Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Law & Order SVU “Savior” Recap & Review

All Photos from NBC

Law & Order SVU “Savior” had lot of advance hype for guest stars Mischa Barton and Lee Tergesen – the latter having worked with Chris Meloni on the show “Oz.” While viewers had to know that they weren’t going to get any Meloni-Tergesen action as they got in “Oz,” fans may have expected a meatier role for Tergesen, who had to play the stereotypical religious lunatic Billy Skaggs. This episode seemed light on the investigation and legal action, (not much Fin and NO MUNCH!) and heavy on the soap opera-like story with the hooker, Gladys, played by Barton. The episode spent far too much time on Gladys’ baby issue, and it almost seemed as if the writers were going through the motions, especially with the canned Benson pep-talks to Gladys. Even the scenes where Stabler and Benson had a conflict about whether to try to save Gladys’ premature baby who had serious medical issues or to let the baby die seemed flat, lifeless, and devoid of any real feeling. Benson’s pep talks come back to haunt her when she tells Gladys that she knows Gladys will make the right decision, and Gladys decides the right thing is to let Benson decide the fate of her baby. Of course, Gladys, who doesn’t have two nickels to rub together, is able to get a lawyer to draw up the power of attorney and have it hand delivered to SVU in a nanosecond. I suspect the ending was to let viewers wonder whether Benson puts her money where her mouth is, or if she will change her mind and take the Stabler approach in deciding the fate of Gladys’ baby. By this time, my interest in the outcome has dulled to the point that I don’t really care.



Here’s the recap:
Detectives Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Stabler (Chris Meloni) are called to the scene of a murdered young prostitute, Abby Mannion, and find a prayer card left with the body. It is identical to one found on the body of Maggie Ortiz, also murdered recently. When the detectives search Abby’s apartment, they find she was selling purses stolen from a store where her friend works, to supplement their coke habit. They also find that Abby was seeing a “weirdo” named Mike who paid her to lick his gun, and DNA found on Abby’s body matches a Michael Gallagher. The detectives storm Gallagher’s home, and bring him to the SVU interrogation where he denies knowing either girl or having a gun. But his wife Sarah said he did buy a gun three weeks ago and also found God, but lately he’s wanted her to do “things” like oral sex. Of course, confronted with this, Mike admits to meeting Abby on line and meeting her in person, but dropped her off in the alley, alive. Stabler continues to push Mike, but Mike is adamant that he did not kill either girl. Captain Cragen (Dann Florek) hands Stabler a surprise when he says the prayer card turned up again, but this victim is not dead.

Benson questions the hooker involved, “Sunshine” (Mischa Barton), and while her pimp distracts the detectives, Sunshine gets in a car and drives off. But Fin (Ice-T) is able to identify her as Gladys Dalton, and she has a long record. She apparently has been living with her aunt Shawna Grant in Murray Hill. They find Gladys at Grant's apartment. After Benson gives Gladys the usual SVU pep talk, Gladys admits that the man who attacked her asked he if she was “ready to meet your father” and she will never forget the voice. She also tells them that “Spud” heard the same thing from the guy and she got freaked out and ran. Later, when Benson and Stabler talk to Spud, her pimp walks in and Spud clams up. But when she moves to leave, she leaves a napkin with a note written on it – “Him, He drives a red Buick” and a quick sketch of his face.

While at the SVU squad, trying to identify the man, they get a frantic call from “Spud” saying the guy is driving around the area right now. The detectives get there at warp speed, in time to hear screams from the young girl. Stabler breaks into the car and yanks the man out, who says he was being robbed and spouts a bible verse. He says he was trying to save her when he said he wanted her to meet her father, but she cut him instead.

In the SVU interrogation room, Stabler is questioning Billy Skaggs (Lee Tergesen) who insists he was trying to save their lives via God. Skaggs denies killing any girls. He starts to pray and grabs Stabler’s arm, then puts his hands on Stabler’s shoulders. Stabler responds in prayer, and places his hands on Billy's shoulders, and then they pray in unison. (What, no kiss?) But when Stabler tries to get him to confess, Billy says he is willing to forgive and won’t press charges for being cut.
Despite Skaggs’s attorney’s attempt to intimidate Gladys while she getting ready for the lineup, she easily picks him out when he refuses to recite the line given to him and instead spouts more religious babble. Gladys, terrified, flees the room and runs down the stairs, where she falls nd lays unconscious as Benson calls for a bus. Benson also notices Gladys is pregnant.

As Gladys recovers in the hospital the doctor tells the detectives that Gladys and the fetus will be okay. But the detectives need the ID from Gladys.

Skaggs is being arraigned for the murders, and he pleads not guilty. The prosecution and defense attorneys argue over the tainted ID, but the judge remands Skaggs pending a review of the ID.

When the detectives return to see Gladys in the hospital, she is well and happy with her pregnancy. But her aunt seems shocked to hear about a baby, and gets very upset with both Gladys and the detectives, telling Benson and Stabler to get their “do-goody asses” out of there.

Later, ADA Cabot (Stephanie March) tells Benson and Stabler that the judge rejected the identification and orders a Wade hearing so Gladys can make an official ID. She needs Benson to be Gladys' “best friend” to help her through the process. But Benson finds Gladys has been kicked out of her aunt’s place. After Benson lectures her, Gladys' aunt tells Benson before Gladys left she posted an ad on Craig’s List.

At SVU, CSU Tech Morales (Joel de la Fuente) finds the ad with a provocative photo of Gladys, and she seems to have a taker already, living in Red Hook. When the detectives get to the location, the find her there, barely conscious, and it seems her water broke. As they call for help, Gladys has a seizure. Later at the hospital the detectives are told that Gladys had to have a crash c-section and Gladys will be fine but the baby has major issues. The doctor thinks they should not take action but Stabler thinks that is murder, and they argue the point. Benson goes off to see Gladys and the baby to reinforce what the doctor told her. Gladys, clueless, wants to do all they can to save the baby.

At the SVU squad, Benson and Stabler argue the point whether the baby should be saved or not, and Stabler comments that if Benson had kids she wouldn’t be asking the question, which ticks off Benson. When she seems to push back, Stabler walks out, and Cabot comes into the room and sees the tension. She tells Benson they need Gladys to testify to keep Billy off the streets, and says Gladys should be arrested for prostitution and to cuff her to the crib if she has to, to keep her from running until after the hearing. Cabot and Benson continue to argue the point.

Back at the hospital, Benson sees Gladys with the baby and tells her about needing her to testify and if she doesn’t she will have to arrest her. But Gladys gives Benson no choice and arrests her and takes her away.

At the Wade hearing, Gladys testifies against Skaggs and identifies him. The defense attorney tries to ruin her credibility so Cabot asks more questions about Gladys’ life as a prostitute in order to gain sympathy. Cabot states that Gladys has been raped 13,000 times, a fact which causes Skaggs to fly into a rage and he moves to attack her but he is tackled. The judge rules Gladys’ identification is admissible. Skaggs continues to spew religious babble as he is hauled out of the courtroom.

Later, Benson tells Gladys that Cabot dropped the prostitution charges. Gladys says that life will never be behind her and worries what she will tell her baby when she grows up. Benson gives her a pep talk about making the right decision now that her baby will understand. Gladys hugs Benson and then walks off.

Later, Cragen comes to Benson’s apartment with an envelope left for her at the station by a lawyer. It seems Gladys left Benson power of attorney over her daughter. There is also a note from Gladys saying Benson was right, and that she (Gladys) must make the right decision from now on and she has decided to go away to figure things out. Benson rushes into the NICU ward to find the baby is critical and they need permission to operate immediately, and even if it is a success she child will be brain damaged for life. As the doctor pushes Benson for a decision, Benson seems frozen in thought as we fade to black.




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21 comments:

Shelly said...

I don't know what my problem is re SVU. I don't know if it just wasn't particularly good, or if I'm so over the show in general that I wouldn't know a good ep if it hit me in the face... but this ep didn't do much for me either, sadly.

We watched while it was on (rather than recording), so I'm not sure if I heard Elliott correctly, but didn't he tell Skaggs in interrogation that DNA doesn't lie, or something similar? Didn't SVU do a show earlier this season when someone was able to "fake" Olivia's DNA so it appeared she committed a crime that she hadn't? If I'm remembering correctly, it would seem their own writers have short attention spans.... but if I'm wrong, someone please correct me.

Thanks for the recap All Things. We still need to go back and watch the first ep on tonight...

Jojo said...

Shelly - I thought the exact same thing when I heard Elliot saying that DNA doesn't lie. The phrase "DNA doesn't lie" has been used in so many crime dramas that it's pretty standard to hear it, but in light of the fact that "Perverted" shows DNA *does* in fact lie, I don't think they should be saying that line anymore...

The episode was rather flat, and as ATL&O said, very soap opera-ish. It just moved really slowly, and the case was pretty cliché and non-surprising. Mischa Barton was OK, but she didn't exactly 'wow' me.

Shelly said...

Thanks Jojo for clarifying what I thought he said... I think it's ashame the writers or whoever didn't seem to remeber Perverted when they were writing THIS ep...

Anonymous said...

What did you want him to stay? "Oh, hey, Mr. Psycho Killer, a couple of months ago I found out that the key piece of evidence against you could have been faked. But please confess anyway; I'm trying to make Captain!"

It was a lousy episode, but that one line is hardly the worst thing about it. What about the power of attorney thing? How selfish and cruel do you have to be to put that crushing burden on a complete stranger?

Anonymous said...

Mischa Barton was horrible. I feel bad for Lee Tergesen to have to play such a silly role. I agree is becoming too soapish and it is a is a big turn off for me.

Anonymous said...

this was two awosome eisode, congratulations svu is back

Mike said...

Why did it look like Lee and Chris was going to start making out? Did the producers do that on purpose? LOL.

This is the first time I've seen Mischa act. I thought she did a good job, she was believable.

daniel said...

i thought that this eoisode was much better than PC, it wasnt the best but it was good

Joe S. Walker said...

Better than "PC" but they could hardly have done two stinkers that bad in a row. It's hard not to feel that SVU has jumped the shark, in the true sense of the phrase - instead of being about what it's supposed to be, sex crimes and the problems of justice and morality, it's taken to putting the stars through one hoop after another each week.

CanadaGirl said...

I enjoyed this episode very much...my only real neg comment was the writers REALLY should have given Lee Tergesen more scenes. He is such a great actor and they didn't utilize him much. Which is a shame. AND then it started to become a "Benson: show...blah..blah blah when it should have been a Stabler show because CM and LT have a past with Oz. Anyway, Mischa Barton surpised me. She was actually better than I thought.

WE could have had more Fin and Munch so I am hoping the writers start using the WHOLE squad. Someone said on the IMDB site which made good sense. The writers push away Munch and Fin and now are starting on Stabler. Soon this show will be SVU - Benson's squad. The writers have some GREAT actors on that show...USE THEM!!

Anyway, I give this episode 4 out of 5 stars.

Anonymous said...

Ok so I haven't been able to keep up with SVU...was there a subsequent show with Olivia and Sunshine's(Mischa Barton) baby? What did Olivia decide to do?

All Things Law and Order said...

It wasn't mentioned in the next episode that aired after this one, so viewers have not been told what Olivia decided.

James said...

I'll have to disagree with ATL&O on this one. While the usual recent flaws are there (no Munch, light investigative work, stereotypical Christian craziness, etc), the episode does excel in the classic SVU "grey issue," which is just enough to make the episode memorable.

The decision on the baby's fate was too heart-wrenching and thought provoking to simply dismiss. And while I sympathized with all parties, throwing the decision on Olivia (as a sort of "can she put her money where her mouth is") instead of a random guest star made it that much better.

Definitely not a perfect episode, but definitely not as bad an episode that some are making it out to be.

JG said...

What I was trying to figure out was the time lapse in between Sunshine's having the baby (via emergency c-sec, a major surgery) and then being seen up and about, basically happy and healthy...and not longer after, being arrested and hauled into court? Maybe there were a few days in between, but to me, it didn't seem very believable. I've had several friends who have had c-sections, and they are most certainly not in any shape to be up and about, nevermind in court shortly after. Maybe I missed something.

Anonymous said...

I was so happy to hear that Tergesen was gonna be a guest star on SVU at first. I had been a huge Oz fan and wehile I wasn't naive enough to think that Meloni and Tergesen were gonna start making out I was extemely let down by what we did get. Tergesen's role was, as was said by another reviewer, silly. There were so many better ways to use an actor of his talent. The prayer moment hit me as so wrong, Stabler is so black and white in the interrogation room that to see him praying with a perp was just off to me. If they wanted to do a nod to Oz (which i think this was suppose to be with the almost kissing look of it) I would have rather Tergesen be playing a lawyer and have the two look at eachother and say 'Don't I know you?'. Sure it would have been a bit cliche but it wuld have been better than this episode. SVU seems to just keep letting me down lately. :/

Anonymous said...

I thought the worst part about the episode was the fact that the poor little baby was never mentioned again in the show. It was as if she had never existed at all. Even if she had passed away, they could have at least said so in a later episode to tie up loose ends. This was what I like to call a "WTF" episode. I love the show, but sometimes it is like they try too hard and other times it is like they do not try at all.

Anonymous said...

I agree with October 8 Anonymous above. I just saw this episode again and I can't believe they never resolved this loose string, but brought Olivia another child?!

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to know what she decides. In future episodes do we truly ever find out?

041190_Michelle said...

I love SVU. But the more I watch it, the more I find I cant really watch it when stablers on screen. Great actor, but I dislike the character! Such a hot head! And loved the ep were FIN points it out!
Neways, my point is. I'm getting tired of these 'leave the conclusion to the audience' episodes. No conclusion of what happened to the baby?! Or mention in next episodes. There was another ep, seasons back, were there was a case of rape, and it was left, as if we 'the audience' was the jury, and there was no verdict!
You had to come to your own conclusion.
In future, I'd like aheads up, so I can avoid these episodes, and spend the time doing something else

tyler smith said...

Michelle...go chug bleach E Stabler for life

Pamella said...

To the one that commented he/she has friends that had c-sections... I have had two and am a nurse... I have patients that are up and walking around and ready to go within hours of recovering from anesthesia... Hell, I was asking to go home with six hours after mine, most cases you ate only kept so you can be monitored for complications... It is believable. I liked everything about the episode except not knowing what happened to baby.. Being a nurse, I assume the outcome was not good, with or without surgery but it still would have been nice to know. I hate cliffhangers.