Natural Causes

 

 

 

 

 

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Cast
Nathaniel Parker .... Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley
Sharon Small .... Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers
Mark Benton .... Professor Elias Blackwell
Catherine Russell…. Helen Lynley
Paul Hickey .... Lafferty
Liza Tarbuck…. DI Fiona Knight
Nicholas Gleaves… Dr. Simon Wilson
Adrian Rawlins…. Tim Summer
George Costigan…. Owen Harcourt-Baines
Bobby Scott Freeman…. SOCO
Michael Vivian…. Chief Constable
Bruce Bennett…. Quiz master
Eiry Hughes…. Bar girl
Mark Stobbart…. Matt Ridgeon
Dave Hill.... Joe Covington
Patricia Kerrigan…. Tilda Covington
Molly Herbert…. Millie Summer
Mary Stockley….. Edie Covington
Neelam Bakshi…. Solicitor
Ben Lannoy….. Joshua Holcombe
Alan Barnes….. Uniformed Officer
Robert Purdy….. Police Federation rep
Saskia Reeves….. Eileen Edwards

Directed by Simon Massey
Written by Peter Jukes, based on the characters by Elizabeth George
Premiered on TV 2 Charlie (Denmark) May 19, 2006
First UK Broadcast on BBC One (Scotland) July 18, 2006

Plot

What I can say about this episode is that the actual crime story and plot are merely the toast slices for the delicious ingredients in between them. You don't want to know more, stop here. Well that's for the ones who can live with the dry toast only - they might be disappointed because the plot isn't that much to go for this time around.

The crime story is easily told. A young woman is killed after having had a romantic meeting with one of her seemingly many lovers in her car. Somebody must have borne quite a big grudge towards her and her lover. Everything points to a relationship related killing - jealousy being the 100% tip for solving this one. The cold cuts in your sandwich have always been what's going on with Lynley's and Havers' careers and private problems.

At the moment DI Lynley is in trouble as we know from last season's cliff-hanger. Right now he's being accused of using unreasonable force while he was trying to save a pregnant witness. His estranged wife Helen turns up after the first hearing. The return of Helen is a big surprise for Lynley who's not himself because he's afraid to lose his job.

The new actress (Catherine Russell) who's playing Helen now inherits an unpopular and unloved character here, but to me she has proved herself a much more loveable and empathetic woman. The third Helen has the good luck to have a more gentle side to show in the new scripts - a very smooth entrée and hopefully a more relaxed and happy love-life for Lynley this time around. She reminds me of the first Helen in the series' pilot.

Of course Lynley's life is a mess at the moment, but as we will get to see, things start to get sorted out and he finally seems to notice where his own powers end. More than ever, Lynley has to rely on other people. Well actually not strangers but the ones he feels quite attached to - maybe that's even worse for him than the other way around. This is one of the things he hates the most: He has his dear problems with letting things just happen - he always did.

And he likes to think that he's invulnerable and an über-ingenious-boss-at-all-times - bad luck no-one is. Lynley finally loses his halo. Time to realize that he actually can't be the master of his fate - surprisingly enough he seems to swallow this "jagged little pill" without getting the hiccups. And because he does, he succeeds in winning Helen and his job back. Let's wait and see how long this episode of enlightenment will last.

Havers on the other hand has been pushed around a bit ever since Lynley's been suspended and finally finds a new DI with whom she basically is able to get along with (now that's something for her, right). She isn't unhappy but she seems to miss Lynley a great deal. He tries to go through with what she has to say in her hearing in his case and what not to say and she refuses. Havers insists to "tell the truth". Something Lynley isn't too comfortable with to say the least. In the end he will have to trust her completely. Havers is more relaxed and self-assured a trait which is getting stronger and stronger.

Lynley barges in, trying to influence Havers in what she will say when it is her turn at his hearing. She softly ignores his attempts and tries to distract him from his troubles by letting him do background research which - what else should it be like - turns out to become a true investigation. Havers' interim boss, DI Fiona Knight is a bit handicapped since she's highly pregnant. In the beginning she dislikes Lynley's open attempts to play DI while she is the DI in charge. Lynley finds another corpse during trespassing a suspect's compound. Yes, it was the first victim's lover. Tough luck that the victim's partner cannot be booked, because there have been holes in the evidence chain that were simply too big to ignore them. Besides "A DI Linton" supposedly asked strange questions regarding this case… Yes after DI Knight hears this, she likes Lynley even more.

During further investigations, DI Knight is being convinced by Havers to let Lynley carry on with his moonlighting which leads him to a rehab clinic where he finds taped sessions with the first victim. Unfortunately he's only gotten in, because he said that he's a patient who needs help. So there he goes - off to a counselling session.

Yes Lynley is on the couch with a rolling camera taping it all! Lynley's character faults are being displayed without really tearing off his last retreat. He was always very much in control, especially when it comes to the women in his life. Here he finally realizes that he's actually dependent on their kindness and understanding. He's done certain things very wrong. Now this all sounds quite serious, which as I might not haven't mentioned isn't the case at all. The session itself isn't very deep, but it confronts him with his "lack of emotional availability" and his fear of "losing control over a situation or people". All is in a very twinkle-toed and fun to watch - while it hits the nail straight on the head. Remember Helen's (season three): "Could you be a bit more patronizing?" To sum it up this seems to Lynley's thought at this very moment of self-awareness.

Lynley is racing back to London to try a reconciliation with Helen - which over fish and chips plus a glass of champagne is a successful attempt. The clinic is being searched and the now acting DI Havers (Knight had to drop out of the case because of problems with her blood-pressure). They find the clue to the murder case and shortly after that it comes to the climax in which the murder kills himself by jumping off a lighthouse.

Back in London it's Havers' turn to make her statement in front of Lynley's jury. The result of this hearing is that Lynley's being reinstated.

Review

Naturally there are a lot of long-time running gags involved like Helen's inability to cook, Lynley obsession with his Bristol, Havers' relentless need for independence, Lafferty's poetic citations when he examines his corpses - all routines the fans love. These elements run through the whole length of this episode, always leaving a light tone and a "welcome back feeling".

I'm not too sure that the rest of the audience will actually comprehend all the allusions that are being present in every scene. But for the rest it's pure fun. To put it in a nutshell, this starter episode was a sort best-of-all-fun-ideas-we-have-ever-had- who-cares-about-the-murder-case.

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