While there was an explosion at the end of the last episode, we don’t really expect Lewis to go out with a bang – surely he’ll end up going to New Zealand with Laura? Fearful that he won’t have a job to come back to, Lewis has declared that he won’t be taking the much-planned trip – is he mad? Does he really want to go out in a box, like Morse?
Meanwhile Hathaway’s father is in terminal decline, though his relationship with his sister seems to be on the mend.
Investigating the bomb murder of lecherous biochemist Adam Capstone, Lewis and Hathaway have almost become the victim of a second bomb, apparently aimed at Capstone’s brother David. But we’re suspicious; could he have sent the bomb to himself to divert suspicion? Or was David the intended victim all along?
Surly student Kate and her boyfriend Djimon might have a revenge motive, and so could wronged mother Joyce Gitteau, who has been visiting a convicted bomber in prison – but only in her role as a prison visitor, she insists.
All the obvious suspects seem to have at least partial alibis, but gambling addict Dimmock is caught rifling the crime scene for cash, and confesses that he’s been part of a casino scam with David. Next thing, he’s found dead in his devastated lab – but the blast didn’t kill him, he was strangled. Clearly he’s being framed for the bombings.
Djimon turns out to be an impostor, studying using the identity of a cousin; Maddox assumes that this rules him out as a suspect.
The solution lies in the chemical knots the Capstone brothers were both studying; both Lewis and Hathaway figure out it was David who had sent a love letter to suicide victim Paula, that he had murdered his brother in revenge for her death, that he had faked the second bomb sent to himself, and had murdered Dimmock to frame him.
Lewis realises he’d be a fool not to go with Laura, and takes the plunge; Moody tells him he’d be welcome to return, which is a weight off his mind, and Hathaway gives the happy couple a lift to the airport.
So that’s it; not exactly ending with a whimper, but no surprises, no upsets, not even any great final words. Hathaway strides off into the distance, and presumably into detecting legend; but will we ever get to see the adventures of Hathaway and Maddox? Or will Robbie return from New Zealand and resume his old position, with or without Laura, who would seemingly be quite glad if they both knocked it on the head?
The most pedestrian of TV coppers, Lewis lacked the fatal flaws seemingly essential to most on-screen ‘tecs, whether it’s the bottle, depression, or anger management; in that sense he was among the most convincing. The gradual surmounting of his grief for his lost wife, and the development of his relationship with Laura, was done in a natural way which added a piquancy to the character which we never got from Morse, who was always doomed to be a lonely curmudgeon.
Lewis’ relationship with Hathaway also developed in a plausible way, though it would have been interesting to see Hathaway in turn take on a disciple, presumably someone as rough-edged as the young Lewis.
Let’s not forget that Kevin Whateley very much contributed to the creation of the character; in the original Inspector Morse novels, Lewis was a middle-aged, rotund Welshman.
The other star of Lewis and Morse was, of course, Oxford itself; perhaps less relevant as the series continued, and we saw less of the cap-and-gown side of the city, more of the modern. There are only so many times you can have a suspect walking past the Bridge of Sighs.
With nine series of Lewis and 12 of Inspector Morse going back to 1987, let’s not forget that Robbie Lewis has been one of the longest serving detectives in TV history; perhaps not the most flamboyant, but maybe that’s one of the reasons we loved him.