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This episode of Law & Order UK “Alesha” was based on the original series episode “Helpless“ from season 3. While the original episode was one of Law & Order’s better ‘Mike Stone” episodes, I have to say that this updated version was much improved as it seemed far more realistic. Freema Agyeman did an excellent job, both as victim, and as a woman who expects someone to stand up to stop criminals such as Dr. Merrick, who use their profession, or their power, to take advantage. In the case of Alesha Phillips, he took advantage of her in a very personal way.
It also showed Matt Devlin (Jamie Bamber) as someone who, despite the fact that he sees crime in many forms every day, still hasn’t become so hardened to it that he can’t help a friend who is in trouble and protect them as well. Interesting, though, was the last few minutes of the episode, where all of the key players seem to be off in their own personal lives, seemingly very much alone. It is as if they must shut the events of the day off by shutting out those that may be closest to them on a daily basis. The blank look on Phillips’ face as she walked along the street alone seemed a testimony to how people can compartmentalize their work life and their personal lives, sometimes leaving a person looking empty at the end of the day, when everyone goes their separate ways. The only person who seemed to be interacting with anyone was Ronnie Brooks. Maybe he’s been around the block long enough that even a crime against one of his colleagues doesn’t seem to cause him to skip a beat. Still, everyone else seemed to be going about his or her evening as if nothing happened, and for Alesha Phillips, it seemed a sorrowful close.
Here is the recap:
A gynecologist, Dr. Alec Merrick (Derek Riddell) is talking with a patient who is leaving. He enters the room of his next patient, who is Crown Prosecutor Alesha Phillips (Freema Agyeman). He discuses her medical issues and begins to examine her. He complements her perfume, and says she is tensing; she should try to relax. He asks her how it feels, and when she says fine, he says it should feel good. She looks at him oddly, and then asks what is he doing? As he continues, and says, ‘Right – there” she becomes very upset and moves away, asking him “What the hell – you were touching me up!” As she moves away, he tells her he wants to bring her back for a CT scan needle biopsy to rule out metastasis. She asks “Cancer?” And he says it is just a precaution, women under 30 have a greater chance of recovery. After he tells her to get dressed, he leaves, leaving Alesha there looking violated and shaky.
Later, Alesha Phillips is in the Major Investigations Unit telling DI Natalie Chandler (Harriet Walker), DS Ronnie Brooks (Bradley Walsh) and DS Matt Devlin (Jamie Bamber) about this incident with the doctor as she feels she was assaulted and then the doctor tried to intimidate her When Chandler indicates that the doctor will just say it was routine, Phillips says she knows the difference, she was assaulted. Chandler says she is on her side, and Phillips admits it will be hard to prove. Devlin says this has never stopped them before.
Later outside, Chandler, Brooks, and Devlin discuss how to approach the investigation. Chandler expects the doctor has done this before and there may be complaints from other women, and they should go the GMC and track it down.
At the General Medical Council, Brooks and Devlin ask for any complaints on Dr. Alec Merrick, and are told the information is confidential. When Brooks tells him this is not the day to mess them around, the man looks up some information and tells them that the only complaints on the doctor are from people who are still on his waiting list. He has a good record, and but has worked at many hospitals, seemingly moving around a lot, as if he was headhunted.
Outside, Brooks says “Headhunted my ass. “ Devlin thinks his credentials mean he is highly thought of, Brooks thinks a hospital would not let someone like that go without a fight – unless he screwed up some way. Later, talking to Dr. Dyer (Robert Benfield), the head of the department, who assure them they are wrong, and he leaves. Brooks thinks that the doctors won’t say anything to help them, and suggests they start looking at his financial information to see who may have stopped paying the doctor. Devlin thinks that’s genius. Later, as they look through the records, Brooks is having second thoughts about whether this will do any good, and Devlin reminds him this isn’t just any woman this happened to, it’s Alesha. Devlin and Brooks find a few patients where the payments stopped.
At Miller and Baise Ltd., Brooks and Devlin speak to Donna Miller (Kim Vithana ), and find that while she stopped paying the doctor in April, she tells them that she was still seeing him, they had a “thing” and that he “kept his hand in, so to speak.” It had ended a few months ago, and said that man is hot, they played doctor and nurse for a while. But she got tired of his routine. She asks Devlin where he keeps his cuffs, and she gets a phone call and walks off. They then go to the home of Diane Perkins (Ania Sowinski), who seems very depressed. She stopped seeing Merrick, stating Merrick couldn’t help her, and he didn’t charge her for her sessions because of that. As she moves to turn off the TV, Devlin sees some cut marks on her wrists and asks her about them. She says she suffers from depression, and had a bad day and life got a bit much. Her head is messed up, not her body.
They go to the home of Laura Todd (Camilla Arfwedson), who tells them there is no way Dr. Merrick will touch her again. Merrick did a procedure without anesthesia, she had some cysts burned off but never said she would not be under. She did complain to the GMC and it was done by the book. But she was in so much pain and she kept screaming begging him to stop. Every now and then he would say, “good girl.” She said he is a sadist and needs to be locked up.
Devil and Brooks bring Chandler up to speed, telling her the GMC didn’t see anything wrong. Chandler tells them unless they can prove he is a danger to his patients they have nothing. Devlin thinks there is a way.
They go back to Donna Miller and ask her if there was a time she wanted to stop but couldn’t or if Merrick abused her in any way. She says is a good man with bad habits, what he did with her was an outlet. When they asked her why she ended it, she said nothing turned Alec on more than fear and when she stopped being scared he wanted to take it further, and it seemed creepy, especially after what happened to his wife.
Back at the unit, they review that they know about Tessa Merrick, who hanged herself five years ago, leaving a note saying love does not equal pain. Devlin thinks Merrick tied a rope around her neck because it turned him on. Devlin thinks this is a doctor who likes to hurt people and he’s a pervert. But Chandler reminds him that there have been no proven complaints. Devlin reminds Chandler about Alesha, and that as a woman he thought she would understand. She says, “As a woman, I would like to cut off his dick with a rusty hacksaw and run it down his throat! As your boss, I suggest you take what you have got to Steel and see what he says.”
At the Crown Prosecutors’ Office, Steel (Ben Daniels) tells Devlin and Brooks it is not enough to make a case. When Phillips walks in, she asks what is going on, and he tells her that it is not enough. When Phillips gets upset, he tells her that she is making this personal. She shouts that it is personal, she was the one who was lying there. She asks him to trust her, and he says they don’t stand and chance. She asks what kind of message they are sending out to women, that it’s just not worth the risk. Steel says there is nothing they can do, and she walks out of the room, slamming the door.
Phillips is back in Dr. Merrick’s examining room, in an examining gown. Merrick enters, asking if she is feeling OK, and she says he is nervous. He gives her a glass of water, and when she says he has had some, he tells her to have more, and it helps with the scan. His nurse enters, and he asks her if she wants Nurse Gregory (Brett O’Brien) to stay. She says no, and he says he will see her tomorrow. But Phillips seems to be getting groggy, and she says she feels weird. He tells her to relax, and says she won’t feel a thing. He gives her some more water. He asks her if she is ready, and as she gets groggier, she says no. But he says, “You came back” as he pulls her legs towards him, things go black as she cries out.
Brooks and Devlin arrive at the Sexual Assault Referral Centre, and are told that Philips said she was drugged and raped by Merrick. They did find there was penetration and ejaculation, no wounds but heavy bruising. Devlin knocks on the door and enters alone. She thinks now they can lock the bastard up. She tells him she thinks he gave her rohypnol or GHB, he kept giving her water. He asks why she went back, and she says someone had to stop him. She did not expect him to rape her, and it hurt like hell. He kept talking and she couldn’t do anything, like move or scream. He hands him a video camera, and he seems stunned that she filmed it. She says she hid it in her bag and it’s not her word against his anymore. She won’t be a victim.
At the CPS, Steel and George Castle (Bill Paterson) are watching the video while Brooks and Devlin stand by. Steel asks if they spoke to Merrick, and they said no, he had the morning off. They spoke to the nurse, who went straight home after leaving the examination room, and had only been working for Merrick for a month. Forensics found no trace of semen – he cleaned up. They hope they can find traces of drugs in her samples. Steel says the case will be thrown out for entrapment because she went in with a spy camera. Brooks gets a phone call, and tells them that traces of GHB were in Alesha samples. They are then shocked to see Phillips has arrived to work.
Devlin goes in to talk to her, Brooks waits at the door. Devlin tells her she should go home, and Brooks agrees with him. Castle tells the detectives to come to his office for tea. Steel walks in to Phillip’s office, and she asks if he watched it. He says yes, and when she asks what he is going to do, he says he can’t talk about it. She asks again, “What are you going to do?” He tells her there were traces of GHB, and she thinks this means they got him. But Steel says it is not that simple, because Phillips asked the nurse to leave the room, and she also went back after he first assaulted her. He will claim that she wanted it – to incriminate him. She tells him he has to prosecute him and she has to know what she went through was worth it. She says he always tells her to fight for the victim, and she is the victim and he should fight for her. He agrees to go forward.
Later, Brooks and Devlin approach Dr. Merrick, Devlin saying he looks so much taller on film. They arrest him for suspicion of rape. When the doctor says Devlin is hurting him with the cuffs, Devlin says he knows and asks him if it feels good.
Walking outside, Castle asks Steel what Phillips was thinking, and says that defense barrister Phyllis Gladstone will use this against her. Steel says they have to deal with it. Castle says Phillips will go through hell in the witness box, and Steel says she is already there.
At Crown v Merrick, defense barrister Phyllis Gladstone (Leslie Manville) arrives, and Steel argues with her, asking how she can defend Merrick. She seems to dismiss Phillips as a victim, and Steel is appalled at her approach. Steels says Merrick spiked her drink and she was bruised. Gladstone indicates Phillips liked it rough. Gladstone says Steel should spare her of this, but Steel says Phillips is tougher than she thinks.
Phillips is called in to testify and enters the witness box, the air thick with tension. The video is played as the courtroom watches and listens. Steel questions her, asking her why she took the camera. She told him about being touched inappropriately before and she wanted confirmation, which is why she did not want the nurse to stay. As Gladstone cross-examines her, she asks her why she didn’t trust the police to handle this, and she tells them they didn’t have enough evidence and she needed proof. She denies it when Gladstone implies she asked for the drugs and had sex with him, and says she is not lying. When Gladstone says she went there with the sole purpose of enticing him, and Phillips gets angry, saying she did no such thing. She had no idea he would drug and rape her. Gladstone asks her who is Doctor Barbara Lawrence, and she says it is her gynecologist and admitted her she has been seeing her for the last five years. When Gladstone asks if she sees two dentists, Phillips says she wanted a second opinion. Gladstone asks her who is Diane Perkins and is she a friend of hers from city law school? Philips says yes, but Steel asks how this is relevant, and the judge asks where this is heading. Gladstone says Perkins is also a former patient of Merrick’s who has a grudge against him. Steel is upset, saying this is the first he is getting this information. She says that the defense says this whole case is just a set up, and while she elaborates on what she thinks the women are doing, Steel protests. The judge excuses the jury for a moment. Gladstone seems to gloat.
Steel argues that this issue should have been raised at the pre-trial review, and Gladstone says they themselves just found out about it. Gladstone says she will not be calling Perkins as she is mentally unstable, and Steel says this is without foundation, and Steel is worried that the seed has already been planted. The judge says if he stopped every trial because a barrister ran off at the mouth, they would never have a verdict. Afterwards, Steel approaches Phillips, and he looks angry. He tells her she should have told him.
Outside, Phillips tells Devlin that Diane was her best mate at uni and she was raped by her boyfriend and her roommate. She took a load of pills, and quit school and went home. She thought she could never have kids because of the rape. She lent her the money to go see Merrick for treatment. She went to Merrick’s to find out what he had done, and now he will walk free, and it is all her fault.
Back at Crown v Merrick, Castle is giving Steel a pep talk before trial. Later, Merrick is in the witness box, testifying that Phillips asked to the drugs and want it, even asking to get rid of the nurse, saying she wanted it “good and hard.” He says he was devastated when he was arrested for rape. Steel cross examines, and asks if Merrick calls all of his women dirty bitches, and Merrick says it is part of the role-play, and it made him uncomfortable. Steel says he seemed quite at home with it. Merrick says he was stupid and weak. Steel asks him what role is he playing today, which is the real you? Steel reminds him Merrick didn’t know he was being filmed – that was the real Dr. Merrick on film. Merrick insists Phillips ask for it. Steel asks if his other victims asked for it, and as Gladstone protests, Merrick says he never hurt any woman. Steel asks, what about his wife, didn’t she hang himself and leave a note about getting away form the pain. The judge tells the jury to disregard his remarks, but Merrick says he wants to answer that. He says his wife was manic-depressive and she could not conceive. The pain she cause was that he could help other infertile women but not her. He dedicated his life to empowering women and he did not rape her.
Later, the jury reads the verdict of not guilty of rape, and Phillips looks devastated, and Merrick looks creepily happy. Afterwards in the robe room, Steel argues the issue with Gladstone, and he tells her Merrick will not stop.
Outside, Steel tries to console Phillips, and she says she should have told her about Diane. Steel says unless someone else come forward, they will never get him. She says no one will come forward, and she walks off. Later, Steel tells Castle it’s not over. Merrick’s victims all think they are alone, and it Merrick is arrested in public, it may trigger them to speak out and help give them the evidence they need.
At the unit, Steel tells Devlin that Merrick is giving a talk the next day on the latest development on curing ovarian cancer, and there will be television cameras there. He asks Devlin if he is OK with it, and he says he is more than OK. He later talks with Chandler if she is OK with it, and she tells them to wait until they start filming.
As Merrick is giving his speech, Devlin and Brooks walk in, and Merrick become rattled. Merrick stumbles in his speech, and Devlin approaches and loudly says they are arresting him for suspicion of rape, the cameras snapping. Devlin tells him to smile for the cameras. Afterwards, Castle and Steel watch a news story on television where Gladstone says she will fight for those wrongly accused. Castle asks him if they have a case yet, and Steel says they are working on it.
Later, Gladstone and Merrick are talking with Steel, Gladstone saying that Perkins still won’t give evidence. She says they have nothing and this is a bluff. Steel gets on the phone and asks someone to come in. Phillips enters with a pile of files of 14 women who were either assaulted or raped by Dr. Merrick, They all came forward within the last 24 hours due to his arrest. Merrick asks why she is doing this, and Phillips tells him one of the women is Diane Perkins. Gladstone stands up and says they can’t get away with this.
In Castle’s office, Gladstone expresses her outrage at their little scheme and how it could have backfired, but Castle says it all worked out for them. Gladstone says she will be filing a report with the bar council, and Castle says “Good luck with that.” Steel wants Merrick to spend a week locked in a room with his victims, but he will settle for a life sentence.
Afterwards, Phillips is at her desk, and Steel tells her to go home and get some sleep. She continues to work. Castle is in his office, having a drink, and Steel is at his desk, when Steel sees Phillips turn off the lights and walk out. Natalie Chandler is walking down the street, shopping bags in hand. Brooks is outside chatting on the telephone. Phillips continues to walk along the street, alone. Devlin walks out of a building, and puts on his scarf and walks off. Phillips continues to walk alone, a blank look on her face, as we pull back to an aerial view of London light up at night, as we fade to black.
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