Friday, October 22, 2010

UK Television: Law & Order: UK, Episode 3.7 "Anonymous"

Law & Order:  UK
Season Three, Episode Seven, Anonymous
Anonymous, Original Air Date:  October 21, 2010
Based on Law & Order (US) "Stalker", Season 8, Episode 18 (15th April, 1998)

When a young woman is found to have been thrown down the staircase of the building where she lives, the case takes on a new turn when Brooks and Devlin find e-mails from a cyberstalker in her home.  But when it appears the attack on the stairs might have been faked, things change.  The suspect is sent home and the woman is found dead a week later.  Because of the possibly faked attack, will who Brooks and Devlin believe killed the young woman get away with murder?

A young couple hears a commotion in the flat next to theirs late at night and upon investigating they find the body of a woman, Stephanie Blake (Michelle Bonnard), at the foot of the stairs.  The woman isn't dead but in serious condition.  The question is who hurt Stephanie and how did they get out of the building?

Using a spare key given them by the owner of the building, Maria Golofsky (Eileen Essell), Brooks and Devlin enter her flat and find a notebook full of e-mails addressed to the young woman all signed by "Giovanni".  She had tried blocking him and tracking him by the e-mails continued coming.  She had even changed her e-mail address a half dozen times.  The e-mails are extremely descriptive in a sexual nature and "Giovanni" appears to know every detail of Stephanie's life.  She had reported the e-mails to D.S. Frasier (Sara Woodward) at Northcross C.S.U.  Brooks and Devlin interview her and find out even more details about Stephanie's stalker including threats he had made against her.  Frasier gives them a tip about a prisoner at Ashbridge Prison who wanted Stephanie's new mobile number added to his list of approved numbers.

Shane Morgan (Mark White) had given Stephanie's name as well as number for his list of approved numbers but he claims he made a mistake.  After a little pushing from Devlin, Morgan admits that a bloke named Lowry wanted him to request the number because he was running low on phone credits and wanted to hook up with Stephanie.  Lowry was released from prison the week before.

Brooks and Devlin are finally able to track down Russell Lowry (Rocky Marshall) to question him about Stephanie.  He claims they met in a bar about a month ago and 'clicked'.  While talking with Brooks and Devlin, Lowry says "I like to spread the love".  Devlin remembers the line from one of the e-mails Stephanie had received.  There is absolutely no evidence to link Lowry to the scene of the crime.  Lowry had recently sold his laptop on eBay and they need to track the buyer down and need time.  To get that time, they go back to his neighbor to see if she wanted to file charges for him  having groped her not long after moving into the building.  She does file assault charges and Lowry is taken into custody.

When Stephanie Blake regains consciousness, Devlin and Brooks question her about Lowry.  She doesn't recognize him and can't identify him as the man who attacked her as she never saw him.  The only name she can give the police as to who might have been "Giovanni" is Lucas Dutton (Matt Cross).  They lived in the same block of flats when the e-mails started.  Dutton still lives in the same building but doesn't have any criminal record.  Lowry, on the other hand, did time in Woodbury Prison for computer fraud.  However, he was still in prison when the e-mails started.

Devlin and Brooks speak with Dutton who doesn't want to speak with them and even cites Article 8 of European Human Convention that them chatting with him would be a breach of his human rights.  From the front door, Devlin sees a video camera set up in Dutton's flat.  They forgo the warrant and take Dutton in for questioning.  Dutton has been videotaping a woman living in Stephanie Blake's old flat.  Dutton can quote laws by section and give his interpretation of them to make everything he is doing perfectly legal.  Dutton is a smart man as is his solicitor.  Before he will answer any questions regarding where he was at the time Stephanie was attacked Brooks and Devlin must show proof linking him to the crime.

While asking Mrs. Golofsky if she recognized Dutton's photo, she mentions that she had to ask Stephanie's mother to throw away the bag from the rubbish can in Stephanie's flat as there was a terrible smell coming from the flat.  That directly contradicts what Stephanie had told the detectives at the hospital.  She claimed she had taken the rubbish out and was attacked when going back to her apartment.

They bring Stephanie in for questioning when it appears she staged the attack herself so her case would be important enough to be investigated further.  She is angry and terrified because she knows "Giovanni" will kill her eventually and she feels the police can't or won't do enough to prevent it.  Stephanie having been pushed down the stairs cannot be investigated because it never happened.  To complicate matters for Stephanie, Phillips needs a copy of the report as one of the hospital lawyers wants to see it because Blake might be fired if it is true the crime was faked.  Devlin tells her to leave it with him.

A report comes in that is seriously troubling to Chandler, Devlin and Brooks.  Stephanie Blake was beaten and stabbed and her neck was broken. 

Brooks, Devlin, Steel and Phillips listen to Stephanie's call to 999 where she says "It's Giovanni--the man in the picture".  Dutton was in custody at the time of Stephanie's murder and Brooks and Devlin are positive Russell Lowry is the man they are looking for.  In a search of Lowry's flat, they find 25 different copies of Mozart's Don Giovanni.  Having very little to go on, Brooks and Devlin go to Woodbury Prison to try and find out how Lowry started e-mailing Stephanie while behind bars.  The early e-mails are traced to the prison's IP address.  Steel thinks that Lowry's cellmate, Keith Wilson (Rowe David McLelland) must have been helping him gain access to the media center at the prison.  Before he was imprisoned, Lowry worked for an organization setting up funds for animal rescue.  Stephanie Blake set up an account to deposit funds for the organization meaning the two would have talked on the phone as Lowry was the one who signed her up.  Due to him being a hacker, once he had her personal information, he could find out anything he wanted to know about her.  Keith Wilson denies helping Lowry at first but eventually admits he did allow him to use his information to use the computer.  Wilson owed Lowry a favor as Lowry helped him prepare the presentation that got him into the media program at the prison.  The man running the program had a problem with his firewall.  Wilson suggested Lowry could fix it and he eventually became the "unofficial IT support" for the program. 

Steel, Castle and Phillips know they are in for a rough time as Evelyn Wyndham (Anna Chancellor) is defending the case.  Wyndham, using Stephanie Blakes fabrication of her attack a week prior to her murder, is able to sway the judge to leave the 999 tape in as evidence but allow Wyndham to chip away at Stephanie's credibility.  If she can destroy that, the tape is worthless.  It's looking more and more unlikely that a murder conviction will be possible and perhaps they will only be able to get Lowry for cyberstalking.

Stephanie's mum, Jean Blake (Chrissie Cotterill) is angry that her daughter's murderer is apparently going to walk free for the murder.  She feels the police have let her daughter down every step of the way.  Brooks wants to re-examine all the evidence in the case and Chandler warns him and Devlin against allowing a guilty conscience to let him make any untrue changes to the reports.  Brooks talks again to Mrs. Golofsky asking her if there was anyone she might have buzzed into the building the night Stephanie fell down the stairs.  She is, at first, certain there wasn't anyone.  After he asks again, she admits that there might have been. 

Brooks takes the "new evidence" to Steel and Phillips to convince them he now believes Stephanie wasn't faking the attack.  Brooks insists that the evidence was misinterpreted at the time despite objections from Steel.  Brooks insists he absolutely has the evidence to back the claim up and Steel agrees to amend the indictment to attempted murder. 

Ronnie Brooks gets up in court and states that Mrs. Golofsky let someone into the building the night Stephanie was attacked but didn't know who it was because of her poor hearing.  Wyndham all but accuses Brooks and even Steel and Phillips of being dishonest in the case by reopening the case after she had started the process of highlighting Stephanie Blake's "bad character".  When questioned by Wynhdam if Devlin agrees with Brooks' revised conclusion, Brooks answers "as far as I know" then, when asked again says flat out "Well, of course he does.  She didn't stalk and kill herself, did she?"

Chandler is angry at Brooks' behavior and Devlin isn't too happy either.  Matt wants to know why Brooks didn't let him know what he had planned.  They could have gone together and found something on Lowry.  Matt is standing by the original report.

In court, under questioning from Wyndham, Matt testifies that he used the term "no crime" to describe Stephanie's attack on the stairs.  He states that he stands by the original report.  Steel questions him on Brooks going back over the original evidence and admits that he took no part in the re-evaluation because he was working other cases.  Steel establishes with Devlin that the original investigation concluded Stephanie was being stalked by "Giovanni" who they found to be Russell Lowry.  Devlin states he found no evidence to point to Stephanie facing substantial threat from "Giovanni"/Lowry.  Steel then points out that Devlin told Stephanie's employers that she faced a serious threat from "Giovanni" and gets Devlin to admit he lied about that. 

Russell Lowry is found guilty of both the charges of attempted murder and murder.

The ending of this case was excellent.  Steel was unrelenting in his examination of Matt Devlin.  He started in and didn't let up until he knew he had been successful in casting doubt on Matt's word.  As Steel told Phillips, Devlin was "collateral damage".  The questioning of Matt Devlin by Steel reminded me of when Executive A.D.A. Benjamin Stone (Michael Moriarty) grilled Dr. Elizabeth Olivet (Carolyn McCormick) on the stand for being biased in a rape case because of her own rape in order to win the case.  The harder Steel pushed, the more I was reminded of Ben Stone going after Dr. Olivet.  It is moments like this that make Law & Order so tense and utterly brilliant.

This episode wrapped up season three.  Six episodes are ready to air for season four.  Hopefully, we will get those around the end of November or in December. 

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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