For a review of Inspector Lewis Series III, 2010, Counter Culture Blues, Click Here.
The Point of Vanishing was this season’s last Inspector Lewis episode. What a fine way to end a fine season. If you have missed the episode, click here to view it online for one more week.
Here’s the episode’s synopsis: “Steven Mullan is found dead in his bathtub, the scalding water indicative of the white-hot rage that motivated the murder. Lewis recognizes Mullan as having been recently released from prison after having tried to kill celebrity atheist Tom Rattenbury while driving drunk. Mullan’s sentence may be over, but have the scars healed for the Rattenburys, especially daughter Jessica who remains in a wheelchair from the incident? Lewis and Hathaway find a postcard at the crime scene of a Renaissance painting inscribed with the words, “It was no dream.” But the case is about to take a surreal, dream-like twist, leaving Lewis and Hathaway drowning in questions about crimes of the past and the present.”
Click here for Radio Times images of Kevin Whately as Inspector Lewis.
Episode One, Season II: And the Moonbeams Kiss the Sea
And the sunlight clasps the earth,
And the moonbeams kiss the sea -
What are all these kissings worth,
If thou kiss not me?
The first murder at the Boleian Library in Oxford in 500 years is nothing to dismiss. In fact, the poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley is a key link to the murder of maintenance engineer Chapman (Darren Clarke) in the library and lovely student Nell Buckley (Emily Beecham), who is found floating in the river. How are these deaths connected? Inspectors Lewis (Kevin Whately) and Hathaway (Laurence Fox) are in a race against time to find out in “And the Moonbeams Kiss the Sea”, the first episode of the second season of Inspector Lewis.
Set in Oxford, the settings are stunning, with the story’s action occurring inside the Bodleian library, on the grounds of the university, and in and around that venerable city. The plot, while not particularly suspenseful, was complex and interesting enough to hold this viewer’s interest. Emily Beecham is especially appealing as the doomed student, Nell, and Tom Riley (Lost in Austen fans will remember his delicious portrayal of Wickham) is unforgettable as art student, Philip Horton, a murder suspect who is probably autistic.
PBS will be showing the Inspector Lewis series, season 2, from August 30 to October 18th. Missed the first episode? Recent episodes are available online on PBS for two weeks after they aired in the U.S.
Episode Two, Music to Die for, Season Two
“Music to Die For”, the second episode of Inspector Lewis, Series 2 on PBS’s Mystery! did not disappoint, and in fact was among the best television I have watched in a long while. As with “And the Moonbeams Kiss the Sea”, this murder mystery is intelligent, restrained, witty, and informative. I learned about no-rules boxing and the Cold War intrigue in East Berlin in which informants caused the imprisonment (and deaths) of thousands of their friends, acquaintances, and family members. Add the setting of Oxford (I’ve seen more of the town in this series than during my half day visit a decade ago), and your 90 minutes are well spent.
If you missed Episode two, you can watch it online until September 20th at this PBS link.
Episode Three, Life Born of Fire, Season 2
Will McEwan staggers into a church and takes his own life at the altar, leaving behind a suicide note cloaked in religious symbolism — “On the road from Gethsemane to Calvary, I lost my way” — and a pamphlet for a shadowy spiritual group “The Garden.” What would lead a young and faithful man to such desperation?
I found this episode particularly fascinating because the story delves deeply into Hathaway’s past and his reasons for leaving the priesthood. Both Lewis and Hathaway are loners, as most detectives of mystery series seem to be these days, and I found the glimpses into their personal lives intriguing. My only quibble with this episode was the sequence of the fire itself. Had it been set off by gasoline, I doubt that it would have taken more than 2-3 minutes for the fire to rage out of control. The timing of those scenes was off just enough to distract me. The acting was, again, superb, and I thought I had solved the mystery, but I was wrong. The actual solution was so much better than my suspicions. I cannot praise this series enough.
Episode Four: The Great and the Good
The ending of this episode is haunting, with Inspector Lewis desperate to find information about his wife’s death. In this episode, Oxford is made up of two kinds of people: those who are on the “inside,” in this instance, Oxford dons, and those who will never enter that magical circle, like Inspector Lewis and Hathaway. Although the plot was a bit convoluted and at times hard to follow, I found myself watching the last ten minutes with keen interest. Once again, I failed to identify the killer, but once his identity was revealed, the story began to make sense.
Episode Five: Allegory of Love
In this episode “Lewis and Hathaway get pulled into the world of Oxford’s literary elite, only to find that it harbors resentment and jealousy and at its center, holds terrible secrets beyond all imagination.” The stars are Tom Mison (Mr. Bingley in Lost in Austen) as Dorian Craig, bestselling novelist, and James Fox, professor. The ending of this episode is particularly memorable and upsetting.
Episode Six: The Quality of Mercy “Lewis and Hathaway methodically try to make sense of the murderous plot, but before they do, another death occurs with a Shakespearean sensibility. As the final act is about to unfold, the case takes an intensely personal turn for Lewis, bringing back traumatic memories and invoking a lesson in mercy.”
Episode Seven: The Point of Vanishing