Thirteen seasons. 295 episodes. That’s at least 295 different crimes, different victims, different perpetrators, different red herrings, different motives, different methods… or of course, not so different.
This season has passed prety much without making any kind of impact on my brain. In fact I was so surprised at the end of the season I had to rewind to check that I really had heard the voice-over lady tell me that the cliff-hanger wouldn’t conclude until next year; I could easily have believed we still had half a season to go. The easy to watch/easy to forget model works in terms of making the show uncomplicated to tune in to each week, but makes it rather harder to write any kind of in depth analysis at the end of the season.
Funnily enough, the few things I do remember are the incidental character moments, that almost seem to sneak into episodes by the back door. “Lets do a school reunion story, lots of red herring potential looking at motives of the kids they used to be and the adults they are now. Oh! It could be Dr David’s high school reunion!”. The long slow burn of relationships between Hodges, Morgan and their parents was nicely played out too, and it was nice to see Nick in a relationship, even if it was just with a retired police dog.
I still struggle a bit with Finlay, I just don’t feel she has much depth to her. Every time Sara appeared I was reminded of what a better character she was and how Finlay felt like a cheap alternative. Finn just doesn’t seem to have integrated with the group, she has a relationship with DB, but no one else. Everyone else (even equally new Morgan) have built interesting and varied relationships, Sara and Nick looking after and picking on Greg like a little brother, everyone but Morgan endlessly frustrated with Hodges, Doc Robbins being peer and friend to DB but more fatherly towards Greg and David. They form an extended family, and even if that is kind of unlikely in a professional environment, it’s what I want to watch. Finlay seems to drift around all over the place, too unstable for the role of mother left empty by Catherine’s departure, too patronising for ‘cool aunt’ and too standoffish for potential relationships.
This felt like a year when nothing happened, which is better than having a contrived serial killer, but also leaves the season a bit of a blank without some kind of common theme to pull it all together. I’d like to see the team have some kind of issue to deal with as a group across the season that wasn’t life or death but was important – I dunno, something as mundane as a budget crisis, or a class of trainees. After all, the show is pretty old now, wouldn’t want to do anything too dramatic, it could break a hip or something.