I know it’s the final Lewis episode we’re going to get, so maybe I should be a little more charitable towards the rather uninspiring detective work in Part 2 of ‘What Lies Tangled’.
With nothing in the way of evidence having emerged from the investigation so far, Lewis decides to return to the scene of the latest crime on the off-chance of finding something they’ve previously overlooked.
As it happens he finds what can only be described as a huge and very obvious clue, which sort of begs the question as to how it was missed in the first place. It’s a printed A4 page listing a variety of different knots, and if in the week since Part 1 you’ve forgotten the references to knot theory don’t worry – about ten minutes earlier David Capstone (Oliver Lansley) had not only been telling us about his favourite knot, he’d also showed Lewis the 3-D model of it that he keeps in his house (one can’t help thinking he ought to get out more).
It’s a very blatant connection and it’s also pretty flimsy evidence – you’d hardly need to be Perry Mason to play the ‘circumstantial’ card and get your client off – but fortunately for Lewis’ track record, on being confronted the prime suspect very kindly offers up a full confession in front of witnesses.
So much for the detection, and to be fair we’re happy enough for Lewis to have an easy time of it with this one because there are other things going on. At the top of the episode, having unsurprisingly survived last week’s explosive cliffhanger, Lewis gathers up his courage to tell Laura he isn’t going on the overseas trip they’ve planned together.
Instead he’s sticking with what he knows, and he’s going to carry on being a copper until the day they carry him out. “Like Morse,” says a tearful Laura.
It’s a timely reminder of their former boss, and entirely appropriate in this final episode. As an audience we’re torn – part of us wants Lewis to stay, we want to be able to imagine him and Hathaway forever strolling the beautifully-framed streets of Oxford solving intricate, semi-intellectual crimes. But another part of us wants Lewis to be happy, to sail off into the sunset rather than be forever watching his back for fear of being cast off as ‘yesterday’s copper’.
So it’s a neat eleventh hour twist when, after a stern word from Hathaway of all people (his track record when it comes to personal relationships is hardly anything to write home about) Lewis decides he’s going after all.
Stoic Laura, despite not once having berated or raged at his decision to stay, is nevertheless clearly thrilled at his decision now to go – and having apparently missed the opportunity to say his goodbyes to Hathaway there’s a lovely moment where Lewis’s young colleague turns up in the role of taxi driver to take them to the airport.
Whereas Morse’s finale dramatically involved the death of the lead character (a definitive conclusion sadly reinforced not long after by the passing of John Thaw) the conclusion to Lewis is, as befits the character, a much more low-key affair.
In fact it’s far less definite final episode than the original ‘final’ episode in Season 7 which saw Hathaway quitting and Lewis retiring.
This time around Lewis and Laura are off to New Zealand, but they’re only on leave, they’re coming back to Oxford and they’re coming back to work– and Hathaway isn’t going anywhere at all. A cynic might even suggest that perhaps the producers were keeping their options open in the event of a tenth season, although we’re told that the door is now definitely closed on that possibility.
If that is indeed the case, and despite the gentle nature of the finale, there’s a neat symmetry to this final episode. Lewis began with Robbie flying back into Oxford, widowed and alone; and it ends with him flying away from it, in love again. Case closed.
Aired at 9pm on Tuesday 10 November 2015 on ITV.
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