Lewis: The Ramblin’ Boy (3+4).

Previously on Lewis: Down Among the Fearful.

The Ramblin' Boy (2)

This was much better! After episodes 1 + 2, I was a bit concerned that either I’d lost my spark, or Lewis had; but this two-parter had a lot more energy and more pull. The case was interesting and engaging, and it didn’t veer off the path the way the last one did. Plus, not only was the script (written by Lucy Gannon) tighter, plot-wise, it also showed more zest and, dare I say it, spurious glamour in dialogue, pacing, and characterisation.

First impressions, however, were a bit glum: existential flu, it seemed, is catching; what with James on a holiday that Robbie knows isn’t a real holiday, but more work at an orphanage in Croatia, and Lewis standing at the river, gazing out… So, not only is he feeling a bit out of sorts without his dependable right-hand man, he’s also worried. Besides that, he might just be a little concerned that James might discover his inner Arthur Shappey and stay, because he’s such a big helper. The warning not to lose the sense of who he is was, as such, basically code for ‘make sure you come back.’ Robbie knows James wants out, and he’s fine with that—but not quite so far away, thank you very much.

Lewis being a “lonely little soldier,” as Jean Innocent likes to put it, there seems to have been a bit of a shortage of Constables or Sergeants willing to work with him in James’ absence. Probably knowing that, unwilling to work with anyone else (who can’t basically read his thoughts), he’d be a bit of a grumpy old sod. Jean knows, of course, which prompts this lovely exchange:

Lewis: “If Morse had been nice, I’d still be a sergeant!”
Innocent: “Yeah, well, that man has a lot to answer for.”

What was that about people emulating their elders as they themselves get to feeling a bit… funny with age?

The Ramblin' Boy (7)

But Lewis has also picked up a few hints from Hathers, it seems:

“I’m always happy. My face is misleading.”

Now, if that’s not straight from James’ “I’m not smug, ma’am, that’s just the unfortunate shape of my face,” presented in Expiation

Enter DC Gray (Babou Ceesay), whom Robbie treats dismissively during the first few days, reminding older viewers of his sniping against God and all but the green grass when first faced with Hathaway; before remembering his manners and warming up to the young copper. Throughout both episodes, though, Gray doesn’t only stand his ground, there’s a fondness in his eyes that is eventually explained at the very end of the story: ages ago, Gray’s father died and a young Geordie sergeant helped him deal with coroners and courts.

Gray: “He doesn’t remember—I’ll never forget.”

(I haven’t done any digging yet, whether Gray and his family were part of one of Morse’s investigations—but no matter.)

Jean is not the only one, though; Laura, too, is a little concerned at the lack of James’ presence at the Inspector’s shoulder, and initially takes Robbie’s absentmindedness as a sign of that. The reasons for that, however, are more involved with the case than anyone could have anticipated.

Enter Jack Cornish, copper, husband, father—criminal.

Hoping that everything might be explained in more favourable circumstances, Robbie must realise that the fast-track detective has been, in fact, playing dirty all along; and that he’s got to tell the wife, who’d sought Robbie’s help in the beginning, that her husband is in the wind.

The Ramblin' Boy (1)

I really, really liked this case; what with drugs smuggled in body cavities and loads of people being up for grabs as the missing corpse—sure, clues that it was Liam’s dad who was missing were laid out early on, at the latest when Peter Faulkner (Peter Davison!) claimed that he’d been drunk at the party. Pocketing that mysterious notebook turned out to have been a bad idea as well…

If anything, Peter Faulkner is a study in malignant greed. He wanted to kill someone, so he did; simple as that. He runs a Crystal Meth racket out of an abandoned shack just near Split, how lovely; and when someone gets on his nerves, well, he gets rid of them. Lewis’ disgusted face is really getting an outing with this bloke around; I haven’t seen Robbie so completely repulsed by a culprit in a long while.

Lewis (to Cornish): “There isn’t a spoon long enough.”

Very witty, indeed. (Is that the collective band of Lewis writers congratulating themselves on their scripts?)

Now, with the case discussed and solved, there’s the mystery we’ve been puzzling over for… I can’t actually remember how long; since Series 2?

Robbie has been steadily recovering from losing Val, we’ve seen that in past series, and especially during last year’s The Gift of Promise. Val will always be there, she’ll always be a part of him; but she’s “slipping away.” She’s still important, but her death doesn’t make Robbie’s decisions anymore.

And so, finally—finally—Robbie and Laura get their act together and find the happiness that they deserve. Look at them! They’re so brilliant and magnificent together, and they shine. Damn, I’m giddy.

And not just that, Laura marching up to Robbie and sealing the deal with a good snog inspires some wonderful reactions in their fellow investigators and best friends, after years of watching them dance around each other and never quite making the leap until now:

The Ramblin' Boy (6)

The Ramblin' Boy (5)

Next: Intelligent Design.


  1. “I turn my back for five minutes…” Oh, Hathaway, never change! Seriously, I had *hearteyes* every time Lewis and Laura shared a screen.



  2. I have to say I was apprehensive about Hathaway not being central to this episode however it was still very enjoyable, great writing and Hathaway was still involved, have to say jean innocent is my guilty pleasure!!



  3. I’m writing from distant Australia, in this year of the plague 2020, writing this review in the afterglow of seeing the Rambling Boy episode. Morse and Lewis being replayed and Endeavour being played on free to air. Luckily, I’m working through Lewis on DVDs without commercials.
    I think that the Rambling Boy episode must be one of the high points of the entire Lewis project, on so many levels – reflecting Lewis’ emotional health recovering, the next step of Lewis and the delightful Hobson, warmth of Innocent, reflections on the lifelong pain of losing a baby, the life-changing benefits of reaching out for and accepting help – all this and 2 murders and 2 attempted murders.
    Rambling Boy has no particular literary allusions, but I think the number of character and emotional arcs in the episode more than makes up for it. On the DVD I have just rewatched the last 10 minutes or so (the academic sitting on the bench with her bag of welcome and pregnancy gifts, the wonderful scene in the pub with Lewis Hobson innocent and Hathaway, DC Gray (who’s Black) giving life lessons to the young ones, and the closing walk together) 4 or 5 times.
    The screenplay was by Lucy Gannon, her one and only Lewis episode. She and the storyline are not from the traditional Inspector Morse canon, but the emotional attraction and story arcs are enormously attractive. like the wonderful opera experience of shared songs, ;like Verdi’s Libiamo – https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=188&v=afhAqMeeQJk&feature=emb_logo
    or a Mozart of Rossini aria with 4 or more characters interweaving. So I believe that the emotional arcs cover more than adequately.
    A pat on the back to colour grading on Lewis esp in series 3 on (I guess due to the influence of the Masterpiece American coproducers?). The warm colour temperature, giving every scene the golden light that we photographers love to capture, improves the emotional temperature of the entire series. The older Inspector Morse episodes with the daylight/colder/more natural? colour temperature) play as cooler/grimmer.
    Watching all three series of the Morse universe (the Morse original, the Lewis sequel and the Endeavour prequels) is very satisfying, like re-watching the Ring cycle.
    I do think that the later series of Lewis, when the producers and the concept and the performers got into the groove like Miles, are the most satisfying from my perspective. A warmer emotional tone than the often querulous Morse and the very downbeat Endeavour that had to lead in to Morse.

    Liked by 1 person


    1. Excellent thoughts on the colour temperature — the difference is really marked, comparing previous seasons. I fell out of watching Morse after a while, even though young Lewis is absolutely adorable. They really feel a lot more grim, even though the subject matter often isn’t much darker than on Lewis. (Especially seeing as Lewis, upon his return, suffers from much of the same existential flu as Morse used to.) I haven’t caught up on the most recent Endeavour yet, but my mum tells me it’s very good :’D
      (I have watched Young Wallander, however, which manages to turn the depression dial up to 11 and then breaks the knob off. Mainly because, well. It’s Wallander.)



  4. A very badly put together episode, lots of characters, things left unfinished (what is Cornish involvement? Why did he go all the way to Croatia? Who set fire to Liam’s boat).



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