Monday, July 18, 2011

Law & Order UK “Safe” Recap & Review

Law & Order UK delivered another fine episode with “Safe,” which was based on the original Law & Order episode “Angel” from season 6. (Coincidentally, TNT aired “Angel” in the U.S. the same day that “Safe” aired in the UK.) We learn that Ronnie is estranged from his daughters, and that Jake apparently can’t recall the women that he’s slept with. (He eventually recalled her tattoo, but only after she earlier jogged his memory about having an “encounter” with him). Jake Thorne is clearly a different prosecutor than his predecessor Ben Steel (Ben Daniels), with Jake being more subdued and almost clinical about his job. Even Alesha (Freema Agyeman) seems to notice, when she can’t believe that Jake doesn’t seem to care as to the reasons why a boy was killed. But Jake proves that he really does care at the end, even telling Ronnie (Bradley Walsh) that they did the right thing.

The case may have been sloppily handled by the detectives and/or the CPS, though. It is apparent that they never spoke with the caseworker to get her story before the defense put her on the stand. The caseworker commented about being in Spain at one point, but I would think the detectives or CPS should have had the opportunity to question her before she stepped into the dock. Had they done so, they may have never made a deal with Kayla. Also, why did Jake take Kayla’s word for what happened that night and cut a deal with her, when clearly she had lied before? I also was a little surprised that Jake got away with asking Kayla to trust him – it seemed like an inappropriate request for a prosecutor.  By the way, Amy Strange did an excellent job at playing the lying, murdering mom who seemed to think that killing her son was better than putting him into care.

Slightly distracting was what seemed to be a new hairstyle for Matt Devlin (Jamie Bamber). At first I thought his hair was just windblown but then the style carried through the episode. It’s a silly thing I know but I’m not sure I liked the look.

Here is the recap:
While at a street merry-go-round, Kayla Stark (Amy Strange) screams that her son Ryan has been taken. Later,  DS Ronnie Brooks (Bradley Walsh) and DS Matt Devlin (Jamie Bamber) check out the scene. The ride operator’s son, who was running the ride, doesn’t recall seeing Ryan on the ride – or seeing Kayla. They speak with Kayla and she said her ex Jimmy was supposed to meet them there but he did not show. She has Ryan’s dinosaur toy and Ronnie asks to use it to help police dogs track Ryan’s scent. Ronnie asks that Kayla be taken home to get a few things and then they would meet her at the station. Matt thinks the person who snatched Ryan has balls, and Ronnie says he knows what he’d like to do with them.

At M.I.U., Ronnie and Matt bring DI Natalie Chandler (Harriet Walter) up to speed. Angela is going through the CCTV footage with her team. They wonder if this is a custody issue and if Ryan’s dad showed up and they never saw him. Kayla is waiting in another room, and Natalie tells them that Ryan’s toothbrush was collected for DNA, asking that they rule out the dad first.

Ronnie and Matt enter the room and speak with Kayla about Jimmy. She says he has never missed a visit before and says he would not take Ryan. Ronnie asks if she has a boyfriend and she says no. She says Jimmy visits once a month. She has a photo of Ryan on her phone from a week ago and when she gives the phone to Ronnie she begins to cry.

Afterwards, the detectives talk with Natalie about Jimmy Burton and that they are searching for him. Natalie suggests they speak with Jimmy’s grandmother

At the home of Gemma Burton (Heather Bleasdale), she tells Ronnie and Matt that Jimmy loves Ryan and that 6 months ago Kayla cut Jimmy’s access to Ryan. He wanted it sorted out and got a solicitor to get custody. She swears Jimmy would not do anything to mess up his chances to get Jimmy for good.

While Ronnie and Matt walk down the street and Matt eats a sandwich, they talk about the possibility of Jimmy taking Ryan. Ronnie tells Matt that Matt doesn’t know what it’s like not to see your kids. Matt asks if Sarah is still not returning his calls, and Ronnie says no. Matt comments that she is probably busy.

At M.I.U., Angela (Jessica Gunning) shows them the CCTV video of the merry-go-round, but Ryan cannot be seen. There is also no sign of Jimmy. Natalie enters and tell them that social service had been contacted about bruises on Ryan which Kayla had claimed he got falling off a slide at the park.

At South London Social Services, the Ronnie and Matt speak with Martyn Burns (Jonathan Jaynes) and find Ryan’s caseworker Bernie Bradley is on holiday and she has not completed her last report. They think Ryan’s bruising was accidental but Kayla is still on their list as she has no family support and they think she needed some help. They got her some parenting classes and she is doing well.

At M.I.U., Natalie wonders why Kayla did not mention social services and Ronnie reminds her they need to focus on getting Ryan back. There is no sign of Jimmy but co-workers think he is a decent bloke. Ronnie wonders if Jimmy has Ryan, maybe they can make an appeal to get Jimmy to bring Ryan in. Natalie says she will get a psychologist to phrase the appeal in a way that will compel Jimmy to bring Ryan in.

Later, at a news conference as camera flashes strobe constantly, Kayla reads the appeal. Natalie tells them there will be no questions but makes a plea of her own. Afterwards, Kayla speaks with Ronnie and when she asks if she looked OK, Ronnie pauses briefly and says yes.

Back at headquarters, they find Jimmy Burton (George Rainsford) is waiting there and is worried about his son and asks to please tell him they found his son. Ronnie and Matt speak with him and he says he was supposed to meet Kayla today. They day Ryan went missing he was with Dan Tyler who runs a father’s right’s group and he was going to help Jimmy with his case. Kayla wanted Ryan out of the way every time there was a new bloke. Six months ago she stopped returning his calls and since they are not married he has no rights to Ryan.

Afterwards, Ronnie watches Kayla on the video camera from the room where she is waiting, and wonders about the dinosaur toy that Kayla said Ryan was very attached to. Matt and Ronnie speak again with Kayla and when they question her about the toy and that no one recalls her or Ryan at the ride, and they don’t see Ryan on the CCTV, she gets rattled. She thinks Jimmy is lying. Matt says the only scent at the ride they found was hers. She says she washed the toy the night before, and also the sheets that he slept on the night before. She asks Ronnie to take her back there and maybe she will remember something and she is highly agitated.

Afterwards, Angela shows Ronnie, Matt, and Natalie the photos on Kayla’s phone card and there are photos of another man on them. It’s clear she lied about not having a boyfriend. Kayla also visited a web site about adoptions and she messaged some of the forum members saying she has a two year old boy who she can’t look after anymore. Matt wonders why, if she did not want Ryan, shy she didn’t give the boy to Jimmy, and Ronnie thinks maybe it was spite. Matt wonders if she made up the abductions story and when Natalie says they have to get Kayla taking, Ronnie says Kayla wanted him to go back out there with her. Natalie seems reluctant but Matt thinks if there was a hand over, maybe somebody saw something. Natalie wants Ronnie on a wire to cover their asses.

While Natalie and Matt sit in a nearby car and listen, Ronnie walks along with Kayla. He comments that a pretty girl like her should have them lining up around the block. She says she wishes she had a dad like him and he replies that his daughters may not agree. He comments that his daughter Sarah is going to have a baby but she is not returning his calls because as a dad, he chose a bottle of whiskey over her and her sister. He continues to walk along with her and make her feel relaxed by speaking of his own family.

As they stop to sit on a bench, she leans into him and he hesitatingly puts his arm around her to console her. He asks her to trust him. She admits she has a boyfriend and that they had a row about Jimmy. He doesn’t like her seeing Jimmy and he got her to stop the visits. Sometimes she let Jimmy see him in secret. Her boyfriend’s name is Rob and he doesn’t like when a baby cries and Rob said he could not think straight with all the noise. Meanwhile, Natalie and Matt continue to listen they find that Rob and Kayla are both living in another location in Morden Rise which is Rob’s place and her mate still lives in her flat which is under Kayla’s name. Ronnie comments that the pillowcases and toothbrush they took from the flat aren’t even Ryan’s. She admits she lied. Natalie calls immediately for the police to go to Morden Rise and they also race to the location.

At the home of Rob Whitely (Robin Berry), Kayla lets the detectives and police in, and she tells Rob she is sorry she had to tell them what he’d done. Natalie orders the flat searched and Rob cuffed. Matt makes a quick search of the flat and finds nothing. Ronnie asks what Kayla has done with Ryan, and she takes him upstairs and she opens a closet door and seeing a black trash bag on the floor, she says Ryan is in heaven with the angels.

At M.I.U. headquarters, Rob is in interrogation and he reads a statement saying he was with his mate and they had a few drinks at his place and went clubbing and did not return until the next day. Alesha Phillips (Freema Agyeman) watches the video feed. Rob's answer to any question is "no comment" and only when Ronnie really presses does Rob say he never went anywhere near him until his brief shuts him up.

Later, at CPS, Matt and Ronnie confer with Alesha and Jacob “Jake” Thorne about the social services plan and that Kayla had been living with Rob and they were running a benefit scam living in two flats at once. All the social service visits happened at Kayla’s flat and social services had no idea Rob was involved. Ryan’s was suffocated and had three cracked ribs and there was bruising on his back. They think Ron presses his full weight on Ryan. They matched marks on Ryan’s body to Rob’s ring. Whitley did give them an alibi but they think he had time to get back and kill Ryan. Ronnie is adamant this is murder.

At CPS, Jake and Alesha speak with Jimmy and his mother and Jake says he can’t guarantee a murder conviction but he will do his best to make sure Kayla and Jimmy both go to prison. Jimmy says journalists are banging his door down day and night to hear his story now, but no one wanted to help him in the last six months and now his son is dead. He should have kept him safe.

While walking down the street, Jake speaks with CPS Director Henry Sharpe (Peter Davison) about the case and Henry complains about an expensive trial. Jake does not want to drop the murder charge and Henry cautions him to make sure they don’t get bail.

Back at CPS, Jake and Alesha hear Kayla’s brief Yvette Dyer (Patricia Potter) explain that Kayla was also abused by her father and removed from the home, and she developed a narcissistic attitude about her son and viewed him as an extension of herself. She says Kayla’s norms are different. Jake comments that a history of abuse has no bearing on a fitness to plead. Yvette adds that Kayla may be sane but has severe learning difficulties and has the IQ of a 10 year old child. Jake replies that 10 is the age of criminal responsibility and says they are good to go. When Yvette gets up to leave, she asks Jake that he really does not remember her. He doesn’t seem to understand, and she adds that a phone number on the bedside table would have been nice.

Later, Alesha and Jake discuss with Henry what to do next.  He thinks these are the wrong defendants to get touchy-feely over. Alesha thinks they need to order their own psych evaluation to be one step ahead of defense and asks Jake - doesn’t he want to know why they killed Ryan? Jake thinks if they substitute psychology for morality their jobs become obsolete, adding if you deny they had a choice you deny they had responsibility and in this case no, he does not care why. All he cares about is convicting one of them for the murder of a child. Alesha reminds him if he pushes for a murder charge, they could lose and there isn’t enough evidence to prove which one of them killed Ryan. Henry agrees with Alesha. Jake gets notification that Whitely and Stark’s briefs have joined forces and they have applied for a fitness to plead hearing.

At Crown v Stark & Whitely fitness to plead hearing, the judge tells Gregor Browning (John Bowler) that Whitely is fit to plead but does have concerns about Kayla. Jake says they’ve tried 10 year old children for murder before without regard and the judge says he is not concerned with debating the age of criminal responsibility he wants to understand if Kayla understands what she is pleading to. Yvette makes her case for Kayla but Jake says that Kayla was capable of concocting a story that her child was abducted. The judge agrees with Jake and says the trial will proceed.

As Jake and Alesha walk outside in the rain, Jake thinks it will take 10 minutes before one of them caves, but Alesha thinks it’s 15 minutes if they have any self respect and it will be Yvette. She thinks Yvette cares about her client, and, as Yvette calls out to Jake and runs toward them, Alesha adds that Yvette fancies him. Yvette says Kayla will plead guilty for allowing the death of a child if Jake drops the murder charge and if he accepts the plea, she will give him Whitely gift wrapped.

At the CPS, Ronnie speaks with Jake about the plea for Kayla and Ronnie is upset, saying it is a matter of time before Whitely’s brief comes knocking at Jake’s door for the same deal. Ronnie thinks they could both get out in 5 years and asks Jake to tell him he thinks more of that boy’s life than that. Jake comments that Ronnie has been a copper long enough to know how the law works, but Ronnie retorts he’s been a copper long enough to hope that when he charges someone with murder they will be tried for murder. Jake gives Ronnie his word that with Kayla’s evidence he can try Whitely with murder and send him to prison for life.

At Crown v Whitely, Ronnie is on the stand, and Browning chips away at Kayla’s story and how Ronnie handled Kayla’s questioning. Ronnie must also admit that Whitely never said he was reasonable for Ryan’s death. Jake has Ronnie explain that Whitely, with the exception of one abusive remark, only would say “no comment” during questioning. Evidence had also suggested Kayla gave Ryan away and they thought be retracing her steps they could find new witnesses and they would find Ryan alive.

Later, with Kayla on the stand, she testifies that Rob went into Ryan’s room and she heard him shouting and then Ryan stopped crying. When she went to wake Ryan in the morning she knew he was dead and she got scared as Jimmy was to see him the next day. She panicked and pretended Ryan was abducted. She confirmed there is no doubt that Ryan was alive when Whitely entered the room and dead when he left it.

Under cross examination, Kayla says the social worker Bernice Bradley knew about the danger Whitely posed. Browning brings up the social workers questioning Ryan’s repeated injuries and Kayla said she covered it up to protect Ryan as she grew up in care and was afraid they would take Ryan away from her. She said the social workers wanted to get out of her house quickly and Bradley said Kayla’s house smelled. Kayla says Bradley came the week before and didn’t stay a minute and Ryan was asleep. She says Bradley did not see Ryan.

Afterwards, Alesha tells Jake that Gregor did good job making the social worker sound culpable. Jake says you can’t lay the blame on a bureaucratic system. Alesha comments that social service already sacked Bradley to save their own skin and Jake thinks Gregor is turning this into a witch hunt. Alesha believes if Gregor causes enough confusion the jury won’t know who to blame.

At Crown v Whitely, Bernice Bradley (Diveen Henry) is on the stand and she says Kayla hid what was going on and lied about where she was living. She said a week before Ryan died she sent Ryan’s case for review to consider care proceedings and says her written request was misfiled by a temp. She said she went there the night he died and there is no record of the visit as it was out of hours. She turned up at the address that was on the file and Kayla wasn’t there. A neighbor said where she was living and when she went there, she told Kayla she was issuing care proceedings.

Afterwards, at CPS, Jake gets Bernice to confirm her certainty of the events, it was her birthday and she spent the night writing reports. Stating she was living at Whitely’s. She posted it through the office door before she got her flight to Spain and it was added to the request for care proceedings but later misfiled. By the time it was found she had been summarily dismissed. She did everything in her power to protect Ryan. After Bernice leaves, Jake comments that Kayla lied about the last visit, omitting the night Bernice came by which was the night Ryan died. Jake wonders what else Kayla has been lying about, and he calls Ronnie and asks what Ronnie said to Kayla to get her to open up to him.

At Crown v Whitely, Jake is questioning Kayla. She is forced to admit that Bernice found out where she was living. He questions her about what happened the day Ryan went missing and she says he has it wrong. He presses on Bernice's visit and that she said Whitely was not home and went clubbing, and she claims Whitely killed Ryan before he went out. She says she was no lying but Jake counters that she was not telling the whole truth. He calmly questions her about going into Ryan’s room, and he brings up the abuse she suffered with the abuse from her father. She said she had to make it stop. Jake says that’s what moms do, to try and take away their child’s suffering. Jake asks for her to talk to him and to trust him. She says they were going to take Ryan into care, and crying, adds she got a pillow and put it on his face until he stopped moving. She just wanted him to be safe. She breaks down and says she is sorry.

Later, while Jake is standing on the street, Yvette approaches him and says Kayla is pleading guilty to the murder charge, she incriminated herself in open court. Jake says Henry will be thrilled he saved them the cost of another trial and they also got Whitely so it’s two for the price of one. Yvette comments that Jake doesn’t have to spar with her across the courtroom for he next few weeks. He says, “Blue tulip, left shoulder blade. Some things I don’t forget.” She smiles back at him and walks off. As he watches her walk away, he smiles and walks off.

In court, the judge sentences Kayla to life in prison with a minimum of 20 years. Whitely was found guilty of causing or allowing the death of a child, and is sentenced to a term of imprisonment for public protection with a minimum term of 8 years. Jake looks back at Ronnie who is seated in the courtroom and Ronnie gives a nod of approval.

As Jake walks down the street, Ronnie catches up with him and thanks him. Jake said they did the right thing. Ronnie agrees. Jake asks Ronnie if he fancies a pint, but Ronnie says he can’t, he’s seeing his daughter. Jake suggests another time. Jake walks off and Ronnie turns and also walks off, as we fade to black.

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1 comment:

xfool said...

Jamie looks like he got a haircut that was too short and now he had to do a comb-forward. It does look a bit odd on him.

Dominic Rowan is fine but they need to give Jake Thorne a some life. The change between Ben and his booming voice and commanding presence and Dominic, who seems more soft spoken, is jarring.

Love Law & Order UK, its the best of the L&O shows out there. Better than last season's SVU.