Title: Law & Order: UK - Episode 1x13/2x6, "Honour Bound"
Original Airdate: September 3, 2009 (Canada); February 15, 2010 (UK)
Availability: DVD (Region 1 and Region 2)
Synopsis: I'm pretty sure most of you reading this comm have seen at least some of L&O:UK so far, even if you need to catch up on the first 13 episodes. ;) Still, in case anyone is in the dark: Matt Devlin is a London police detective. He's Irish Catholic, he's idealistic and by-the-book. He's charming, occasionally a little hot-headed but deeply principled. He loves his job, and he and partner Ronnie Brooks are rather like family. Oh, and he's kind of staggeringly beautiful. I mean, look at him up there. Phwoarrr. (And what is the show about? Oh, I know I don't have to tell you that.)
This is the first of Jamie's major roles to land in the monthly spotlight so rather than working with just a single appearance to recap, we have to choose an episode. For now, even though the Series 3 eps so far have been fantastic and Matt's big S3 episode airs Sept. 30th, without that one to go on I'm recapping one of his bigger episodes to date, written by former showrunner Chris Chibnall - heavy on the Matt/Ronnie rapport, recounted from a Devlin-centric point of view, and with emphasis on the pretty, pretty close-ups. You will enjoy (I hope). ;)
Worth Watching?: OH YOU BETCHA. In general, I've never been an overwhelming fan of procedural shows, but the creative team on L&O:UK have done a wonderful job of adapting an American institution both trans-culturally and qualitatively. The scripts are smartly adapted and the cast are so, so good. (I know, we're biased in Jamie's case. But Bradley Walsh... OMFG, Bradley Walsh!) This episode is one of the best of the first thirteen.
Does he live or die?: Seeing as how we've been promoting the hell out of Series 3 with a fair amount of squee lately, what do you think?! Of course he lives. Yeah, I know, it's Law & Order... you never know when there's going to be a shocking twist, but thankfully that'd be a bit too shocking this time. CHUNG CHUNG!
The episode begins with Brooks and Devlin participating in a drugs sting with Ronnie's old mate, DS Jimmy Valentine, who has apparently brought them on board his case because it's on their patch. When the surveillance tech gets glitchy, Matt refuses to cool his heels in the car when his mate is on the front line. As he later explains, he's "using his initiative." Which is fab, because it involves looking rather stealthy and hot, lurking about in the shadows being all "I gots an earpiece!" and what not. Mmm, Sooper-Sekrit Undercover Matt. And when shots are fired, oh my but isn't he on Defcon 1, beating his feet and breathless and "Ronnieee-eee-eee!" (Aww, who loves ya partner? THIS GUY.)
The target, Shahid Nafoor, is dead. Valentine shot him, he claims, in self-defense; Ronnie was behind the open boot of a car and didn't see it, and Matt didn't have a clear view from his vantage point, either. After the fact, while being questioned by the DPS (i.e. internal affairs - and holding his ground with Zoe Telford's investigator Sara Fraser, who is quite disarmingly sexy...oh, yes, I remember you on the first series of Teachers, Zoe, and I still can't believe Andy Lincoln dumped you. Idiot!)... anyway, there's something going on in Matt's eyes as he answers where he was and when during the sting. As DI Chandler remarks in an earlier episode, we can hear his brain whirring from here. This equation doesn't add up and he knows it, and being true blue as he is, it doesn't sit well on his conscience to fudge the truth. He does the only thing he can: admits to not having actually seen Shahid Nafoor pull a gun on Jimmy Valentine.
Afterwards down the pub, Matt comes clean that he... um, came clean with the DPS. There's a bit of a disagreement between partners about whether or not Matt was instructed on what to say. (He wasn't actually, Ronnie's got a point that he was just recounting the events from his POV because it happened fast. It's really more Valentine's bullish attitude that gives that impression.) Still, the die's been cast and it's clear that from his sideline involvement, Matt wants... nay, needs to know what's really going on now. He tries to explain that he's discovered Nafoor was earlier brought in on a drugs charge and released for no apparent reason, but he can't distract Ronnie from the bar snacks. At least not yet.
Sensing he has to tread carefully, Matt goes to the crown prosecutors' offices and has Alesha Phillips help him try to uncover more background on why Nafoor wasn't locked up. Alesha seems aware that she probably shouldn't be doing this, but also knows there's no saying "no" to the baby blues so why bother trying. She's verified that Nafoor was booked on heroin possession yet was still released without charges, but is unable to determine why because (wait for it) - "restricted access." See Matt's pulse start to race and the baby blues get all saucery like "Wha?!?! Conspiracy!!!" Yeah, it's cute. I mean it's not cute really, it's SRS BSNS, but it looks cute.
On Alesha's recommendation, Matt visits Nafoor's brother Omar and tries to obtain a few more scraps of information. What he gets is the bombshell that Shahid was a criminal informant working with the police, and Omar is convinced that Clive Mason (the drugs kingpin at the center of all this) had his brother whacked. Why would Valentine set up a sting on a CI in the first place? Just the first question of about eight dozen that appear to be whizzing through Matt's head as his heart sinks and he realizes the next step is he's going to have to try to convince his partner again. (Also? Blimey, Jamie fantastic in this scene. So subtle, so effective. *pounces him* Anyway... continue...)
Matt gets Ronnie alone in the interrogation room and tries to argue his case - a case which though he has good information to back up, still contains a few holes which Ronnie demonstrates his seasoned pro's ability to exploit. He tries to get Matt to admit he's not 100% sure he saw Jimmy Valentine draw first, resulting in Matt getting very shouty indeed and insisting he's 100% sure he didn't see Nafoor draw first. Ronnie, stymied and clearly uncomfortable with his young partner accusing his old mate, dismisses Matt's conspiracy theory, even as Matt pleads with him to change his mind.
NOTE: Reason #1 why I love this episode so, it's a beautiful 180 from the dynamic between the two cops from Ep. 1x08 "Samaritan", where Matt was quick to dismiss the idea that one cop could leave another to die and Ronnie was the one who pursued the investigation. It demonstrates character development on Matt's part in that he is less reticent to doubt a crooked cop scenario with evidence in hand, and conversely Ronnie's usual intuitive skepticism is tainted by his history with the cop in question.
Despite having told Ronnie he doesn't want to go to the guv behind his back, approximately 30 seconds later... Matt's going to the guv behind Ronnie's back. To be fair to the lad, he doesn't seem thrilled about it. Natalie Chandler is taken aback and probably doesn't like the added implication of her boys being at odds with each other, but feels as Matt does that the evidence is compelling. She gives him 24 hours to gather more information before she is obliged to take what they currently have to the DPS. And Matt's quiet little "thank you" indicates that he's relieved to have someone's trust and encouragement at this point. Plus it's adorkable.
Matt heads back to Alesha, who has been a busy bee still investigating Nafoor's unexplained release; turns out the drugs he had on him disappeared from police evidence, hence they couldn't charge him. On duty at the time? Jimmy Valentine. Plus 17 other officers, which means yet more coincidental links to Valentine that Matt can't nail down or prove. He sinks into his overcoat and looks sullen and in need of a cuddle. Alesha inexplicably sidesteps the opportunity for hot-copper-cuddles and suggests he try talking to Ronnie; Matt gets even more sullen, sinks further into his coat and says "I tried. It didn't go too well." (Meanwhile his eyelashes are all "Yoo-hoo, we're pretty!")
The next time we see Matt, he's in a greasy spoon sitting across from Jimmy Valentine, who has requested a sit-down via Ronnie because he knows Matt is investigating his past collars. Valentine tries the old back-handed chummy routine to see what Matt knows about Clive Mason, which doesn't go down very well when Matt implies that would make it rather easy for Jimmy to tip Mason off, wouldn't it? Jimmy stares down Matt like he's five seconds from reaching across the table and slamming his head into it, asking him to "say that again." And despite the fact that Jimmy's a big son of a bitch and all gravel-voiced and hard-arsed and totally Gene Hunt's brother and shit, Matt doesn't budge. Just glares right back, silent. And it's FRAKKING AWESOME. Ronnie has to raise his voice to break the stare-down and ask Matt politely to leave, which is where Matt cocks an eyebrow and continues to stare Jimmy down before he leaves the table and oh, I've never loved you quite as much as I do right now, detective boy. (And his conviction has not gone unnoticed, because while Matt is outside cooling off, Ronnie basically points out to Jimmy that he evaded Matt's question, implies that he's had a change of heart and Jimmy is now on officially on notice. Hee.)
See, what happened in the scene between sulky-Matt at CPS and badass-Matt in the caff is that Jimmy caught Ronnie in the morning on his way down to the fishmongers', felt his way around the situation and seemed confident enough that his old mate believed in him and together, they could get the young whippersnapper to back off. To ensure this end result, he casually paid for Ronnie's piece of mullet because that's what old mates do, innit? Now, though, Ronnie's definitely seeing between the lines and feels as though Jimmy's tried to buy his cooperation. To say he's royally cheesed off is an understatement. Matt can only double-take in (probably relieved) shock as Ronnie charges off, determined now to find out why the both of them were apparently being used as pawns.
Their first stop is Valentine's partner, DS Anna Moynihan (who was the one in the car with Matt when the surveillance equipment went on the fritz). As Matt has suspected, Anna sabotaged the gear so they wouldn't have a clear recording of the incident. And she reveals that Valentine has been kicking her cash to keep quiet, though she claims she didn't know it was coming from Clive Mason. Matt gets to be extra-shouty while pointing out that if she couldn't figure that out, she's thick as two short planks. (Fair enough, really.) Ronnie's plenty shouty himself when he gets up in Anna's face and implies that the ball's in her court, she needs go on record.
On the basis of Moynihan's testimony, Valentine's brought in for more questioning by the DPS, during which he deflects every one of Fraser's questions and continues to act as though no one can touch him and his farts smell of roses. He taunts Ronnie via the CCTV camera and Ronnie expresses his wish to be the one conducting the questioning, though Alesha reminds him he can't, being part of the investigation. Matt looks as though he knows he can't, either, but wishes he could get in there and flex his "bad cop" muscles. (UNF. Flex. Muscles.) Sorry... anyway, Valentine is charged with Nafoor's murder and as he's led away in cuffs, he leans in close to Ronnie and promises "I'm not finished with you, yet." Ronnie remains stoic, while Matt looks on, deeply concerned now that the investigation he's set in motion is about to get very personal for his
surrogate dad partner.
Now is when we transition into the "Order" part of the show, which given the subject of this episode involves Matt more than usual. But he's absent for large chunks, so the gist of the next few scenes: The chief of police wants the CPS to offer Valentine a lesser charge in exchange for info that will put Clive Mason away for good. George Castle is willing to do so, but James Steel is all "I AM DISAPPOINT!", wondering if there isn't also an element of wanting to avoid the bad press of an officer on trial for murder. Still, George is the boss so James does as instructed. Lucky for him, Jimmy continues to be an arrogant bastard and he and his snotty lawyer Evelyn Wyndham reject the deal unless they'll give him immunity and witness protection. James reports back to George all "Can you believe that shit?!", and George says "HA! Comedy. Screw them, sic Alesha on him and get us some choice leverage." Alesha snoops through Valentine's locker with Sara Fraser and finds a lingerie catalog which leads her to Jimmy's mistress, who as it turns out has video of Mason meeting with Jimmy in the apartment he bought for her that she figured she might use one day because she knows better than anyone that Valentine's a tosser. Heeee. Nice one. Still, even with the video in hand, Valentine won't plead a lesser charge, claming Mason will just find a way to whack him in prison anyway. James and Alesha argue about whether or not James didn't try hard enough for a lesser plea deal, James insisting he's doing this for our boys in blue. *waves blue pompoms* Either way, we're headed to the dock, kids...
...which is where Jimmy Valentine is the next time we see Matt, sitting supportively next to Ronnie in court when the grand scheme Jimmy's been angling for is finally revealed. He claims Mason threatened his family to get him to pull off the hit, but it seems as though he's banking on a back-up plan of "If I'm going down, I'm taking Ronnie Brooks with me." He testifies that he's pulled a missing-drugs-evidence stunt before, six years ago when he first began working for Clive Mason... and that Ronnie, then working in the same department, helped him get rid of the drugs and they split the take. Ronnie is clearly stunned but chin-up, as usual. Matt, slightly less so. (This is his "OH NOES, RONNIE!!1!11!" face. Aww, puppy. *pets him*)
Fraser is brought back in so that the DPS can get a statement from Ronnie about these new accusations, during which he professes his innocence but cannot prove his whereabouts on the date in question. He tells her he did have someone else cover him by signing him out of the office after he'd already left, but not because he was up to no good: He was at home sleeping off a drinking binge. Alone. Matt watches the CCTV and sinks against the wall, feeling massively guilty now that Ronnie's alcoholism is being dragged back out for public scrutiny. Afterward, he stands aside while Ronnie battles James and Alesha's insistence that the statement he just gave DPS isn't enough.
Matt allows Ronnie to leave the questioning without pressing him to take the witness stand, but later meets his partner and gently tries to get him to see sense. "They could charge you with perverting the course of justice... it'd be the end of you, mate"; Ronnie understands that perfectly well, but merely explains to Matt that "It's complicated" and wonders aloud to his partner when he'll finally get a break and achieve forgiveness for all his past mistakes. He asks Matt whether or not he believes him, and though there's a beat between question and answer, Matt confirms that he does. (It's such a fantastic little moment - Ronnie has surprised Matt a number of times over the course of the first two series, and the slightest whiff of hesitancy in Jamie's performance before he answers kind of nods toward that, but then the actual response is pretty concrete. Of course he believes him. COPPERS!!! ♥)
Precious little DS Devlin before the big finish so here's your second screenshot-free recap: Alesha discovers a now-dead colleague of Jimmy's and Ronnie's once refused to testify in court about tampering with evidence, likely making him Valentine's true accomplice. George wonders aloud why Ronnie won't testify; turns out the "it's complicated" Ronnie's talking about has a name, and it's Liz Wakeman. She's a former colleague, now a detective inspector, he was having an affair with six years ago and who can provide an alibi for him on the day the drugs went missing; they meet in the park and she tells him she wants to testify for him, but he refuses to let her. She's married and her husband never knew about their affair, so Ronnie feels he can't allow her to destroy her marriage to save his hide. Of course, you don't get to be a DI without having a bit of initiative, so Liz goes to the CPS on her own to provide her witness services. Ronnie barges in and tries to stop her, but he realizes it's fruitless. Liz testifies and comes under vicious scrutiny from Evelyn Wyndham regarding her infidelities and her reliablity as a witness, after which Ronnie has brief, choice words with the defence barrister and feels, if it's possible, even shittier than he did before. And you kind of just want to give him a bacon sandwich and a cuddle. Aww, Ronnie. (Like I said, I picked this one because it's relatively cops-heavy, but it really is Ronnie's episode much more so than Matt's. And Bradley Walsh is SO amazingly good.) Anyway, with their character witness having been eviscerated, it's last resort time - Ronnie meets Jimmy Valentine up on the roof of his building while he's having a smoke, and succeeds in getting him to confess on tape. (Though Jimmy checks Ronnie for a wire and finds one taped to his chest, it's a fake; the real bug is in a matchbox Ronnie gives him to light his cigarette. Bwah! PWNED, you big goon!)
Jimmy Valentine's at last found guilty of murdering Shahid Nafoor. Matt's back in court to lend a gentle shoulder-pat to his anguished partner, and it's about 50 different kinds of "awww." (Especially because for a few moments, the only thing Ronnie can grasp is Liz sitting across from the room smiling at him, as though she's happy she did what she had to do even if she put her marriage in jeopardy for nothing. And when he turns away for a second, she's gone.)
In the final scene, Matt's back on the bridge with Ronnie, who confesses that once upon a time when his drinking was at its lowest ebb, Liz and Jimmy were all he had. The woman who just threw herself on a sword for him, and the man who tried to destroy him before getting sent down for murder. Matt clearly still feels a bit guilty for being the one who started the wheels turning on this whole affair, not realizing the collateral damage that would result. He doesn't know what to say other than he's sorry and he wishes he could make it better, but he's all smart in his suit 'n' tie and musters a wistful little smile and all he can offer is... "Chips? On me?" Of course, Ronnie realizes Matt did what he did with the best of intentions, and there's no way he can hold a grudge against the lad. Plus he's Ronnie Brooks and fried food will do rather nicely, thank you - the two cops shake hands and all is once again right with the world of law enforcement. THE END!!!
BONUS!: "Scene 24 (Deleted)"
I wasn't going to include this deleted scene, but I remembered that it reveals a nice little detail that is otherwise absent from the episode. Basically, between the confrontation in the greasy spoon with Valentine and going to Anna Moynihan to get her to confess, Ronnie and Matt look through all of Jimmy's case files for further evidence. Tired and hungry, Matt offers to get food for Ronnie, who refuses (Rruh?! Ronnie refusing food?! Stop the presses!) and shows Matt what just made him lose his appetite: A file on a woman named Josephine Harrington who was actually Jimmy's assigned target; he forged the paperwork to change it to Shahid Nafoor before bringing the case to them. It's a nicely emotional moment where the reality of having been had by his friend sinks in for Ronnie (though as per usual, he internalizes a lot of it), and Matt tries to gauge how he's going to react, catching some of the deflected anguish himself. Unnecessary for the episode to progress, but worth watching if you're a COPPERS! fangirl like I am. Huzzah for DVD extras.I apologize for the fake-out links that all went to the same place. Come on, though... it's funny. ;) And I leave you with a macro (based on the funniest line in the episode):