|Index||4 reviews in total|
This episode contains an interesting subplot, which begins one evening
at a restaurant, when DS James Hathaway (Laurence Fox) observes Doctor
Laura Hobson's (Clare Holman) dining with a sharply-attired male
companion. As DI Robert Lewis (Kevin Whately) ponders Laura's
subsequent unpredictable behavior and discusses this with Chief
Superintendent Jean Innocent (Rebecca Front), Laura assumes that James
has squealed to Robbie, whereas James maintains that whom Laura
socializes with falls into the category of nobody's business except
hers and his (and possibly millions of fans who wish the best for Laura
and Robbie, whatever that may entail). The Department has further
assistance this time around, by WPC Julie Lockhart (Kemi-bo Millar) on
patrol, and PC Baynes (Michael Shelford), with Gurdip Sohal (Alton
Letto) on computer analysis. Caroline Eagleton (Sylvestra Le Touzel)
also assists the investigation as a member of Oxford's college staff.
And the plot centers around a group of patients under psychiatric care of Doctor Alex Gansa (Douglas Henshall), with a little help from his associate Doctor Julius Fisher (Alex MacQueen).
Amy Katz (Florence Brudenell-Bruce) has been a patient for analysis since her brother, Matthew, had lost his life in the Army, while serving in Afghanistan. David Katz (Jay Villiers), the father of Amy and Matthew, visits Oxford once the series of murders begins this time around.
A mounting list of suspects, along with David and Alex, includes Claire Gansa (Christina Cole), the second wife of Alex; Shauna Malin (Sophie Stanton), a group participant often seen walking her dogs; Bethan Vickery (Lucy Liemann), a filmmaker who videotapes many group sessions; Adam Douglas (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), a student drawn into the surroundings; Jack Collins (Jack Roth), a student at odds with Adam, while sharing similar circumstances; Karen Wilde (Nichola Burley) a fellow warehouse employee of Jack's, who goes with him; and Dane Wise (Sam Hazeldine) a British Army Veteran, who served in Afghanistan with Matthew Katz.
After the first victim is discovered in a garden at the base of a dormitory, the investigatory team must determine whether the fatality results from accident, murder or suicide. But there's also a fight on a staircase amount suspects, an overdose of prescription pain killers, a cyclist's becoming the victim of a vehicular hit-and-run, an attack outside of a trailer, a beating in a corridor, and a stabbing in the arm, all involving different victims, some of whom just may survive.
A round of conflicting testimony keeps the pace hopping continuously, as authorities and viewers alike contemplate the credibility of suspects as witnesses, wondering whom to believe and what to believe, as the finger of guilt seems to point back into once certain direction all over again. Will the team be able to solve the puzzle before additional victims surface? And will Laura, Robbie, James and Jean see any resolve generating from the initial misunderstanding of Laura's dining with the mysterious stranger? All of this and more will be addressed, as "The Mind Has Mountains."
Nice work from the regulars, as well as guest star Douglas Henshall in particular.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When a young woman who is taking part in a clinical trial for a new
anti-depressant is found dead the initial suspicion is that she
committed suicide but soon it is determined that she was murdered.
There are plenty of suspects to chose from; the men taking part in the
trial who clearly fancied her and may have been rejected, a jealous
girl friend and wife and even the doctor running the tests. This being
Lewis there isn't just the one death to worry about although there are
rather less than other recent episodes. In the background of the murder
mystery there is also some awkward feeling between Lewis and
pathologist Laura Hobson; she thinks Hathaway must have told Lewis that
he saw her dining with another man but he'd kept quiet thinking it was
none of his business.
While this wasn't the best episode of the current series it was still entertaining with an interesting variety of suspects to keep the viewer guessing; even those viewers who guess correctly are likely to doubt their suspicions more than once. As usual the regular cast did a fine job and Douglas Henshall was good as chief suspect Dr Gansa.
One point that puzzled me: what sort of drug test is it that has no placebo group? A proper clinical trial of a drug requires a double-blind test. The group is divided into two, by the testers. One group gets the drug. The other group gets a placebo. The individual subjects do not know whether they are getting the drug or the placebo. Yet this point was never mentioned. Was it cut out for the sake of dramatic simplicity? if so, it was at the cost of plausibility. There were plenty of other reasons why this was a dodgy test which were raised, of course: the psychiatrist's selecting patients with particularly pronounced symptoms of the mental illness, apparently to insure results that would impress a drug company and make him millions. Is university drug research really this bad and corrupt? How was it ever approved? The academic in overall charge was blithely unconcerned. Apart from that the acting was generally excellent, but severely tested by an involved and confusing plot. Suspicion moved from one suspect to another with bewildering rapidity: like Inspector Morse at his worst/best, but rather overdone.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"The Mind has Mountains" is a conceptual avenue that has not been tried
before on Lewis. Drugs, although a rare but regular feature on Morse,
rarely appear, and indeed the previous episode "Wild Justice", featured
Lewis' first ever poisoning (as I remember).
Patrick Harbison, a reasonably experienced writer, makes his debut here after working principally on American television. This similarity shows, as "...Mountains" is a very Americanised programme. There is one primary point of interest throughout the serial, Dr. Alex Gansa. Douglas Henshall puts in one of the best efforts of the series so far here, with his character had an uneasy edge which in turn made the view feel the same way. His depiction of a man trapped in his present which he scrabbled and worked to gain is nothing short of masterly, and he rates with Pip Carter and David Hayman as the most jarring performance in the series.
However, this episode has its failings, chief among which is Harbison's screenplay. After a fairly typical Lewis setup, and even a fairly interesting and separate group of characters (although worryingly similar to Your Sudden Death Question), the plot tails off almost completely, especially after the murder of Adam Douglas (the normally excellent Thomas Brodie - Sangster failing to make much of an impression). Most of the participants in the trial disappear after this point, which is a shame, especially in the case of the always entertaining Alex MacQueen and Sylvestra Le Touzel. Sam Hazeldine is also to be commended, as the scenes within his static caravan are marvellously eerie. The regulars are a little tenuous at times, with Holman failing particularly, with a portrayal that would, at times, be considered downright wooden. Front is, however, better than average, and Fox's improvement from previous series is noticeable here. Whateley, however, reflects the audience's mood, that of sheer confusion.
The second half is Harbison's big failing here. The plot tails off, and it is as if Harbison, who has only written for feature - length television twice before to my awareness, in Sharpe's Justice and The Duchess and the Devil (Hornblower), is tacking the second half on. First Gansa, then Bethan Vickery, (Lucy Liemann, trying hard but limited by Harbison's peculiar dialogue for her), then Gansa, then Bethan Vickery, and so ad infinitum, committed the murders, which themselves pale into insignificance. And then, when Patrick Harbison is starting to run out of time, he carries on the psychological theme by wheeling out the old psychological excuse, De Clerambault's Syndrome. This syndrome manages to neatly explain everything, and makes the entire serial look like a bad copy of Fatal Attraction, combined with the bad elements (and there are few good elements), of Ian McEwan's novel and film "Enduring Love". Harbison probably owes the cast an apology, as the dialogue and plot get worse and worse, and what was the point of the bike accident? All in all, the screenplay rivals "And the Moonbeams Kiss the Sea" as the series' all time clanger.
In the same manner as "Moonbeams ..." , it would have been all to easy to make the production an absolutely terrible one. There are many reasons why it is not, mostly Henshall (imagine if Neal Pearson played Dr. Gansa!), and the remainder of the cast. However, final credit must go to the director, another débutant to the series, Charles Palmer. Given Palmer's previous work (a few particularly iffy episodes of Doctor Who and Lark Rise to Candleford), seeing his name in the opening credits did not fill me with hope. However, my illusions were quickly shattered. The use of high and low shots of the balcony, and the rapid pan around to direct the murder scene were magnificently eerie, and the montage of Hathaway interviewing the suspects was nothing short of outstanding. The pace of his direction does not let up, and the movements of the actors manage to stay above board, and the production values are universally high. It was almost entirely due to Palmer that the production did not go to pieces towards the end.
It is entirely possible that this story could have been worse. However, it could have also been much better. It is a baffling story and, without Charles Palmer and Douglas Henshall, could have been terrible. As it is, it's merely a bit flat.
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