Injustice – TV Series Exploring the Complexity of Humanity

Greek philosopher Aristotle (384-322) noted ‘it is our task to become good men, to achieve the highest human good’. But is that enough? How do we attain goodness without a sense of purpose or belief there is something more?

Capital atop a column on the Doge's Palace at Venice featuring carving of the allegories of virtues and vices "Iniusticia seva sum" - 'Injustice '

The ancient Greek word kósmos means order. When it was discovered creation became a subject of rational enquiry. Philosopher, mathematician and founder of the Academy at Athens in ancient times Plato (429-347) selected the ‘soul’, not the body as that part of a man requiring cultivation. Traditionally the soul has always been regarded as being the spiritual source of life. If we were applying rational thought to matters of the soul then, as the body is improved by healthy exercise, the soul would benefit from morally right human behaviour. The downside for soul is that it would be completely ruined by the opposite ideology, evil.

Injustice is the story about the execution of a murderer after a long period of mediation, by what most people in society would perceive as a really good man, one forced to take action. Life is very complicated for most, except for the intellectually brilliant Will Travers. He is a successful London barrister working well within the modern day British legal system. He simply cannot, and won’t defend anyone accused of a crime unless he knows for certain they are innocent. His associates are charged with making sure, prior to asking him to take on a case. He wants his well-ordered life in the city defending those accused of pretty terrible crimes, to be all about certainty, about matters of compassion and about making himself look good. But as we can appreciate looking good and being good are two very different things.

Then along comes the case that threatens Will Traver’s reality, the one he has created for himself. Suddenly the lines become blurred as we find out how much and how easily justice can break down when rules change. What happens to a ‘good man’ when the systems he relies on fail and his whole life is quite literally shot to pieces; he finds he cannot shut his eyes without seeing a man being shot in the head by another, who has a young child propping up his gun arm to help him. What does it all mean? Just who was the client who threatened Travers and his well-ordered life? And what will Travers finally do to ensure that justice eventually prevails for all ? We are left pondering these questions and more at the end of the first episode, which packs a mighty punch in its last few minutes leaving us gasping for breathe. It’s all so intriguing and totally surreal. It is Injustice, and the solution will be about murder through meditation.

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Throughout the trial of Philip Spaull, played proficiently by Robert Whitelock, we find that Travers’s life was very difficult. Apart from preparing the case for his client’s defense, Travers has also had to run the gauntlet of the victim’s distraught parents, survive long absences from home and his family,  a wife and daughter. Then there is the clamouring public and media both of whom are in meltdown wanting to see the accused found guilty for what he has done. Forget about being innocent until proven guilty. It’s not going to happen here.

So what was this trial all about? That’s right, you remember at last, Travers, it was a pretty heinous crime; blowing up an eight-year old boy with a car bomb meant for his dad. It doesn’t help when we find out it was also about scoring a point in a war by radicals to help of all things, wildlife. What sort of strange logic is being applied here.

When we meet Will Travers while appearing composed we find out that he is constantly thinking about the result of this his most dreadful case one that disrupted his life, which we view in flashback because he is considering stepping up again, after two  years away from London to take on a new one. This is despite promising his wife he wouldn’t ever try a murder case again.

It’s ok, this time he assures her, while trying hard to convince himself it’s different. He has been asked to defend his old friend from university days Martin Newall, who has been accused of murdering his very attractive young assistant. Newall claims he is innocent, turning to his old buddy for help to prove it’s true. And, Travers believes him.

But how will he cope again being back in the spotlight after such a big break. There was a great deal of passion running amok in that earlier trial but hey, you were great Travers, you stuck to your guns. You measured up well patiently pacing yourself as a good barrister would; sticking to your belief in the justice system because you really knew for sure your client is innocent. As a result of your courage under fire and your brilliant well-measured presentation in court naturally Spaull was acquitted.

But here’s the thing. You remember finally that later back in your chambers as you celebrated over a glass of the local wine bar’s best vino you were completely thrown when Spaull started to laugh loudly. Then he thanked you for helping him get away with the murder of a child. He believes that counts even more toward ensuring his radical friends will finally get the attention from the press and public they are seeking.

Hang on, but isn’t this the justice system in which no one can be tried twice for the same crime?  This is hideous. What will you do Travers? Will you just simply and stoically get up and get on with it? What are the consequences for you and for everyone else involved; because of the total travesty that was Spaull’s trial and its real result; Injustice.

For the acquitted client it means getting off ‘Scot free’ gaining a second chance at a new life on the lamb. For the parents of the dead child its all about continuing grief, a period of mourning, then trying to put their lives back into some semblance of order while the memories of what has been lost just keep on coming.

For you Travers is it a total disaster; descent into the oblivion of a complete nervous break down, brought on because your mind doesn’t want to have to come to terms with any of what has happened at all. Shattered you and your family move to the countryside to help you cope. There for two years you keep out of sight, struggling to put the pieces of your once lovely life back together, while giving other people time to forget.

First you have to deal with your head, and after that with your heart. You and your wife learn to treasure each other and how to value what it is you really have on a day-to-day basis. No more late nights out, just peace and tranquility as you pick up the threads of your life slowly and carefully. Basically Travers you are a good man after all. You can re-assure yourself that you didn’t really do anything wrong. The bonus is you know you are innocent, so that can and will help you heal.

But still niggling away out there in the background of your mind you know the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing’ and that in reality, it is only good men who go to war.

Finally, emerging with the courage of your convictions intact to consider taking on cases once more to your dismay you find out that the client who did get away with the murder, is living not far from where you now live, along a country lane. Basically he is residing in your own backyard.

So what do you do Travers? After all your words, your deeds and your actions must surely align so that order will prevail and justice, as well as being seen to be, will be done. But is goodness alone ever really enough? Does it require that hard cold wisdom is also present for goodness to actually accomplish good?

Travers has been pushed to the edge; he is carefully weighing up whether or not he should cross the invisible line that exists somewhere between good and evil, because of what he knows now that he did not know before; he is a man who believes in truth and justice but finds out that in reality neither are what he believes they are, or should be.

This five episode patiently paced well produced series made for Independent Television (ITV) on UK TV was released on DVD in England in June. It is one of the great surprises of the year. It puts the capital D firmly back into drama as that very fine actor James Purefoy, backed up by an equally amazing cast, convincingly plays the gentle, good and very well-mannered British barrister Will Travers.

Purefoy is an outstanding actor simply because he understands about leaving just the right amount of ‘space’ around what is really well written dialogue, thereby helping what he is saying slowly and convincingly sink well into our psyche, making us believe what he believes too.

Supporting actor Charlie Creed-Miles emerges as the really unexpected star. He convincingly plays the local corrupt cop, Detective Inspector Mark Wenborn and, he is so good that he actually makes loathing him really easy. As D.I. he doesn’t follow rules, just his own. He is happy to fake evidence and fit someone up, just as long as it suits his ideas and outlook, which includes a great variety of prejudices and pride.

He particularly hates fancy pants lawyers who lunch, believing them to be just a bunch of posh boys playing a game, while they, the police, put in all the hard yards, catching the crooks while making the city and the countryside a safer place for everyone to live in.

Some people who enjoy being judgmental would probably agree with both his stance and viewpoint. That is perhaps until they see him at home where he often beats his downtrodden wife Maggie; well he is a thoroughly unlikeable chap, cop and bully.

She is suffering post-natal depression and carries out an act of impulse shoplifting, an offense whose consequences will have repercussions stretching far beyond their own miserable lives.

Wenborn’s old school boss cop is equally guilty and that’s really scary. He simply wants results and is completely happy to turn his back on his D.I’s dastardly undocumented methods to achieve results. When Wenborn’s mildly mannered all new African-English assistant Nick Taylor tries to let their boss cop in on what’s really happening, instead of being hailed as a whistleblower for the common good, the superior, while appearing just a little bit racist, derides him for not turning a blind eye. But all will be well that ends well, and you are left with the impression the approach by Sergeant Taylor will be the one that will win out in the end. Although that end is somewhere off in a future yet to be determined.

Irish actress Dervla Kirwan, who created a storm in ‘Casanova in 2005 plays Jane Travers, Will’s wife. She spends much of the series looking anything but plain, slightly windswept and completely confused. She’s very convincing. On one hand she’s helping her darling man balance the scales of life as they both deal with the complexities of their collective humanity. On the other hand she is spending a great deal of her professional time righteously working with young offenders in a local correction centre. She wants to help them find their way forward in the world by writing about their own lives, which turns into a dangerous journey for all. Hardly motivational or inspiring, so understandably she doesn’t achieve winning results. But there is one young man, Alan Stewart who shows a great deal of promise; can she help him change his life?

The real writer of this splendid saga is author  Anthony Horowitz. He has a biography that also reads like an adventure novel.

One of the busiest writers in England Horowitz’s list of impressive credentials, includes being the writer and creator behind the award-winning detective series Foyle’s War. Horowitz was involved in the biggest news of the year in literary circles in Britain in January 2011 when he was chosen above all other authors by the influential Conan Doyle estate to write the first new novel about Sherlock Holmes written in over a hundred years. The House of Silk is a tribute to Arthur Conan Doyle 81 years after his death and will be narrated in the first-person by Dr Watson.

To be released in September 2011, no doubt surrounded by a great deal of media hype, the four pipe, or should we say four patch Holmes solution will be sure to stimulate interest in Horowitz’s other works, including the mind games played in Injustice. Oh, and I forgot to say. Injustice the series has a clever twist towards the end, allowing for the possibility of second ‘good’ series. We who love a good drama can but live in hope.

Carolyn McDowall 2011 ©The Culture Concept Circle

Watch the Trailer about The House of Silk read by Anthony Horowitz


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