Monday, September 6, 2010

Inspector Lewis: The Dead of Winter


Yesterday Inspector Lewis continued with the second episode of series three to air on Masterpiece Mystery - The Dead of Winter. I really, really enjoyed this episode - the primary reason because it was so Hathaway-centric. :) Here's a bit about the story from the PBS website:
An Oxford academic is dead on a tour bus and none of the other passengers even took notice. The curious case leads back to Crevecoeur Hall, a vast, history-rich Oxford estate, and as it happens, the setting for much of Detective Sergeant Hathaway's (Laurence Fox) youth. Hathaway reconnects with his past — and Scarlett Mortmaigne, the daughter of the estate's owner. But is he also consorting with a main suspect? It's a case that threatens to expose the shortcomings and secrets of a wealthy family, cloud Hathaway's judgment and ultimately put his relationship with Detective Inspector Lewis (Kevin Whately) in jeopardy. Nathaniel Parker (The Inspector Lynley Mysteries) guest stars.
The episode opens with Hathaway giving evidence in court for an extraordinarily difficult case - he was the officer who found the murdered body of a young girl. Hathaway and Lewis played these opening scenes extraordinarily well, as usual (*g*). I love the dynamic of how these are two co-workers who really do like and care about each other, but they are both such "closed books" they would never dream of actually talking about something that's bothering them, unless they are really hard-pressed. Thankfully, the coroner, Laura Hobson (Clare Holman) is there to give Lewis a much-needed kick in the pants. It was nice to see Lewis and Laura relaxing at the pub for a change - I really do wonder how long Lewis is going to be in denial that they are meant for each other. Or is that just the romantic in me? ;-)

I loved when the investigation moved to Crevecoeur Hall, the estate where, shockingly, Hathaway grew up. And how much fun was it to see Cromwell-era re-enactors instead of the usual Civil War or Revolutionary War re-enactors we see in the states (the former, especially if you live in the south like me). Seeing Hathway still carry a torch for the lord of the manor's daughter, the lovely Scarlett (played by Camilla Arfwedson, a veteran of the Miss Marple series in the episode Murder is Easy) was an interesting experience. Hathaway is a character I've come to value for his quick wit and insight, and seeing his Achilles' heel, if you will, as regards Scarlett was rather eye-opening. It seems my brilliant Hathaway isn't perfect, and even he is susceptible to some deep-rooted class envy. *sigh* I have to say watching Scarlett play Hathaway, no matter the fact that to her, her reasons "seemed" valid, it did make me want to smack Hathaway upside the head, just to wake him up. :) Fox really got multiple chances to shine in this episode. From his unrequited feelings for Scarlett, to his barely restrained rage when he discovers that Briony, the groundskeeper's daughter, is cutting herself, this story provided some "cracks" in Hathaway's armor. Love, love, loved the insight into the usually quiet, stoic character.

A handful of familiar faces populate the home of Hathaway's youth. Philip, nephew to the lord of the manor, is played by Nathaniel Parker. Parker is the face of the Inspector Lynley mystery series, as well as appearing in everything from Stardust to the Bleak House miniseries. Philip is "accidentally" shot during the re-enacting fracas, which is the first reason the police are brought to the estate. We discover later that Philip is having an affair with his uncle's much-younger wife, Selina. Selina is played by Juliet Aubrey, and since the last major role I remember seeing Aubrey play was the villainous Helen in Primeval, seeing her play an adulterous wife was no stretch, just sayin'. The final face that I recognized was Father Jasper, the Jesuit priest staying in the folly on the estate, played by Hugh O'Conor. Now this is going back a bit, but it will tell you how much I adore the movie - back in 1993, O'Conor played King Louis in Disney-fied Three Musketeers. Since then, he's also appeared on Masterpiece in the fantastic adaptation of Northanger Abbey, where he played James Morland.

I think the writers did a fantastic job weaving together the seemingly loose and unrelated threads of the mysteries that populated this episode. First, there's the death of one Dr. Black, discovered murdered on a city bus. That death is traced to the estate, and raises numerous questions about why the professor would have a connection to the estate and end up murdered in the chapel. Then there's the supposed suicide of the groundskeeper, which seems to point to a murder-suicide since letters surface that appear to indicate that Dr. Black ran off with the groundskeeper's wife years before. As with the best Lewis episodes, nothing is as it seems, and everyone Lewis and Hathaway encounter has hidden fresh motives or previously unknown connections to the deaths. I found myself so absorbed in the storyline, I didn't see some of the final twists coming until the reveal was practically upon us. And perhaps the best part of it all was how this episode once again tested the limits of Lewis and Hathaway's partnership and friendship. Seeing them once again work through the challenges and stresses of a new case proved to be a rewarding viewing experience, as always.

For me, this episode had the cast and crew firing on all cylinders, every piece of the puzzle falling into place perfectly, revealing dark secrets and bringing long-buried truths to light. The Dead of Winter ranks (so far), as my favorite episode of this season, and one of my favorite all-time Lewis episodes. I love watching the team of Lewis and Hathaway work - they've grown so much since series one - and the world they inhabit is beautifully brought to life on-screen. In spite of Oxford's disturbing tendency toward murder and mayhem, it's a trip I don't mind taking as long as Hathaway is my guide. :) Can't wait till next week's episode!

15 comments:

jahennrikus said...

I liked the episode as well, but am glad I have it on my DVR. I was very confused by the ending. I wonder if they trimmed some of it for the US viewing?
I like INSPECTOR LEWIS much more that I thought I would. (I was a huge MORSE fan).

Laurel Ann said...

Hi Ruth, I love your sights about this excellent episode.

We agree on many things. It is one of if not the best yet in the Inspector Lewis series. I thought the guest stars were exceptional, the story intriguing and the back story of Hathaway's childhood riveting. It explains a lot about his personality, yet opened up many questions.

There is an interesting discuss about it on the PBS Inspector Lewis message boards that you might check out. I would talk about it here, but don't want to post any spoilers for your readers since your were so careful not to either.

IL is my fav mystery series, and that says a lot for this mystery geek. Hathaway is a big part of it. His character is a mystery unto itself. I think the producers are very smart not to reveal too much about him. He is a complicated soul. If they ever do tell us the whole back story, it will be like the last veil has dropped and he will not be half as interesting.

In additon, if they ever give him a relationship that is not a psychopath or a careerdigger which lasts more than one episode, he will be off the market so-to-speak. If my prediction run true, they won't do either if they are smart. Just throw us breadcrumbs once in a while.

He reminds me of the witty and sarcastic Henry Tilney, but not quite as affable. ;-)

Ruth said...

@jahenrikus - Thank you so much for dropping by my blog & taking the time to comment! I am 99% sure that PBS trimmed about 10 minutes of this episode for the Masterpiece timeslot...this is apparently the norm for all mystery episodes, as I've been thrilled to discover "new scenes" on the Marple and Poirot DVDs. (Sadly, I do not yet own IL on DVD!) I suspect (read: hope) that the DVD will give even more context to the resolution...

@Laurel Ann - Thanks so much for dropping by as well, I do so enjoy your excellent reviews of IL!

I visited the PBS message boards on your recommendation and was excited to read other viewers' insights. Honestly, they brought up some points that hadn't occurred to me during my one viewing of this episode (particularly the full implication of Hathaway growing up on the estate w/ the other victims). This is a story that for me, anyway, requires another few viewings to fully appreciate!

I am enjoying this "slow reveal" of Hathaway's character. While each bread crumb gives us a piece of the puzzle, it raises a whole slew of other questions and I confess that I just love that. Hathaway is a character I would happily spend years getting to know. :) And good call on the Tilney likeness. ;)

Lori said...

I have no idea why I haven't been watching the IL eps, but I just watched this one online and now I'm hooked!

Ruth said...

@Lori - YES!! Yay for more Lewis fans! I don't know why I've never asked you about this, but you will love this series...see if you can get the 1st two seasons from Netflix or something.

Lori said...

I will. I did see part of one ep last year I believe but it didn't suck me in...maybe it's b/c I came into the middle of the ep. Anyway, I'll try to find the old series.

Ruth said...

@Lori - There's definitely hit-or-miss episodes throughout the series, but overall it's worth watching from the beginning to see Lewis and Hathaway's partnership grow and characters develop.

heidenkind said...

I FINALLY got some free time to watch this episode--I'm way behind on my Inspector Lewis, which makes me sad. I'm totes in love w/Hathaway. :)

I thought this episode was pretty good, although when the murderer what first revealed, I was like, "Hur?"

Oh, Hathaway. Always looking for love in all the wrong places. How is a man who quotes poetry at the drop of a hat still single?!?

Ruth said...

@heidenkind - I'm anxious to see this episode on DVD, since if "tradition" holds PBS cut 8-10 minutes to fit into the hour and a half Mystery timeslot. I am guessing that the reveal at the end will make more sense at that time.

And seriously about Hathaway...how is it he is not attracting women like crazy?!

Sarah said...

I loved Morse and have loved Lewis from the first episode! I just watched this one and feel like I missed something. ***SPOILER*** Did the dad really kill himself?

Thanks!

Ruth said...

@Sarah - Thanks for stopping by the blog! I am pretty sure, if memory serves, that it's the butler that killed the girl's father, to cover up what the manor house lord was doing to her. Hope that helps! I haven't watched this episode in a while, I need to revisit Lewis and Hathaway's world. :)

Joni said...

Okay, was the case Hathaway was testifying shown in an actual episode of Lewis? Because I could swear I remember seeing one with a murdered little girl but it may be an episode of Inspector Lynley I'm thinking of. Either was, how much did Hathaway's sadface make you long to hug him?

Ruth said...

@Joni - Unless I'm forgetting something, I'm pretty sure the answer to your question is a no. I believe it was an "off screen" case that they just refer to. But seriously, you are not kidding about Hathaway's sadface, poor guy. He needed a hug big time in this ep! ;)

Gonzalo Jimenez said...

Hi, I saw this episode last night in Venezuela and I could not remember the poem Hathaway recites to Scarlett at the front door of her flat. Do you know which poem is it?

Ruth said...

@Gonzalo - Thanks for stopping by! Check out my friend Laurel Ann's review of this episode and I think you'll have your answer: http://austenprose.com/2010/09/05/inspector-lewis-thedead-of-winter-on-masterpiece-mystery-pbs-%E2%80%93-a-recap-review/