Previously on Lewis: Intelligent Design.
No-one really expected this would happen. All involved had, before last year, pronounced the seventh series of Lewis (by UK count, not Masterpiece count) the last one. So of course the fandom had held out hope, but I think we’d all sort of wished them farewell with a teary eye and made our peace with it, but apparently the series continued to get such a positive response that they asked Whately, Fox, Front, and Holman to return for another go. Kevin Whately has gone on record saying that he’s doing it sort of reluctantly and that he hadn’t really planned on being this involved in this series at all, but that it just happened and he’s not unhappy about it, either, because making the series is always a lot of fun. He went on to say that he’s willing to do one more, but would feel bad at making more Lewis than there has been Morse — at 30 episodes, they’re closing in.
Retirement, the reunion, and ruffled feathers
As it is now, Lewis may have settled down with Laura and is, by all accounts, enjoying retirement — but not quite. And Hathaway, after expressly leaving the police force to reevaluate what he really wants to do with his life after not liking himself as a copper much anymore in Series 6 and 7, has improbably returned to the job and has even gone and aced his Inspector’s exams. So now, he’s a DI, and he seems to be burning through Sergeants fast. With a lot of very young officers in the department, Innocent has her hands full keeping everything running smoothly; and it’s plain to see that Hathaway is struggling with being in a position of authority. He used to be the work horse, much as he griped about it, but now he’s having trouble delegating and appreciating Lizzie Maddox’s (Angela Griffin) initiative and desire to prove herself. Seeing that things can’t be helped, Innocent asks Robbie to come for just a year, to help Hathaway settle into his new role, and to lend his experience and expertise to the young team.
Hathaway isn’t happy about it at first, sees it as a slight, remembering the way Lewis had tried to push him into promotion whilst he himself was considering retirement last series — although, of course, he’s cognisant of the fact that it’s not all going according to plan, and it’s heartbreaking to see the tension between them when you just know that they’re both secretly thrilled to be working together again. I suppose even though they’d made plans to see each other often even though they’re no longer working together, life’s done the usual and continued on without them noticing. Didn’t Lewis once fantasise about a shared allotment and a sailing boat?
Laura: He’s looking forward to a catch-up.
I guess James has also been reluctant to go to Lewis with his problems at work, not wanting to disappoint him, wary of being thought to try and guilt-trip him out of retirement. Hathaway, light of my life, if you want to know how Robbie is doing, just call him. It’s Laura who gets the first smile out of James, though, so I’m just glad she’s still the resident ME. When Lewis arrives and learns that Hathaway hasn’t actually asked for him, he also doesn’t know whether to be insulted, thinking that James doesn’t trust him with this, although James only meant that, well, he deserves to enjoy his retirement, for goodness’ sake. And it’s tough for Lizzie as well, being joined by a technically retired DI, who’s supposed to “help out with the legwork.” Man, she’s gotta be confused. Bless Lewis for immediately putting her at ease, claiming “bad parenting.” Laura’s not happy about this development, either — of course it’s hard, making a life with someone around their retirement, and then being faced with the fact that it’s not enough for them. It’s got to be a consolation that it’s not just that, though. Lewis wouldn’t do this just for himself, he’s doing it for Hathaway. There is, of course, a lot of humour in Lewis and Hathaway asking the same questions at the same time — but it’s good that, with Lewis at his side, James doesn’t fall back into asking the leading questions second, he takes the lead and Lewis takes a step back.
I’m just hoping that James will keep calling him Robbie, though, after Lewis offered it to him at the end of Series 7, over their we’re-retiring-together pint. He hasn’t really addressed him yet in this episode, so we’ll see.
“Well, I wasn’t really travelling, I went for a walk.”
Now that’s classic Hathaway humour, there. And it’s a reminder of his continued struggle with his own faith, knowing that he went on the “walk” to Santiago de Compostela, he expressly does not call it a pilgrimage.
The case: a challenge in more ways than one.
It’s Hathaway’s first murder as a DI, and that means, in the context of his character, so many things at once. We know what he’s like, how much he values life, we see it through the lens of his once having been on track to becoming a priest, we see it through the lens of how much he struggled with the things people do to each other especially in the cases just before Lewis’ retirement. And now, he’s responsible for that murder, for that life that was taken, it’s his case. He has to make sure it gets solved, and he feels alone in it now, without Lewis. He’s not, of course he’s not, he’s got a great Sergeant at his side and a team at CID, but he feels alone in his head. It’s too much too fast, Innocent says, and you can see it in the way Hathaway zeroes in on things, doesn’t let Lizzie finish her sentences, cuts her off when she says something that distracts him from what’s immediately in front of him. He has yet to learn to let himself take a step back, to not let it overwhelm him, to consider the big picture and let others do some of the running for him. Lewis tried to show him how, and Hathaway’s taken initiative again and again throughout their time together, but it’s all sticks and whistles once you’re actually in charge of the whole thing. When something like this is fresh and it all hits you like a brick, you forget even what you sort of already knew about it. And that first dead body that ended up in the woods on his watch is, well, that brick. Square in the face.
“If I shoot someone, I guarantee it’ll be on purpose!”
The case, being split in two as it is, sort of plods on the way it does on Lewis. It’s a good case, though, with not too many players, but enough to keep it ominous and quietly suspenseful. It might not be a corker during the first half, but it certainly picks up speed when the bullet that killed Alistair, the neurosurgeon, is identified as having come from the business partner’s rifle. And when the main suspect flees and James has to hand Robbie a protective vest, he says he promised Laura that this job would be mainly paperwork — another thing for James to feel guilty about. You know how James is, he feels responsible for everything and anything, and now he’s not just gone and ripped Lewis out of retirement by having trouble, he’s also endangering him. That’s even worse for him than getting angry at being told what to do (rightly so, however). And then, to make it all worse, the man ends up dead as well. Ballistic analysis soon confirms that both men were killed by the same rifle, thus the same person — but the gun’s been in evidence for two days, so it can’t have been used to kill the second victim, too. Or can it?
Next on Lewis: Entry Wounds, Part Two.