Law & Order UK “Anonymous” was based on a season 8 episode of Law & Order titled “Stalker” written by Kathy McCormick. In that episode, Lennie Briscoe and Rey Curtis found themselves at opposite ends when Lennie changes his mind about how they handled a stalking case, but Rey does not, and McCoy skewers Rey on the stand. “Anonymous” was a great tribute to that episode, and while it didn’t quite have the edginess of the original Briscoe/Curtis scuffle; it was still hard to watch Devlin be made the fool by CP Ben Steel. It seems clear to me that had Chandler not threatened Devlin with losing his job if he changed his police report - after having the benefit of hindsight - that maybe Devlin would have otherwise openly changed his conclusion as did Ronnie Brooks.
It was also clear that Brooks was highly motivated to find evidence that would support changing his story, something he felt compelled to do after the stalking victim turns up dead, and realizing they may have been able to prevent it.
Some complain that Law & Order UK is taking the easy way out by using stories from the original Law & Order and just re-imagining them for UK viewers. But, I believe this only validates the high quality of the original series and their stories, as many years later the situations and cases still remain relevant and compelling. The UK cast is top notch and I like every single one of them, something that hasn’t always happened in the Law & Order universe. I am happy that Law & Order UK has given such a fitting tribute to the strength of the original show and I’m glad that more episodes have been commissioned.
Here is the recap:
When a Stephanie Blake (Michelle Bonnard) is found unconscious at the bottom of a stairway, DS Ronnie Brooks (Bradley Walsh) and DS Matt Devlin (Jamie Bamber) are called to the scene. There were no witnesses to her actual fall. The detectives check her flat. Stephanie is a nurse at a children’s hospital. They find several emails from someone called “Giovanni.”
Back at MIU Central Headquarters, the detectives confer with DI Natalie Chandler (Harriet Walter) and tell her about the volume of emails from Giovanni. It seems like he was watching her and stalking her. She is still sedated at the hospital. Stephanie had reported the stalking to a DS Fraser at Northcross.
At Northcross CSU, DS Jemma Fraser (Sarah Woodward) tells the detectives that the guy is clever and has been impossible to track. Stephanie’s job put her on the day shift so she would not have to work at night but she was convinced he was in her flat when she wasn’t there. She moved and then he began to threaten her. They stepped up her threat level. They also got word that a prisoner at Ashbridge prison had asked to have Stephanie's mobile number added to his list of allowed numbers. She never heard of him and she only had that mobile number for a few weeks.
At Ashbridge in the visitor’s room, the detectives speak with Shane Morgan (Mark White) who insists he just put the wrong phone number on his list. But they said he also had her name on his list. They think he was involved, but he said a bloke called Lowry asked him to add the number because she was some bird he wanted to hook up with. Lowry got out last week.
The detectives go to Lowry’s flat and speak with a woman who describes Lowry’s creepy behavior and indicates he groped her. Later, after they have tracked down Russell Lowry (Rocky Marshall), Brooks and Devlin have him in the interrogation room. He says he met Stephanie in a bar a month ago and they clicked and she gave him her number. But he got remanded to prison for assault. He asked Shane to add his number because Shane wanted cigarette and Russell had a lot of calls to make. He is between jobs. He says he did not contact Stephanie again, and he likes to “spread the love.”
Later, Devlin shows CP Alesha Phillips (Freema Agyeman) an email that Giovanni sent to Stephanie which used the phrase "spread the love.” But, they have no real evidence connecting Lowry. They know Lowry just sold his laptop and they need to track down the buyer. She asks them to talk to the female neighbor who was groped by Lowry. Chandler tells them Stephanie has regained consciousness.
At the hospital, the detectives show Stephanie a photo of Lawry and she does not know him. She says she does not go to bars. She doesn’t know if that is who attacked her as he grabbed her from behind. She explains how her attack happened, saying that she was taking out the garbage, but that detail is inconsistent. She said he did say he was Giovanni. The only name she ever came up as a possible stalker was Lucas Dutton, as he always seemed to be following her. She is distraught and begs them to help her and make him stop.
Later, outside walking and eating on the fly, the detectives tell Chandler that Dutton has no record and has a job. They may have hit a brick wall with Lowry but he had been in prison for computer fraud for hacking into people’s bank accounts. He didn’t get out until last July. Brooks wonder if he did his emails on a phone but Chandler thinks the emails are too long to do by phone. Lowry’s neighbor had Lowry “banged up” for sexual assault so he is back in prison.
Brooks and Devlin speak to Lucas Dutton (Matt Cross) outside his flat, and he is reluctant to talk to them. They notice a video camera pointed out his window and then decide they don’t need a warrant. Devlin pounds on Dutton’s door.
Back in MIU with Dutton and his lawyer, they are trying to get Dutton for on line obscenities and bring up the videos he is taking. They ask him about Stephanie falling down the stairs and he doesn’t know what they are about.
The detectives go back to the building where Stephanie lives and Mrs. Golofsky (Eileen Essell) tells them Stephanie's mother came to collect some of Stephanie’s clothes and that there was a terrible smell coming from Stephanie’s flat. The detectives later recall that Stephanie said she had already taken out the garbage at the time of the attack. Later. they find that the day before the attack, Stephanie spoke with DS Fraser who told Stephanie they didn’t have enough to pursue the attack and that the situation would only change if they felt Stephanie was in immediate danger. The next day Stephanie fell down the stairs. Brooks says it doesn’t add up.
Back at MIU, Brooks and Devlin question Stephanie about the issue with her rubbish. She feels that they don’t believe her. They tell her they know what DS Fraser told her and imply that she staged the accident and exaggerated in order to get attention to her case. She insists that Giovanni still continues to harass her and they won’t help her. She breaks down and says she is dead unless they help her and they don’t believe she needs help. Devlin says they can’t investigate a crime that has not happened. She whispers, “He’s gonna kill me.”
Later, Devlin tells Phillips he knows Stephanie was desperate but that was not the way to go. She thinks they should charge her. They can’t link Dutton to the original emails. Lowry is now out of prison. Phillips wants a copy of Devlin’s police report for the hospital lawyer as the hospital spent a lot of money on security for Stephanie and if she is lying they will probably fire her. He asks her to email him the hospital contact details and he will handle it.
Back at MIU, Chandler brings in a report – Stephanie Blake has been murdered, beaten and stabbed. At the scene, they see she was on the phone, she had just called 999.
Back at MIU, Brooks, Devlin Phillips and CP James Steel (Ben Daniels) listen to a recording of Stephanie’s frantic 999 call and she is creaming as she is being killed. She says it is the man in the picture. They think it Lowry’s mug shot and thinks if it were Dutton attacking her she would use his name as she knows him. Steel says to find enough that they can charge him.
At Lowry’s apartment, he admits he is a fan of classical music and has 25 recordings of Don Giovanni. Later, Phillips relays this information to Steel and CPS Director George Castle (Bill Paterson). They tracked down his laptop but it had been reconditioned. Castle reminds them he was in prison when the emails started. When Castle asks how certain Brooks and Devlin are sure that Lowry is their man, Steel says they let him go and a woman got killed and that is certain. Steel says it is gut instinct and he is going to send the detectives to Rotheram to figure out how he did it.
At Woodberry Prison in Rotheram, the detectives speak with the prison governor think that Lowry had access to computers while working the prison’s on line marketing facility, but they are told Lowry’s computer fraud record kept him away from working in that area.
Back at CPS, Steel tells Castle their IT expert confirms the emails came from the prison but can’t nail it down to the marketing area. Lowry’s cellmate Keith Wilson - who did have access - may have been helping. All they have on Lowry is the 999 call. But Phillips sees that Lowry once worked at a call center of a charity animal rescue organization and during that time, Stephanie set up a direct debit from her account to that organization and it was Lowry who signed her up as a donor. This means he had all her bank details and phone number and he could find all records of her purchase.
Back at Woodberry, Steel and Phillips speak with Keith Wilson (Rowe David McLelland) and tell him they think he helped Lowry. He denies helping him, and they say he must have sent the emails so they will charge him with aiding and abetting a murder. He admits that he did let Lowry have access.
At CPS, the Steel and Phillips tell Castle that Lowry helped Wilson get into the program so Wilson owed Lowry a favor. Wilson also suggested Lowry help the guy running the program to fix a firewall problem and now Lowry is unofficial IT support and the governor is turning a blind eye. This would give Lowry access to the entire computer system.
In Judge Robert Quinn’s (Richard Clothier) chambers, Steel argues the use of the 999 call which included Stephanie’s scream about her attacker being in the photo as a means to identify Lowry. Lowry’s barrister Evelyn Wyndham (Anna Chancellor) is there. Wyndham says since Stephanie lied about her recent attack with police that she cannot be considered reliable. The judge rules the tape is admissible but the defense gets to introduce evidence that questions Stephanie’s character.
Steel later gives this news to Brooks and Devlin and they can’t prove that Giovanni was escalating. All he can get is cyber stalking. If the first attack had actually happened, things would be different.
Back at MIU, Brooks and Devlin give the news to Stephanie’s mother Jean Blake (Chrissie Cotterill) and it distresses her and is upset that she came to them for help and he killed her. She says Stephanie was not a liar.
Later, the detectives discuss the issue with Chandler and it is clear Brooks is having regrets about how they handled the case. She tells him not to let guilt affect his memory and it could undermine the credibility of his department. Devlin also has regrets and Chandler reminds him that it is his name on the report and if he goes back on his word, that is the end of his career.
Back in Stephanie’s apartment, Brooks tries to get Mrs. Golofsky remember if someone rang the bell that night and it she buzzed someone in.
Brooks then tells Steel that their interpretation of the original evidence was flawed and wants to change his conclusions. Steel is concerned about the precedent this would set, but Brooks is adamant they made a mistake and says it is not about putting Lowry away; they jumped to conclusions and he has the evidence to back up his new conclusion. Steel will apply to amend the indictment and charge Lowry with attempted murder. After Brooks leaves, Phillips and Steel discuss why Brooks changed his mind, and Steel seems to think they should just look at Brook’s evidence and accept that he changed his mind.
At Crown v Lowry pre-trial review, Brooks testifies that Stephanie’s landlady let in someone assuming it was another tenant, but he verified it wasn’t another tenant, and Brooks conclude it was Stephanie’s attacker. Brooks reminds them there was no forensic evidence at the first scene of the fall, and neither was there any at the scene where Stephanie was actually murdered, and the attacker was clever. Wyndham questions Brooks on his motives and says didn’t his original report indicate Stephanie made it all up. She drags Devlin’s name into it, and Brooks says Devlin agrees with his new conclusion.
Back at MIU, Chandler, with Devlin present, asks Brooks what he was thinking by saying Devlin agreed. He says she asked his opinion and he gave it to her. Chandler says Brooks gave Devlin’s opinion, and Devlin says Brooks could have warned him. Both Chandler and Devlin are annoyed at Brooks. She puts Brooks on “gardening leave” until the end of the trial. Afterwards, Devlin argues with Brooks about what he did and is upset that Brooks did not include him. Devlin is upset and yells at Brooks that they both agreed Stephanie faked the attack and thanks to him Lowry will walk. He tells Brooks he has been called for the defense and will not lie.
Castle tells Phillips and Steel that Devlin is going to stand by his original report. Phillips tells them that one of the hospital lawyer asked to see a copy of the police report so they could fire Stephanie, and Devlin told Phillips to leave it with him. Stephanie was never fired.
In the Old Bailey Robing Room in central criminal court, Steel goes over the what Phillips heard from the hospital lawyer. She asks Steel if he is sure about this.
Devlin is called as a witness and says his first investigation showed no crime and his opinion was that she faked the attack and he stands by the report. Under cross examination, Steel brings up the fact that Devlin was not involved in Brook’s re-examination of the case, and Devlin says that the case was closed and was confident their conclusion was correct. Steel gets Devlin to testify they were able to link Lowry to Giovanni but Devlin would not conclude that Stephanie was in lethal danger from him. He asks when did Devlin reached that conclusion – when Stephanie was found dead? Devlin seems to stick to his story. But Steel brings up the fact that Devlin spoke with the hospital administrator saying Stephanie WAS in danger from Lowry and asks if Devlin lied then. He says he felt sorry for her and did not want her to lose her job. He wasn’t lying then, but he is not lying now. Steel badgers Devlin, saying that Devlin was just covering up for his own incompetence.
Afterwards, Phillips chides Steel for going that far but he says he went as far as he needed to. He adds today Devlin was collateral damage.
Later, Lowry is found guilty of attempted murder and murder. Devlin walks out of the courtroom.
Outside, Brooks tries to smooth things over with Devlin. Devlin tells him he put him in an impossible position and stood by while Steel called him a bad and stupid copper. Brooks tries to make a joke of it and then asks Devlin, “too soon?” As they look off to the skyline, we fade to black.
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