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.