Lewis, The Final Episode, ITV | TV reviews, news & interviews
Lewis, The Final Episode, ITV
A valedictory mood settles over Oxford as 'tec series reaches journey's end
I wonder if ITV ever imagined this Inspector Morse spin-off would last seven series? The opening pair of episodes in this valedictory season of Lewis still clocked over eight million viewers, though the numbers have subsided a bit since. Future one-off specials have not been ruled out.
The final story, "Intelligent Design" (its traditional two-hour format split into two single hours) sustained a reliably Lewisian tenor, with its tale of a murdered academic, Professor Seager, who'd just been released from prison, where he'd been dispatched following a drunk-driving incident in which a young girl had died. Residents of Oxford in this post-Colin Dexter epoch have the life expectancy of subalterns on the Somme in 1916, and before Lewis (Kevin Whately) finally unravelled the deceitful innards of the case, we'd had the suicide by hanging of a neurotic student, a cadaver which had been mouldering in a college attic for decades, and another prominent corpse floating in the Cherwell.
There was the traditional patina of Oxfordian intellectual endeavour, exemplified by the emotionally cold Stella Drew (Miranda Raison) and her obsession with developing a revolutionary treatment for Alzheimer's. There was also a droll appearance by DS Hathaway's uncle, Edward Fox, playing college master Dr Yardley like the Duke of Edinburgh's long-lost cousin (pictured above). Meanwhile possible murder suspects formed an orderly queue, punctuated with exclamations of "but you can't possibly think that X had anything to do with it!" Might it have been the dead girl's sister, Rachel (Crystal Leaity), who ran Prof Seager over with his own Jaguar? Or his wife, the Rev Martha Seager (a fretful Alison Steadman)? Or maybe Rachel's boyfriend Adam (Josh Bolt), or even her mother? Or Stella's husband, Carl (Ariyon Bakare, pictured below with Alison Steadman and Miranda Raison)?
This kind of pass-the-parcel approach, where potential guilt whips from hand to hand like a white-hot cannonball, is common to detective series from Poirot to Inspector Lynley and even The Killing, but the detection bit is just a backdrop for the interactions of the leading characters. With Barrington Pheloung's keening background music sounding delicately tragic warnings that all things must pass, even when the ratings are holding up pretty well, the relationship between Lewis and the sensitive, tormented DS Hathaway (Laurence Fox) acquired some subtle new tones.
Lewis has been making warning noises for some time about wanting to hang up his warrant card, and his suddenly hotted-up romance with pathologist Laura Hobson (Clare Holman) was clearly propelling him towards the exit. But Hathaway has always been far more cerebral and complicated than his stolid though not-so-dumb boss, and this series has probed further into his theological background, and even tiptoed warily round the question of whether Hathaway is gay (the answer seemed to be "maybe a bit"). Hathaway's equally ambivalent attitude towards being a policeman has been one of the most intriguing aspects of Lewis, and he was forced to confess here that while he "used to think people were basically good," police work had changed his mind. About which he is none too happy. Two retired policemen in one go? Surely not.
Subscribe to theartsdesk.com
Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.
To take an annual subscription now simply click here.
And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?
Nicola Walker and Sanjeev Bhaskar lead stellar cast into the murky criminal past
Gripping melodrama reaches its conclusion
Lowering skies and endless storms in exploration of Celtic culture, history
Is there room for another TV cop tormented by the past?
Bruising story of family caught between Syria and abroad told in moving documentary
Amiable visit to the innocent yesteryear of Laurie Lee's Cotswolds youth
The former Pistols frontman makes an interview of bits an enjoyable ride
Something evil stirs in darkest Herefordshire
A rushed competition obscures the human interest of communal singing
Sun-dappled remake of LP Hartley's saga of forbidden love
Sex, blackmail and money worries attend the last hurrah of Julian Fellowes' juggernaut
The magic deserts Daniel Radcliffe, and Netflix goes to Colombia