Limbo

 

 

 



Cast
Nathaniel Parker .... Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley
Sharon Small .... Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers
Paul Hickey .... Stuart Lafferty
Samantha Bond .... Vivienne Oborne
Georgina Rylance .... Julia Oborne
Nicholas Farrell .... Sam Oborne
Jacob Avery .... Justin Oborne
John Shrapnel .... Sergeant Mike McCaffrey
Nicholas Brown .... Oliver Oborne
Ed Stoppard .... Conrad McCaffrey
Sam Cox .... Greg Sullivan
Alex Argenti .... Hotel Manageress
Justin Pierre .... Andy Vedder
Geraldine Somerville .... Michelle Tate
Denise Gough .... Christine Faraday


Directed by Robert Bierman
Written by Ed Whitmore based on the characters by Elizabeth George
Premiered on TV station Seven (Australia) June 9th, 2007

Plot

The first episode of IL 6 starts out in the past. Twelve years ago Thomas Lynley was invited to a friend’s party. The well-off Oborne’s seemed like an intact family at that time with two kids: the adolescent Julia and her little brother Justin, who broke his arm. It’s Justin’s birthday party and the grown-ups celebrate in their own style. Especially Sam drinks far too much and seems a tad too aggressive for such an event. Justin is being sent off to bed only to vanish forever a few minutes later. His mom Vivienne Oborne desperately tries to find him, but Justin’s nowhere to be found.

Back to the here and now. Lynley is fighting his private demons: He took up the habit of heavy drinking. He’s on a bereavement leave that lasted months. He’s hiding in a friend’s flat in Chelsea when he gets a call from his old acquaintance Sam Oborne. He informs Lynley that it seems as if Justin’s remains have been found on the family’s premises in an old drain. The large house on the outskirts of London has never been sold and remained fully furbished just the way it was twelve years ago, although the family lives in the centre of London. A third child was born after Justin’s disappearance – his name is Oliver. Julia Oborne could never come to terms with her brother’s death. She’s been living in Rome for years and works there as a teacher. She refuses to return to London for her brother’s funeral. Her parents are desperate and ask Lynley to fly to Rome to convince Julia to come back for the funeral service.

Mike and Conrad McCaffrey are at the location as the boy’s remains are excavated from the drain. Both were friends of the family. Mike, Conrad’s father was the executing police sergeant who tried for more than two years to find Justin’s abductor. Conrad was the boyfriend of Justin’s nanny (Christine Faraday) who had been accused of breaking his arm shortly before his birthday party. Conrad is a lawyer now, working in London. Christine became a nurse at the local hospital. The charges were dropped because there was no evidence that she actually hurt Justin. Both Conrad and Christine were close friends of Julia at that time.

A DNA test is conducted to make sure that the remains of the child are actually Justin’s. Mike suspects that Sam might not have been Justin’s real father. Sam changed after the tragic events – he stopped his booze and left his demanding job as a manager of his own company. He cares more about his family now then he did years ago.

Lynley travels to Rome to get Julia to re-think her stubborn attitude towards her family. She asks where and how Justin was found and seemingly agrees to come with him as she realizes that Lynley himself knows what grief means. In order to pack a few things for her trip to London both return to her flat. When they arrive , the door is broken open - they surprise a burglar who is still there. As he realizes that the flat’s owner is back he splits. Lynley and Julia try to hunt him down but all they get is a napkin that’s fallen out of the thief’s pocket. A hotel name is on it. While searching illegally through the hotel room of a British visitor Lynley manages to get hold of a pill-box. Julia finds a British newspaper with an article on the front-page that deals with Justin’s story.

Back in London, Julia is invited to stay at Lynley’s hiding place in Chelsea before seeing her parents again after several years. They decide to have a drink at a bar. It seems that two lost have found each other that evening. They drink far too much and when they get back to their flat they desperately sleep with another. Later that night Julia receives a call via her mobile phone. Lynley doesn’t hear what’s been said. In a small attack of jealousy he suspects one of her Italian lovers, she jokes about it and they return to bed. The next morning Lynley’s having a rude awakening. The police are forcing their way into the flat by breaking his door. He’s been arrested on suspicion of murdering Julia who’s lying on the pavement in front of Lynley’s window with a broken neck. Detective Superintendent Michelle Tate is conducting the investigation. Right from the start Lynley in her eyes is the only suspect for this crime. She’s trying everything to make Julia’s death a murder, topped by an alleged rape committed by Lynley in a rage and out of frustration over his wife’s death. Her hostility towards Lynley is obvious and when Havers turns up at the police station where Lynley is held in custody he as no other choice than secretly handing the pill-box to her begging her to let Lafferty check the fingerprints on it. He senses that he has no chance to talk reason to Tate.

Havers sticks to Lynley as well as Lafferty does. Both start a second hidden investigation to find out why Julia had to die. Conrad also turns up and offers his assistance on Lynley’s case. As it turns out, Julia was an ex-user of heroine and depressive. Tate hasn’t anything to go on, so she releases Lynley. Tate’s official theory now is that Julia may have committed suicide – that would put Lynley in the clear. She actually doesn’t believe it and still tries to find evidence against Lynley. He is free but only because of the suicide theory – but he insists on his opinion: Julia was murdered. Havers and Lafferty don’t understand why he’s so persistent to search for a killer, but they agree to help him like Mike McCaffrey does. Lafferty finds out that the fingerprints of the pill-box belong to Sullivan, a former acquitted suspect in Justin’s case.

Havers and Lynley pay that man a visit only to find out that he’s half-dead – a very sick man with cancer. They also learn that Julia was Sullivan’s benefactor – she gave him 20.000 GPB. Both now suspect that it was actually Julia who had something to do with Justin’s death – maybe the money bought Sullivan’s silence and she did kill herself now because her guilt became too apparent.

Christine Faraday and Conrad had too much to drink that evening when Justin went missing. Christine had a phone call from Julia, but denies that it was of any importance. Meanwhile Lafferty re-examines Julia’s corpse. Christine is being interviewed by Havers, Mike, Conrad and Lynley. She finally tells them who broke Justin’s arm. It was Sam, Justin’s father. He was furious because Justin had messed up some of his business papers. Christine never told anyone, except for her two friends: Julia and Conrad. Lafferty finds new evidence that indicates Julia was asphyxiated by someone who was wearing rubber gloves. He found a piece of it between her teeth. He sends it off to run a DNA test. Again, he doesn’t tell Tate anything about his findings. It now appears as if Sam Oborne is the prime suspect for both killings.

Sam has a breakdown and takes his son Oliver to the former family estate to explain “important” things from the past to him. He actually plans to kill himself. Lynley is able to prevent that and it becomes clear that Sam feels responsible for the death both of Justin (because he beat him and Julia tried to save Justin from him) and Julia (because he thinks that Julia did commit suicide out of guilt feelings). Only when Lynley tells him that Julia was killed, it dawns on him that he might have been the catalyst for the drama, but he wasn’t the perpetrator. Julia took Justin that night to save him from his father’s anger. Now not too many people are left that might have something to do with Justin’s death. Mike, Conrad, Lynley and Havers argue on how to solve this riddle.

Lafferty carries on with his investigation: Justin has been run-over by a white car. Conrad and Christine drove a white car that night. Julia phoned Christine that night. The lovers left the pub drunken. In an interview, Christine denies that Julia and Justin turned up at her place that night. Mike and Lynley have a row about the whole case. Mike rushes off and sets fire to Christine’s old white Fiesta to destroy possible evidence. Lynley tries to talk reason to Christine once more, she seems to be very scared of something, but she doesn’t say a word. Christine is in sheer panic after her visitors leave her, she’s trying to pack a few things, then her doorbell rings and she’s taking her heels, trying to escape someone she knows is trying to kill her.

Lynley and Havers get a call that a car had just been burning out somewhere near Christine’s place. Shortly after they arrive they get another call telling them that Christine has been found dead not too far from her home. It looks like a faked rape murder scene with Christine being strangled with a belt. Mike gets a call from Tate – she arrested Lafferty and gives order to do the same with Lynley and Havers. Havers, luckily enough was able to leave shortly beforehand. Lynley gets handcuffed by Mike which he now thinks he recognizes as the triple killer. A confronting argument is going on while Mike and Lynley drive off to the police headquarters where Lafferty and Tate are waiting for them. Mike denies everything but when they actually arrive at the police station, Mike is being arrested and Lynley set free. The DNA test run on the piece of rubber glove proved that Mike McCaffrey was “closest” to the DNA sample.

Havers is being send to fetch Conrad while Lynley and Lafferty listen to Mike’s statement. He admits that he was the one who killed all three victims. While overhearing the interrogation Lynley finds inconsistencies in Mike’s words and it suddenly becomes clear to him who the killer is when Lafferty says that the DNA might have also come from a very close relative. Mike lies to protect his career-son Conrad. Something that Havers finds out that very minute when she’s offering Conrad a ride to the police station – she sees a bloody belt lying on Conrad’s kitchen table. She suddenly realizes that she’s in the same room with a triple killer but Conrad observed her examining that belt. Conrad attacks Havers and overcomes her.

Conrad tells Havers what happened that night. Sure Julia did take Justin and called Christine for help. Christine and Conrad were drunk, but Christine pressed hard on him to drive her to her cottage to help the siblings. He drove, it was too dark, he had a row with Christine and little Justin was running around on the street in front of the cottage. There wasn’t any room left to break, so Justin got hit by the car. They all covered up for Conrad who told them that he wouldn’t have had the slightest chance to become a lawyer with such a thing on his hands. So they all decided to say nothing and hide the body somewhere dignified. He felt that he had to kill Julia, because she returned to London – he was afraid that she’d start to talk because she was upset that he hid Justin’s corpse in that old drain. Christine was another confidant that was about to start to talk because she suspected Conrad was Julia’s killer.

After his “confession” he’s trying to drag Havers into his car, Lynley turns up at the entrance to his flat. After a dramatic chase Conrad is arrested.

Review

This first episode has a very special quality to it. It’s purpose isn’t telling an especially logical or credible crime drama plot. Mainly this one is about trying in a metaphorical sense to chase our main character by throwing stones at him making him run for his dear life until he’s up a tree and observing him coming down that tree a hero. This is an all Lynley episode.

He’s grieving and his pain has completely taken over. He’s having a mental breakdown. He’s showing all the signs of a desperate man, unable to function in his world as he knows it. He’s drinking heavily, he refuses help from his friends and partners and he becomes very reclusive. Actually he pities himself without taking a good look around himself, he’s drowning in feeling sorry for himself. Only when old friends who he senses have been hit by fate worse than himself ask him for help he starts emerging from his self-made forecourt to hell. But he isn’t ready for that, so he worsens things. Additionally to his private mess he starts an impossible and “wrong” sexual affair with a much younger and mentally instable woman who happens to be the daughter of dear friends.

The logical gaps and sudden turning points in the plot’s lines are there for a reason as well as one is getting the feeling that some characters have deliberately been kept on the surface. Nothing should distract from Lynley’s crisis and tale of catharsis. Take for instance Detective Superintendent Michelle Tate. This character is offensive right from the start without having a proper reason for that except one: she hates Lynley’s guts.

Lynley is forced to show all his dark sides, our shining prince is about to lose all his charms in this one. He’s a lonely man who seemingly is even unable to make a call to a solicitor of his choice when he’s arrested. Good for him that he suddenly seems to recall he’s got friends he can rely upon. Better for him that they throw some truths right to his face when he has no other choice than to listen to them and to accept what they are trying to tell him. Havers’ comment on his night with Julia is so frank like we’ve never heard her before: “Well it wasn’t your finest hour.” The expression on Lynley’s face says it all. She’s right and he knows it but he’s flabbergasted that she dares expressing it like that. The three sequences where Mike tells him what he thinks of Lynley’s complacency are more than overdue: “Next time I’d like to be asked not told.” “Don’t patronize me.” “You had your wife shot right in front of you.”

Self-pity stares Lynley right into his face as if he’s looking into a mirror when he confronts the suicidal failed father and former careerist figure Sam Osborne in his cellar. Sam’s whining in lines that seem to come out of teenage scrapbooks, but poor ones. He’s hiding behind bromides, the truth about his own misconduct still isn’t faced fully or let’s say he is still is far too egocentric like he always was. He’s feeling like the root for all the evil, he caused everything like the big omnipotent man he thinks he is or was… Here are two samples to indicate that this sequence isn’t poor scriptwriting, they are a means of mirroring Lynley’s character: “Father are you trying to tell me something?” ”Lies really can kill you Oliver…” It couldn’t get more pathetic as Sam tries to explain his life’s big mistakes to a what - ten year old??? Lynley always likes to hide behind phrases when it comes to really emotional stuff that’s close to him. Or take the highly sophisticated gibberish that’s to follow shortly after that. Sam: “The darkness spread like a stain” (trying to describe his role in these “outlines of tragedy”) Lynley's sarcastic reply: “Is that a poetic way of saying that it was you who broke Justin’s arm?” “I got some bad news for you, Sam it wasn’t all your fault…” and that face when he says it indicates that he realizes Sam excels far too much in his role as the dark misfortune bringer for everyone around him. He simply turns around and says: “If you’d really wanted to kill yourself you’d done it a long time ago.” Right he is.

In a nutshell: Lynley has his crisis of a lifetime, forget about the other characters in this one, including Havers. As he faces up to his own faults he succeeds in solving the stilted secret of this episode and overcomes his own grief that had everything to do with himself, not with the death of his beloved Helen. Don’t ask for a stringent story, this is all about character development and it’s been displayed and carried out brilliantly by Nat. The prince is dead – long live the prince; alright, you may come down that tree.

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