Now, is it just me, or has all the shit in the universe been raining down on Hathaway these last six or seven episodes? Thought so. While it’s not a strictly scientific observation, I must say: this isn’t just existential flu, this is a properly depressing cluster-cuss.
So’s the case, basically.
For the final ep of the series (and the show), I liked this case. The underlying theme of ambition, and sacrifices made either for the Greater Good or for the ones we love, or both, pulls the narrative together and keeps even the more tenuous connections in line.
What would any of us be willing to do to further research? And, more importantly, to attach the findings of that research to our own names even though it isn’t all our own work? It’s a ringing comment on the way research fellowships work as well as on the chilling ways humans delude themselves into thinking that one person’s death can be atoned for by a scientific breakthrough that might help millions. Instead of, you know, collaborating, pooling resources, sharing the credit. There’s an unhealthy dose of ego in Dr Stella Drew’s sacrifice of conscience; and even though Seager persuaded her not to call an ambulance, she still acquiesced.
And then, as if that wasn’t bad enough, she starts murdering people—because the truth will out, always.
There’s Richard Seager, who thought he could drink and drive and then killed a little girl. Out of prison after a year, he’s a recovering alcoholic and seems to have found God. When Rachel grasps that that is what she’s there for, to help him, she rears back, disgusted.
A lot of these characters seek redemption—whether they deserve it, whether they deserve forgiveness, is another matter.
There’s Stella’s husband, teacher-turned-fraud in order to strive and step out of his wife’s shadow; who managed to push a student to apply for what he thought was what the lad would want—and to make himself some money, too.
There’s Adam Tibbit’s father, wanting only the best for his kid—not one of those parents who live their own unfulfilled dreams through their children; just a dad who wants to give his son all he wants, and loving him in spite of whatever he chooses. Except he didn’t tell him that. Adam can’t handle the expectations, can’t understand how he got into the course so easily and then had such trouble keeping up. Finally, finding out that his father bribed him into Oxford, he snaps.
And it’s another slap in the face for James.
This is the, what, third or fourth death in a row that James blames himself for. Witnesses or suspects who were killed or took their own lives over the course of the investigation; after James had talked them into helping the police or accused them of murder.
It strikes me that Lewis is uncharacteristically unsympathetic when James confides in him about Adam. He’s right, James couldn’t have known that he’d find Adam hanging from the ceiling; and the message wasn’t for him, it was for Drew, but still… Robbie sounds a lot like Morse on his worse days in those scenes; and it contrasts sharply with the Geordie DS he once was, and certainly with his own behaviour in past cases. In Far Off, Unhappy Things, he blames himself for a young girl’s death and needs Hathaway to pull him out of it; he reproaches himself for never solving that first attempted murder that put a young girl in a coma years before.
Lewis is no stranger to the darkness of the job and to the strain it can put on a copper’s conscience, and while he’s not a fan of coddling anyone, I would have thought he’d be more compassionate with James over this. I get that, in terms of character development for James, it highlights his sense of urgency, of dissatisfaction with who he’s become that borders on self-contempt. So far, though he has his moments, he wasn’t on the road to becoming a Morse 2.0, so I’m a bit concerned. It’s not that he’s not sensitive to James’ thoughts—as impenetrable as they seem to others, they’re utterly transparent to Lewis now, after all those years, and you can see it drives him barmy to stand or sit by as James is first attacked by Rachel’s mother for harassing him and then thanked by Adam’s father for trying to help. And he does want to take care of James, by inviting him to take-away-at-home with Laura (who might have been the better person to talk this over with, come to think of it).
Blimey. There’s not a lot of humour around in this one, is there.
Hathaway’s patting his pockets, searching.
Lewis: “Lost something?”
Hathaway: “My phone… must have left it at the school.”
Lewis: “What are they researching again?”
Hathaway: “Alzheimer’s… You’re funny.”
Not exactly Christmas, is it?
Though alleviated by Lewis calling James at the station for nothing other than cooking advice and the brief interludes with Robbie and Laura slowly becoming a couple (including an interrupted snog in the mortuary, of all places—though Laura’s right, some of their best moments have involved mangled corpses), this was a bit of a glum ending of the show; and I’m a bit miffed.
Robbie’s decision to retire soon makes sense—he really should see his family more, and since Laura vehemently agrees, it won’t be an obstacle to their relationship, far from it.
And then there’s James. I don’t understand how Lewis (or, rather Lewis’ writers) could have forgotten what James said at the end of Series 5:
“If you go, I go.”
It’s perfectly clear that, when Robbie leaves, so will James; not wanting to work with another guv and having felt uncomfortable about his job for at least three series now. I would have thought that, after trying to persuade James to further his career the last time Robbie considered voluntary retirement (while James was contemplating voluntary redundancy) and failing miserably, he would continue to accept that James’ decision was made in good conscience. Of course, it can’t hurt to ask if he’s changed his mind; but to push him into a meeting with Innocent without warning is not alright. James isn’t truly angry with him for it, because he knows Robbie only wants what’s best for him (hello, Adam’s dad) and honestly believes that James will make a good DI, but Lewis should know better. He’s spent seven series building the man up, pushing him to trust his instincts and to know his own mind and believe in himself (remember The Gift of Promise?); and then he walks all over him in such an important matter as this. Especially since, if he were selfish, he’d love the idea of retiring with James—and with a shared allotment and a sailing boat.
Surely, if the writers themselves had remembered that Lewis, in that episode two years ago (5.02, Wild Justice), accepted Hathaway’s decision, we could have been spared that particular bit of friction.
The only explanation is that Lewis didn’t want James to make that decision based on him. James hadn’t given him the whole picture before then, and it’s only now that he admits that he doesn’t like who he’s become, that he’s changed beyond self-recognition, and that that frightens him.
Be that as it may: they’ve agreed to keep seeing each other, because that’s what co-dependent best friends do; and whatever choice James might make for his future, Robbie(!) (and Laura) will be right there next to him.
Of course it wasn’t a waste. It was a pleasure.
Farewell, you two.
And against all odds, they’re back. Next on Lewis: Entry Wounds, Part One.