Review: Lewis (S8 E5/6), Friday 7th November, ITV


The creative minds working on Lewis seems to have been trawling through more TV box sets because somehow the final two-parter of this series has morphed into a more genteel version of Fox’s US crime drama The Following. OK, instead of Kevin Bacon’s washed-up, dry-drunk, ex-FBI agent we have nice retired DI Lewis (Kevin Whateley), and instead of James Purefoy as a brilliant and manipulative English professor and serial killer with a murderous cult (that would perhaps have been a bit too on the nose) we have cunning – er – roofer Graham Lawrie (Alec Newman), who is in prison awaiting a hearing into his appeal against several life terms imposed in 2001 for the murders of three police officers. It was Lewis who had him banged up, natch, so we know there’s going to be a grudge match.
And as Chief Supt Innocent (Rebecca Front) warns Lewis, Hathaway (Laurence Fox) and DC Maddox (Angela Griffin) that although she has total faith in Lewis’s conviction that he put away the right man, there’s every likelihood that Lawrie may be freed because of a laboratory mistake made by the company that carried out the forensics
work in his case.

Like Purefoy’s prof, who had a rather silly Edgar Allen Poe fixation, Lawrie also has a literary hero – although he favours German philosopher Nietzsche, the go-to guy for serial killers – his fans have  sent him the complete works. Oh, was ever a writer so ill used? “All things are subject to interpretation whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.”

But ‘God is dead’ probably makes the ideal slogan for a murderer and, as the ultimate narcissist, the Apollonian/Dionysian dichotomy would appeal as well. Championing the creative powers of the individual to
strive beyond social, cultural, and moral contexts in Lawrie’s case was driving a pickaxe through his victim’s heads. Well, it’s ‘life-affirmation’ of a sort – even if your victim is dead.

And when a young PC is lured by a 999 call to stop a possible suicide bid and killed by the same method used in the previous murders, Lewis is even more certain that Lawrie is guilty – if not by his own hand then through his influence over his fairly scary band of acolytes. If it was indeed someone else who was guilty, where have they been for the
past 15 years or so – in hibernation?

Lawrie’s impeccable blue-collar credentials coupled with his notoriety have naturally drawn him an impressive coterie of the kinds of witless females who write to and fantasize about serial killers – including the psychiatrist involved in his case, Dr Sally Rook (Susan Wooldridge), his hot lawyer Katherine Warwick (Priyanga Burford) and demented librarian type Pamela Carson (Robin Weaver).

So much for the distaff side. This band of sexually frustrated harpies is joined in their folly by male journalist Hugo Blayne, academic Brendan Ward and undergraduate weirdo Luke Burgess, who all harbour a fascination for the monster and visit him in prison. We’re also worried about one of Lawrie’s guards, who seems to be in thrall to him.

Our heroes are in a race against time to find damning evidence before Lawrie’s hearing ends. The final minutes of the first episode are truly suspenseful – probably the most animated in this entire series – and a regular character’s fate looks decidedly bloody.

Come on, Lewis, choke back those tears and remember – that which does not kill us makes us stronger.

Which thought brings us to the revelation that Lewis is so unlike many other characters in the British TV detective canon. Unlike Rebus, Banks, Bergerac, Morse, Tennison, Fitz and many others, he has no inner demons; his personal relationships are loving and healthy. He lacks the dramatic crutch of a fatal flaw; the reason that there is still such affection for him among viewers is that he is an everyman. Another Nietzsche quote comes to mind as you watch Lewis struggle to remain human in the face of the inhumanity he has seen.

‘Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.’

Lewis has that down pat.

Deborah Shrewsbury

For our episode one review go here

For our episode two review go here

For our episode three review go here

For our episode four review go here



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