Law & Order Criminal Intent finished season 9 with two episodes, “Inhumane Society” and “Three-in- One.” Due to time constraints I will be unable to provide the usual detailed recaps of both episodes but I have provided a review and brief summary of each episode below.
“Three-in-One” Recap & Review
The season 9 finale of Law & Order Criminal Intent was an excellent end to an otherwise average season. The episode featured guest star F. Murray Abraham as Dr. Theodore Nichols, father of Detective Zach Nichols (Jeff Goldblum). Abraham was a commanding presence and was completely believable as Zach’s psychiatrist father. He and Goldblum had great chemistry and I hope we see more of Dr. Nichols in future episodes. Abraham added a spark to the show and added depth to Zach's background.
Dr. Nichols is called in by Zach to consult on an unusual case of a murder of a real estate agent. Detectives Nichols and Serena Stevens (Saffron Burrows) discover that they may be dealing with a suspect with dissociative identity disorder (DID). When their original psych consultant, well known for his television appearances, seems to quickly dismiss Nichol’s theories about the killer having DID, Zach approaches his father for his help. Clearly there is a long standing rift between the two. We also find that Zach also enjoys his gig with a group of jazz purists – and that his dad has yet to come see him play, despite being invited by Zach to do so. But working this case may be just what the doctor ordered to mend the “Nichols family feud” as both Zach and his father find an appreciation for each other’s profession as the case progresses.
The killer carries the persona of three people: Dr. Curtis (Tom Lipinski), a painter Andy Quinn, and a young boy Tommy, and not only has he killed the real estate agent but they also believe he is holding a teacher captive, set to be his next victim. Curtis breaks under the questioning of Nichols, Nichols, and Stevens, with Stevens playing the domineering, discipline seeking woman that seems to bring out the worst in Curtis. But it’s Dr. Nichols who pushes the final buttons with Curtis which earns the doctor a physical attack from Curtis. Luckily Zach is there to protect his dad. The detectives get enough clues from the interrogation session to find the teacher in time, who is still alive.
At the end of the episode, it seems that Zach and his father have patched things up, with Dr. Nichols telling Zach that he and Zach’s mother will attend Zach’s next performance. (Can I come too? I love jazz piano.)
This episode was probably the best of the season, with the writers being true to exposing the criminal intent of the killer, and also with an interesting case that tied in very nicely with Zach’s back story. F. Murray Abraham and Jeff Goldblum make an enjoyable team and I found myself thinking that Law & Order Criminal Intent with these two working as partners could be a great show. I hope they bring Abraham back to help work more cases.
I still believe that Saffron Burrows is not the right partner for Goldblum. The problem may be how they have her character written verses the actress herself. I am not sure at this stage that they can change the personality of Serena Stevens enough to make Saffron fit the role. I had similar feelings when Annabella Sciorra was paired with Chris Noth a few seasons ago – she was a fine actress but the role she was playing just did not work for the show.
I know there are some fans out there who are very unhappy with Law & Order Criminal Intent and wish the show would be canceled. These people either need to stop watching the show and move on, or accept the change and watch the show for what it is now. For me, seeing a quality episode like “Three-in-One” makes me feel hope that the show still has a lot of life left and that it continues for another season.
“Inhumane Society” Recap & Review
One constant in the Law & Order universe is that an episode that is not one of their best is usually aired as the first half of a double header. This is the case with “Inhumane Society,” an episode about dog fighting, murder, and boxing, not necessarily in that order. It seems the writers have finally realized that when a case is not an obvious major case that they need to clearly explain why the Major Case squad is working it. (I can't beleive they wrote in that long explaination just because I gripe all the time about what cases are considered "major.") Captain Zoe Callas (Mary Elisabeth Mastrantonio) agrees that a “murder by dog” is a Major Case when Detective Zach Nichols (Jeff Goldblum) and Serena Stevens (Saffron Burrows) explain that high profile pro boxer Danny Ford (Michael B. Jordan), who had served time for dog fighting, may be involved. The investigation was lifeless and so were Goldblum and Burrows for most of this episode. Not until Nichols gets the theory that the man behind the killing is the boxing trainer, Sal (Dan Lauria), does Nichols come to life. In a scene at Major Case when Nichols demonstrates the killing using Stevens to demonstrate his point we finally see the animated Jeff Goldblum that we all enjoy. I cringed a bit, though, when Nichols commented that Stevens was a “knock out” which is another constant in the Law & Order universe – viewers have to be constantly reminded that the female leads are beautiful. I can’t explain why, but Nichols' comment actually creeped me out a bit; it seemed lecherous.
No surprise that the trainer was behind the killings. They were smart to get this episode aired at the 9:00 hour when viewers not aware of the double header would miss it.
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