So we’re well into 2013 now and the new season means a lot of returning crime drama with BBC1 giving us Silent Witness and Death in Paradise while on ITV1 there are new episodes of Midsomer Murders and Lewis. There is a bit of a change to this series of Lewis, which will sadly be its last, as instead of one long feature-length episode each story will be split into two smaller parts. To be honest I’m not quite sure why that is as I feel it spoils the flow of the story and personally I don’t feel the story is strong enough for the audience to want to return to find out who the killer is. The only reason I can see for splitting up the stories into two is to prolong this final series and extend it from three episodes to six.
The first case for Lewis and Hathaway revolves around Reuben Beatty a post-graduate student in the psychology department at Oxford University who takes his practical work very seriously. We first meet Reuben and his young wife Polly, who dropped out of university to raise their child, as he is dashing out of the door to meet up with his attractive colleague Vicki. As Polly spends her days trying to get her baby to sleep she believes that Reuben’s unexplained absences are to do with him having it off with Vicki. In fact the truth is even more unbelievable as it transpires that Reuben is in fact moonlighting as psychic Randolph James seemingly to con people out of their money by using cold-reading techniques. We see James deal with a couple of tricky clients and one in particular, Frank McLean, marks him out as a fraud after feeding him a false story. It is one of Randolph’s clients who finds him in a petrified state after having been given a sedative in a cake before being fed barbiturates which eventually killed him.
Lewis and Hathaway are soon on the case however they are not at full fitness after a small car accident which sees the latter having to wear a neck brace. I found Hathaway being a neck brace for part of the episode added an odd comic touch to a show which isn’t really known for its sense of humour and personally I found it off-putting more than anything else. In fact the only part of the episode I actually laughed at was when the pair found the body and Lewis remarked that the faux psychic ‘looked like he’d seen a ghost’ before he was murdered. It doesn’t take the detective duo long to discover Reuben’s double life but when they question his Professor, played by the always reliable Neil Stuke, he didn’t know why somebody who was such a sceptic would want to moonlight as a psychic. Thankfully Vicki had more ideas and tells Lewis that Reuben’s psychic double life was more field research as he thought he could test people’s belief systems better if he pretended he could contact their lost loved ones.
As always in these crime dramas we soon get a long list of suspects starting with fellow psychic Frank who sought out frauds like Reuben/Randolph in order to protect the good names of psychics everywhere. Then there’s Tarot Card reading crackpot Justine, who once killed her neighbour’s cats, another of the victim’s clients who’d rumbled him before he died. There is also the insinuation that Reuben’s death may not have had anything to do with his double life and instead may have been more to do with Polly’s family who suspected Reuben to be having an affair. Polly’s mother for example appears to have a negative opinion of her son-in-law thinking he held her daughter back from achieving her potential. I’m also not quite sure about Polly’s brother who so far has been her shoulder to cry on but whose neutral nature I am suspicious of. Even the expert Hathaway and Lewis consult about the drugs used to kill off Reuben, played by Sanjeev Bhaskar, appears to be hiding something especially when his wife appears on the scene. Towards the end of the episode Vicki starts to confide in Hathaway about another project that the university was working on in conjunction with the military and that Reuben may have been killed off because he knew too much.
I have to say as a rule I’m never a big fan of formulaic crime dramas however Lewis has that heritage about it which makes it stand out from the crowd a little more. Having said that I think it’s a good idea to end the show now before it becomes too stale. As far as this episode goes it is business as usual and even though the writers would like to have you believe that the script raises questions about faith and the afterlife really these are just ways to advance the plot. As is always the case in Lewis a lot of the episode seems far-fetched from the fact that Reuben was finished off by drugs fed to him in a cake to the fact that the whole thing could be based around a big military cover-up. However I always find the best thing to do with these murder mystery shows is to never think too hard about the plot and instead enjoy the performances and the scenery. In this case the scenery is as lovely as ever as Oxford’s hallowed halls are beautifully filmed despite the fact that they house potential murderers.
Kevin Whately and Lawrence Fox continue to grow as a double act as is witnessed in their first scene together in this episode which is based around an argument over Hathaway’s chanting monks CD. My only issue with the characters is that we don’t see a lot of them outside of the investigation and I feel I would be more invested in the duo if they had their own separate plots heading towards the final episode. I also feel that Rebecca Front is wasted in her role as the duo’s Chief as I feel an actress of her calibre should be used for more than just a few expositional scenes in the police station. In addition I hope that Clare Holman’s pathologist gets a bit more to do possibly through a romantic relationship with Lewis which would be a good way to bring the series to a close.
Overall I thought this first episode of the final series of Lewis was enjoyable but didn’t really offer anything that we haven’t seen before. The performances and the scenery are great while the story at least sets up a number of suspects who could’ve possibly killed this man who was living a double life. I think enough intrigue has been set up for me to at least check out who the killer is in the second instalment although I would’ve preferred it if they hadn’t split this story into two chunks and I’m sure many will feel the same way. It appears to me as if ITV wanted to stretch out this series of Lewis rather than end it as it begun as full stories that people could enjoy from beginning to end rather than having to wait a week for the resolution.
Did you enjoy tonight’s Lewis? What do you think of the decision to split the story into two parts? Leave Your Comments Below.