Thursday, October 4, 2012

Honey Trap

Thriller the Thursday

When Sam learns that his mother is in trouble, he gets himself personally involved in the case, winning the ire of a local crime boss.

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

For an officer so intent on doing things by-the-book, Sam (John Simm) finds himself here bending the rules when he gets personally involved in a case. The change in Sam's behavior disturbs not only himself, but also the mother (Joanne Froggatt) still in the process of raising him as a child. Where Sam has been totally cognoscente of his actions before now, it is the reactions of others that bring him back to himself, allowing a reflection of the change occurring in both his attitude and moral compass.

The discussions of checks and balances and what it is to be a bent police worker are interesting, as Sam declares that every officer, no matter their rank, needs to be whiter than white in order to maintain the functionality of the system, whereas Gene's (Philip Glenister) view is that sacrifices need to be made in order to keep working relationships with those in low places. It's morally clear that Sam's argument is the greater of the two, but Gene's point of view also warrants consideration. Gene understands that some information can only be gathered from those in criminal organizations, and that information will only get shared should Gene's officers be willing to look the other way every now and again. Where Sam sees corruption in Gene's system, Gene sees an opportunity to let the criminals police themselves, to a point, allowing the department to focus their attention on somewhat more pressing matters.

In a public setting, Gene joins in in the mockery of Sam's situation, cracking jokes and encouraging others to do the same in an effort to teach Sam a lesson about how things run in this town. It's only when Gene's alone with Warren (Tom Mannion) that he comes to Sam's defense, ensuring that the humiliation of his officer will not be repeated, but he keeps this confrontation private, never letting anyone else in the department know that he cares; he does this to maintain control, control over the officers in his department as well as control over the criminals he turns a blind eye to.

For someone as careful as Sam is, it seems strange to me that he wouldn't have asked for Annie's (Liz White) assistance when it came to protecting Joni (Kelly Whenham) over night. His being alone with Joni seems to have been written in a way to facilitate the remainder of the plot arc, but it seems unlikely to have unraveled in this way.

The time frame during which Joni drugged Sam is somewhat questionable; they had had their meal during what seemed to be the early evening, and a few hours seem to have passed before the two finally went to bed. Had Joni drugged Sam during their meal, it seems as though the effects would have kicked in long before he tried to sleep, and had they kicked in during his slumber I'm unsure of how Joni would have managed to get Sam from his chair to her bed.

All of the regulars are on-point during this episode, and Whenham delivers a good performance as the deceitful Joni; she adds the right amount of terror to her demeanor while maintaining a constant hint of sadness behind her eyes. The standout in this episode is White's Annie, who goes through a myriad of emotions throughout the script that feel completely earned and absolutely authentic.

John McKay's direction in this episode is somewhat aimless, and the pacing here is completely off; the intertwining of the story with Sam's mother and the dealings with Warren and Joni are so tonally different that the story grinds to a halt every time the focus is shifted. McKay excels at the smaller details, though, such as the moment when Sam's mother's voice can be heard coming through the television set; it may be a clue to viewers that Sam really is in a coma, as he's too deeply asleep to hear the voice himself, or instead he may be dreaming of the scene that we're watching, in which case it might be a visual deception.

Ashley Pharoah keeps adds in a number of lighter moments to the gritter aspects of this episode, keeping up the running joke of Sam's inability to recite the right to silence, and also packs in a number of well-earned emotional moments as well. It was an interesting choice to have a dream lead Sam to a search for his mother, it seemed somewhat convenient for that meeting to weave his mother into the overall investigation of the episode. I feel it would have been better to have kept the story with his mother separate from the stories of his policing, but it might also have been done intentionally in order to hint that he might be creating everything in a dream or coma. What was best played in this episode was the relationship between Sam and Annie, wherein she clearly has feelings for him, and feels hurt and betrayed upon finding him having been handcuffed naked to his bed. When she tells him that she's decided just "to be a really good friend," it's clear that he's hurt her, and it's clear in his face that this hurts him as well, but she keeps to her word and maintains a strong bond with him.

In the final moments of the episode it seems clear that Sam will return to search for his mother in order to maintain a connection to his family, but a reprisal from Warren's family of crime is also likely in Sam's future here. The inevitable romance between Sam and Annie is going to be an uneasy one, but this doesn't seem like the end of the line for them as a couple.

The review for "Once a Red" will be posted on October 11th.


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