Thursday, November 19, 2015

Law & Order SVU “Depravity Standard” Recap & Review

“Depravity Standard” was a follow up to Law & Order SVU “Manhattan Vigil”, the show’s 300th episode.  That episode involved a 2012 case, and Lewis Hodda was eventually arrested for the murder of Hector Hernandez, plus the kidnapping of Wyatt Morris. Tom Sizemore reprised his role as Hodda. Also returning was Alex Karpovsky as Stephen Lomatin, who at one point was also a suspect. In “Depravity Standard,” we find ourselves three years later. At first it seems Hodda and his attorney have arranged a deal with ADA Barba. Everyone gets a surprise at the plea hearing when Hodda decides to claim he was coerced into confessing, and, saying he didn’t do it, forces Barba to go to trial. It gets ugly quick when Benson’s interrogation tactics in 2012 come into question. She admits to labeling Hodda as a “chomo” which could prove dangerous to him in prison. This was not on the interrogation video the jury sees, but Benson knows – as viewers know – she did say those words. Her intentions were good in 2012; she was using that threat to get Hodda to tell them where the missing boy was being held. But the fact that they could not use that kidnapping case in the murder trial meant Benson’s intentions would not be heard by the jury. One would think that Benson had already learned her lesson about making idle threats to perps, thinking back to a previous episode (I can’t recall the name right now) where Benson’s life was in danger from a man whom she had threatened would be raped in prison, and later, he was. Maybe with the Hodda case, the lesson will really stick with Benson this time. (Update: thanks to a fan who reminded me that episode was Law & Order SVU “Perverted” from season 11. )

BD Wong’s Dr. George Huang finds himself working against the prosecution. Retired from the FBI and now hired as a consultant, his testimony for the defense sheds light on Hodda’s behaviors and doubt for the jurors. Benson gets in Huang’s face about it, but he must remind her that, without that confession, neither he nor she knows really what happened when it comes to the murder of Hector. I think he knows Benson would never intentionally coerce a confession, but he does have to follow his own conscience and base his finding only on what he knows as fact. It was great to see BD Wong again, and the fact that he and Benson have a previous connection made the elevator scene much more intense.

Stephen Lomatin comes off as being even more unhinged as before, and I hope that Barba does as promised by letting the NYPD know what Lomatin did regarding his tampering with a juror. I can see where Lomatin’s behavior in 2012 would give some jurors reasonable doubt about Hodda,  so the hung jury was almost inevitable.

It was interesting to have Carisi as “shadow” counsel, although I can see where he may even become more annoying to the SVU – and Barba - with his increasing legal exposure. I was shocked he did keep silent as Barba instructed…well, most of the time. I enjoyed the banter between Barba and Carisi, which went from Barba being irritated to a bit of appreciation, especially when Carisi gushed compliments at him.

The defense attorney, Lisa Hassler, was aptly named, as she was a major hassle for Barba. Robin Weigert, a “repeat offender” from multiple Law & Orders, SVU, and Law & Order LA episodes, never disappoints. I hope we see her again.

Andy Karl was missing in action. As it was mentioned that Thanksgiving is a slow time for the SVU, I suppose he wasn’t needed. But with Benson and Carisi involved in the case and Fin keeping watch on Rollins, I would think that at least the SVU Sergeant would have been holding down the fort.

The big shocker was the cliffhanger where Rollins appears to be in labor, then things take an unexpected turn. Kelli Giddish did a fantastic job in conveying the pain that Rollins was in during her now troubled delivery. Things look VERY serious. But we won’t know how things turn out for Rollins or her baby until Law & Order SVU returns on January 6, 2016. It’s a long wait and I am sure many fans will be on pins and needles waiting for the outcome.

This was an excellent episode, perfectly executed in acting and in writing. The dialog for every character matched their personalities perfectly; Barba’s snappy comebacks, Carisi’s overdone chatter, and even Huang’s calmly standing by his principles. Mariska also did an excellent job in showing Benson’s frustration with being hung out to dry. (When Barba told her to sit her ass down, I found myself wishing, just for fun, that he would have delivered that line as Jesse L. Martin used to do on Law & Order: “Sit yo ass down!)

The case was riveting and the ending with Rollins was very unsettling. We know that Barba is likely not done with Lewis Hodda, but if we never see him again, it may not be that big of a deal. But we DO care what happens to Rollins. All I can say is…stay tuned!

Here is the recap:

Mariska Hargitay – Lieutenant Olivia Benson
Ice-T – Detective Odafin “Fin” Tutuola
Kelli Giddish - Detective Amanda Rollins
Raúl Esparza - ADA Rafael Barba
Peter Scanavino - Detective Dominick “Sonny” Carisi, Jr.

Guest stars:
Tom Sizemore - Lewis Hodda
BD Wong – Dr. George Huang
Robin Weigert - Counselor Lisa Hassler
Alex Karpovsky - Stephen Lomatin
Joe Grifasi - Judge Hashi Horowitz
Liza Colon-Zayas – Delores Rodriguez
Mili Avital – Laurie Colfax
Steve Rosen – Public Defender Guthrie
Kathryn Meisle – Sharon Daley
Betsy Aidem – Dr. Sloan
Jenna Wolfe - herself
Allyson Morgan - Nurse Shelby Roberts
Steven Reich - Juror # 4
Natalie Carter - Juror # 5

In a prior time, Lewis Hodda is on video, in the SVU interrogation room, being questioned by Benson, who can only be heard on the video. She is questioning him about the death of Hector Rodriguez, saying she has to hear him say it. Benson calmly questions him, trying to get him to admit that he killed Hector. Hodda claims that nothing happened, and dances around the issue. He then admits that he snapped his neck, nothing happened but he would tell his mother something did, so he snapped, and so did his neck. He put him under a concrete slab. He asks her why she asked him this, they had an agreement.

In the present day, in Supreme Court in 2015 on Friday, November 13, Lewis Hodda enters the courtroom, and the judge asks Hodda’s attorney Mr. Guthrie if his client has a plea. He states yes, Hodda pleads guilty to the charges of murder in the second degree and kidnapping in the first degree. Benson, sitting in the gallery, nods. The judge tells Hodda he needs to hear that from him. Hodda pauses and the judge prompts him for a reply. When Hodda still does not answer, the judge then prompts Guthrie, who whispers something to Hodda. Hodda shakes his head and then stares back at Benson. He sighs, and then says no, and as Barba looks up, stunned, Hodda adds he is not doing time for this, repeating loudly “I am not doing time for this! No.” The judge questions if they have a plea, or don’t they? Barba quickly states they all agreed to one, but Hodda shouts back that everyone was yelling at him. The judge asks who was yelling at him, and Hodda replies that Barba was, his own lawyer was, and before that…he motions towards Benson and says “she was.” Benson look surprised. Hodda goes on to say he didn’t harm these boys, none of them. He says, “I swear to God your honor, I’m innocent.” Benson shakes her head.

After wards, Hodda is taken into the judge’s chambers, accompanied by Benson and Barba. Hodda explains that he fired his attorney, calling him a hack. He says he will be his own lawyer, Guthrie wanted to put him in a box just like Benson does. The judge asks Barba why Benson joined them, and Benson explains she took Hodda’s confession. Hodda pipes in and says there was no confession. She reminds him it was on video. Barba states he would like to remind Hodda how strong their case is and it is in his best interest to honor the deal they made. Hodda screams there was no deal, Benson put words in his mouth and she threatened him. He screams that she hammered at him for hours. Benson, trying to control her anger, says it was because he admitted to kidnapping Wyatt Morris, a 7 year old child who would be dead in that basement if Hodda didn’t tell them where he was. Hodda states that he saved his life, asking if that was his crime, to save his life. Benson calmly counters that Hodda admitted to kidnapping him, just like he admitted to killing Hector Rodriguez. He claims Benson but words in his mouth. The judge recommends Hodda get an experience lawyer and he agrees but that means they go to trial. Barba shoots him a look as Hodda goes on to say that means if they want to take him down, they are going to have to prove it. He laughs, saying ALL of them. He claims again he didn’t do it, as the officer takes him out of the judge’s chambers.

Later, in Barba’s office, he and Benson speak with Hector’s mother Delores and Wyatt’s mother Laurie Colfax about Hodda changing his plea. Barba explains they will go to trial and wants to go with the strongest case first – Wyatt’s kidnapping. Benson explains the evidence is fresh and Wyatt can identify Hodda as the man who took him.  When Hector’s mother is concerned they are not addressing Hector’s death, Barba explains the evidence is 16 years old and is only circumstantial. She counters Hodda confessed, and Barba explains he just recanted. Benson states this is a major felony and he will be put away for a long time. But Laurie says Wyatt is still traumatized and she doesn’t want Wyatt to go through with this and she won’t cooperate. Despite Benson and Barba’s explanations, and begging from Hector’s mother, she refuses to help and leaves the room. Delores turns to Barba, saying now they have to put Hodda trial for what he did to Hector, and Barba admits they’ll have to. She says they’ll have to say what Hodda did to those other boys, but Barba explains that is up to the judge, but he will do his best.

At a later date, Carisi races up to Barba in the courthouse hall, asking if he is going to the Hodda motion hearing. Barba replies he wishes he weren’t. Carisi comments that Barba knows he is going to law school at night – Barba quips he alerted the bar association – and Carisi asks if he can shadow Barba in this case as he could learn a lot. Barba brings up Benson being short staffed but Carisi checked with Benson who told him Thanksgiving is slow and this is the perfect time. Barba agrees but gives him the first lesson: shadow counsel do not speak and has no opinion. Carisi says Barba won’t even know he is here. As they move to enter the courtroom, Counselor Lisa Hassler calls out to Barba and asks if he brought backup. He asks which cause brought her to court, and she explains she is taking over Hodda’s defense, asking who is the arm candy? Carisi introduces himself as working for SVU and going to night school at Fordham Law. He adds he knows all her father’s cases and as he starts to go on about it, Hassler looks at Barba and suggests he save the taxpayer’s money and plead this out with time served. Barba replies he knows she is the pro bono queen but comments that Hodda rapes and kills children. She reminds him “allegedly and singular.” She looks at Carisi and says it’s nice to meet him, and she enters the courtroom. Carisi comments to Barba that her old man was a legend. Barba adds that she is still trying to impress him, even though he’s been dead for 11 years.

In the courtroom, Judge Horowitz hears their arguments for bringing up the Wyatt’s kidnapping in the trial. Barba thinks it is relevant and probative and Hassler counters it is not even proven. Barba says they are reserving the right to charge him on the kidnapping, but the judge doesn’t want to muddy these waters and tells Barba it is inadmissible. Hassler brings up the alleged coerced confession but Barba counters that the confession is on video and to let the jury decide whether it is valid. The judge states to Hassler that as her dad used to say, it was worth a shot, ruling that the confession is admissible.

Carisi returns to SVU and announces that the hearing was awesome. Benson counters that Barba didn’t think so. Carisi says Barba took a hit but the badinage is Hodda walked out with that new lawyer. Fin asks if they are supposed to be happy for him, but Carisi admits no they are not. He adds that Barba said it would be really good if they could find anything linking Hodda to Hector while Hector was still alive. Fin dryly states they gave him everything they had from 1999. Benson asks about that auxiliary cop, the one that found Hector’s lunchbox, saying she saw him at Hodda’s plea hearing. Fin says Lomatin is nuts, adding that Munch thought he was good for the crime. Benson comments for a minute but he didn’t do it. Fin comments he’s still nuts; he’s been leaving messages for Rollins at 3AM. Benson states Lomatin knew Hector, he knew the neighborhood, and he was the one that noticed the arson pattern that got them to Hodda. Fin states Lomatin will only talk to Rollins, and Benson says have her call him.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Law & Order SVU “Depravity Standard” Photos

Here are advance photos for Law & Order SVU “Depravity Standard” which will air on Wednesday, November 18, 2015 at 9PM ET on NBC. The photos feature Mariska Hargitay, Raúl Esparza, Peter Scanavino, Ice-T, Robin Weigert (as Counselor Lisa Hassler), Alex Karpovsky (as Stephen Lomatin), Joe Grifasi (as Judge Hashi Horowitz), Jenna Wolfe (as herself), Tom Sizemore (as Lewis Hodda), and BD Wong ( as Dr. George Huang).

My recap and review of Law & Order SVU “Depravity Standard” can be found at this link.

Photos by: Michael Parmelee/NBC 2015 NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Check out my blog home page for the latest Law & Order information, on All Things Law And Order.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Law & Order SVU “Depravity Standard” Sneak Peek

Here is a preview clip from Law & Order SVU “Depravity Standard” which will air on Wednesday, November 18, 2015 at 9PM ET on NBC. The preview features Mariska Hargitay and Robin Weigert.

My recap and review of Law & Order SVU “Depravity Standard” can be found at this link.

Please note: this video has a limited life and may be removed at any time, so catch it while you can!

Check out my blog home page for the latest Law & Order information, on All Things Law And Order.

Also, see my companion Law & Order site,These Are Their Stories.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Law & Order SVU “Melancholy Pursuit” Recap & Review

Law & Order SVU “Melancholy Pursuit” was a dull, lifeless episode, the weakest of this season so far. And, based on the emails I’ve received from viewers, some were quite annoyed with the way the episode was promoted. The promo showed that Noah went missing while he and Benson were in the park, implying something sinister occurred. Of course, being very experienced with the years of misleading SVU promos, I knew there was never any danger. I don’t blame fans for being upset at this clearly cheap ploy to get viewers to tune in to what turned out to be a non-event and something that added zero to the overall story line. Noah wasn’t kidnapped, he just wandered off and was playing with another child. I found myself wondering how such a little child could have wandered so far in such a short time, especially since we hardly ever see Noah walk; Benson always seems to be carrying him.  (He’s also very quiet – almost too quiet. I suspect they have to pay the child actor more if he dares utter a word.) Think about it: in the apparent short time Benson had her eyes off him, Noah covered a lot of ground, so much that Benson was running quite a distance in the park to find him. Granted, we didn’t see what happened the whole time Benson was talking to the woman stranger (who was a little too friendly) so it is possible more time could have passed where Benson didn't have eyes on him than it appeared. It does make one wonder how Benson allowed herself to get so distracted, seeing that she seems like she can't go a second without holding Noah.

The case itself plodded along,  very much like a normal investigation would, which can potentially involve a lot of suspects. While Dodds seemed very affected by this case, taking it too personally, I  couldn’t feel anything for the victim, the family, or Dodds. Seeing Lily’s body in the morgue, Dodds almost reacted as if he’d never seen a dead body before. Yes, Dodds is kicking himself for making a mistake in misjudging the case, but he acted like he never realized bad things can happen to kids. I can’t put my finger on it, but this whole story line felt forced. Unlike Dodds, I felt nothing.

I know I have mentioned this in past recaps, but why is it that when detectives/cops approach a suspect that they call out the suspect’s name while they are very far away, giving the suspect a head start to run? This is not just an SVU thing, it’s a crime show thing. Dodds and Carisi were just plain stupid to call out to Gary while they were such a distance away. Gary clearly was in the middle of making a delivery so the they would have plenty of time to walk right up to him and prevent him from getting that head start. Yes,  I know it is done to set up an action scene, but all it does is make the detectives look foolish.

It was great to see Tamara Tunie return as ME Warner. But no Raúl Esparza, again. What gives? That's the only mystery in this episode that is worth solving.

Mariska Hargitay – Lieutenant Olivia Benson
Ice-T – Detective Odafin “Fin” Tutuola
Kelli Giddish - Detective Amanda Rollins
Raúl Esparza - ADA Rafael Barba
Peter Scanavino - Detective Dominick “Sonny” Carisi, Jr.

Guest stars:
Andy Karl – Sgt. Mike Dodds
Tamara Tunie – Dr. Melinda Warner
Ali Wentworth - Shari Parker
Angelica Page – Mrs. Evans
Ross Gibby – Patrick Evans
Brian Avers – George Marino
Jonathan Judge-Russo - Gary Ryan
Joanna Bonaro – Camille Marino
Nick Cordero – Robby Marino
Alice Barrett Mitchell - Stella
Pilar Witherspoon – Helen Ryan
David Dean Bottrell – Stan the Homeless Man
Lorenzo Pisoni – Brendan Cahill
Carolee Carmello – Brendan’s Birth Mother
Pedro Morillo Jr. - Diego
Matthew Schechter - Peter Best
Tony White – Cleon Johnson
Sam Gedymin - Kyle
Bradley Dubow – Noah Porter Benson

Here is the recap: 

Benson is in the park playing with Noah and another woman comes by and begins to chat with Benson. The woman asks Benson if Noah is “her only” and Benson states “for now.” Meanwhile, Fin and Carisi speak with Mr. & Mrs., Evans, in their home, about their daughter Lily, 15, who is late coming home from school. The principal had told the parents that Lily was out today. Her cell phone is going right to voice mail. They last saw her when she left at 6:15 in the morning for the swim team practice at Asphalt Green, who confirm she was there but left around 7:30. They have called everyone and no one has seen her.

Back at the park, the woman is still chatting with Benson who realizes the time and that she has to get Noah home. But when she looks for him, he is nowhere to be found. Benson calls out his name in a panic and the woman, whose child is still in the park, walks with Benson as she screams out for Noah.

Back at the Evans house, the detectives find that Lily’s friend Peter has also not seen or heard from Lily all day. Carisi sees her iPad but it is password protected, and asks what is her cat’s name or her birthday.

At the park, Benson, in full panic mode, races around calling for Noah, and the woman chatting with Benson asks if he wants her to call the police. Benson, breathing hard, puts her hands to her head,. But she turns and sees Noah sitting on the ground nearby, playing with another child. She races to him and picks him up, saying he gave mommy a scare.

Back at the Evans home. Dodds has arrived and asks Fin that SVU gets called for missing teens now, and Fin says the lady is a clerk at the DA’s office and she didn’t want lights and sirens. Dodds seems to blow it off, saying they made a courtesy call and unless there is contact with an older male…Fin states if it a junk case they will kick it back to the precinct. Carisi shows Dodds photos Lily had on her tablet in provocative poses. Carisi asks the parents if Lily ever talked about someone named Diego, and they state Lily does not know a Diego. Carisi explains she was texting him photos this morning. He shows them a photo of Diego and they don’t recognize him, saying he is no one Lily knows. Dodds states they will track him down and ask.

Back at SVU, Benson races in and Dodds tells her that email was just an update and she did not have to come in. But she chides him for not calling her earlier, asking how long the child has been missing. Dodds states maybe 12 hours, and she is not a child, she is 15, probably a runaway, and explains she was sexting to Diego. There is no trace of her cell phone. Fin is retracing her steps and Carisi is talking to the parents, implying they are in denial about their daughter. Dodds explains all the other things he has checked and done so far, and states she has been acting out. They found cigarettes and condoms in her bedroom and Dodds comment she doesn’t want to see the selfie. Carisi comes in with Lily’s friend Peter Best who is concerned for Lily.

Later, in the break room, Dodds speaks with Peter who says Lily has been weird lately, cutting class and leaving at lunch and coming back. She smelled like cigarettes or pot a couple times.

Meanwhile, Carisi and Benson speak with the parents in another room who says Lily is not moody and is always smiling and singing and she likes cats and swimming. Mrs. Evans is upset they haven’t sent out an Amber Alert and Benson explains they have to be certain it is an abduction.

Peter tells Dodds that Lily said she could not talk to her parents, and she has been hanging out with a new squad and she said she wanted to go from a pool girl to a cool girl. The cool girls have been crashing frat parties at Tompkins Square.

At the Tau Omega Fraternity House at 39 Stuyvesant Street on Tuesday, October 6, Diego enters the frat house and his friend Kyle asks if he is here to party. When Diego sees no one else is there, he wonders what is up. Fin enters calls out he is NYPD and for Keith to put his hands up. Keith asks Kyle if knows about this and set him up, but Fin tells him not to talk to Kyle, talk to the detectives. Carisi finds no weapons but did find some weed. Fin shows him a photo of Lilt and asks where is she, and Keith claims he does not know who that is. Fin shows him another photos of just her body, and Keith says anything she says about him is a lie. Carisi asks when was the last time he talked to her, and Keith replies when he found out she was 15, 15 will get you 20. Carisi tells him he’s got that right, and it makes the pictures on his cell phone child pornography. They take him away.

Later, Keith is in interrogation as Fin and Carisi continue to question Keith who says he doesn’t know what happened to her. Benson watches from her office and Fin walks into Benson’s office, saying Keith claims he was at work all day and asks if anyone checked his alibi for that morning. Dodds replies that Keith was teaching extreme combat class all morning. Dodds confirms Keith has no connection to where Lily swims, and that is upper east, and Keith is in Brooklyn. The police checked his apartment and there is no sign of the girl. Carisi exits the interrogation room and tells the others that Keith swears he was in Brooklyn since last night and only came into the city when Kyle asked him for weed. He adds Lily is not the only girl sexting him; Carisi doesn’t think Keith is good for this. Benson says they have enough to hold him, and asks Fin to see if Keith can think of anyone Lily would be hanging with. She shakes her head, saying that 16 hours – she could be anywhere. Carisi comments along with all the other teenage girls that slipped out tonight. Dodds adds that his dad has a saying: little kids you find, elderly you find, teenagers you solve. He thinks she’s hooked up with someone she knows, they just have to find out who that is. Benson counters that, no offense to his father, but the longer this goes on, the less likely that scenario is. Carisi, looking at his phone, comments that he has something – a homeless guy just tried to use her debit card and said he found it when he was looking for cans and bottles, and the unis are with him.

At 2347 12th Avenue on Tuesday, October 6, Carisi and Dodds speak with Sam the homeless guy who shows them where he found the debit card. They see what is likely Lily’s bag.

Back at SVU, the Evans confirm that is Lily's bag and Benson explains they are bringing in the homeless man.  Mrs. Evans loses her cool and Benson and Mr. Evans try to calm her.

At 791 West 135th Street on Wednesday, October 7, Carisi, Fin and Dodds are on the scene with a group of officers and dogs scanning the area and Carisi sees a foot peeking out under a moving blanket. He calls the others over and he carefully opens it as Fin says he will call Benson and the ME. They see it is Lily and she is dead. Dodds is taken aback.

Law & Order SVU “Depravity Standard” Promo

Here is the promo for Law & Order SVU “Depravity Standard” which will air on Wednesday, November 18, 2015 at 9PM ET on NBC. BD Wong guest stars.

My recap and review of Law & Order SVU “Depravity Standard” can be found at this link.

Check out my blog home page for the latest Law & Order information, on All Things Law And Order.

Also, see my companion Law & Order site,These Are Their Stories.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Dick Wolf Talks Possible Law & Order Return

Photo by: Elizabeth Sisson/NBC 2015 NBCUniversal Media, LLC

At the “NBC Chicago Celebration” for Wolf Films’ Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, and Chicago Med shows, Dick Wolf gave the latest information on a possible return of the beloved mothership, Law & Order. Wolf mentioned an "event" series of 10 to 13 episodes, hoping for Rene Balcer as showrunner. (I'm all in for that!)

Read the full story here: Variety: Dick Wolf Talks ‘Chicago’ Crossovers and Potential ‘Law & Order’ Revival

Check out my blog home page for the latest Law & Order information, on All Things Law And Order.

Also, see my companion Law & Order site,These Are Their Stories.