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Law & Order: Aftershock (1996)
Getting away from reality
As an indictment, or at least a reflection, of capital punishment this episode doesn't wash.
The idea of angst-ridden cops and boozed-up prosecuting attorney's wallowing in soul-searching bouts of self-recrimination over their involvement in an execution is just about the most laughable thing one could imagine.
Despite the series's perspective L & O is very liberal in much of its subject matter once it gets away from the meat and potatoes style material that makes up much its content. This episode is a case in point where the writers imposed their standards or viewpoints on characters who, in the real world, wouldn't have cared less about the imposition of a sentence many in the law enforcement community whole-heartedly agree with.
I happen to be opposed to capital punishment, but I have family and friends working in the law enforcement community who constantly deal with all the worst elements of society and see a side of life that most of us thankfully don't have to become involved with. They can hardly be blamed under the circumstances for developing very cynical and hard-line views, particularly given the violence they're so often required to deal with. Ask most cops to render a view on capital punishment and the vast majority would nod their approval without a second's thought. I'd hazard a guess and say most attorney's working for a DA's office would feel the same way as well.
Effects are nice, reasonably enjoyable film, but the plot's so thin you can punch holes in it left right and center. Also, they should have given screenwriter credit to the creator of 'The lady vanishes', as they borrowed heavily from it - right down to the writing on the window.
DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU DON'T WANT THE MOVIE SPOILED FOR YOU!!! Are we to believe that the master plan, orchestrated so carefully by the dastardly villain, involved killing Foster's husband day's before the flight in order to get Kyle and her child specifically on that particular flight to the USA so that he could use her as a decoy - and that his female partner would just happen to be scheduled on it? I have a friend who's worked as an international flight attendant for years, and it would be nigh on impossible to get yourself scheduled on such a flight at short notice, depending on which one Kyle chose to take.
How on earth could he know what Kyle would do in the event of her spouse's death - how would he know for certain that the husband didn't want to be cremated, thus spoiling his plan? Or that Kyle might have chosen to spare herself a lot of trouble and simply have her husband buried in Germany? Or that she might just use another airline? Far too many variables and uncertainty even before they all get on the plane.
Then we're required to take an extreme leap of faith and believe that Foster and child would dutifully board the plane well before anyone else - thus ensuring the 'crazy woman' theory would be believed because next to no one had seen them boarding (not to mention that the master villain also foresaw somehow that she wouldn't mingle with other passengers before boarding who may have been able to verify her story).
Finally, after mother and child have fallen conveniently to sleep, we're asked to believe that two adults, on a crowded plane and in a narrow aisle, can lift the sleeping form of a child that obviously isn't theirs away from the mother and stash her into a false coffee cart without dozens of passengers all around not noticing or raising a fuss? PLEASE! You wonder why they didn't actually film this part as a flashback, but had the villain relate it instead? Because it would have been a joke! We are asked instead to believe the villain's pathetic philosophy that 'people just don't care' as some sort of rationale for this appalling plot hole. They don't care? I'm sure any of these 'uncaring' people witnessing such an odd way of storing a child would have cared like hell later when the plane was turned upside down and Kyle cut loose in her attempts to find her daughter. "Oh yeah, Captain! (through oxygen mask) could that little girl be the one I saw your flight attendant and air marshal stashing into the coffee cart? I thought it was a tad odd at the time, but just figured they thought she'd be able to sleep more soundly in there as they wheeled her off. And as for my silence all this time I just didn't put two and two together and realize that little girl was the actual kid you were after!" Another point. The captain is the one who decided to make a complete search of the plane, and it was quite serendipitous that the female villain was the one chosen to search in the appropriate area where the daughter was stashed. Sure, she could have specifically volunteered to be the one to search there, but there was no guarantee of that whatsoever. The captain could have chosen to do it it himself, allowed Kyle to do it given her expertise and to give her peace of mind, or simply designated specific staff to particular areas. Anything. Again, too many variables, too much stretching of credibility.
Also, there was no way the bad guys could have gauged the Captain's initial reaction to the missing child story from Kyle. He could have chosen to return to land ASAP at the nearest European airport and thus not given the time or opportunity for the villain to play out his ransom plan in time. This is a guy so meticulous that he actually killed a man well in advance of the flight specifically so he could get an airline engineering specialist of his choice on the flight. It's not like he could just casually abort the whole venture if things weren't going according to plan and just say 'to hell with it, we'll try again next week". Don't forget, it was well into the flight and after she had been unconscious for some time that the rest of the plan unfolded lucky for them that Kyle came to in time for the villain to pass on her 'ransom' message. Funny things, those concussions!
One point - I did enjoy the practical joke on fans familiar with 'The lady vanishes'. I fully expected the daughter to be found in the coffin well before Kyle even got down to the hold, so it was a laugh on me when it turned out that the husband was indeed in the coffin after all.