Last week had left a lot of lines for our favourite detectives to tie up; not least to say those in Hathaway’s personal life. This week’s episode largely felt academic in tone (a mood that has always suited the show in the past), as attention turned from taxidermy to the repeating of the Stanford Prison Experiment by one of the shows characters and the disastrous results of this repetition of one of psychology’s most infamous episodes.
The plot was rather a neat one and, unlike some of those featured in Series 8, was difficult to predict; the story took a completely different turn from the one that this reviewer had been expecting after last week’s cliff hanger. Whereas one had naturally expected to find Talika Desai’s drug taking and art at the heart of the debate, this no longer became the case as the whole story turned darker. The prison experiment, the cover ups and the bribery seemed a world away from the high art and taxidermy of part 1.
There was also a wide range of red herrings; dark pasts, drug dealing, ill-timed arguments and a false claim of infidelity all managed to throw off the most eager, amateur sleuth until the very end. This is certainly a quality that episodes of Lewis have lacked in as of late, but it would appear that it has now finally returned. Satisfying; it most definitely was.
The motives for the murder felt neat, if a little over the top, but most definitely plausible, given the extreme circumstances of the event; who wouldn’t want to protect their own. Some of the relationships between the characters felt a little forced (the sudden link at the end between Sean and Bryony springs to mind), but one wonders whether it was just what Dirk Gently would term the “interconnectedness” of life that simply made the story possible rather than convenient writing.
One problem, however, was the new Chief Inspector, Moody, who continued to aggravate fans this week by failing to form any sort of defined persona. It’s frustrating to watch a new character be inserted at such a late stage in the series’ development. Admittedly, the series was never going to last this long and presumably Rebecca Front (who played the former C.I.) had moved on, but the character feels like he will remain an enigma for the rest of the series, much like D.S. Maddox last series.
The side story concerning Hathaway’s father and sister didn’t really come to anything either and was rather difficult to watch in places. However, the final scene between Hathaway, his father and Lewis was particularly touching in two forms. Firstly, it showed the difficulty experienced by those who have family members living with Dementia; the pain of them not knowing who you are and slowly losing what they once were. Secondly, there was the fatherly relationship that Hathaway’s dad mistakenly implied, but that the audience could always see, between Lewis and Hathaway. The most pleasing part of the show is always the relationship between the two leads rather than the investigations and this scene presented it immaculately. They are like a father and son; they need each other in that manner. In some ways it is the opposite of what Morse always was, but that means that it can be remembered for its own merits, which is most unusual for a spin off. Roll on next week.