Review: “Garrow’s Law”, Episode 4 – A Shilling Well Spent #garrowslaw

7 December, 2010 at 1:19 am 22 comments



With that out of the way – “Garrow’s Law” has come to an end. For now. And what a finale it’s been; I can’t rule out that I might have thrown the remote control at Sir Arthur Hill (Rupert Graves) halfway through the episode…

It all starts with an all too common situation: the gentlemen of the press are not investigating the business of villains as the population prefers to see decent people being dragged through the mud:

To my great pleasure, Mr. Garrow (Andrew Buchan) sends the rag a-flying to land just there, where it belongs:

I’d  like to express my great love for this wonderful prop. What a lovely detail!

Not lovely in the least is case Mr. Garrow is working on: the British Empire must be protected from dangerous and morally bankrupt individuals, but as nobody really has an interest in hanging the Earl of Sandwich or Lord Melville, a mute, twelve year old boy called Thomas Whiley (Ryan Montgomery) is accused of stealing from the mail.

Yeah. Britain’s most wanted, no doubt.

Audience and jury are a bunch of tossers who care little for the fate of the boy, but very much about the scandal of Mr. Garrow, Lady Sarah and Sir Arthur Hill. There’s howling and heckling of Garrow; quite obviously, nobody’s interested in justice. I wouldn’t have been surprised if Simon Cowell had made a cameo as a jury member.

There’s no hope for Thomas: despite being a little boy, pressed to commit the crime and very cute, jury and Judge Buller (Michael Culkin) send him to the gallows – while the real culprit walks free, of course. Needless to say, the boy’s mother (Hayley Carmichael) is devastated, and so is Garrow. Is there any justice left in the world?

He’s approached by Judge Buller – sans wig and almost unrecognisable – who tries to convince Garrow that this has been a trial like any other, and that he’d soon forget about it. Garrow disagrees; he will never forget the fear in the eyes of the boy. Judge Buller tells him that he’s stopped looking at those whom he sentences to death years ago. He just switches off once he returns home, or he couldn’t sleep.

This scene was rather eerie on a very personal level, as Buller used almost the same words as my dad (though my dad, you may be assured, did not send people to the gallows!) It’s probably necessary for one’s own sanity to keep the duties as a judge, a doctor or a funeral director out of one’s private life, but with this distance often comes blindness to mistakes and injustice in the system.

Meanwhile, Mr. Southouse (Alun Armstrong) bumps into Mr. Farmer (Anton Lesser), who’s less dastardly than usual. My bets are on an ulcer or two, caused by Sir Arthur Hill’s many secrets. There’s some growling and snapping, but nobody gets hurt. Yet.

At this point I’d like to place my only criticism on this episode: if you have such a fantastic character like Mr. Farmer, you don’t just let him fade into the background without any action. Very anticlimactic. Boo, hiss, boo.

Life isn’t easy for Lady Sarah (Lyndsey Marshal), either. People, especially the female variety, are very busy minding her business rather than their own, as her business is more interesting.

While this is not a pleasant situation to be in, Lady Sarah shows backbone and isn’t willing to allow a bunch of gossiping geese to chase her off. When Mr. Southouse suggests they leave the coffeehouse and go elsewhere, she refuses. By Jove, nobody’s going to bully her! Judge Buller makes a surprise appearance and recommends that Southouse and Lady Sarah “tend to Mr. Garrow, who seems to be in need of reassurance”.

Well. That’s the understatement of the year.

Garrow doubts himself, the world, mankind, justice – everything. He’s living in a cruel time, with monstrous crimes and barbarous punishments, yet he’s attempted a step into the beginnings of a new, better time. This conflict and the feeling of  being helpless is tearing him apart.

Garrow declares that he’s beaten. Fortunately, he’s got with Lady Sarah a woman who’s wearing stays of iron – and by that, I don’t mean the garments. There’s nothing awkward about her “motivational speech” to Garrow. She just tells him hey, don’t give up, we have some work to do here and we need to do it together. That’s what you told me, so live up to your own words.

A wonderful scene; beautifully written and perfectly played by Lyndsey Marshal and Andrew Buchan with all the emotion and dignity required.

Mr. Southouse is convinced that he’s smelled a fish, and by that I don’t  mean that Mr. Farmer needs a bath. Southouse is convinced that he noticed a change in the behaviour of Farmer, and that something is going on in Sir Arthur’s house that’s of importance to the case. Which is true, of sorts, as Mr. Farmer is instructing Mary Christie (Victoria Balnaves), Lady Sarah’s maid, what to say in court.

I don’t know, I don’t know… he might get himself in a pickle with this plan…

Mary is not the only one who’s having a surprising encounter: Mr. Garrow has to welcome an unexpected visitor at his office.

Fine, fine – “welcome” might not be the word he’d choose, considering the guest.

Incredible but true: not only has Mr. Silvester (Aidan McArdle) come to apologies for his behaviour (wait – was that a pig I just saw flying past my window?!) – no! He even offers his services to Garrow! He has no wish to side with the likes of Lord Melville (Stephen Boxer), so he decided to side with Garrow.

Yes, Mr. Garrow, we share your sentiments.

Mr. Silvester’s strategy is brilliant: he’ll assume what Garrow would do and will then proceed to do exactly the opposite. Who in their sane mind would accept such an offer?

My, now how did you guess… while the unlikely team discusses the case further, Sir Arthur Hill is happy to learn from Lord Melville that he’s been promoted to first secretary of the Admiralty. Then again, he’s not so happy, as his career relies heavily on the outcome of his case against William Garrow.

Let’s leave Pinkie and the Brain to their politics and see what Mr. Silvester and Mr. Garrow are up to.

Silvester tries to make Garrow understand that the upcoming trial is not about truth or justice; it’s just about who’s most convincing.  “I’m beginning to see this ‘Criminal Conversation’ as a fantastical tale with no concern for the truth,” Garrow rants. “Good,” Silvester replies. “At last you begin to see clearly, Garrow!”

In court, Garrow is confronted by wee Thomas’ distraught mother, who blames Garrow for her son’s imminent death and douses him in pig’s blood.

While Mr. Silvester’s main concern is, understandably, the state of his coat, Sir Arthur doesn’t only baffle everybody with his ability to beam from the Admiralty to the Old Bailey within seconds, but also with the announcement that his representative in court will be the famous and brilliant Thomas Erskine (Samuel West).

Having yourself represented by Thomas Erskine is like having your child’s appearance at the school’s nativity play directed by Stephen Spielberg. Mr. Silvester is overwhelmed with joy.

The night before Thomas’ execution, Garrow can’t sleep, and he decides to go to Newgate prison and spend the last dark hours with the boy and his mother.

“Monstrous” doesn’t even begin to cover this.

Elsewhere, things go better. Mr. Southouse is starting a charm offensive on Mary’s sister Annie (Charlene Boyd), who’s only too happy  to have her basket carried and make small-talk. From her ,Southouse gets the significant information that her wages are paid by Sir Arthur Hill, though she’s employed by one Lady Elizabeth Fox (Emma Davies). A-ha!

Southouse calls Lady Elizabeth to his office “for business reasons”.

It’s obvious that Lady Elizabeth Fox has some sort of involvement with Sir Arthur Hill, but her name is not “Fox” without reason, and so she refuses to accompany Mr. Southouse to court and make a statement.

The trial begins, and Lady Sarah takes up her place in the audience. I caught myself wishing that she’d punch one of the smug gits around her in the face. She was probably wishing for the same.

The splendid Thomas Erskine enters to great applause and cheers. I cheer as well, because he’s played by Samuel West.

A pity Mr. Erskine is in such bad company.

That’s better.

And another random Erskine-cap, just because I can…

I’ll sum the following up in a few words: “Sir Arthur, Lady Sarah, Mr. Garrow, whinge, damages.” As we’ve heard that song twenty times before, let’s have a look at Mr. Southouse’s attempt to get Judge Buller to sign a compulsory, which would force the reluctant Lady Elizabeth Fox to appear in court. Unfortunately, Judge Buller is occupied with more urgent matters.

The next witness is Mary. She reluctantly, but dutifully answers Mr. Erskine’s answers, one eye always on Mr. Farmer in the audience. However, when Erskine asks her if she saw Garrow and Lady Sarah embrace, she says – no.



Mr. Southouse arrives in court and informs Lady Sarah that her husband has a mistress. Her appearance could save William Garrow, but as Lady Elizabeth Fox is unwilling to come and Judge Buller too busy playing cards, Southouse asks Lady Sarah to talk to Lady Elizabeth and convince her to do the right thing (coming to court, that is, not clubbing Sir Arthur on the head with a poker). Despite being hurt by the revelation, Lady Sarah agrees.

While  Lady Sarah goes to Canossa, Mr. Silvester dissects Lord Melville’s statements as a witness and reveals Sir Arthur’s lightning quick promotion. Things are beginning to get a bit pear-shaped for his lordship.

Silvester is good, but he’s also snarky and sarcastic. Will that go down well with a judge who looks as if he had last laughed during the reign of Æthelred the Unready?

Lady Sarah and Lady Elizabeth have tea, and we have to suffer through one of the oldest and most idiotic stories known to mankind – by that I don’t mean to criticise the authors but mankind in general. “I didn’t interfere with anything that wasn’t already broken! You pushed him to it! No, really, it’s your fault that your husband is cheating on you with me!”

I wish people would grow some brains. If somebody is willing to cheat on their partner with them, it’s very likely this person would also cheat on them with somebody else. Special snowflakes tend to melt very quickly, my friends.

Turns out that Lady Elizabeth was widowed two years ago. We already know what a difficult state widowhood left a woman in back in the 18th century, so not only did his lordship cheat on his wife, no, he also did so by abusing the trust of a woman who was vulnerable. Isn’t that bloke a darling, and isn’t Lady Elizabeth as blind as a mole! Poor Sir Arthur, cheated on and having to feed a son that’s not his…

As a woman of high morals and standards, Lady Elizabeth refuses to make a statement in court. Agreed, it would be a bit difficult to have the moral high ground as the mistress of a cheating love rat. But the visit wasn’t a complete waste of time, for Lady Sarah makes an important discovery…

Mr. Southouse makes an unusual, but very moving and touching statement about the character of William Garrow. Basically, he says that Garrow is very difficult, annoying, short on temper and lacks manners, but that he’d rather claim his friendship than that of most kings and queens. He also emphasises the many positive changes Garrow has achieved for Britain. Fantastic performance by Alun Armstrong, another highlight of this episode.

In conclusion: William Garrow is stubborn as a mule, but a fine man. I think we can agree with that, Mr. Southouse.

Unfortunately, Judge Kenyon (Benny Young) isn’t suitably moved. He won’t allow any further witnesses to speak for Garrow. Silvester is at loss, especially when Lady Sarah returns with the bad news that Lady Elizabeth won’t come to court. Is everything lost?

Naw, of course not. Garrow suggest that he, rather than Silvester, will make the closing statement (ok, hands up, who didn’t see that bit coming…) Erskine, obviously amused, has no objections, and Judge Kenyon leaves the final decision to Silvester, who agrees and says that nobody would be more qualified. Awww…

Mr. Southouse hasn’t given up yet, and tracks down Judge Buller. He tears strips off him and accuses  him of being afraid of Lord Melville. Clever move, Mr. Southouse!

In his speech, Garrow admits that he and Sir Arthur disliked each other from day one, that he’s attracted to Lady Sarah and often wished he’d met her before she got married. But he also makes it crystal clear that there’s never been adultery. He portrays Sir Arthur as the possessive, cruel husband that he is, and exposes the political intrigue behind the case. Sir Arthur is not amused.

But while this is all very sweet and romantic and touching, it’s not enough to move the jury. Luckily for Garrow, the cavalry arrives, this time in form of Judge Buller.

He seems to have found his lost conscience in the pocket of his waistcoat and delivers the compulsory for Lady Elizabeth Fox personally.


A bad day for Sir Arthur, he really should have stayed in bed. Furious Lord Melville returns to his seat in the audience and takes Sir Arthur’s career with him, and to add insult to injury, Thomas Erskine, his own lawyer, doesn’t believe in Lady Sarah’s guilt.

Enter Lady Elizabeth Fox. Garrow interrogates her and soon, the full extend of Sir Arthur’s betrayal comes to light. I felt almost pity with Lady Elizabeth when it became clear that Sir Arthur’s breakdown in the last episode was caused by the news that she had given birth to a daughter. How could she! When all he wanted was a male heir! He didn’t visit her, made excuses – yet Lady Elizabeth, blinded by the idea that he loves her and has been cheated by his wife, still believes his promise that he’d marry her.

Only when Garrow explains to her that “separation by bed and board” means that both parties are denied the right to remarry, she understands the full, terrible consequences of her situation: a widowed woman, mistress to a liar, with a child born out of wedlock. Her reputation is ruined.

Thomas Erskine is a wise man, and has no further questions concerning the case. There’s only one possible verdict:

“The jury finds for the plaintiff, Sir Arthur Hill.”

Wait, wait, don’t throw heavy objects yet – the important part is yet to come:

“And we award damages to the amount of – one shilling.”

This verdict by the jury is a  thing of legal and wicked beauty: By finding for Sir Arthur, but only awarding him damages of one shilling, his lordship got the worst possible outcome. Not only did he fail to ruin Garrow; his own reputation and career went down the drain, he’s got an albatross in form of a mistress with child hanging around his neck, he’s the laughing stock of London and his wife is gone.

Imagine the conversations the jury member’s will have at home – “… ahaha… and then… then I said ‘one shilling’, and… ahaha! You should have seen his face! Priceless, my dear, priceless!” For such is human nature: personal happiness is a wonderful thing, but other people’s unhappiness is even better!

Mr. Silvester can’t wait to return to his job as nemesis of William Garrow in the court room. Garrow, a man who likes to settle his bills without delay, pays his damages to Sir Arthur Hill. He tells Garrow to keep the coin, as he might need it – this is not the end. For once, I agree with Sir Arthur – I want a third series, too!

And Lady Sarah?

“It seems you have bought me for a shilling…”

“A very fine price.”

Indeed – a shilling for a diamond.

What a fantastic ending for the second series of “Garrow’s Law”. Now we’ll have to worry and hope again for a third series; keep your fingers crossed and let the BBC know how much you love this show. My thanks go to all involved with the production of these four Sundays of excellent TV drama.


And don’t forget to visit Mark Pallis’ “Garrow’s Law” blog!

I hope to “see” you all again next year. 🙂


Entry filed under: 18th century, garrow's law, tv. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Resource: Sacrébleu – now *that’s* what I call expensive lingerie! #napoleon Have a Merry and Joyful Christmas!

22 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mark Pallis  |  7 December, 2010 at 9:37 am

    And I will miss these Joyful re-caps of the episodes!! I’m really glad you enjoyed it!

    with best wishes


    • 2. Molly Joyful  |  7 December, 2010 at 1:28 pm

      Aw, thanks a lot, Mark. I’m happy you had fun with the reviews. Now I have two last questions; I probably didn’t understand the context correctly in this episode as English is not my first language… how does the outcome of the trial influence the legal “status” of Samuel? Is the child now considered to be “illegitimate” or not? And would he still stay with Sir Arthur, or would Lady Sarah get custody? I’m not the only one who was confused, so I’d be very grateful if you could shed some light on this. Thank you! 🙂

  • 3. Liz Hanbury  |  7 December, 2010 at 9:46 am

    Hear, Hear, JM – we need a third series!! This one has been wonderful – different in tone to the first, but excellent all the same. The final episode was a humdinger with so much packed in it could have been played out over an hour and a half instead of an hour. Fabulous work by everyone involved. I’ve pre-ordered the DVD and am now off to lobby Auntie Beeb for more Garrow ;0)

    • 4. Molly Joyful  |  7 December, 2010 at 1:34 pm

      I’m all for lobbying! Maybe we should gather outside of BBC’s headquarters, wearing “We *heart* GL” bonnets…! I’ll definitely send them a mail with all due compliments and praise. I know that the BBC will have to make massive cuts, but hopefully not when it comes to the core value of “quality programmes”. Let’s keep our fingers crossed! 🙂

  • 5. Garrowfan  |  7 December, 2010 at 11:34 am

    Fantastic series, fantastic reviews!

    Thank you so much for those tuesday mornings…

    I must say that as a fan from the beginning I wasn’t so sure about the second series and the style first, but it turned out to be even better than the first one…(I’m a lawyer, I admit, and tend to like the courtroom scenes, but even a lawyer can be a romantic…)

    We need a third series!!

    • 6. Molly Joyful  |  7 December, 2010 at 1:38 pm

      You’re very welcome. I’ve had fun writing the reviews as well; great excuse to rewatch the episodes and take screencaps. 😉 The style of series two was darker, grittier, but it suited the cases and made it a bit more authentic.

      Garrow’s Law has probably done a lot to improve the image of lawyers. I’ve worked for an attorney/notary public for many years, and she’d certainly been a big fan of the show! (Courtroom is more interesting than typing hundreds of pages of legal papers. Or prepare entries into the land register. Real estate law, my personal nightmare!)

  • 7. Mark Pallis  |  7 December, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    The trial wouldn’t have changed the status of Samuel at all I’m afraid. You have to think of like an action for trespass on Hill’s property: poor Sarah or Samuel had nothing to do with it. Technically the verdict shows that the jury thought there had been some adultery (not necessarily baby making though). So, the baby is with the Daddy ….. for now………..!

    • 8. Molly Joyful  |  7 December, 2010 at 5:30 pm

      Thanks so much for your reply, Mark. That clears up a few things! Even more reason for a third series now. 😉


  • 9. Captain Ricard  |  7 December, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    Good final episode, but it reminded me a lot of the crim con trial of Worsley v Bisset, where the verdict was exactly the same – one shillling. There is even a political cartoon callled “The Shilling” which lampoons the cuckolded Sir Richard Worsley. It’s also been reprinted in a book called “Lady Worsley’s Whim”, about a real crim con trial, which I read last year. :

    • 10. Molly Joyful  |  21 December, 2010 at 11:46 pm

      Thanks so much for that link! I’ve never heard of this trial *hangs head*, but you are right, this sounds very familiar. And it’s the correct time period as well (1782). Fascinating! 🙂

  • 11. Chelsea  |  11 December, 2010 at 9:54 pm

    I’ve just caught up, after falling a few weeks behind due to exams, and had to stop by and say thank you Joyful Molly for a wonderful four weeks of recaps! I always look forward to reading your thoughts on the episodes and I enjoy your continuing coverage of this fantastic show.

    As for the episode itself – what a wonderful way to finish the year and I certainly hope that there will be a third series!

    • 12. Molly Joyful  |  21 December, 2010 at 11:51 pm

      I hope your exams went well and that you now can get a bit of rest. 🙂 Thank *you* for reading; the writing was a lot of fun and a nice change from my usual posts here. Whatever am I going to do on Sundays now?

      I think we all keep our fingers crossed for a third series; I’d be very disappointed if Garrow’s Law was axed by the Beep.

  • 13. Elaine  |  14 December, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    What a brilliant write up – Thanks soo much – missed the episode as was away and couldn’t believe when I tried to watch it that it was no longer there! Searched high and low for an outcome so thank you again – was like I had watched it myself.

    • 14. Molly Joyful  |  21 December, 2010 at 11:55 pm

      Thanks a lot, Elaine. I’m very happy I could help out, and I hope you can see the “real thing” soon. 🙂

  • 15. Margaret Montgomery  |  15 December, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    I just wanted to say that I enjoyed reading your review of the programme and everyones comments. My son played the part of Thomas Whiley in the show and it was wonderful to watch this back on television. I had never watched the show before this series but thoroughly enjoyed it and will be watching the next one, hopefully!

    • 16. Molly Joyful  |  21 December, 2010 at 11:59 pm

      Aw, he’s a cute wee lad, and he was very convincing in the role. I hope he enjoyed the work on the set and didn’t get scared. 🙂 (We all rooted for Thomas, but alas…)

  • 17. Amy  |  8 February, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    Honestly, I am finding it hard to stop watching these episodes over and over! Truly one of the best programmes I’ve ever watched… and I’m only 13!!

  • 18. Amy  |  8 February, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    Can’t wait for the 3RD SERIES! Fingers crossed the will recomission it!! Andrew Buchan is a great actor and deserves all the wonderful praise he is getting from people watching this series! Keep up the good work!

  • […] Episode 4: “A Shilling well spent” […]

  • 20. will sumnall  |  7 December, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    Just about to watch the first episode of series 3 but couldn’t remember how the last one ended. Your re-cap was just what I needed. Many thanks

    • 21. Molly Joyful  |  11 December, 2011 at 9:00 pm

      you’re welcome; always happy to help. 🙂

  • 22. Christopher Egremont  |  20 November, 2015 at 9:48 am

    Of course Judge Kenyon or to give him his correct title Lord Lloyd Kenyon Lord Chief Justice of England from 1788 to 1802 when he died in in office at Bath, was a great reformer. He succeeded Lord Mansfield who had allowed law to be formed on an equitable basis. Kenyon was in fact the founder of the King’s Bench Division and it is is upon that that the Queen’s Bench Division operates today. Kenyon went to church twice every Sunday whilst he sat as Lord Chief Justice and was man of the highest integrity and moral values.
    He was in the habit of buying property with indifferent title and when warned by his clerk he would say, ” I am sure we will find law enough to make good our ownership”.


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