Friday Forum: Law & Order: UK Episode 3.6, "Masquerade" - Discussion Thread - Jamie Bamber News
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Friday Forum: Law & Order: UK Episode 3.6, "Masquerade" - Discussion Thread


"Masquerade," written by Richard Stokes

Time to discuss Episode 3.6, folks! And before I get to my points I'll issue a sterner SPOILER warning than usual - for those who are just now watching the first 13 eps on BBC America, you probably aren't reading this thread anyway, but be warned that I'm going to discuss the events of a few of those earlier episodes in relation to this one behind the cut...

- First off, appreciated the fact that there was a slight fake-out in the opening scene where you think the victim's going to be in the flat they're pounding on the door of... then turns out...

- Another slightly lighter on Law episode, but what we got was pretty choice. Yet more Natalie actively taking part in interrogations for a start. (And really laying down the law for Sally's arsehole father from minute one... awesome. GO HBIC! :) ) Plus some terrific COPPERS! banter, including the bit about the tandem bike and Ronnie wistfully talking about kids leaving home (clearly thinking of his girls) while Matt remembers it much more fondly. ("What are you on about, ya daft old git?!" Heee.) And, well... I'm probably being far too obvious squeeing about ye old Amanda Teague anecdote, aren't I? Suffice to say that I was still impressed that Matt managed to spin a memory of his youthful randiness into actually HELPING SOLVE A CASE. DS Irish, you're gonna be the end of me, you are. <3 (And I doff my cap to Richard Stokes. LOL)

- On to the meat and potatoes... already chatted briefly with asta77 and we did agree that it was somewhat jarring to have two episodes which force Alesha to recall her rape incident airing back-to-back. Granted, they are very different cases which challenge her in very different ways, but coupled together it's a curious decision that they lead into one another. Especially because last week's exchanges with Tamika don't really serve to reinforce Alesha's continued struggle with it in any way nor does it inform the details of this case, either. But personally, in a sense, I appreciated that this case did turn out so different and in fact wasn't a case of rape at all, but something arguably just as painful and destructive. To wit:

- The fact that not only did the case involve a murder and possible rape, but really ugly racial implications too; I was reminded in a certain sense of the mother in "Paradise" who felt concerned that the CPS wouldn't do enough to get justice for her son and the other victims because they were Turkish immigrants. Here, Archie's parents are ultimately somewhat justified in their concerns that his being Bengali and Sally being white are being exploited by the media coverage. And of course, Sally's father... ugggh. A broad monstrous characterization, maybe a teeny bit, but assholes like that are a reality sadly. I have an uncle (unfortunately) who gave two of his kids hell for years because they married a black man and a Filipino woman, respectively. ;( I guess if I did have one gripe, it would be that we didn't really hear much out of Sally's mouth to describe how the fight she got into with Archie was so harrowing that it would have led her to stab him. I mean, I can see that she felt threatened he would go to her father but man... that's a big result even from an attack of sheer panic.

- Also, the manner in which the truth unravels is interesting to watch in that Alesha's instincts are so tested, from the point where she's visibly shaken up after watching Sally's first questioning (and Matt's still sympathetic to a fault - bless him) to where she finally determines, looking Sally in the eye and asking and really reaching deep into her gut for that instinct, that the girl is lying. Very nice callback (whether intentional or not) too in Natalie's line about them having seen cases where an alleged rape victim was using that as smoke screen - we did in fact see that in the show before, in "Vice" (airing tomorrow on BBC America! Check it out! ;) ) where Emma Sandbrook claimed she killed in self defense during a rape attack and the forensics ultimately proved she was making it up.

- I did feel at first as though James seemed unusually detatched from Alesha's personal connection to the situation, even for him. (Esp. at the point where even George asks about her well being - though he can't get past calling it "the thing.") But by the end, I like that it seemed to reflect him sticking to his role in the process and leaving her to make her own judgment calls every step of the way. Intended, I think to show that he trusts she'll make the right ones.

All in all, quite a messy (in a good way) and sad episode but overall, I appreciated the to-and-fro of it.  OK, enough babbling from me, have at it kiddies. ;)

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Comments
dramaturgca From: dramaturgca Date: October 15th, 2010 06:27 am (UTC) (Link Me)
Shallow first. It pleased my little librarian soul that not only was Matty indulging in the time-honoured tradition of making it in the stacks, he remembered what section. It's those little details, Irish, that make you such an appealing prospect. And yes, just generally, that he was learning. And he used what he learned to FIGHT CRIME.

Natalie laying the smackdown on overbearing!dad was completely win. She's so deliciously snarky, and she's also so good with her boys. The tandem bike bit was great and so was her brief conversation with James when he came looking for more on Sally later in the episode. (JELLY BEANS! Oh, Ronnie)

I'm not really thrilled that we got two Alesha eps in a row here, even if they were vastly different. If this was a more character-driven show, I would think that we're building up to a meltdown and Alesha leaving or something.

For the case itself, I honestly felt like it got a little bit short shrift because of the focus on Alesha. The last two episodes have gotten a little muddy for me around the 30 minute mark and it takes me awhile to pull back in. I agree that there wasn't anything about the way Sally explained the argument that made me understand why she stabbed him, though chronic abuse victims, and everyone really, have different tolerances for different things. Overall, I felt like Sally was really very blank, I never got much in the way of emotion from her, and that damaged my overall sympathy for the case. I'm also not sure that the sidebar about 13 year old shenanigans was necessary and that time might've been better spent on exploring the crime a little more. I don't know, this part of the series isn't gelling for me as well, but there were parts of last year that never really caught me either.

In total, I think I can give it a solid B.
zegeekgirl From: zegeekgirl Date: October 15th, 2010 06:35 am (UTC) (Link Me)
It pleased my little librarian soul that not only was Matty indulging in the time-honoured tradition of making it in the stacks, he remembered what section.

I'll never pass the stacks of the social sciences section with out pausing again, I'm afraid. XD

I think you make a good point re: the fact that successive callbacks to one character's past incident stands out far more in a procedural show. Also, re: a section of the series dragging a bit... yeah, I think the first time around I felt that way with the middle section of both Series 1 and Series 2, though I've revisited episodes that I ended up liking more the second time around. ("Buried" is one; that one felt very ho-hum to me the first time, but on second viewing I liked a lot of the minor character details and the big climax felt more organic. More on that in the BBCA discussion in two weeks' time. ;) )
telscha From: telscha Date: October 15th, 2010 12:13 pm (UTC) (Link Me)
Shame Alesha forgot her wig in court really. Or is there a justifiable reason for her not wearing it this time. Sure I've seen her with it before.

And I'd love to see Matt and Ronnie on a tandam. Complete with jelly beans of course ;-)
lemurling From: lemurling Date: October 15th, 2010 02:58 pm (UTC) (Link Me)
Alesha isn't allowed to wear a wig, she's a solicitor, not a barrister.
asta77 From: asta77 Date: October 15th, 2010 05:34 pm (UTC) (Link Me)
I sat here nodding my head in a agreement with much of what you said. :) What we had of Matt and Ronnie was GOLD. I LOVED Matt's retort to Ronnie about Ronnie being on the back of the bike stuffing his face while he'd be doing all the legwork, as usual. Hee! Snarky Matt for the win! We need to see more of him. ;)

Then there was the scene in the library. Does Richard Stokes have any idea what he has unleashed? And while the "we were learning" line was brilliant, it was Jamie's expression while saying it that made it so, so perfect.

I'm really enjoying Nathalie being more involved in the interviews. It shouldn't be the norm, but she's a very hands on Detective Inspector and it makes sense that, on occasion, she'd be in the interrogation room.

Once again, we had Matt becoming more emotional than he probably should be during a case. I don't think this is a sign he's more sensitive or feels things deeper than Ronnie, but that he's younger, newer to the job, and hasn't built up as many walls yet.

Now, I'm going to basically cut and paste what I shared on Twitter earlier today. It seems many of us found it odd to have two episodes dealing with rape back-to-back, with Alesha being forced to relive what she went through. I know in the timeline of the show, weeks, even months, may have passed, but it's a bit jarring, as well as emotionally draining, for the audience.

The UK version of L&O does delve into the lives of their characters more, which I love and applaud the writers for doing. It provides for character arcs and it's clear Alesha has not yet fully dealt with what happened to her. It was very telling that she seemed to be on the verge of revealing to Sally what happened to her in court, but then went on to say she had seen what *other* women had to go through in court.

If this is all building towards breakthrough for Alesha (and L&O:UK only has 13 episodes to tell a story rather than he traditional 20 or so episodes US series have), I can better understand why we had 'Survivor' and 'Masquerade' together. Otherwise, it felt like it was too much for Alesha and the audience to have to deal with.

I did feel at first as though James seemed unusually detatched from Alesha's personal connection to the situation, even for him. (Esp. at the point where even George asks about her well being - though he can't get past calling it "the thing.") But by the end, I like that it seemed to reflect him sticking to his role in the process and leaving her to make her own judgment calls every step of the way. Intended, I think to show that he trusts she'll make the right ones.

I didn't feel James was detached, George's "the thing" comment is what really bugged me. They've all approached Alesha's rape and the emotional toll it's taken on her in different ways. I think both Matt and his willingness to address it without being pushy and James's not addressing it unless Alesha wants to are both proper responses and respectful of her and her feelings. Like you, I felt James was allowing her to (he hoped) use her better judgment, but he would have stepped in had he felt he needed to.
zegeekgirl From: zegeekgirl Date: October 15th, 2010 09:54 pm (UTC) (Link Me)
You know, I've been thinking more about George's line following yours and lemurling's comments, and I don't know if I could say that line bothered me per se. I do think it definitely bugged James, and rightly so, but IMO it is still within character for George who I don't think meant to be flippant or negative there. While in certain ways he's quite progressive for an older gent, there is still that aspect of him which is... well, older gent. ;) He can talk about rape in blunt terms if it applies to a case, but when it applies to someone close to him all of the sudden he acts as though it's too sensitive to address head-on. (Necessitating James to respond with that "Oh, for god's sake, George, don't be such a stiff about it" tone. ;) )
lemurling From: lemurling Date: October 15th, 2010 06:01 pm (UTC) (Link Me)
A couple other things that stood out to me on the rewatch:

I liked that it was Natalie who actually brought up the possibility that Sally was lying. You could see that Ronnie had his doubts, but he didn't want to get into it with Matt, and was relieved that Natalie started it up, and was so firm about shutting Mattie down when he didn't want to look at the possibility. I think we needed Natalie questioning the rape as a woman's voice, to balance Alesha, the other main female character, starting off believing Sally and not even wanting to prosecute.

Matt was typically quick to judge (and wrong again, poor lad) and upset that they were questioning Sally's claim at all, and I was pondering how much of that was his sensitivity to the issue because of Alesha's rape (oh, his eyes get so soft and worried when he first looks at her!), and how much of that is just general chivalrous Mattie's tendency toward sympathy for pretty girl-folk. (He seems far quicker to rush to judgment against men and for women, because his abuse was by a man? Not that he can't lean on a lovely woman or think that she's a criminal, of course, but interrogation-Mattie and what Mattie actually believes aren't the same thing.)

In that hallways scene, it wasn't just one-way Mattie being concerned for Alesha, Alesha was glancing right back at him. -He- was the one she was worried would be seeing through her 'I'm fine, it's just another case' demeanor, and she kept checking in with him, worried about how upset he was.

The first scene James and Alesha have, leaving the bail hearing, I thought James was actually quite mad and disappointed in her. That she had reassured him she was fine, and then showed that she wasn't actually by questioning what they were doing, not backing him up. I'm not sure I can recall him snapping at her before, the way he did with his, "do me a favor, keep that to yourself" bit. I liked that, but then, I like James' hard-nosed bastard side (I've been surprised to read criticism elsewhere on the net that find him improbably emotional and soft for a barrister.) He was right to be upset, she was being unprofessional, and despite James covering for her and sticking up for her with George, she got quite a bit more unprofessional in the following scenes discussing the case strategy.

I've realized that I dislike that about Alesha. She can be, well, whiny, and not just in situations like these where her prejudices are understandably coming to the fore (again, I need to get that timeline finished, and figure out just how long it's been since the rape and trial). I still like the character, the best characters have flaws. Being inclined to winge about right and wrong or to personalize too much from her own life, these are just the other side of Alesha being deeply involved in her job, and believing in what they're doing. But, they're not the most attractive of qualities. (Wanted to not the interesting Alesha backstory detail that her dad left/abandoned? the family.)

Also, Ronnie being 'bad cop' adorable, but he shouldn't try that on anyone tougher than a college student. Leave the being mean to Mattie.

James is so keen in this episode. Really fun for a James' fancier like myself to watch: the sudden insights, the little flickers of expression, the smirks, the concern toward Alesha in a few different flavors including the office cross-examination of her, plus some great courtroom hammering. "I'd hate to appear arrogant, George." And casual James in rumpled shirtsleeves, and the little wig curl flip? I'm feeling downright dreamy toward him; Mattie better get more face time in next week's episode or I'm in danger of swaying slightly over to the other side.

And while I felt the first time like Order had stolen time from Law, taken over the investigation, the second time through, I realized that the episode had a surprisingly large number of mixed-team scenes. I know the whole run of the show has been a gradual increase in these, but this might be the most yet.
zegeekgirl From: zegeekgirl Date: October 15th, 2010 10:06 pm (UTC) (Link Me)
Actually, Series 3 has seen quite an explosion of mixed-team scenes as compared to the first 13. Every single episode has had at least one, I think!

I was pondering how much of that was his sensitivity to the issue because of Alesha's rape (oh, his eyes get so soft and worried when he first looks at her!), and how much of that is just general chivalrous Mattie's tendency toward sympathy for pretty girl-folk.

It's a combination of both, I'd gather. Although I'll say this - Matt does tend to be quite charming and sometimes more sensitive to what immediately presents as a hard-luck case, I'll give you that, but I definitely think it's about more than just the ladieeeees. ;) As you say, there are definitely a couple he leans on during questioning. (See: the pretty blonde daughter (whose name escapes me now) who receives the stolen kidney in "Sacrifice", he's quite tough on her when they are trying to figure out where the payment came from.) I think with Alesha, whether or not he's attracted to her in *that* way, he feels strongly about the situation because they are colleagues and friends so it's personal in a sense. The same way he got very hot-headed about the idea of a cop leaving another to die in "Samaritan", because honoring the badge is something he takes very personally.

spongetrisha From: spongetrisha Date: October 15th, 2010 09:04 pm (UTC) (Link Me)
I really liked this episode.

I absolutely love the banter between Matt and Ronnie, loved the whole tandem conversation and the bit in the street where Ronnie is going on about his daughters leaving home and Matt calls him a daft old git.

The whole library conversation was awesome, is it wrong that I love he was having a quickie in the library?

Loved Natalie smacking down the Daddy.
asta77 From: asta77 Date: October 16th, 2010 02:39 pm (UTC) (Link Me)
is it wrong that I love he was having a quickie in the library?

No. ;)
esmerelda_t From: esmerelda_t Date: October 15th, 2010 09:39 pm (UTC) (Link Me)
While I thought overall it was a strong episode compared to what we got in series one and two, I thought having two Aleesah centric episodes in a row was a bit much, although saying that I've really enjoyed Freema's performance in the last two episodes and find her much stronger now than she was previously.

Admittedly I'm biased but I feel we seem to get episode after episode where it's personal for one of the law team, and only once in a blue moon are the coppers front and centre.
zegeekgirl From: zegeekgirl Date: October 15th, 2010 10:13 pm (UTC) (Link Me)
Admittedly I'm biased but I feel we seem to get episode after episode where it's personal for one of the law team, and only once in a blue moon are the coppers front and centre.

You know, I hate to say it because I've tried to be objective in this regard and not seem like I'm expecting unrealistic results. ;) It's still first and foremost a procedural show! BUT in comparison to the American L&O's we've been a little bit delightfully spoiled for character development... and yet, I crunched the numbers and you've got a point. The tally, so far (bearing in mind I'm using the "centric" designation loosely - I know the degree of focus varies, but in any case each of these eps are somewhat personal for the characters in question.)

Ronnie-centric episodes: 1 ("Honour Bound")
Matt-centric episodes: 1 ("Confession")
Natalie-centric episodes: 0 (Scandal! Must rectify, writers! ;) )
James-centric episodes: 2 ("Unsafe" and "Hounded")
Alesha-centric episodes: 3 ("Alesha," "Survivor" and "Masquerade")
George-centric episodes: 1 ("Sacrifice")

There's other things to consider, too (Like the fact that James' history with Bea McArdle adds a level of personal context any time she's the defense brief, etc.) All in all, socializing in the context of work seems to get done far less on the coppers' side, but that's the nature of the job I guess.
mardia From: mardia Date: October 16th, 2010 04:10 am (UTC) (Link Me)
Like a lot of people here, I liked the episode, but I was surprised to have two Alesha-centric episodes back to back, and yeah, they make me think that perhaps one or two episodes are possibly being aired out of order. It happens from time to time in the US, can anyone confirm whether it also happens in the UK?

I like Alesha, so I'm not exactly complaining, but at the same time...hmm. I do think a lot of it goes back to my ambivalent feelings about the plotline of the episode "Alesha", because no matter how fantastic the subsequent Alesha-centric episodes have been (I think Survivor was stronger than this one, personally) there's still that part of me that's a bit annoyed with how that first episode worked out. But that's a discussion for another time.

One thing that did annoy me was the development, or rather lack of development, for Sally. One thing that's always been such a highlight of the series is how well all the characters are developed, particularly the defendants, so to have this girl be so much of a blank was a bit off-putting. I almost want to say it's more the fault of the acting than the writing, because that big courtroom scene was just ripe for a big dramatic moment and instead it felt a bit flat.

I second the wish that we could see more of the coppers, particularly Natalie. C'mon writers, throw us a bone here, please.

I will say, however, that I did love what we got of the coppers. Matt was his usual fantastic self, and as someone who loves seeing him interact with Alesha, I thought his scene with her in the hallway was just wonderful. Matt isn't afraid to address Alesha's rape more directly, while still being very empathetic about it, and very respectful as well. I don't want to say his approach is better than James', but it's one that probably appeals to me a bit more. (I'll freely admit that as a not-so-closeted Matt/Alesha shipper, any scenes with those two interacting is delightful to me.)

Count me in as someone who was bugged by George's line of Alesha's "thing". The look and tone James shot him at that was totally deserved, IMO.
asta77 From: asta77 Date: October 16th, 2010 02:53 pm (UTC) (Link Me)
I commented above that, it seems, the episodes are airing in the order they were intended intended. According to Emilia, the writers felt the episodes played well side by side. I and a couple others pointed out what we saw as problems airing the two episodes back to back and Emilia appreciated the feedback. :)

I agree, "Survivor" was a stronger episode, overall and in terms of Alesha's arc. And while I'm glad the show is not forgetting about what happened to Alesha, the episode "Alesha" had it's share of problems and, for me, that lingers in the back of my mind.

I almost want to say it's more the fault of the acting than the writing, because that big courtroom scene was just ripe for a big dramatic moment and instead it felt a bit flat.

I mentioned this up thread. The actress playing Sally wasn't terrible, but I don't feel she had the range needed for the part. It also struck me that the defense may have tried to strike a last minute plea deal. I can't recall how the US version played out, but L&O often would showed the two sides making deals before a verdict was read.
pipsytip From: pipsytip Date: October 16th, 2010 10:15 pm (UTC) (Link Me)
I really liked this week's episode.

It was another tough one.

Loved Alesha in this, yes she was put through the mill again but goodness how strong is she? Love her so much.

I also liked James this week. Put that in your diary. He seemed to be a good guy.

Matt and Ronnie rocked it. Love the way they joke about budgets and things. Would pay real monies to see them on a tandem. Their banter just get's better and better.

Also Ang! I love Ang.

Natalie really kicked arse this week, too. She's so good at her job she's an incredible role model.

There was no whoniverse person this week :(

Matt bless him, he's so noble and he's kind of a white knight, there is still so much innocence about him. What will it take to loose it?

shirt watch: dark brown stripey, green stripey, light blue, lilac, and light grey.
jill1228 From: jill1228 Date: February 19th, 2011 07:13 pm (UTC) (Link Me)

Lots of interesting things brought up last night

I really liked this episode. I agree that Alesha was really taking the possible rape of Sally to heart. She was not looking at all angles.
James had to call her out and say, "um, it's NOT about you!" I don't think he was being unfeeling in this episode either. If you recall in the "Alesha" episode, his heart was breaking for Alesha. It was like someone shot his pet bunny
Matt+Ronnie=Bromance FTW. I loved their banter about the tandem bike and Ronnie so aghast about Matt getting a quick booty call from Amanda in the stacks. He was learning, all right. He was getting his education on learning not to get busted
Sally's father was beyond reprehensible. I expected him to come in to the CPS wearing his white hood and white sheets. Natalie putting the dad in his place was SO FULL OF WIN. She is definitely HBIC!
George-I wanted to drop kick him with the "is she letting HER THING get to her". I know he is fond of her and almost sees her like a daughter but dude, just say the words

Loved the little shippy snippets: Alesha brushing James's shoulder (it seemed like the defense barrister REALLY noticed it) and then the bar scene at the end. I was squeeing a little

On a more serious note-I really liked the fact that George and Alesha brought up the press and their racial bias when it comes to victims. White victims/missing white kids sell papers, magazines whatever. It is like no one gives a flying flip about the victims/missing kids of color.
There is plenty of reason to be outraged. (and no, I am not saying this only as a black woman)

George (yes, I am paraphrasing): an Asian kid is killed and no one cares. A pretty white girl is a victim and they are all over it
This is SO true: if a non white kid is missing or a victim, you barely hear about it in the news. It is almost like it is in passing. If a white kid is missing or a victim, then there is a media storm! Folks are on it like white on rice (pardon the pun)
Hell, if you didn't know better you would think there are no missing children of color

It was interesting because I was talking to my husband about this. My husband (who happens to be white) was the one who originally brought it up
The press deserves to be called out and brow beaten over this. All victims/missing kids matter
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