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This episode opened with two apparently unconnected incidents; first
somebody is wounded when shot by a musket during a re-enactment of a
civil war skirmish and secondly a man is found dead on a tour bus and
the body may have been put there while people were watching the
re-enactment. It turns out that the bus had stopped at the stately home
where the enactment took place. Matters are made more interesting when
it emerges that Sgt. Hathaway grew up on the estate and knows many of
the suspects. There are many possible motives ranging from sexual
jealousy to buried treasure.
The story went along as a fairly slow pace but I don't think this mattered as it gave us a chance to get to know the characters better, especially Sgt. Hathaway who took the lead in this episode and gets rather close to Scarlett, his childhood friend and daughter of the estate's owner. The acting was good, from both regular and guest characters. Often murder mysteries ignore the consequences of death but here they didn't gloss over it when a teenager lost her father and was effectively orphaned as her mother had disappeared some time before.
Anyone who remembers the great John Thaw as Inspector Morse can recall
that magnificent voice of his saying "Lewis" when addressing his
mild-mannered partner (Kevin Whately).
There is no bringing back the late Thaw or anything resembling the Inspector Morse series, but the Inspector Lewis series has revived Lewis for those of us who want some connection to Morse.
This is my first foray into the Lewis series. As Lewis was never a flashy character, at least this one, "Dead of Winter" has the focus on his partner, Hathaway. Hathaway (Laurence Fox) is a young and attractive man who here tackles an investigation that leads him into his past.
"Dead of Winter" concerns a shooting during a civil war re-enactment, and a man found dead on a tour bus, both of which lead Hathaway to an estate where he grew up. Therefore, he knows some of the suspects. The story becomes quite complicated, involving buried treasure and other elements - adultery for one.
One thing, true in the Morse series and true in this, is that you have to pay attention. During a Morse episode once, I completely lost track of what was going on and called a friend of mine to ask whodunit. My friend called me back and said, "I not only don't know whodunit, I don't know who was killed." "Dead of Winter" isn't quite that abstract, and the story is pretty good, though I figured some of it out. I liked both the Lewis and Hathaway characters and will definitely look into some other episodes. Worth seeing.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In the back-story, Richard Mortmaigne, a wealthy landowner had hidden a
treasure upon his Oxford-area estate during the English Civil War
(16421651). Ever since, no one seems to have uncovered the treasure,
but Mortmaigne descendants have sponsored an annual Civil War costume
re-enactment upon "the farm," as they call it. This time around,
however, a participant is wounded when a perpetrator secretly
substitutes live ammunition into the muzzle of a musket.
Meanwhile, after Bus Driver (Alex Knight) discovers a body lying across a seat in his vehicle, he alerts Oxfordshire law enforcement officers.
Detective Inspector Robert Lewis (Kevin Whately) and Doctor Laura Hobson (Clare Holman) respond to the discovery of the victim on the bus, while Detective Sergeant James Hathaway (Laurence Fox) and Detective Constable Hooper (Gerard Horan) respond to the incident at Crevecourt Hall, a.k.a. the Mortmaigne estate, or "the farm." Chief Superintendent Innocent (Rebecca Front) oversees the investigations, as additional bodies begin to surface.
Detective Constable Hooper, referred to as "D.C. Hopper," has neither a very strong rapport with Hathaway nor Lewis, who addresses him as "small in mind and big in mouth." Inspector Lewis' investigation of a Doctor Stephen Black (no actor credited), an Oxford History Professor, leads him to develop an amicable acquaintance with Black's associate, Frances Woodville (Stella Gonet), a fellow Oxford History Instructor, who had left a return call message for Stephen.
Lewis discovers that Black borrowed Professor Woodville's research material to earn his Doctorate, while Doctor Hobson discovers that the bus victim has been bludgeoned with a candlestick, before Sergeant Hathaway discovers the candlestick wrapped within a current newspaper and hidden in a sack in the Chapel at Crevecourt Hall.
Residents at Crevecourt Hall include Augustus Mortmaigne (Richard Johnson), a former banker, who has lost much of his wealth after the financial economy falters; Selina Mortmaigne (Juliet Aubrey), Augustus' gracious young wife; Scarlett Mortmaigne (Camilla Arfwedson), Augustus' daughter by his late wife; and Titus Mortmaigne (Jonathan Bailey), Selina and Augusts' young adult son. Philip Coleman (Nathaniel Parker), addressed as "Colonel," a nephew of Mr. Mortmaign, was born to Augustus' sister.
Ralph Grahame (Jonty Stephens) serves as Crevecourt Hall Stage Manager and organizes the re-enactment; Briony Grahame (Georgia Groome), Ralph's daughter, serves as loyal Crevecourt Hall maid and shares an interest with Titus. Paul Hopkiss (Pip Carter), serves as loyal butler at Crevecourt Hall. Father Jasper (Hugh O'Conor), a Jesuit Priest, serves as Chaplain of the Crevecourt Hall premises. Professor Pelham (Guy Henry), an Oxford Art Historian, has been hired by Augustus to uncover additions to an oil painting from the Mortmaigne collection.
Tarek Shimali (Richard Saade), the son of a Lebanese banker, and fiancé of Scarlett Mortmaigne, arrives at Crevecourt Hall for their engagement celebration, with his parents, Sariah and Dior Shimali (each uncredited).
While residents and staff maintain many secrets, James Hathaway also has a past at Crevecourt Hall, for his father had served as Stage Manager, and so James had resided at the estate until he turned twelve. Now, he is reacquainted with his childhood friend Paul Hopkiss, who hasn't seen James in twenty years, and with Scarlett Mortmaigne, whom James continues to admire for her grace and beauty.
But when Briony stumbles across another body, the victim of gunfire, Lewis and Hathaway attempt to link the murders with the shooting at the re-enactment, plus the disappearance of Linda Grahame, Briony's mother, and the cold case vehicular homicide of a teenage Freddy Randall (uncredited) in Oxford years earlier.
Inspector Lewis concentrates upon a residence in Shue de Crescent, at which he discovers a collection of old love letters, along with a cat, for whom he acts as caregiver, while Sergeant Hathaway concentrates upon Crevecourt Hall and begins to share rekindled feelings with Scarlett, to Lewis' disdain and threats of suspension from the Department.
Well, the altered painting represents a clue, which leads Lewis and Hathaway back to Crevecourt Hall, to study astrological symbols engraved in a tower pointing to the Millennium sculpture, which Hathaway points out as new since his tenure at the estate, and also a missing Chapel key leads to another revelation, but by now, Lewis and Hathaway are on the outs, and investigate separately.
Because Scarlett has invited Hathaway to her lavish engagement party, he attends reluctantly, during which time, Doctor Hobson gives Lewis another clue, which leads to his sudden realization as to how the murders connect, while Hathaway, too, suddenly realizes additional evidence, leading guests to the climactic showdown, another shooting, and the discovery of yet another body.
Comment: Juliet Aubrey adds an extra depth of tender emotion to character, as also do Camilla Arfwedson, Pip Carter, and Hugh O'Conor to theirs. But Laurence Fox stands out in a compelling performance as the Sergeant trying to resolve many differences between his past and his exacting career.
What points its stars gain for fine performances may be lost on a sloppily, inexplicably misfit screen-story ending, which doesn't seem to work very well in comparison to other "Inspector Lewis" series' episodes.
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