Monday, July 25, 2011

Law & Order UK “Crush” Recap & Review

Law & Order UK “Crush” was based on the original Law & Order episode “Humiliation” from season 7, and the UK version was an improvement. In “Crush,” it appears that a man has killed an escort because of blackmail and fear of being exposed, but it all turns out to be a premeditated set up by his wife. The case wasn’t as suspenseful as I would like, but the crisp writing helped to redeem the episode. Ronnie Brooks (Bradley Walsh) and Matt Devlin (Jamie Bamber) are becoming masters at delivering the witty comebacks, and even Natalie Chandler (Harriet Walter) gets in on the action. The dialog seems very natural and this helps to make Ronnie and Matt seem like real people doing the tough yet sometime tedious job of detective work.

The episode also featured a bonus for Doctor Who fans; besides Peter Davison and Freema Agyeman, we also got Adjoa Andoh, who played Martha Jones’ mother (Freema's Doctor Who character). It only gives me hope that my wish will someday come true and we will see David Tennant on Law & Order UK.

We also got to see Alesha taking charge in the case AND also having to don the wig. Jake Thorne (Dominic Rowan) voiced what has been on my mind since day 1 of the series: Alesha without a wig makes her look like an assistant. It was nice to see Alesha take the lead and assert herself with Jake and Henry when she felt there was something that was not quite right with the case.

The only complaint that I have – and it’s a minor one – is that the chemistry between Jake and Alesha - and Jake any anybody else for that matter - seems lacking. I don’t mean a romantic chemistry, I mean chemistry in general. It’s quite the change from James Steel (Ben Daniels) who seemed to have an obvious passion for his work, and there was a “spark” between him and Alesha. In fact, Alesha has more chemistry with Henry Sharpe than with Jake. But this may be how they want to play it – Jake seems more guarded and controlled. I went back and read the background information that ITV released for Jacob Thorne (see “Law & Order UK: Dominic Rowan on Jake Thorne, Senior Crown Prosecutor”) and realize that Rowan is playing the character exactly as he was profiled. So I’m going to put my complaint aside and let the character develop.

Here is the recap:

At Burlington Cloisters, a man complains that water is dripping into his room from a room upstairs. When the porter, Michael Hunter (Dominic Coleman) opens the door of that room, they find the bathtub has overflowed and a woman is found dead in the room. Later, DS Ronnie Brooks (Bradley Walsh) and DS Matt Devlin (Jamie Bamber) investigate the scene. The dead woman is Katarina Cizek and it appears there is no sign of forced entry. There were sex toys in the bedside cabinet and also a wad of money in the mattress.

The speak with the porter, who knew Katarina was an “escort”. Her friend Suzana was also an escort working out of the building. Both were eastern European. The detectives speak with Suzana (May Lubinsky) who worked for a different escort agency. Katarina - “Katka” - moved agencies a short while ago, and she thought a rich man would carry her away. The men pay the agencies direct for the service. She seems surprised Katka had £4,000 in her flat. She tells them the agencies make sure the men are nice. After Suzana leaves, the detectives wonder why Katka stuffed the money in her mattress, as she had a bank account.

Back at M.I.U., they discuss this with DI Natalie Chandler (Harriet Walter) and wonder if this was blackmail money. She says it is a bit “spaghetti against the wall” and wonders if Katka was moonlighting. Devlin wonders if this is motive.

At the forensic pathology lab, Ronnie and Matt speak with Lilly (Adjoa Andoh) who tells them Katka had sex but there is no sign of rape, and adds that the sex was energetic but not violent. Ronnie comments that he remembers that – and when Matt says “heavens sakes”, Ronnie clarifies he meant being energetic. She also has evidence of having STIs in the past like Chlamydia, herpes, etc. but no HIV. A knife hit a rib on the way in but in this case the blade went in and under.

Back at headquarters, Ronnie tells Natalie the knife was flexible, like a knife for filleting. Katka had food in her stomach from about an hour before. Forensics is working up the DNA on the crime scene. There is nothing yet on the SIM card and the porter has nothing much to day. Angela (Jessica Gunning ) enters and tells them they went through Katka’s laptop and found Katka wrote a blog.

Later, Ronnie is reading the blog and asks whatever happened to keeping things private and there is stuff on there he wouldn’t even tell himself. Natalie tells him no one is listening. He did find a name mentioned “Lotra Lovich” [not sure if I got that right] who wouldn’t leave her alone. Matt finds a complex list of companies involved in the flat’s rental which ends at Kensington Belles.

At Kensington Belles, they speak with the owner to get a list of clients or credit card details. When he balks and says his girls are not coerced, then insists on a warrant, Ronnie threatens the crawl all over his business with real forensic detail, affecting his business for months and make it look like coercion.

After leaving the office, Matt and Ronnie look over the list of names from Kensington Belles. Matt complains about the whole premise of the service, saying it looks like a date, feels like a date, and Ronnie calls it a simulacrum, which Matt thinks is a “madey-uppie” word. Ronnie says it means an unsatisfactory substitute. Matt says one had to be pretty sad, and Ronnie says not sad, just lonely.

At the home of Barry Blunstone, the detectives hear that he loved Katka. She was a present from his mates so he could lose his….”you know.” He was working in a pub to save up to see her again. Later, and Magdalen College, the detectives speak with Gavin Williams (Greg Wise) about a charge on his credit card for Katka from September and he says his credit card had been cloned and charges made by someone else. He says he has a book, the second part of his history on the Crusades. When Ronnie admits he hasn’t read the book, Matt says he did, and when they looks surprised, he asks did they think he was some kind of Neanderthal? Ronnie says Matt is a never-ending source of wonderment. Matt asks Greg for a DNA sample and he says whatever they want.

Back at headquarters, Matt tells Ronnie they got the numbers off the SIM card and Katka called the same number 4 times the day she died but Ronnie correctly guesses it is from an unregistered, pay as you go number. Natalie enters and tells Ronnie there is someone to see him, Angela calls Matt aside and says she found Lotra Lovich.

In the conference room, Ronnie speaks with Suzana who is asking for protection who says someone threatened to report her to immigration and the man tried the same thing with Katka and Katka thought it was a joke. Meanwhile, Angela explains to Matt thinks the name Lotra Lovich is a simple displacement code, like in the movie 2001, where “HAL” was derived from “IBM” but that didn’t work and looked for a Czech word since Katka was Czech. The word Lotra is from a Czech fairy tales meaning villain or bad. When Matt tells Ronnie that Lotra Lovich means "bad hunter" they think it points to  Michael Hunter – the porter.

At headquarters in the interview room, Ronnie and Matt question Hunter who said he was out in the back smoking at the time she was killed. The accuse him of threatening the girls but he said he just wanted to be noticed.

Later, Ronnie tells Natalie that Hunter denies it and they don’t have the murder weapon. Hunter did admit threatening her. Ronnie thinks he is a lying weasel but not a killer. Matt enters and says they have a match on the DNA swab.

At the home of Gavin Williams, the detectives get an admission from Gavin that he saw Katka, in September and the other night. He was on his way to talk to his agent about his book publication date and all he needed was a friendly face. He said they had sex and she scratched his back at that time and denies killer her, swearing on his son’s life. Gavin’s wife come home and he asks them not to say anything. Matt smiles and continues to question him about where Gavin went after he left.

At Penshaw & Cole Literary Agency, the detectives speak with Gavin’s agent who said Gavin seemed distracted. They discussed a TV show, and also that Gavin turns down many gigs because of his son, who has cerebral palsy and Gavin won’t leave his wife Jane to cope on her own.

Back at headquarters, Natalie tells Ronnie that Hunter’s alibi checks out. Gavin looks most likely but only if he was being blackmailed and they don’t know that anyone was being blackmailed. Angela enters and tells them Teddy found something. Teddy (Tariq Joran) tells Matt and Ronnie that a bit of the blade broke off in Katka and if they find the blade they can match it. Angela also tells them Gavin made cash withdrawals totaling £4,000 in the last 14 days, the amount is exactly what Katka had.

The detectives speak again with Gavin about blackmail. He asks why would he pay her then kill her, or kill her and leave the money? He denies having a second phone. He denies withdrawing any money, saying his wife likely did as they have a shared account and she also has a design business and she buys antiques with cash.

At the home of Gavin Williams, they speak with Jane Williams (Charlotte Emerson) who is busy feeding the baby. She thinks the accusations against Gavin are ridiculous. She says she took out the money for her business and buys a lot of things with cash. She says she bought some antiques from a place in Kingston and bristles when Matt asks if she can prove it. She asks if they are arresting her and when Matt says no, she says to excuse her as her son has to eat. Matt notices the nice collection of knives that she has and that one is missing. She thinks one went missing when the kitchen was redone.

AT CPS, Matt comments to Alesha Phillips (Freema Agyeman) that the missing knife at the Williams household was a filleting blade which matches the depth and width of the penetration wound. Ronnie adds that it also flexes. The withdrawn money matches the amount in Katka’s mattress and it could be blackmail - the motive. Matt thinks they have means, motive, and opportunity. When Alesha comments this is circumstantial and asks what else have they got, Jake Thorne (Dominic Rowan) enters and answers “preponderance of probability” adding, “in other words, what are the chances?” He tells them to pick him up.

At Magdalen College Library, Gavin is having a book signing and Matt and Ronnie cut in line and arrest him.

At Crown Prosecution Service, Jake and Alesha meet with Gavin and his lawyer Rachel Matheson (Penny Downie) who says they have nothing, saying he is guilty of seeing a prostitute and lying about it to his wife. Gavin comments that he is ruined and he didn’t do anything. Matheson says they do not deny he was there, but the CPS has no murder weapon and the rest is coincidence. Jane will give evidence that she withdrew the money. She walks out, saying they can’t prove anything and asks if they really want to do this.

Afterwards, they speak with CPS Director Henry Sharpe (Peter Davison) who agrees they can only prove infidelity. They discuss the infidelity issue and Alesha says it is not about the sex, it is the dishonesty. Jake argues that Gavin was worried about losing his professional standing. Henry asks how do they know Katka was blackmailing Gavin.

At Russell Square, Alesha speaks with Suzana about the money. Suzana said there was one guy who saw Katka a lot who said he had a crush on Katka. He kept buying her stuff, he gave her books and what good are they? She gave them to a charity shop around the corner. She was embarrassed and saw him only because he paid her. Suzana wanted her to end it but Katka just laughed, and said she knew what she was doing, thinking she could get more out of him than just books,

At Oxfam, Matt and Ronnie look through books and they discuss digital vs. printed books. Ronnie finds one signed to Katka, with the saying “Katka, for everything, always, G.” It was the History of the Crusades, Part , by Gavin Williams. Ronnie comments "Vanity, thy name is Gavin.”

Later, Jake and Alesha discuss the next steps. Jake says they need to break the wife’s story.

At Kingston Antiques Emporium, Alesha speaks with the shop owner who says Jane bought an Eames chair and a matching footstool for £3,500.

Later, in an interview room with Jane and Matheson, Alesha asks Jane to account for the difference. When she gets no cooperation, Alesha asks her if she knows Gavin bough Katka gifts and that he had feelings for her. Her brief cuts things short, but as she and Jane move to leave, Alesha continues to press and Jane says all she wanted was to be a wife and mother. The night he was with Katka she worried for him and how his career was going. She has to live with the knowledge that this person meant something to Gavin. This is her family and she won’t help Alesha destroy it.

Later, Alesha discusses this with Jake who do some role playing with Jake asking the questions and Alesha answering. She thinks his approach is too harsh and Jane will come across as sympathetic and she will look like she is protecting her family. Jake asks Alesha if she admires her, and she responds a little bit, because Jane has been betrayed and humiliated but is holding up with spit and willpower. They agree they still have to break her.

At Crown v Williams, Lilly is testifying about the forensics and the blade used for the murder. But under cross examination she must admit that there is a possibility that it could have happened with a rigid blade.

With Suzana testifying, Matheson questions her about blackmail, and Suzana admits Katka did not mention blackmail or Gavin by name. Matheson tries to bring out how many clients with the initial G that Katka could have had and using Suzana’s own client experience there could have been more than one.

Afterwards, Jake and Alesha discuss the strategy for the next day, and Jake tells Alesha he wants her to handle Jane Williams because she interviewed her and she understands Jane. Jake says he won’t be there, he has to be out of town on personal business. When she makes a comment implying a rat leaving a sinking ship, he stops her and says no. He also tells her to wear a wig, saying juries like it, god knows why, think it is a bit of gravitas. When she begins to protest, he adds that without one, she looks like his PA.

At Crown v Williams, Alesha, wearing a wig, questions Jane about the withdrawals of money while Henry Sharpe enters the courtroom to watch. Jane says it was for buying antiques for cash. Alesha brings out the cost of the antique chair and footstool for £3,500 and asks what happened to the other 500. She thinks she spent it somewhere else, and said it was for two Tiffany lamps. Alesha says the store doesn’t recall selling them and Jane tries to explain it was another day or store. But Alesha continues to press, suggesting it was Gavin who withdraw the money for blackmail. And brings doubt that Jane really used the cash for antiques.

Afterwards, Matheson complains that Jane was prepped and that it’s not like they didn’t see Alesha coming.

Back at CPS, Henry congratulates Alesha and says Jake was right, it was better coming from her. Alesha thinks Jake dropped her in it, but Henry tells her that Jake’s mother is not well and he had to go see her and will be back for closing. Henry tells her she should be pleased with herself. But she has a second thought and follows Henry into his office to tell him she wasn’t that good. She thinks Jane fell apart and made the case for them, asking why Jane would do that?

Later, the verdict comes in, and Gavin is found guilty of murder. She is shocked and he looks over to Jane.

Back at CPS, Alesha discusses her second thoughts on the case with Jake and Henry. Alesha thinks maybe Jane was not that loyal and maybe Jane got what she wanted. Jake is confused, asking to be reminded that they won the case. Alesha wants to dig around further and Henry gives the OK, adding she should do it on her own time.

At the home of Vanessa Marsh (Evie Dawnay), Jane’s friend, Alesha finds that Jane had her eye to snag Gavin and Jane always gets what she wants. Jane doesn’t confide in others and one day she cried, and says for Jane that is Krakatoa. Jane was having a bad time with Sam who was 6 months old at the time and Vanessa told Jane to go out and see a movie or something and she would watch Sam. She said that’s where Jane was when Gavin bumped off his “euro-tart.”

Afterwards, Alesha explains this new news to Jake and she tells Jake that Jane told her that she was home that night, fretting. In the weeks up to the murder, Jane was distracted and stressed and Alesha wonders if Jane knew about Katka then. Alesha wonders if Jane has been manipulating them. She thinks Jane wanted her husband to pay for what he did – motive. The knife matches theirs – means. She followed him to Katka’s and after he’s gone she rings the bell and says she is Gavin’s wife and can we talk – opportunity. Jake wonders why she would not have just produced the knife, Alesha thinks that Gavin would know it was her. Jake thinks it is quite leap and asks if she was ever taught that when you hear hooves, think horses – and Alesha finished “not zebras”. She adds all along Jane presents evidence that seems to exonerate him while at the same time, condemning him – sometimes it is zebras. Jake comments that maybe Jane is sly, but adds, “so am I.”

In the legal visits room at Wardingly Prison, Jake and Alesha speak with Gavin, Jane, and Matheson and state that the DNA samples were compromised which could change the time of death. Gavin thinks this may clear him and is happy. He embraces Jane but she seems less than happy.

At CPS, Henry asks Jake and Alesha if Jane bit, and Jake says to wait and see. Alesha says Rachel Matheson was very convincing. Jake’s phone rings, and Henry calls them hot shots and wonders what if they are wrong. They colluded with Gavin’s lawyer and offered false hope of exoneration as bait and asks how she thinks that will play out there. Jake tells them the call is from Rachel, Jane wants to meet with them tomorrow – she bit.

Back at the legal visits room, Jane says she recalled leaving some boxes at her mothers and found the knife in there. She got it from her mother’s last night. Alesha shows her sworn statements from DS Brooks and DS Devlin saying they followed Jane after she left there yesterday and she went to Vanessa Marsh’s home, got a bottle of wine and went home and didn’t leave until she came there this morning. Jane tells them to test the knife and it will prove Gavin is innocent. But Alesha says it will prove it matches the sliver of knife found in Katka’s body and that it is the murder weapon. Gavin seems clueless and then Alesha asks how long Jane knew about Katka. She and Jake press her about the planning the money withdrawals and killing Katka. Gavin is shocked. Jane admits she found Gavin’s other phone that he used for Katka and read the texts and found out how long he had been lying. Gavin said it was as stupid crush and he would never do anything to hurt her and Sam. He thought he could help her. Jane says even now he doesn’t know what he did, and explains that Gavin gave her herpes and he laughs. She cries, and then goes on to say that she was pregnant and Katka gave it to him and he gave it to her, and all that time he knew. She had no symptoms so she never had it treated and then Sam was born and it went to his brain. She was infected and who knows if he will ever walk and talk and she blames Gavin. Gavin seems devastated.

Later, at the pub, Jake is having a beer and Alesha enters and Jake tells her Jane pleaded guilty and Alesha said Gavin is left to look after his son, which Jake calls a daily reminder. They talk about who was the bigger villain in this case. Alesha said her son got handed a life sentence Jane just wanted to make Gavin pay and was defending her kid, asking isn’t that what mothers are supposed to do. Jake says yeah, that’s what they do. Alesha says she was sorry to hear about his mother, and he asks if Henry told her. She nods yes, and adds she thought Jake dropped her in it. Jake says he would never do that. She asks if he is OK, and he says he is fine, and thanks her for asking. When she asks about his mum, he only says, “thanks for asking.” Jake walks off, leaving Alesha at the bar with her vodka tonic, as we fade to black.

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PA said...

I really do like Law and Order UK. It's been better than the majority of episodes of SVU in the past few seasons, and it gives a different "feel" to the story.

Anonymous said...

I was relieved to see Matt's hair had 'reverted' to it's former style. Good episode, I really like the 'UK' brand of the franchise.

gohomemomo said...

this episode was great but the ending didn't make sense. at least twice in the prenatal visits, there is testing for herpes for every patient regardless of lack of symptoms. This would have been caught earlier and not caused cerebral palsy. It's standard of care and I don't think she's the type of woman to avoid prenatal care or not get the best doctors.

gohomemomo said...

The ending doesn't make sense. As someone in the medical profession, it's standard of care to provide at least 2 herpes tests throughout the pregnancy since of the devastating sequelae of the disease in the perinatal period, whether or not the mother has symptoms. Thus this is not believable.