Inspector Lewis Episode 06.02: “The Ramblin’ Boy”

Inspector Lewis: Ramblin' Boy with Babou Ceesay“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.

Inspector Lewis...musing.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.


  1. Laura K. Curtis

    The Lewis quote you start this with made me go look up one of my favorite Tami Hoag bits from a several-years-old book called Dust to Dust (I had to look it up in my Kindle because it seemed so fitting):

    “I’m never morose.”
    “You’re always morose.”
    “I’m not morose, I’m bitter,” he corrected her as they passed the Rainforest Cafe, where sounds of thunder and rain were playing over the speaker system, and one of the live parrots on display was screaming like a banshee. People lined up for that.
    “There’s a difference,” he said. “Morose is passive. Bitter is active. Being bitter is like having a hobby.”
    “Everyone needs a hobby,” Liska agreed. “Mine is the mercenary pursuit of easy money.”

  2. Dr. Cox

    Interesting post! I hadn’t thought about the topsy-turviness.
    Secret message in the credits? I’ll have to rewatch because my Doctor Who viewing began with the last twenty minutes of “Logopolis” and so I think of the Fifth Doctor as “The Doctor” :).
    Lia Williams played the spinster prof and what a different role for her than her character in Doc Martin, whom I describe as “Edith the Annoying,” lol.

  3. Leslie Gilbert Elman

    @Laura I support the pursuit of a hobby, whatever it might be.

    @Dr. Cox Lia Williams looked familiar, but I couldn’t place her. I guess she’s annoying here too. 🙂 Re: the secret messages: In the production credits you’ll notice certain letters are red instead of white. Those red letters spell out a word or a phrase that pertains in some way to the episode. This one took me a while to figure out; I had to look up Peter Davison’s place in the Doctorhood.

  4. Jan

    Is there a website that has what the red letters spell out at the end of each episode? I came a little late to that party.

  5. Leslie Gilbert Elman

    @Jan Good question. I don’t know the answer. The messages have appeared in the credits for several years in most Masterpiece Mystery series. I know in the last series of Lewis for Fearful Symmetry, the word was “[url=]postlapsarian[/url]” and in The Indelible Stain, which featured David Soul, it was “Starsky and Hutch.”

  6. Dorothy Hayes

    Lewis, more than one time, and in this episode is called dumb, or has a dumb looking face. It doesn’t bother the actor much, however. He even calls Lewis a “donkey” in the Inspector Morse episodes. The actor, Kevin Whately, does adopt a different demanor in his role as Lewis. In real life, his expression is layed back and savvy. I love Lewis and don’t think he’s dumb looking cop at all, by the way.
    As far as topsy turvy, I get what you mean. I think most of the plots of the Lewis episodes are, if not topsy turvy, too complicated.

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