I Coulda Been a Defendant
If anyone needs evidence that DS is as good as ever, look no further. This is a beautifully written and acted episode, warm, funny and touching by turns but always staying on the right side of sentimentality. The episode has a single theme - brotherhood - outlined in the main plot and echoed in the sub-plots, all of which come together in the stylish and effective denouement.
The central story revolves around an autistic bank robber turned protected federal witness (Bruce) who Fraser and Kowalski accidentally expose on TV after he saves a child's life. Bruce's brother is a senior Justice Department official who Bruce believes has always looked out for him. In truth, it was his brother Kevin who instigated the robbery and now needs Bruce out of the way to protect his future career. But how far will he go to achieve this?
In protecting Bruce, Fraser and Kowalski both feel something is not right and as they find out what is going on, Bruce also gradually learns the truth. What is particularly impressive about this episode (and it must be said practically every episode of DS) is not what is said but what is not. The dialogue is spare but still conveys everything the viewer needs to know.
Around the main plot, Elaine is graduating from the Police Academy with her brother officers; Kowalski admits to being fond of Francesca (which is awkward as he is supposed to be her brother and his feelings are anything but brotherly!) and we find out that Fraser was part of a scout-troop as a boy, involving himself, his best friend and the friend's sister - a substitute for the siblings he never had.
The plot builds to a touching finale as Bruce confronts his brother in the woods in driving rain. The dialogue for the scene is almost drowned out but it doesn't matter. A shoot-out ensues in which Kevin has the chance to kill his brother but cannot, blood-ties finally overcoming his greed for power. Fraser, Kowalski, Welsh and Bruce are saved when Elaine's graduating class of police officers come charging over the hill. This may sound rather melodramatic, but is in fact beautifully done. These final scenes are played out to the haunting "Brothers in Arms" by Dire Straits, which complements and enhances the scene to perfection. If this was any other show, the producers would doubtless have backed this scene with something loud and intrusive whereas the musical choices in DS are invariably creatively superb.
The acting honours in this episode must go to Brent Carver as Bruce; he really is excellent and manages to strike exactly the right note of vulnerability overlying a remarkable intelligence.
A great DS episode; touching, funny, and suspenseful all at the same time. The previous review gives you a great synopsis, just wanted to add that the resolution (Bruce confronts Kevin) was beautifully acted, I was so moved by the emotion between the two brothers...kudos to the actor playing Bruce for making the scene work. The song playing in the background (Dire Straits "Brothers In Arms") was absolutely perfect and if you listen to the lyrics, very fitting. Also, it took me awhile to warm up to Kowalski but how funny is that line when the official asks him what to do after apprehending a suspect ("Kick him in the head?") A very good ep, all around.
by Andrea Patrick
Hi everybody. "I Coulda Been a Defendant" has got to be one of my favorite DS epiosdes. The whole point of this story is all about brotherhood and how it almost got the best of one of the brothers. Bruce Spender spent much of his life looking up to his older brother, Kevin. Kevin practically raised Bruce after their parents died. So Bruce wanted to learn how to survive by himself. Kevin disapproved of that. Very much so that he set up his own brother to be beaten up for his "boomerang", which was really a clothes hanger. I didn't really think Kevin loved his brother. I think he was jealous of him because he was different. So he planned the robbery in which Bruce and three other men did, and all four men went to jail. Bruce, on the other hand, testified against the other men, but didn't named his brother because he didn't know that he was the mastermind of the robbery. The episode has really funny moments, like when Fraser, on pursuit of Bruce after he runs away after saving a kid's life, does an impressive gymnastics routine and landing on a woman's car, and at the very end when Elaine's police academy graduates come to the rescue. Kowalski had by far the funniest line of the episode. When the police commissioner asks what he must do after you control a suspect, his response was, "Kick him in the Head." I was laughing. I also liked to see Fraser get dirty for once. While tackling Kevin, his uniform got dirty from the rainwater and seeing Bruce aim a gun at his brother after he betrayed him was priceless. This was a well-written episode. I liked the Dire Sraits song that they used, but I really would like them to use Eric Clapton's "Let It Grow" instead. It had the same feeling as Brothers in Arms, but was more of a match than Brothers in Arms. Please, by all means, tape this episode.
What is this about Turnbull living in a cardboard box? We know Fraser's to live at the consulate in his own office. Is this cardboard box also at the consulate?
Imagine Inspector Thatcher sharing the building with two "nutties".
Perhaps that's why she turned off to Fraser.
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Last updated: August 11, 2001.
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