This is the second week in a row that the simplicity of the Law & Order mothership seemed to succeed over its SVU counterpart in telling a better story. “Lost Boys” took some of its story from previous real-life headlines of life in a polygamist sect. In this case, Law & Order added a murder and a possible kidnapping.
First the recap, and my review will follow afterwards.
The episode opens with two young men outside a storefront. They are conservatively dressed. One says to the other he is going to get them get home. We then see one of the boys dead in the park from an apparent stab wound to the chest. He looks too groomed too be homeless.
Back at the 2-7, Detectives Lupo (Jeremy Sisto) and Bernard (Anthony Anderson) listen to the 911 call where the murder was reported. The caller’s voice is female, and she didn’t stick around for help to arrive. They have no ID on the boy, but the 911 records indicate the caller was Monica Vance from the East Village. When the talk to Monica, she said someone borrowed her phone to make her call. Lupo sees blood on the phone and says they have to take it. When she complains about them taking her phone, Bernard says they will be taking her along too to get more information on the person who borrowed her phone.
ME Rogers (Leslie Hendrix) tells the detectives that the boy wasn’t stabbed with a knife, but something thicker and wider. Lupo finds a key stamped “Hudson Hardware” in the victim's belongings. They pay the store a visit. A man at the store identifies the key as a front door key for the Sherman street lofts. He’s made 8 of those keys already this week, but does not recognize the victim. They go to the lofts and one of the guys they stop didn’t know the girl from the artist drawing but says the guy hangs out with a kid who helps the super. They approach the kid, Patrick, and he identifies the victim as Caleb (Colton Parsons), who he said hasn’t been home since yesterday. They tell him he was found dead in Central Park. Caleb’s brother Luke (Tolan Aman) is there. Bernard says he is sorry for his loss, and when he touches Luke, Luke flinches. He asks Luke to identify the body, and Patrick asks to go with him.
At the 2-7, Patrick says Caleb said he was going to the movies with Luke and doesn’t know why he’d be in the park. Lupo shows him the picture of the girl, and Patrick doesn’t know her. He says Caleb and Luke have only been there two weeks, and they are from a place in Arizona called Boyd Canyon. He knows them from there, but Patrick has been in the city for 3 years. He doesn’t know how Lupo can reach Caleb's his parents.
Bernard is questioning Luke separately, and Luke said Caleb told him to wait for him after the movies. He’d never been to a movie before. He also doesn’t want to talk anymore. Bernard asks him if he’s seen the girl before, and he says no. But he wants to leave, and Bernard tells him they have to call his parents. Luke wants to talk to the other policeman. When Bernard asks why, Luke says it’s because Lupo is more like him. Bernard says you mean slim, but he knows it’s because Lupo is white. He thinks Luke is afraid because Bernard is black. Luke tries to flee, but Van Buren (S. Epatha Merkerson) helps Bernard to stop him. In doing so, Bernard rips Luke’s shirt, and sees some sort of clothing underneath his shirt with markings on it.
Later. Van Buren is on a web site talking about the “Garments of the Holy Priesthood” that describes the markings having a backward right angle over the right breast, a backwards V over the left breast, and a dash at the navel, same as the markings on the boy’s . It appears to be like Mormon sacred undergarments, but the markings appear to have been made by hand by the kids. Bernard thinks it fits because Luke had never been to a movie and was fearful of him because he was black. Van Buren reminds them that Mormons go to movies like everyone else and have accepted blacks long ago. But they could be Mormon fundamentalists, living in isolated compounds. ‘With homemade magic underwear” Bernard adds.
They are back to questioning Patrick, and he doesn’t respond. Lupo tells him he hope he doesn’t mind sleeping next to rapists and murderers. Patrick says “True Path”; that they were in the church of the True Path. But he doesn’t know the girl. He wants to take Luke back but Lupo tells him that Luke has to go to foster care. Patrick says he’s 21, and he’s his brother. He says his father is Josiah Friendly, and his mother is Leah Friendly. He mentions other women’s names, and Lupo asks if they are polygamists. Patrick says, “that’s what YOU call him. “ But Luke still can’t go with Patrick, and Lupo says Luke has to go back. But Patrick says they don’t want him back, he’ll just get sent away again. They were all sent away because Wyatt Landon, the prophet, said they were all sinners. He told a girl in the church he liked her. A boy is not allowed to talk to the girls; the adult men want the girls all for themselves. He then asks for a phone call for a lawyer.
Bernard has found that the ticket taker at the movie theater who remembers Luke going in but not coming out. Lupo gives Bernard and Van Buren them the news on the big happy polygamist family. The call to the lawyer places him in Sloatsburg, and Van Buren sends them there.
Visiting the home of Joan and Brian Weimer in Sloatsburg, they tell the detectives they are not lawyers, they just help boys who have been thrown out of the True Path. They call them the lost boys, growing up isolated. Caleb and Luke stayed with them only a short time, but then they sent them to stay with Patrick and John because they didn’t have room. They did not recognize the girl in the sketch, and specified they only take in boys. But Bernard asks who the pink blouse on the laundry line belongs to, and Brian tells Joan they have to trust the police.
In the house, Joan calls from behind a closed door to Michelle (Jena Malone), telling her not to be afraid, the police just want to talk to her. It’s the girl from the park. She admits to the 911 call, and says she has to come with them. But Joan tells them Michelle is in great danger; she’s one of Wyatt’s wives who ran away.
At the 2-7, Michelle says Caleb was already hurt when she found him. He couldn’t talk and she went to get help. She left because she was afraid if she talked, Wyatt would find out where she was. She was supposed to meet Caleb and said he had a way to get her babies back, Eric who is 3, and Ephraim who is 18 months old. She had to leave them behind as Wyatt would not let them go. She was 16 when she married Wyatt, who was 52. She was his sixth wife. And she was expected to make babies for him and she did not want to. She did not want that life.
Caleb said Wyatt was saying Michelle's children were sick to received state assistance and she says they were not ill. Caleb had papers to prove this and if she showed them to a lawyer they could be used against Wyatt to get her kids back. She was supposed to meet Caleb to get the papers but missed her bus, and was late. Caleb was already hurt when she arrived. She told no one she was meeting him. The papers were not with Caleb when she found him.
The detectives and Van Buren assume someone may have taken the papers. They think Caleb’s brother may know something. But, when they talk to Luke, he said Caleb didn’t say anything about the Michelle, just to wait for him after the movie. Lupo tells Luke he is going to go home to Boyd canyon, and Luke resists. He says Caleb is the one who wanted to go home. He was going to fix it so he could go home by giving the prophet what he wanted – Michelle. Caleb was going to do something to her, and then “the Prophet” would take Caleb back. When asked if he told anyone about this, he said he told Patrick, because Michelle is why Patrick was sent away. Patrick wanted to marry Michelle but the prophet threw him out.
They get back to the home, but Patrick seems to have taken off. They lost their "lost boy.” Lupo asks to check the computer’s history; it seems Patrick has been checking buses to West Virginia; there is a safe house there.
They get Patrick back in the precinct. He denies knowing anything. Lupo throws the bible at him and asks him to swear he was not in the park that night and asks him to swear on the good book. He says nothing. Bernard takes his hand, and said if he went there to help Michelle it was the righteous thing to do. He admit he followed Caleb into the park to talk to him and make sure he didn’t hurt Michelle but he wouldn’t listen to him. Patrick said Caleb fought him. He did not have a weapon on him, but Bernard said maybe it was a “persuader” in case he had to stop Caleb from hurting Michelle. Again, he says it was a righteous thing. Patrick admits he had the wood chisel from the super’s toolbox.
In court, Patrick is being arraigned. The defense lawyer says the police said his actions were righteous, but ADA Rubirosa (Alana De la Garza) says they were just working a suspect. Bail is set at 1 million dollars.
At the precinct, Rubirosa tells them the defense will claim justification and asks if Patrick had a weapon. But nothing was found near the body. Bernard sees an object in a crime scene photo and sees a can of Sinclair motor oil. Sinclair’s’ headquarters is in is Salt Lake City, the home of the Mormon church. Was this a signal?
Bernard and Lupo are checking what appear to be park surveillance tapes, and see two male adults parked in a van near where Caleb is killed. The plan may have been to walk her out of the park and let the van snatch her. They check the plate numbers on the van, and it leads them to a car rental company. They arrive at some sort of RV park, and Lupo sees an RV with a plate for Greentree county, where Boyd Canyon is located. Lupo and Bernard question two men sitting outside an RV, and they say they are on a pilgrimage and say Palmyra is the birthplace of the Mormon church. Bernard asks them about the van, and they said they did drive into the city but parked a car and took a nap, But Bernard says the van was registered to Wyatt Landon and no one else was authorized to drive it. Wyatt Landon (Colm Meany) opens the RV door and identifies himself as Wyatt and asks what is the problem. They ask him if he knows Caleb and he does - he spoke to him three weeks ago when he asked to leave, and denies he spoke to him about Michelle. Lupo says Michelle is cute – and young – and he understands why Wyatt would want her back. He is clearly trying to agitate Wyatt. Wyatt tells the two men to go back into the RV, but Bernard informs Henry and Levi they are being arrested for unauthorized use of a vehicle. Bernard also tells Wyatt not to leave Palmyra. Wyatt says "Persecution and harassment are nothing new to me. Have a blessed day.”
EADA Cutter (Linus Roach), Rubirosa, and DA Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) are outside snacking and talking about the case. They are looking for ways to get Landon and Palmyra is holding them. Cutter says if Landon put the kidnap scheme into motion, it’s why Caleb was murdered, so they could charge Landon with felony murder. Jack tells him that Landon’s fingerprints need to be all over this. Rubirosa say there was a 16-minute phone call 2 days before the murder from a public phone in the RV park to a public phone near Caleb’s loft. Jack says that’s not evidence. Cutter says Landon has to be the mastermind but a frustrated McCoy says that is not evidence. They need an overt act by Landon.
Cutter and Rubirosa tell Michelle that Caleb seems to have been in on trying to kidnap her. They ask if Wyatt threatened her, and she said he told her she would suffer celestial punishment if she didn’t come back. He had a vision of it. Michelle is worried about Patrick's case and is told his chances are not good. But Michelle said what Caleb said about Wyatt stealing money from the state just sounded so right. Caleb said Wyatt told the state her son Eric had asthma, but he doesn’t, and Wyatt faked it to aggravate Eric’s allergy to make it look like asthma to the state nurse. She says only she, and Wyatt, know about Eric’s allergy. Cutter says, “we got him.”
In arraignment court, Rubirosa is arguing the charges against Wyatt, Henry, and John, with Cutter standing by. She says they are polygamists with no ties to the community. The defendants are remanded. But the defense lawyer throws in a wrench when he says the wife of Wyatt (Michelle) is a flight risk and asks she be produced before the trial. Wyatt should be able to confront the witnesses against him. The judge reminds Cutter it is in the 6th Amendment, and she orders her appearance. Rubirosa says to Cutter, “ We just delivered the lamb to the lion.”
Back at the Cutter’s conference area, Patrick’s attorney argues that their actions support that Patrick did save Michelle from danger. She asks if a plea offer is coming. Cutter expects help from Patrick for his deal, and Patrick’s lawyer whispers to him and he begins to talk. He says that Caleb said "we won’t hurt her,” they just wanted her back. Cutter fixes on the word “we” and asks him if he was certain Caleb used it. He is.
In jail, Cutter and Rubirosa are talking to Landon, who says he was in Palmyra at the time of the his friend’s activities. But Cutter thinks his friends won’t keep lying for him. Cutter also threatens to educate the jury about what really goes on with True Path. But the defense throws out a motion to exclude the testimony, based on his client’s religious practices. He hopes Cutter has a “plan B.”
Back in the judge’s chambers, the judge grants the defense motion, and there will be no mention of polygamy. In McCoy’s office, he tells Cutter the judge did him a favor, that it’s a murder kidnap case. Rubirosa think he did Jack a favor by sucking the controversy out of the case. Jack states dryly, “Did he? Never occurred to me.” But Cutter and Rubirosa argue the point, with Rubirosa calling polygamy abominable. But Jack thinks some anthropologists thinks that men are hardwired for multiple partners and maybe polygamists are just “steering into the skid.” (Yeah Jack, you just keep telling yourself that. We know how YOU are wired.)Rubirosa counters that Jack must be kidding, but all he wants them to know is that the issue is a hornet’s nest, and to make the case without it.
Talking to Michelle, Cutter explains the recent events. She hates being in the hotel but it is for her safety. Rubirosa arrives and tells Cutter that Greentree County issued an arrest warrant for Michelle for child abandonment and the DA is there to take custody. Michelle is concerned, but Rubirosa says it’s only to the county and they have to fly her back to testify. But she is worried because the police will do whatever Wyatt says. He thinks she will never get back.
At another motion hearing, they are fighting the extradition. Cutter argues that they are only trying to prevent her from testifying. The DA thinks Cutter is implying his office is corrupt. But despite the arguments the judge is finding them hard to take at face value. Cutter says he is ready to present evidence about the compound, but the defense argues the court already ruled that testimony on his religious practices is prejudicial. But Cutter reminds him that was before a jury, and there is no jury there now. The judge agrees with Cutter and he will hear Cutter’s witnesses before he rules on the motion. Rubirosa is displeased, though, because Cutter did exactly what Jack told him not to by bringing in the religion issue. But, she also has no objection about his actions.
At the hearing, Michelle is on the stand. She describes having to make her wedding dress in the middle of the night and get married that next day because he mother told her to. She wanted to get out. Her life with Landon was horrid, until she made peace with it that there was no way out. She describes her first sexual encounter. She also says she loves her children. But she justified leaving them as she knew her sister wives would take good care of them until she could get them away. Cutter asks about being safe with Greentree's DA McAllister, but she says she will never be seen again, and she is worried what Wyatt will make her do in his bedroom.
Under questioning from McAllister, she says she didn’t want to marry Wyatt, it as more like rape. But then he twists things and says that she left her children in a community of rapists. He says the county is just asking her to be a good mother.
Wyatt takes the stand, and says he filed the complaint because her children need her. She will be forgiven. He says she hid on her wedding night because she wasn’t good enough to be the prophet’s wife. Under cross from Cutter, Cutter makes comments that Wyatt may have a predilection for young girls. Wyatt denies it, saying his wives just have to be healthy enough to bear children. Cutter tries to get at what will happen to Michelle if she refuses to live according to what Wyatt says is “God’s Plan.” He brings up Patrick Friendly, and why Patrick was really banished.
The judge is ready to rule. His is concerned for her human rights, and he says he doubts Greentree county would make her available to testify. He quashes the arrest warrant from Greentree County.
When it’s over, Michelle is slow to get up, and Rubirosa asks what’s wrong, and Michelle says she’s happy, but her stomach is bothering her. Rubirosa realizes Michelle is pregnant, and Michelle said she just told Patrick yesterday.
Cutter gloats to McCoy, but McCoy reminds him that he only won the motion - the trial is another matter. Rubirosa walks in and drops the bomb that Michelle is pregnant by Patrick Friendly. McCoy says Landon’s lawyer will use it to impugn Michelle’s credibility. Cutter is handed paperwork from Landon's lawyer to force her to get an ultrasound to determine the age of Michelle’s fetus. Later, in Judge Landsberg's chambers the defense argues their point with the judge and the judge agrees with the defense.
The test shows it is Landon's baby. Michelle says she will go home with Wyatt and have the baby. She wants to raise all her kids together. Now she thinks she needs Wyatt, and thinks it’s God’s plan. She thinks she is letting them down, but Cutter gets on her, saying she is letting down all the young girls who will get married off like her. Rubirosa urges him to back off.
In McCoy’s office, Jack says that “Landon is the devil she knows” and Cutter says Landon will annihilate her. Rubirosa says Michelle is doing this for the kids, and Cutter counters that they can’t let her. McCoy says, “yes, we can. This may be the last decision she makes of her own free will. And we’ll honor it. “ Since they have Caleb’s murderer, Jack tells Cutter to dismiss the charges against Landon and his co-defendants. “It’s over,” Jack adds.
The judge dismisses the charges. As Cutter and Rubirosa leave the courtroom, Michelle is there, waiting. Landon calls for he and says, “Let’s go. We’re leaving,” and gives a cold stare to Cutter and Rubirosa. Michelle trails behind.
I liked this episode. It wasn’t an action packed thriller, but it was a simple case with a story that was easy to follow. In contrast with the SVU episode from the night before (”Wildlife) which had too many twists, turns, and contrivances, “Lost Boys” seemed to be more grounded and direct in its story. Granted, it wasn’t very exciting, in fact, it was rather dull. But I thought Colm Meaney was a great choice for the role of the creepy prophet Wyatt Landon. The supporting cast as a whole seemed to do a great job with their roles. What I like about Law & Order so far this season is that it doesn’t seem to need to bring in bigger stars to prop up a story.
It is also interesting to see Cutter and Rubirosa become a little more independent. While they still consult with Jack – he is, after all, the ever-wise DA – Cutter seems more comfortable in making choices that may be counter to Jack’s advice when he has the right opening. His opportunity to bring religion into the mix was the right choice, even though Rubirosa reminded him it’s not what Jack wanted. Of course, she seemed to be in Cutter’s corner on the issue as well. But, I almost choked with laughter when Jack seemed to try to rationalize his own many marriages by saying that maybe men are hard wired for polygamy.
The religious references were not overpowering to me. Usually they like to take religion and beat everyone on the head with it. While this did attempt to offer commentary on what is considered the strange side of Mormonism (“magic underwear”), more specifically the fundamentalists, I thought that the real horror was not the faith in this case but the creepy Wyatt Landon, who Cutter tried very hard to portray as a pedophile who likes young girls, hiding behind a cloak of religion. Of course, a faith that allows something like this to occur seems like it would deserve scrutiny.
Jack played a back seat again, but I still think that they are giving him some of the better lines in the episode. It could be because his character is so developed that the lines come more naturally, or it could be because he’s now the big boss and he’s supposed to be the guy with all the smart answers. Still, I am not sure how the second half of the show would be without Jack McCoy peppered in here and there.
The first half of the show still is missing a bit of a spark. Sisto and Anderson both seem to do well in their roles, but they are both so low key that as a pair, they seem somewhat lifeless. They need one of those two to come out of their shell and liven things up a bit. I think Anderson could do it better than Sisto.
The series does need a little more life. The episodes are good but they could be better. The season opener was a great example of what the show can do and what they should do. But, I don’t want them to become like SVU, where SVU focuses on bringing in stars, or focusing only on Meloni and Hargitay at the expense of the story. Law & Order is good, but it doesn’t seem to be delivering the drama in some cases. I think we need to stir up some trouble in the Law & Order universe. Maybe we can get Lupo or Bernard to do it? They seem ready for some action. Right now, the show can use it.
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