If you've been reading my Law & Order: UK reviews long enough, you know that among the many things I like about this show, two of them are episodes written by Terry Cafolla ("Sacrifice," "Love and Loss") and the adorable awesomeness that is Jamie Bamber. Cafolla writing a Bamber-centric episode? I'm absolutely behind that.
Whenever a cop turns up dead, it's always going to be a bad day; when it's someone our heroes actually know, it's the worst day possible. The victim is Matt's oldest friend, which sends Matt off the rails from the word "go," and as we know from previous episodes, Matt's possessed of quite the temper. It's not easy for him to tear into his friend's past, especially when it requires asking tough questions. The investigation brings him face-to-face with a former priest who's also a pedophile, and drags his own past out in the process. It's a plotline that's sadly still relevant (how many jokes about the Catholic church have we made, and are still making?) and as is usual for this series, the subject matter is written in a relatable way. Of course it's fiction, but we can understand the underlying issues; as someone who's had a friend commit suicide, I can attest that I've asked some of the same questions that Matt does. The best drama is not only entertaining but real, and this episode is both.
"Confession" is the adaptation of another of my favorite Law & Order episodes, "Bad Faith," and I have to say that I like certain aspects of it more than the original. No offense to Chris Noth, as he gave a great performance, but I'm of the opinion that Jamie Bamber is the better actor and gives the better rendition. I remain impressed with how he can show us the wheels turning in Matt's head just with the expressions on his face, and there were quite a few moments in this episode where I was either able to see through his eyes, or felt for him so much that I wanted to hug him. Particularly, his work in the last few minutes is impressively gripping. When you're that invested in a character, that's good acting. And when you're invested, you want somebody to put things right, so Ben Daniels' usual tough-as-nails performance has an extra resonance this week. Bradley Walsh is the support that Matt needs - and that we need. To say nothing of the humor provided by Bill Paterson as Castle gets a major headache from taking on the church.
I am starting to run out of superlatives for these actors. Maybe it's a British thing, but this is the most consistent cast in my recent memory. Even with the original Law & Order, it was impossible for Chris Noth or Michael Moriarty to be amazing every week. Maybe it's a British thing, but I've never once thought that any of the six main cast members were phoning it in. That's probably why this is my favorite episode of the third series thus far, and one that's going to stick amongst my favorites the way that "Bad Faith" did almost sixteen years ago.
For more Law & Order: UK, check out the show category at my blog, DigitalAirwaves.net.