The transition from Inspector Morse to plain Lewis (why not Inspector Lewis ?) was a fairly smooth one; Lewis in his elevated post continued to be the practical, solid one, unimpressed by authority; new boy Hathaway took on the role of the intellectual with a free pass to the establishment. But since this looks like it may be the last season of Lewis, what character variations might be played out in the closing stages? A new boss and a new(ish) junior, for a start; Steve Toussaint (top cop in Scott & Bailey) as new Chief Superintendent Moody; and Angela Griffin as spunky DS Maddox. Claire Holman remains as Lewis’s love interest, pathologist Dr Hobson.
The old Chief Super, Jean Innocent (Rebecca Front), has departed for Suffolk Constabulary after an eventful leaving do, which apparently featured her Abba karaoke performance (A-ha! Shades of Alan Partridge!)
One For Sorrow is a contemplation of death and decay; Hathaway visits his senile dad Philip, who has forgotten that his wife died 12 years previously; artist Talika Desai (Shanaya Rafaat) presents a pretentious (and portentious) art installation based on taxidermy and news reportage; and a battered corpse wrapped in bin bags is found at the bottom of a well. In the words of the old joke, police are looking into it.
It’s hardly a case of ‘meet the new boss, same as the old boss’, as Moody turns out to be an almost cloyingly matey ex-Met officer who wants to be called ‘Joe’. However, he does have some preconceptions about Lewis, asking Hathaway whether it makes sense for the old man to have been ‘dragged back out of retirement’.
Maddox investigates a break-in at a taxidermist’s, and finds Talika dead, apparently of a heroin overdose, in the flat over the shop.
She was an ex-user, but was the death staged? Was it about a missing £30,000 necklace? And are crotchety animal-stuffer Jasper Hammond (Tim Piggott-Smith) or Talika’s smoothie agent Sean Wilkinson (Ralf Little) implicated?
Talika’s psychology tutor Prof. Tedman (Helen Schlesinger) and her creepy husband, drugs charity worker Ian (Steve Pemberton) are also possibilities, as are Talika’s vlogger sister Sahira and her boyfriend, Tedman’s son Oliver.
Jasper may have had an indecent obsession with nubile Talika, and certainly intended leaving half his shop to her; when Sean discovers this he goes berserk.
Oliver is questioned about an argument at Talika’s event, but is evasive about this and about injuries to his face; Ian Tedman has been paying money into Talika’s bank account, but the payments have suddenly stopped.
Moody is annoyingly hands-on with the two cases, tutoring the dynamic duo on procedure while handing around croissants.
The corpse in the well is identified as being of Eastern European origin from pins in its leg, but Moody’s more interested in possible trolling of Talika’s videos by someone called “Oscar Wilde”.
Hathaway and Hobson visit Talika’s exhibition, and she talks about the unlikelihood of couples ‘falling in love among the dead things’ – well, she and Robbie did.
Lewis finds Hathaway’s assessment of him on Moody’s desk; it accuses him of being a dinosaur and unwilling to engage with modern technology (but wasn’t there an episode of Inspector Morse where Lewis demonstrated his skills with computers? If so, he’s changed his tune). But it goes on to defend his honesty and integrity, far more valuable qualities. Robbie’s somewhat mollified by this when he confronts Hathaway with the note.
The well corpse is identified as Indrek Kalda, an Estonian drug user known to sleep rough around Oxford, and to be a client of Ian Tedman’s homeless shelter.
Tedman admits to making payments to Talika while they had an affair, but his wife says she knew all about it, and so did son Oliver; Talika’s sister didn’t though, and is horrified, particularly at Oliver.
Hathaway reads to his father (God’s Grandeur, by Gerard Manley Hopkins, a natural choice for Hathaway as Hopkins was an Oxford man and a Jesuit – and also gay).
But a break in both cases comes when Lewis goes through Talika’s videos of performance art, and finds one showing Kalda being beaten and killed by a hooded figure.
While Robbie makes clear his opinion of performance art – he might have coined the phrase ‘I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like’ – no-one else seems much enamoured of Talika’s art either. Only Sean, who might profit from selling her works, seems to have a real motive – but maybe the killing of Kalda and Talika’s knowledge of it is the real key.
It’s a trope of detective TV that the experienced officer is always on the verge of being pensioned off because he won’t move with the times – ridiculous in most cases, as these dinosaurs have clean-up rates that would make most senior officers beg them to stay on until they drop.
Will this be the case with Lewis? If he retires at the end of this series, can we look forward to Hathaway and Maddox ? And exactly what Abba songs did Innocent sing at her leaving party? Perhaps we’ll find out the answers to some of these next week.