Thursday, October 14, 2021

Law & Order Organized Crime “The Good, The Bad And The Lovely” Recap, Review, Discussion

“The Good, The Bad And The Lovely” focused on the trafficking of young girls, bringing Olivia Benson into the mix.  Adding to the pressures of the case, Stabler thinks his mother is having another one of her bipolar episodes when she accuses Eli of stealing some of her pills.   Stabler is in for a rude awakening!  Again, Law & Order Organized Crime delivered a tense, fast-paced episode and more trouble for Stabler, both with the case and with his family. 

Stabler may have considered Flutura as being outside of the criminal enterprise, but while observing a party where she is in attendance, he seems taken aback when Benson notes that Flutura is not just a party planner – she involved  in the trafficking. Will the fact that Stabler has been coming on to her hot and heavy be his salvation when Flutura looks to identify who is the rat in the gang?  And will the fact that Stabler  accidentally let her think it was Reggie that told him about the “charity” auction get Reggie in deep trouble with Jon Kosta?  The trouble is only just starting to boil. 

The only thing that I don’t quite understand is if Stabler is supposed to be undercover, he doesn’t seem very careful about where he’s seen or where he goes.   He’s got a lot of contact with his family and goes into the squad often, apparently unconcerned he’s being followed.  Even harder to believe is Stabler watching a gathering hosted by Flutura from a windowed area high up along with Bell and Benson and other members of that team.  He’s not worried someone from any of those gangs will see him there? 
If they checked Stabler out to make sure he is as loyal as Stabler wants them to believe, it would be easy to follow him and find out he is not what he seems. 

A little hard to swallow was Stabler just happening to have a running motorcycle nearby that he could steal just when he needed wheels AND he could drive off the roadway with it - down hill - and direct it into the car he’s chasing at the perfect time to cause a crash.  It was a great action scene but not a very believable one. 

Separate from the case, Stabler comes home to find his mother accusing Eli of stealing her meds.  Stabler reacts as if his mother is having another one of her bipolar episodes. It’s Benson who, while at Stabler’s residence, discovers evidence that shows Eli IS stealing the meds – and we also see Eli peddling them to one of his friends.  I sense some Stabler family drama on the horizon – a subject that historically has provided maximum annoyance to me. But I have to admit that I am enjoying having Ellen Burstyn there as his mother, she’s probably the only member of Stabler’s family that I like.  Also, having Benson and Fin involved in the trafficking case made sense and their scenes fit in well. Somewhat forced  was that scene where Benson found the evidence that Eli was stealing meds. It would have felt more natural had Stabler found them, minutes after Eli had been in the bathroom but had already left.  We don't need Benson to save the day for Stabler every time. 

Here is the recap:

At an evening event, Stabler, Bell, Benson, and some of the squad watch from an overhead vantage point.   Kosta, Albi, Flutura, and Reggie are at the event. Stabler recognizes Amelia from the diner, but Rita is not there. Benson spots Flutura and Stabler says she is a party planner but Benson is not convinced.  There is also members of “senior management” there, plus some “buyers.”  It looks to Benson like Flutura is much more than a party planner. 

At the Stabler home, Bernie accuses Eli of stealing her meds, and Eli of course denies it. Stabler gets Eli and Kathleen to leave and spends time with his mother as he makes tea. She is worried about Eli and Stabler says he can worry about him and he is a good kid. Stabler promises to be home once they wrap up the investigation and promises to be there that weekend. 

At the squad, they discuss the girls and their passports that Stabler found.  The mothers of some of the girls had told the detectives that the girls were approached by Kesmet Model Management who offered to cover the cost of the girls’ travels.  They thought they could trust them.  Edmund Ross, a hedge fund billionaire, was one of the buyers last night, he is big in the non-profit world.  He has one sexual misconduct charge brought against him by a former employee and settled out of court. 

At the diner, Stabler sees Amelia has a black eye.  She said it was her fault – she did not have a happy smile and a friendly attitude. 

After Amelia leaves the restaurant, Bell approaches her and offers to take her away from the people hurting her and she can protect her family at home. Amelia runs off and steps into another vehicle which takes her away.   Stabler follows in another car with Bell where they discuss Stabler’s issues with these types of cases and how it is hard to let it go.  If they just save the girls, the KO will just bring in more.  Benson, with Fin, contacts them and says Justin Howard, who they have a warrant to collect his mail, has been invited to a party at Edmund Ross’ house that claims to be a charity auction.  Bell wants to get inside, and Benson is working all their connections to get a hold of that guest list.   Bell and Stabler follow the vehicle and it leads them to a house where they see Flutura there.  Bell wants a way in to find out what’s going on in there and Stabler  gets out of the car.

He knocks on the door and Flutura answers, and he says he followed her there and parked on the corner so no one could see.  He claims he wants to borrow money and tries to weasel his way into the party to do security.  Flutura thinks Reggie told him and is upset.   Stabler sees the girls and Flutura says the girls work for her and tries to explain she is finding them jobs and sometimes they work parties.  He wants to keep his financial situation from Reggie. He asks to use the bathroom. 

Jet sends Bell the party guest list and she sees a lot of bigwigs names, including Congressman Kilbride. 

Still at the house,  Stabler checks the upstairs rooms and sees the book The Count Of Monte Cristo that he gave to Rita.  He later has the book in his camper and finds a photo of Rita with her son. 

Elsewhere, Bell meets with Kilbride and discusses the charity auction and she weasels in an invite to go with him as his date and she will make sure his name stays out of the “black book”. 

Stabler texts Eli but Eli doesn’t answer, he’s busy selling his grandmother’s meds, taking one in the process. 

Stabler visits Reggie who says his mother is sick and can’t do the job and Stabler says he can do it on his own.  But his mom tells him to go to work.  In the car, Reggie brings up that he told him to stay away from Flutura and if he needs cash to come to him. He is upset Stabler went behind his back and how it looks to his bosses. Stabler says he meant no disrespect. Reggie says he vouched for Stabler and don’t make him regret it. 

They pick up the girls, who are nicely dressed, and transport them to the party.  Meanwhile the OC team, with Brewster, Benson and Fin, are watching the party, and Stabler also has a camera on him,  Bell arrives with Kilbride.  Flutura also arrives. 

Inside, a girl gives Bell and Kilbride a tablet for the auction.  Stabler says he’s counted at least 10 girls working there. Bell says the tablets are numbered and there is a specific one for each guest. Fin says it is a system to keep track of who buys what.  Benson asks Bell to see what is on the other tablets.  The host’s wife - the daughter of the real estate developer Edmund Ross - is also there.  Her father got Ross into the business. Kilbride introduces Bell to Ross who seems to be aware Bell is a Sergeant.  He moves to another girl to get Bell a list of who benefits from the auction,  but Flutura comes over and gets the girl and takes her away.  Bell later radios that the girls are being taken somewhere and Flutura is taken one of them upstairs.   Bell looks at the auction items and the tablet and sees someone else’s tablet and notices there are auction items she is not getting and the men have different lots, showing jewelry, 

Stabler continues to watch the room where the girls were taken.  Kilbride decides to exit the party and Bell thanks him and says she owes him for this. Stabler overhears someone that can bid $3 million and they want the item delivered that night.  Bell realizes they are bidding on the girls and the jewelry is an ID, like a ticket.  Stabler realizes a girl just got sold as she is being taken out, apparently drugged,  and radios the info to Benson. He describes the man to Benson, saying they are heading out the back door. Benson radios it is human trafficking and they are moving in, telling Stabler to get out of there NOW.  Stabler sees Reggie taking Rita downstairs and when Reggie gets  a call from his mom, he tells the girl to wait there as he walks off to take the call.  Stabler approaches Rita and she is terrified to see him and he says he is here to get him out. She yells to another man that Stabler is trying to take her and the man punches Stabler as he tries to explain. His camera is taken off line. Benson and Fin enter and announce themselves as police and order everyone to stay there while they take their information.  Meanwhile, the men fight with Stabler and one man pulls a knife on him. But Stabler fights back and Bell walks in with her weapon drawn and orders the men to the floor.  She asks Stabler who is he and he explains he is security for the party planner and the men jumped him. She tells him not to move and cuts off the wire ties on his wrists. He whispers to Bell not to arrest Reggie as he needs him and Bell tells him to get out of them as she radios a message to Brewster. Brewster sees Reggie trying to escape and tells Moldonado to let him go.  Police swarm the location and when Benson asks Bell where is Stabler, Bell says he is good.  Benson consoles one of the girls.  Stabler looks for a way out and runs into Flutura and helps her to escape,  getting her out the second floor window. He tells her to run, saying it’s better if they separate.  He sees Rita being taken off in a car and steals a motorcycle and follows the car. 

He continues to chase the car and, driving off the roadway, finds his way to cut it off by rolling the motorcycle in front of the car to cause a crash.   He radios that he is with Rita and the location, calling for a bus.  He stops Rita who is trying to run. He tries to reassure her that Gabriel, her son, is safe and he is a police officer. He shows her a video of her son, saying they are waiting for her in London and she will be with him soon, promising her this is real.   He says the police will take care of her and not to  be afraid. As he goes off, she calls him Officer Monte Cristo as help arrives. 

Meanwhile, back at the party, Edmond Ross has a gun to his neck as Bell and Benson break into the room.  He threatens to kill himself and Bell says they are more interested in Jon Kosta than him, Benson sees something burning in the fireplace and as she moves to pull it out, Ross yells for her to stop. Bell jumps at him and Benson pulls the tablet out of the fireplace and tries to put out the fire.

Reggie is at the gym office with Kosta and Albi and Kosta is livid, wanting to know how this happened. Flutura enters and says she knows – they have a rat in the organization and someone betrayed them. 

Stabler arrives home and Bernie notices his injury.  He is surprised to find Benson came to check on him. She explains Ross is at the 3-6 for processing, Bell wanted to move him over to Stabler’s squad for a chat. Bernie mentions the cut again and when Benson asks if they have any hydrogen peroxide, she tells Benson there is hydrogen peroxide in the bathroom under the sink. As Benson goes to get it, Bernie asks if this means he can come home now, and he replies not yet, he needs a little more time.  He lays out several cell phones on the counter, telling his mother he stole them.

Going into the bathroom,  Benson knocks on the door. Eli walks out as Benson walks in. She quickly sees a few pills on the floor.  She walks out and asks Bernie where did Eli go, and she says she went to a movie with a friend.  She asks Stabler if she can talk to him for a second, and then explains what she found and how she found it.  Stabler looks concerned and calls out to Eli but he’s not there. He slams the door and Benson says she is sorry but he tells her it’s alright.  Bernie comments Eli took her pills, and Stabler asks what movie did he go to. She doesn’t know, adding Eli doesn’t talk to  her these days.  Benson asks if Stabler tracks his phone, and he replies no, but that’s about to change.  He calls Eli but there is no answer. Benson asks if there is anything she can do to help him and he shakes his head no, saying everything is fine. He adds he is going to stay that night and talk to him when he gets home.  Benson tells Bernie to take care, and Stabler walks her out. Outside, Benson says she agrees with Bernie, saying she wants him to come home. He comments he intends to,  but she says “Before it’s too late.”  He assures her he is being careful and she touches his face and says she means before Eddie Wagner takes over and Elliot Stabler is nowhere to be found.  They give each other a long look before Benson turns and leaves.

He goes back inside and tells Bernie that he is sorry he doubted her, she was right.  She comments he doesn’t have to reassure her, she knows she is right. She adds this is normal, Eli is a teenager and has lost his mother and is mad at his father; he’s acting out.  She says he knows what this is called.  He asks “No, what?” Bernie replies “Life." He rests his head on her shoulder as we cut to black. 

Law & Order SVU “Fast Times @The Wheelhouse” Recap, Review, Discussion

“Fast Times @The Wheelhouse” was one of those predictable episodes with cookie-cutter characters who didn’t interest me one bit.   I don’t want to go as far as saying I hated it, only that I didn’t find it up to their usual standard.  While watching, I found myself groaning and eye-rolling more than normal.  It was partly because of the one-dimensional,  cookie-cutter characters, but also for the corny rebranding of The Wheelhouse AND Willa noticing how much Carisi likes Rollins. (I am groaning as I wrote that.)  A huge eye-roll goes to Noah just happening to stumble on Willa’s video (such luck!).  It’s good to know Noah is out there watching for this kind of stuff, what would Benson do without him? (Sarcasm intended.)   

Peppered in this episode were references to a case uncovered by Stabler (in the Law & Order Organized Crime episode “For A Few Leke More” ) involving sex trafficking of young girls. For those people who aren’t watching that series, the references will be lost on them. For me, it pulled me away from the SVU case and felt like a distraction. So you’re not distracted while reading about the SVU case, here’s what happened: Jet explains to the SVU that Sgt. Bell wants them to find waitress Rita Lascu based on information acquired by Stabler. An informant, Elvis Baktashi (last seen in Law & Order SVU episode “Welcome to the Pedo Motel” ) later tells Benson that Rita is being trafficked and she is not the only one. At the end of the episode, Benson tells Bell and Jet that a shipment of new prospects is coming in from Albania – 12 under-age girls. The plane lands at JFK in 8 hours. Bell and Jet have been informed and they will make sure Stabler is part of the crew picking up the girls. Bell thinks they will need Benson’s on-going help – and Benson says “always.” (Cue an eye-roll.)

Here is the recap: 

The SVU case involves a young female “influencer”, Willa Bartola,  who is raped by Liam and Tate Rivers while at The Wheelhouse, a place where influencers can gather that is run by Diggy Wheeler.  She posts a TikTok video about the assault but quickly removes it (she got too much on-line hate).  Magically, Noah happens to see it right before it is removed and alerts Benson. Benson and Rollins speak with Willa who explains how she was brought in to the Wheelhouse, got drunk, and how the brothers locked her in the room and raped her.  Later, Willa meets with Rollins and Carisi, the latter who reminds Willa she did not report this right away or get a rape kit.  He also quickly suggests that Willa should talk to the boys while they listen in. Willa explains she got a text from Diggy saying he wants to apologize, and Carisi wants her to text Diggy back.

Willa goes back to the house for Diggy's apology.  Jet, helping the SVU,  manages to get an invite to the house, and is there to monitor the action. While Diggy tries to talk his way out of this situation, saying the guys said it was consensual, Liam and Tate barge in and intimidate Willa into saying - in a streaming video -  it was not true and she was just "playing", and Benson tells Rollins and Jet to move in.

Liam and Tate are questioned in the station with their lawyer.  They also meet with Diggy and his lawyer. An incriminating email made by Liam and Tate is posted on line and Jet sees it, and this leads to arraignment court. The guys are warned not to litigate this issue on social media. Of course, Liam and Tate ignore this the minute they are released.  They’ve got a group of fans waiting outside the courthouse who pelt Rollins and Carisi with food and other miscellaneous stuff. 

Carisi later asks the judge for a gag order but the judge instead admonishes the guys for posting things about the case on line and warned them for being charged for inciting a riot.  Diggy seems to be trying to comply and he also tries again to apologize to Willa.  Clearly, this guy is clueless. 

The trial commences, with Benson testifying in support of Willa, in addition to Willa’s friend Kevan, and Willa herself.  Willa is portrayed as a someone who is only out to get more followers. 

Later, Diggy posts a video saying that Liam and Tate did rape Willa.  This threatens the case being ruled a mistrial, but the judge denies the motion. Diggy gets on the stand and is portrayed a someone who has feelings for Willa and was jealous that she gave the two brothers more attention.  He has a bit of a meltdown and when told to be silent by the judge,  he continues to spout off, and is taken away, charged with contempt. 

The jury finds the defendants  not guilty for unlawful confinement, and not guilty for rape in the first degree.  It’s obvious one juror is looking at Tate and Liam sympathetically. When Diggy makes a comment about her and the brothers,  Carisi later comments that he noticed something going on with her. He discovers the brothers were messaging the juror before the verdict,  and were giving her access to The Wheelhouse.  He also later finds the brothers bribed another juror. When Liam and Tate are confronted with this, the judge tells them that if this turns out to be true, they could be looking at double digits.

Later, Benson and Rollins explain to Willa the guys cut a deal for 7 years and could be out in five. Willa states they will be so old, eliciting quite a look from Benson and Rollins.  All Willa wanted as an apology, adding Diggy offered her a place – with Kevan - in the rebranded Wheelhouse. It will be a new collective, like a survivor’s squad, a place for survivors of sexual assault, discrimination, and mental health issues.  She thinks Diggy did right, and so did Carisi. She tells them to thank him for her, adding that he is one of the good ones and can see how much he likes Rollins.

Rollins and Benson are walking with Willa, they tell her that the brothers took a deal, they will get five years. Willa says she was invited to be a member of The Wheelhouse from Diggy, with her friend, to rebrand.

Benson meets with Bell and Jet, her informant told her a new shipment of Albanian girls arrive at midnight. Bell tells Benson they may need her ongoing help with this, And Benson replies "always". As Benson watches them leave, we fade to black. 

Law & Order Organized Crime “The Good, The Bad And The Lovely” Photos

Here are advance photos for Law & Order Organized Crime, “The Good, The Bad And The Lovely” which will air on Thursday, October 14, 2021 at 10 PM ET on NBC. 

The photos feature Chris Meloni, Danielle Mone Truitt, Ellen Burstyn as Bernadette Stabler, Dash Mihok as Reggie Bogdani, Nicky Torcia as Eli Stabler, Izabela Vidovic as Rita, Gregg Henry as Edmund Ross, Lolita Davidovich as Flutura Briscu, Adam James King as Security Guard, and Victor Plajas as Security Guard. 

Photos by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC and Zach Dilgard/NBC 
2021 NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Law & Order SVU “Fast Times @The Wheelhouse” Photos

Here are advance photos for Law & Order SVU “Fast Times @The Wheelhouse” which will air on Thursday, October 14, 2021 at 9 PM ET on NBC. 

 The photos feature Mariska Hargitay, Kelli Giddish, Peter Scanavino, Danielle MonĂ© Truitt as Sgt. Ayanna Bell, Ainsley Seiger as Det. Jet Slootmaekers, Jakob Winter as Tate Rivers, Conor Sweeney as Liam Rivers, Taylor Trensch as Diggy Wheeler, Julian Elijah Martinez as Counselor Swope, Lena Torluemke as Willa Bartola, Jake Ryan Lozano as Kevan Wright, Kaili Vernoff as Counselor Albert, and Aida Turturro as Judge Felicia Catano. 

 Photos by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC 2021 and Eric Liebowitz/NBC 
 NBCUniversal Media, LLC