Thursday, February 28, 2008

Law & Order “Tango”: Rubirosa Learns the Dance, The Hard Way

Law & Order’s “Tango” seemed more like a Special Victims Unit episode, as the detectives and the DA’s office worked on a case dealing with rape and murder. It seemed like there were hard lessons to be learned about how things work for detectives and prosecutors, with all parties using deception and whatever edge they can find to work and win a case. It seems although Connie Rubirosa (Alana De La Garza) has worked in the DA’s office for a while, she’s just now learning how things work. Let’s just say it may have not only left her disappointed in the inner workings of criminal prosecution, but the viewers as well.

The case begins with two drunken high-school girls whose car is impounded. One girl walks off and goes missing, and is later found raped and dead in a dumpster. Upon finding the body, Lupo (Jeremy Sisto) deadpans, “See? We find ‘em,” a reference to a dialog earlier in the show where Green (Jesse L, Martin) indicate to the girl’s parents they will find her, and of course doesn’t indicate they often find them dead. Lupo and Green work to track down the suspects, a drug-addicted prostitute (who came from a rich family), known as “Sugar”/Melinda (Maria Dizzia) and her partner Tito (Pedro Pascal). Lupo uses a fake note to trap Sugar into bringing Tito out, and both are arrested. Later, Lupo’s note would be used to sideline the trial. This was predictable. Even though Cutter (Linus Roache) indicates that the police can use deception, Lupo’s note made it sound more like a threat on Sugar’s life, causing her information on Tito to be considered worthless.

During this whole process, though, I found myself wondering why, since the girl was found raped, that it wasn’t an SVU case. I was even wondering why the detectives were looking for the girl in the first place, seeing that she wasn’t missing all that long. Sometimes how detectives get assigned cases, and which group gets them, seems muddy in the Law & Order universe.

While investigating the case, a potential witness, “Timmy,” surfaces. Timmy, by the way, was played by Scott William Winters, the brother of Dean Winters, who did a stunt on SVU as Detective Brian Cassidy. While questioning Timmy in lockup (he was there for another crime), Rubirosa picks up on a signal from Timmy that he wants Cutter to get lost. Connie tells Cutter to leave, and then when Timmy plays coy, she says, “this isn’t a date, Timmy.” After he asks for special consideration for another crime in order to get him to talk, McCoy (Sam Waterston) gets involved.

As McCoy is talking to the Bronx DA Juan Delgado (Nestor Serrano) in order to get his support, Delgado says “You know Jack, I’m a little surprised you were even able to find your way up here, on that white horse of yours.” Despite the sarcasm, Jack seemingly agrees to fix some parking tickets as a favor to Delgado, in order to get some charges dropped to get information from Timmy. I suppose even Jack has learned he has to do some favors to get his way.

As the case goes to trial, during jury selection, both Connie and Cutter (independent of each other) notice a juror paying close attention to Connie. Neither says anything to the other about it. But later, Cutter asks Connie to do the cross examination of Tito, and while Connie agrees, she really doesn’t seem to have a clue as to the real reason Cutter is having her do it.

Connie later seems weirdly happy about an anonymous email she received, which says, “Amazing performance today. Great legs and smart. You’re the total package.” Connie is smiling and seems almost tickled by the letter, I found it immediately creepy and thought it should have been suspect. But, she’s even happier when Cutter’s response to the letter is a sheepish “I completely agree” and he then adds “Are you ready to cross Melinda?” She responds, “No. You know, uh, Mike, you’ve got great legs too.” It seemed to me like it was a throwback to the Jack McCoy EADA years where he reportedly had relationships with a few of his ADAs. Personally, I think I’d rather keep a relationship with Mike and Connie under wraps. I don’t want the show to become a soap opera.

Still, there doesn’t seem to be a chance for Cutter and Rubirosa in the future, as Connie learns the hard way that everybody can be used to get an edge in a case. When the stalker-juror confronts Connie on the street, and she tells him it’s inappropriate, she confesses the encounter to Cutter. A bit of an argument ensues, under the watchful, somewhat eavesdropping eyes of McCoy. Connie is stunned to learn that Cutter was well aware of the juror’s eye for Connie. When she becomes indignant that Cutter would use her in this way, he calls her on it, saying that she used her sexuality to get Timmy’s cooperation in the jail. Connie clearly didn’t get that she was holding Cutter to a double standard, but Jack settles it all and figuratively slaps Coonie back to reality by saying, “We use what we have.” I guess Connie learned the hard way that not everything seems on the up and up in the DA’s office.

Personally, I believe that what Connie did with Timmy and what Cutter did with the juror were in fact two totally different situations. Yes, Connie may have used herself to get what she needed from Timmy. After all, they too are allowed to use things like deception to get information or to get people to confess. It was her own decision to use herself in that way. But, she did not agree to be used to sway a juror, which to me is a totally different ball game. It would have been OK had the juror not approached her or emailed her, because there would never have been any indication or proof that the juror’s had definite feelings for Connie. But once he approached her – again, I still think the email should have been suspect even before this – all bets should have been off. They should have reported it immediately. So, I’m disappointed in McCoy, Cutter, and even Connie for going along with it.

Seeing Connie look so conflicted during the verdict, I think it’s unlikely that she and Cutter will be doing a Tango – or any dancing - in the near future.

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samfan said...

I agree with you. I think they need to let McCoy be McCoy and not try to change him-it had worked for over a decade. I think that the show wasn't as good as last week. I hope it will get better next week, maybe not make Connie stupid, the detectives be smarter, and let Waterston play Jack the way he has played him for years, the way everyone loves him. I love the blogs. Great Job!

Hok said...

I have a strange feeling they are tryiung to get rid of the Character Connie. Is De La Garza leaving?

Anonymous said...

I have watched this show from its first episode back in the early, early nineties. Have loved it throughout, except since Jack McCoy became D.A. the show has progressively gotten stupid. No wonder it is now being cancelled. Really, Connie Rubirosa has to be the DUMBEST A.D.A. they have had (and I thought Alex Borja was bad). God am I glad to see her character go--one way or another--even if it means the show obliviates with her. Did I mention how exceedingly annoying and whiny she is?

Rational Thought said...

I don't see a problem with what the DA's did during the trial. If you know the defendant is guilty, and you sense the jurors like one prosecutor more than another, wouldn't you always go with the prosecutor the juror likes more? How/Why does it matter *why* they prefer the prosecutor?

As far as Connie being "used" by her superior -- she's an employee of the DA's. They use her as they see fit. It doesn't matter that *she* chose to charm Timmy out of information (which was also perfectly fine), or if she was used unwittingly to charm the jurors. (And she *did* know one of the jurors liked her before agreeing to do the cross.) The only way any of this would be an ethical problem is if the prosecutors knew the Defendant was actually innocent.

I don't see any reason for Connie to be upset here, and it's difficult to understand how obtuse she's being. She claims she didn't try to charm Timmy out of any information, but if she hadn't, she wouldn't be doing her job. (How would that be different from playing good-cop, bad-cop?)

Someone will have to explain why any of this is supposedly a problem.

(Fixing traffic tickets is another matter, as that's a form of corruption. Albeit a minor one, and probably justified to help nail a murderer.)