Time for an Analysis of a Scene featuring one of our favourite Malahide characters, D.I. Brennan from the 2004 miniseries, “Amnesia“. In this scene, D.C. Ian Reid (Brendan Coyle) has begun to suspect his partner, D.S. Mackenzie Stone (John Hannah), of having something to do with the disappearance of his (Stone’s) wife, Lucia (Beatriz Batarda). Stone’s memories of the day are muddled, but he believes that a mysterious amnesiac, John Dean (Anthony Calf), may have been responsible for Lucia’s disappearance, although his confidence is being steadily undermined by the receipt of anonymous notes accusing him of doing it. However, Reid is convinced Stone is sending the notes to himself to throw off suspicion, and he further believes Stone might’ve killed Lucia because he found out she was having an affair – and as it turns out, the affair was with him, which impresses Brennan not at all. As the scene opens, Brennan has had a chance to sleep on Reid’s theories and come to some conclusions himself.
[Brennan swipes himself into his office with his I.D. card]
Brennan [peremptorily]: Reid…
Reid: Morning, boss.
[Brennan hangs up his jacket.]
RF: I love Brennan’s peremptory manner. You just know already that it bodes no good for Reid. I also like the way he very tidily hangs up his jacket. This is a man who pays attention to details.
Admin: “Door” — I’m pretty certain that is code for “you are in such hot water.” Brennan’s manner is incredibly focused and determined. His expression shows that he is steeling himself for a discussion that will leave him demoralized no matter how it goes.
Reid: I didn’t sleep a wink last night.
Brennan [incredulously]: Really? Well, frankly, I don’t know how you slept for the past, uh… sorry, how long was it you were screwing your best mate’s missus? [Paces around Reid] So, she, um… obviously hasn’t made any contact with you, has she, otherwise you wouldn’t be standing there accusing him [Stone] of killing her.
RF: Reid comes into the discussion expecting Brennan to be on his side, judging by his ever-so-slight swagger, but he’s soon disabused of that notion. Evidently Brennan believes in a code of conduct that includes the tenet, “Don’t have an affair with your best mate’s wife”, and he’s none too impressed with Reid for having violated it. I like the way he paces around Reid in a display of leashed intensity, while continuing to direct a hard, unblinking glare his way – it’s a calculated bit of dominance and psychological pressure that sets Reid back on his heels. For his part, Reid now looks rather glum.
Admin: Yeah, I think Reid thought they were going to have some shared commiseration over lack of sleep, but there was none to be had. Brennan’s pacing demonstrates a lot of pent up energy which shows how heavily this has weighed on his conscience. His disgust with Reid is palpable.
Brennan: Mm. [Continues to pace] This could all be sour grapes, couldn’t it. After all, she left you too, didn’t she. So I presume… you’ve spoken to her parents.
Reid: She fell out with her parents. Hasn’t spoken to them since the Eighties.
Reid: No one’s heard from her.
Brennan: Any history of disappearing…
Reid: Uhhhh… once, when she was a kid.
RF: Brennan touches directly on what must be a sore spot: namely, that in fleeing Stone (if that’s what she’s done), Lucia hasn’t exactly sought out Reid. Reid stares back at him after he points this out with a touch of what might be anger, then goes back to staring straight ahead as he answers Brennan’s rapid-fire questions. But it does indicate that Brennan thinks Reid might not have been very thorough once he decided Stone was the likely culprit behind Lucia’s disappearance.
Admin: I love the way Brennan’s voice modulates to a softer tone with the “sour grapes” comment. It makes it so much more personal and pointed. He continues to show his disgust by highlighting the word “presume”. Indeed, Brennan is really questioning Reid’s ability to handle this case.
RF: And Reid is trying to look stoic through it all, albeit not very convincingly.
Brennan: So… this was a pattern.
Reid: Once, twenty years ago, isn’t a pattern… sir.
RF: Ooo, that little tacked-on “sir” shows that Reid’s beginning to chafe a bit under Brennan’s scrutiny. Go Brennan!
Admin: Poor Brennan, though. I think he’s determined to believe that Stone is innocent, so he clutched at that a little too quickly. Brennan quickly realizes it, though, so he gives a little jaw flex as he processes everything.
Brennan: So why else would he lie about her clearing their account?
Brennan [angrily]: That’s not a rhetorical question!
RF: And we get a nice little burst of temper from Brennan! Based on his questioning about parents, friends, siblings, etc. it’s obvious that he’s a man who deals in facts, and he’s not prepared to go off on Stone based on what he thinks is a lot of speculation from Reid – speculation tinged by Reid’s prior relationship with Lucia. He raises his voice and pins Reid with his gaze, once again commanding Reid’s undivided attention and asserting his dominance. I think he believes Reid has forgotten the foundations of police work in his rush to pin the crime on Stone, which Brennan isn’t willing to do without hard evidence.
Admin: That was a nice little outburst. He really has had it with Reid’s assumptions. If Brennan thought the case was complicated before, it is doubly more so now because of Reid throwing his spanner in the works.
RF: In terms of body language, I like how Brennan leans in and Reid leans back – you can see that Reid is trying (unsuccessfully) to avoid the storm. 😉
Reid: I don’t want to be doing this. But I have witnessed his behaviour firsthand. Uh… the drinking. The obsession with going after Dean. The notes I think that he is sending himself. Flashbacks about Lucia, flashbacks about Lucia leaving that night. Yeah… the fight he now remembers that they had the night she left. I have lived with this for three months. I’ve prayed there are some other explanations.
Brennan: He said she went to France, didn’t he? [Sits down at his desk]
Reid: Yeah. Said she rang from the Gare du Nord.
Brennan: Airline, ferry, tunnel records… Check his phone bills.
Reid: And then?
Brennan: If she went to France, we forget this conversation ever happened and… you apply for a transfer.
RF: Brennan hears Reid out and cools off just a bit, but he’s still not going to make a move against Stone without some kind of evidence to back it up. He also suggests a couple of avenues for Reid to pursue that Reid obviously hasn’t thought of – and he lets Reid know that accusing Stone without any basis means Reid won’t be working for him any more. He’s a man of principle, but he also seems to have a very good idea of how to maintain harmony in his precinct. He’s more relaxed sitting at his desk, but he still pins Reid with his gaze, letting him know he means business.
Admin: Yeah, Brennan seems to settle down a bit when he’s able to delegate some new avenues of investigation. His voice becomes a lot softer, but there is nothing soft about the penetrating stare he levels on Reid over the matter of a transfer.
RF: It’s very obvious that’s a non-negotiable item as far as Brennan is concerned.
Reid: And if she didn’t?
Brennan: We’ll jump off that bridge when we come to it. [Knock at the door] Yes? [Stone comes in] Oh, Mac. Hi.
Stone: Sorry, am I interrupting?
Brennan: No, no. Um… D.C. Reid’s finished here.
Reid: Boss. [Leaves]
RF: Brennan does look just a bit thoughtful – and uncharacteristically undecided – when he says they’ll “jump off that bridge when [they] come to it”, I think because he knows it’ll open up an entirely different can of worms if it turns out that Stone is guilty. He’s also uncharacteristically awkward when it turns out to be Stone at his door, with an oddly forced, overly casual “Hi”. But he still sends Reid a clear message when he says “D.C. Reid’s finished here”. You get the impression that even if Reid is right, Brennan doesn’t really want him under his command any more. And Reid’s muttered “Boss” combined with the discomfited way he rubs the back of his neck shows the message has been received.
Admin: I love the “jump off that bridge” line. It shows a touch of dark humor even in this unpleasant situation. But, it also shows patience, compartmentalization, and a willingness to accept consequences on Brennan’s part. Brennan is clearly a bit embarrassed to have Stone suddenly show up. He is obviously uncomfortable talking about people, especially people he respects, behind their backs. And, yeah, D.C. Reid is clearly finished there. No matter how the case is resolved, Brennan does not want someone like Reid on the team.
RF: This is a great little scene that demonstrates a lot about Brennan’s character. We realize not only that he’s thorough and unwilling to rush to judgment, but also that he’s got a code of honour that he adheres to. Well… up until a little break and entering is required, but that happens later, and he’s only there to gather evidence, not to steal anything. I also like this scene because we see Mr. Malahide’s Brennan in a clash of wills with Brendan Coyle’s Reid, another strong personality – and Brennan wins the contest – easily, if you ask me. Mr. Malahide establishes Brennan as a no-nonsense, principled, and experienced sort of leader; he’s definitely the sort of guy you’d want on your side in any sort of sticky situation.
Admin: For Brennan, loyalty is a very important trait. Reid let him down, and in doing so let the team down. Brennan makes his feelings on that very clear. Yes, he is thorough. I like how we see his thought process with the investigation. He seems willing to face up to any fallout that might occur, and he won’t let fear or politics get in the way of doing the right thing. D.I. Brennan is old school in his loyalty, but that doesn’t mean he’ll look the other way. He holds Reid accountable for his wrong-doing, and that makes Brennan’s character all the better. Patrick Malahide does a fantastic job of conveying Brennan’s intelligence, loyalty, and sense of honor.
Video clip courtesy of Admin: