Thursday, September 29, 2011

Law & Order UK “Survivor’s Guilt” Recap & Review

Law & Order UK “Survivor’s Guilt” aired only in the U.S. on BBC America last night, so viewers in the UK may want to stop reading if they don’t want to be spoiled.

This case is based on the original Law & Order “Suicide Box” from season 13. “Survivor’s Guilt” is different in that it revolves around solving the murder of DS Matt Devlin (Jamie Bamber). It opens shortly after the time the episode “Deal” left off, which closed with Devlin being shot in a drive by shooting.

The episode is heavy with anguish and grief. Ronnie (Bradley Walsh) is clearly the most affected by Matt’s death. He loved Matt like a son and Ronnie wants for someone to pay, and quick. Despite being told to stay away from the case, Ronnie just can’t help but stick his nose into it, and nearly sabotages it. At the end, Ronnie comes through to get the killer to admit what he did by finding a common ground with the killer and his family – grief. The one scene in Matt’s apartment where Ronnie looks to find food for Matt’s cat and faces a brief temptation conveyed the emptiness and loss he was feeling.  Bradley Walsh was at the top of his game in this episode.

We also met Matt Devlin’s (and Jamie Bamber’s) replacement: DS Sam Casey, played by Paul Nicholls. He seems to fit in well and, at the end, when he saves Ronnie from taking that drink, I felt that this new partnership was going to work.

This episode was heavy with sadness for me, likely because I am sorry to see Jamie Bamber leave the show. I thought he did a fantastic job as Matt Devlin and his presence will be missed by many. He’s got a recurring role in the new TNT series “Perception” which is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2012.

Here is the recap:

DS Ronnie Brooks (Bradley Walsh) is still on the scene at the Old Bailey, in shock, as Matt Devlin is dead after a drive by shooting. DI Natalie Chandler, herself clearly rocked by Matt’s death, urges Ronnie to get back to the station. The investigation is being led by Sam Casey (new cast member Paul Nicholls) and Ronnie needs to give his statement.

While Ronnie is giving his statement, it’s clear that he’s struggling with wanting a drink in order to cope, and even imagines that he walks into a pub and sees Matt there when he opens the door. But he knows that will never happen. Later, Ronnie speaks with Sam under the watchful eye of Natalie and he recounts what he saw, but clearly Ron feels that he should have done more for Matt. It’s also evident that Ronnie doesn’t want any help from Sam.

Ronnie makes a bad situation worse for Natalie and Sam when he ignores his orders to be on leave and continues to stick his nose into trying pin down who shot Matt and why. He confronts Mark Ellis, and Ellis denies any involvement. Ronnie asks Ellis if he knows how many people are crying over Matt Devlin (I find myself wondering how many viewers are crying over him too).

Natalie has a few words with Ronnie about him sabotaging the case and possibly tainting the evidence. Ronnie doesn’t want to sit a home all day, but Natalie tells him he’s on leave – “end of!”

Meanwhile, Sam continues to work the case and gets a lead on the gun used in the shooting to a Dennis Thomas and Ronnie presses to tag along. Thomas is working a comedy club and when they question him, he says he never had a gun in real life. He also said the black jeep he had was sold to his aunt last week. They speak with his aunt who said the car was stolen but didn’t report it as she thought the police had towed it. She also mentions she has no husband and her son is dead.

As Ronnie turns the coin that is a reminder of his sobriety in his hand, Sam did some checking and found that the woman’s son Jamal Clarkson is not dead.

At the college where Jamal attends, when an instructor returns to the classroom with Jamal, once he hears they are police, he takes off running. Sam makes chase and catches up with him. Later, back at MIU, Sam questions him. Jamal does not think highly of the police, and when he gets angry with Sam, he makes a near admission that he was the one who fired the gun. When Sam presses Jamal on him killing a good copper, Jamal says the only thing he is sorry is that he didn’t kill more of them. He says he knows all about them, some rich white kid in Chelsea gets stabbed it’s in all the papers, but his big brother gets shot in Hackney and no one did anything, and no one cares but him. Jamal admits he killed Devlin to even things up. Jamal then asks for a brief.

Ronnie wants Jamal arrested immediately but Sam says Jamal wants a brief and CP Alesha Phillips (Freema Agyeman) wants to find out more about Jamal’s brother’s death. Ronnie is upset and Sam admits that Jamal’s brother’s death has nothing to do with Matt’s killing. Alesha agrees that once Jamal gets his brief he will be charged, but cautions that if there is a legitimate beef about Jamal’s brother, they need to know about it. She wants it done right and tells them to hold Jamal for another night and to check into his brother. Angela breaks things up when she tells Ronnie that Matt’s sister is there.

Ronnie spends some time with Matt’s sister, and she doesn’t understand why anyone would do this to Matt.

Afterwards, Sam tells Ronnie that 7 years ago, Hackney police investigated the murder of 18 year old Kieron Clarkson. No one was arrested or charged. No DI signed off on the case and they don’t know why the case was closed.

Ronnie and Sam head to the police archive but comes up with almost nothing. They have some information on the gun but the death certificate is missing. But according to the post mortem report, Kieron Clarkson committed suicide.

Alesha speaks with Jamal’s brief Doug Greer who tells her that he thinks it was marked a suicide so not to waste time on a black kid. They spar back and forth, and Alesha says the case is about his client killing a police officer. Greer tries to make Matt’s killing into a racial issue and urges her this is not a case to put in front of the jury. She feels that Jamal killed Matt simply because he was a cop.

At Alberto’s Café, Ronnie is still pondering his sobriety coin when Sam enters and tells Ronnie that there is no death certificate or PM report for Kieron, but one witness, who was under 18 so is referred to as Witness A, was interviewed 3 times. Sam tells Ronnie he will not believe who the witness is.

Mark Ellis comes in to MIU for questioning by Natalie and Sam for information on what he witnessed during Kieron’s death. He laughs and said he saw Kieron get shot, that it’s hard not to see when you’re the shooter.

Later, Sam thinks it’s strange that Devlin got shot at Mark Ellis’ trial by the brother of the man killed by Ellis. Ronnie does not believe in coincidences. Sam doesn’t think Jamal’s brief will allow Jamal to talk unless he is right there, but it’s clear Ronnie has his own idea to get around that. Sam wants to do it by the book, but Ronnie disagrees, saying they won’t get the truth while Jamal is in an interview room. When Sam tells Ronnie it’s too late, Natalie had him charged, Ronnie races off.

Ronnie heads over to the prisoner holding bay and he confronts Jamal. Ronnie thinks Jamal didn’t go to the Old Bailey to shoot a copper and tries to get Jamal to talk. Jamal says it’s because his brother’s killer was up in court. Jamal said his brother would not have killed himself. When Ronnie presses as to why he wanted revenge on Ellis now, he said he thought it was his last chance to get him and he thought he could but knew he was too late. Ronnie doesn’t know how shooting a copper would solve that, but Jamal thinks they were all walking around without a care in the world, when his brother is rotting in the ground, and it should have been him. As Jamal drops to the ground, Ronnie says the hardest thing when someone dies is being left behind, and that one would do anything to bring them back. Natalie sees Ronnie there and is angry that he deliberately went against her orders, and tells him to either get out of there quick or she will have him put in one of those cells.

Later, at Matt Devlin’s home, Ronnie is in Matt’s kitchen and sees Matt’s cat and when he finds the box of dry cat food empty, he goes into the refrigerator. He sees some bottles of beer in there and pauses for a minute, but then grabs the cat food and closes the door.

Meanwhile, at CPS, Greer tells Alesha and CP Jake Thorne (Dominic Rowan) that he is going for an abuse argument for abuse of process as Ronnie was supposed to be on leave, not questioning witnesses. Later, in court, the point is argued in front of the judge. Jake argues that this did not impede the defendant’s ability for a fair trial and the judge agrees. The judge comments that he takes a dim view of DS Brooks behavior and has no problem with Greer raising that in evidence. Greer adds he will be introducing evidence about Jamal’s brother and the judge says he will hear his arguments at trial.

Back at CPS, Jake worries that with the wrong jury and a sympathetic judge, Jamal could be out in time for his 21st. Jake believes they have to prove that Kieron committed suicide and the police did nothing wrong. He tells her to summon whoever wielded that felt tipped pen.

At Broughton Row, Alesha speaks with Dr.Bernard who worked for the pathology department 7 years ago, and when Dr. Bernard tries to blow her off, Alesha threatens that if she doesn’t hand the files over they will charge her with theft of government property.

At the home office pathology lab, Alesha and the pathologist go over the file but there is not enough information to determine whether it was or wasn't a suicide. And there are no photos in the file. The pathologist tells her to get the skull of Kieron Clarkson and he can tell her for sure.

Later, with the casket exhumed at pathology and Kieron’s mother present, they open it and find there is no body, the casket is stuffed with something in a burlap sack – there is no body.

At MIU, Natalie tells Alesha and Jake that the funeral home at the time had been owned by Damien Haleford, who was convicted 5 years ago of flogging corpses to medical school. The investigating officer thought they had identified all the missing bodies. Natalie says this has nothing to do with Matt's death and asks them to tell her they are going to put his killer behind bars. Jakes does not know, he had no idea Ronnie had been involved in the investigation and asks if there is anything else he should be worried about,

At Crown V Clarkson, Sam is testifying about Matt’s shooting and said that Jamal confessed to killing him. But Greer cross examines him, and a flippant comment that Sam made (that the police would give him a holiday to Barbados if he beat up a black suspect) during his questioning of Jamal and Sam says he was kidding. Sam also has to admit that Ronnie did help on the investigation, and adds that he could not stop him. Greer brings up the fact that this is familiar, and mentions the police loosing the files on Kieron’s death and losing Kieron’s body. He says they may find his client guilty of manslaughter but not murder. When Jake protests, the judge tells Greer to leave the summing up to him.

Afterwards and outside, Sam is upset and tells Jake he was made to look like a racist. He asks if Jamal will still go down for this, and Jake doesn’t answer.

Later, Mark Ellis is testifying about killing Kieron and the police did question him at the time but they did not think it was him. Jake questions him and says that Ellis changes his story quite a lot on the issue, and one story was that when he found Kieron he was already dead. Jake makes it sound like Ellis admitting to the killing would give Ellis more gang cred inside.

Dr. Bernard is testifying about her post mortem report, and the detail report which is not in the file. She says she always follows the procedure and ticked the suicide box which means the case is closed. Greer asks that if a police officer was frustrated with a case going nowhere, she could help him out by making that little tick. She comments that is absurd but when Greer asks if it is possible, she does not answer.

Jake questions her about her notes on Kieron’s death and Dr. Bernard says her opinion is Kieron was shot in the front of the head, and Alesha gets a look of surprise. Bernard adds that for her to tick the suicide box there had to be other indicators that this was not a murder. When Jake concludes, Alesha tells him she thinks she may have misunderstood the pathologist she spoke to and thinks Bernard is taking liberties with the truth.

Afterwards, Bernard is in the CPS office saying after what she did for them today, she was expecting champagne. Jake is upset saying she must have already had a few if she thinks what happened today is worth celebrating. Jake said she lied, she said she embellished. Jake is livid and asks her if she has any idea of the damage this could do to the trial. Bernard said she didn’t even want to give evidence and told them she didn’t remember anything about the case. She says she did it to help her, but Jake thinks she did it for herself, and says her entire evidence could be ruled inadmissible. She asks how is she supposed to give evidence about a case she does not remember. She was overworked an exhausted the whole time she was in that job. Alesha asks if she could have ticked off that box by mistake, and Bernard said she honestly does not know. Jake says because of her, Kieron Clark’s family will not know how he died.

Later, in Jake’s office, he tells Ronnie that Greer is calling Bernard back to the witness box and when the jury hears she lied they are up a creek without a paddle. Jamal will also testify so Jamal will look like the victim and the police will be the villains. Ronnie comments that Greer said Jamal never went there to kill anyone but that is not the case, Jamal told him he went there to kill Ellis and that would be murder. But Jake says Greer will not let Jamal reveal anything like that in the witness box. Ronnie thinks someone has to make Jamal grow a conscience, and asks if Jake can get Jamal to open up in cross. Jake says he hopes so because unless he talk, the jury will acquit him for murder.

Afterwards, Ronnie tells Jamal’s mother that when his daughter was 10 his wife ordered a doll for his daughter’s birthday. When it didn’t turn up they thought it got lost in the post, but just in case, he went to a few neighbor’s houses to see if anyone had taken a package in. He got to Mrs. Riley’s house and found her granddaughter playing with the exact same doll and Mrs. Riley thought she bought in the market. A week later he got a call from school that his daughter was fighting with Mrs. Riley’s granddaughter. His daughter apparently overheard him, while he had been drinking, screaming at the grandmother. Ronnie tells Jamal's mother that  hatred is learned. He says he thinks he understands how she feels and she has every right to feel betrayed about her son’s case. He does not know if it was racism or human error. He tells her about Matt Devlin, that he was like his son. He begs her to please talk to Jamal and for him to face what he did to everyone who loved Matt, especially his sister, who wants justice just as they do.

At Crown V Clarkson, Jamal testifies that it wasn’t supposed to go like this. He says Kieron died and no one cared, and he wanted justice. He admits he went looking for Ellis and he was gone and thought if he killed the police he would feel better. When Greer tries to ask for an adjournment if Jamal was going to change his plea, Jamal tells him no, he doesn’t need any more chats with him. Greer sits down and Jamal goes on to say he thought he would feel better, but it still hurts just the same. He says he is sorry. As Matt's sister cries, Jamal says he is sorry for taking her brother away from her.

Later, as we see Ronnie’s coin spin on a table, we see Ronnie in a pub looking at a glass of scotch. Just as Ronnie looks to be reaching for it, Sam reaches over and picks it up and drinks it, and pushes Ronnie’s coin back to him, and Ronnie looks up and nods. After Sam nods back, we look at Ronnie as we fade to black.

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Anonymous said...

Can you inform me of where you watched this online. I've been trying all day to search these 'illegal' sources, since I missed the original airing on BBC America. If you would like to inform me via email so it is not published, I can email you as well

PA said...

I too am having difficulties "acquiring" this episode. Since ITV are idiots and want us to wait until 2012, I'd rather watch the episode now.

All Things Law and Order said...

Sadly, this episode does not appear to be on line anywhere. BBC America usually re-airs the episode either right before or right after the next new one, so check your listings for BBC America for the night of Oct 5 and you may see "Survivor's Guilt" listed.

I also don't know when these new episodes will air on ITV or even in Canada. Very odd that U.S. viewers are getting to see these before those in the UK...

JW said...

Currently binging all UK episodes. As much as I'm sad to see Matt gone, I'm getting good vibes from the new guy. In particular his little back and forth with Jake made me laugh.
"I'm not a racist!"
"i know you're not"
"Yeah but he made me look like one D:"

JW said...

Sorry for the double comment, but I have a question. Were you (or anyone else) able to hear what the judge said to Jamal at the end? I heard "In light of your guilty plead and remorse shown..." but couldn't hear the rest. I'm assuming he'd have the possibility of parole?
Made me quite happy to hear, really. I felt sorry for that kid (and his mom!)

Chris Zimmer said...

JW - I recapped the episode from when this episode aired on BBC America and they may have edited out what the judge said because there was no dialog from the judge in that ending courtroom scene. Maybe someone else here may be able to answer your question (if so, feel free to chime in!).

Shuo Yang said...

I believe there is a very strong chance Jamal will get the possibility of parole (and who knows, maybe, the possibility of a pardon). We know his life has been filled with errors and mistakes, but I am glad he was able to come to grips with it and stay strong. This was an indication of what might have been a guilty plea and also genuine remorse, which he was able to demonstrate.
I believe in the ending was the judge sentenced him to life with the possibility of parole with 20 or 25 years.
I initially thought there was likely to be an acquittal but usually when something like this happens, it's assumed that the accused is found guilty of murder and sentenced to life (but with the possibility of parole).