Silk: Episode 01.03

She could be arguing in her spare time
Martha and Clive are preparing for their “silk” interviews, so we can rest assured that this episode will toss plenty of roadblocks in their way. Not to mention the roadblocks we know Martha will create for herself.  ’Cause she wouldn’t be Martha if she didn’t make everything much more difficult than it needs to be.

We start with the Tony Paddick case.

John Bright, the junior clerk we know can’t be trusted, delivers the neatly wrapped prosecution case files to Billy Lamb. They’ve been sent over by another chambers that, for reasons unspecified, has decided it no longer wishes to pursue the prosecution.

Billy hands the case to Martha. It will be a slam-dunk, he assures her, and prosecuting will demonstrate her versatility to the committee reviewing her QC application. Plus, she’ll be opposing poor little Noah Zeigler, a barrister from her own chambers who’s universally acknowledged as dead weight.

When Noah finds out Martha is his opposition, he’s all ready to settle, but Martha refuses. She wants her day in court.

Before she sets foot in the courtroom, however, she insults the lawyer from the Crown Prosecution Service, which (generally speaking) hired Martha to prosecute the case. Martha does her usual smart-mouthy, know-it-all thing. The CPS lawyer, played by Fenella Woolgar (you’ve seen her in Case Histories, Poirot, and Doctor Who, among other things), pretty much tells Miss Martha: “I’ve been working on this case for nine months. Don’t you think you should give it more attention than scanning the brief in the taxi on your way to my office?” Go Fenella!

Undeterred, Martha continues to undermine her own prosecution of the case, which involves a teacher who brutally beat a student. The teacher is charged with attempted murder because that is what the CPS wants him charged with. Martha thinks he should be accused of GBH—grievous bodily harm—a lesser offense. Noah wants to cut a deal for him to plead to GBH, which would yield the result Martha wants. (Wouldn’t it?) Martha won’t cut the deal. Instead, she wastes a whole bunch of time battling to reach the result she would have reached if she’d just settled the case to begin with.

Whatever you do, don’t look behind you!
Meanwhile, up pops Gary Rush: the guy who was accused of beating up and robbing the elderly widower in episode 1; the guy we have no reason to believe didn’t commit that crime and plenty more besides; the guy Martha got acquitted; the guy who’s been stalking Martha ever since.

Martha’s busy annoying Fenella, so bright-eyed Niamh—who’s no longer feeling the love from Clive and wants to show what a big girl she is—decides she’ll step in to take the meeting with Gary Rush. Never mind that he’s the creepiest thing she’s encountered since an inchworm dared to wiggle its way onto her pram. Niamh, bless her, has decided to adopt Martha as her role model, so she plunges in head-first. Good luck, Niamh, it was nice knowing you.

Oh yes, Mark Draper, the teen prostitute Martha defended in episode 2, is back as well. This time he’s accused of murdering a judge. And he’s confessed to the crime. But that won’t stop Martha from riding to his rescue whether he wants to be rescued or not.

Things happen. There’s a particular deus ex machina that’s a cheat even for this show in which the course of Martha’s life is determined by everything but her own actions. There also is a decision on who gets silk. (No prizes for guessing.) And Martha still doesn’t call her mother.

Clive, we hardly knew ye.
This is the last we’ll see of Silk this season on Masterpiece Mystery. I’ve been hard on this show mainly because I think it’s nothing special and because I believe the precious Masterpiece Mystery hours should be devoted to programs that are above and beyond what we see on typical network TV. I don’t watch many legal dramas, but even I spotted plenty of stuff in Silk that was borrowed from other TV shows and films.

Now, I have a confession to make: I really, truly wanted to see the second series of Case Histories on Masterpiece Mystery this season. Instead, we had Silk. So, I’ll admit I went into this series with my arms crossed, and Silk did nothing to make me uncross my arms and embrace it. I’m still hoping the future will bring us more Kate Atkinson, more Millie Innes as Marlee, more Amanda Abbington as Louise Munroe, and especially more Jason Isaacs as Jackson Brodie in Case Histories. Pretty please, Masterpiece people?

Until then, I am eagerly anticipating the new series of Foyle’s War starting on Masterpiece Mystery next week. 

Leslie Gilbert Elman is the author of Weird But True: 200 Astounding, Outrageous, and Totally Off the Wall Facts. Follow her on Twitter @leslieelman.

Read all of Leslie Gilbert Elman’s posts for Criminal Element.

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