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02 February 2008 @ 10:33 pm
Even "Capitol Offense" Has Good Points  
[Crossposted from forkni-l.  In reply to remarks on the second-season episode "Capitol Offense."]

Nick getting away with breaking lots of procedures and perhaps contributing negligently to homicide is just a "little bit"?

Well, yes, in "Capitol Offense," it is, because, as we know, the even bigger reality-defying problem in this episode is that Canada would never extradite someone who faces the death penalty.  It's against the law.  If "Capitol Offense" had happened in the real Toronto, the Laura Garfield character would probably be behind bars in a Canadian prison to this day, as I understand it.  They wouldn't ship her home until Texas gave up the death penalty -- which is to say, never.

But despite that infamous blunder nomination for the wall of shame, I really do love two things about "Capitol Offense."  One is Nick and Natalie's chat in the morgue as she retrieves the scrunchie.  In that scene, we learn that 1) Natalie and Nick canonically have all-night conversations, and 2) Nick opposes the death penalty, which is not only the "vampire against death" irony that Natalie points out, but also a dynamic setting him in opposition to Janette's favoring of eye-for-an-eye revenge, and also supporting his faith in the possibility of redemption through repentance for anyone -- even himself.  This scene is a favorite.

The other thing I've come to love about "Capitol Offense" over the years is Lacroix's almost schizophrenic contradiction over Marise.  Lacroix tells Nick that Nick must trust Lacroix, that only Lacroix can be trusted, and then Lacroix immediately, blatantly, brutally breaks a promise and shows that he is not to be trusted, that nothing he says can be trusted in the least, by murdering Marise.  It's horrid, and I cringe away or argue back at the screen knowing it's coming, but it's also part of an important pattern.  The "Capitol Offense" flashback fits smoothly with the flashback of "Father Figure," for example, where Lacroix's friend Thomas tricks Nick and murders his friend Helen Ruskin-Slater in a bet with Lacroix, or "Father's Day," where Lacroix slams Nick around, bullies Janette, and follows Nick to the ends of the earth.  Flashbacks in this strain exhibit why Nick feels the way he does about Lacroix.  Nick is not misguided to feel so; Lacroix has diligently taught Nick to feel that way.

(I say "come to love about" CO, because I used to dismiss it, even dislike it.  I used to find the contradictions too hard to reconcile, and the errors too hard to overlook.  I've mellowed, maybe?  I know I appreciate the cop plots of many episodes much more than I used to, even those more at odds with reality than the series norm.)

Just some thoughts.  :-) I admit I haven't rewatched the episode yet for this discussion.  Have I misremembered?  Should I be looking from a different angle?

Valerie - Postmodern Pollyannawiliqueen on February 3rd, 2008 02:33 pm (UTC)
This is pretty much a mirror of my thoughts. I too have little use for the episode, but those exact two things are of great value.

Especially the first one. But that's probably my NatPacker showing. ;-)
Amy R.: Nataliebrightknightie on February 8th, 2008 07:27 am (UTC)
CO scrunchie
Curiously, the list discussion veered right off such major thematic issues and into a detailed analysis of the prop scrunchie in the drain. Is it Natalie's, or a corpse's? If it is evidence, is it being treated properly? How did it get in the drain, such that Natalie said "don't ask," and where did Natalie get the wrench to get it out? :-)
Valerie - Postmodern Pollyannawiliqueen on February 8th, 2008 01:39 pm (UTC)
Re: CO scrunchie
*chuckle* Well, it is an easier topic to get a handle on than all-night debates. Though I certainly recall keying in on that particular phrase. And being impressed by its being introduced in such a cute, light bit of interaction.

Though the "Don't ask" was also tantalizing in its way, and I have wondered about all those things. And I believe they were discussed at the time, though to to any great extent.

Except for the part about where she got the wrench. Dude, it's an institutional building. It does have a maintenance person or persons, and they have an office or at least a closet. Nat's more than resourceful enough to get a key and rifle a toolbox.
Amy R.: Historybrightknightie on February 9th, 2008 04:46 pm (UTC)
Re: CO scrunchie
>"Nat's more than resourceful enough to get a key and rifle a toolbox."

Oh, absolutely! That was one side of the contention; the other side suggested that there was nevertheless something peculiar in the Coroner's Building facility not having someone whose job was to do it for her. But that episode was the night shift; my opinion is that if Natalie were on the day shift, she might possibly have called the designated person to take care of it, but on the night shift there's no point waiting for someone to tend to something she can promptly fix herself, and so get on with her work.

(A few people also opined that it was ungentlemanly of Nick to sit back and let her fix the pipe herself. That never occurred to me. Yes, he's smirking a little as she fixes the pipe, and he's definitely amused, but there's an element of a joke about the whole scene; as you noted, it's very light. Natalie clearly doesn't need help, and this is clearly something she began before Nick arrived, a la the "don't ask" remark. I wondered if perhaps the scrunchie in the drain were even a prank of some kind? it's tangled in black hair -- not Natalie's own brown -- by the way.)

Interestingly, at this point, someone felt compelled to remind the list that FK is not CSI -- not in the sense of being comparatively underfunded or not quite the same genre, which would be true, too, but in the sense of predating many of the now-familiar techniques and tools. I hadn't even realized that was influencing the discussion, but she's right. Some people were questioning the lack of multiple filter screens on the drain, and also Natalie's evidence-handling choices, probably based on what has become familiar from CSI and its kin. DNA evidence was more primitive and less available in the '90s than it is now, regardless of funding, and the TO municipal coroner isn't exactly top budget priority for cutting edge technology. Natalie's behavior was within the norms of the time of "Capitol Offense" -- which is now 13-14 years past.

Of course, before I reclassify all "present-day" FK as historical fiction :-) this also reminded me of an episode of NCIS from just this season, one in which the actress who played Erica on FK and Elizabeth on SGA played an ordinary civic coroner like Natalie. The NCIS team came to her underequipped city lab all outraged that she had not discovered something in her initial examination that they discovered later, but that puffed-up outrage dissipated with the realization that she does not have the time, tools or support that they do. Even in the present, DNA analysis takes months and years, waiting in queue for limited labs and techs to carry it out, and probably it's not worth your while in many unsuspicious cases when you're an ordinary coroner working an ordinary case load and not a super-funded elite agency.