The DNA sample, found beneath the sink where young Jamie Burton hid after scratching his attacker, came into disrepute. Questions of laboratory standards saw the defence expert falter and collapse.
The pair of size twelves, recovered from a storage unit belonging to Foyle’s alibi provider, became inadmissible on a technicality. Despite Eileen Morris clearly being a weak link, prosecuting barrister Richard Mayfield (Anton Lesser) passed on attacking the alibi and instead attempted to question her on the shoes’ provenance. In response, Maggie went in for the kill pointing out that the unit in which they were found did not come within the remit of the police search warrant.
Much as Will Burton achieved in Foyle’s first trial, the murderer once again walked free as Maggie was able to engender enough doubt to ensure the prosecution case had no weight.
Failing to see a conviction, Will Burton turned to other means to secure justice. Seemingly taking some time out, he hatched an ingenious plan to exact murderous revenge. Cloning Foyle’s debit card, presumably to track his movements, Will engineered a confrontation with the killer; exploiting an allergy, he felled his nemesis while at the same time appearing to do all he could to save him. The information he needed came courtesy of criminal contacts gained from previous cases, providing access to medical records that a barrister would not usually see.
Subsequently arrested for murder, he went on to defend himself in a Scottish court, playing the legal system for his own ends and escaping prison like so many of his clients before him. In the end, the verdict was ‘not proven’, the Scottish third option that sets a person free without utterly absolving them of any guilt.
Though delivering a satisfying and clever conclusion, we felt that Maggie’s presence at Will’s Scottish trial was somewhat contrived. After working out what he had done, she rushed to Edinburgh seemingly seeking to prove nothing more than that she was right and to join the dots for us as the jury came to its verdict.
We suppose her motivation lie in the fact that she appeared to be the next target, but it seemed a conversation to be had at any time. We suppose it was the only way to explain the mechanics of his “perfect crime” and assured us, at least, that there was no likelihood of any comeback.
There were many points unanswered about Foyle too, who appeared not to work and yet maintained a house and an enlarged collection of birds. We caught elements of his motivation in comments made regarding the law, but would have liked some more direct explanation of his actions.
David Wolstencroft’s tale restated an age-old moral dilemma; if the law fails us should we take it into our own hands to see a wrongdoer punished? Incredibly well performed and directed, The Escape Artist was absorbing and thought-provoking fare with a story demanding the attention of the viewer. With Tennant’s winning charm and Toby Kebbell’s mesmeric wonderful portrayal of the malevolent killer, we cannot help but think that Foyle’s end was a case justice served and yet should we cheer at someone getting away with murder, no matter how vile the victim?
Aired at 9pm on Tuesday 12 November 2013 on BBC One.
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