Thursday, January 24, 2008

Law & Order “Driven” Drives Home a Great Episode

I wish that the season had started with this episode, because there were so many things I liked about it.

This episode discarded the annoying the personal references, which were at the forefront in earlier episodes this season. Instead, they focused on the crime and the law, which is what makes Law & Order a powerful series. They kept everything very simple and didn’t make the investigation or the law overly complex. The story itself hit on several points: bullies, racism, the “no-snitch” culture, and overbearing parents.

Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) seems very comfortable in his new role as District Attorney. At first, when he was asked by Cutter (Linus Roache), Rubirosa (Alana De La Garza), and Van Buren (S. Epatha Merkerson) to help further the investigation by getting involved in helping protect a neighborhood church from the developers, he balked. Cutter didn’t help matters much when he made a reference that arm twisting was something previous DA Adam Schiff could do with his eyes closed. The first thing I thought - Cutter had to be a kid when Schiff held the spot, how would he know what Adam would do? But, I also saw Jack have a "eureka" moment of realization that now he had some clout that he could use to further his cases.

McCoy also seems to have found an inner peace and a more controlled and restrained, yet more powerful, temperament. For example, when Cutter and Rubirosa were talking to the neighborhood man in Cutter’s office, Jack comes in and says: “What is it going to take this time? You want me to move a lamp post or name a park after your favorite nephew?” That was Jack clearly drawing the line in how much wheeling and dealing he’ll do for a case. And later, we see Jack sitting outside on a park bench, looking serene and a little bit like the fictional Yoda willing to impart words of wisdom to Anita. And we got another McCoy smile. Yes, I think Jack is thinking, “It’s good to be the king.”

Linus Roache also seemed very comfortable in this episode, and delivered a strong closing argument. But I am wondering – is Cutter’s office Jack’s old office redone, or is it Ben Stone’s old office? I watch the old Ben Stone episodes when they show them on TNT (usually in the wee hours), and the office looks a lot like Ben’s. I haven’t seen a room number on Cutter's door so it’s hard to tell. Along the same line, did they reverse the side for the seating area for the jury? I felt like I was dropped in to some parallel Law & Order universe.

Backtracking to the first half of the show, this is the first episode where I felt that Green (Jesse Martin) and Lupo (Jeremy Sisto) gelled. Sisto still seems a little subdued and quiet and sometimes hard to hear, but he seemed to fit in very well with the group. I also like that they have increased Anita’s presence and involvement with the cases. Epatha is a great actress and the show has ignored her talents for years. I hope they keep up her visibility.

As far as the outcome of the case, I found it interesting that both parties were found not guilty in the killing of the boy. I would assume that it was because he was also a part of instigating the situation that caused his own death? But I agree that both parties on trial deserved to be punished for the death of the little girl, a true innocent in the whole situation.

I hope that future episodes will have the same quality as “Driven.” It was probably one of the best episodes I’ve seen in a long time, and the cast solidified. Everyone seemed at the top of their game. Maybe that’s why Jack is smiling so much?

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Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great work on this blog. The verdict was the correct one.

law and order junkie said...

I love your blog! Thank you for all of your updates! I will keep reading

jhjenn said...

Thanks so much for your blog. I've been a devoted fan for at least the last 8 years. Currently live in Europe, so it's not easy to stay current with the episodes, but luckly I manage.

I was so excited about the new L&O cast. A fan of Linus' forever, and loved Jeremy on Kidnapped. I agree, this was by far the best episode of the new season/cast. Keep'em coming.

Anonymous said...

Can someone please tell me who the judge that oversaw the trial in this case is? I know him from somewhere but can't put my finger on it. Checked all over "main in gallery" is listed but not the judge! Help me please.