewis had intentionally suppressed evidence. Why raise that as a possibility?

  14. John Joss

    Ms. Elman,
    I raised the alibi aspect because the judge mentioned it in court, along with the DNA inconsistency, and because Hathaway was so scathing to Lewis about his supposed carelessness and the tension it caused between the two men. If they had just settled for the DNA issue the alibi matter would not have been necessary.
    To me, it was the failure to resolve it at the end that mattered. They
    could have dealt with it, and maybe in the full-length version they did.

  15. Leslie Gilbert Elman

    John, I wasn’t clear. I meant: why did the *writer of the episode* raise that as a possibility? By doing so, she created a real flaw in the story, as you pointed out.

  16. aa

    Isn’t this on ITV in the UK, which has commercial breaks? So the actual UK run time may be shorter than two hours.

  17. John Joss

    Ms. Elman,
    Yes, of course it’s on ITV. I feel a ‘doh’ moment coming on. Or is that ‘duh?’ If the same program-to-advertising ratio of ~2/3 to ~1/3 prevails in the UK (I no longer live there, my native land), it would be an approximately 115-minute program, a hair short of two hours (intro, extro, etc. to fill the entire 120 minutes).
    But this does not excuse the logical miscue of the unresolved alibi file. Knowing how such programs go through many layers of editing and approval, it is hard to countenance how this could have happened.

  18. Miss Joni

    This is the best Inspector Lewis I’ve ever seen. Brilliant acting, writing and directing. Sometimes these mysteries are so complicated they are quite hard to follow. Not a big fan of the other two episodes in this latest series. This one has a simplicity about it. I also loved the views of the hustle and bustle of Oxford. Inspires me to want to visit. Please tell me what your favorite Inspector Lewis episode is. I hope Acorn TV gets the rights to the series.

  19. wendyme

    Did anyone wonder why the writers went to the trouble of having the pills smuggled into the prison, only to be given to the guard? Wouldn’t it have made more sense for them to have been delivered to him when he was off duty, outside of the prison?

  20. Miss Joni

    Because Lawrie was a control freak and he wanted to have personal control over the guard?

  21. Miss Joni

    And because he was an arrogant “superman” who thought he wouldn’t get caught.

  22. Paul H

    On the subject of US vs UK run times; here in the UK each episode is about 45 minutes minus the adverts and there is approx 1 minute of end credits and next week trailer at the end of episode 1 and 1 minute of last week on and opening credits on episode 2; so about 88 minutes real running time.
    I believe the running time of the US version without adverts is about 84 minutes so there are some cuts but, from what I have seen they are minor and do not really impact on the plot or, more importantly, on the Lewis-Hathaway dynamic.

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