Friday, November 26, 2010

AUS Television: City Homicide, Episodes 4.22 "Empowerment"

City Homicide
Season Four, Episode Twenty-Two, Empowerment
Original Air Date:  November 24, 2010

Note:  Episodes 21 & 22 were aired together but I am presenting them here as two separate episodes.

An extremely successful porn producer is murdered and video of his murder is uploaded into the members only section of his web site.  The list of suspects range from his girlfriend, to his business manager to a talk-back radio host who had been crusading against the porn industry.  Meanwhile, Allie and Rhys' relationship continues and Bernice finds out.  One of the team leaves Homicide for good.

After watching a computer video, a woman calls 000 saying that she thinks her boss has just been killed.  Duncan and Jennifer arrive at the scene to find that Blake Johnson, the most successful porn producer in Australia has been murdered.  A video of the murder was uploaded onto Johnson's web site at 2 a.m. into the members only section.  They find drugs at the scene. 

Myra Rawlings, Blake's business manager, called in his death.  She usually checks the site first thing in the morning to make sure nothing inappropriate was uploaded during the night and found the video of Blake.  Their relationship was strictly business.  Rawlings was an adult actress in Los Angeles before she started working with Blake.  Upon returning to Australia, he contacted her wanting to do something different.  Alice Flowers, their site, was an "ethically run empowering site" using female directors and all female crew and is the most popular subscriber site in the country. 

Blake's girlfriend, Sarah identifies his body and later talks with Duncan and Jennifer.  She is "Summer Breeze" one of the girls on the site.  She tells them there is the occasional falling out but that most of the girls loved Blake.  A few days earlier, one woman came to their place and was extremely angry because he wouldn't take a film she had made for the site down.  None of the girls on the site use their real names but the woman was on the site as "Juicy Jamie". 

Jennifer finds Jamie's surname, "Priest".  Rhys doesn't understand why people pay their hard-earned money for porn when there is plenty of it on the net for free.  Jennifer doesn't get how they find so many women who are willing go on camera.  While it isn't Allie's "thing" she can see how some women would find making the videos empowering.  While they are discussing the case, Allie gets an email about a "Women in Blue" charity fundraiser dinner.

Jamie Priest is keen to get her film taken off the site because she is a police constable.  Jennifer and Allie have a chat with her.  She was 18 and needed quick cash.  One thing led to another and it went from being just pictures to a girl-on-girl bondage video.  She tells them about asking Blake to take the video down.  She said he was more arrogant than usual and told her he was going to change her name on the site to "Porno Cop".  She admits to throwing his trophies around the room and abusing him and is surprised to learn he was murdered.  She was having dinner with her friend Annie when Blake was killed and begs them to not let anyone on the job know about the film.

Duncan went through Blake's text messages and found he had two other women on the line.  Sarah knew about Blake flirting with prospective women for the site and, while she didn't like it, she lived with it because that was how they had met.  Sarah is the most popular girl on the site and she is proud of her films.  When she tells them she gets plenty of male attention, Jennifer asks if any of it ever becomes obsessive.  She has one fan that leaves her notes in her letterbox and on her car window.  She finds it a bit creepy but hasn't told the police as she has no idea who he is.  The notes are always signed "Love G".

Duncan finds one Alice Flowers member, Gavin Bakowski, who spends a great deal of time watching Sarah's films.  He finds Bakowski has a record for stalking and the assault of the husband of an Alice Flowers girl.  Jennifer and Duncan get a warrant to search Bakowski's home.  He denies knowing anything about the murder.  Jennifer finds a shrine to Sarah in Bakowski's closet complete with a brush that still has strands of her hair in it and photos of her and Blake together with Blake's face scratched out. 

They take him in for an interview.  He claims he found the items he had in his "shrine" and he didn't stalk her or steal any of her possessions.  He denies being obsessed with Sarah but admits that he loves her.  He says his former assault charge was because Tammy's husband was hurting her so, to protect her, he hit her husband in the groin with a tire iron.  His alibi for the previous night was being at home reading a self-help book he can't remember the title of. 

Rhys checks up on Jamie Priest's alibi and finds that it wasn't as solid as they once thought.  The restaurant where they were supposed to be dining didn't remember seeing them there that night.  He called Jamie's friend back and, after mentioning her being an accessory, the friend came clean and said she lied for Jamie because she'd never heard Jamie so desperate before.  In an interview with Allie and Jennifer, Jamie says she lied only because she wanted to put everything behind her.  She gives them another alibi.  She claims to have been at Richard Hill's home.  He is a talk-back radio host who wants to shut down Alice Flowers and she thought she could help by making herself an example for how the site takes advantage of women.  When Hill wouldn't talk to her through the station, she went to his home.  She was able to talk to him around 9 p.m. but she felt he was just doing it for appearances as he simply thanked her and showed her out.

Hill confirmed that he met with Jamie.  Rhys plays a podcast of one of Hill's shows for Jennifer and Duncan where he was ranting against Alice Flowers.  Hill accuses Blake of being a sexual predator that is single-handedly responsible for corrupting the young girls on the site.  Hill convinced the vice squad to raid Blake's warehouse the previous month.  One week ago, Hill stopped talking about Blake completely.  Allie presents them with photos found on Blake's computer of Hill with a woman.

Hill comes in to speak with Duncan and Jennifer and immediately starts in on Blake's activities and their legality.  They question him as to why he stopped talking about Blake.  He explains that they cover a wide spectrum of topics and there were other important matters that needed to be dealt with.  He says he realized he was giving Blake free publicity so he moved on.  Jennifer asks if he's ever heard The Pretty Kitty.  He denies ever having gone there.  When presented with the photographs off Blake's computer, he claims they are doctored photos.  He says he was interviewing the girl for a story.

Hill goes to Bernice Waverley complaining that he felt like he was being treated like a suspect.  She tells him he is free to lodge a complaint.  He tells her to listen to his program tomorrow and she will see what he is concerned about.  Bernice goes to Matt about having been ambushed by Hill.  She wants to know why she wasn't notified of him being questioned.  She informs Matt that Hill is going to tell his listeners about Jamie Priest and the full-scale cover-up being done by Homicide.  The team listens as Bernice and Matt have a heated discussion about how she feels he kept her out of the loop.  She wants a full and detailed report of the case on her desk first thing in the morning.  After leaving Matt's office, Bernice takes the time to stop and ask Jennifer and another officer if they will be attending the Women in Blue dinner (both answer 'yes').  She asks Allie who says she doesn't think she'll be able to attend.

Hill's program the next day is all about the police and Blake Johnson.  As predicted, he outs Jamie Priest on the program as having been a "porn star".  Rhys spoke to Hill's wife who said the couple were having a late supper at the time Blake was killed.  Allie confirmed that Tammy, the wife of the man assaulted by Bakowski was being abused by her husband.  Allie feels Jamie Priest is the one who would want to film Blake's murder because of the humiliation she'd suffered at his hands for so long.  Nick presents the team with evidence that Alice Flowers was sold to a U.S. porn company found in Blake's personal files giving them motive for Sarah Summers.

Allie and Jennifer go to speak with Sarah Summers and find her door ajar.  They enter and find Sarah dead behind the kitchen counter and Jamie Priest sitting near the body.  Jamie, who is in shock, says she came to talk to Sarah and checked her pulse when she found her dead.  They find a note with flowers "My beautiful Sarah.  Goodbye.  Love G". 

Jennifer and Allie speak with Jamie while Duncan and Rhys interview Gavin Bakowski.  Jamie was hoping Sarah would take the video of her down.  Gavin denies having anything to do with Sarah's murder.  He also denies writing the note with the flowers and sending the flowers.  He doesn't send flowers as they die.  Jamie's alibi is that she was working the desk at the station until noon then she went to see Sarah.  Gavin gives the same alibi as he did last time:  at home reading.  Jamie's alibi is rock solid this time.

Rhys and Allie take a copy of the case notes home to go over together.  Nick offers to take over for Jennifer so she can go to the Women in Blue dinner.  Jennifer tells Bernice that Jamie Priest is no longer a murder suspect.  She asks Bernice if it is worth it being in the job.  Bernice tells her she allowed her career to cost her her marriage and she lost her son but she loves her job.  Only Jennifer can decide what is important for her. 

Rhys and Allie start working on the case but they quickly get away from it and to other matters.  Duncan and Nick go over the case back at the office and Duncan suggests that Myra Rawlings had ties to both victims.  They bring her in that night for an interview.  Myra and Sarah agreed to keep the website, their website now, going as that is what Blake would have wanted.  They show her the contract of sale for Alice Flowers.  She feels it couldn't have been a serious sale because she didn't know about it. 

Bernice arrives home to look for her notes and finds Allie there wrapped in a towel after a shower.  She leaves without saying a word to either of them.  At the fundraiser, Jennifer and Jamie Priest are in the crowed as Bernice reminds the attendees of the many forms of abuse, including that of a malicious media.  She goes on to say a few words about how women in the job often has to make sacrifices at a personal cost.

Duncan and Nick plan how they will use new information they learned against Myra Rawlings.  They decide to switch topics to keep her unbalanced.  Duncan drops the details that the CEO of TripX (the company buying Alice Flowers) was discussing the sale with her (Myra) and that she'd be left out in the cold once the sale was complete.  Nick tells her they have a positive I.D. from a florist near Sarah's home that Myra bought the flowers.  Myra tells them Sarah was the one in the latex suit and she (Myra) filmed the murder.  The plan was the two women would run the site together.  However, Sarah went back on her word and said Alice Flowers was a "young persons game".  They forced her to kill them.

Bernice forces back tears as she is singing with the choir at the fundraiser.  Nick and Duncan book Myra for murder.  Matt clears up the briefing area of the case.  Allie and Rhys enjoy wine together.  Matt puts an envelope marked "application for transfer" on Stanley Wolfe's desk.

I must admit, I didn't have Matt pegged as the member of the team that would be leaving for good.  I had my money down on either Jennifer or Nick with the heaviest betting running to Nick.  Granted, Matt did seem to be struggling hard once he came back as a Sergeant.  It seemed like the higher ups thought he was always making mistakes.  He did stumble some and it couldn't have been easy coming back to his own team as their boss.  But, if anyone could surely do it, it would be Matt.  If, by some miracle, Seven does grant City Homicide reprieve and it is given another season, it will be odd to not see Matt Ryan there at all.  I've always liked Matt.  I guess Damien Richardson just feels it is time to move on.  I, for one, will really miss him and hope to see him back on the screen very soon.

This was the final episode of City Homicide for season four.  Currently, there are six more episodes that were originally slated to be the final six episodes of the season left to air.  The Seven network is leaning towards pulling the plug on City Homicide.  The final six episodes will be airing in 2011 as a mini-series titled City Homicide:  No Greater Honour.  Seven will be making a final decision on the fate of the show following the airing of that mini-series.

Regardless of what Seven's final decision is, I have immensely enjoyed the past four years of City Homicide.  The writing has always been strong, the production value top-notch and the characters engaging individuals that I could truly care about.  John Hugginson and John Banas created, wrote and produced another winning Australian drama that I personally felt rivaled anything of the same genre that came off American television.  Everyone involved with City Homicide should be extremely proud of their involvement in this fine show.

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

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