Thursday, October 13, 2011

Law & Order UK “Haunted” Recap & Review

Law & Order UK “Haunted” dredged up something from DS Ronnie Brooks’ (Bradley Walsh) past – a murder case that he thought was closed 14 years ago. Unfortunately for Ronnie, his work on the case resulted in the prosecution of the wrong man, who luckily was released years earlier from his life sentence due to a legal technicality. Ronnie only realizes that they got the wrong man when a purse snatcher gets hit by a car and confesses to being one of the real killers. This episode is based on the original Law & Order episode “Ghosts” from season 16, and I thoroughly enjoyed this remake.

But the murder case isn’t the only thing from the past that comes back to haunt Ronnie – it’s Ronnie’s drinking past, which reflects badly on his original handling of the murder case. But Ronnie does something uncharacteristic – he seems to make matters worse when he gets on the witness stand and inadvertently throws his old partner – who tried to help Ronnie during his drinking days – under the bus. I was surprised that Ronnie seemed a little too quick to offer information about his partner during his testimony, giving the defense attorney a chance to discredit Ronnie’s partner and their work on the case.  Ronnie uses the excuse that he was under oath to explain his actions, but in my opinion, Ronnie over-explained some of his answers,  which only encouraged more questions.

The Law & Order UK writers do such an excellent job with constructing a tight story with believable dialog that the characters seem like real people and I feel like a fly on the wall, watching them work every step of the case. It is also easy to feel the character’s pain and frustrations, and easy to get involved in their back stories. That’s the sign of a really good show.

Here is the recap:
Bradley Walsh: DS Ronnie Brooks
Paul Nicholls: DS Sam Casey
Harriet Walter: DI Natalie Chandler
Freema Agyeman: CP Alesha Phillips
Dominic Rowan: Senior CP Jake Thorne
Peter Davison: Director CPS

Guest stars
Tim McInnerny – Simon Bennet
Tom Georgeson – Bernie Rawlins
Adjoa Andoh - Lilly
Andrew Beck - Jimmy O’Doherty
John Ashton – John O’Doherty
Mel Raido – Ricky Phelps
Pip Torrens – Phillip Nevins

As two women walk down the street complaining about a shopping experience, a man runs up from behind and grabs one of the women’s purses. But another man who sees the robbery chases the thief, and the purse-snatcher runs into traffic and gets hit by a car.

Later, DS Ronnie Brooks and DS Sam Casey are at the hospital, and hear that the thief is James O’Doherty and he asked to see Ronnie by name. Ronnie gets into the room where O'Doherty is clinging to life, and O'Doherty tells Ronnie that he – and Ricky - killed Amanda Bennet. O’Doherty starts to flat line and the medical staff rushes in. Sam questions that O’Doherty said he killed Amanda Bennet, and Ronnie replies that was 14 years ago. Sam thinks that is a strange thing to admit to. Ronnie said it wasn’t him who killed Amanda Bennet – because he was the investigating officer on that case.

Back at MIU. Ronnie explains the original case to Sam and DI Natalie Chandler. Amanda was found on the floor with a fatal blow to the head and no sign of sexual attack. There were no signs of forced entry and her blood was all over her father. Simon Bennet got life. He did served 3 years and got off on a technicality; his brief felt that the judge misdirected the jury. Neighbors heard Simon yelling at Amanda and she was a troubled kid. Sam gets a call from the hospital – O’Doherty is dead. Ronnie and Natalie agree they cannot ignore the confession. O’Doherty mentioned an accomplice and Chandler tells them to find out who that is.

At the home of John O’Doherty, Jimmy’s father, Ronnie and Sam deliver the bad news that Jimmy is dead. He thanks them for telling him. They tell him they are looking for a friend of his son’s from 14 years ago, someone named Ricky. John says it is Ricky Phelps, and that they felt Jimmy hanging around him would land him in jail.

Back at MIU, Sam goes over Ricky’s arrest record. He is out of jail – living at a homeless shelter. Ronnie and Sam head to the homeless shelter and speak with Ricky and tell him Jimmy is dead and that Jimmy told them he and Ricky murdered Amanda Bennet. Ricky denies killing anyone.

Back at MIU, Sam tells Ronnie that Ricky gave evidence against Jimmy and Jimmy got 4 years, and Ronnie wonders if this is about revenge. Ronnie shows Sam the file of the addresses of all the people that went through the Bennet house a week before the murder. There were a lot of people as the Bennet house was up for sale.

They get the name of the agent who showed the house and they visit Shilton’s Real Estate Agency. They show the agent a photo of Ricky who she does not recognize, but she thinks she knows Jimmy. She says he hasn’t aged well, She said she showed him the Bennet’s place, but she thinks his name is Davey. She admits they had a one night stand, and he threw up in her bed and passed out.

Afterwards, Ronnie and Sam discuss the name Davey Jones who was on the list, and Sam asks if he remembers interviewing him. Sam also asks him if he had a cat suit on and a lightning strike on his face, then Sam tells him Davcy Jones is David Bowie’s real name. They think Jimmy gave a false name. Ronnie said he didn’t do all the interviews, his old partner Bernie Rawlins did some.

Ronnie speaks with Bernie Rawlins about Jimmy O’Doherty and the old the case and Ronnie tells him now he is not sure if Simon Bennet was the killer. Bernie thinks Jimmy wants his 15 minutes; Ronnie tells him the guv wants them to look into it, and Bernie is surprised she is taking this seriously.

Back at MIU, Sam and Ronnie tell Natalie the fact that Jimmy was at the house adds weight to his confession. Natalie says they should reopen the case. Ronnie says he will let the Bennet’s know.

At the home of Simon and Lynn Bennet, Lynn answers the door but Simon quickly approaches and tells her to go lie down. Simon gets panicky when Ronnie tells them they are re-opening the case, but quickly Ronnie tells him they are not here for Simon, they have another suspect. Sam tells him they are there to follow up new leads. Simon tells them they spent 14 years to put it behind them, and his wife chooses to forget. He prefers them not being there to force her to remember. He tells Ronnie and everyone that works with him to go to hell.

Later, Natalie tells Sam and Ronnie he would think Simon would be champing at the bit to get his name cleared. She asks Ronnie if he has anything to link Ricky to the murder and he says no. Natalie wonders if Ricky bragged to one of his cellmates.

At the legal visits room in Ashbridge prison, Ronnie and Sam speak with Mr. McDonald, who said Ricky never mentioned it. They talked about the usual stuff. Ronnie asks about his upcoming parole, and Ronnie wonders if the fight he got into will affect his release. Ronnie suggests McDonald to use this as a golden opportunity to put away a murderer. Ronnie comments that they could also mention to the parole board that he was uncooperative. McDonald says maybe Ricky mentioned it, but Sam says maybes don’t score that high. McDonald says Ricky admitted he was off his head at the time and that Ricky told him he strangled her.

At the forensics pathology lab, Sam and Ronnie speak with Lilly who says Amanda was not likely strangled. Sam brings up the bruising on her neck from the original pathology and the pathologist at the time struggled to pinpoint what time the bruising occurred. When Sam tells her that the bruising could have happened after the blow to the head, Lilly then says she can’t rule out strangulation and it is possible.

Back at MIU, Ronnie tells Natalie they have to start from scratch, but she wants more before they take it to the CPS. She suggests they talk to the people that know Ricky best.

At the Chocca Mocha Café, Ronnie and Sam speak to Ricky’s brother Andy who said Ricky crashed his son’s birthday party and scared the kids to death and then nicked his son’s play station. That was the last straw. Ronnie asks him about 14 years ago, and he doesn’t know anything about Amanda’s murder. He did tell them that he gave Ricky a job and the keys to the place to close up one night and when he came in the next day, the place had been stripped. The police said it was an inside job so insurance would not cover it. Andy doesn’t want to get involved now. Ronnie said if Ricky was the one who turned him over, Andy should make a new statement and personally see that it is looked into, and if he knows anything at all to please tell them.

Afterwards, Sam asks Ronnie if he wants to pick up Ricky Phelps now or let him sweat a little longer. Ronnie says a confession to his brother isn’t going to be enough and he does not want to make the same mistake twice. Ronnie gets a call from Lily, she has something and wants them at the lab.

At the lab, Lilly has reanalyzed the saliva taken from Amanda’s hand and she found DNA that does not belong to Amanda or her father. The sample has deteriorated and she can only get a partial profile. Amanda has just showered before the attack so any DNA her body came from the attack. Lilly tells them that someone other than her father was there when Amanda was murdered.

At CPS, Ronnie explains to Alesha Phillips and Jake Thorne that they have other suspects, O’Doherty, who is dead, and Ricky Phelps. Sam says they have O’Doherty’s confession and two witnesses who said Phelps confessed to them. Alesha says the witnesses are heresay. They have partial DNA evidence which suggests it came from Ricky Phelps. Pathology said Ricky told one person he strangled her and there may be evidence this was the case. Ronnie tells Jake that the more they look into this, the more they think that they originally had the wrong bloke. Jake tells them to make the arrest.

Later, Ronnie and Sam arrest Ricky Phelps, Ronnie reading him his rights as Sam cuffs him.

At CPS, Alesha explains the case to CPS Director Henry Sharpe who does think they have much. Alesha thinks that the evidence can be connected, and asks who would a jury believe killed Amanda, her own father or a couple of crack heads with a history of breaking into people’s houses. Jake tells them that Ricky’s brief is making an application to have McDonald’s witness statements excluded. His grounds are that he thinks McDonald qualified as a lawyer, who seemed to put his prison sentence to use in the education block.

In court, Jake argues that the conversation occurred over a card game in the prison wing and McDonald’s legal training is coincidental and not relevant to the confession. Ricky’s brief Nevins said that doesn’t negate Ricky’s knowledge of McDonald’s legal training and it had a significant influence on the nature and content of their conversation. The judge sees Nevins' point but Jake tells the judge he can’t extend privilege to a convicted armed robber who read a few books and completed a correspondence course. Nevins counters that McDonald graduated with honors. Jake reminds him that with a criminal record, McDonald cannot practice. Nevins argues this discriminated against McDonald, and the judge tells Jake this is not the time to tackle the rights and wrongs of legal privilege. Judge Prentice says the witness evidence is excluded.

Afterwards, Jake complains to Alesha about Prentice. Alesha reminds him they still have Ricky’s brother, and Jake hopes he will deliver the goods,

At Crown v Phelps, Andy testifies that Ricky said he killed this girl and that Ricky got angry and was shouting and kept saying he killed her. He asked him who he was talking about and then said Amanda Bennet. Under cross examination, Nevins asks about the robbery at his café and the insurance claim which was turned down. He asks who was responsible and Andy said it was his brother and admits he was angry with him. Andy denies he is there for revenge. He said that it is now being sorted out because DS Brooks took a new statement. Jake and Alesha look less than thrilled at this news. Nevins implies that Ronnie motivated him to help.

Later, Jake questions Ronnie on his promise to help Andy as if it were a bribe. Ronnie said he didn’t and Sam also agrees, saying he was there the whole time. Ronnie said they would take a new statement about the break in, which they did. Sam concurs that Ronnie’s offer was legit. Alesha says the jury will see it as a witness who did a deal with a policeman – Jake adding unless they hear his side.

Back in court, Ronnie is testifying about the initial investigation of Amanda where he worked with DS Rawlins and their original conclusion that Simon Bennet did it. Ronnie admits they got the wrong man. Ronnie says he wants to see the right person in prison. Nevins asks if Ronnie is an alcoholic, and Jake asks for the relevance. Nevins says he is trying to get Ronnie’s mental state at the time of the original investigation. The judge instructs Ronnie to answer, and Ronnie admits that he was but he has been sober for 7 years. Nevins implies the drinking had an impact on Ronnie’s handling of the case. Ronnie said it did not help. Nevins comments that while Ronnie was three sheets to the wind, his partner developed an obsession with convicting Bennet. As Rawlins watches, Ronnie said his partner made some mistakes, but Nevins says Rawlins decided to who he thought was guilty and went for him, disregarding the evidence. Ronnie comments that DS Rawlins was operating under a lot of strain, it was hard work with long hours and no sleep. Ronnie said Rawlins took pills to make sure he got enough sleep. Nevins said so there was one drunk handing the investigation and another popping pills. As Nevins continues to comment on how the two detectives bungled the case, Rawlins glares at Ronnie and leaves the courtroom.

Outside the courtroom, Ronnie chases Rawlins down and Rawlins tells him not to make it any worse. Ronnie said he was under oath. Rawlins says he stuck him in the back and trashed his reputation. Ronnie asks why he can’t just admit they got it wrong. Rawlins walks quickly to Ronnie and Ronnie backs up. Rawlins asks if that will make him feel better. He comments about all the nights Ronnie crashed in their spare bedroom when Jean kicked him out, and they fed him and got him back on his feet again. He also went with Ronnie to his first AA meeting, and when he got pissed two days later he scraped him off the pavement. As Sam walks up, he sees Rawlins tell Ronnie he thought their friendship had something. Ronnie suggests dinner, his treat. Rawlins says he only eats with family and friends, and he lost his family covering his arse.

At CPS, Henry opens his office door as he tells Jake and Alesha to get Phelps to plead to manslaughter. Jake thinks they can get him for murder but Henry says his witness aren’t helping him prove it. Alesha argues it is not just about convicting Phelps, they owe it to Simon Bennet who spent three years in prison for his daughter’s murder which he didn’t commit. She reminds him the CPS did that to him and it is up to them to put it right. Henry argues if Phelps walks out of court a free man they would have wasted the taxpayers money on a trial that may never see a guilty verdict. He asks isn’t it better to have him convicted of something rather than nothing? He says, “Just get the plea, Jake.”

Afterwards, Jake tells Ronnie that they are going to offer Ricky Phelps a deal. Ronnie is surprised, saying that Ricky killed Amanda Bennet. Alesha says they can’t get him, and that she is sorry, but he will still go to prison. Ronnie grabs his coat and rushes out, saying he needs to fix this. As Ronnie races out, Jake calls out to him, telling Ronnie it is over.

Back at MIU, Ronnie is looking at the original interrogation video recordings where Rawlins is questioning Simon Bennet. Bennet says when he got home that night there was a man in the road and he nearly knocked him over and the man swore at him. The man had dark hair and had a tattoo of a spider or scorpion on his forearm. Ronnie calls Sam over to take a look and he replayed the description of the tattoo.

Later, Ronnie is telling Alesha that Bennet was describing Ricky Phelps and Simon saw him near his home moments before he found Amanda’s body. Sam says Ricky was never on their radar because he wasn’t on the original interview list, but O’Doherty was,  but he used a false name, Davey Jones. Rawlins listed Davey Jones as interviewed but ruled him out, but this puts O’Doherty in the house two days before the murder and Ricky in the street immediately afterwards. Ronnie asks Alesha and Jake if they think they have enough, and Alesha thinks they need to talk to Simon Bennet.

At Abbot Close, Alesha speaks to Simon to get his help, but he lashes out at her, saying he can’t do it now as his wife is dying. She apologizes but when he walks off and says he has to go, she tells him they don’t think the man he saw hat night was a witness, they think he was the killer. He stops cold and says nothing, but then says he is sorry and races off, with Alesha following him, saying that she doesn’t understand why he doesn’t want to get the man who killed his daughter. He explains he was locked up for three years with murderers and pedophiles, all who thought he killed his daughter. While he was gone, Lynn was diagnosed with breast cancer. She spent 13 years beating the disease and now it is back. The last thing he wants is for it all to be dragged up again and she deserves to die with some sense of peace. Alesha says she understands how angry he must be with them but this is a new case and with his help, they believe they can convict the man who destroyed their lives. He tells her they have given Lynn a few weeks at best, and losing Amanda broke her and he is not putting her though that again.

Later, as they walk down the street, Alesha tells Jake that Bennet is a victim of a miscarriage of justice and that he is past caring about what anyone else thinks. Jake says without the ID they are back where they started. Jake says he will call Phelps’ brief and get this over with.

Back at CPS. Nevins, who is with Ricky, asks what Jake is proposing. Jake explains that he will accept manslaughter. Nevins says Jake is always good for a laugh. Jake tells him about the identification including the tattoo, Nevins thinks he’s not the only one with that tattoo, but Jake argues he was the only one hanging around the Bennet’s house. Nevins asks Jake if Simon picked Ricky out of an ID parade, and Jake doesn’t answer, which Nevins takes it to mean Jake has nothing. Jake says then leave it to the jury. Nevins counters that he is considering a halftime submission of no case to answer. There is a knock on the door and Alesha calls Jake out of the room.

Alesha tells Jake that Simon has had a change of heart and had agreed to do the ID. Jake introduces himself to Simon and asks what made him change his mind. Simon says it was his wife’s death, he thinks she wanted to die to be with Amanda. He tells them initially the police got to her. They took her away before he got home and worked on her bit by bit until they convinced her he was guilty. It was a year before she would see him. She looked into his eyes and knew he could not do that. When he got out of prison they made a pact to try their hardest to forget what happened. He adds you have all these images in your head that you wish weren’t there/ What they did to her…all that blood.. and be begins to cry. For his wife’s sake he tried not to think about what happened but Amanda was his only child and she was his life. He needs to know what happened to her. Alesha tells him DS Brooks is waiting to do the ID. He tells Jake to make sure they get it right this time, please.

At Crown v Phelps, Bennet is testifying about seeing Phelps and Nevins challenges the short time that Simon saw Phelps. Simon said he lived that day for 14 years and replayed it over and over, every exact detail, so he remembers exactly what he looked like. He says Nevins wouldn’t be asking him this if the police had investigated properly 14 years ago.

Later, Phelps is testifying and Jake is questioning him about what he and Jimmy used to do in their burglaries. Ricky says he saw Amanda while he was standing guard and he hear her yelling at Jimmy to get out and saw Jimmy killer her. Jake asks him if he saw that from where he was standing at the front of the house, and when Ricky says yes, Jake challenges him that Amanda was killed in the kitchen in the back of the house and that Ricky could not have seen Jimmy kill her from the front of the house. Ricky then changes his story and says maybe it was when he was in the back of the house looking to see what was keeping Jimmy. Jake mentions the DNA on Amanda’s body and that there is a 60% probability it belongs to Jimmy and that DNA puts him in the house with Jimmy and Amanda. Ricky says it is not him but Jake calls it an extraordinary coincidence, and Ricky says he does not know. Jake asks that they thought the house was empty, and Ricky said that Jimmy said it was empty. He said Jimmy hurt her not him. Jake comments that Ricky didn’t go into the house with the intention of killing anyone. Ricky says no, but Amanda was yelling at Jimmy and chucking stuff at Jimmy’s head and he freaked out and went mental. Jimmy went at her with a metal doorstop and he begged him to stop and tried to pull him off her…and Jakes asks, “From outside the window?” Jake says he knows Ricky did not want to hurt her but he was there and he tried to stop Jimmy. He asks Ricky to tell them what really happened. Ricky says Jimmy would not stop and just kept going at her. She was on the floor and he remembered there was so much blood. Jimmy was suddenly yelling at him asking him to look what he did to her. He saw her looking at him thinking that it was he that did this to her and she would tell others that it was he that did it, and he couldn’t think straight. He just out his hands around her neck and started to squeeze until she stopped fighting.

Afterwards, Jake walks out of the courtroom telling Ronnie that the right man is behind bars, Ronnie adding 14 years too late. Alesha said he’d still be a free man if it wasn’t for him. Ronnie says if it wasn’t for him, they wouldn’t have been here. Sam walks up as Jake and Alesha leave, and Ronnie asks him how many more are going to come back and bite him? Sam sighs and says they all make mistakes. Sam asks Ronnie if he fancies Chinese, on him? Ronnie says yes, but to give him an hour.

Ronnie goes to Simon Bennet’s home and rings the bell. Simon opens it and steps out and Ronnie extends his hand. Simon stands there, not extending his hand, and is looking at Ronnie as we fade to black.

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xfool said...

Law & Order UK is far better than Law & order SVU right now. Don;t get me wrong, SVU has improved, but the L&O UK cast has the perfect balance and great chemistry, and SVU lacks that right now.

Paul Nicholls was a nice choice to replace Jamie Bamber. I'm sorry to see Jamie go but Paul is a nice replacement and seems to balance off Bradley Walsh.

Artemis9991 said...

UK has a strong cast and a strong chemistry balance. It breaks my heart to see Ronnie dealing with this haunting from the past without Matt's support behind him, Jamie Bamber's absence is going to be felt for a long time, the dynamic has change and shifted but perhaps not for the worst because Paul Nicholls is a wonderful successor. Sam Casey is no copy-cat replacement for Matt Devlin, he is his own man with his own unique personality, and he fits right in. He will never be what Matt was to Ronnie, but theirs is a new and grown-up partner dynamic, it's not the same as Ronnie and Matt's father and son bond, but it's still special and strong.