Friday, November 12, 2010

AUS Television: City Homicide, Episode 4.19 "Ties that Bind"

City Homicide
Season Four, Episode Nineteen, Ties That Bind
Original Air Date:  November 10, 2010

Liam Phillips (Karl Burnett) is shot in the Magistrates office while waiting for his solicitor to finish brokering a deal.  Did the union kill Phillips or was it a security guard at the court?  The case becomes intensely personal for Duncan, but not for the reasons everyone assumes.

Nick and Duncan speak with Tom Engleton, the guard who responded after the shots were heard at the Magistrates Office.  While going downstairs to speak with him, they pass Liam's solicitor, Grace Barlow, who is talking with with Rhys.  She and Duncan catch one anothers eye as they pass.  Engleton is certain that it is impossible for someone to get a gun into the building because of the strict security they have.  All of the "unsecure" areas are controlled by numeric keypads.  The codes are randomly generated by computer every couple of weeks.  Only Engleton and his staff have access to the codes.  While they are looking at the codes in Engleton's office, Rhys enters and tells them Barlow feels she knows who killed him.

Nick and Duncan speak with Barlow back at the office and she tells them why Liam was in trouble.  He was charged with the invasion of Parnell Construction Company and he and an unknown associate trashed the office using a baseball bat and iron bar.  One of the female staff was bashed during the invasion leaving her with permanent brain damage.  While Liam didn't give her the name of his associate, she gives Nick and Duncan the name Dennis Monk.  He sees himself as the union enforcer and is a thug. 

The team watches the video of the invasion and Liam is identified as the man with the baseball bat.  The other man is either Ray Donovan or Dennis Monk.  The company owners niece was the female staff who was bashed. 

Grace Barlow has a row with Ray Donovan, the union boss, about what happened to Liam.  Grace is understandably angry but Ray doesn't think what happened to him was his problem.  When Grace starts arguing with Dennis Monk, he becomes enraged and hits her.  Duncan, who is arriving with Nick, sees this and rushes in and takes care of Monk while Nick shows his badge to calm everyone in the room.  Duncan goes to help Grace who immediately, once she's on her feet, goes to Monk and knees him where it counts!

Rhys and Allie take Ray Donovan in for questioning while Duncan and Nick go at Dennis Monk.  Both men deny having anything to do with Liam Phillips' murder as they claim they would never hurt one of their own.  Ray Donovan clearly tells Allie and Rhys he had nothing to do with either the invasion of Parnell Construction or the death of Liam Phillips.  Both men use a union meeting as their alibi for the time of Liam's murder.  As Donovan and Monk are leaving, they pass Jeff Parnell who is waiting in the hall to speak with Allie and Rhys.  The men start to argue and Duncan once again restrains Monk who proceeds to insult him with a racial slur.  This angers Duncan and Matt is forced to step in to restrain him.

Stanley questions Matt as to why he put Duncan in the same interview room with Monk knowing the two had a scuffle earlier in the day.  He suggests that them being in the same room could have inflamed the situation.  Stanley brings Duncan into the conversation and asks if his behavior has anything to do with the race of the woman in question (Grace Barlow).  Duncan tells Stanley he knows him better than that.  Matt removes Duncan from the case and replaces him with Allie.  When Duncan protests, Stanley informs him that he has put himself in a position where not only his safety but his integrity may have been compromised.

Nick and Allie interview Jeff Parnell and he tells him he pushes the rules from his end against the union but he goes no farther.  Parnell denies killing Phillips and says he couldn't sit through the hearing at court. 

Duncan is angry that he was removed from the case but Nick tells him it shouldn't have been a surprise.  Even Nick questions Duncan's feelings towards Grace Barlow.  Matt and Jennifer discuss the particulars of the case.  They are certain the shooter got in and out through door 17 because of the security records.  There were no security cameras on that entrance and none of the security guns were fired.  Matt wants Jennifer and Allie to run the interviews regarding the security codes from Engleton's office.  Jennifer requests some personal time off effective immediately as there is something she needs to deal with.  Nick enters to tell Matt about the head security guard waiting downstairs wanting to talk.  Matt gives Jennifer five days which is enough for her.  Matt requests for Nick to tell Allie and Rhys to interview Engleton.

Nick asks Jennifer why she needs the five days and she tells him she needs the time out.  He wants to know if the time out is from homicide or just him and when she was going to tell him about it.  She doesn't want to have the conversation now.  She tells him if they stay together, one of them is going to have to leave Homicide. 

Duncan watches the Engleton interview with Nick.  Engleton tells them that about ten days ago, he is going back to his office when he sees Grace Barlow coming out of the security office where he says she never should have been in the first place.  He said she claimed she was worried about the safety of one of her clients:  Liam Phillips.  Duncan, in with Nick, asks why she would want to do that and Rhys asks the same question of Engleton.  He says he doesn't know.  What has bothered him, he claims, is that he had left his keys on his desk so anyone who was in the office could have gotten into the locked drawer where the codes were kept.  Duncan is certain that Engleton's story doesn't make sense.

Duncan goes to see Grace and asks her if she has been lying about her involvement in Liam's murder and asks if she's ever been in the Magistrate's Court security office.  She denies any involvement in Liam's death but admits she was in the office for a minute when she went to speak to Tom Engleton.  When he wasn't in the office, she left and met him in the hall.  Nick and Allie arrive with uniformed officers while Duncan is still in the office.  Nick takes him aside and tells him to leave.  Grace gives them full permission to search her office even though they don't yet have the warrant to do so.

When Duncan gets back to the office, he sees the notation he made of the childs home Grace used to live in when she was a ward of the state and calls to get information about her while she was a resident there.  Rhys overhears him making the call but they both agree Duncan isn't on the case and that it's a "different Grace Barlow" he's checking on. 

The search of Grace's office turns up nothing and Allie suggests it might have been because Duncan tipped her off.  Grace denies he tipped her to anything and that she answered his questions because she has nothing to hide.  One of the uniformed officers comes in and hands Nick a piece of yellow paper with the access code to door 17 written on it.

Back at the office, in interview, Grace tells them it isn't her handwriting on the paper, that the paper can be bought anywhere and that she wasn't present to observe the officer finding the paper in her rubbish.  She feels the union is trying to set her up and says she would never help them because she has nothing to do with them anymore.  Matt finds Duncan watching Grace's interview and tells him he will only end up in more trouble if he doesn't get some distance from the case.  Duncan says she has been set up.  Grace will not admit to something she says she did not do.

Duncan gets ready to go leave for the day and go to the pub and Nick catches up to him while he's waiting on the lift.  Nick asks him what is going on so that he can help him or, at the very least, "cover his own traitorous ass when things go horribly wrong".  Duncan assures Nick he believes Grace, not because she is black, but because he feels she is credible, she has no motive and that the evidence against her is questionable.  Nick is convinced Duncan has the hots for Grace.

Duncan goes to Tom Engleton's office to ask him a few more questions.  He questions Engleton's claim that he had left his keys on his desk since he wears them on a chain.  Engleton said he had unclipped them because they get in the way when he sits down.  Duncan pushes him into his chair and finds that he can sit fine with the keys on the chain.  He then has Engleton put the keys on the desk where he said they were and unlock the drawer.  He fumbles with the keys having trouble find the right one.  When Duncan asks how she knew which key it was, he says she must have tried them all.  Duncan accuses him of passing on the access code. 

Duncan takes Engleton into the office with the announcement that "Mr. Engleton would like to revise his statement."  Engleton admits that he was the one who passed the code along and he was the one who put the number in Grace Barlow's rubbish.  He didn't know who he gave the code to as he was given a mobile number to call.  Duncan checked the number and it was a prepaid throwaway.  The man on the other end of the phone threatened Engleton and his family.  Engleton truly doesn't know who he gave the number to.

Duncan takes a coffee to Grace Barlow at her office and tells her about Engleton.  She asks him out for a dinner date that night and he accepts. 

The team go back to the drawing board to look at the case again.  They watch video of Engleton's car being smashed to intimidate him to hand over the code.  The only two suspects they can't rule out are Donovan and Monk.  Stanley orders them brought in.  Allie and Matt go after Donovan while Nick and Rhys interview Monk.  Both men again deny having anything to do with Phillips' murder.  While the interviews are ongoing, Rhys and Matt are handed pieces of paper.  Matt suggests to Donovan that Monk has given him up as does Nick to Monk.  Both men think the other wouldn't give them up.  The men hold strong that neither would sell the other out and that they were in the union meeting at the time Phillips was killed. 

Duncan goes to Matt's office and asks him about the interview.  Matt admits it didn't go that well and that they will have to take another crack at both men.  Duncan shows him the security footage of Engleton's car being bashed and tells him to keep watching.

Jeff Parnell is brought in again.  Stanley walks in and sees Duncan in the Parnell interview with Allie and questions Matt as to why he's there.  Matt tells him it was an operational decision since Miss Barlow was no longer in the mix.  Duncan presents Parnell with the video of Engleton's car being smashed.  Parnell insists that it had to be Monk or Donovan that shot Phillips.  When the video is allowed to play through longer, Jeff Parnell's face can be seen in a car window after he takes his mask off.  Faced with the evidence, and with the fact that he killed the only man who could truly put whoever bashed his niece behind bars, Parnell admits to the crime.

That night, Duncan and Grace talk about Parnell briefly then about their childhoods.  Duncan tells her about how he was a ward of the state as well from the age of seven and about working as a policeman in Queensland before being transferred to Melbourne after blowing the whistle on two corrupt white policemen.  Upon coming to Melbourne, he took up the name Freeman ("free man").  She tries to kiss him but he pulls away.  They talk more about when Grace's parents were killed and Duncan reveals why he felt he knew her when he saw her.  "I'm a homicide detective, Grace.  And my little sister's a lawyer."

This show was awesome!  I love any show where Duncan plays a big part because I am a Duncan fan.  He most certainly was all over this show and I liked that!  Sure, he has a quick temper and it has gotten him in trouble on several occasions.  But, now tell me, has he ever really flared that temper for a reason you can't completely agree with him on or, at the very least, sympathize with?  I loved the story line with Grace!  I liked her character from the start.  She's tough and takes no crap.  Kind of like Duncan, huh?  So, I guess it was fitting that they are brother and sister.  I tell you, I certainly never saw that one coming, though.  At first, I thought they were perhaps old friends or something but related?  Never would have guessed it!  It's nice to see some of Duncan's backstory coming out.  I just wish the future of City Homicide was a lot more certain because I would love to see how the writers would deal with this in later episodes as I'd like to see Grace make another appearance.

We've got two more new episodes left of season four and then we will be down to that six-part mini-series next year.  I'm truly hoping that the powers that be at Seven decide to keep City Homicide around because it truly is a fine Australian drama that has compelling characters and strong storylines.  In this viewers opinion, City Homicide delivers where other shows like CSI and Law & Order fail.

For more information:
City Homicide Official Site:
Internet Movie Database:
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