Friday, November 30, 2018

Law & Order SVU “Alta Kockers” Recap & Review

Law & Order SVU “Alta Kockers” was a solid episode, mostly due to two fantastic guest stars, “repeat offenders” Judd Hirsch and Wallace Shawn, who played the two curmudgeonly and reclusive old men. (The episode title is a Yiddish word for the same, but I’ve sanitized it from the literal translation.) What starts out as the average, every-day SVU murder and possible hate crime, turns into a story of two brothers who both appear to hate each other but are also both sharing a horrible secret of being sexually abused at a young age. The brothers are full of other secrets; besides the abuse, Ben, the younger brother, has written a book about sexual abuse under another name, making plenty of money. The elder brother, Joe, seems clueless to all of this and to their pending financial ruin.  Also, their mother is dead and in the freezer in the basement.

When the SVU investigates the murder of a person who they believe to be the author of the book, it takes a predictable turn. Once the publisher admitted he had never met the author before that night, it was obvious that the murder victim was only a stand in for the real author. Assuming that one of the two guest stars would be one of the authors, I hoped that the episode wouldn’t be dull. But these two characters were written well, and performed brilliantly. It was like watching real brothers argue. They disliked each other so intensely that their only interaction was in the form of constant disagreement. Yet they still loved each other, keeping their horrible secrets to themselves and one brother taking the blame for the murder of their mother.

While in SVU interrogation, Carisi is still working to investigate their home and he discovers their mother’s body in a freezer. It appears that they smothered her. While in Rikers, both brothers individually tell Benson and Rollins about being sexually abused when they were young. It was hard not to feel the anguish that both men still felt, and Hirsch and Shawn played these roles perfectly. Finally, at the trial for the murder of their mother, Joe takes the blame and quickly collapses. The final scenes with Joe on his deathbed and Ben finally telling this brother what happened was heart-wrenching.

Some of the dialog in this episode may have been upsetting to some. Early on, when Benson says of the victim “she is not a she, physically”, this was considered to be an insensitive comment to someone who is transgender. It was later explained that Bobbi was not transgender, just a boy posing as a young girl for the book signing. I’m not sure that makes the line okay. I would have expected for Benson - of all people - to be more sensitive to the dead body. I’m not sure what the right words would be, maybe saying something like “we could be dealing with a victim who is transgender.” Also, I am not sure that using Yiddish words like “shvartza/shvartze” in the context it was used is proper for network TV. It’s just as bad as the “N” word.  Also the term fegulah (or feygele) is equally derogatory. I assume that these words were interjected to heighten the sense that these two men had isolated themselves for decades and had no idea that words like these are not acceptable any longer.

This was also SVU’s fall finale; the show returns with a new episode on January 10, 2019.

Here is the recap:

Author Bobbi O’Rourke is reading an excerpt of her book at a store book signing, describing her hard life, which receives much applause. Later, Bobbi interacts with fans and her publisher, Walter, is also there, and he is fielding questions. Bobbi seems uncomfortable and, using an excuse to get a refill on her wine,  makes an exit.

Later, Fin and Carisi are on the scene outside the book signing. An officer explains that Bobbi was outside with a glass of Chablis and a smoke and was hit in the head with a brick. Benson is already on the scene. Benson says Bobbi was not raped and Carisi questions what are they doing here? Benson says she is not a she, physically; they may be looking at a hate crime.

Back at SVU, Carisi explains to Benson that they pulled prints from the brick but they are not in any database. Bobbi has a learner’s permit from North Carolina, he’s 16, but the address is not real. Rollins adds that if his book is true, he ran away at 13 years old and turned tricks at truck stops until he reached New York. Bobbi is not transgender, Robbi figured he’s make more money being a teenage girl. It is how he paid his rent, she assumes until the book. Fin shows a video from the store after party where it seems a man follows him out back. Benson tells them to check with the bookstore to see if they can get a name.

At the bookstore, Fin and Carisi speak with someone who works there who says Bobbi could have been one of the greats. He does not know the man in the video. There was a short guest list for the reading and the rest were first come, first serve. Fin asks for the list and the guy refers them to the publisher, Pitch Dark Press.

At Pitch Dark Press on Monday, November 19, Fin and Carisi speak with Walter about Bobbi, who was living two lives. Bobbi would not let him put his photo on the book jacket. He shows them a draft of the book which showed up unsolicited. The author left out his name, address, and phone number but he got a call a few days later from a timid voice. Walter was amazed at what Bobbi lived through. They show him the photo of the man on the video and he does not know him. He goes to get the guest list the detectives need but does not have Bobbi’s address. They direct deposited his checks into his account.

Back at SVU, Fin comments to Benson that the kid is a ghost, nobody ever saw him but his publisher. Carisi adds that the address he gave is the 92nd Street Y, Fin saying none of them recognized Bobbi or the kid in the video. Benson asks why somebody would want Bobbi dead, and Fin wonders if it is money, he has over a half million in his bank account. When Benson comments that is a lot of books, Fin informs her he sold his rights to Hollywood. Carisi wonders if it is jealousy, that one writer was jealous of his success, but Fin suspects it is sex; the kid’s fame and fortune all came from it. Rollins races in with her laptop and says somebody posted a video from the reading showing the guy with a copy of the book “Absalom Absalom!” which he bought with a credit card. His name is William Glover and he lives in Forest Hills.

At the home of William Glover in Forest Hills, Queens on Monday, November 19, Fin and Carisi arrive as he is playing with his kids in the yard. He asks if they have to do this here. Carisi suggests they go back to the station. William’s wife comes out the front door and calls them in for dinner. His wife says she has a whole leg of lamb if his friends want to stay. William suggests they eat without him. He kisses her and says he loves her as he leaves with Fin and Carisi.

At SVU, Benson and Rollins have William in interrogation. He quickly admits he killed Bobbi. He says he took a brick and hit him and hit him. He denies he is gay, saying he has a wife. He said she told him her name was Tammy, the first time he met her three weeks ago. He picked her up in a parking lot a block from his office. He describes her, and says she only wanted $50, $25 goes to her boss. He didn’t know she wrote a book until he saw the leaflet on the C train, upset that she lied to him. When Benson asks if that is why he killed her, he pounds the table and says he is not gay.

Later, still at SVU, Carisi ponders over a batch of donuts as Benson approaches, telling him to pick one. He ask what is the point, and she suggest because he is hungry. He asks if Glover got a lawyer, and Benson says Stone is with him now, assuming they will work out a deal for man one, without the hate crime. Carisi wonders why Bobbi made a lot of money from the book, why would he go back on the street? Benson thinks that is all he knows and does not know how to stop. Carisi wonders if somebody was forcing him, thinking about the publisher who drove up 12th Avenue looking for Bobbi but never saw him, but Glover found him there several times in the last few weeks. Benson thinks Carisi suspects the publisher is lying, and Carisi thinks he was pimping him out.

At The Honey Well on Tuesday, November 20, Carisi speaks with Walter about Bobbi and explains the guy who killed him found him on 12th Avenue. Walter admits he lied, he never actually met Bobbi. Tammy – or whatever he called himself that week – did the reading. Bobbi is real, the whole secrecy is real but once they sold the rights, the Hollywood producers wanted to see his face. Walter explains how they found him on the street and he bought a forced license and had him read a couple pages. He paid him $500 to keep him in Oxy and didn’t think anyone would get hurt. He asks if he is under arrest and Carisi says he will get back to him on that.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Law & Order SVU “Alta Kockers” Photos

Here are advance photos for Law & Order SVU “Alta Kockers” which will air on Thursday, November 29, 2018 at 10PM ET on NBC. The photos feature Mariska Hargitay, Ice-T, Kelli Giddish, Wallace Shawn as Ethan Edelman, and Judd Hirsch as Adam Edelman.

My recap and review of Law & Order SVU “Alta Kockers” can be found at this link.

Photos by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC 2018 NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Check out my blog home page for the latest Law & Order information, on All Things Law And Order.

Also, see my companion Law & Order site,These Are Their Stories.

Mariska Hargitay, Ice-T Appear on Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

Last night, Law & Order SVU's Mariska Hargitay and Ice-T appeared on the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Here are excerpts.

Check out my blog home page for the latest Law & Order information, on All Things Law And Order.

Also, see my companion Law & Order site,These Are Their Stories.

Law & Order SVU “Alta Kockers” Sneak Peek

Here are preview clips from Law & Order SVU “Alta Kockers” which will air on Thursday, November 29, 2018 at 10PM ET on NBC. The videos feature Mariska Hargitay, Ice-T, and Peter Scanavino.

My recap and review of Law & Order SVU “Alta Kockers” can be found at this link.

Please note: These videos have a limited life and may be removed at any time.

Check out my blog home page for the latest Law & Order information, on All Things Law And Order.

Also, see my companion Law & Order site,These Are Their Stories.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Law & Order SVU “Mea Culpa” Recap & Review

Law & Order SVU “Mea Culpa,” (or as I call it: "Peter Stone - A Series of Unfortunate Events") directed by Mariska Hargitay, is one of those episodes that is sure to give fans plenty to talk about. The episode centered on Stone and a woman that surfaced from his past who accused him of rape. It was a given that he wouldn’t be guilty of such a heinous act, so there was no suspense there. But this meant the drama had to be manufactured elsewhere.

It just so happens that Stone and the SVU are in the middle of a “he said/she said” case, and Stone quickly finds himself in the same predicament. A baseball fan from Chicago, who saw Stone play baseball there, just so happens to spot Stone outside the courthouse and they decide to go for drinks. While there, it just so happens that Stone is approached by yet another woman who slaps him and accuses him of rape during the time he was playing baseball. This is quite a series of coincidences that have lined up to create problems for Stone.

At some point, Stone drinks too much and winds up in Fin’s apartment and sleeping on the sofa. Stone explains to Fin the accusation of rape and strongly denies doing this. (Side note: Ice-T doesn’t drink coffee but at least Fin apparently has a coffee maker in his apartment.)  Rather than let sleeping dogs lie, Stone wants Fin to help him get to the truth. Tracking down a fellow baseball player, Reggie, they find the name of the woman who accused Stone of rape, but Fin hits a wall with Sarah, the accuser. Stone continues to work the original case with Benson. She gives him the “what woman wouldn’t want to go through the trauma of a rape investigation, a trial, just for kicks” speech. As a result, he later confides in her, thus bringing even more problems on himself when he asks her to open an investigation. I find myself yelling “FOOL!” out loud. This is the crux of my problem with this episode. I understand Stone wanting to know the truth but it is obvious that Sarah did not want to dredge up the past to the point of an investigation. Maybe her slapping Stone in the bar was enough closure for her?   I can understand Stone wanting to get at the truth to clear his own conscience and his name, but I am not sure that he and Benson thought this fully through, as their actions had consequences.

We also hear a few times about what is SVU’s job: Stone tells Benson it is her job to believe the victim, and later, Carisi tells Rollins that it is their job to believe survivors. It sounds to me that the writers of this episode are speaking to the viewers here, trying to emphasize how this fictional SVU works. In my opinion, I always saw the SVU as advocates for victims, but in the earlier years of SVU, they usually looked at each case with an objective lens. I don’t think this happens anymore; in fact, Carisi seems guilty about believing Stone. This is one of those cases where maybe Benson should have looked at this case with an open mind,  and suggest that as Sarah didn’t want to pursue the issue that Stone should let it go. There is believing the victim, but there also needs to be a highly credible story or evidence. Clearly neither Stone nor Sarah can recall everything that happened that night, and in those cases, whom does one believe when there is no evidence and completely opposite stories? Would Peter Stone even take a rape case like this if it didn’t involve himself?  If the victim, who is of the age of consent, says to drop the matter, should this stop SVU from investigating further?

When Benson decides to investigate the matter with Sarah  (why it couldn’t be Carisi doing the questioning I don’t know),  Sarah’s husband Gary just so happens to come home unexpectedly. Benson can’t think fast enough for a cover story for Sarah, so Sarah is basically forced to spill the beans to Gary. He decides to press charges. Can someone with real life legal experience explain to me how a person can press charges, on behalf of another, for a crime committed against another person? Sarah probably went along with it to keep the peace with her husband but ultimately isn’t it her decision? This whole mess would not have happened had Benson either decided to meet with Sarah in a neutral spot or come up quickly with a cover story when her husband entered so Sarah had some time to decide whether to tell him or not.

But wait, there's more! The situation gets uglier when Gary confronts Stone in a bar and holds him hostage at gunpoint.  (Here is the drama they had to manufacture.)   Benson arrives on the scene. Why would SVU be called for a hostage situation and how did she get there so quickly? She notices Sarah and their daughter are standing nearby – wow, these people found out what was happening and can move around the city with lightning speed – and Benson announces to the borough commander that this is her case and she takes over. Benson facilitates Gary letting Stone go, she’s the hero!

Later, Benson wonders if Sarah and Gary’s daughter may not be Gary’s, as the timing is right and Stone wasn’t the only one there that fateful night. She tricks Reggie into agreeing to lie for Stone. She uses his willingness for perjury and a potential DNA test on Sarah’s daughter to put a squeeze Reggie and get him to implicate himself. She arrests him and Benson is the hero AGAIN! (Note: the daughter WAS Gary’s.)    Did Benson go at it alone with Reggie?  No one else seemed to be there to back her up during her questioning and  his arrest.  That is risky on many levels.  He could flee or he could have denied admitting anything to her.   Seeing that she works with Stone, Reggie could have claimed she set him up and or lied about his admission as she has a conflict of interest.

If anything, this experience may make Stone even more reluctant to take on a "he said/she said" case, and maybe even STOP DRINKING.

When we weren’t seeing Benson save the day, we also discover that Al has asked Rollins to move in with him (not marry him) and she’s thinking about it. Carisi touches Rollin’s pregnant belly -  yes I know they are friends - and this could be considered inappropriate behavior for the workplace. And yes, we did see  the inside of Fin's apartment but it's not the first or only time as some have reported or implied.

By the way, this was Peter Scanavino’s 100th episode as Sonny Carisi, and his 101st with the series. (He appeared as another character in “Monster’s Legacy” in 2013.)  It would be wonderful to give this talented man a more substantial story line.  I've liked his character from day one and wish that they'd work harder  to showcase Peter.

Here is the recap:

Stone is at a bail hearing, and gets remand for the defendant. Afterwards, he and Carisi speak with the victim, Alicia, and after she leaves, Carisi is surprised that Stone got a remand on a “he said/she said.” Carisi suggests they get a beer but Stone passes, saying he is trying to slow it down. After they part ways, Stone heads to a food cart and is recognized by a woman who knows he pitched for the Cubs. She is excited, saying her dad took her to every game. She has to call her dad, then suggests they go for a drink. He agrees, and hands the hot dog back to the vendor, telling her he knows a place around the corner.

Meanwhile, Rollins is in an expensive, fancy restaurant with Dr. Al Pollack. She comments on the truffle sauce and they talk about food they ate in Georgia. They talk about the selections on the dessert menu and he calls over the waiter and asks for one of every dessert on the menu and coffee (“decaf for the lady”). She says a girl can get used to this. He comments he has something to ask her, adding “a commitment I have never made before." He places what looks like a ring box on the table and Rollins looks pleasantly surprised, and says when she said he was happy…he asks her to hear him out. She opens the box and sees a key, and he asks her to move in with him. She smiles.

Stone and the woman are in the bar and he gets up to get another drink. While he is at the bar, a blonde woman walks up to him, stunned, and asks what he is doing in New York. She comments that he doesn’t remember him, and when he says he doesn’t, she slaps him. She said, “You raped me, you son of a bitch.” Stone is stunned.

Law & Order SVU “Alta Kockers” Promo

Here is the promo for Law & Order SVU “Alta Kockers” which will air on Thursday, November 29, 2018 at 10PM ET on NBC.

My recap and review of Law & Order SVU “Alta Kockers” can be found at this link.

Check out my blog home page for the latest Law & Order information, on All Things Law And Order.

Also, see my companion Law & Order site,These Are Their Stories.