Law & Order: UK - Discussion For Episode 2.1, "Samaritan" - Jamie Bamber News
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Law & Order: UK - Discussion For Episode 2.1, "Samaritan"

"Samaritan" written by Chris Chibnall

Apologies for the so-so screencap. I had to dig up an old avi file from 2009 to make one. I'm shocked to discover screencaps largely dried up after the first series aired. But enough of my whining!

"Samaritan" is an episode that didn't blow me away, yet had some strong character moments and highlighted another difference (perhaps) between U.S. and U.K. police departments.

In the U.S., (unless someone wants to tell me I'm wrong and this is one instance where I'd love to be told I'm wrong) gay police officers are still very much in the closet. If anyone watches the series Southland (and if you're not, you should be!), one of the lead characters is gay, but it's not a part of his life he's open about with his fellow officers. While I can believe in the U.K. it is less of an issue and that there are openly gay officers, it still has to be a problem for some officers. Would most of those officers allow another to die? Unlikely. Could one? Yes, and it's why I could believe Ray was complicit in Nick's death. Even more so when we learned he used a twisted interpretation of the Bible (it was a wise move on Chris Chibnall's part to not assign any particular faith to Ray) and claims God would have shown him a sign to act if He wanted Nick to live to validate his decision to stand by and do nothing as Nick bled to death.

Matt, once again, is quick to rush to judgment, but this time in defense of the accused. In his very black and white view of the world, he finds it impossible to see how one copper could do nothing to stop the death of another, especially his own partner. Natalie has to point out they need to investigate the case as they would any other, that they owe it to him to learn the truth and to follow up every piece of evidence they have, even if they don't like what they find. Ultimately, it is the evidence (Ray's impossible claim that he ran from Leak Street to Creek Street in four minutes) that proves to Matt Ray's inaction led to the young officer's death.

We also learn Matt has a rather rosy view of the department. During one of many heated discussions with Ronnie, Matt points out it's no longer the 70's and they aren't knee deep in corruption. I can only assume that, in the 70's, corruption was much more rampant within the force than it is today. However, it seems almost naive to believe it's been eradicated. Ronnie has been a police officer and detective for many more years than Matt, which means he's witnessed a lot more. Without getting into spoilers, Ronnie's past experiences will be an issue later in Series 2. And it's because of that experience it's not so unbelievable to Ronnie that another 'old timer' could be guilty of an unthinkable crime.

While episodes have aired out of order, it's clear "Samaritan" was meant to air after "Alesha". I was pleased Alesha's rape was not forgotten. While L&O:UK is more character driven than it's predecessors, it doesn't do story arcs, which left me concerned that a major, life-altering event in the life of one of the series regulars might be dropped. Matt's attempt at reaching out to Alesha was a bit clumsy (or a "bit crap" as he put it, so typical for him ;), but I liked how Alesha requested he just be the same as always. And while James may claim his decision to allow Alesha to cross-exam Drake was because she had done all the research and he felt she was ready, given the timing, I have to think there was some sympathy involved.

Even though Ray was cleared of the criminal charges, I do wonder if he received any punishment from the force. Sadly, I don't believe he'd lose his job, but I can see someone with authority wanting to set an example to see such a tragedy didn't happen again.


3 comments or Leave a comment
zegeekgirl From: zegeekgirl Date: November 23rd, 2010 05:52 am (UTC) (Link Me)
I have to say, although in the larger picture I definitely appreciate that there are episodes where the CPS lose the case (as is part for the course in all L&O shows)... this one just sticks in my craw and makes me ragey. ;) From the flimsy back-and-forth in Griffin's statements to the CCTV footage (which I *get* why the judge ruled it should be thrown out, but I don't *agree* with if that makes any sense - coupled with the other evidence, fuzzy or not, that video is seriously compelling), it seemed like a strong enough case for me for a conviction. The real domino that gets yanked and sends the whole thing crumbling, of course, is PC Barney, and it bothers me a bit that we never get a real inkling of what made him reverse his decision to cooperate with the prosecution. "Ray's a good copper, he looks after me"... well what the hell does that mean?! Are there no other senior PCs that are strong cornerstones of support in the department, who "look after" the rookies so to speak? Are we meant to believe that perhaps Ray or another accomplice threatened him in some way? It's very vague, which on the one hand is probably realistic (I bet witnesses back out of such commitments a lot without supplying a good solid reason), but in this case I get so angry! Bright, promising young cop dies in such a way and there's sooo much at stake if it was Ray Griffin's fault. I get that we're meant to take some comfort in James' line at the end indicating that the truth will out if it ever happens again, but god... it shouldn't have to. *sadface*

Also agree that it was wise for Chibnall not to designate a particular faith to Ray, although despite his saying he doesn't belong to a church I did assume that his beliefs were in line with Christian fundamentalists (who number far, far fewer in the UK than in the US, but they do exist).

The disparity between Matt's and Ronnie's interpretation of Theo Carson's testimony is initially so stark and so well-written, easily my favorite aspect of the episode; because this ep deals with a dead policeman (as "Vice" did, although even to a larger extent) we get a lot of feedback on the detectives' part and even in Matt's idealistic view, it all rings quite true. It's been less time passed for Matt since he was in uniform himself, so it makes sense that his gut reaction might be to sympathize with the PCs who lost a fellow officer; meanwhile, Ronnie's longer tenure in CID gives him a different perspective, one where though it pains him to consider it, he wants to rule out every possibility even if it involves another cop for the very same reason. (The more I think about it, the more the scene in which Ronnie tells Matt about his old partner who was killed breaking up a pub fight plays into all this; clearly, because Ronnie *does* know what it's like to lose a fellow officer and friend, there's got to be some aspect of his determination that wants these other cops to know the truth about why *their* friend died, even if it's a tough pill for them to swallow. On top of all the "we set an example for the rest of society" part - that too, obviously. ;) ) Also, just want to note that Jamie and Bradley in particular are so, so good in the scene where they go back to Natalie both convinced of Ray Griffin's guilt.

The Matt/Alesha scene is perfectly understated and really touching. ;) ("Just be the same, same as always" has a lot of subtext given Freema's reading of the line and Jamie's smile afterward - what she's really saying is she knows Matt is concerned and supportive regardless, he doesn't necessarily need to overcompensate but just be himself. Big damn white knight that he is.;) ) Agreed that there is probably a bit of sympathy involved in James's giving Alesha a bigger role to play in the prosecution - and find it funny that it comes right after George encouraging him to talk to her, even if he didn't quite go that far ;) - yet I don't think he would have given her the task if he didn't genuinely think she had a handle on it. And even though they did lose the case, damned if Alesha didn't do the best she could... she tried and she tried to get Barney to cooperate, but the lad just wouldn't listen. *sigh*
asta77 From: asta77 Date: November 24th, 2010 04:13 am (UTC) (Link Me)
I go back and forth on the video being thrown out. While it wasn't very good quality and hard to identify who was in it, you had other evidence supporting it was him. And couldn't they have improved the video quality? That's one thing that continues to frustrate me about the show. They have all this CCTV footage at their disposal, but we never hear of them doing much of anything with the footage.

The real domino that gets yanked and sends the whole thing crumbling, of course, is PC Barney, and it bothers me a bit that we never get a real inkling of what made him reverse his decision to cooperate with the prosecution.

He was obviously very disturbed by what he saw on the video and felt compelled to do the right thing and turn it over as evidence. Yet when it comes time to testify he refuses because Ray is suddenly a good guy in his eyes? It makes no sense! I really wish we had learned he was being pressured by the force or that he was up for a promotion that was suddenly being held up, SOMETHING that, while I may not have been happy about, would have been a reason for his abrupt change of heart.
zegeekgirl From: zegeekgirl Date: November 23rd, 2010 06:10 am (UTC) (Link Me)
One more thing - for the benefit of anyone reading who is new to the show via BBCA, or for anyone else who hasn't seen it... oh, hell, and for the rest of us too. Because I STILL think it belongs in the episode. ;) Ye olde deleted "Samaritan" scene of Detective Flirtypants vs. pretty defense brief...

You're welcome. ;)
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