Thursday, February 16, 2012

Law & Order SVU “Home Invasions” Recap & Review

All photos by NBCUniversal

Law & Order SVU has pulled out another fantastic episode with “Home Invasions.” In the process of telling a story of a home invasion with apparent hate crime overtones, the episode revealed a back story for Detective Amanda Rollins,  exposing her own troubles which quickly invaded her job. It’s not the first time in the Law & Order Universe that a detective’s gambling problem was exposed; Ed Greene (Jesse L. Martin, Law & Order) from the 2-7 had his gambling problem come out in a case that ultimately ended his career. In “Home Invasions”, Captain Cragen, while not pleased with Rollins’ revelation, is there to support her in getting her life – and her career - back on track. This story line finally brings some much needed dimension to Rollins.

I am not quite sure why, but I suspected almost from the onset of the episode that Emmy was going to be involved in the home invasion and murder of her parents.  Still, the writers did a great job of weaving in all the pieces and ultimately exposing Emmy’s secret and what lengths her friends would do to protect her. The writing has dramatically improved this season; it is clear that there is much thought being given to creating scenarios and dialog that utilizes the best of the regular cast. (Munch was MIA again, but at least we got a good dose of Cragen.)

I know I've ask this before and I will ask it again - does anyone in New York actually look to see who is at their door before they open it? I can only wonder as to how many deaths in the fictional Law & Order world would have been avoided if people would just look before opening...



Here is the recap

Cast:
Mariska Hargitay – Detective Olivia Benson
Ice-T – Detective Odafin “Fin” Tutuola
Richard Belzer – Sergeant John Munch
Dann Florek – Captain Don Cragen
Kelli Giddish - Detective Amanda Rollins
Danny Pino - Detective Nick Amaro

Guest stars:
Esai Morales – Jimmy Vasquez
Jake T. Austin - Rob Fisher
Tommy Flanagan - Murphy
Elizabeth Rodriguez _ Carmen Vasquez
Lauren Kelly – Emmy Eckhouse
Danny Mastrogiorgio – Rob’s father
Delaney Williams – Murphy’s lawyer
Alan Davidson - McCort
Isiah Whitlock. Jr. – police captain
Cady Huffman – Joan’s work partner
Betsy Aidem – Doctor
Alex Manette – Sidney Eckhouse
Eric Kappenberg – Anthony Parker
Dawn Evans – Joan Eckhouse
Miriam Morales – CSU Tech


While the Eckhouse family watches a basketball game, Sidney Eckhouse makes his daughter sit and watch the game and orders his wife Joan to answer the door. They think it is their Chinese food being delivered, but Joan opens the door and find a masked gunman, who shoots her twice and then enters the house.

At SVU, Captain Cragen tells Detectives Amaro and Rollins to hold off on leaving for their dinner break, they got a shooting in Yorkville with two fatalities confirmed. When Rollins questions why it is for SVU, Cragen tells her the shooting took place at the home of Joan Eckhouse, Chief Counsel for the New York Gay Right Coalition, and he will have Benson and Fin meet them there.

Detective Benson arrives on the scene and sees CSU at work. She comments on the messy crime scene and asks what happened. Amaro explains the a delivery guy found them, there was no sign of forced entry or sign of robbery. The intruder walked past the wife, Joan,  and kills her and before they can react, he moved to the husband, Sidney, and their daughter on the couch. The daughter, Emmy, 14, is in surgery at St. Michaels’ with a bullet in her head. The CSU Tech shows them a bullet in the wall that she found, and they are looking for the others. She tells them it is a mess and good luck in reconstructing what went down. Benson sees the bullet has a full metal jacket, and Amaro says it is from a Winchester 357 sig. The  word  “Queer” is sprayed all over the walls, and Benson says she has seen her share of hate crimes, but the execution of a whole family is extreme.

Outside, a man races up to Fin and Rollins and asks if everyone is OK. He says he is Rob Fisher, and he is there with his father who introduces himself. Rollins says Emmy is at the hospital, and then Rob asks if dad if he is happy now, it is all his fault.

Later, Rob tells Benson and Amaro that Emmy was supposed to come over but his dad made him cancel, adding that if she had not been grounded she would not have been shot. She comes over all the time and his father thought she was distracting him. They have been together 8 months. He told his father they were not sleeping together and he even got Emmy to take the abstinence pledge, but his father could not let it go.

Fin and Rollins speak with Rob’s father about the Eckhouses. He knew Sidney better, Joan was always working, calling her a real crusader. He and Sidney were on the same page regarding Emmy; they are kids and it was too intense. They had curfews and ground rules emailed, adding it is all part of being a dad. He had to lock him in when he had to go out and walk the dog. He said there was a squad car parked outside the Eckhouse residence about a month ago for at least an hour. He didn’t ask Sidney about it, saying it was not his business.



At the New York Gay Right Coalition, Benson speaks with Joan’s work partner who mentions the hate mail they get. She says the last few weeks, Joan was really spooked. She was getting hang up calls late at nights and a few time she thought there was a car following Emmy. She says Joan did not tell her the police were there a month ago. Amaro notices all the photos with Joan’s partner and not Joan in them, and comments she appears to be the public face of the organization. She says yes, she says Joan was more behind the scenes but they were a team. Amaro wonders why they targeted Joan and not her, and she says they may have been able to get to her. She cries and says they are going to find out about this anyway; Joan and her were involved. Benson asks if anyone may have been jealous of the relationship but she says no. Joan was her life and they were just waiting for Emmy to get older. Joan was going to leave Sidney and they were going to get married.

Elsewhere, Fin and Rollins speak with a police captain and they ask to speak with Martinez and Parker as they responded to a call at the Eckhouse residence a month ago. The captain says those two guys are not on the job anymore. They were moonlighting as bookies and he can’t have that. He adds that there stuff is still there and they did not even come back for it; he tells them to help themselves.

Back at SVU, Benson tells Cragen that the bullet has been removed from Emmy and she is out of surgery in a drug induced coma but they will not know until the swelling goes down. Benson said Rob and Emmy were in love with each other and the fathers thought it was a bad idea and the emails confirm. The coalition threat list show anonymous hate mail and phone calls Cragen think that is a big leap from that to executing a family. Joan told her partner she thought someone was stalking her. When Cragen asks if it could be someone jealous about the affair, Amaro says they were discreet. Rollins calls to their attention something in the notes from the officer responding to the Eckhouse residence that indicate it was a domestic employ incident and their housekeeper, Carmen Vasquez, claimed Sidney assaulted her, and Sidney claimed she had been stealing jewelry. Amaro isn’t sure the housekeeper would do this, but Fin says Carmen has a brother named Jimmy who got out of Greenhaven six months ago and did 4 years for armed robbery and assault. His last known address is at 111th Street. Cragen tells Fin and Rollins to go back to the Eckhouses and do an inventory of their valuables, things the maid could have tipped her brother off about, and tells Benson and Amaro to see what the Vasquez family has to say.

At Iglesia Oasis De Fe, Amor Y Paz, Carmen tells Benson and Amaro that Emmy is like a daughter to her. She has worked there since Emmy was 2 months old and stopped working there a month ago. Emmy had school activities and she needed more hours. She says she never stole any jewelry, saying Sidney was lying. She said Joan had a benefit and could not find her diamond earrings. She said the cop took Sidney’s side and told her to keep her mouth shut. She tells them that Sidney pawned the earrings and he was a gambler and he owed big, already selling off his autographed baseball cards and watch. Joan did not know – they lived together but they lived apart. Carmen says she was a bible study Friday night. Jimmy was leading the session, he turned himself around inside and found God.

Benson and Amaro walk into one of Jimmy’s preaching sessions, and he is talking about Jesus being with Emmy and that anything is possible. After the session, they speak with Jimmy who says Emmy is an angel. He says he was at bible study Friday night with six members of his congregation who also have records, and agrees to give them their names. He has known Emmy since she was a little kid. Emmy wrote him and visited when he was upstate. He says Sidney wasn’t right and even had Emmy place book for him, sending her to the bar to place his bets when he got too drunk.

At Murf the Surf’s pub, Fin and Amaro speak with Murphy about Sidney and Murphy refuses to say anything. But Amaro continues to press about Emmy placing bets or even underage drinking. Fin asks him to pick which one he is going down for on the way.

At SVU, Benson and Amaro have Mr. Murphy in interrogation with his lawyer and they go over his past charges. He says these are good stories but so is Twilight, he loves those vampires. His lawyer says Murphy has no convictions. Benson shows them photos of the Eckhouse crime scene but Murphy and his lawyer are unmoved, his lawyer saying these deaths would serve a bookie no purpose as dead men pay no debts.

In the squad room, Fin says Jimmy’s entire bible study class swears Jimmy was there. Rollins says they traced the missing jewelry to a pawn shop in the lower east side and the thickets were in Sidney’s name. Cragen says he hopes Benson and Amaro are on to something. Fin asks Rollins about the boyfriend’s dad, and while Murphy and his lawyer walk out, Rollins replies that he was at the dog park…but she stops cold when she sees Murphy and he also glares back at her and smiles. Fin asks what that smile was about, and Rollins asks Fin if he is jealous. Fin looks back at her questioningly, and Rollins stares off with a worried look.

Later, as Rollins is gassing up her car, Murphy comes up from behind, along with another man, and punches Rollins squarely in the gut. He tells her that the other man is officer Parker, and he thought they might have something in common. Parker helps her up and Murphy punches her again. Parker says she is in deep to the wrong guy and adds he hopes she is not dumb enough to talk to her captain. Murphy says if she does. They won’t see them coming, she’ll just be gone. He asks if she understands, and when she does not answer, he says, “good girl.” As they walk off, Rollins pulls herself up.

Later, Rollins is at a bar and Fin approaches. He sits down next to her and she thanks him for coming to meet her. He says it is all good and asks what is up. She says she has a problem and he comments it is that guy Murphy. She explains that back home, she was in football pools and bet the big stuff and she liked the action but it was nothing serious. Since she came to New York it is out of control, she is in for $20K and was down $50K at one point. Murphy did not know she was a cop, she told him she was bartender. She checked him out and paid him at his bar, She followed him after he left, and he went to a social club in Hell’s kitchen. Fin called it a bookie joint. Rollins says she checked Murphy’s known associates, and his boss’ name is McCort, calling him a scary guy. She tells Fin that tonight, Murphy knocked her around and threatened her and had Parker there for backup. She assures Fin she is OK. She asks if there is anything else he wants to know about his new partner? Fin thinks for a second and then says this is the deal – they will take those creeps off the street and let them know who we are. He tells her she will have to come clean to the captain.
Later, the police, along with Amaro and Fin,  storm the bookie joint, and the group moves to arrest Murphy and Parker and the others. Amaro recognizes Parker and Parker hints to Amaro to let him off, for old time’s sake. Amaro says he remembers taking the oath, and did he, and then cuffs him. Fin sees Murphy trying to walk off and catches up with him, and Fin punches him in the gut, saying he knows what that is for. Murphy says sure, and tell his girlfriend she is going to be sorry. Fin says he is threatening a detective, and asks why don’t they add that to the rest of his charges. Murphy says she is a degenerate, telling Fin his girl is sick. Fin slams Murphy’s face to the counter and tells Murphy he needs to learn some respect. Amaro calls to Fin and walks into an office with McCort being cuffed. McCort tells them before he compounds their mistake, to open the side drawer of his desk. Amaro sees a group of envelopes and when Amaro thinks it’s a payoff, McCort says he has enough cops on his payroll. He tells him to find an envelope marked Crosby and that is for Sidney, it was his code name. When Amaro sees a wad of cash, McCort says the night Sidney died, his team had a miracle. Fin thinks McCort is mad that Sidney won. McCort says he was just going to lose another bet to him, Sidney was a gift that kept on giving, why would he want to kill him?

Back at SVU, Rollins discusses with Fin that these guys didn’t kill them and now they are back to zero. Fin tells her it still does not change what she has to do. She moves to head to Cragen’s office, and tells Fin thanks.

Rollins and Fin walk into Cragen’s office, and he tells them Emmy is out of the coma and is awake, he is meeting Benson and Amaro there now.

At the hospital, the doctor tells Benson and Amaro that the bullet went through the skull and missed her cerebral artery by a few millimeters. Her brain function is intact. She can speak and knows where she is but beyond that, the doctor can’t speak to her memory. No one besides staff has been in to see her. Her boyfriend has barely left the waiting room but they have not let him in yet.

Benson and Amaro enter the room and explain that they are investigating what happened to her. Emmy asks where is her mom and dad, but Benson deflects and asks what she last remembers. Emmy recalls being angry about not being allowed to go to Rob’s and she was watching basketball with her dad. She recalls nothing else, and asks again where are her parents and asks if they are dead, Benson tells her yes they are. Emmy asks who did this and why and Amaro says they are working on it. Emmy asks where is Rob and gets upset. Amaro says she will get him.

Later, outside the room, Amaro asks the doctor about having Emmy on antivirals, and the doctor says the surgery triggered a herpes outbreak, confirming genital herpes simplex 2. Amaro says they were having sex, Benson adds despite their vow of celibacy.

At the Fisher apartment, Rob’s father doesn’t believe what Benson and Amaro have told them about Emmy and the herpes. He said Emmy came on strong to his son and she came across and needy and desperate. He compared her to a barnacle and did not know what her problem was.

Outside, Benson comments that Emmy had an absentee mother who was left alone with her father, Amaro adding who has a drinking problem. Benson comments Emmy said she is a virgin but somehow contracted genital herpes, adding it would not be the first time they tested a corpse for STDs.

Back at SVU, Rollins enters Cragen’s office. She tells him she has been waiting for the right time to talk, but Cragen says her bookie Murphy ratted her out, adding he thought having dirt on a detective would help his case. He called IAB as he does not want Murphy to have any leverage. He says IAB will interview her and asks if there is anything else he needs to know before they do, like if Murphy ever asked her to run a play or check somebody out. She says she gambled and she lost, that’s it. Cragen says she is lucky because eventually she would have, and if she were desperate enough… He asks if she understand he really should take her gun and shield right now. She says yeah. He says he will go to bat for her with IAB if this really is the extent of it. She says it is, she swears. He says she will get a command discipline and he will take ten vacation days. He comments that free time is not her friend. She thinks that is part of the problem. He tells her he gets it. He has been exactly where she is and knows how this job can weigh on her. He admits he used to drink – really drink – and as soon as he got off duty he used to be in the bar. Then he used to have some on the job just to get through. His captain could have canned his ass and should have, but he got him help instead. She wipes away a tear. Cragen says she is a good detective and does not want to end her career. She doesn’t want that either. He says he is going to get her help, but if she screws up again, she is gone. She says OK. There is a knock on the door and it is Benson and Amaro. Cragen asks Rollins if they are good, and she says yeah. Benson says they can come back but Cragen calls them in. Amaro shows him the lab report on Sidney which shows Sidney and Emmy tested positive for the same strain of herpes. Cragen says every unhappy family is unhappy is its own way. There is a pregnant pause as Rollins looks up and Benson looks back at her. Cragen tells them to find out who else knew.

Back at the hospital, Emmy is walking outside her room and Benson and Amaro approach, Amaro saying he is glad to see her on her feet. Emmy says she is better and asks why they are here and asks if they found out who killed her parents. Benson says they need to talk Amaro steps away and the nurse walks Emmy back to her room. In the room. Benson tells her they know what was going on between her and her father. Emmy starts making excuses for her father and Benson tells her she does not have to cover for him anymore and whatever happened it is not her fault. She asks Emmy when it started. Emmy explains it was last February and they went skiing in Vermont, her mother had to leave early. It was just the two of them in the cabin the first night and he had been drinking. It was not the only time this happened, he drank a lot. Emmy says what does it matter, he is dead. She says she did not tell anybody what is going on and says she handled it herself and asks if they can stop now. Benson says she is 14 and she says she should not go through this alone, there are people she can talk to who can help her. Emmy says if she wants to help her, make sure Rob never finds out, he would be disgusted. She begs Benson to never tell Rob.

Afterwards, Amaro comments to Benson that Emmy said Rob didn’t know but wonders if she is covering. Benson wonders if Rob shot the father to stop the incest but why shoot Emmy. She says they need to recheck forensics.

Elsewhere, Fin and Rollins speaks with Rob, who is there with his father, and Rob says Emmy’s dad was trying to rule Emmy, just like his own dad. Rob’s father says they have told them everything they know. Rob says Sidney was a jerk, he drank all day and his life was messed up and he took it out on them, on Emmy. Rollins asks if Emmy talked about when she was alone with him, and Rob says it was depressing. His father asks what this is all about, and Rollins tells Rob to keep going. He says after they fired the housekeeper Carmen, Emmy was over there, and says she was close to Carmen. Carmen was more like a mother to her, and Emmy would sneak out an visit her and beg her to come back and work for them. She could not stand to be alone with her father.

At SVU, Carmen in interrogation with Benson and Fin and they asks about Emmy and they know Emmy told her. Carmen says Sidney was a sick man and he brought evil all around the house, and look what happened. Benson reminds Carmen of her love for Emmy and that she would do anything to protect her. Carmen says that is right, so this is how they should know she had nothing to do with her getting shot.

In another interrogation room, Rollins and Fin question Jimmy about what went on in the house. He tells them what they believe doesn’t matter. Cragen knocks on the window and Rollins and Amaro exit the room. Cragen explains that the forensics report came in and both Sidney and Emmy’s DNA were on the bullet removed from Emmy’s skull. Rollins says this is probably why she survived, by the time the bullet went through Sidney and hit her it did not have much residual energy. Amaro thinks she was never the target, and that has to be weighing on the preacher.

Amaro and Rollins go back into the room with Jimmy and he says they got bad news – Emmy did not make it. Jimmy is shocked and says this is impossible. Rollins says she had a post op seizure and she is gone. Jimmy refuses to believe it and says that cannot be part of His plan. Amaro says the DNA results came back and says this is going to eat away at him. He says if he wants to lie to the police that is OK but God knows the truth and Emmy is looking down on him right now and she knows the truth. Jimmy begins to pray. Amaro asks if he wants God to forgive him, he has to forgive himself first. He says he is a preacher and he knows the answer, saying if we confess our sins then he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and be cleansed of our wickedness. Jimmy recognizes the passage as John 1:9 and asks if Amaro is a believer. Amaro speaks to him in Spanish, and then says it is the only way he is going to get right with this. Jimmy puts his head down and cries.

In the other room, Carmen tells Benson she tried and she went to Emmy’s mother who thought Carmen was just getting back at her being fired. Benson asks if that's why she and her brother killed the Eckhouses. She says her brother did not know about this, but Fin asks then why did Jimmy just give himself up and say he planned it all. Carmen says he is lying to protect her. She says it was all her idea, Sidney was raping her. Carmen sobs and says Emmy was thinking of killing herself and they had to save her.

Jimmy tells Amaro and Rollins that there are devils out there, he knows as he used to be one. He says he shot them, and saw Emmy was there right behind and she went down. If could take the bullet himself he would, moaning that she was not supposed to be there, admitting she was supposed to be at her boyfriend’s. He sobs, and Amaro asks who told him that, how did he know? Jimmy doesn’t answer.

Afterwards, Benson and Amaro discuss this information with Cragen. Benson says Emmy could have told Carmen in passing like small talk, Amaro wonders if she set this up. Cragen says they need to find out if she did have a hand in it, and Benson replies even if she did, she’s a 14 year old girl who was sexually abused in her own home. Cragen counters there were other ways she could have handled it. Cragen says he hopes to God she is not involved. But says they have to follow through on this.

At the hospital, Benson and Amaro enter Emmy’s room and Rob is also there. Benson says they spoke to Carmen and Jimmy and they confessed. Rob seems shocked and asks why they would do that. Amaro comments that Rob really doesn’t know, and Rob asks what doesn’t he know. Benson tells Emmy it is time to tell him what happened with his father. Emmy says this is not her choice, but Rob presses. Emmy shakes her head. Benson sits down and says she knows this is hard, but there won’t be any secrets when this goes to trial, and it will go to trial, so it is best he hears it from her. Emmy cries and looks to Ron, and says that her dad forgot he was his daughter. Rob asks what she means, and she tells Benson not to make her say it, it was horrible, Rob asks why she did not say anything to him, he could have helped her. She says she wanted to be pure for him and did not want to think she was dirty. He says he loves her no matter what. Amaro comments there is one thing he does not get, when Jimmy confessed, he said that he is sorry, she wasn’t supposed to be there, and she wasn’t, was she? Rob says she was supposed to be at his house. Benson asks Emmy how Jimmy knew that, and Emmy says it was not part of the plan. Benson asks her what plan, and Emmy says Carmen and Jimmy were trying to save her, and she told them Friday night her parents would not be home, she was supposed to be at Rob’s house, she told them to write “queers” on the wall so the police would think that it was a hate crime. Amaro says he gets why her father, but why her mother? Emmy replies that her father was pathetic, he couldn’t help himself, but she hated her mother more. She let it happen. Carmen tried to tell her, and Emmy tried. Everybody thinks her mother was some kind of hero but she was more worried about saving the world than saving her own daughter. Amaro tells Emmy they are going to have to arrest her, and Rob begs them not to do it. Emmy tells him it is OK as Rob continues to protest. She says she is free, she is free now. She sobs and he embraces her.

Elsewhere, Cragen and Rollins arrive at a meeting place, and he tells her she is here, and that is the first step. She smiles and nods her head and walks into the seating area. As she sits down, Cragen turns and walks out, and we fade to black.





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11 comments:

OhSusannah said...

It's good to see some back story with any of the lead detectives,admittedly. I read in your review that Rollins admits to Fin that she bet and lost some in her home state down south but it had gotten much worse since moving to NYC to take the job with them in the 16.For whatever reason I don't really find Det. Rollins that compelling a storyline, but I think its just that I'm used to the Benson-Stabler dynamic its hard to get past that at times.I also think that the character kind of lacks the mean street grit of the other characters : seems too refined.Partly I think casting the amazing Kelli Giddish in this role takes some getting used to for me. I loved her in Chase,but there's something about her looking so angelic and 'green' that doesn't really resonate for me. Maybe its the whole southern fish out of water thing. Right now Fin reminds me of a protective older brother, someone just trying to show her the ropes in the big mean city.Maybe as time wears on, she'll become more real to me.

janethyland said...

What happened to network TV last night?

Season lows recorded everywhere,for Revenge,Criminal Minds and alas for SVU2. 1.7 key demo, 5.85 million total.

Where was everybody,or will those figures be adjusted up?Its been a bad week for TV generally. Even "Smash" dropped.

TAYLOR FLADGATE said...

I'm pretty sure:

Cady Huffman - Joan Eckhouse’s work partner

Betsy Aidem - Doctor

Eh!
Taylor Fladgate

sunshinez1975 said...

I hope they keep Fin and Rollins together. They seem to fit better tahn Benson and Amaro. I loved it when Fin punched that guy in the stomach. I wasn't feeling Kelli Giddish at first but now I think she's okay.

Chris Zimmer said...

Taylor - I think I somehow reversed their names when I typed up the list. I fixed it - thanks for letting me know!

Unknown said...

You forgot Jake T. Austin. He played Rob Fisher

Chris Zimmer said...

Thanks - fixed!

Joanne said...

I'm still not really liking Rollins so despite the fact that it's nice to see a little more backstory...I just found myself not caring all that much. I did enjoy the episode though; it was woven together quite well.

OhSusannah said...

I rewatched this episode on CTV online and I have to say, it was very well-written. Not even a month ago I commented to my guy that I really miss the intricate interwoven storylines of old on SVU. You can really tell with S13 that they changed writers and were employing a fresh newer writing team.The stories were very straightforward with not a lot of the intricacies of past seasons.This show is best when there are so many characters and little details that it kept you guessing right up to the last scene who the perp really was in the first place.

JMK said...

Hey- does anyone remember the SVU episode that ends with the mother and son in bed together and he is eating her face? (it is totally messed up!) I am trying to find out what season it is...anyone have any suggestions?

Chris Zimmer said...

I don't know about the "eating her face" part but there was an episode with Chad Lowe & Margot Kidder title "Picue" from season 2 (episode 20) and I think at the end of the episode he is in bed with her and I think he had murdered her. It was an extremely creepy episode. It's the closest I can think of to what you described.