Law & Order: UK - Discussion For Episode 1.4, "Unsafe" - Jamie Bamber News — LiveJournal
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Law & Order: UK - Discussion For Episode 1.4, "Unsafe"
"Unsafe", written by Chris Chibnall

It's Monday, which means it's time for the discussion thread for the benefit of our brand-new viewers in the States watching the show on BBC America. (Naturally, anyone who's seen these Series 1 eps already - no matter how many times ;) - is welcome to join in!)

Things I like about this episode:

- The fact that the "Law" and "Order" halves don't really exist; CPS is introduced very early on because James prosecuted Luke Slade the first time, and yet they have to keep returning to the cops regularly to construct a case to attempt to put down the appeal. The first really strong example of an ep being woven around teamwork, teamwork, teamwork.

- Charlie Covell, who plays Louise Ackroyd, is fantastic. There's such a sad, haunted quality to her when Ronnie and Matt visit her in her parents' lonely house, and I really get the sense in her performance that Louise is attached to the friendship James has shown her over the years,so it hurts her to feel the disappointment she feels when he struggles to keep Slade behind bars.

- Ronnie: "Maybe if we get it forensicated..."
Matt/Natalie (unison): "Forensicated isn't a word!"
Classic. XD
- I suppose this clip needs no introduction at this point, so here it is. ;)

(It's probably worth pointing out, though, that w/out Bradley's reaction shot that scene wouldn't be half as good as it is. LMAO!)

- Michael Smiley! The Irishman who plays Danny Doyle, Slade's cellmate, is a brilliant actor and comedian; one of his best-known perfs is as Tyres, the loopy drugged-up bike courier in Spaced. ("Oi, oi! You lucky people!" XD) Anyway, any time he turns up in anything I can't help but grin like an idiot.

- "I'm still at the Royal Opera House. Switch the lights off when you leave." GEORGE, NEVER CHANGE. <3

- Our first real taste of ACTION!MATT. YES, PLZ. From "Oi, Freddy!" (bahahaha, ILU, clever boy) right up to where he shoves him into the fence and slaps on the cuffs. Oh, and this face:

That. Face. XD


Things I don't like about this episode:

- It's quite early in the series for us to have an episode that taps into James Steel's past proscecutions so acutely, and I wonder if the angle of forcing the audience to question how much of his dogged approach is from a genuine place of wanting to do right by the victim (and by Louise here and now) is hampered by his professional reputation as a ball-buster and the notion that when he feels justice has been well and truly perverted, he can't let it go. We see that Slade attempts to get him chucked out based on this perception, and of course we will revisit similar ground in Series 3 (no spoilers for the newbies! ;) ) Still, as this was the very first of the L&O:UK episodes to air with a personal slant for one of the leads, I wonder if in retrospect if this didn't do more harm than good in that sense. Anyone? (I'd like to hear from the James fans as well as those who aren't as fond of him. He seems to be the most polarizing of all the main characters.)

- Iain Glen. *shrug*.... here's the thing, to be honest, I generally do like him a lot as an actor. He's virtually unmatched at posh, droll, nefarious badguys, which is why I think the first time around I didn't mind his performance so much. Oh, I thought, cool... classic Iain Glen. Still, on subsequent viewings I think it might be a little too broad a villain-y performance. There are a couple of moments when Slade is on the stand where he's really gnashing every bit of scenery around him. Other scenes, more subtle, but they're upstaged.

- The big pissing match scene between James and Slade after Slade is acquitted... Oh! My! God! So! Much! BUTT-HURT! XD Seriously, again... great subtleties woven into it (The way after James is pushed one inch too far, Ben Daniels hurls all of James's files to the ground and charges him is great), but overall I think the effect of the scene is played a little bit too grandiose and it doesn't quite ring as true as I'd like. It feels like it's got neon arrows pointing to it saying "BIG DRAMATIC SCENE!" rather than it feeling authentic. (By contrast, once Slade is apprehended for Richie Newman's death, the scene between the two men there works a lot better.)

Sound off, Bamber News babes...


3 comments or Leave a comment
lemurling From: lemurling Date: October 26th, 2010 02:49 am (UTC) (Link Me)
Besides the ones you mentioned, which I all agree with, a few other favorite moments before I get into the flailing and adoring:

"No! A Pogo stick. Metal detectors kids were the nerds."

Mattie flirting like mad with the clock lady, and aside from the 'Not my bed' line, he flirts with Alesha in a couple other places, gives her a nice look-see at one point. They were really hitting the Matt/Alesha hard in this episode.

But then again, late night sneaking around in the offices, drinks, long concerned looks, there was a fair amount of James/Alesha too. Girl gets around, but I guess that's what happens when you are the only unattached female regular.

Natalie and her sweater vests. I don't know, I just like that look for her. I also liked her making James back off on the boys. Very quiet, very firm.

"George, if you start being nice to me, I won't be able to concentrate for the rest of the day." The delivery of this just killed me.

"Enjoying the day?"
Best Mattie hate-smile ever. "We're about to."
lemurling From: lemurling Date: October 26th, 2010 02:59 am (UTC) (Link Me)
Slightly more substantive (slightly):

I can watch James for hours, so any episode with him big in it, I like. We get a fair amount of casual, rumpled James in this episode, and he has this loose-limbed sexy grace about him that draws me in and makes me sympathetic no matter what. Put James in a rolled up dress shirt with tie pulled askew, kneeling in a pile of paperwork, with a tired little smile, and I can even forgive him for *censored*.

Speaking of sexy, my tiny little James/Matt shipping corner of my soul obliged me to mention that moment when they're bringing the files for James, and Mattie is all "You need anything, you just call us, yeah?" and James gives him a smile... it's a small thing, but I call slash as I see it. (Not that I seriously think either actor intended anything, just that they're both men with a ton of charisma, and the connection/energy between them can be taken with an undercurrent of sexuality if one cares to.)

The daughter was really wonderful. Such a real character, you feel for her, really get that this is someone who has borne a lot of tragedy.

I can definitely see what you mean about Luke Slade being just a little too mustachio-twirling. It doesn't bother me, but he's just a touch too urbane and smarmy for the situation. Except, that I read it as a sign of Slade being some kind of insane. Meglomanical sociopathy or something. He's off. And someone doesn't write '9pm kill David' in their calendar if they aren't crazy in some way. For that matter, you don't commit fraud on a multi-million pound scale without being some kind of sociopath either. But the actor could have played it a little less broad and it would have been even better. (A little of the smarmy came from the script, that Danny, Danny Boy thing, ugh!)

I really liked James and George going at each other in that one scene. That doesn't happen too often, James getting really upset in general doesn't happen too often, and he loses his cool several times here. Obviously, this was a really hard episode on James, and its fair to ask whether his had to be the first episode with a strong personal story, and whether how he was depicted ended up making people more likely to love or hate James and his tactics.

I do think it is something that needed to happen, because James comes off so stolid, and by extension, the courtroom antics always seem less tense than the investigation side, because it seems hard to believe they won't get a conviction. I think they needed to throw some doubt into the audience, and also to humanize Steel a bit. For me it worked, this was definitely the episode where I fell in love.

"How many bodies must be buried in London? This city was built on corpses. Why does this one matter so much to you?"

"They all matter!"

"You really mean that. God, how do you --manage--, living with that conscience?"

Seriously, guh. That's James Steel in a nutshell. I guess I'm just a mad James fancier, but this whole Slade-Steel post-acquittal scene rocked my world. This is the scene I think about every single time I see James go full-on bastard in the cause of a conviction. This passion, this anger at injustice, this inability to stop caring about even one corpse laying under the streets of London, is what powers those smirks and sneers and brutal, unrelenting questions.

For me, it totally rang true, because James has had the worst week ever. This wasn't just any old murderer that he put away getting free, Luke Slade was his -redemption-. His first case as a prosecutor. His first case after he realized he couldn't live with himself any more as a defense counsel, getting people like Slade off. Nothing is closer to his heart. Becoming a prosecutor destroyed his life outside of work. He gave up everything to do this, and Slade shows up, and gets free, and the first thing he does is try to take it all away from James. Of course he went ballistic. I just wish they'd given us a couple different camera angles to really take in the full extent of his fury. And when he breaks down and cries at the end, guh. Guh. Guh. *goes off to make Mad James Fancier icon*
lemurling From: lemurling Date: October 26th, 2010 07:07 am (UTC) (Link Me)
Oh, one other tidbit from the timelines: There's something really strange going on with the timeline for Episode 3 (it's the only one where the dates don't match their days of the week), but as best I can tell "Unsafe" was originally episode 5, not 4 (perhaps they shifted the order because of the James-heavy elements of episode 6).
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