I’m back with some thoughts on the first regular season episode of Inspector Lewis. Whom The Gods Would Destroy has quite a different feel from the pilot in a way I can’t really describe because it’s a feeling. We still have a reference to Inspector Morse, not from a red herring or suspect this time but a character who can best be described as a witness. We get more of the relationship between Lewis and Innocent being confrontational, but in a funny way. And Lewis seems enamored with a woman who is a suspect, not trying anything with her but just in such a way that he asks “what is she doing with HIM,” just like he did in the Morse episode The Wolvercote Tongue. Except that in that instance the woman turned out to be a victim, and in this case, we’re ultimately not sure what she is.
The original murder in this episode takes place when a bad painter is hit over the head while exiting his canal boat. Only it turns out that all the murders in this episode are related to a murder that took place many years ago. There are four guys who met at Oxford, who are now middle aged. Two are rich and powerful, and two are poor losers now. It seems like the thing that happened in the past ruined all their lives, but only one felt guilt. Now there’s a woman pretending to be a journalist asking about their friend group, which is kind of a stupid thing to fall for unless you’re really arrogant, which I guess they are.
It’s not the most intriguing mystery, except that the perpetrators of all the murders never actually commit any, instead manipulating other people to do it. So although it’s not that interesting to watch, it’s very clever how it ultimately was done. The Morse connection is a professor and expert witness of sorts who recognized Lewis and said she met him with Morse; this didn’t happen in the earlier show because in fact she was on Morse but was playing a different character. I’m not even sure why this character is in this story, because at first she seems to be helping the four college friends whose past is coming back to bite them, but then in the end she alludes to having given Lewis a clue. She’s also here to remind us that Hathaway is intellectually inferior because he went to Cambridge and not Oxford.
Edit: I have just watched the weekly live stream and it turns out I have been seeing cut up American versions of the show all this time. Anna Massey, who plays the professor, had another scene with Lewis in which she explains some backstory on the group of friends and why she thought something had gone wrong with them. A revelation! Thank God I bought an all region DVD player back when I accidentally ordered the region 2 DVD of The Exorcist, as one does. Now I can get myself some UK DVDs of Lewis. My husband is going to hate buying that.
The main suspect in the current murders and likely perp of the past one is a character called Platt, which is a name his wife refuses to take because it’s too close to “prat.” He is very wealthy and also has a temple on his property, which is kind of an open building like a gazebo but much more elaborate. I have never actually seen one of these in real life but I do know that in the Morse universe if you have one you are a real sonofobitch, as seen also in the Morse episode Ghost in the Machine and the Lewis episode The Dead of Winter. Heinous crimes will always be committed in the temple. This Platt guy is just so unpleasant as to beg belief, screaming and carrying on as well as mocking everyone. He’s also a drunk driver who killed someone but got away with it by lawyering up, which serves plotwise just to piss off Lewis, but also caused Platt to be paralyzed, which enables the people he wronged even before the accident to get revenge. At one point he is being such a dick while eating that he starts to choke, but even that doesn’t kill him, and we see a discount tracheotomy much like the one in the old horror movie The Haunting of Julia. Then when he is really killed it is so awful that they can’t even show it on TV, but you can hear him screaming. It’s a death I wouldn’t wish even on him.
On the opposite end of the spectrum as far as sound is concerned, the woman pretending to be a journalist has such a lovely voice on the phone that it gives me ASMR feelings. And that’s not somebody clicking candy around in their mouth and scratching the microphone, it’s real ASMR because she whispers and has a low voice and also because it’s unintentional which is the best ASMR. At one point she is talking on the phone and flipping through a newspaper and I would play a loop of it while I slept if I could. I don’t know if she is intentionally set up as a foil for all of Platt’s screaming but she could be.
I don’t know if this episode really cements the relationship between Hathaway and Lewis. I believe that happens in the following episode. We do get more of Hathaway reminding Lewis not to let his wife’s murder get in the way of his thought processes. Honestly, I don’t know why the writers had to kill off Lewis’s wife for him to have his own show. Some of the best times with the Lewis character in the original Morse series were when Lewis would have fun with suspects to get them out of the way for Morse to investigate, especially when they went on location. In the Italy episode Lewis parties all night with a group of suspects, and also bonds with a local cop in the Australia episode. So to make him a curmudgeon here is something I still question even after watching all the way through the series at least ten times. OK, maybe not all the way through, but certainly I have seen the first four seasons that many times.
Anyway, he might be less contentious with Hathaway, but Lewis definitely has his moments with Innocent here. When the investigation gets too close to a suspect who is Important at Oxford, Innocent makes the bonkers decision to force Lewis to be her date to a chamber music concert so he can meet said suspect socially, but then he just ends up chasing the guy out of the venue when he sneaks out (and loses him).
I feel like saying all this makes me sound like I don’t even like this show, when I clearly love it. The characters all act batshit sometimes, but murder is irrational, and so must be thinking like a murderer in order to catch one. One thing is for sure, murder shows give us an idealized version of police detectives. Lewis, like Morse before him, is always trying to relate to and be fair to the people he’s nicking, and Frost is big on that too.
I’ve also noticed that people have to hit each other on the head a lot more in a country (Great Britain) where there AREN’T more guns than people. Wait until I get desperate enough for blog content that I start reviewing Midsomer Murders, where someone was once killed by a catapult flinging wine bottles, and that’s not even close to the weirdest modus operandi.