Monday, July 15, 2013

Law & Order UK “Tracks” Recap & Review

Law & Order UK returned for a new series of episodes and with 2 new cast members Georgia Taylor and Paterson Joseph. Joseph, as DI Wes Leyton, replaces Harriet Walter (DI Natalie Chandler), and Taylor, as Kate Barker, replaces Freema Agyeman (Alesha Phillips). Both Joseph and Paterson have great chemistry with the established cast, and both characters have interesting backgrounds that are sure to make for some compelling storylines. This may be even more pronounced for Kate Barker, who comes to the CPS team immediately after contentious interactions with Jake Thorne on a case where she served as defense barrister. The situation make be even more uncomfortable for Jake considering CPS Director Henry Sharpe hired Kate to assist Jake without Jake’s input. It goes without saying he doesn’t care for her footwear fashion sense. either.

“Tracks” was adapted from the Law & Order episode “Locomotion” which was the season 15 finale. The teleplay for "Tracks", written by Emilia di Girolamo, was crisp and tight; in my opinion she is one of the best writers that has ever graced the Law & Order brand. As two new characters were introduced in this episode, she quickly create a history with Ronnie and Wes, and created tension between Jake and Kate without detracting from the story of the crime. Her no-nonsense style moves the story along quickly, yet still builds drama and allows for nuanced characters.

I also must admit that I am quite partial to the production and filming style of Law & Order UK, which places the characters in interesting London venues where each character is presented in the best possible setting and lighting. It’s one of the things I look forward to – it’s simply enjoyable for my eyes to watch.

I also enjoyed the ending cliff-hanger, where it appears Sam gets himself in a bit of a pickle with the death of Finn Tyler. Thankfully we only have to wait until next week to find out how that story begins to play out. I also am anticipating the tension between Jake and Kate – and maybe even with Henry and Jake over Kate's hiring. It should make for some interesting fireworks.

All in all, a great start to the new series!

Here is my recap:

Bradley Walsh - DS Ronnie Brooks
Paul Nicholls - DS Sam Casey
Paterson Joseph - DI Wes Leyton
Dominic Rowan – Senior CP Jacob Thorne
Georgia Taylor - Kate Barker
Peter Davison – CPS Director Henry Sharpe

Guest stars
Kristian Demetriou - Max Dale
Belinda McGinley - Marnie Dale
Craig Stein - Train Driver
SOCO Pete – Alexander Perkins
Jessica Gunning – Angela
Samantha Barron - SGT Barden
Adam James - Michael Gennis
Catherine Grose - D.C. Kim Smart
Miles Mitchell - Zack Coulton
Rachel Leskovac -Amanda Tyler
Raffiella Chapman - Ellie Tyler
Aidan McArdle - Finn Tyler
Raffiella Chapman - Ellie Tyler
Chris Cowlin - Security Guard (as Christopher Cowlin)
Fraser James - Dr. Toby Marsh
Adam Nagaitis - William Braxton
Fraser James – Dr. Toby Marsh
Karen Archer – Justice O’Neill
David Ajala – Gavin Dale
Alan McKenna – Dr. Holdsworth
Daniel Coonan – Daniel Haleton
Jack Beale – Court Clerk
Adam Nagaitis – William Braxton

Marnie Dale and her son Max are on the Country Trains commuter line when the train horn sounds and a violent crash occurs, the passengers being thrown in all directions.

Later, DS Sam Casey arrives on the scene of the accident while rescue personnel work the scene. Sam enters the train, quickly hears a sound and realizes someone is still alive. He finds a Max Dale laying under some rubble and calls for help. But help does not come quickly enough, and despite Sam’s screams for help and attempt to keep him alive, Max dies. Ronnie arrives and tells Sam there are hundreds injured and 12 dead, Sam sadly tells him it’s 13.

Outside the train, Ronnie is surveying the damage when DI Wes Leyton arrives ad Ronnie explains what has occurred so far. The car that was across the tracks, causing the crash, was found with no driver inside and the car has over 100 speeding tickets tagged against it over the last 6 months. The car crashed through an access gate. Wes tells Ronnie to ID and interview the passengers. Wes notices that Sam looks affected by the incident and Ronnie explains about Sam finding the young boy who died. Wes tells Ronnie to make sure Sam gets counseling. Before Wes leaves, he recounts some fun times in the past with Ronnie.

Later, Ronnie and Sam interview Mr. King, the train driver, who explains how he tried to stop. Ronnie does not think this is an accident. The speak with Pete who is working on the car, and says when they get the car back to base they can cut into it and get the VIN number. Sam is upset, saying that Pete has nothing.

At M.I.U. Central Headquarters, Angels shows Ronnie, Sam, and Wes the footage of the car crashing through the gate. This did trigger the alarm but by the time Haleton Security radioed the train it was too late because it happened at a Haleton shift change. They suspect the person knew the timing and could be an employee of the rail company or security. They can’t see who is in the car as the camera is set to track people climbing over the fence, not cars crashing into it. The site was secured at 6:55 and they are checking more footage to see if the driver escaped farther down the line.

At the accident processing site, they find that no one on the train saw anything, and now they are up to 15 dead - 16 if you count unborn babies. Ronnie gets off the phone and tells Sam the VIN has been located.

Back at M.I.U., Ronnie tells Wes the car belongs to Michael Gennis, and when Wes says the name rings a bell, Ronnie explains that Gennis put his wife in a coma and he claims self defense. But, there was a hung jury and CPS is retrying the case, thanks to Alesha Phillips. She cited the retrial as an example of CPS having zero tolerance for domestic violence. She takes that came train every morning but was not on it as she has been promoted to Senior Prosecutor CPS Northwest, but Ronnie thinks Gennis would not know that. Sam explains Gennis beat the shit out of his previous wife and got scared and withdrew her statement and she emigrated to get away from him. Wes tells them to get a warrant.

At the home of Michael Gennis, the detectives search and Gennis insists his car was nicked. They find the train schedule for the same train. Sam arrests him for 15 counts of murder.

Later, at M.I.U. , they interrogate Gennis who continues to deny his involvement and insists his car was stolen. Ronnie asks how long he has been driving on false plates, and Gennis admits he is a speed freak. Sam continues to press, bringing up Gennis beating up women and the new trial date next month and accuses him of wanting Alesha dead. Gennis seems happy about the fact the Alesha was on the train, but Sam explains she was not, and starts reading off the names of the dead and when Gennis yawns in boredom, Sam gets angry and grabs Gennis and screams at him. Ronnie intervenes and pulls Sam off, and then tells Sam to get out of the room.

Wes calls Sam in to the observation room and chews him out. Wes says maybe DI Chandler let him play “bad cop” but he will not have officers undermining prosecutions with violence, saying that Sam is lucky Gennis did not want a brief in there with him or Sam would have been suspended. He orders Sam back to his desk.

As they walk out of the room, Angela approaches and explains they found prints from someone else besides Gennis in the car. Wes tells them to ID those prints. When Ronnie suggests they just ask Gennis who was driving the car, Angela explains it could not have been Gennis. They checked all the CCTV and nobody went in or out of the accident scene from the time the crash happened to the time they sealed off the site. They suspect the driver was hiding among the passengers and Wes tells them to see if intel finished the background checks. Ronnie also begins to mention Sam and Wes tells Ronnie to keep a tight leash on him.

In the Intel Department, Ronnie tried to get Sam to hold it together and Ronnie recalls a horrific accident he worked long ago. Sam says that was an accident, this was deliberate, Ronnie reminds Sam of his son and his job that he needs to hang onto, and this is going to get a whole lot worse and they need to get it right for the families of the victims. In intel, they find 7 of the victims had no train ticket and can’t remember where they boarded, and they have no criminal records. Ronnie wonders if the person who did it hung around to admire his handiwork and got stuck when they closed the scene. Sam suggests they start with one who lied about where he got on.

At The Strand, Sam and Ronnie speak with a man who is working on the street who says he was just confused as he had a bang on the head. Ronnie brings up his expired passport and asks for a valid ID, but he does not drive so he has no license as he can’t afford driving lessons.

As Sam and Ronnie approach the home of Amanda Tyler, Sam is on the phone arguing custody issues for his son After the call Sam complains to Ronnie about the situation. Ronnie asks if Sam had his counseling session yet, and Sam says he will get his therapy at the pub. The home is the listed address of Finn Tyler, who had no valid ticket, he is unemployed and had cuts and bruises and was treated at the scene, and he used his driver’s license as ID. They speak with his wife Amanda who does not seem shocked Finn is in trouble. They find he does not live there, they were separated a month ago. She explains he lives around the corner and goes to get his address. Amanda’s daughter Ellie is drawing a triceratops, and explains to Sam it will keep her and mommy safe in case daddy goes funny again.

Later, Ronnie and Sam arrive at the place where Finn is staying, and Finn lets them in. AS they speak with Finn about his separation and ask to see his license. While they speak with him, Ronnie notices Finn’s arm is bleeding, and Finn says it was from flying glass from the crash. Ronnie offers to take a look at it and bandage it, but when he takes off the dressing, it is clear the cut is too clean than from a cut from glass, it was done by a blade. Finn admits to cutting, saying it started when he was a kid but stopped when he met Amanda and Ellie came into their lives. It started again when things went dark and it stops when he cuts. Ronnie says he thinks Finn cut himself to make it look like it was done in the crash, asking him if something made him go dark again. Finn sobs and says he never meant to kill anyone. Ronnie tells Finn he killed 15 people, but Finn says he meant only to kill one – himself.

In Wes’s office, with DI Chandler’s name still on the door, Wes explains t Jake that Finn’s DNA is all over the car and that Finn’s confession is watertight. Jake thinks if Finn really intended to kill himself it may influence how they charge him. When Wes mentions all the evidence and the confession, Jake reminds him there was no solicitor present. Wes explains Finn did not want one. Jake asks if he was seen by a mental health professional and Wes says yes, who was confident Finn was fit for the interview, saying it was by the book. Wes hopes Jake will be charging Finn because Wes was at the scene and saw what Finn did to those people. Jake nods.

At Westminster, Jake discusses the case with CPS Director Henry Sharpe, and Henry tells Jake to charge murder, 15 counts, and to drop the attempted murder charges if they have to. Jake explains that Kate Barker is representing Finn and Henry is very familiar with her track record. He also wonders why Jake does not know about an attractive barrister new on the scene, adding Jake is losing his touch. Jake says Kate is doing this one legal aid, and Henry tells him not to let that fool him.

At CPS, Kate Barker walks in to meet with Jake and explains her client has diminished responsibility and his history of depression. Jake moves to shake her hand but she ignores it. Kate goes on to explains all Finn’s hardships and thinks that the confession was not handled properly but Jake counters that he was assessed fit for interview by the forensic medical examiner. Kate says if they can’t agree, this will go to a jury – she is asking for manslaughter, diminished responsibility and the judge will seek concurrent sentences if she doesn’t make a hospital order. Jake says Finn deserves prison for life and Kate can’t expect them to treat this like he killed one person instead of 15. Kate counters his intent was to kill one person – himself. Jake replies it is a shame he didn’t have the balls to stay in the car. Kate suggests he can make her a counter as she loves a good barter. She puts her feet, wearing UGG boots, up on a nearby chair. Jake sarcastically tells her to make herself at home. Jake adds they are charging murder, 15 counts, and the only bargain is she getting is the 120 dropped attempted murder charges. She does not think this is good enough, saying the incarceration of the mentally disorder defendants is her passion project and this will make a great case study, Jake replies now he gets the legal aid, and she asks if that is because all defense barristers are interested in is the page count? She adds maybe she is different.

Later, Jake and Henry discuss this latest development and Henry suggests Jake to get the police to talk to Finn’s wife; maybe she can fill in the chasm.

Ronnie speaks with Amanda who tells them Finn started putting everything on credit card to hide his problems. When they were at a friend’s cottage and she found out about the credit cards but he was lying and she said she wanted him out. When she tried to leave the cottage the next morning with Ellie, he wouldn’t let them. He held her there with a knife and barricaded the door. Ellie was terrified and Amanda thought he was going to kill them all.

At CPS, Jake and Dr. Marsh watch the recorded interview with Finn, and Dr. Marsh says that Finn is full of shame and rage but is not psychotic. He thinks he wants to get back at his wife. Dr. Marsh thinks Finn knew he was going to take a lot of other people with him, and that does not suggest a mental health disorder.

Later, Justice O’Neill has read the doctor’s report and is not convinced Finn is suffering an abnormality of the mind. Kate says Finn was suicidal over the breakdown of his marriage and wonders if this is not an abnormality of the mind, what is? Jake counters that relationships break up and people feel a little low about it but they don’t all try to derail commuter trains. Kate comments that is a little low, and can tell Jake has never had a relationship worth hanging onto. But the judge agrees with Jake and says if Kate’s client wants to plead diminished responsibility so be it but it’s up to the jury to decide whether or not he was suffering an abnormality of the mind at the time the offense was committed.

At Crown V Tyler, day 1 of the trial, Sam is on the stand explaining what Finn did, and says Finn was trying to blend in a getaway after the accident. Under cross examination by Kate, she brings up trying to save Max Dale to no avail. Kate tries to bring up the trauma this caused Sam and how angry this made Sam. As Kate continues to press, Sam gets rattled and begins to raise his voice. Kate manages to bring up the fact that Sam had Finn put on suicide watch.

Afterwards, as Henry and Jake walk down the street, Henry says Kate scored a hat trick on Sam and that if they had Finn on suicide watch, Fin must have been mentally ill. Jake thinks this means Finn  felt remorse for his actions which is evidence of his sanity. Henry replies that how Finn felt after the event was irrelevant, all the defense has to prove is his state of mind at the time of the offense. Jake thinks all Kate is interested in is using the case as a soapbox to highlight the cuts to mental health provisions and how too many mentally ill people end up being criminalized by the state. Henry looks at his watch and says that could resonate with the jury who are angry about those cuts. Henry tells Jake he has to dash and he walk off, and Jake calls out that this case is not about cuts and he won’t let it distract them. As Jake grabs a cup from the street vendor, he sees Henry enter a restaurant and shake hands with none other than Kate Barker. Kate looks very happy to be talking with Henry. Jake looks displeased.

Back at Crown V Tyler, trial day 3, Dr. Holdworth testifies about antidepressant he prescribed for Finn and the side effects, including suicidal thoughts in some cases. He did not know Finn was self harming. Kate says it is a shame he did not see a man in severe crisis begging for help because then 15 lives may have been saved. Jakes stands up and asks the judge if he missed the question, and the judge instructs the jury to disregard Kate’s comment. Jake cross examines the doctor and the doctor says when he saw Finn he was behaving like a spoiled child who didn’t get what he wanted; Finn had a tantrum and stormed out when the doctor suggested he try the antidepressants and use relaxation techniques. He adds that Finn wanted sleeping pills but the doctor is not in the habit of dishing them out without very good reason. Jake asks it was not because of budget cuts, and the doctor says no, it was because he does not want patients to become needlessly reliant on addictive medication, especially when they have a history of addiction. Jake looks stunned at this revelation, and the doctor admits Finn has a history of alcohol abuse and he was treated in rehab for alcoholism in 2004 and again earlier this year.

Outside the courthouse, Ronnie catches up with Amanda and asks if she knew Finn was an alcoholic when she first met him. She admits she did, but she believed he would stay sober. Ronnie asks what made him start drinking again, and she said he had a run it at work with his brother Daniel, it triggered something, adding he is so jealous of his brother’s success. Daniel has a CCTV security business – it’s Haleton Security. Ronnie gets a look of realization.

AT CPS, Ronnie explains the connection between Haleton Security and Finn and they never asked about Finn’s previous employer. His brother was paying him cash so it never made it on the books and the surnames are different so they never connected the dots.

At Crown V Tyler, trial day 5, Daniel Haleton testifies that he gave his brother a job as he felt sorry for him but fired him because he became unreliable due to his drinking. He paid for rehab but was just as bad when he came out. They both grew up in care. He does not think this was a genuine suicide attempt, he thinks he wanted to get back at him as his company had to contract with country trains and to watch the gate that Finn broke through. Finn knew of the shift change and when to break through as it was his job to watch that gate.

Afterwards, Jake tells Kate it looks a lot more like revenge than diminished responsibility but Kate wonders that you can be mentally ill and vengeful. Kate asks what about school shootings by bullied demoralized teenagers who are depressed and seeking revenge. Jake thinks any juror with half a brain cell will see Finn for exactly what his is – an angry, vengeful man who needlessly murdered 15 people to get back at his brother. Kate keeps on walking away from Jake and says nothing, and Jake calls out “Come on Miss Barker, no last word?” She stops and turns and says when the courts heard from their psychiatrist, she is calling Finn Tyler and she will leave the last word to him. As she walks off, Jake calls out that he saw her with Henry. She stops again and turns, asking if Jake is jealous. Jake does not answer and Kate’s phone rings. She says she has to get this, and turns and walks away.

At Crown V Tyler, trial day 7, Finn testifies about his alcoholism. Finn complains about how his years in care were not as good as his brother’s. He also mentions the debt he ran up but that his wife kicked him out and would not let him see his daughter. He admits he drove onto the tracks to kill himself and he thought the train would wipe out his car and keep going. He says he got out of the car and then he thought of his daughter crying at his funeral. He could not get the car restarted and says he is so sorry. Jake cross examines him and asks why, if Finn wanted to kill himself, why he didn’t throw himself off a building? Finn says he wanted to make sure he did not survive and be a burden to his family. Jake thinks Fun could have jumped in front of a tube or taken an overdose. Finn says that is why he tried to get the sleeping tablets but the doctor would not give them to him. Jake asks what was the real reason he caused the train crash, Jake thinks it was to get his wife’s attention and from his brother. Jake continues to press about Finn’s intentions and Finn is getting rattled. Finn starts to cry and Jake continues to go on about all the affects what Finn did will have on others. Kate stands up and says Jake is making a speech, and the judge answers, “Mr. Thorne, please.” But Jake goes on, saying what Finn did was not diminished responsibility, this was cowardice. Finn squirms and says nothing.

In the courthouse hall, Sam meets up with Jake and is worried that if Finn gets a hospital order he will be out in 6 months. Jake adds he could be detained for the rest of his life. Sam does not think Finn is mentally ill and they will spot it in a second and he will be out the door before they know it, Jake stresses those are all ifs, and if the jury finds him guilty of murder, he is facing 15 life sentences. Jake asks Sam if he has been drinking, and Sam admits yes, he had a couple at lunchtime. Jake replies he hopes the jury is back Monday with good news. Sam scoffs, saying there is no good news for Gavin Dale, as Finn wiped out Gavin’s entire family. Sam storms off.

At Crown V Tyler, the verdict is in – they find him guilty of manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility on all counts. Later, the judge sentences him to a hospital order with a section 41 restriction; Finn will not be released without leave from the Secretary of State. Jake and Kate give each other looks.

In the courthouse hall, Kate tells Jake that Finn will get treatment in hospital, and Jake says Finn can apply for release in 6 months but he deserved 15 life sentences. Kate says maybe he did, and Jake is surprised she seems to agree, and she admits he did a terrible think but it could have been averted. She adds that millions are spent on prisons while mental health takes the brunt of the courts. Jake says he does not make social policy and Kate replies that he just cleans up after those that do. Henry walks up to the both of them and Jake tells Kate it has been fun. Henry asks if Kate has told him the good news then, and Kate says she did not think it was fair during the trial; in case it distracted him. Jake says apart from her appalling taste in footwear there is very little she could do to distract him. He calls her Miss Barker, and she suggest that he call her Kate – he should definitely start calling her Kate. Henry adds especially since they will be sharing an office. Kate is joining them as Alesha’s replacement and asks who is for a celebratory drink? Kate says she will see him down there after a quick word with her client and she walks off. Henry looks at Jake and pats him on the arm and begins to walk away, and Jake follows.

Kate and Ronnie arrive at the Crown Court holding cells, and Ronnie asks if she can get her client something and to nominate a family member, they can get his property to them. Kate asks if it should be the estranged wife or the loving brother? As they are let in to see Finn, they meet Sam, who is exiting. As Kate goes in to see Finn, Ronnie asks Sam what is he doing there. Sam does not answer, and quickly we hear an alarm and Kate running out, saying Finn Tyler is dead. As security runs to the cell to find Finn hanging ( the security guard becoming ill) Ronnie and Sam walk into the area with Kate. Ronnie give a look to Sam – and we cut to “to be continued.”

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Nick Loveland said...

How'd you watch this? Has it aired in the U.S.? I Love L&O:UK.

chillicothe20 said...

Very compelling episode. So glad to have the show back for another series.

gahks said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gahks said...

I enjoyed this episode! I wouldn't say that Emilia di Girolamo is among the best writers in the history of the 'Law & Order' brand (I'd cite for example Rene Balcer and Richard Sweren) but it was definitely well-written.

The new characters are interesting. Look forward to more in the coming weeks!

Martin Gray said...

Great review, ATL&O. I'm glad you like the London scenes. My fella and I happened to be passing through the Strand one Sunday last autumn and saw Messrs Walsh, Nicholls and James filming the street cleaner scene. They were lovely, especially Bradley Walsh.

@gahks Come on now, Emilia di Girolamo is indeed hugely talented - 'among the best' obviously allows for several people, including those you cite.

Avram B Segall said...

While the program remains outstanding there have been a few ehtical slips. No prosecutor would have met a defense counsel during trial and offered her a position. It just wouldn't be done and in fact in NJ a judge was reprimanded for having had negotiations with a firm that often appeared before him before he retired. The second appeared most recently when Kate meets her adversary in a pub and lets slip the prosecution strategy- total breach of ethics- she should have been fried on the spot. I can understand the need for dramatic license but really....