Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Law & Order SVU “Disabled” Recap & Review
Finally, an episode of Law & Order SVU which actually (gasp!) deals with a real special victim. It was an excellent episode, with fantastic performances by guest stars Lisa Arrindell Anderson as the disabled Cara Raleigh, and Jill Scott as her super-nasty sister Janice. Jill’s performance certainly made viewers disgusted and abhorred with how Janice Raleigh treated her sister, who was incapable of fighting back against Janice's physical and verbal abuse. This situation is made worse when a man takes advantage of Cara’s paralysis and inability to defend herself and rapes her while she is home unattended.
This was also one of those episodes where the detectives were diligent in doing their jobs and we got little of their own personal drama, and this, in my opinion, usually makes for a great show. We did hear Fin’s story about his own bad experience with putting a family member in a nursing home, and it was done in a way that didn’t overpower the main story. I have to admit that I laughed when Stabler comments to Fin that Fin seems “more hostile than usual” which is amusing coming from the frequently unhinged Stabler.
A nice bonus in the episode was guest star Teddy Sears (who was officially credited as “Executive ADA Garret Blaine") who I enjoyed while he starred in the TNT series “Raising The Bar” where he played a defense attorney. I would be very happy if he were to join the SVU cast. I don’t understand why Cragen was so testy with him, maybe we are supposed to think that Cragen thinks Blaine is lazy, or maybe Cragen just has a low opinion of ADAs altogether.
The episode also served as a reminder that those that are disabled are people too, and many times because of their disabilities, they may be easy targets for all kinds of people with harmful motives. I can relate to this issue as I have a nephew who suffers from severe disabilities (he is also completely non-verbal) and lives in a home for people with special needs. One must always be vigilant in making sure that people like him who are unable to speak for themselves have someone watching out for them and advocating for them. Our family is very lucky that my nephew is in a place with loving and protective people, but not everyone can be so fortunate to have access to such care. It was a wonderful thing to have Olivia advocate for Cara as she did, and it was also wonderful that Fin showed care and concern for Damien. They both showed that they know what it means to be in the “special victims” unit.
Here is the recap:
When wheelchair-bound Cara Raleigh (Lisa Arrindell Anderson) isn’t at her usual bus stop, the bus drivers, Tony Griegs (Ralph Byers) and Jake Gleason find her laying on the floor of her apartment. Later, at the hospital, Detectives Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Elliot Stabler (Chris Meloni) are told that Cara has suspicious bruising to her body, and there was evidence of rape. But as Cara has multiple sclerosis, is a quadriplegic and cannot speak, she can’t say she was raped – and since she can’t speak, she can’t consent to the sex, which means it was rape.
Later, while Damien Woods (Quinton Aaron) tends to his Aunt Cara, the detectives question him. He was not with his aunt last night, he was at the Hudson library. Cara can correspond by blinking, one for yes and two for no. They question Cara who blinks that she was raped and does not know her attacker. She doesn’t indicate she was being beaten.
At her apartment, Fin (Ice-T) determines the attacker had a key as there was no evidence of forced entry, and wonders if the dried blood on a shirt found in the apartment belongs to Damien. When Fin arrives back at the SVU squad, Captain Don Cragen (Dann Florek) updates him on Cara’s condition. Janice Raleigh (Jill Scott), the victim’s sister, is also there, and Fin gives her the news about Cara, and she seems shocked. Fin chides her for not being at home, and she said she left a message for Damien to watch her sister. She assumed he got the message. Cara had three mail nurses who Janice got fired from “Home Healing” for missing checks.
At Home Healing, the manager says the missing check claims could not be proven so the claims were dropped, and the male nurses had be reassigned but have since moved on. None of those three had any other complaints but it is common for nurses to have complaints lodged against them for various reasons. The boss had the key to the Raleigh place returned when Janice scaled back to a one day shift. Stabler asks for the nurses files in case one of hem copied the key.
Back at SVU, they review the files. One is for Drew Cummings, who has a record and an alibi. Alan Foster has no record and does private work, Mark Hubbard has a record of charges but nothing stuck. Cragen suggests they pick him up and shake him hard.
When Stabler and Fin get to Hubbard’s, they smell pot and Hubbard is partying with a young girl. They bring him into SVU for questioning and confront him with a camera he was using to record at home. He says he has not seen Cara in months, and admits he tapes his clients so they can’t make claims against him. He tells them he has the recordings in his email account.
The detectives watch Hubbards's footage of Janice verbally harassing Cara and hitting her with a sock with a bar of soap in it as Cara moans in pain.
Later ADA Blaine (Teddy Sears) enters Cragen’s office and tells Cragen he is still looking for a replacement for Cabot but Cragen is stuck with him for now. Cragen tells him Janice Raleigh "invoked", and her “shark”, Patrice Larue (Jeri Ryan), “swam in about 10 minutes ago. Cragen shows him the recording of Janice beating Cara, Dr. Huang (B.D. Wong) saying the soap in a sock is a common weapon of domestic violence. Huang feels Janice resents her sister but is not sure about the sexual assault. He adds that Cara’s talent as a world class opera singer was nurtured from a very young age and Janice would be used to her sister having the spotlight and thinks something else provoked her.
Later, in interrogation as Patrice Larue and Blaine argue a deal, Fin and Huang question Janice. She says she only hit Cara once or twice, and when Larue tries to silence her, she still wants to speak. She denies raping her sister and says he was not home when it happened. Fin asks for the details on her alibi and she gives it to him. Janice says she loves her sister and everyone knows how special she is. When Huang asks if Cara is more special than her, she gets an irritated tone and says she herself can’t sing, but now Cara can’t talk. Huang chides her for enjoying Cara’s pain, and she says it is nice to see her experience the real world for once, and where are all those people that adored her? Huang wonders if Cara pities Janice, but Janice says she has her son. When Huang comments that Damien cares deeply for Cara, she says she raised him right and she is his mother. Huang says maybe Damien love Cara more than her, and this agitates Janice, who argues back. When Huang says that her fear is that Damien would choose Cara over her, she makes a move to attack Huang and Fin restrains her. As Fin hauls her out of the room, Patrice just stands there looking like she has a mess on her hands.
Fin later says that Janice’s alibi for the rape checks out. Stabler tells Fin he seems more hostile than usual, and Fin reminds Stabler he saw the tape too. Stabler tells Fin the stains on the kids shirt is dog blood, 5 different samples. Benson says that Damien also lied about being at the Hudson library, he isn’t even registered there. Stabler and Benson head to Cara’s home to talk to Damien.
At Cara’s house, he says he can’t tell them where he was. Cara blinks that Damien did not rape her. When they tell Damien they have his mother on tape beating her aunt, and he is shocked. As he consoles her, he holds her hand to his cheek and her finger moves slightly. Benson comments about the dog blood on his shirt. He denies actually fighting dogs, he says he cleans up the dead dogs after the fight for money to cover gambling debts. When Stabler threatens with putting him under surveillance, Damien tells him to talk to Tony Griegs, the bus driver, who got him the job.
Elsewhere, Benson and Stabler talk with Griegs, who admits Damien was at the dogfight. Damien asked him for help in finding job months ago. He said he needed it to cover for his mom who has been skimming his sister’s bank account and he is trying to pay it back. Stabler says he is going to have Blaine add larceny to the charge, and he gives Benson the car keys, telling her to have Fin meet her and “give that kid the facts of life about his mother.”
Back at Cara’s, Benson and Fin talk with Damien about Janice’s stealing from Cara. He wants to know what happens now, and Benson says his mom will go to prison and unless he tells them the truth, a rapist will go free. They question him whether someone has a copy of the key to the apartment, and he says it stays in his bag which is with him at all times unless he locks it in Mr. Griegs car while he is at the fights.
Benson goes in to see Cara, and asks her if Griegs is the man who raped her and threatened Damien if she talked, and she blinks yes for both questions. But Janice barges in, upset, and she said she made bail and has the power of attorney to put Cara into a nursing home. Benson and Fin have no recourse but to allow Janice to move ahead with her plan, and Damien is upset. He gets on her about her treatment of Cara, and Janice says either he is with her or against her.
Back at SVU, Cragen tells Benson that ADA Blaine overturned Janice’s power of attorney and got Cara a guardian ad litem, which will likely recommend Cara stay in the nursing home. Cragen asks if they are sure Cara ID’d Griegs as her rapist, and Benson confirms Cara looked her right in the eye and blinked once. He has no priors, but has money problems. He was canned for “feeling up” females that he worked with but the women refused to press charges. They wonder why he is now going after the handicapped, and Cragen tells them to talk to his boss.
At Parabus, Griegs' boss says there have been no complaints about his current work, and when the detectives tell him he was fired from the MTA, Griegs boss moans that Griegs lied on his application. He said that Griegs is also not retiring, he is being let go because of the Disabilities Act, and he hired Jake Gleason instead because he lost an arm in Iraq.
Back at SVU, the detectives tell ADA Blaine that they think Griegs was enraged because he lost his job to a disabled man and took it out on a disabled woman. Blaine says it is not enough but Cragen gets on him because he thinks Blaine just doesn’t want to try to sell it to a jury and that it is too much hard work. Blaine said get them forensics or get them a witness who can actually talk, be sworn in and cross examined. Fin can’t believe it, saying Blaine is blaming the victim and she is disabled. Benson asks if they can get her talking will he take it to the grand jury? She says the victim stroked Damien’s face with her finger and that means she can type. Blaine says it is worth a shot.
At the group nursing home, Benson tries to get Cara to type, but she doesn’t cooperate. Benson asks the doctor about Cara’s current behavior, and the doctor explains that her change of location did it, plus the problems that come with the disease, saying she is not sure Cara could handle a trial.
Meanwhile, Fin checks with forensics, and tries to get the technician to take another look at the evidence. He gets a phone call, and says he is on his way. He later arrives at a location where Jake Gleason has stopped the bus, saying that Damien has barricaded himself inside. Damien has some passengers inside, and he has Griegs in a chokehold, Griegs looking beat up. Damien says he is getting Cara justice. Fin tries to talk some sense into Damien. Damien finally opens the bus door and throws Griegs out and Fin takes him away.
Back at SVU, Fin tells Benson and Stabler that he had to call in a lot of favors to get Damien out of the tombs. When Stabler asks why Fin is sticking his neck out for Damien, Fin says he had to put his grandfather into a nursing home and the man practically raised him and it was the worst decision he ever made. The nursing home abused him and Fin never recognized the signs. When his grandfather died, he lost it and got into a lot of trouble, but an academy instructor set him straight and kept bailing him out. He felt it was time to return the favor. But Griegs plans to press charges, and Benson comments not if they send him upstate. Cragen reminds them they have to convict Griegs first. He adds that forensics found a latent print inside Cara’s diaper, and to pick Griegs up and put him in the box.
In interrogation, Griegs tell them they are all wrong. He says he and Cara has a relationship. He said the previous accusations are misunderstandings and lies. He felt sorry for her, that’s why she slept with her. He says this has been going on for months. He says not to let Cara’s family fool her, they’re not that devoted. He says only the detectives have accused him of rape, not Cara. When they ask if a nurse can corroborate this, he says he does not see how, there is only a day nurse and he never saw her. The detectives hear a knock on the window, and when they enter the observation room, ADA Blaine says that Griegs actually sounds plausible. Griegs knows a lot of details about the victim and family, and you mix lies with enough truth and you can sell anything. Cragen reminds him it is his job to convince them Griegs is a lying bastard. He cites a case from Connecticut where a judge overturned a rape case where the victim could not speak and was confined to a wheelchair because she did not move her arms to fight back. Stabler says they tell women not to fight back, and Blaine says in the judge’s opinion, she consented so he will need more than a fingerprint. If the jury thinks Griegs had “pity” sex with Cara, he walks. Huang comments that a lot of people are uncomfortable around the disabled and Griegs knows that. Cragen indicates relying on a handicap prejudice is a big risk to take into court, but Huang says it is a calculated one. He says the handicapped are commonly devalued and people assume that an abnormal appearance is sexually repulsive. Benson comments that Griegs is the only one who is talking and there is no one there to contradict him. When Stabler asks how they can stop him, Huang says Griegs can’t contain his rage so confront him with more victims and he will fold as he can’t claim he has had relationships with all of them. Cragen suggests they pull Griegs’ passenger list and check with any female regulars who suddenly stopping using the bus service.
At a day care center, they speak with Miss Meyers about her daughter Beth who also cannot speak who had stopped using the service. Benson shows her a group of photos and Beth gets very upset at the sight of Grieg’s picture. Benson tells Miss Meyers she believes Beth was raped. She is shocked, saying Griegs was a nice man who offered to stay with Beth when she had to run errands. Beth motions that he put something in her mouth and then points to her pants.
Back at SVU, Benson is watching recording of Cara practice her opera signing, telling Stabler she is looking for a way in. She found more victims who can’t speak. She wonders if she is expecting too little from Cara. She heads back to the home where Cara is staying, and tells Cara she has been treating her like an invalid and handling her with kid gloves but won’t make that mistake again. She says they found two other victims and they can’t testify but she can. She is the only witness with evidence of her attack and has to speak for them. She shows Cara her own picture and asks what happened to this woman and that she has given up. Her sister’s abuse is nothing compared with what she is doing to herself. She asks Cara if she thinks she is a bitch, and Cara blinks yes. Benson says she is not the first. Cara looks again at her picture, and a tear flows down her cheek. Benson asks if she is willing to testify to put her rapist in jail, and she blinks yes. Benson says they will work on getting her out of there.
In a conference room, ADA Blaine is talking with Janice Raleigh and Patrice Larue, and Benson walks into the room, wheeling in Cara who is accompanied by Damien. Janice is annoyed, thinking Cara is there to put her in jail. She thinks Cara is trying to buy her off, and Patrice tells her for once to shut up. Blaine says he will drop the charges against Janice in exchange for a plea to assault three, 5 years probation, mandatory anger management, and they will be filing a restraining order. She asks what that means for her, and Patrice says this means she will have to stay away from her sister and won’t do any time. Patrice tells Blaine to send her the paperwork and then leaves. Janice looks at Cara and tells her not to expect her to be grateful as it was Cara’s fault she was arrested. She tells Cara she had it all and Janice had to take care of her like her damn maid, wiping her ass and bathing her. But Benson stepped in, saying that she wanted to do this because she needed to control Cara so she would suffer for her parents’ choices, and that stops now. Janice says, “You think you know me bitch?” and Benson says she knows her sister forgives her, and trust that one day she will want that. Janice asks who will take care of her if she doesn’t? Damien says he will, but Janice says she will not allow it. Blaine says it is not up to Janice, the power of attorney has been transferred to Damien. Janice gives Cara a cold look and tells her she can’t take her son, and if she does this, she will make sure she regrets it. With tears in her eyes, Cara is wheeled away by Damien, and Janice says if she cares for Damien at all, not to make him give up his life for her like she had to. Damien and Cara exit the conference room, with Benson giving Janice a hard stare as she also walks out, leaving Janice there.
In Supreme Court, Cara is on the stand, and, when Blaine asks if Griegs raped her, she blinks once for yes. But the defense attorney objects, asking how they are supposed to know a blink means yes, and calling her blink a “muscle tick.” Blaine rephrases the question, and asks if she can point to the man who raped her. As she struggles to move, her face is anguished, and she is able to move her index finger and point it to Griegs. Blaine says, “Cara Raleigh just gave your client the finger.” The judge accepts the ID. Benson smiles, and we close in on Cara’s strained face as we fade to black.
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