After series seven of Lewis finished last year, the majority of us thought that the titular Oxfordshire detective had packed his bags and was off our screens for good. But, seeing as the crime drama regularly pulled in audiences of over eight million, it appears as if ITV couldn’t resist bringing Kevin Whately and company back for another series. Tonight’s episode, the first of a two-part mystery story, sees writer Helen Jenkins attempt to find a reason for Lewis to come out of retirement and rejoin the newly promoted DI Hathaway.
I’m sure there were plenty of ways Jenkins could have plotted Lewis’s return to the force but in the end she decided on the most mundane method possible. That’s because Lewis is simply asked to come back on a part-time basis in order to deal with the staffing issues the Oxfordshire Police are currently experiencing.
Early on in the episode we see that Lewis isn’t enjoying the time his retirement has afforded him and his spending his hours angrily building a canoe. So when Innocent comes a knocking, Lewis takes her up on the offer straight away without discussing it with his partner and former colleague Hobson. Somebody else whose initially shocked by Lewis’ reappearance is Hathaway, as it appears he’s already struggling to cope in his new role. With this episode of Lewis focusing on the new power balance between the two DIs, Jenkins is also quick to point out that Hathaway is a little out of his depth without his mentor around.
This fact is perfectly exemplified via the relationship Hathaway has with his new DS Lizzie Maddox. As we are told several times during the episode, Lizzie isn’t the first new partner that Hathaway has had with his first sergeant leaving after a couple of weeks on the job. It appears as if Maddox may go the same way as, before we learn who she really is, we hear her tell a friend that she hates her boss. It’s fair to say that Hathaway won’t let Maddox off the leash and won’t even allow her to investigate a break-in at a swimming pool on her own. So when Lewis arrives one of his jobs appears to be to teach Hathaway how best to utilise Maddox so I’m sure that by the end of this series the trio will be getting along with each other famously.
As this was her first episode, I felt that Jenkins should have spent more time trying to introduce Maddox and getting the audience familiar with the character. Instead she was simply used as a plot device; a way of demonstrating how Hathaway couldn’t delegate and why he needed Lewis back by his side. I’m hoping that we get to learn more about Maddox as the series goes on but for now at least I feel that her presence in the drama is wholly unnecessary.
The central case itself could be taken out of any crime drama from the last ten years as it feels completely clichéd. Hathaway and Lewis were tasked with solving the murder of brain surgeon Alastair Stoke who first encountered the former after the farmland he co-owned was torched. Stoke and business partner Tom Marston faced opposition from anti-hunting groups who regularly vandalised their property in order to get their point across. The leader of this organisation, blue-haired student Jessica, is just one of many suspects that Jenkins gives us during the course of the episode.
The most obvious suspect is Simon Eastwood, a younger surgeon who accused Alastair of being drunk on the job during an operation that resulted in a patient losing the majority of their bodily functions. The fact that Simon was also having an affair with Alastair’s trophy wife was also another reason to suspect that he was the one that fired the rifle that ended his rival’s life. The result of the aforementioned operation meant that the boys’ parents became his full-time carers and so they also become suspects in the eyes of the police. Alastair’s other nemesis is Gillian Fernsby; who has never forgiven him for buying up the farmland that she once owned with her husband. The fact that both her daughter and grandson work at the hospital supposedly adds more intrigue to proceedings especially considering that the former appears to have feelings for the late neurosurgeon.
It’s these little coincidences that took me out of the episode as everything feels a little too neat and tied together. None of the secondary characters ever felt like real people and instead spoke in exposition; informing the audience of their grievances with the victim and giving Lewis and Hathaway their whereabouts on the night of the murder. In my review of Grantchester earlier in the week I spoke about how vital a compelling mystery story was to a crime drama and I’m afraid that the murder plot in Entry Wounds didn’t pique my interest at all. Instead I found it rather dull and I personally felt as if Jenkins had created far too many suspects for an episode that only last for forty-five minutes. Away from the story, Lewis did have a few positive aspects namely the chemistry between Kevin Whately and Laurence Fox who perfectly convey the relationship between Lewis and Hathaway. The two actors bounce off each other perfectly and exemplify what a true on-screen partnership should look like. Nicholas Renton’s direction was solid with the opening shots being particularly memorable as the camera made its way through different parts of Oxford. Meanwhile, Barrington Pheloung’s music was once again a joy to listen to as I believe he’s one of the best composers working in TV today.
After watching tonight’s episode it appears that there was no real reason to bring Lewis back other than to capitalise on its previous high ratings. I didn’t find any aspects of the story particularly involving with Jenkins’ story having the same structure as a dozen crime drama plots. Whilst Fox and Whately remain a reliable duo, nothing else really grabbed me about the episode and instead of giving us something new it appears that the team behind Lewis have simply offered up more of the same.
What did you think to Lewis? Did you enjoy it more than I did?
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