Usually, things that blow up are fascinating, unless someone gets hurt. That's the catch in this week's Law & Order: UK, when a letter bomb claims the life of an apparently model citizen.
Ronnie and Sam don't understand what could have made their victim a target, especially when there's no shortage of good things being said about him. They're able to trace the composition of the bomb back to someone who did the same back in the early 1970's, but it just becomes a bigger headache when he tells them that his specs were in a how-to book put together by a neo-Nazi group, and they discover that someone had a copy of it ordered to the university at which the victim worked...in his name, no less. So who got into the mail and can make a bomb?
Meet Simon Wells. He's twitchy and way too prepared to talk to the cops. He eventually confesses that he stole drugs from a clinical trial, framed the victim and sent the bomb that killed him. Simon may be nuts. His lawyer is able to get Thorne's case thrown out (and smirk while she's doing it), which doesn't sit well with Ronnie. He finds a new piece of evidence for Thorne to build on (and make air quotes while he's doing it). It's game on for Thorne, who soon realizes that Simon's doc is equally as nuts, or at least so self-obsessed that he was ignorant of the monster he helped create. Never mind that Simon himself is dying. "Are you sure those letters after your name aren't there by accident?" Thorne quips before he tells the doctor all the things he's about to hang for. Way to go, Jake.
"Trial" is adapted from the original series episode "Double Blind" and written by Nicholas Hicks-Beach, who was also responsible for "Immune." Like that episode, this one has its moments of spark, but not as many of them as we're used to from your average Law & Order: UK episode. I particularly enjoyed how Sam and Ronnie refuse to be bullied by the mouthpiece of the neo-Nazi organization; it's great fun to watch - but at the same time, Sam's reaction still felt to me like something Matt would have done, just being done by a different actor. I'm waiting for the writers to find Sam's distinct voice, because it looks like Paul Nicholls is a capable replacement; he deserves a chance to step out from the admittedly long shadow of his predecessor.
Likewise, Thorne has a little perk to him (love the air quotes!) as he gets to go on a James Steel-type impassioned rant in the face of a defendant. The problem is that Dominic Rowan just doesn't have the (pardon the pun) steel in his voice that Ben Daniels did. He's angry, but he's not bordering on scary, which was what made those types of scenes so fantastic in the first four series.
Still, I love to see that Thorne is more energetic than he once was and we're learning more about him than just who he previously slept with. Tonight we finally met his mother, and got to see his softer side. These might not be the best episodes of LOUK, but if nothing else, we can thank Nicholas Hicks-Beach for doing some great work developing the newer additions to the cast.
It's just a shame there might be only two more episodes left. No matter which cast you prefer, all the loyal Law & Order: UK fans should take a moment over the next two weeks and appreciate that we've gotten some fantastic drama from this show, and hope that we see more of it.
(c)2011 Brittany Frederick/Digital Airwaves. All rights reserved. No reproduction admitted.