Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Law & Order UK “Help” Recap & Review

Law & Order UK “Help” was based on the original Law & Order episode titled “We Like Mike” written by Gardner Stern and I.C. Rapoport from season 7. It’s an episode that even casual Law & Order fans are familiar. But, rather than do an exact re-telling of the “Mike Bodack” story, “Help” made enough changes to the plot to make the episode feel new.

Brooks (Bradley Walsh) and Devlin (Jamie Bamber) are making for a very comfortable team, and with each episode it seems we are given a look into Ronnie’s odd eating habits and Devlin’s sometimes amusing disgust for them. Brooks shows that he can keep his cool, though, when he gets a gun pointed at him by a suspect. Devlin, on the other hand, seems to be very rattled by this, and I think that was his own concern for Ronnie's safety. I really like these two more and more with each episode. I was also enjoyed the scene where Natalie Chandler (Harriet Walter) really put the screws to a suspect in order to get him to talk. The show should find more ways to use her talents.

While the legal portion of the case was somewhat predictable, I liked the underlying suspense that somehow the judge was compromised. Maybe had he not been up to his eyeballs in trouble with the case, James Steel (Ben Daniels) may have pushed a little harder to challenge the judge. It would be nice if they could come up with an episode later on where Steel’s gut feeling about the judge were proven right.

While Law & Order UK is using stories from the US Law & Order as a basis for their episodes, the writing, the cast, the camera work, and the location makes it seem very new and fresh. I went into this episode thinking I was going to see the same old story, but I was pleasantly surprised – this one was great!

Here is the recap:

Robbie Nichols is found dead next to his car, killed while changing the tire. DS Ronnie Brooks (Bradley Walsh) and DS Matt Devlin (Jamie Bamber) try to track down the only witness. With help from an area florist, they find the man in question had been in the florist shop looking for flowers for his impending wedding. After checking with some churches with weddings for the day in question, they find out that the witness is Mike Jones (Lorcan Cranitch). At MIU Central headquarters, the detectives find that Jones has a record. They question him, and he says he saw Robbie Nichols with the flat tire and offered to help him change the tire. But, he said he was just a good Samaritan and did not have anything to do with his death.
The detectives check out Jones’ activities for that night and they speak with his boss and find that Jones left work that day hours earlier than what he told the detectives. They also found that Jones paid for his wedding the day before – 5.5 grand, in cash. They arrest him.
Back at MIU, under questioning, he admits he was working a second job. He admits he changed the wheel, which is why his DNA was on the napkins and on the tire changer. Under pressure, Jones admits he saw the person who murdered Robbie and the man took over for Jones to help Robbie change the tire. He is afraid of that other person who was there – Don Marsh.
It seems Marsh is known for illegal activities and even killings. The March brothers have also paid off coppers and it is believed they have a judge in their pocket. DI Natalie Chandler tells the detectives to work the case in a secure office – and watch their backs.
As the detectives research the case, they find Robbie frequents a casino – The Palms – which is owned by Donald Marsh. They investigate this lead, and find that Robbie seems to be a big gambler and owes to Marsh’s casino. Chandler gets warrants to search Marsh’s office and tells the detectives to quietly get a support team of only those people they trust. They later serve Marsh (David Kennedy) with the warrant. As Marsh is being arrested, in another area, a man by the name of Charlie pulls a gun on Ronnie. As Ronnie tries to diffuse the situation, Devlin calls it in. Ronnie manages to calm him down and get the gun.
Back at MIU, the detectives find that Robbie’s watch was found in Charlie’s bag. They question him about it, and Chandler really turns up the heat on him. Charlie admits that Marsh gave it to him as a finder’s fee for finding Nichols because Nichols owed him money. But March refuses to comment when Devlin questions him about it.
The detectives review the case with CP James Steel (Ben Daniels) and Alesha Phillips (Freema Agyeman), and Steel will charge Marsh with murder. When they ask about the status of Mike Jones, Steel says they will have him released. Later, when Alesha speaks with Mike Jones after his release, Jones is irate that they ruined his wedding. But Steel tells Alesha there is a new problem.

At Central Criminal Court, James Steel has to answer to why 2 pieces of evidence – the watch and the fingerprints – were now missing from police properties storeroom. Steel says they suspected a uniformed officer who removed the evidence on Marsh’s behalf, an accusation Marsh’s brief Jason Peters (Eddie Marsan) denies. Judge Burchville (Michael Cochrane) says he would entertain an application for dismissal, and this incenses Steel.

At Crown v Marsh, Charlie looks as if he’s been intimidated by Marsh, even though Charlie has been in witness protection. Later, Steel discusses this with Director George Castle (Bill Paterson); it seems Charlie has now said everything he told the police was a lie. The talk about Judge Burchville, and Steel thinks that the judge seemed too quick to accept the change of story.

Back at Crown v Marsh, Steel is arguing that the jury has a right to know about Marsh’s previous conviction, but the judge says he already ruled on that. Steel continues to press his point but the judge tells him to move on or he will hold him in contempt. Steel scoffs at this and the judge shows his displeasure.

Later, Steel and Phillips speaks with Castle, who is supportive of Steel. Steel said that Burchville asked to be assigned to this trial, but Castle says that does not mean he is in Marsh’s pocket. But Steel says Burchville is blocking him every chance he gets. Now all they have is Mike Jones as a witness, but he is not answering their calls. They also did not have him ID Marsh before he got released. Phillips says she will track Jones down and do some groveling.

At the Warren Hotel, Phillips speaks with Jones, who is working. He does not want to help and he knows what Marsh cab do to him. She tells him he is a good man and he did the right thing and got screwed for it. She is appealing to the decent person who stopped to help a stranger and he can help Robbie Nichols again.

Back at MIU, Jones returns and identifies Marsh. But, he gets a call saying his fiancée Fiona has been attacked.

Later, Steel and Phillips speak with Fiona and she describes her attack and that she was threatened that Jones should not talk about Marsh. Marsh wants to now keep his mouth shut and wants them to leave. Steel says they can have him rearrested as a material witness and Jones tells him to do that.
Steel confers with Castle about the new developments. They need to flush out who is the one leaning on Jones. Steel tells Phillips to set up a meeting with Jason and Don Marsh.

At the Legal Visits Room at Ashbridge Prison, they speak with Jason and Marsh. Steel says they have witness who wants to talk, no matter what someone says to him or his fiancée. Marsh says he will take his chances.

Later, Phillips chides Steel for not telling her what he was doing, and that he is playing Russian roulette with Jones’ life. Steel says he has no other choice. Meanwhile, Brooks and Devlin have Marsh's brother Harry’s phone lines tapped and under surveillance. Harry leaves his home and takes something out of his mobile phone and throws it down a drain.

At CPS, Devlin tells Steel and Phillips that Mike Jones got a threatening call and that Marsh’s brother was observed throwing his phone SIM card down the drain and then threw the phone in a bin. They have confirmation that Jones was called from that phone. Steel wants Harry Marsh charged with intimidation of murder and to set up a meeting with Jones.

Later, Steel and Phillips tell Jones and his fiancée Fiona (Elizabeth Ride) that both Marsh brothers are behind bars, and but Fiona doesn’t believe they can protect them. Mike, however, agrees to help them.

Back at trial, Robbie Nichols' sister Jennifer (Matti Houghton) testifies and Jason asks about when she saw Mike Jones with grease on his hands, and then implies Mike was fleeing from a crime scene. But there is another problem – Mike Jones hasn’t arrived in court. Steel asks for, and gets, adjournment for an hour.
Later, Steel speaks with Marsh and asks where is Mike Jones. Marsh is flip about it. Afterwards, Phillips tells Steel that Jones has been arrested. He gave his bodyguards the slip and was pulled over for driving with a faulty brake light – he doesn’t have a license or insurance AND he was driving as a cabbie.

At the Camden police station, Jones tells Steel that Fiona left him. Steel is upset that he promised to testify, but Jones says Camden wants him to give evidence against the owner of the cab company and Steel wants him to testify against Marsh and he is being torn apart. He lost his job with the hotel too. Steel promises to help him and says the law works because of people like him. Jones lawyer doesn’t want Jones to do it, but Steel begs Jones to help.

Back in court, Mike Jones is on the stand and Jason brings out that Jones was working for a cab company that was operating illegally. When Steel objects to Jones’s work being brought up, the judge disagrees and orders Jones to testify. Jason attacks Jones credibility and his previous lies to the police. Steel rebuts, asking Jones to explain why he lied to the police. Jones said he was scared and he just wanted to get home, he didn’t think. Jones sees Fiona enter the courtroom. He admits he made mistakes, but says the right thing now is to tell what he saw. He says he saw Marsh with Robbie Nichols right before he was murdered, and thinks every day about if he would have stayed or not been scared, none of this would have happened,

While they wait for the verdict, Steel speaks with Jason and Jason says Steel’s downfall is that he cares. Steel says he can’t think of a better way to go.

In court, Donald Marsh is found guilty. As Jones leave the courtroom. Steel nods his thanks to him.

Back in Steel’s office, Steel tells Phillips that Jones gave his word that he’ll stick to working in the kitchen and Steel will peak to his defense. Steel says they were lucky to get him as a witness. Phillips asks how Steel convinced Fiona to come to court, and he thought Phillips did that. Phillips says the entire British justice system is frightening, it depends on the decency of a Mike Jones. Steel says it is reassuring, and we fade to black.

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Anonymous said...

What's this epi number and season???
I can't find anything about it!!

All Things Law and Order said...

It depends on where the episode aired. On ITV, "Help" is series 4 episode 5. In the US and in Canada, it is the second last episode of series 2. ITV split season one and two into 4 seasons while Canada and the US did not.