Everyone’s on edge in this week’s installment of Inspector Lewis on Masterpiece Mystery: Inspector Lewis himself, who’s itching for a fight at every turn; Sergeant Hathaway, who’s feeling under-appreciated. Even Dr. Laura Hobson, medical examiner and Lewis’s erstwhile love interest, is not her usual unflappable self. (Friction between Lewis and Dr. Hobson has them both uncharacteristically out of sorts.)
Edgiest of all are the participants in an antidepressant drug trial going on at Oxford, especially after one of them—the ethereal Amy Katz—is found with her head bashed in after apparently jumping from her bedroom window onto some artfully arranged rocks in the garden below.
Of course, if this were a suicide, we wouldn’t need Inspector Lewis (Kevin Whately) and Sergeant Hathaway (Laurence Fox) to crack the case. So we’re looking for a murderer, this time one who has more than a passing familiarity with psychiatry.
“The Mind Has Mountains” comes from a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins—Oxford Class of 1867, poet, priest, and noted melancholiac.
O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall
Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed. Hold them cheap
May who ne’er hung there.
Hopkins was writing about despair (he did that a lot). Considering that this episode involves people suffering from depression, despair is an appropriate subject.
But I suspect that screenwriter Patrick Harbinson chose that line because of another text: The Mind Has Mountains by Paul R. McHugh, M.D., a professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. McHugh’s book concerns the way popular culture influences psychiatric diagnosis and treatment, making certain conditions fashionable and giving some psychiatrists the notion that they’re all-knowing and infallible even if their professional judgment is questionable.
In this episode, that’s an appropriate subject, too: Dr. Alex Gansa, the psychiatrist who invited her to join the drug trial; the psychiatrist with whom she was in love, was treating Amy for depression.
This is Patrick Harbinson’s first script for Inspector Lewis, and the fact that his credits include Law & Order: SVU, ER, Wire in the Blood, and James Cameron’s Dark Angel, might explain why it eschews scholarly themes for standard cop-show fare such as pharmaceuticals, medical ethics, and De Clerambault’s Syndrome (more commonly known as erotomania, a movie-of-the-week condition if ever there was one).
I missed the literary allusions I’ve come to expect from Lewis; still the episode has bright spots. Douglas Henshall portrays Dr. Gansa with a cool superiority destined to rattle Lewis’s cage. (I’m guessing the character was named for the Alex Gansa who was Harbinson’s fellow writer/producer on 24.) And with one little gesture, Alex MacQueen makes the tiny role of Gansa’s department head, Dr. Julius Fisher, deliciously memorable.
The shrinks are not the heroes of our tale, however. That role belongs to modest, reasonable, realistic Lewis. He’s a confirmed skeptic of the psychiatric trade. His opinion of medical examiners might be a different story.
Since the beginning of the series, Dr. Hobson, the medical examiner played by Clare Holman, has been Lewis’s counterpart in every way. She’s smart, attentive and dedicated to her work. At the same time she’s a loyal, intuitive, amiable companion.
Romantics are swooning: “They make a great couple!” Faithful viewers of Inspector Lewis—and of Inspector Morse before him—know love can’t possibly be that easy.
Back when Lewis was working with Inspector Morse, he was a happily married father of two. When Kevin Whately returned as Inspector Lewis in the 2006 series pilot a lot had changed: Lewis’s wife, Val, had been killed in a hit-and-run; his kids, Lyn and Ken (I think his name was Ken), were grown and gone; and he was on his own.
Five years on, he’s settled into a new routine with a new partner—Sergeant James Hathaway played by Laurence Fox—and a new boss—Superintendent Jean Innocent played by Rebecca Front. (Val Lewis’s death is resolved in Season II’s “The Quality of Mercy.”)
As Lewis’s trusted colleague, Dr. Hobson’s role in the series continues to grow. She’s even pictured alongside Lewis and Hathaway on the Season IV DVD package, which gives us some indication of where the series is headed.
Or does it?
Friction and the occasional wayward spark aside, I’m hoping that Lewis and Dr. Hobson remain, as Superintendent Innocent says, “two grown-up single people who obviously like each other.” Innocent finds this frustrating. She wants more; but I don’t. (Possible Spoiler Alert: The flash video below has actor Kevin Whateley’s opinion, and he’d be likely to have the inside scoop.)
I don’t rely on Inspector Lewis for romantic tension. For me—and I hope for Lewis and Dr. Hobson—the suspense and satisfaction of solving a case will always be enough.
Image via ShrinkWrap.
Leslie Gilbert Elman blogs intermittently at My Life in Laundry. She’s written two trivia books and has a few unpublished fiction manuscripts in the closet to keep the skeletons company.