Thursday, September 20, 2012

Safe House

Thriller the Thursday

When an armed-robbery leaves a woman seriously injured, Sam must ensure that the only eye-witness is kept safe until the culprit is identified and off the streets.

The review for "Blowin' in the Wind" can be read here.

Sam (John Simm) continues alienating the other members of his police unit with his determination to use modern-day techniques in a time before they had ever been heard of. His refusal to bend to Gene's (Philip Glenister) shadier practices make their jobs that much harder and seem to create an easier environment wherein crimes can be committed.

The highlight of this episode is the clashing between Sam and Gene. Gene's attempts to justify his planting of evidence are valid, and while, ideally, the viewer will naturally side with Sam's views on justice, neither argument is presented as either right or wrong, but instead both have faults. Sam convincing criminal Kim Trent (Andrew Tiernan) to get a lawyer is completely in character for who we know him to be, but leads to Trent's ability to commit a crime that puts one of Gene's people in grave danger. The relationship between the two leads grows ever-more hostile until they eventually come to blows, and only after they've beaten each other senseless are they able to talk civilly and work out a way to partner with one another. While they continue to disagree, with Gene's threatening witnesses with obstruction of justice if they don't come forward, and Sam convinced that that will only frighten them away, they manage to work together in what is a very interesting and successful dynamic.

The attempts that Sam makes to teach Chris (Marshall Lancaster) his modern techniques are very interesting, from his determination to preserve crime scenes for forensic evidence to how he interviews witnesses. It's very telling that Sam needs to inform Chris that witnesses aren't meant to be treated as suspects, as that's a very important distinction to make in the search for information.

There is no reason for June (Rae Kelly) to have been in the street at the time of the robbery. She is not only parked in front of the bank at that precise moment, but she is sitting in her car for what seems to be plot-driven purposes, and it's strange that she would make no attempt to take cover when she sees the criminals piling out of the building, to escape when a gun is pointed directly at her, or even so much as to make a sound, questioning why Gene and Sam have arrived so spontaneously. I had expected her to be somehow involved with the criminals, perhaps the leader was her new fiancé, but instead it was a case of the wrong place at the wrong time, and it seems like lazy writing.

Annie (Liz White) is treated without much respect by a good portion of the male police officers, but Sam's having worked with many women officers in his time, having been engaged to one, should be more inclined to treat Annie with the respect he feels she deserves. Instead he orders her to bring tea to a witness, despite being surrounded by cafeteria workers whose job it is to do so, and forces Annie to spend the night babysitting said witness when he very easily could have done so himself.

The performances in this episode are all fantastic, without so much as a weak cast member in the bunch. Even the smaller roles, such as Noreen Kershaw's Phillys and day-player Timothy Platt (as Leonard) bring their best and it works to keep the viewer immersed in the world they've created.

Director Bharat Nalluri does a fantastic job with the glimmers of Sam's waking life shining through, having the hospital sounds slowly turning into a radio play the closer Sam gets to the source, waking with a start as he remembers Annie's plea for him to stay, and, most effectively, the moment when the hospital's light go out. As his life support fails Sam finds himself trapped in the darkened hospital room, which is as personally terrifying to him as the sequence through the waterworks is to the viewer. This episode is filled with incredible moments from the absurd to the exhilarating, and every scene comes together so seamlessly it's almost unreal.

Matthew Graham writes Sam with a very real confusion as to where he is, staring into a broken mirror debating on whether it's real or not real, accidentally giving the wrong version of the right to silence warning, and his conviction that a power surge is the universe's attempt to send him forward in time. When Gene finally mocks him for his confusion, offering to call the Wizard of Oz to send Sam back home, he invites Sam into a poker game as a gesture of welcome to the fold, and Sam's agreement to be dealt in is a beautiful acceptance of his situation.

The mystery of Sam Tyler's situation continues on, laying the groundwork of Nelson (Tony Marshall) possibly knowing more than he lets on, and creating a great dynamic between Sam modern techniques and Gene's unorthodox team.

The review for "Family Matters" can be read here.


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