Thursday, February 14, 2008

Law & Order “Illegal”: Jack’s in the Soup Now

This fantastic episode clearly places Jack “in the soup” of the DA’s office, and defines how he’s going to work it.

The episode begins with an immigration protest getting out of control, protesters being shot, and a woman’s body found in a dumpster. During the investigation, Detectives Lupo (Jeremy Sisto) and Green (Jesse L. Martin) discover an auxiliary cop’s involvement, and his use of deadly force. We also learn that, while a patrolman, Lupo’s partner got shot while he was getting coffee for Lupo, who fell asleep, hung over, in the car. And later, while working with Cutter (Linus Roache), we find out that Lupo is going to law night school, as Cutter described as having a root canal with a dull drill.

DA Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) assigns the case to ADA Josh Lethem (guest star John Pankow), whose first involvement is to investigate the riot, but later is assigned to prosecute the case against the auxiliary cop. It doesn’t take long for the political pressure on McCoy to mount, with top police officials putting on the squeeze. During the discussion with the police officials, one of them says to McCoy, “Mr. McCoy, for someone who is a placeholder, you’re not living up to expectations.” To which, McCoy shoots back, “A placeholder. Let me be clear. If anyone gets in the way of this investigation, I’ll have every cop who was in the park before a grand jury, without immunity. Anybody who pleads the fifth, I’ll indict them for obstruction.” Clearly, Jack has no problem with staking out the ground rules.

But it becomes quickly evident that ADA Lethem has already formed an opinion that is not in tandem with Jack’s. In addition, Lethem also lets his negative opinion of Anita Van Buren (S. Epatha Merkerson) show through. After Jack chides Lethem for staking out his position to quickly and gives him direction on how to proceed, Lethem says, “Six weeks on the job, Jack, bet you’re sorry now” and chuckles.

Later, much to Rubirosa’s (Alana De La Garza) dismay, Lethem clearly throws the grand jury case. She is clearly angry, when she sarcastically comments while they wait for the ruling,

Rubirosa: “You were right. You were in an out in an hour.” (the ruling come out)
Lethem: “ Ahhhh, they no billed it.”
Rubirosa: “ No, really?”

Of course, it doesn’t take long for McCoy to bring the hammer down on Lethem, calling him out for his behavior with the case. Lethem tells Jack “So there it is. Some of us were wondering how long it would take for the real Jack McCoy to rear his shaggy, hippy, liberal head.” (Bitter much?) Jack, of course, gives Lethem his walking papers. In my opinion, I think McCoy gave Lethem this case on purpose, knowing Lethem’s previous lack of involvement in prosecuting cop-related cases. Maybe Jack was hoping Lethem would rise to the occasion, but also thought if Lethem didn’t, he’d have a chance to get rid of someone who was clearly not on his team.

Jack brings in Cutter to fix the mess. Cutter steps up to the challenge, and gets evidence to get the grand jury re-opened and the case moves forward. Lethem, however, still bitter, decides to help out the defense. Jack tells Cutter, “Now I know what Adam Schiff was so grumpy.” Cutter later tells Jack, “You’re in the soup now, my friend.”

Cutter hits the defendant hard, making it obvious that he went to that protest with the desire to use his gun at any excuse. But to seal the deal, Jack rises to the occasion with his testimony for the prosecution:

“The bottom line Miss Sanders – where there’s a law, I’ll enforce it. Where there’s a crime, I’ll prosecute it. Where there’s a victim, I’ll speak for that victim. That’s my bottom line.”

Of course, the auxiliary cop is convicted. What else did you expect after Jack took the stand?

What I found particularly charming was in the last segment, when Cutter leaves a gift of an RFK tie pin from RFK's 1968 campaign on Jack’s desk. It was a little bit like leaving an apple on the teacher’s desk, plus an affirmation of Cutter’s respect for Jack. Jack seemed stunned at being “pinned.”

This episode had everything right – a fantastic story that was told with powerful dialog, great chemistry between characters, little personal tidbits about them that weren’t shoved down our throats, conflict in the DA’s office, and the cementing of Jack McCoy as district attorney. It was perfect.

Oh yeah – McCoy and Cutter, BFF.

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Anonymous said...

This ep just had everything. Anita's history with the Dept. (Geez, you'd think that after so many years, they'd realize how fantastic she is.) I guess some men feel threatened by competent, smart and driven women. Lupo is also really becoming part of the team. I'm glad because he's so conflicted about so much in his past it's good to see him supported by the Lt. Green was tough and in charge.

And what can be said about Team McCoy? I just wanted to squash that toad, Latham. Bitter and completely off base. Connie and Cutter are such a great team. They complement each other so well. Jack well he was just vintage McCoy. He's always been about getting the bad guy at all costs. He wasn't about to let that piece of dog poo tarnish his reputation. On the stand he was like a lion. You felt with him in charge, that justice would be done.

I've never cried while watching LAO, (well maybe during the Rohm years, but tears from laughing so hard don't count) but that last scene with Mike and Jack was just perfect.

Mike hearts Jack.

I heart Mike!!!

This season has been absofreaking FANTASTIC. I can't wait for them to give this show a full season in the fall. They deserve it and they've earned it.

Lindsay said...

This was most certainly the best episode this season! Everybody had a great amount of face time, you could tell the cast had great chemistry, and it was just an all around great episode! L&O has not had an episode this good for quite a while, but this one was awesome! Connie & Cutter are working together, but they are still keeping Jack in the mix, Lupo & Green are doing great together, with Van Buren getting more face time and they are all having great dialoge! I think this episode showed that Cutter, Rubirosa, McCoy, Van Buren, Green, & Lupo is a team and that they are serious. Like When Jack took up for Van Buren and the cops. This cast is going to work great, as long as they keep doing episodes like this. Great post, I love your blogs!

samfan said...

Great Post, they best episode yet!!!

Anita Daher said...

I agree, terrific episode! Really interesting to see Jack become embroiled in the politics of the job, and dealing with the sour grapes/envy of a former co-worker--something many experience in a variety of careers--while maintaining his principles and sense of self. That was very well portrayed, I thought. Jack rocks!

Anonymous said...

Instead of McCoy's being "pinned", I took a different meaning for the tie pin.

McCoy, called as a witness, gave his first public justification of his approach as D.A. He had to finally recognize that he was no longer just a lawyer - he was now a political figure.

Bobby Kennedy was Attorney General but never hesitated to exercise his considerable political talents. Giving McCoy a 1968 campaign token is symbolic of McCoy's transition to politician.

Anonymous said...

What a terrific episode. I enjoy the additional screen time and depth that these new episodes have given to the McCoy and Van Buren characters. This episode really gave Waterston an opportunity to shine, reminding me why I have been such a fan of his all these years.

I love the interplay between Cutter and McCoy and the gift of the RFK tie clasp was very touching. I just watched the DVD of "RFK", with Linus Roache in the title role last week - I do love it when the writers throw in little gems like this.

Landon said...

I am totally loving this episode. It ranks as one of my favorite so far.

Unknown said...

First time watching this episode. ..
With Elections tomorrow. ... i was just thinking "I wish Jack Mccoy was on the ballot "

Vetula said...

I just saw it for the first time. I wondered about the tie pin. I love how this show makes us think, really think about real life situations. Thank you!