Robbie Lewis (Kevin Whately) seems to have become a more laid-back character since his official retirement. We can thank lovely Laura (Clare Holman) for that; all our morose hero really needed was her wholly clear-sighted, phlegmatic outlook on life. After all, she has by far the grosser job to do, but somehow she has always had the useful knack of being able to leave the horrors at her surgery door. Why she hasn’t chewed him out about going back to work we can’t fathom – in his later years man’s inhumanity to man has only served to rile him, so she is right to have reservations about his consultancy work.
Of course, as the bodies in the second of this two-parter begin to pile up, the lovers bump into each other as often as they ever did. “If I hadn’t taken this job we wouldn’t be spending all this quality time together,” he tells Laura, as they smooch over yet another corpse.
Meanwhile, Hathaway (Laurence Fox) is finding his DI post more onerous than he expected. His capable new sidekick, DS Lizzie Maddox (Angela Griffin), may soon be burying a hatchet into her boss’s head – and we couldn’t blame her. In fact, feeling undervalued, she’s already put in for a transfer. She has taken a shine to Lewis, though, and is grateful when he prods Hathaway into deploying her properly and praises her thoroughness.
Hathaway has always been a tortured soul for reasons he’s never fully revealed to anyone. Catholic guilt seems to be a large part of the black dog that seems constantly to be tugging at him. Did he rediscover God on his recent trip to Santiago de Compostela? If so, it has intensified his moody adolescent act.
And the investigation into the killing of a pompous neurosurgeon is spiralling out of control. Already probing the murder of the doc, they are now contending with another body – his partner in a field sports business has been shot with the same gun supposedly – except that can’t be because the rifle was with the police when it happened. For a moment it all looks like this most unshowy of series is going all CSI on us, as Hathaway finds a twin spent bullet imbedded in a tile at the local public swimming pool and then insults the expertise of the police firearms forensics man.
Now, at the last census in 2011, Oxford was home to about 152,000 people in the real world, but in Lewis, of course, there is rarely a stranger-to-stranger killing; everyone knows each other like in a hamlet.
So all the suspects were quite intimately involved with the brain surgeon – the barmy old woman of the woods (Anna Carteret), who was tricked in a land deal by the dirty doc, coincidentally has a daughter Lorraine (Elisabeth Rider) and a son who worked closely with him in the same hospital department. The doc’s pentathlete wife (Kara Tointon) and her junior doctor boyfriend (who also hated the surgeon) are having a major spat about something when the cops roll up. Why?
The Noorans, parents of a teenage boy whose brain op he bodged, also have good reason to have hated the doc as they are collapsing under the strain of administering 24-hour care. But during the second murder they were in London with a human rights lawyer, researching how to let their son die. However, the father is later found dead at their home – but was it by hanging or strangulation?
Naturally, it eventually takes a good woman to get a dirty job done or, in this case, two good women. Laura points the way to whodunit on the last murder and DI Maddox finds a melted computer hard disk that enables the boys to get the killer banged to rights.
By the end of the episode Hathaway almost smiles. Realising that Lewis makes him more bearable to everyone, he persuades him to stay on. He even gives Maddox her due before they all decamp to the pub.
Oh, and the canoe Lewis was building for his grandson is finished (by someone else, of course). But it doesn’t look that river-worthy as Lewis and Hathaway bob off into the distance – two men in a boat – waving their oars inexpertly about.
For our episode one review go here