Episode 3 sees Clive’s white ribbon brief return him to the world of halls, gowns and jumped up drinking societies that is Oxford – although in actuality he has left only one of these behind him. In fact, it wouldn’t be remotely surprising if Clive whipped out a pair of incriminating yellow socks from a back drawer, which is what makes the dynamic of this episode so intriguing.
For the first time, Clive Reader is prosecuting his own kind. What’s more, he’s up against a silk army determined to see him not only defeated but thoroughly humiliated in the process. Excellent. About time we saw Clive out of his depth…
It is a strange sensation to be rooting for Clive when he has so consistently been the show’s arrogant anti-hero, although it is crystal clear the ulterior motive is another shot at silk. After digging up the truth about his first failed application, and confirming the audience’s suspicions that Billy really does pull the strings, Clive has a great deal to keep concealed; his increasingly frequent escapades with George Duggan for one.
The subplot of Clive and Ed Marmour, his old Oxford contemporary, is rather weak; the only function of which is to prove Mr Reader is a bit of a softie. His little boy lost act in front of the three ‘crows’ on the defence is doing enough work on this count. However, the supporting cast depicting both accused and plaintive is very strong and makes the court room scenes sizzle.
Back in London, Martha’s GBH case reveals newbie Morgan Watkins with a haunting portrayal of Ricky Atkins; a man struggling with both drug abuse problems and overwhelming anger issues. Further politics are at play as not only is Alan Cowdrey the acting judge, but once more Martha finds herself up against the formidable Caroline Warwick (played fabulously by Frances Barber) who has motives of her own.
Firming up her bid to join Shoe Lane, CW must persuade Martha to vote her in; not an easy feat when opposing her in court… The barbed camaraderie between the two women is a particularly interesting dynamic, one which is sure to play out with sparks.
Lastly, it is once again pupil time at Shoe Lane; a further opportunity for Clive to get his end away? Or the chance for Martha to instil a bit of old fashioned aptitude? Martha wins out, but it remains to be seen whether Clive will accept his unwanted junior.
Aired at 9pm on Tuesday 29th May 2012 on BBC One.
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