Chinese Walls

 

 

 

 

 

Cast
Nathaniel Parker .... Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley
Sharon Small .... Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers
Catherine Russell…. Helen Lynley
Paul Hickey .... Lafferty
Isabelle Calthorpe…. Emily Proctor
Shaun Parkes ….DSC Winston Nkata
Ciaran McIntryre ….O'Neill
Diana Hartcastle ….Deborah Proctor
David Yelland ….Guy Proctor
Lindsey Coulson ….Hester Reed
Blake Ritson ….Graham Marshall
Samuel West …. Tony Wainwright
Vee Vimolmal …. Cleaner
Georgia Mackenzie …. Lisa Conroy
Joe Armstrong …. Darren
Wayne Foskett …. Robert Tenner
Roland Oliver …. DS Robert Mils

Directed by Robert Bierman
Written by Ed Whitmore based on the characters by Elizabeth George
Premiered on TV 2 Charlie Denmark June 2, 2006
First UK Broadcast on BBC One Scotland August 1, 2006

Plot

Young Emily Proctor is stabbed in Hyde Park at night. The people who knew her thought she was working as a trainee for Tony Wainwright, a famous QC. As we will learn Emily saw him on TV during a documentary on human rights when she was 13 years old. She was so impressed that she pursued a career as a lawyer herself, making it to become Wainwright's pupil.

What her parents don't know is that she quitted her practical training four months ago. Hester Reed who's Wrainwright's close assistant tries to get rid of Lynley and his impertinent questions. She obviously is very protective towards her boss. Wrainwright first denies that he had any closer or private relationship with the victim and tells Lynley that Emily gave no comprehensible reason for her leaving.

Her half-sister Lisa Convoy who split-up with her family over ten years ago during her teenage years is now running an internet porn company. Emily made her living as one of her online models. She reveals that she had one regular online punter who turned out to have a tendency to be a stalker. He apparently found out her real name and address. He made contact with her, even meeting her once at a café. Lisa Convoy was so concerned about her little sister that she had a video entry system installed in her private home to make it easier for Emily to protect herself against unwanted fans.

One of the company's technicians, Darren, helped Emily to install that system. Darren had a huge crush on Emily. The young man has some similarities with Havers: his mom is a case for nursing care and he is stuck with his duties at home. Darren is so deeply saddened about Emily's death that he's killing himself that following night, leaving a sad good-bye letter.

Lynley and Helen finally truly reconcile and decide to reanimate their relationship. They promise each other to be honest and talk instead of hide behind work should fate strike again as it did when their first unborn child died during that car accident over a year ago. Helen says that she's be unable to survive another break-up.

The rest of the story is easily told. Wainwright admits that he in fact had an affair with Emily. The relationship was a difficult one since Emily was unable to face intimacy. Wrainwright split-up because she refused to talk about it or even try to seek psychological treatment. They eventually reconciled and wanted to meet the night Emily was killed. Darren, Emily's quiet and unknown lover, installed a bit more than a simple door video gadget. In fact he monitored Emily's whole apartment with hidden video cameras. Her whole last days have been recorded on video tapes.

With Lisa's help Lynley and Havers are able to trace Emily's stalker who turns out to be harmless, since he never tried to reach out for his porn star ever again after their first and last meeting. As things develop, Lynley comes to believe that Wrainwright has something to do with Emily's death. Fifteen years ago he lost another young good-looking woman to an unsolved assault. Lisa also starts to talk about her and Emily's past. She gives Lynley the reason for Emily's problems with sex and her own falling-out with her family. Lisa's stepfather Guy abused her sexually from the age of eight. Guy Proctor - Lisa's stepfather - is being interrogated but has an alibi for the night Emily was killed.

Lafferty comes up with the mould of the murder weapon, which obviously was a climbing axe. Wrainwright is a climbing fanatic. Lafferty and Havers search his car and find traces of blood plus a thoroughly cleaned axe. Suddenly it strikes Lynley and Wrainwright who's the only person that could have used his car on the night Emily was murdered: Wrainwright's right hand, Hester Reed. Wrainwright confronts her and she admits having killed both women out of jealousy.

Review

Beware - this plot sounds simple, but it is a very disturbing one. And yes, you know for sure who's the killer as soon as she appears on screen for the first time. That's not the point here. The sub-text and allusions are very unsettling. It all revolves around every aspect of relationships: love, false love, misunderstood love, attraction, denial, stalking, fandom, trust, addiction, dependence, loneliness, abuse, despair, jealousy - you name them, they are all there in one way or another. The motifs vary, change their colour each moment and that makes this sub-narrative very interesting to follow. The underlying idea that this series is mainly about relationships reaches its suspenseful climax here.

Each relationship turns out to be crooked somehow and it seems strange (or let's say very fitting) that exactly on this background Lynley and Helen decide to become real lovers again. Helen's words do strike you when she says that she wouldn't survive another break-up with Lynley. Now that can be a declaration of love, might even her true feelings after her painful experiences, but could also be understood as an attempted emotional extortion - all depending on how you see Helen and her situation at that very moment. Not forgetting the aspect that Havers denies any interest in Lynley's private life - but Helen still thinks she has an interest in him. And Lynley although saying something completely different - has some doubts, too.

One even more unsettling (but not exactly new) aspect of stalking is that the perpetrators actually aren't necessarily strangers or fans, but people who are close to the victims, knowing them as a matter of fact personally, being unable to speak of their desires and wishes. What's the old saying: beware of good intentions!

As I said before, not an exactly uplifting storyline, but one that does echo in the back of your mind the longer you think about it. Surely one of the episodes you're gonna watch more than once, but not for the easy-going banter between Lynley and Havers. I have an association where the title for this episode might come from - which of course is non-sense. There's a line in a Paul Simon song: "They've got a wall in China; It's a thousand miles long; To keep out the foreigners they made it strong; And I got a wall around me that you can't even see; It took a little while to get next to me."

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