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!