Friday, September 17, 2010

Law & Order UK “Hounded” Recap & Review

All photos from ITV

Last night’s new episode of Law & Order UK, “Hounded” was based on an original Law & Order episode titled “Mad Dog” written by Rene Balcer. The original story is very familiar to Law & Order fans; it was a creepy episode about a paroled rapist who claims to have been rehabilitated. Jack McCoy doesn’t buy it and hounds the parolee. The question raised in the original: was the parolee still a stone cold rapist and killer, or did the stress of McCoy’s hounding drive the man to the brink and cause him to offend again? While UK’s “Hounded” followed the same storyline, James Steel didn’t seem quite as unhinged as McCoy in the original episode - but he got his point across.

The episode was solid and I liked it for several reasons. An obvious plus is a great cast; I enjoy Brooks (Bradley Walsh) and Devlin (Jamie Bamber), and Ben Daniels is very believable as prosecutor with a mission to put away a man who Steel believes is not rehabilitated. What I really appreciate may not be obvious to most viewers - it’s the great camera work, the location scenes, and the lighting. There isn’t one person or place that looks bad in this episode, with everyone’s face and surroundings being lit to perfection. I was also struck in the first scene by what seemed to be a Kubrick-esk setting (at the parole hearing) which reminded me of a scene from "2001: A Space Odyssey". Maybe because I’ve done a lot of photography over my lifetime I tend to notice how scenes or people are framed and lighted. Frankly I think this is one of the best filmed shows of the Law & Order brand.

Here is the recap:

The episode opens with the parole hearing for Paul Darnell (Kevin Doyle) and James Steel (Ben Daniels) is present. Darnell was incarcerated for being a violent sex offender, but despite Steel’s objections, Darnell is released.
At a later date, DS Ronnie Brooks (Bradley Walsh) and DS Matt Devlin (Jamie Bamber) are called in to what could be a death by natural causes, or it could be rape and murder. As they investigate Ashanti Walker’s death, it begins to look more like the latter. Her boyfriend Ray Cole (Josef Altin) has an alibi. The lock on the entrance to the apartment next door seems tampered and the detectives find that there is a way that someone could get from the basement of that apartment into Ashanti’s building.

When the detectives research possible suspects, Darnell is on the list and Steel wants them to focus on Darnell. But, he only has a tenuous connection to the area where the crime was committed – he grew up there and lived in a building with a layout like the victim’s. They arrest him anyway and get a warrant for his apartment where they find sex DVDs and latex gloves. He also had cuts on his body but forensics found no DNA, no gouges, no bite marks – and Darnell has no body hair. As Darnell is completely shaved they worry he was getting ready to rape again.

In interrogation, Darnell gets upset when they question him about the layouts of the area’s apartments where he lived as a boy. They also have him on CCTV video in the area the day of the murder. His says it was his therapist’s idea to go back to his old neighborhood to deal with the past. Steel barges into interrogation and wants Darnell charged and Darnell gets enraged and denies it, saying someone else did it.

At a hearing, Darnell pleads not guilty and Steel argues against bail but the judge allows it.

As there is no evidence at the scene linking Darnell to the murder, all they have is that he was in the area and that he has a pattern of rape and “bad character.” The judge allows Steel to include Darnell’s previous convictions into evidence. The defense attorney Cassie Shaw (Neve McIntosh) later confronts Steel and says Steel has a grudge.

But, Darnell gets recalled to prison for allegedly trying to enter a young girls house. Steel and Alesha Phillips (Freeman Agyeman) question the girl involved, Kim (Aimee-Ffion Edwards), and later in court, the defense attorney implies Kim claimed she said he was there to get attention. Darnell testifies that he was not there and has never seen Kim before, adding says he was only in the area of Ashanti’s death to prove the area did not hold fear for him any longer. He breaks down on the stand, saying his uncle used to beat him as a child while his mother was watching and drinking. He claims he saw no one while he was in the area. Under Steel’s questioning, he says he started shaving his body hair when he got out of prison (for raping three girls) as he developed OCD. Steel brings up the DVDs in his apartment and claims Darnell still gets aroused by rape, but Darnell denies it. Steel turns up the heat on Darnell and Darnell starts to make comments about Kim’s appearance, citing traits he could have only seen on her outside the courtroom, it looks damning for Darnell. He then admits he had seen her before and wanted to have sex but he never followed her, and says Steel can’t put him away for what he might do.

Later, the defense brings in Darnell’s fiancée Judy Johnson (Julia Ford) to testify and says Darnell has changed and is a good man. But Steel implies that Darnell is more interested in Julie’s daughter. Lucy and wonders if Judy can trust Darnell with her around. She admits she and Darnell had not even had sex yet, and Steel questions why Darnell can’t respond to her sexually. She says the day of Ashanti’s death, Darnell bought her flower and wine that day, and Steel implies Darnell did it because he was cheating on her.

Shaw then tells the judge she wants to recall Kim to re-examine her. When Kim is called to the stand, Shaw confronts Kim saying Kim told a friend she was not sure it was Darnell at her door. Kim admits that she is not sure it was Darnell at her back door, but he was following her. Darnell is later found not guilty of all charges.

In George Castle’s (Bill Paterson) office, Castle expresses his displeasure with Steel and Phillips, saying they don’t need to drag the law down the sewer to catch a rat. He tells Steel to move on. But Steel doesn’t move on, and asks Natalie Chandler (Harriet Walter) to watch Darnell, but she says Darnell has been attacked and persecuted. She thinks this may drive him to rape, since he’s shown he does so under stress. Steel just wants Darnell to be contained. He later agues the point with Castle but Castle tells him again to accept there is nothing more he can do.

Steel meets with a beaten and bruised Darnell and Steel accuses Darnell of still being the same. He says he wants to get rehabbed, and Steel says his application will be turned down and says he can’t let him move as his new location would be next to a residence of a teenage girl.

Later, back in his office, Steel and Alesha get word from Castle that DS Brooks called; when they arrive at Judy Johnson's home, the detectives are there and Darnell is dead. Judy came home and found Darnell with her daughter with a bag over her face and a knife to her throat. Judy had said Darnell could stay at her place for a few days because of the threats at his apartment. Her daughter had been staying at a friend's house and did not tell her mother she was coming over. Steel looks on Darnell’s dead body, and then turns and walks away as we fade to black.

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Anonymous said...

I'm really enjoying this show, although I'm still not sure Dr Who's former assistant has the acting chops to play Alesha.

Now, if we could just hear the 'official' death knell for poor dejected LOCI...

Anonymous said...

Loved yesterday's episode.Quite disturbing.
I agree about Freema. She's the weak link in the ensemble and should be replaced.
I heard the ratings were down another 800,000 viewers.

Mrk2p said...

"Frankly I think this is one of the best filmed shows of the Law & Order brand"

Im so glad someone else agrees with me
I picked up a dvd of this last month
and I cant stop watching the episodes...its extremely addicting
:) love this show!

janethyland said...

Official overnight TV ratings give Law and Order UK 3.89million( 16.8% of audience share), which is down a million from the premiere, which was down from last season.

The Young Ones,which is a sort of factual reality show,won the slot at 4.1million and 17% of audience.

Placing is the same as usual,following Coronation Street which always draws 7million plus.Not much competition last week. Football took some of the crowd this week. Next week there is greater competion around from the likes of Holby City etc.

Time of year is different. Autumn is always peak viewing time of year. Maybe they should have held off til after christmas.

janethyland said...

Nice second photo by the way. Reminds me of the camera work in LOCI.