Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Law & Order UK “Shaken” Recap & Review

Law & Order UK “Shaken” was based on the original Law & Order Episode “Homesick” from season 6. If I recall correctly, in that episode, a baby dies as a result of something that one of his siblings did to him, not at the hands of the au pair, who was the initial suspect. In “Shaken”, it looks like the nanny and her boyfriend will take the fall. But not so fast – we get a twist where it’s the ex-wife of the baby’s father who is at fault. It’s an interesting case, featuring a less than thorough pediatric pathologist and the murder of the nanny’s boyfriend in prison, making for a complicated case for the CPS.

With the high quality writing and acting with Law & Order UK, even when using original Law & Order stories as a foundation, one can only think what kind of series this would be if L&O UK created their own stories from scratch. If there is such a thing as being better than excellent, I think they could possibly reach that level.

Here is the recap:

When Michael Raines comes home and finds the nanny, Leyla Merton (Rebecca Night) there with music blaring, he also finds his baby’s crib alarm has been turned off and baby Alex dead in bed. His wife Suzanne, returning home later, is devastated at the news. The pathologist Lucy Radley tells DS Ronnie Brooks (Bradley Walsh) and DS Matt Devlin (Jamie Bamber) that the baby seems to have died from shaken baby syndrome, likely within the last 12 hours of his life.

At MIU headquarters, lab tech Angela will work to retrieve the last recoding from the baby monitor. While the nanny is a live-in with no formal training, DI Natalie Chandler (Harriet Walter) tells the detectives to talk to the parents first. They do so, and the parents seemed to have taken actions to avoid “cot death”. Brooks tells them they don't think this is what killed the baby – someone shook him. Suzanne gets a call from work but takes it despite Michael asking her not to. When Devlin implies that the stress of her job was too much for Suzanne, Michael vehemently disagrees. Suzanne said Leyla took over early that morning and Suzanne did not open the doorto the baby's room before she left for work. Michael’s ex-wife Andrea has a key to the house, they share an on-line business with the office in Michael and Suzanne’s home.

At Hatton Garden, the detectives speak with Michael’s ex-wife Andrea and she mentioned that the nanny overdosed the baby a few months ago.

Back at MUI, the detectives confer with Chandler, Brooks explains Leyla’s accidental dosing of Calpol and that Leyla took Alex to the hospital as soon as she realized her error. Alex was fine. Chandler tells them to talk to the nanny. They do so, and Leyla confirms she took the baby to hospital as soon as she realized her mistake. Leyla comments that Suzanne liked only homeopathic meds and she gave Alex the Calpol so he would sleep. Leyla said the night he died Alex was asleep and said she thought he was asleep. Leyla seems very flip about the whole situation.
Later, Brooks, Devlin and Chandler talk about baby care. Chandler says control crying teaches babies to sleep. But Brooks disagrees, saying crying is the only way babies can communicate. Chandler tells them when they are done debating parenting techniques to speak to the last people who employed Leyla to see if there were any visits to casualty.

At the home of Mel Allen, she says she got a nanny cam and could hear the baby crying while Leyla was on the sofa having sex with her boyfriend.

Back at MIU, the lab tech Ange got access to Leyla’s email and social networking accounts and found her boyfriend Lloyd is in Afghanistan. She also found a video of them in an intimate situation. It was made the night the baby died, it finished the time when Michael came home. Leyla also alerted her boyfriend that Michael would be delayed and she will make sure the baby won’t get in the way.

They later speak with Leyla about it, and she says Lloyd would never hurt the baby. She denies hurting Alex and has no idea who would have, but she admits Lloyd was in the room, but not for long, and said he used to get his baby brothers to sleep all the time.

Later, the detectives speak with Chandler about Lloyd and he did have a baby brother who died at three months old of sudden infant death syndrome. Lloyd was babysitting.
At Tadmarton Green Barracks, Brooks and Devlin arrest Lloyd Benson under suspicion of murder of Alexander Raines. At MIU, Brooks question him while Chandler and Alesha Phillips (Freema Agyeman) watch. He says he never hurt his brother or Alex. He just tried to help Alex settle down by singing Blackbird by The Beatles. Brooks brings up an incent where Lloyd attacked a fellow member of his regiment and Lloyd said he was trying to break up a fight. When Brooks continue to pressure him. Lloyd gets irate and says the only person making him lose his temper is Brooks.
Devlin, meanwhile, speaks with Leyla telling her that Lloyd’s brother died of SIDS and he implies Lloyd killed Alex. Devlin asks her if she didn’t shake the baby it must have been Lloyd. Leyla says that the flashing light from the monitor went mad when Lloyd went in there and then it just stopped. Lloyd said he settled him and Alex was fast asleep.

Back with Brooks, he continues to press Lloyd and mentions that people are working on retrieving information from the hard drive of the baby monitor. Lloyd says Leyla went back in and began shouting at the baby, and she completely lost it. He went in after her and the baby was in the cot screaming. He did not pick up the baby. He turned off the baby monitor off.

Afterwards, Chandler tells Phillips and the detectives that if they are going to stick to their stories they will never get a confession out of either of them. Phillips says they can both be placed in the room so she wants to charge them both.

In court, Lloyd and Leyla are in the dock while CP James Steel (Ben Daniels) discusses Lloyd’s problems in the military and the death of his brother. The defense barristers argue for both Leyla and Lloyd but the judge remands both to custody.

Afterwards, Steel and Phillips speak to barrister Helena Marsden (Jemma Redgrave) who says Leyla did not kill the baby but Lloyd has history and motive. She makes and application to exclude the laptop and everything that was seized on it. Later, at a plea and case management hearing of Crown v Merton, Marsden argues that the search was illegal. Steel argues that Michael Raines gave permission to search Leyla’s room as it was in his house, but the judge disagrees, saying that the bedroom should be considered private. He rules the evidence from the laptop as inadmissible,
Steel reviews this with CPS Director George Castle (Bill Paterson). There is a concern that one will provide reasonable doubt for the other. Steel thinks the it’s best they just go after one of the two, if they can find out for certain which one of them did it.

Later, Devlin gives Phillips all the information they got from the baby monitor. She and Steel look at the video footage. The recording proves that Lloyd was telling the truth. They can hear Leyla yelling at the baby and Lloyd telling her to go back into the bedroom. The time code said the monitor went off at 8:21:07 – and 19 seconds later the web cam in Leyla’s room is turned on. There was not enough time to shake a baby to death. Lloyd could not have shaken Alex.

In the legal visits room in Ashbridge prison, they tell Lloyd's superior officer that the charges against Lloyd will be dropped. But when it’s time for Lloyd to come in, they are instead told that Lloyd was stabbed by his cellmate a half hour ago and he’s dead.

At the White Horse pub, Steel and Marsden share a drink. Steel thinks Leyla is the only one who had opportunity. Marsden says she’ll see him in court.

At St. Colman’s Mortuary, Steel speaks with the pathologist, Lucy Radley, and he wants her to testify as an expert witness. She is reluctant as she does not get immunity. She says she is certain the baby was shaken, and Steel says the jury need to hear that.
At Crown v Merton, Lucy is on the stand and she explains shaken baby syndrome and that she found evidence that Alex was shaken to death. Unless he was in a car crash, she has no other explanation. Marsden challenges Lucy’s findings and Lucy stands firm. But Marsden asks if an accidental head injury can also cause the same symptoms and Lucy must agree this is a possibility. Marsden also brings out the fact that pediatric experts now doubt the existence of shaken baby syndrome and Lucy admits this is not her area of expertise. Lucy says she is an expert in pediatric forensic pathology and she did the post mortem. Marsden also asks if she examined the dura around the brain for a previous injury, and Lucy said no, to the best of her knowledge there was no previous injury.

Later, Michael’s ex wife testifies and implies that Leyla has been neglectful and that Alex had been ill. She also said that Leyla recently grabbed Alex and shoved him into the playpen, shouting that Leyla did not give a damn about the baby.
Suzanne also testifies that it broke her heart to leave Alex every day. But under cross examination, Marsden brings up Suzanne’s need to return to work quickly after Alex was born. Marsden tries to paint Suzanne in an unflattering light for going back to work rather than stay home and care for the baby. Suzanne did not know that Leyla had been recently fired from a previous job. When pressed about who referred the nanny company to her, Suzanne admits she doesn’t exactly know the person’s name. Marsden continues on about what happened that day with Suzanne and for being away from her home for 17 hours for her work. When Marsden makes more snide comments about Suzanne’s lack of devotion to her child, the judge warns her she may be held in contempt if she keeps it up. She asks Suzanne if Alex had any bumps to the heard recently and Suzanne said he just started crawling, of course he had bumps. She recalls an incident when he fell of his change when Michael was reaching for a nappy, it was 3 weeks before he died and the GP said he was fine.
Afterwards, Phillips expresses her displeasure to Marsden about Marsden’s performance and that she preyed on the jury’s misconceptions.

Back at Crown v Merton, the jury says they cannot reach a verdict and that nor more time will help. The judge declares the jury is unable to reach a verdict and the Crown has 7 days to decide whether or not they will retry the case.

Back at CPS, Steel clearly wants to move forward, saying Leyla knew that baby wasn’t well and was more interesting in making sex videos with her boyfriend. Steel mentions that Suzanne testified they took Alex to a GP but there was no mention of it in the medical records.

At Priory Park Health Care Centre. Steel speaks with the GP who says there was no injury.. Steel asks if there was evidence to an internal injury and the GP says Steel will have to speak with the pathologist.

Back at St. Colman’s Mortuary, Steel again speaks with Lucy and he is upset with her, but she says she knew nothing about the previous injury. She admits there are cases where a baby can have an accidental injury and the baby can die later. He is angry that this death could have been accidental, and when she says she’d have to re-examine the brain and the skull to be sure, he angrily tells her to exhume the body.

The body is exhumed and while Steel watches, Michael comes and begs Steel not to do it. Steel says they have to know.

Later, Steel tells Phillips that Lucy said there was signs of a healing fracture in Alex’s skull, consistent with a bump to the head 3 weeks prior. It is possible Leyla bumped Alex’s head by accident.
At the legal visits room at Cold Norton Prison, Leyla denies being rough with Alex or dropping him. Steel says Alex’s death may be accidental. Leyla is upset that Lloyd died with the whole world thinking he was a baby murderer.

Afterwards, Steel comments that they offered Leyla a get out of jail free card and all she had to do was admit she bumped his head. They said Andrea was sure that Leyla was rough with Alex. At CPS, they speak with Andrea who mentions in passing she knew Michael far back when she was 18 at university and she never wanted children. They tell her Leyla denies being rough with the baby and suddenly Andrea seems to waffle on her story, and then mentions seeing Lloyd with the baby a few days before Alex died and wonders if he hit Alex’s head against the wall. Andrea makes an excuse to go to a meeting and then departs. As she gets out of the office, Steel says Andrea is lying as Lloyd Benson had been on a tour of Afghanistan for 5 months and only got back the day Alex died. Leyla had only been working there 3 months and Lloyd had never been to the Raines house before. If she saw Lloyd in Alex’s room it had to be the day Alex died.

Later, Phillips comments to Steel that Andrea said she did not want a baby, so she talked to Michael about it, and found out that Andrea and Michael had seven attempts at IVF and it nearly crippled them financially.

Back at the home of Michael and Suzanne Raines, Steel and Phillips confront Andrea about lying about not wanting a baby. She said that Michael and Suzanne were too scared to tell them about the baby. Andrea was there when Alex’s cot arrived. She says that’s what happens when you’re infertile, people stop telling you their happy news and stop inviting you to their child friendly parties. When Phillips confronts her about Lloyd being in Afghanistan, Andrea says she must have gotten the date wrong. Steel accuses Andrea f being in the house the day Alex died, and she says she dropped off some files and then left. She admits she heard him crying by did not go to him. She denies shaking Alex, and Steel says no one shook him, he must have bumped his head the day he died, on his cot, maybe. He presses her that she went into his room, and she gets very upset and says Suzanne took her husband and didn’t deserve him. Steel continues to press her, and she said she just held him to stop him from crying. Steel reminds her that Lloyd was innocent and was murdered in his prison cell. She admits Alex stopped crying and he just wanted to cuddle. She saw the child she never had and he should have been her baby. She says she couldn’t stand to hold him anymore and she just let go. Michael, standing in the doorway, hears this and looks at her with disgust and storms off.

At the White Horse pub, Steel and Marsden are talking again over drinks. She asks him if he wants to share a cab and he says he is waiting to meet Alesha. She tells him to watch out, over 30, tick tock. Steel laughs and takes a drink as we fade to black.

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