For those watching Law & Order: UK for the first time, "Alesha" was the final episode of Series 1 on ITV. You lucky folks don't have to wait for Series 2 episodes for months to debut or to sporadically turn up online. ;)
I'm curious as to what everyone thought of "Alesha". While the episode played well in some respects - and took the series in an unexpected direction - I found aspects of the episode problematic.
"Alesha" is difficult to discuss as well as to watch. I was spoiled for the episode before it aired on ITV back in April 2009 and, once I heard about the subject matter and how the story unfolded, I delayed watching the episode. I didn't actually see it until I purchased the DVDs.
I thought the actors, especially Freema, did a wonderful job in handling extremely difficult subject matter and the subsequent emotional repercussions. There was not a single false note from the characters and all acted, and reacted, as I would expect them to within the situation. James was obviously pained by what happened to Alesha and concerned for her welfare, yet had to remain an objective prosecutor. Matt became a bit too emotionally involved. Natalie was as angry as any of them, yet needed to adhere to the rules. And George keeps his distance.
But while I appreciate the writing nailed the emotional beats, the story itself hinged on Alesha acting, I hate to say, stupidly, not once, but twice. It also didn't help that the way events unfolded was confusing. In the opening, I wasn't sure if Alesha had an actual medical problem to contend with (we don't learn until late in the episode she was seeking a second opinion) or if she was already investigating the doctor because of an attack on someone she knew. (And, the more I think about it, did Alesha not ever mention to Diane that she, too, was seeing Dr. Merrick? If so, wouldn't Diane have tried to stop her?)
As a woman, I can understand why Alesha was so passionate about stopping Dr. Merrick from abusing any more women. She couldn't have been the first victim and if someone didn't speak up, the abuse would continue. But while Alesha couldn't foresee being drugged and rapped, I am unable to fathom putting oneself in the position of being molested for a second time. Even George commented, "Why did she go and have to get herself raped. How stupid could she be?" At the same time the remark made me cringe (I know George wasn't blaming the victim, but, still), I felt he had a point. I really hate to say it, but she did provide the defense with a defense - if she believed she had been assaulted before, then why go back?
But perhaps an even bigger problem for me was failing to disclose to James, who was prosecuting an extremely difficult case on Alesha's behalf, that she had a friendship with one of Merrick's other patients, a patient the police suspected was another victim. I was as dumbstruck as James when the connection was made in court. His simple, "You should have told me", was the perfect response. He surely didn't want to make Alesha feel worse, yet she made him look bad in court and damaged the case.
Ultimately, Alesha failed to ever look at the case from the perspective of the smart prosecutor we know she is. It's not that I'm criticizing her for allowing her emotions to become involved in the case, but, at the same time, I don't think it's too much to ask that she not be so careless when it came to the investigation, especially when the cause meant so much to her.
Other issues I had:
It was up to Alesha whether or not the nurse remained in the examination room and she chose to have her leave in order to get Merrick abusing her on film (and it makes me uncomfortable just typing that statement). In the US, it's standard practice with male doctors to have a nurse remain in the room during a gynecological exam. It's as much for the doctor's protection (in a lawsuit happy country) as for the patient's. If I had a doctor not ask the nurse to stay, I would be suspicious. I'm wondering if medical standards and practices in the UK are very different from those in the US?
While every defendant deserves a defense, and I understand why a rapist chooses to hire a female attorney, I still was appalled by Phyllis's acceptance of the version of events Merrick gave her. Not that I would expect her to tip her hand to the prosecution, but I would have preferred to see some small hint that she was doing her job, yet did not completely buy her client's story.
I question the legality of arresting someone - and on camera - when no new charges have been filed, but, as George said, happily it worked out for them.