Friday, September 10, 2010
Law & Order UK “Broken” Recap & Review
I had a chance to see the opening episode of Series 3 of Law & Order UK titled "Broken" and decided to prepare a full recap. With the new season of Law & Order SVU and Law & Order: LA now both airing on Wednesday nights, I will likely have the time to only prepare very brief summaries of those episodes. This may be the last detailed recap I do for a while.
Law & Order UK “Broken” opened Series 3 with a very somber case about the death of a child, which turned out to be at the hands of another child. It’s a story that has been done more than once in the Law & Order universe, but this UK episode had a sadder, more desperate tone to it, aided by good acting and good choices for the background soundtrack. I like watching Law & Order UK for what seems to be a more formal and serious approach to dealing with the cases, and also to get a glimpse at how the UK criminal justice system works. I also enjoy the cast very much – Bradley Walsh and Jamie Bamber make a great detective team, and Daniels and Agyeman having great chemistry as they navigate the legal system with the expected stoicism. I am also impressed with the excellent camera work with both studio sets and location settings chosen – everything and everyone looks filmed to look their best. I continue to wish that these would air in the U.S. as I think viewes would really enjoy the change of pace.
The question this case asks is can the legal system be lenient when it comes to murder when the murder is committed by a child? Should the parents of the victims have a say in how the case is tried? Should the tabloids stop trying cases in the media in order to sell their publications? In this case, it seems that the murdering child clearly had outside influences that may have lead to her killing, but, not every case happens this way. While the episode seemed to paint the legal system as being too narrow regarding the prosecution, there may be many times where children who kill other children – or anyone else for that matter – need to be treated as killers. It’s not a situation that can be painted with a broad brush approach.
Here is the recap:
“Broken” opens with a death of a 5 year old boy, Connor Reid, which who appeared to be beaten and strangled to death, with some “Crackle Candy” left in his mouth. When DS Matt Devlin (Jamie Bamber) and DS Ronnie Brooks (Bradley Walsh) arrive on the sad crime scene, Brooks comments “Just when you think you’ve seen it all.” The detectives have to question other children, and notify the boy’s mother, Julie Reid (Lorraine Stanley) about the murder, adding to their growing sense of tragedy.
It looks like the neighbor’s boyfriend, Rob Denton (Ricky Champ), a mechanic was last spotted with Connor, may be the killer, but he implicated another young girl, Paige Ward (Annie Cull) who he spotted with Connor. Paige in turn implicated her friend Rose Shaw (Romy Irving). But, Rose also picks out Denton as the person last seen with Connor walking out of his flat. The detectives get a shock when the ever-present CCTV (closed circuit TV) video clearly shows Connor leaving with Paige and Rose.
Paige and Rose are brought in for questioning, but Rose’s mother freaks out and leaves Rose there to be questioned. Paige, on the other hand, seems to be close to breaking under Devlin’s questioning. It’s Connor mother who seems to be the most affected by the pressure of young children being questioned, though. Devlin continues to press on with Paige, and she cracks under the pressure and implicates Rose, describing the murder in detail. Both girls are arrested.
SCP James Steel (Ben Daniels) and CP Alesha Phillips (Freema Agyeman) discuss the daunting “kids killing kids” case that faces them. Paige’s brief (her lawyer) wants Paige to be treated like a witness, and Steel wants Paige to plead guilty to assisting, with Paige getting immunity. Rose’s brief Kim Sharkey (Deborah Findlay), however, discloses a ton of information to Steel that he must get through right before the hearing.
During the hearing the girls seem to be treating the situation lightly. Sharkey wants Rose’s statements during her interview excluded, and uses the fact that she just disclosed this information to Steel just minutes before the hearing as her justification. Sharkey claims that Rose’s mother didn’t have the IQ to be able to act in Rose’s best interests. The judge grants Sharkey’s application to exclude the statement, dealing a huge blow to their case.
Steel and Phillips discuss the dilemma with DI Natalie Chandler (Harriet Walter) and George Castle (Bill Paterson). Castle, Steel, and Phillips review the matter with Connor’s mother Julie, who is being torn by the public attention to the case, with the public wanting revenge. Julie, however, can’t hate a child. Her commentary affects Castle. He wants to know what makes a child squeeze the life out of another child.
They have Rose speak with a psychiatrist, who believes Rose suffered abuse which changed the physiology of her nervous system and that her responsibility is diminished. But forensics show that the person who had her hands on the throat of Connor was Paige.
They bring Paige back in for questioning and Paige offers the explanation that she moved Connor to take him home to his mom. They realize that forensics could show that the blood was expelled during choking – or – while he was being moved as Paige said. Phillips thinks that the fact that Paige bites her nails, and that Rose has a defect in one of her nails which makes a mark on Connor’s neck, implicates Rose. They now have another piece of evidence which they take back to Sharkey, who writes the nail marks off to rough play. Steel wants to have Rose committed to a hospital rather than go to trial. Sharkey takes a pass, saying the case is a career maker for her.
Castle pushes for hospital treatment for Rose with the Director of Public Prosecutions, who wants to press on with the case. Later, Castle directs Steel to push for diminished capacity, not murder, saying to “screw the DPP.” While the case is being argued in court, again the girls seem oblivious to their predicament. The tabloids also are trying the case via their news publications. Outside the courtroom, Steel chastises Rose’s mother Kelly for whining to the tabloids in full view of news media. Phillips gives him the idea to call Kelly as a witness, where he makes it clear on the stand that she is a prostitute, and that maybe Rose saw videos of her mother in sexual videos of strangulation and cutting. He clearly makes Rose out to be an unfit mother. The verdict finds Rose guilty of murder, but the judge sentenced her to be detained for a minimum term of 12 years, and Rose sobs to her mother as they take her away.
Afterwards, Castle tells Connor’s mother that the psychiatrist will work with Rose while she is in the secure unit and when she is 15, Castle will personally appeal against her move to prison.
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