When I was training for my legal career, I ran afoul of a few judges in my time, usually resulting in confrontations. If I'd been faced with what happens in this week's Law & Order: UK, I probably would have exploded. (And that's why I leave the prosecuting to James and Alesha.)
Brooks and Devlin tackle the shooting of High Court judge Rachel Callaghan, gravely wounded in an apparent carjacking. The case seems fairly straightforward, until they recover her car. The genius who's unlucky enough to have purchased it reveals - in the most infuriating interrogation Matt has ever been a part of, judging by the frustrated expressions he goes through - whom he bought it from, and that guy squeals about how his boss took a separate payment for something other than the car. Was it attempted murder for hire? Ronnie suspects the judge's husband, which unravels a plot that involves a shopping mall, shady business practices, and a witness who looks like the British twin brother of Jeffrey Wright. You'd think that the judge would want revenge, but instead, she's coming to her husband's defense. The whole thing makes George's brain hurt. (No wonder why he's leaving to become the Director of Public Prosecutions. He's probably developing migraines.)
Do you think this bothers James? Of course not. One of the great things about his character is that the man is a rock. Rarely is he visibly ruffled - he's probably internalizing everything, but his emotional steadiness is a welcome relief in the crazy, messed-up world of criminal justice. Does he care that he has to perform witness examination in a hospital? No. Does he care that he's going up against a judge? Not for a second. Were that the rest of us could be so fearless as to put what's right ahead of any other circumstance. My friend Ben Daniels (he whom I've just heard someone refer to as "Daniel Craig's brother," a resemblance I can't believe that I didn't notice, since I've seen almost every Daniel Craig film) continues to kill with confidence, including a moment of pleading with the judge that just makes me want to hug James. His poise shows us something about acting - if the actor or actress in the role really, honestly believes what they're saying, we're going to believe in them.
There's a lot less plot in this episode than in most Law & Order: UK installments. It's more about issues of ethics and competency than showing us the usual preparation, trial and conviction. There are no plot twists here. The one surprise is that the judge has a past with George, who tries to convince her not to give up on her life, even though she's set on dying when faced with paralysis and her husband's true nature. In fact, the last ten minutes are comprised mostly of two people having emotional collapses - the judge because she realizes her husband wanted her dead, and her husband because he knows he's ended up damning her to a fate potentially worse than death. "It's not irrational to want to die when you've been ultimately betrayed by the person you love," she says, and who can blame her? I'm sure many of us have said something about dying after a bad breakup - but we can't possibly imagine what it's really like to face something that shocking and aftereffects that brutal.
"Denial" isn't necessarily the most suspenseful LOUK episodes I've ever seen, but it's very sobering, emotionally. I dare you to watch the last scene without being moved. While it's hard to top the performance of Lindsay Crouse in the original episode ("DNR" from 1999), this is a good adaptation of an episode that is less about law and order - and more about how the most horrific consequences can come from something we never intended.