Thursday, October 20, 2011

Law & Order UK “Trial” Recap & Review

Law & Order UK “Trial” wasn’t about a legal trial, it was about a drug trial and a doctor who fudged the results with grave consequences. The episode is based on an original Law & Order episode “Double Blind” from season 7.

A murder of a janitor looks like it could have ties to terrorism, but as Ronnie and Sam investigate, they find the killing was done at the hand of a man who is believed to be schizophrenic and who is a patient in a drug trial. Legal wrangling occurs regarding the mental stability of the patient and raises question about the drug trial itself. It’s during that process that we discover the killer is not schizophrenic, but has another fatal illness.

Law & Order UK is masterful at weaving in snippets of the characters personalities and their personal lives into the story. In this episode, we see another instance where Sam Casey has a short fuse and seems unafraid to get in peoples' faces. We also find that Jake’s mother also has an illness affecting her brain. It is very touching at the end when Jake lovingly and reassuringly strokes his mother’s hand. All these little touches help to make the characters seem like real people that viewers can care about and to which they can relate. While this episode wasn’t anything spectacular, it was still an hour well spent and a story well told.

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
Tobey Stephens – Profession Martin Middlebrook
Penny Downie – Rachel Matheson
Arthur Wilson - Simon Wells
Jeany Spark - Julia Anstiss

As a postman delivers the mail, he gets harassed by the local hoods. While he is up delivering a package,  the hoods takes more packages out of the mail cart. As the postman fights to get the packages back, a loud explosion emanates from the apartment to which the postman just delivered the package.

Later, DS Ronnie Brooks and DS Sam Casey are on the scene of the explosion and Jonathan Waldman is dead. He was an office cleaner. His daughter Sara arrives and Sam suggests she goes downstairs, and says he is sorry. Anti-terrorism is on the scene, and Ronnie tells Sam to brace himself.

In the forensics lab, the lab technician says the bomb is a simple mechanism with what looks like a firing mechanism from a .22 caliber gun. The explosion was caused by fulminated mercury, very lethal. Ronnie asks if you can just get it from cracking open a few thermometers, but she tells them mercury is now banned in thermometers. There is no DNA or fingerprints. She has a scrap of paper that says 20G on it which Ronnie recognizes as ZOG which stands for Zionist Occupation Government.

Back at MIU, Ronnie and Sam are looking over the ZOG website. DI Natalie Chandler asks why  Waldman, and Sam asks apart from being Jewish? Ronnie said Waldman was well liked and Natalie suggests they talk to his daughter Sara.

They speak with Sara, who said she was close to her father, especially after her mom died. He did not associate with political groups as extremism made him despair.

Back at MIU, Sam tells Ronnie that his boss at Cleansfield said Waldman was conscientious and even took a pay cut when he started. Before that, he worked at Thameside University working at the science lab. He had to clean out rat cages and he didn’t like it so he quit. But he did have a massive row with a geezer called Tony Wright who doesn’t like Jewish people. He tried to get Waldman fired but he was the one who ended up getting the boot.

The detectives speak with Tony and they ask him if this was revenge. Tony has a clueless look on his face and asks if something happened.
Later, Sam asks Ronnie if he thinks Tony really didn’t know what happened to Waldman. Ronnie thinks his reaction was authentic. He thinks whoever did this was not stupid and wonder who would have the sense to put all those bomb components together. Ronnie thinks that all the bomb components are signatures.

Back at the lab, the technician tells them that nothing like this has been used in recent years.. She went way back into the anti-terrorism squad records and found him. It’s Cal Donnally, who did a stretch for letter bombs in 1972.

The detectives speak with Donnally who is wheelchair bound from the after affects of the mercury, both from the bombs and a waste job that he had which dealt with items that contained mercury. He explains that someone took his bomb making techniques and made into a book – The Direct Action Cookbook – and it was done by “Storm of Steel.”

Ronnie and Sam speak to  “Storm of Steel” who says it was one of his best sellers. He’s an obvious racist. The ask for the names of the people who ordered the book. The guy taunts Sam and Sam gets in his face. Ronnie say he is going to get a production order on section 5 of the terrorist act and if he refuses he will arrest him. The guy tells him to do it, and Sam says then they will have the list AND they will let everyone know how helpful he was. Ronnie says maybe some in his “army” will check his book and send him a “letter of complaint.” He hands over the list, Ronnie thanks him, and Sam pushes him as he walks past him. The guy tells them to laugh now, but get ready, they are coming. Ronnie says they will ring in advance and bang the kettle on.

Back at MIU, Ronnie and Sam go over the list of names. Sam sees that someone at Thameside University ordered the cookbook two weeks ago – Jonathan Waldman.

The detectives head to the university’s janitor’s office and the man there says there was an anonymous tip that Waldman had been steeling tranquilizers from the psychiatrist department. The man doesn’t believe Waldman did it but the university had to make an example. Waldman told him that someone was out to get him. Ronnie wonders if someone was stealing the pills and Waldman saw them, and that person pays Waldman off which he uses to pay Sara’s tuition. Sam thinks it’s a stretch, but Ronnie said something made him leave and it likely wasn’t the rats. Sam wonders if once Waldman came under suspicion, he took the fall and asked the thief for money…and then boom.

At the post room of the university and find that the post that comes in for staff that has left goes into another bin to be forwarded, within a week or a little longer. They ask for a list of staff and volunteers who work the office. They realize that someone could have easily sent it to Waldman knowing it would sit in the bin, and they could pull it out later. There are 53 people on the list of those who have access, and they decide to focus on the ones doing chemistry.

At the Bowl-A-Rama, Ronnie and Sam speak with a chemistry student who does not know Waldman. She knows how to fulminate mercury. She explains the process. She suggests they speak with a student that she went out with a couple times who asked a lot of questions about mercury, who said it was for an essay he was writing. She said it doesn’t make sense as he studies history and he works in the postal room. His name is Simon Wells,

The detectives speak with Simon outside a classroom and he said he was writing an essay on the corporate response to environmental disaster over the last 50. He included the mercury disaster in Japan in 1968. He says he does not know Waldman. Simon excuses himself to go to another lecture, and Sam notes to Ronnie that Simon has an answer for everything. Ronnie adds it is like he’s worked it all out beforehand – Sam commenting this usually means he has.

At the Halls of Residence at Thameside Campus, they question a guy who is trying to fix a thermostat. He says Simon is weird and is an attention seeker. He said Simon was making soup at 3 in the morning the other day and stunk the place up. He tells them Simon goes to the psychiatry department every night to help someone out,’’

At the psychiatry department, Ronnie and Sam speak with Professor Middlebrook who says Simon was helping with a research project. He does not know if Simon knew Waldman. Ronnie asks if under the right circumstances could Simon kill someone, and he says couldn’t anyone?

With Simon in interrogation, he says he never saw the book and knows he is there voluntarily. Ronnie tells him they are tearing his room apart now. Sam calls Ronnie and says they have nothing, and no traces of mercury. He later steps into the hall and sees the guy who was fixing the thermostat the other day, and then Sam looks at the thermostat. He asks one of the forensics guys for a screwdriver.

Meanwhile, Ronnie is back in interrogation with Simon and suggests that Simon was being blackmailed by Waldman about stealing the tranquilizers, Natalie walks in and asks Simon to tell them about the thermostat. She says they know that is where he got the mercury and when they finish dusting for prints, whose does he think they will find? Simon becomes silent and Ronnie tells him it is over. Simon admits it is true, he did it, all of it. He stole the drugs and made sure Waldman got fired. He ordered the book and made the bomb and killed him. He said Waldman knew how to enter his dreams and mess with the architecture and steal his secrets. He put thoughts into his head, bad things.

Later, Jake Thorne speaks with Rachel Matheson who says he is not guilty, and Jake asks if due to mental illness. She tells him Simon hears voices. Jake said this was planned an executed in cold blood but she says Simon is not responsible for his own actions. Alesha says Waldman caught him stealing tranquilizers. Matheson says Simon is a schizophrenic and she tells them to talk to his doctor Professor Martin Middlebrook.

In Professor Middlebrook’s office, he tells Alesha she should understand why he couldn’t talk to the police. Simon has been his patient for 6 months and he put him on a double blind trial for a new drug. The double blind is so no one knows whether the patient is getting the drug or the placebo. The drug has been a success. He says whatever made Simon do what he did is not because of his illness.

In the Old Bailey Robing Room, Alesha tells Jake she got something from Rachel Matheson, Jake commenting that Middlebrook blew her mental illness defense out of the water. He then looks at the paperwork.

In court, Matheson brings up her application to have Simon’s confession excluded under section 78 of Pace. Prior to his arrest, Simon was told he was under caution, but was told he could get legal advice only after he was arrested. Jake tries to argue the point but the judge rules in Matheson’s favor. She also asks that all charges be dropped, saying the Crown has no case. Jake tries to argue the evidence they have, but the judge agrees with Matheson.

In Natalie’s office, Ronnie gives Natalie and Sam the bad news. Later, Natalie checks up on Ronnie, who tells her that Simon’s father had a .22 caliber rifle like the firing pin in the bomb. She tells him to tell Jake and Alesha in the morning and then go home, adding “nice catch.”

At the home of Gordon and Mary Wells, Gordon admits to Alesha that he had a the rifle and uses it for shooting rabbits. The rifle went missing 6 weeks ago, he did not report it. When Gordon stammers when Alesha asks when Simon was last there, Mary says to Gordon that this is not helping. He says he was last there six weeks ago. Mary said Simon was staying with them and she came down in the morning and he was sitting in the corner naked. Middlebrook said Simon was having a panic attack. Mary said it was not a panic attack - the drugs aren’t working and no one seems to care.

Back at CPS, Director Henry Sharpe says it won’t stick, and Jake asks why not, the firing pin matches the dad’s gun. Henry says you can’t prove that Simon took it. Jake said no but it went “missing” (making air quotes with his hands) while Simon was there. Jake thinks Simon showed intent weeks before. Henry asks is it in the interest of justice to proceed and to they have a realistic prospect of a conviction, and asks if Jake just did a pair of rabbit ears? Henry answers his own questions by saying “No, no, and yes, don’t do it again.” Jake is frustrated that Simon just blows up Waldman and they would just let him go. Henry asks what else they could do, and Alesha suggests having him committed. She thinks Simon is a sick man and a danger to others and this would get him off the streets. She says he needs help and who else is going to see that he gets it? Henry comments that this morning she wanted to lock him up, and she counters that this morning she met his parents. Alesha feels that it might not be justice, but it is something. Jake thinks it won’t happen as Middlebrook will say he is fine as long as he takes his meds. Alesha counters that is not what his parents would say, and neither would Sara Waldman. Henry tells her to talk to Simon’s parents and if this is what they want, there will have to be a tribunal.

At the Mental Health Tribunal, Middlebrook is in front of the panel and lists all his credentials and his career experience. He adds he was at the Kronfeld Institute for Psychiatric Research in Munich. Matheson questions him and Middlebrook says as long as Simon continues to take his medication that he is not a threat. Alesha counters this is not what two other equally expert psychiatrists have said, but Middlebrook says they were only interviewing him for an hour and a half like a tag team and is not sure they should attach much weight to that. Alesha brings up his parents seeing him naked and crying, and Middlebrook says seeing a loved one in distress affects their perception of what is happening, When she asks him if he is saying that Simon’s parents are exaggerating, he says he is saying they are parent’s not doctors. When Alesha asks if it is possible he is mistaken, Middlebrook answers that the letter after his name are not there by accident and it is not likely.

Afterwards, while she walks down the street with Jake, Alesha fumes over Middleton’s statement. Jake doesn’t understand why Middlebrook would put himself on the line like that? Alesha adds that Middleton didn’t carry out the evaluations, his research assistant did. Simon's scores the day after the panic attack were perfect 10s. Jake wonders why she wasn’t the one giving evidence?

Alesha speaks with Miss Anstiss who says she conducted all of Simon’s evaluations after Middlebrook did the initial one and made a selection. She has been with Middlebrook with 18 years and was with him in Munich. Alesha mentions the panic attack and Antiss said she discussed with Middlebrook who said it wasn’t relevant.

Alesha chases down Jake in the courthouse hall and tells him that he just got off the phone with the place that Middlebrook was at in Munich. She found out that he was in charge of another drug test there about 7 years ago. One of his subjects started well but then his condition started to return. Middlebrook did nothing, even though the girl’s parent begged him to take he off the meds. After a while Middlebrook stopped returning their calls. Three weeks after that, the girl stepped in front of the Nuremburg-Munich Express. Jake says that Mister Infallible has form.

In Henry Sharpe’s office, Jake and Alesha have explained what they learned. Henry says once is a misfortune and twice is carelessness. Alesha thinks Middlebrook is covering up something, that Middlebrook stated T489 is a wonder drug and it isn’t. Henry said they know what Middlebrook states publicly, and tells them to talk to the company and see what he says privately.

At FRKL Pharma, Jake and Alesha speak with company representatives and Alesha asks if Middlebrook broke the double blind cover early and knew Simon was on the drug. Jake also asks if they were worried that the data for the double blind study was being gathered by his assistant. One man says they have the highest regard for Miss Anstiss. They even asked her to set up and in-house testing division,

Later, Jake and Alesha speak with Miss Anstiss who says Middlebrook said there was no conflict of interest. Jake tells her he is setting her up and she doesn’t even know it, and he is making her look responsible and giving her the motive to massage the data. He tells her to wake up, when this hits the fan Middlebrook will duck and she will get it full in the face. Jake tells her it wasn’t a panic attack and Alesha adds that they know about Munich and why that girl stepped in front of the train. Anstiss looks stunned and sits down. She says that Munich was one of those…it sometimes happens. She told Middlebrook that Simon’s symptoms were getting worse and he told her to alter the results. She thinks he already broke the double blind code an knew Simon was on the T489. Middlebrook told FRKL that Simon was a poster boy for the drug and how could he tell them it had all gone wrong. Jake asks that she just went along with it, and she replies that Martin is brilliant. He felt Simon would pull through. Simon did mention that Waldman was out to get him and that he was going to stop him once and for all. She told Middlebrook and he laughed and said that was just Simon and couldn’t she see the joke?

At CPS, Jake and Alesha speak with Middlebrook and his lawyer. Middlebrook said he thought Simon would pull through and he was wrong. He takes a condescending tone and says dealing with experimental drugs is never plain sailing and there will always be glitches. Jake tells the lawyer that Middlebrook knew the risks and did nothing. Jake said Middlebrook falsified data so it would look good in the eyes of the drug company. Jake says that make is manslaughter.

Later, Alesha is buried in files from FRKL. Jake says it is a snow job and now he knows they have something to hide.

As Jake and Alesha look through the files, Jake asks if she has anything that mentions Simon having a PET scan. Alesha says no. Jake says Middlebrook charged FRKL for 40 scans at a grand a pop, which is two for every patient. Alesha says he pocketed FRKL’s money and said they will love that. But Jake wants to be sure.

At the Maudsley Hospital, Simon tells her it was like he was living in someone else’s body. He can’t believe what he did but Alesha says he was sick. He says he was given a PET scan and Middlebrook took him himself, somewhere expensive in Marylebone.

Later, at BHI Health Services in Marylebone, Alesha sees the PET scan. The technician says whoever told her that Simon was schizophrenic never looked at the scan.

In the CPS conference room, Jake and Alesha – and Simon - are waiting as Middlebrook and his lawyer arrive. Jake explains they found out something important and Simon wanted to be there when they told them. Jake shows them a PET scan, which are used to make sure that a patient is not suffering from anything else before starting a drug test. Jake asks Middlebrook to tell him what an area on the PET scan means, and Simon answers for him, saying it means he is going to die – he has a tumor and is not schizophrenic. Alesha said Middlebrook would have found this out if he weren’t so busy cutting corners. Jake says the Middlebrook ignored Simon’s other symptoms of headaches and vomiting which are not from schizophrenia. Middlebrook says he did not have the time, that FRKL wanted to get the drug to market and the others on the drug were getting their lives back. He says the drug will make a difference for many. Alesha comments that he should have known the truth would come out. Middlebrook flippantly asks if she thinks he had some kind of master plan. Jake says no, he thinks at that stage he was only interested in saving his precious reputation. Middlebrook argues that he had a department to fund and a university and rug company on his back. He gets upset, asking if they know what that kind of pressure means. Simon asks if Middlebrook knows what inoperable means. Jake says that Middlebrook got the scan when his Simon’s symptoms returned and knew what it meant, and if he admitted he knew about the tumor he would have to admit about not having the scan done in the first place. Alesha adds that Simon could have received treatment right then and even made a full recovery, but instead he falsified the data. Simon says that Middlebrook sentenced him to death. Jake sarcastically asks if Middlebrook is sure the letters after his name are not there by accident. His lawyer says they are done. Simon orders Middlebrook to look at him, and he says he has three months if he is lucky. He adds that he killed that poor man and now he is dead too, and he knew. Simon gets up and leaves.

Jake tells Middlebrook that for the death of Waldman it is manslaughter and gross negligence, and that he will answer for Simon Wells, too. When the time comes, he will be charging him with murder.

Later, Simon’s parents are in Jake’s office, and they explain that Simon told them. His mother thanks them for making Middlebrook pay. Alesha says they don’t have to thank them, but Simon’s father says it is about all they can do. Jake tells them they can be strong for Simon and that the tumor will change him. Jakes says to just love him.

Elsewhere, Jake is speaking with a nurse, who tells them now that they have released some of the pressure, the pain is manageable. Later, Jake is sitting with his mother and she has a large bandage on her head. He strokes her hand and says it is OK, he is right there. We fade to black.

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Anonymous said...

I find it quite strange that this is showing in the States but not in the UK. Oh well, something to look forward to!

All Things Law and Order said...

Diane - I think it is strange too. They also just started showing it in Canada a few weeks ago.

I've heard from various sources - nothing official from the the network yet - but is should start airing in the UK early in 2012 (likely January).