Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Bombing

Thriller the Thursday

Sam's poor judgement results in serious injury for Ray, earning him the ire of the rest of the department staff.

The review for "Every Son Kills His Father" can be read here.

Adjusting to life in 1973 hasn't been the easiest transition for Sam (John Simm,) and though he has softened considerably toward his new found allies here, there still are times when his pride gets the better of him. One of the interesting things about Sam's situation are the moments he learns that his modern techniques aren't always the best, and while he attempts to use his knowledge of the future to his advantage in most situations, here it proves his undoing.

Having held out far longer than she should have, Annie (Liz White) has finally had enough of Sam's behavior and begins freezing him out. At first she refuses to let him donate money into Ray's (Dean Andrews) pot, stating that "it's just his mates putting in," when in actuality she's refusing him because it's his fault that Ray was hurt in the first place. Their interactions throughout the story remain relatively frosty, but Sam makes no attempt to correct his behavior, believing that he was right in his actions and thinking that his colleagues will come around when he solves the case. He comes to Annie asking that she trust his hunch and come with him to investigate a divergent clue, and while she likely would have followed his lead in the past, she can't, in good conscience, keep faith in him, and chooses instead to go with Ray, Chris (Marshall Lancaster) and Gene instead.

Having no one left to confide in, Sam is forced to seek counsel by walking into a church and confessing to a priest. He states that he's not a religious man, but he's so lost in this world, so confused about his path, and he just needs someone to listen, and this is exactly what he should have been doing since the beginning. Having known that he was scaring Annie with the way he spoke, with what he talked about, he should have come here in order to spare her the pain of watching her friend go insane and to avoid the speculation that he might be unfit for duty. The curtain is later pulled back and the man on the other side is revealed as Pat O'Brien (Brendan Mackey,) the suspect in their case, who then has a conversation with Sam about their lots in life and how different everything could have turned out for the both of them. It is in speaking to O'Brien that Sam realizes what he needs to do, and he returns to Gene to apologize and admit that he was wrong, which is when Gene finally listens to him, not because he wants to know that Sam has learned humility, but because he knows how difficult it is for Sam to admit that he's wrong and that Gene's right.

This isn't the first time that Sam has used his knowledge of future events to his advantage, but in goading Ray into checking the car for a bomb Sam is putting him in direct danger, in part simply because he doesn't like him. Sam so often is about following procedure and taking the necessary precautions when any sort of risk is involved, and despite his knowledge of the future he shouldn't have allowed a fellow officer to risk his life in that way. Later on, while suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, Ray shoots an unarmed suspect after Sam's direct order not to, and Sam calls him on it and tries to report it to Gene. While Sam certainly has every right to report the shooting, and a duty as an officer of the law, it's incredibly hypocritical of him to consider his own actions above the law while determined to make Ray, who surely is not yet ready to be back on duty, follow the letter. The episode closes with Sam walking into the pub to a round of applause from everyone, suddenly having been forgiven for his part in Ray's injuries, and it feels inauthentic. The story should have closed on Ray and Sam splitting a pint in silence, neither apologizing or congratulating, but both understanding their parts in the successes and failures of the case.

Sam is incredibly resistant to any advances that Gene tries to make in the investigation, openly mocking the choice of suspects that Gene imagines and becoming something of a hindrance to the case. When he is told he is wrong, Sam tends to begin acting very impetuously and becomes a threat to the others of his division, and it would be nice if he weren't shown to be so consistently right every single time.

Andrews is on-point in this episode, displaying Ray's post-traumatic stress disorder very well, getting his fears and concerns across the screen without uttering a word. Simm and Glenister remain capable as always, but White, who I tend to enjoy, struggles a bit here, unsure of how to showcase Annie's loss of faith in Sam, instead simply coming across as cold and robotic.

S. J. Clarkson is very capable as a director and she adds many elements to the episode that add depth to Sam's situation as well as to the visual narrative. In keeping with the tradition of Sam's electronics giving him clues as to his situation in the hospital, Clarkson chooses to have the television interact with the radio, allowing a conversation between two inanimate objects that makes absolute sense in regards to the series and have Sam questioning the possibility of his mental recovery. The explosion, and everyone subsequently rushing to Ray's side, is shown in slow motion, in part to create a dramatic mood, but also to mimic Sam's sense of confusion in that moment, unable to comprehend what has just happened and knowing that he may have lead to the death of his colleague.

Writer Julie Rutterford uses her story as an opportunity to explore the antagonism between Sam and Ray, while also using their altercation as a chance to force Sam to consider the ramifications of his actions and the reasoning behind them. The story opens on Sam and Ray posturing, Ray convinced that Sam simply wants to impress Annie with his lack of fear in regards to the bomb, while Sam thinks that Ray just wants to play the hero and take the spotlight away from Sam. Growing progressively frustrated with himself, worried that he may be losing his touch, Sam even lets Gene rough up one of their suspects, debating whether or not he should step in, when, in the past, he wouldn't have hesitated to put a stop to things. Sam tries to defend his actions, stating that, should they convict the wrong man, the public is likely to stop trusting them, with Gene countering that "[they're] the police, everybody trusts [them]."

For the first time we see what happens when the entire division loses faith in Sam, including Annie, and the experience is likely to have a profound effect on Sam's future performance as he will likely try to avoid letting it happen again. The relationship between Sam and Ray warms from antagonistic to a somewhat begrudging respect, with a chance that they might end up on friendly terms by the end of the series.

The review for "Falling in Love is Against the Rules" can be read here.


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