Law & Order Criminal Intent provided another interesting episode that followed the formula that first made Criminal Intent different from the other shows in the Law & Order franchise – it gives a view into the mind of the criminal or what led up to the crime. In this particular episode, “Gods and Insects” we think we are following the killer at first, but we later find that he is only half the story. Like last week, the guest stars did a great job in their roles and made for believable characters. There were a few times where Nichols made some faces and/or postured which I found spoke more than words, something that Jeff Goldblum does very well. When he first came on the series I was worried that I would not be able to separate his real persona from his role of Zach Nichols, but I think he’s going a great job in making the character his own man.
Saffron Burrows was fine in this episode, but her character Serena Stevens still seems bland. Each week they provide a little tidbit about her background, but I am waiting to see a little more of a personality come through. Maybe more time is needed. The other thing I have noticed is that she sometimes seems to be working hard not to have her normal speaking voice come through, and this may be limiting her into being more expressive in her delivery. She seemed quite comfortable speaking what seemed closer to her normal voice while working undercover. Speaking of which, the show used the old tried and true “let’s put the pretty detective in a sexy dress for an undercover job” routine, which frankly gets a little old. It may be hard for her to be convincing in an undercover role playing anything but a pretty woman. In fact, it made me realize that someone like Zach Nichols could have the same problem, as Goldblum just looks to groomed and well kept to have any type of gritty undercover role.
Here is the recap:
At a party for Willoughby Bank and Trust, Nathan Grayson (Dominic Fumusa) makes a speech and says nice things about his friend Dave. They have had the first good year in a long time. Later, David Novak (Jim True-Frost) thanks Nathan for what he said. Nathan questions that someone found David at the hotel, and David says yes. Nathan says everyone needs someone they can trust and that works both ways. At home, David’s wife Cynthia finds the dinner receipt and complains that he paid for it. He wants to belong but she cares about each other, not belonging to his group.
At a bar, Amber (Bree Williamson) flirts with another man, and a woman comes up and asks the man if she can have a word with Amber. When he walks off the woman tells Amber she is gone, that Amber has been selling information on clients to the tabloids. Back at home, Amber fights with her boyfriend Kevin about the tabloid accusation, and she throws him out, saying he will ruin everything. But he says he is going through with it.
Back at David’s house, Cynthia sees he is not in bed, and then notices he is leaving the house in his car. The next we see, a group of workers find what looks like a body in a sewer.
Detectives Zach Nichols (Jeff Goldblum) and Serena Stevens (Saffron Burrows) are on the scene, and are told that a garbage crew found the remains, no hands, feet or head, but is it a male. The body is in the sewer. Nichols and Stevens go into the sewer where ME Rodgers (Leslie Hendrix) is examining the body, unable to determine time of death because the trash in the sewer accelerates decomposition. The wounds on the body are pre-mortem. Rodgers thinks the hands and feet were sawed off. Nichols sees what looks like a surgery scar on the shoulder of the body, thinking this may give them a lead. Later, ME Rodgers is able to ID the body from a serial number in the surgical implant - it’s Kevin Denaburg.
Nichols and Stevens go to Denaburg’s apartment, and the landlord tells them Denaburg had no job and his girlfriend was a model, named Amber. The detectives search the apartment and Nichols sees only men’s clothes in the closet but there are a bunch of empty hangers and find the cupboard doors opened as if someone was looking for something. Nichols sees a “swag” bag from Willoughby Bank and Trust with pricey stuff in it. In it he also sees a seating card for an Amber Donelli. Stevens sees that same name on the receipts for an upper east side dry cleaner
Back at Major Case conferring with Captain Zoe Callas (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), Stevens thinks that Amber being a model really meant she was something else. Amber was paying the rent, and they also wonder if Amber is on the run, but not sure if it is from the police. Callas gives them Kevin’s bank records to check him out. Nichols finds Kevin had been out of work, but he had some big income from Eli Gold enterprises, a gossip site. The detectives speak with Gold and he said Kevin’s girlfriend Amber took the photos. Kevin recently offered Gold some photos of a Wall Streeter but he wouldn’t give a name.
Later, in Nathan’s office, Nathan gives David the key to a better office, and David says he is grateful. But later in his garage at home, David sits in his car, clearly upset. He kids walk in and his wife asks what that smell is in the garage. He tells her it is solvent and he was cleaning tools. She asks if he can get rid of it before they eat, and he appears to rinse some blood off something and hangs up a saw. He also puts a manila envelope in the bottom of a toolbox.
Back at Major Case, the detectives tell Callas that they found a business card in Kevin’s place for “Platinum Encounters”, the owner is Sierra Brandis, and her company provides “female embellishments.” Callas sends Stevens undercover as someone looking to be a high priced escort.
In a nice bar, Serena waltzes in provocative attire and meets with Sierra. She is speaking with an accent and Sierra is impressed with her worldliness. She mentions that Amber referred her to Sierra and she knows of Kevin but did not meet him. Sierra says Kevin is trouble. She also makes the offer for Stevens to get in touch.
Stevens, still in her slinky dress, arrives back at Major Case to whistles, and Nichols takes notice of her. She tells him Sierra skirts the edge of legal with her operation and Sierra described Kevin as trouble. Nichols thinks that Amber “traded up” and met the guy at a party held by Willoughby Bank and Trust, fronted by an executive David Novak.
The detectives visit David at his new office at Willoughby Bank and Trust, and when Nichols sees a photo of him in military garb, David l confirms hr was in Iraq. And says the other man in the photo is their CEO, Nathan Grayson and that they were stationed together. Nathan felt he was working below his qualifications at Waterman’s insurance. Nichols notes the swag bag from Willoughby bank and Stevens shows her the picture of Amber and show him a photo of Amber with Kevin and tell him Kevin was murdered. David gets uncomfortable and says he should have the benefit of counsel, but Stevens alludes to a subpoena for all their records and then asks for a list of attendees at the party, and he complies and gives it to them,
Outside, as the detectives mull over the list, Nichols refers to David as a people pleaser but says David was oddly empowered. As Nichols mulls over the time it will take to interview all the people on the list, Stevens gets a message telling him Amber was picked up in Jersey City.
With Amber in interrogation, she tells them she and Kevin just had a fight and was looking for a new place to live. She admits working for Sierra Brandis. They confront her with Kevin using photos for blackmail, and when she decides to leave, Stevens says she can return under a murder warrant and Amber caves. She tells them Kevin was trying to put the squeeze on a married Wall Street big wig with weird preferences – he liked to dress up in combat attire and she would be a terrified victim. Kevin put a camera and a computer in a hotel room and she recorded it. They ask for his name.
In the parking garage Nathan is going to his car and David stops him, commenting that Nathan did not return his calls. Nathan says he got jammed up, and then tells David that David will need a better ride for that office. Nathan suggests they have breakfast tomorrow and he gets in his car and leaves and David gets in his car.
Back at home, David’s wife wakes up and sees David standing over her with a knife , saying that Nathan trusted him and he needs to know I she trusts him too. She says of course, she loves him. He says he knows and he sobs. She asks that something triggered the dreams and the sweats and asks what it was. He says everything he does is for them; just believe him and whatever happens he needs her so much.
With Nichols and Stevens back in David’s office, he says he doesn’t know what they are talking about, they were just models. They tell him Amber says they had a sexual relationship and that she connected him with Kevin Denaburg and he claims he does not know him. Nathan has walked in and tells David he does not have to answer that, and he introduces himself to the detectives. He tells them David is entitled to counsel and also admits he fought side by side with David for the country. The detectives comment that David was discharged dishonorably for shooting two unarmed civilian in Iraq and David says people lie and he was never charged. Nathan tells them again David does not have to talk to them and dismisses the detectives. Afterwards, Nathan is greeting his father and wife as they meet for lunch, and Nichols and Stevens watch. Nichols comments to Stevens that it is nice being one of the gods.
Back at Major Case, they comment on Nathan’s connection with Amber to Callas, and Callas says they need proof. Nichols wonders if Kevin stalked her movements, and Stevens thinks his cell phone can track his movements.
Later, they find David on tape outside a midtown hotel being confronted by Kevin, and Callas says she will call the DA. But Nichols asks why David did not put up a fight as he is a veteran who is tense and on edge. He doesn’t turn violent when Kevin attacked. Stevens wonders if he saved the best for last when he killed Kevin and sawed up his hands and feet.
Later, as the Novak family appears to be leaving with the kids for a party, the police arrive with the defectives and they serve him with a search warrant. They search his car and the car seems too clean. They impound the car. While searching the garage they take the saw as evidence and Nichols finds the manila envelope in the toolbox. Nichols shows Stevens the contents and says, “We’re good.” They arrest David.
Back at the bank, Stevens speaks with Nathan; Nichols distracted by a pair of binoculars, looking squarely at Nathan, not the sweeping vista. Nichols asks more about his time in Iraq with David, and Nathan said nobody believed the allegations about David and even his father stepped in to help. Nichols tells him it was the party planning that brought David in contact with the victim. Nathan says he wants to help them but he is late for a meeting. He goes for the keys to his Mercedes and Nichols says he has been very helpful and they will be in touch. Stevens says he means that.
Outside, Stevens thinks Nathan is throwing David under the bus to avoid a scandal. But Nichols thinks he’s trying to avoid the scandal of Kevin’s murder. Nichols wonders why Nathan’s father put his reputation on the line for David, a guy he never met. Nichols thinks it is what a family will do for their son and wonders if they are charging the wrong guy with murder.
Back in Callas’ office, they tell her they think David is covering for Nathan and Nichols shows her some photos and she says that might mean complicity but blood from the victim matches blood found on the saw and in David’s car. Nichols thinks all David did was deal with the body, but the wounds and the murder weapon on the body were made from a car door – not David’s car door. He thinks Nathan’s Mercedes matches. She says they are asking her to act based on vague circumstantial evidence. And she tells them to stay away from David and his lawyer and their theory cold provide him with an alternate defense and David could go free.
Later, Nichols tells Stevens it is hard to make a military murder case without a body. Nichols cites terror killings whose hands and feet had been cut off, like Kevin’s. Nichols thinks David did this with Kevin’s body just like he did it in Iraq – for Nathan. She reminds them they can’t speak with David and he says he’d rather talk to the wife. When Stevens reminds him what Callas said and there is a line they can’t cross, he asks if she is kidding. She says no she is not kidding if he does there she will terminate the interview. He reminds her that her military father wanted facts, and his mother taught him how to work within boundaries.
Later, the detectives are speaking with David’s wife at her home. David was a claims adjusted and when he was called up by the reserves they collapsed financially. She tells them her husband is innocent. She says what they have is from David’s hard work, not Nathan’s favors. She says the guys were close and they went through a lot in Iraq. Nichols tells her that maybe they didn’t see David to the crime, but maybe someone David knew. He implies that David took the blame for Nathan, and she starts to wonder out loud about it. She scoffs that David thinks Nathan cares about him,
Back at Major Case, Nichols is thanking Nathan for coming in to be part of the process. Nichols tells them David’s defense may subpoena him and Nathan does not seem worried, saying he is Harvard law and he could teach courtroom strategy to their DA. They walk into the interrogation room where Stevens is waiting, along with David. Stevens goes over the details of what they have, including the GPS information and says they know he used the Highlander to dump the body but who had the Mercedes? David glares at Nathan. When the detectives mention bring his wife into it, David gets very upset and begins to shout at Nathan. Nathan stays calm and says it won’t help him to alienate him. Nichols asks Nathan about the Mercedes he owns, and Nathan laughs it off, calling it a game they are playing. He tells them to lose the performance and if David is their star witness, their case is already in the toilet. As he gets up to leave, Nichols says Nathan’s flaw is that he exploits people like David because he is too weak to face consequences and Nichols calls Nathan a coward. Nichols shows Nathan compromising photos of Nathan and Amber and Stevens says he used David’s name for David to take the fall. Nichols tells them they were keeping him occupied now so they could search his car. Nichols has an officer bring in door latches from cars, saying the latches are different for each car, and tell him that they were matching his door latch with the wounds on the body. His answer to them is that they had no probable cause and their search of his car was illegal and they DNA on his car door would be considered fruit of the poisonous tree and all evidence in that search is inadmissible. He tells Nichols he just gave away his entire case. Nichols says it was interesting that Nathan just talked about Kevin getting hit with a car door, but David did not know that and what Nathan just told them was at the time Kevin was killed, David wasn’t there. Stevens says as for his car, it is right where he left it; a dealership lent them the door latches. Nichols adds Nathan was right, they do need probable cause to check his GPS and the real car door, but luckily what he just said just gave it to them. Nathan gets upset at David, saying David kept the pictures to screw him. David says he trusted him, but not enough; he had to have his insurance too. As Stevens arrests and cuffs Nathan, he spits on David.
As Nichols leads David out to be escorted away by an officer, Stevens walks up and says David is an accessory after the fact and with a plea is looking at some time. Nichols points to David’s wife and says he thinks she will wait. Stevens says they will have nothing when he comes out, but Nichols says that he will have a conscience – if she values that. As the detectives looks on, we fade to black.
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