The Great Wall of Silence
Prime Suspect continues with episode 11, “The Great Wall of Silence.” While dealing with problems at home, Jane has to also solve a murder that may involve gambling.
Tonight’s episode, the third-to-last in our continued Prime Suspect deathwatch, is a welcome return to drama worth watching, making it the first decent episode since mid-November. It follows the investigation of a man murdered in the basement of a Chinatown restaurant. The dead guy is one James Pageant (or possibly Pagett), a rich businessman with no apparent reason for turning up dead in this place. Timoney and Velerio immediately suspect a connection with an illegal poker game that meets upstairs, but all of the witnesses vanish when a powerful attorney for the Chinatown Benevolent Business Owners Association (or something like that) arrives. When they interview his wife, she insists that Pageant’s gambling days were behind him and that she always knew when he was lying in the past.
Duffy has mandatory therapy after a shooting, and he focuses on how he was thinking what his underwear left on the bathroom floor after his morning shower would say about him.
The investigation is a good MacGuffin, although it led to the awful and inconsequential pun of the title. As it turns out, the vanishing witnesses are as unimportant to the story as the connection to Chinatown. Forget it, Jake. It does lead to Timoney being dressed down by the Chief of Detectives, who reminds her that he reports to the Chief of Police, who reports to the mayor, who needs the votes that the Chinatown Benevolent etc. delivers in the next election. While I doubt that this conversation, fraught as it is with the smell of potential ethical violations, would happen in the open like it did, I like the reminder that Timoney’s work takes place in an institution that does not necessarily share her priorities.
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A Gorgeous Mosaic
Prime Suspect finishes up with the finale, “A Gorgeous Mosaic.” When a diamond dealer to the stars is murdered, they end up investigating Irish gangsters. Mark Sheppard (Leverage, Supernatural) guest stars as Blackjack.
On last week’s Prime Suspect, “Gone to Pieces,” Duffy showed his soft side by working on a model boat for his dead friend’s son. After Sweeney told him to leave the widow alone so she could get on with her life and move upstate, Duffy left the finished boat on his desk with a note saying it was for Owen, Jane’s boyfriend’s son. Duffy’s and Jane’s cases intersected when they discovered the hit-and-run victim and the man shot in his bathroom were connected. Jane and Calderon found out that the waitress at the strip club had been beaten and humiliated by the porn king, with the murder victims in the room. Turned out that they had been mentioning her teenage daughter like they wanted to get her into porn. Jane, knowing the murderer did it to protect her family, told the woman of an old case where a woman didn’t get a lot of jail time because she said it was like a dream and couldn’t really remember everything that happened. The woman took the hint and said everything was hazy like a dream.
Their victim, Simon, was killed execution-style. The three eyewitnesses—Fiona, Ira, and Anton—start fighting, and Anton wants money for his information. Simon’s wife, obviously very distraught, tells them a man called the house, threatening Simon if he didn’t call him back. She had told Simon dealing with black rappers wasn’t safe.
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Prime Suspect, we hardly knew ye! Or did we know ye too well? Hard to say. The point is that the amount that we knew ye was not optimized, Pareto or otherwise. You were better than bad, better than mediocre even, but you never quite reached the sainted hallmark of good. Episodes in recent weeks have shown improvement, but “shown” and “improvement” are not the words that teachers write on the report cards of their best students. You generally strove hard for greatness, though, and there’s some honor in that. I say “generally,” though because this week’s episode was a stinker, shot through with clichés that undermined the tension it was so desperate to whip up. There are a few more episodes before the inevitable, and I hope that the remainder will stick with the realism of the series to date. I’ve been generally favorable of the show, and I’d hate to see it go out with this sort of indignity.
“Underwater” was a bit of a departure from the standard Prime episode, smartly dealing with the at-times toxic relationship between Jane and Reg by placing them into an unknown area and forcing them to work together; while putting the rest of the cast on the backburner.However, it is nice to see that no matter how heated the arguments get between these partners, they can put their differences aside and work together as a team to protect a little girl.
Speaking of working together, the shootout in the hotel room was intense and very well done. Over the course of watching this drama, I’ve realized how scary and scarce these gunfights the police have to deal with are, and when they decide to write one into the story it grabs your attention and sends adrenaline pumping through your body.
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