Robbie Lewis (Kevin Whately) seems to be enjoying his hobby-bobbying stint; could it have anything to do with the increasing number of female police officers he finds himself working with these days? All right, perhaps his former boss Det Supt Innocent (Rebecca Front) is a bit too confrontational. When he was on the strength of Oxford police she could be quite cruelly dismissive. But even she is now listening to the seasoned cop’s authoritative intuition. And he’s getting on famously with DC Lizzie Maddox (Angela Griffin), who is still appreciating his role as a buffer between her and boss Hathaway (Laurence Fox).
He is at least less lugubrious than usual. He’s just notched up a serious drug bust without Lewis’s help, so he’s pretty chirpy.
Talking of Hathaway, why has he taken to strutting about with his jacket collar turned up? Is it a homage to Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock? Or does he think it gives him an edge? Someone should tell him that while a trenchcoat looks sexy with the collar worn up, on a suit jacket it just looks as if he’s got dressed while drunk. And it’s not the only sartorial problem in this series – we’ll come back to that later.
The team’s cohesion has arrived just in time, as they come under pressure when investigating the savage murder of brilliant American post-grad classics student Rose Anderson in a yarn worthy of Sophocles and Euripides’ tales of hubris and revenge.
She is found after being stabbed and dumped in a river while out for a run. Before she left her home her deadbeat flatmate Chloe and her lout of a boyfriend were obviously trying her patience over something far more serious than a few dirty dishes left in the sink.
From all reports, the woman was not only clever, but also someone carrying a hell of lot of emotional and intellectual baggage.
The day previously her car had been witnessed knocking down a cycling don – stargazer physicist Felix Garwood (John Light); coincidentally, she’d been having an affair with him. And his wife, Philippa (played by Andrea Lowe, aka DCI Banks’s DS Annie Cabbot), even more coincidentally, happened to be Rose’s supervising lecturer. And she knew about the dalliance.
Rose had obviously put her tutors’ noses seriously out of joint, particularly smug
classicist Simon Flaxman (Clive Merrison), a charlatan who claims the great love of his life is Euripides – he even smooches with a bust of the playwright. He’s made his name among the broadsheet literati by turning up a ‘lost translation’ of a Greek play and he doesn’t seem too chuffed that the thesis Rose was writing is about ‘Euripides and children in Greek tragedy’. He’s a fake and she’d probably discovered it. And near the end of this first episode of a two-part story, Hathaway also seems to have stumbled on the con that has foxed Oxford’s eggheads for years.
We’ll take a punt on the hoax having something to do with the Nemean lion reference in the title. This was a monster in Greek mythology, a huge, ferocious lion with impenetrable skin that lived at Nemea, which was eventually killed by Hercules as the first of his 12 trials. It’s where we got the Constellation Leo myth, otherwise known as Leo the lion – the figure representing the constellation of Leo.
Flaxman has probably built his rep by perpetuating a fact that cannot be accurate – academics in Morse had ‘form’ for this kind of thing. However, the clever money says that this abstruse fact is a red herring and the real murder motive is more prosaic.
Rose had also been coaching Tabitha, the young daughter of Philippa’s sister Jennie. Tabitha is dying of fanconi anaemia, a rare blood disorder, and Rose had stumped up £10 grand for Jennie and her ophthalmologist husband Paul to have IVF to create a ‘saviour sibling’ who could then provide life-saving stem cells for Tabitha.
And whaddya know – they’re now pregnant! Of course it was only a loan, Paul tells Lewis, and the couple have vowed to pay back Rose’s parents.
The deeper Lewis and Co probe, the nastier the twists and turns of the case become before one of the suspects pops up dead and another goes on the run – after beating up Maddox.
Oh yes, the dress code. Why is it that in Morse and Lewis everyone connected with the colleges – students and dons – wears gowns everywhere – in the street and at all times of the day? No one does this in real life unless they are at a high table dinner or graduation ceremony or maybe in a formal lecture theatre. And certainly not in tutorials, where it can be jeans and jumpers. It’s probably just a helpful shorthand for overseas audiences, but giving the uni types a few books under their arms would be a less anachronistic signal.
For our episode one review go here
For our episode two review go here