Friday, October 15, 2010

UK Television: Law & Order: UK, Episode 3.6 "Masquerade"

Law & Order:  UK
Season Three, Episode Six, Masquerade
Masquerade, Original Air Date:  October 14, 2010
Based on Law & Order (US) "Admissions", Season 9, Episode 22 (19th May, 1999)

Student Archie Rahman is stabbed in his flat and Brooks and Devlin are left with only one solid clue to follow:  a library book.  The case takes a new twist when the girl who was at his flat claims she killed him in self defense after he raped her.  But is she telling the truth?

Archie didn't do drugs, wasn't a gang member, kept to himself and, by all reports, always had his nose in a book studying.  There was evidence that there had been a woman at Archie's flat but she is nowhere to be found.  Archie's father (Hassani Shapi) insists his son didn't have a girlfriend and focused instead on his schoolwork.  Archie's mother (Sameena Zehra) mentions a former girlfriend, Darla (Suzie McGrath) but they had broke up a few months prior.

A library book is amongst the items of evidence collected in Archie's flat and it leads the detectives to the Waterloo and City College Library.  They learn the book was checked out at eleven o'clock Sunday by Rebecca Anderson (Charlene McKenna).  Rebecca reluctantly provides them with the information that she was in the library with her friend, Sally Douglas (Kimberly Nixon) but that she doesn't know Archie Rahman.  Both Rebecca and Sally claim they were working in the library until it closed at six.  On a hunch, Devlin does a bit of checking and finds the library closes at midday contradicting the girls' stories.  When confronted with the truth about the time the library closes, Sally says the two girls went to the Region room, carried on with their work then went home.  She is studying philosophy and art history at university on her way to a lecture on Ancient Arts of Persia and the Subcontinent, which just so happens to be the subject of the library book.

Angela (Jessica Gunning) finds something of interest to the case on CCTV.  Sally Douglas was captured on tape on the high street around the corner from Archie's flat, less than a 10 minute walk, going into a local cab firm.  An employee recognizes Sally as she came in late afternoon crying and saying "take me home, take me home" over and over again.  Brooks and Devlin go back to Rebecca and she admits that Sally rang her Sunday night upset and told her if anyone asked they were in the library all day together.  The book was checked out under Rebecca's name because she has a bad credit rating and she needed good ID to secure her flat so she and Sally swapped cards.

Sally is brought in for questioning.  Her fingerprints have been matched to those found at Archie's flat.  Her mother (Beverley Lembrick) is with her and her father (Andrew Dunn) arrives moments later.  He is a controlling man that Sally appears to be afraid of.  DI Chandler warns him that if he interferes with the interview she will have him removed from the room. 

Once Sally's solicitor arrives and once Alesha is seated to watch the interview from another room, DI Chandler questions the girl about what happened.  She describes meeting Archie at the library.  They talked and hit it off and he invited her to his flat.  She says he gave her some wine that made her feel weird and he raped her.  Everything she is saying is striking a personal chord with Alesha.  Chandler isn't completely sold that Sally is telling the truth while Matt is.

Bail is granted to Sally with conditions despite Steel arguing against it.  Alesha questions Steel on if they are doing the right thing prosecuting Sally.  If it truly was murder, they are but if it was self-defense as she claims, they will deal with it.  They have no evidence that she was raped and none that she wasn't so they begin by speaking with her friends.  They want to know if she knew Archie before that Sunday.  Castle questions Steel if the fact Alesha was raped is interfering with her judgement on the case.

None of her friends knew of Sally being involved with Archie.  She really wasn't currently involved with any boys at all.  Alesha feels they have no case but Steel presses for them to investigate harder.  Ali Rahman pays a visit to Castle, Steel and Phillips begging them to do something with the case one way or another because it is killing him and his wife seeing their sons name being disgraced in the papers.  Rahman had received a call from the press threatening to publish an old school report where Archie had been suspended for attacking a girl when he was thirteen.

Matt Devlin has been researching mobile calls all night and he found a pattern in Sally's call records but can't make anything of it.  She dials the same number for short bursts, ten to twenty seconds, nothing long enough for a conversation.  Matt finally gets a hit on the number Sally keeps calling and learns it belongs to a pay phone in Archie's building.  The outgoing call records show calls to a phone belonging to Sally's father proving Sally did know Archie prior to that Sunday. 

Steel and Phillips contact Sally's solicitor, Christian Thompson (David Yelland) to present him with the new evidence.  Alesha leaves the room to speak with Sally while Steel is talking to Thompson with Steel keeping one eye on her and one on Thompson.  She discusses the process of trial with Sally who feels she is capable of going through with everything.  She asks Sally if Archie did in fact rape her but Thompson and Steel arrive before Sally can say anything.  Alesha knows from talking with her that Sally is lying about the rape and that she must go down for murder if Thompson refuses to take the deal Steel has offered.

Thompson is able to raise reasonable doubt on Ronnie Brooks' testimony in court and, later in Steel's office with Sally's parents, asks him to drop the case.  Martin Douglas criticises the prosecutors and shows that he is a crude and violent man who wants things his way.  After some investigation, they find evidence regarding Martin Douglas that changes the way Steel intends to proceed with the case.

The next day in court, he questions Sally about her home life and a broken arm she suffered two years ago.  The break was a spiral fracture.  He lays down a pattern of control and discipline by her father and introduces evidence that her boyfriend was black at the time of her broken arm.  She admits that she loved Archie.  He had threatened to go round to her parents house and tell them who he was.  He wanted their relationship to be a public one and Sally couldn't let her father know the man she loved wasn't white.  Steel presses her hard wanting to her tell the truth about whether Archie raped her or not.  She finally admits that he did not.  She is found guilty of the murder.

Alesha Phillips struggled with this case from the moment the word "rape" was first spoken having gone through what she did at the end of season one.  She wanted desperately to believe that Sally was telling the truth and I believe she would have held firm that Sally was indeed telling the truth had the phone evidence that she and Archie had called back and forth not come to light.  When she was finally able to talk to Sally one-to-one she didn't need Sally to tell her the truth.  She knew from talking with her.  In the original US series, the character of Dr. Elizabeth Olivet is the one who is raped by her doctor.  On occasion after the rape, it does play a part in certain story lines just as it has with Alesha.

The last two or three minutes of this episode were excellent, in my opinion.  After assuring herself that Sally wasn't telling the truth about the rape, Alesha needed to win the case, not just for herself but for every woman who truly has been and will be victims of sexual assault.  The way Steel pressed Sally in court to actually get her to say publicly that Archie didn't rape her was extremely important.  Almost more important than her admitting she had killed him.  When Steel had already ordered Alesha's celebratory drink knowing she would show up made me smile.  That the two characters care for and know one another so well is one thing Law & Order is known for.  The characters don't just interact with one another, they develop a bond and what was important to Alesha was important to Steel.

Law & Order:  UK airs on Thursday nights at 9:00 p.m. on ITV1 in the UK.
For more information:
Law & Order:  UK ITV1 Official Site:
Internet Movie Database:
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