After watching Law & Order SVI “Ace” some question popped into my head. Was this really an SVU case? It may have started as an SVU case, but after the rape was resolved, I am not sure it should have been a Special Victims Unit case. Lilli’s murder certainly was not. Would the episode have been better if Stephanie March was the ADA and not Sharon Stone? While the law they used in this case raised my eyebrows, I would have been able to swallow it a little better if it was ADA Cabot trying to sell it. But Sharon Stone, in my opinion, detracts from the episode with some of the corniest lines and with her cheesy delivery. When Jo Marlowe (Stone) says, “I don’t know, but whatever you guys stepped in I’m starting to smell the stink on me” I said to myself, “ no kidding Sharon, I smell the stink on you too and it is not from the SVU squad.”
I recall an episode of Law & Order where jack McCoy jumped through hoops to set up a fake trial with a judge, and he caught hell for it. It still shocks me that someone can testify under oath in court - in what the defendant thinks is a real trial - and lie, because I always thought that if the lawyer knew about a witness telling a lie under oath that this was called suborning perjury. Yet it seems that a judge can just simply grant permission to arrange for fake testimony in court whenever they see fit. Seriously, now, is this really a valid legal maneuver?
Benson and Stabler pretending to be married was, I am sure, a shipper’s dream, but for me, I saw it as a stunt and I hate stunts in the Law & Order universe. It’s so nice, though, that the SVU people had all that time to create all those nice photos of Benson and Stabler as a couple. But I wondered, what would have happened if Brooks/Petrov had already staked out or checked out the Butlers and realized when he arrived at the home that they weren’t who they said they were?
I just loved when Cragen (Dann Florek) got into Jo’s face. Cragen may be one of the most underused and under-appreciated characters in the franchise and I love it when they give him scenes where he can really let it all hang out. Well, not all of it, but you know what I mean.
Hopefully, when this season ends, Jo Marlowe will be nothing but a faint memory and Sharon Stone will be banished from SVU forever. This doesn’t necessarily mean that I think Stephanie March is the only person I would accept in the ADA role, only that this show needs a more credible ADA, and an actress who doesn’t chew all the scenery while playing the role.
Here is the recap:
An outside night work crew finds a pregnant woman who is unconscious on the street. Detectives Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Elliot Stabler arrive at the hospital where the victim was taken. The baby seems OK but it appears the woman had been raped. When the detectives go to question the woman they find she’s not in her hospital bed.
At the SVU precinct, ADA Jo Marlowe (Sharon Stone) bitches to Captain Don Cragen (Dann Florek) that the hospital let the woman walk out of there when she had a bruised face and eight month belly. Cragen tells her a major bus accident diverted the staff’s attention. When she continues to get pissy about being called down at the crack of dawn, Cragen tells her that Munch and Fin are canvassing; he called her because this is the fourth similar occurrence this month. The only description is that he wore a stocking mask but wore a condom in the first three attacks and Warner is processing DNA now. Stabler and Benson go through what they know about previous victims. All of these cases seem to have subways that intersect in City Hall subway station. Cragen radios to Fin (Ice-T) who says they’ve found squat, He notices a car with a lot of traffic tickets and finds someone sleeping inside it – “Flossie” – who seems to have a thing with flossing. He said he saw the woman being raped. He saw a guy with a knife, so they take him into SVU for a sketch. Cragen tells Munch (Richard Belzer) to send the sketch to every precinct, subway station and transit booth. Fin tells him there is nothing on missing persons but Flossie said she spoke a foreign language. Cragen tells him to check with ICE.
At U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Fin finds the woman is Sophia Zorav from Bulgaria, who was admitted on a tourist visa due to a sudden death in the family – her uncle – and she was staying at her aunt’s house, Lilli Denkova.
Stabler and Benson show the photo to Lilli and she identifies Sophia. She says Lilli never arrived at her home, she went to pick her up but she never showed and her cell phone went to voice mail and she assumed Sophia changed her mind. Stabler’s phone rings, and later, outside, Stabler tells her ME Warner got a hit on the DNA, the rapist’s name is Donovan Black and he lives right by City Hall, and that Munch and Fin are on him right now.
Donovan Black is walking with a pregnant woman and Munch stops him, and Black gets mouthy. Fin walks up behind him and when the woman says Black has a knife, he tells him he has a gun and points it at Black’s neck. Black drops the knife. The woman tells Munch that Black said he would cut her baby. Black says he didn’t rape anybody and Fin says they have a witness
In SVU, there is a lineup and Flossie identifies Black as the rapist. But Marlowe says they have no victim so there is no case as he can’t charge rape on the word of a “tooth fairy.” Benson reminds her of the DNA match but Marlowe says she can’t take it to court without a victim statement. Benson is less than thrilled, and Marlowe relents and tells her to arrest Black but they have to find Sophia. Stabler enters and tell them the clerk in the US embassy in Bulgaria was arrested for being paid off to issue Sophia’s visa. He thinks Lilli knows about it since the funeral for the uncle never happened as she has never been married.
Stabler and Benson go to Lilli’s and find her home has been torn apart inside. The detectives enter and find a blood trail leading out the back, and find a huge pool of brain matter on the back patio, but no body.
With CSU and ME Warner (Tamara Tunie) on the scene, Warner doubts Lilli is alive. Warner goes to look for a toothbrush with Lilli’s DNA inside to match to the brain matter. No bullets are on the scene. Munch found a cell phone that shows 60 phone calls to only three different numbers. Fin says the neighbors saw a rolled up rug being moved out last night and placed in an SUV, no make or plates. Stabler dials the numbers in the cell phone, one is disconnected, one is blocked, and one leads to an OB/GYN Dr. Stephen Elroy.
At Elroy’s (David Paymer) office, he remembers Lilli and Sophia as Lilli said Sophia fell and they wanted to check on the baby. He did an ultrasound and everything looked fine. When Stabler asks about the bruise on her face, Elroy assumed it was from the fall. He said he would call them if he found any evidence of sexual assault. Stabler tell him they are there for a homicide, and Elroy asks if it was the woman or the girl. After getting a call, Benson thanks the doctor for his time. Outside, she tells Stabler that Cragen shut them down.
At SVU, Cragen tells them he pulled info on Lilli’s fake husband. Dmitri. And it was signed by Dr. Elroy. The wonder what Elroy was involved in, and Marlowe says, “I don’t know but whatever you guys stepped in I’m starting to smell the stink on me.” Cragen tells them to work on the blocked cell phone number.
At the Butler residence, they question the Butlers about the phone calls to Lilli. Before you can say “lawyer” we cut to the Butlers in SVU interrogation with their lawyer, Trevor Langan (Peter Hermann). They say they have been trying to get pregnant with no luck and have tried many options and nothing worked. They thought they would adopt, but Glen has an arrest for domestic battery against his ex wife. The charges were dropped but so they would not let them adopt. Lilli called them and was referred to them by Elroy for a private adoption. Warner comes in to the observation room and tells Benson that the brain DNA matches the material on Lilli’s toothbrush. Munch enters and tells them he found Lilli used bogus death certificates to bring three other pregnant women there for sham funerals. The other women who were involved had their visas expire but they never left the country and they wonder if they are dead.
Benson enters the interrogation and tells them there is confirmation Lilli has been murdered and the Butlers are shocked and Langan says his clients had nothing to do with it. She tells them Sophia may be in danger, and they tell her that a man contacted them this morning – Mr. Brooks, who is supposed to come tomorrow at noon.
Outside, they discuss what to do next and since they know where Brooks is supposed to be tomorrow afternoon…
The next day at the Butler residence, Benson and Stabler are now posing as Beth and Glen Butler, and Mr. Brooks (Pasha Lychinkoff) arrives. They make small talk. Benson pretends to be emotional over the prospect of getting a baby. He looks at the pictures of both of them as a couple and they talk money and where to bring it. He says he will call with instructions. He gets a message and tells them it is a boy, and shows them a photo. He asks them for a name for the birth certificate, and they gives him Oliver, for her father, and he tells them to say nothing until they baby is in their possession.
Back at SVU, they are still waiting for his call and they are tailing Brooks. Fin comes in and says he lost him, saying Brooks changed cabs in the middle of the street. Munch tells them that Brooks is tied to the Bulgarian mob and his real name is Anton Petrov. Marlowe enters and says the tap on Elroy’s phone should now be up. The GPS shows he is in Harlem. Stabler gets a text that the exchange will occur at 3:00 PM at Morningside Park. Cragen says to get ESU up to that warehouse and they will take Petrov there. But Marlowe says she needs to catch him in the act. Cragen says that area is too risky and she says she is making that an order, and barks “Morningside, now.” Cragen says she is the boss in court, not at SVU. She says she is telling him that unless they buy that baby from Petrov she cannot charge him. She storms out.
Cragen follows Marlowe outside, and they argue. He brings out a case from 1995 and says he remembered why she really returned in 1995, saying that to get a guy, she burned two of her undercover detectives. She called it a command decision. She gets in his face and he yells she is not a copy any more. She says Benson and Stabler can handle themselves, but Cragen says ESU will be standing by. She says if Petrov sees them it will be a bloodbath, and Cragen calls it a command decision.
Stabler and Benson are at the location to make the switch with Brooks, and Cragen has police in the other location. Brooks frisks Stabler just to be sure he isn’t holding anything. Brooks checks out the money, and then walks off with it, smiling. Then he hands them the baby. Meanwhile, Cragen and the police hear a woman scream and Elroy is also there telling a man not to do this. Benson now calls Brooks Petrov and puts a gun to his head. Meanwhile, at Cragen’s location, a man moves to shoot Sophia and Cragen gets into the room and shoots the man first. It seems there is blood on the pillow the man used for his silencer, but it was his own, Sophia is OK.
At the hospital, Benson and Marlowe visit Sophia but she refuses to talk out of fear. She denies knowing Petrov. Benson says she saw her baby boy, and this gets Sophia emotional. They ask for her help to stop what Petrov is doing. She tells them that nobody forced her, and she wants her baby and to be deported back to Bulgaria and she will never testify against Petrov.
Petrov is in interrogation with Stabler, and Marlowe comes in with information on Lilli. He asks them if they found a body, and he plays dumb. He says he hopes they find the swine who raped that girl. Marlowe tells him Lilli ratted him out before he whacked her and told them everything he did. He laughs and says they have nothing, there are no witnesses and there will be no witnesses. He asks for his lawyer.
Outside the room, Stabler tells Marlowe that it was a nice try on her bluff, and Marlowe says Petrov thinks he is Teflon. Benson comes in and tells them Elroy refused counsel and said he would plead guilty and go to prison before he would talk. They see he is terrified, but Marlowe says not nearly enough for him. She , Stabler and Benson go into the room and pressure Elroy, and remind him he is a liability to Petrov. Elroy says Petrov can’t get him in jail, but Marlowe disputes that. She suggests witness protection and he says that is not enough. Elroy’s lawyer John Buchanan (Delaney Williams) comes in and is upset they are talking to his client. Elroy says he did not call an attorney and Buchanan says it has been taken care of Elroy has nothing more to say.
Outside, Cragen comments that they are double screwed as Buchanan’s partner Marty Cranston is there to represent Petrov. They wonder if what Elroy says gets back to Petrov, Elroy is dead. Marlowe comes in and tells them Sophia is gone; two ICE agents were driving her and her baby to a detention center in Fort Dix and the car exploded, they are all dead.
Later, Marlowe shows that surveillance cameras at Fort Dix caught the explosion, now they have to prove it was Petrov who did it. Cragen reminds them two federal agents are dead and the FBI won’t let them near this. He tells Benson and Stabler they have bulls-eyes on their backs and he is putting protective detail on both of them. Benson resists, and Stabler asks about Elroy, saying he is a sitting duck in jail. Benson adds that Elroy thinks Petrov will let things slide if he keeps his mouth shut. Marlowe says John Buchanan will never let that happen.
In arraignment court, Petrov and Elroy plead not guilty. Marlowe asks for remand and the judge agrees. Afterwards, a police officer gives Marlowe a note and says Elroy slipped it to her while he was in lockup to give to Marlowe. Buchanan approaches her and gives her a motion notice, telling her it will never go to trial.
Later, Judge Quinn (Kate Nelligan) walks with Marlowe and Buchanan as he says the police claim Elroy signed a bogus death certificate for Lilli’s bogus husband, but Marlowe used that document to get subpoena and warrants. While Marlowe praises herself over it, he tells her it was stupid, as Elroy's signature was forged. The judge says she will read his papers and get back to him, and rushes because she has to go – really has to go – as she ducks into the restroom. Marlowe says “Me too” and follows her in there. In the rest room, Marlowe shows her the note she got from Elroy, which says he does not trust his lawyer, and asks for help.
Later, in Judge Quinn's office, with Marlowe and Langan, Elroy is brought in and he wonders what is going on. Marlowe says it is the answer to his cry for help. He is irate and asks if his attorney knows he is there. Langan says he is his attorney now, and Elroy says he does not understand. Marlowe explains he is a shadow counsel and it is the only way they can keep him safe. He is worried because if he fires his lawyer, Petrov will know he is ratting him out and then he is dead. Marlowe says he is not going to fire Buchanan, they want him to do everything he says. The judge explains Langan will represent his real interests and the others won’t find out unless he tells him. Elroy accepts. Langan asks for dismissal of all charges, immunity and witness protection, Marlowe and the judge adding it will be in exchange for Elroy’s confession - in chambers with the record sealed. But he can’t say what he hears in meetings between him, Buchanan, Petrov, and his attorney. He agrees. He asks how he will testify at the hearing and Marlowe tells him that Buchanan will still be his attorney but he is worried that if he tells the truth out there he will be dead. The judge says as long as he tells the truth in her chambers - Marlowe confirming if he tells the truth in her chambers there is no crime.
At the evidence suppression hearing, with overlapping views of his testimony in chambers, Elroy is on the stand. He testifies, in court, that the signature on the death certificate is forged: in chambers he says he signed it at Lilli’s bequest, who kept the women under wraps until the women gave birth. In court, he says Lilli did not involve him in baby smuggling, in chambers he says she offered him money for every baby he delivered. She threatened him for insurance fraud. In court, he denies Lilli paid him to recruit infertile couples and says he only met Petrov the night he delivered Sophia’s baby. In chambers, admit he knows where Lilli is buried. Back in court, Marlowe says she has no questions for Elroy and moved that the motion be denied. But Buchanan says not so fast, and says he has more questions for Elroy. He says he heard the police found Lilli’s body and only one person could have told him where she was buried, and that is Elroy. Elroy says he was just trying to help, but the judge cuts him off. Buchanan Elroy if he heard about the location of Lilli’s body from a private conversation with him and Petrov, and Elroy refuses to answer and invoked the Fifth Amendment. He denies being an informant. Buchanan continues to press, and ask if the judge and Marlow told him it would be OK to lie in court and wonders if he really still is Elroy’s lawyer. The judge tells Buchanan he is out of order, but Buchanan says she is out of order and he claims fraud. He continues to argue the point and says that Lilli’s body should be excluded as evidence as attorney-client privilege was violated. The judge asks to see counsel in chambers.
Afterwards, Marlowe tells Benson and Stabler that the judge ruled Lilli’s body out as evidence and believes someone at the cemetery tipped off Buchanan. Now Buchanan is moving to have Elroy's confession thrown out and without it they have nothing. Marlowe says she and the judge may get a censure from the disciplinary committee but she feels it is worth it. Benson says she does not see how, and Marlowe says she will.
In Marlowe’s office, Benson and Stabler are there and Buchanan comes in with Petrov. He complains about it but she says she is giving him one last chance to make a deal. Petrov laugh and Buchanan says they have no case. But Marlowe brings in Sophia - she is not dead. Benson and Stabler looks stunned. Marlowe says the feds found the bomb the people put under her car before it exploded. They wanted him to think Sophia was dead. Petrov tells Sophia she will not open her mouth and Buchanan motions to quiet him. She says she is not afraid of him anymore. He tells them that Petrov came to Lilli's house the night after she was raped and made her watch as he shot Lilli in the head, and said the same thing would happen to her if his property, her belly, was damaged. Petrov becomes crazed and says he will kill her. They shout to each other and he says she is dead, her baby is dead and her parents in Bulgaria are dead. Marlowe says they brought her parents here so his people there cannot touch them. Sophia says he will rot in prison but he says he will never go there, calling her a bitch. They pull him out of the room as he screams.
Outside, Stabler comments to Marlowe that Petrov thinks he is a tough guy but he folded like a bitch. Marlowe comments that life without parole looked pretty sweet when he heard the feds wanted to fry him. Benson is walking with Sophia, who has her baby, and Benson comments that Petrov is lucky Sophia didn’t get her hands on him. Sophia asks if she will get asylum and Benson reminds her the baby was born here so he is automatically a US citizen. Stabler wishes her good luck, and she thanks them all for everything, and then is drive off. Marlowe tells them Elroy is off the hook too, the US Marshals are picking him up tomorrow to put him in witness protection. But Benson comments that Marlowe lied to their faces when she told them Sophia was dead. Marlowe says she was protecting their victim and she needed an ace in the hole. Stabler asks why didn’t she trust them, and she says she couldn’t take the chance if Petrov had his guys trailing them. Stabler says partners put their cards on the table. She says, “Well, like my grandmother always said, the strongest cards you have are the ones you haven’t played.” She walks off, leaving Benson and Stabler standing there as we fade to black.
All Text Content (Recaps, Review, Commentary) © allthingslawandorder.blogspot.com unless otherwise noted
Check out my blog home page for the latest Law & Order information, on All Things Law And Order, here.
Also, see my companion Law & Order site,These Are Their Stories.