This episode of Law & Order had it all: dog fighting, wine counterfeiting, a dishonest reporter, and bad cosmetic work. The latter refers, of course, to Lara Flynn Boyle, who looked like someone plumped up her face with a gallon of collagen, and did a lopsided job on her lips. I found her mere presence a nuisance.
The episode begins with two people looking for their lost dog, which had an embedded GPS tracker. When they locate the source of the GPS tracker, they hear dogs barking, and stop police that very conveniently – too conveniently - just happen to be driving by. The police buzz the door and announce themselves. The mystery here is why they were let in. Think about it, if you were operating an illegal dog fighting enterprise, would you buzz anyone in you didn’t invite, much less the police? Then the police just allow the two people looking for their dog to walk right in the building with them. That seemed a little unsafe to me. By the way, later in the episode, an attorney says the police made an illegal entry; how could that be if someone actually buzzed them into the building?
Anyway, a necropsy on one of the dead dogs turns up a finger, and Lupo (Jeremy Sisto) and Green (Jesse L. Martin) are brought into the case. Their investigation leads them to one of the men involved in the dog fighting enterprise, who the detectives believe murdered his wife over a failed marriage and the possibility of the husband’s hidden assets. During this time, we see reporter Dawn Talley (Boyle) covering the story. Frankly, I found myself extremely distracted by her face. Her lips looked so artificial and sometimes looked lopsided. Her face looked overly plumped. I wish they had picked a different guest star because her face seemed to get in the way in every scene where she appeared.
Of course, we knew there would be trouble when, during Talley’s grand jury testimony, we see Cutter (Linus Roache) gazing at her, almost enamored. (I think I saw the word “sucker!” appear on his face, just for a brief moment.) Further investigation of the case causes the discovery of a wine counterfeiting enterprise, where bleach (traces of which were found on the finger of the victim) is used to processes the wine corks. Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) walks into his office, greeted by Cutter holding out a glass of wine, when McCoy says, “When you said you were buying breakfast, I was thinking more along the lines of orange juice.” Yeah right Jack, we know you know you probably meant scotch. We then find out Jack is becoming a bureaucrat when he gets worried that the alleged $2,000 bottle of wine was charged to their expense account. Jack later gets a little testy with Cutter, when it seems that after uncovering the wine counterfeiting, Cutter is unsure about whom to prosecute. Seeing that Cutter has a hearing 45 minutes later, he gets creative and finds an excuse for a delay, buying him more time to clarify his case.
There were some amusing and revealing lines during this segment of the episode. I admit I laughed out loud when, after watching the video of the reporter with their new suspect, Cutter says to McCoy, “The part of the tape that comes before that, you’re not old enough to see.” Shortly afterwards, Cutter says:
Cutter: She played me Jack. I fell for her zeal in the pursuit of truth and justice.
McCoy: That sounds like YOU.
Cutter: She probably knew that. She did her homework. No one ever said she was a lousy reporter.
McCoy: You’re not the first DA who’s ever been played.
McCoy: Back when I was young enough.
C’mon Jack, we know YOU'RE never too old to be played.
Cutter gets smart though, and decides to play the player himself. He has a sit down with the reporter, getting a little casual by opening a bottle of wine for them to enjoy, one he says was a gift from Jay Carlin (David Harbour). Of course, Cutter never lets on that he knows that she’s in a relationship with Carlin or that he knows the wine is a fake. Talley goes into a description of her own investigation of the dog fighting ring, explaining dominant and submissive dogs. Cutter stages Connie (Alana De La Garza) to come in with some new “evidence” of footprints at the murder scene, and he knows that Talley will run right to Carlin with the information. You know, for someone who’s supposed to be such a cagey reporter you’d think she’d smell a rat right away. But no, she plays right into Cutter’s hands.
When Carlin and Talley are caught trying to fix the footprint problem, Talley begins to cave and tries again to play to Cutter. He isn’t buying it this time, and tells her, “I guess that would be the submissive signal. But, I’m not like the other dogs. I don’t stop.”
Later, however, Connie brings Cutter down to earth with this exchange:
Rubirosa: You know, if she wasn’t such a lying slut and a disgrace to her profession, and you know, an accessory to murder, you two might have hit it off.
Cutter: Could we please do this another time?
Rubirosa: Sure. What kid of dog did you say you were?
The show closes with a scene with Lupo and his newly acquired dog. How nice for him.
While generally I liked this episode, it did seem like they made the crime overly complex, and at one point I was having a hard time keeping track of the names of all the people involved. This also had such a Criminal Intent feel to it, especially toward the end, that I fully expected Bobby Goren (Vincent D’Onofrio) to make an appearance. The other downside was Lara Flynn Boyle. I’m sorry, but her face did not look normal and I found it overpowered some of the scenes. What saved the show for me was that the dialog seems to be snappier, funnier, more interesting, etc. than when the season first started. I think we’re seeing more of the real Jack McCoy, and getting to know the newer characters even better by some of tidbits of information we’re given in casual dialog.
And that’s my submission for this episode.
By the way, it looks like next week’s Law & Order episode “Angelgrive” will be a “Kidnapped” reunion. Besides having Roache and Sisto who both starred on the short-lived NBC series, this episode guest stars Will Denton, who played the kidnapped son on “Kidnapped.” I’ve been watching Kidnapped recently (it’s been airing on Universal HD) and frankly, I think the show was just average and am not surprised it got canceled.
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