Law & Order: UK Episode 4.4, "Duty of Care" - Discussion Thread - Jamie Bamber News
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Law & Order: UK Episode 4.4, "Duty of Care" - Discussion Thread

"Duty of Care" written by Debbie O'Malley

And now for something completely different. Well, not completely different, but this week's episode deviated from the standard formula a bit. It's an episode I thought had some interesting parts, but didn't all quite come together as everyone involved likely hoped it would.

I love James and Alesha, but I'm hoping we get to less of them with the final two episodes of the series/season. The past few episodes have been very Order heavy. Matt, Ronnie and Natalie didn't even get to cameo in the back half of the episode. And, while I didn't time it, it didn't feel like they were even in full first half the episode. :(

I don't know why time was wasted on the two future adult felons picked up on suspicion of the arson. Considering it seemed as if Ian didn't leave his home unless he had to go to a doctor, I don't know how the kids would have had contact with him to be able to pick on him. And while I know kids can be stupid and think they are acting tough by insulting cops, calling Ronnie old and Matt gay was the best they could do? Not to mention, the homophobic comments got real old real fast. There have been some outstanding child actors on the show and they were given some great material to work with, but the scene played as cheap, easy and pointless.

It turned out, the kids were an indication of what was to come. For the rest of the episode, I felt like I was watching caricatures rather than characters. While I sympathized with Megan Parnell (and the actress did a very good job with what little she was given to do), I was also waiting for Yet Another Horrible Thing to be revealed about her life. Dominic Peck - I don't even know where to begin with him! There are incompetent attorneys practicing law. We often hear about the people who finish at the top of their class, however someone has to finish at the bottom. Attorneys can also be egotistical, narcissistic assholes (I may have first hand experience with this ;). But it's difficult to portray such a character (guilty of all of that) on TV without crossing the line into unbelievability. And, early on, there is a shift in the story where we no longer view the defendant as being on trial, but her defense (I'm not even sure someone as lacking in knowledge or professionalism as Peck would have gone to the trouble of getting a radio 'psychologist' from the States for his client's defense!). Ultimately, it's James and Alesha who save Megan from a very long prison term.

The case itself was rather muddled. From the start we're told all Megan wants to do is be with her daughter. Yet, she attempts to commit suicide after her son's death. And by burning down her building, which could have caused others to be hurt. And she apparently changed her mind about suicide almost immediately. All the while I'm not getting why she just didn't call 999 when she believed her son was dead.

The one part of the story that did work for me was her unwillingness to put her son in an institution. As a child, she had been put in the system, likely had horrible experiences, and was terrified of the neglect or abuse her son might suffer. That made perfect sense to me.

I also enjoyed the scene in which George grilled Alesha and James about the case. They've been surprised in court numerous times and seemed very confidant - perhaps too confidant - this would be an easy win.

One more shot of Jamie since we didn't get enough of him in the episode...


5 comments or Leave a comment
zegeekgirl From: zegeekgirl Date: November 29th, 2010 03:03 am (UTC) (Link Me)
I think I liked this episode a lot more than you did. ;) BUT, we can agree on one thing, i.e. the lack of Law. Have to admit, so far Series 4 has seemed to back-track considerably from the really great integration of both teams that we saw in Series 3 and I'm missing that terribly. CID were off the radar at about the 20 minute mark this time. DO NOT WANT. If you're going to divide the two halves of the ep so sharply, at least give them a full half an episode! *sulk*

(Things I did like about what precious little COPPERS! we got: Matt, yet again, demonstrating that there's a big-hearted dad tucked away behind that dedicated badge's exterior but he's probably scared shitless of the idea of actually having kids for that very reason. The worry would kill him. <3 Once the forensics comes through on Megan's jumper, Jamie & Bradley are perfect in that shorthand between the two cops where Matt already knows before Ronnie has to say it. Also, Ronnie's comment about the stupid beard on the shopkeeper = random but a nice tension-deflating moment. XD)

I can't say I was crazy about the scene with the two would-be little arsonists, but it didn't rub me too far the wrong way; sad fact is, there are a lot of kids from broken homes out there who say pretty heinous things because they think there's nothing wrong with it. I've heard some pretty vile things out of the mouths of kids their age because they aren't taught any better. (The mum in that case, clearly, has a few issues of her own if her only reaction to her kids verbally abusing other people is "Yeah, so what?") I'm really curious to see if anything was cut out between that sequence and the next where they zero in on Ian's dad because it's true that, otherwise, the scene leads the detectives nowhere.

Now, as far as the Order half goes - I didn't really feel like they were caricatures at all. I will give you that Dominic Peck comes dangerously close, but for one thing we've seen quite a few defense briefs on the show who are smug, superior assholes but also fairly competent lawyers. I defer to your first hand experience with lawyers, for sure. ;) But I do believe though, as unfortunate as that may be, that there are idiots out there who quite blatantly smarm their way into the job and somehow manage to eke out a career while really not knowing the first thing about how to defend someone, and they DO think it's all just a game. The part where Peck brings in that utter quack with the diagnosis she "invented" does seem reeeally out there, but in some of the real cases that I've read about here in L.A. that make it to trial, I've heard of some pretty outlandish stuff. (And I don't even want to know where he "found" her - maybe he chatted her up in a bar or something. Maybe he didn't have to hunt her down at all. Eww. :P) And it felt to me like at least Deb O'Malley's script was attempting to take the show somewhere it hadn't been before, to at least demonstrate a case where the prosecution has to maneuver on behalf of a defendant whose showboating brief isn't just making things difficult but actually running the entire case into the ground. It's obviously not what they're paid for, but it's the human thing to do.

zegeekgirl From: zegeekgirl Date: November 29th, 2010 03:03 am (UTC) (Link Me)
As far as Megan goes, I was sold on all the many unfortnate aspects of her history largely because I thought Beatie Edney (the actress) was terrific. To me, she read almost immediately (and authentically) as someone with either diminished mental capacity or a severe amount of psychiatric trauma, and I could buy that in that state she would behave in such a way that wouldn't make any sense to most people. She probably had deeply conflicted feelings about Ian that even she couldn't make sense of, where on the one hand, yes she loved him and cared for him enough to not want to put him through the institutionalization that had been so painful for her once, but on the other having to care for him night and day (which it was stated put a strain on her both mentally and physically), if he appeared dead to her after the seizure, what would that further trauma do to her mind-set in that moment? Was there in fact some kind of relief there in the idea that he'd passed, neither he nor she would have to suffer any more? Awfully sad, but yeah... I did buy it. I actually think that's some of Deb O'Malley's best writing.

More cops next time, though, eh Debs? PLEASE. ;)
asta77 From: asta77 Date: November 29th, 2010 03:35 am (UTC) (Link Me)
It struck me that Megan didn't comprehend what was happening during the trial. She was even mistaken that she was allowed visitation with her daughter. I wish the psychologist who evaluated her had stated that, in addition to the emotional and psychological damage done to her, she didn't have the mental capacity to understand her defense (or lack of one). I don't mind drawing conclusions, but on a show such as this some facts need to be explicitly stated.
asta77 From: asta77 Date: November 29th, 2010 03:48 am (UTC) (Link Me)
With a bit of tweaking I think Peck could have worked better as a character. Given Megan probably had no money for an attorney, I assumed Peck was the equivalent of a public defender. And while there are good public defenders, who attempt to do their best for their client, others really don't care. So if we had seen Peck as uncaring, I would have been OK. Or incompetent. Or mistakenly believing he could make a GOOD name for himself with his constant game changes. But he seemed to be a combination of all those things. And the radio show host who he apparently didn't do any background check on just seemed like too much for me. I maybe could have bought her inclusion if he knew she was full of crap and hoping James didn't do his homework, but we didn't get that kind of awareness from Peck.
lemurling From: lemurling Date: December 1st, 2010 12:35 am (UTC) (Link Me)
I thought the thing with the kids being abusive was very real, very shocking. Very much how crude mean kids talk around here at least. I sort of liked it, truthfully.

Though I did have a moment where I was wondering if the writers were trying to tell the audience something with the kid picking on Mattie so persistently for being 'gay'. I mean... he has had some strong reactions to homophobia before, and while he flirts constantly with women, that could be overcompensation, plus, I believe he's the only member of either team that hasn't been clearly linked with an opposite sex partner in his past (everyone but Alesha has been married, though I'm not 100% that it was specified that the person she wasn't seeing anymore was male).... And the L&O universe is surely ripe for a homosexual or bisexual cop (or maybe it's been done already, I don't watch any of the other L&Os). *sighs, puts away slash goggles*

Beyond that... yup, coppers got shorted again, the flip to Order came at 18:00, which out of 46:00 minutes, means they were at least 5 minutes off being 'fair' one of the worst if not the worst disparities. I am resigned to the Order mismatch though, on account of more James time.

And James was so lovely here. What a prick. No one slouches in a sexier manner, sneers with more erotic power. So smug, so condescending, so bemused and angry with the incompetent Peck. I mean, he was so upset he actually went easy on the defendant!

Really, I sort of thought everyone went way too soft in this episode. It was amusing to watch them heap scorn on Peck's head, and interesting to explore the 'bad defense' angle, but the only thing that even vaguely sold me on their all going mushy was the acting performance of the mom. She really did make me feel sorry for her, and feel for her, even though the bare facts, stripping away all the stress and tragedy, paint the defendant in a pretty horrible light. She did light a fire that could have killed other people, she at least contemplated killing herself even though she had another child that needed her, she did knowingly withhold medicine in the hopes that her son would have a seizure and die. These are desperate, stupid, and not very nice things to do. And I still felt sorry for her. But I don't think James should have (Alesha does tend to be a bleeding heart.)

I didn't find Peck as unbelievable as some of you, though he was sort of epically smarmy.

Oh, I sort of ranted about the "American" psychologist in the other community, though I have to admit, the accent grated on me a little less the second time through. It wasn't an -awful- attempt at an American accent. Just off in that very particular way that British actors seem to take. But other than the accent, the psychologist witness tactic seemed completely understandable. This sort of hack-self-promoting scientist figure is very common in the US. She was clearly supposed to be Dr. Laura, and someone like Dr. Laura might be considered too prominent and famous and respected by the common man to be seriously challenged the way James did. That James wasn't even a little impressed botched that up, but in the US, it would be a dicier thing, treating someone famous like James did could have prejudiced the jury against the prosecution.

Overall, a solid enough and enjoyable episode, but only if you don't look at things too hard. Great performances paper over some plot holes, but I'm hoping for better in the last two episodes of the season.
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