Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Law & Order SVU ‘Closet” Should Have Stayed In There

Photos from
One would expect an episode titled “Closet” would bring huge, jaw-dropping secrets, especially considering the hype NBC gave to the big special guest star. Frankly, this tepid episode should have stayed in the closet.

The story opens with the discovery of the murder of money manager Jeremy Grandon in his apartment. Detectives Benson (Markisa Hargitay) and Stabler (Chris Meloni) first rule out the red herring, a teenager Freddie Ramirez (David Del Rio) who worked at a local gym. Lucky for the detectives, “pole cam” – as Munch (Richard Belzer) called it – sees a late night visitor at the victim’s grave. It also uncovers the victim’s secret lover, Lincoln Haver (Bailey Chase), a star pro football player. Stabler and Benson question various people who were with Grandon last at a dinner that night, including Haver’s agent Gary Lesley (Rick Hoffman) and a woman who had no clue Haver was gay. Olivia misunderstands a response made by the woman to mean the woman knows Haver is gay, and says, “So you knew about him and Jeremy?” Clearly the woman did not know, and Olivia finds that she just outed Haver. This was a rookie mistake that Benson should not have committed, and will have a domino effect. By the way, I was horrified when Stabler grabbed the woman’s phone to prevent her from calling her friend and telling her Haver was gay. Excuse me, but what right does Stabler have to prevent the woman from speaking, much less pretty much confiscating her phone? Of course, the woman demanded her phone back and Stabler grudgingly returns it. Sometimes Stabler can be such a bully.

The problem worsens when Haver is outed by a radio shock jock and the New York Ledger, and gets beaten by some homophobic fans, eventually putting Haver into a coma. Cragen (Dann Florek) has a major fit as he tells Benson and Stabler that IAB would now be getting involved to find out who leaked the story. During this process, Sgt. Tucker (Robert John Burke) of IAB has Benson’s phone records pulled and challengers her as to why she had 12 calls over 5 days to Kurt Moss (Bill Pullman), who is an editor at the Ledger. Olivia is forced to “out” her own relationship and gets suspended. Stabler of course comes to her defense and pays a visit to Moss to plead for his help to get Olivia off the hook, by suggesting what sounds a little like a little blackmailing of the IAB in order to get them to back off. Olivia does not look happy when she goes to visit Moss and finds Stabler there. We also learn that Moss had asked Olivia to move in with him, but she had refused for reasons she never really explains. But Moss does seemingly heed Stabler’s advice and “somehow” finds the right words that get IAB to back off.

Cragen advises that One Police Plaza has pressured them to arrest Haver now that Haver came out of his coma. In a scene that screams “this will come back to haunt you at trial,” Benson and Stabler arrest Haver now that he’s out of his coma. Considering that he was just beaten the day before and just came out of the coma, I found it incredulous that a hospital would even consider releasing someone so soon. It was almost a certainty that Haver’s mental state would be in question, which it was.

Casey Novak (Diane Neal) brings the case to trial, opposite defense attorney Rebecca Balthus (Beverly D’Angelo), and Balthus immediately brings up Haver’s mental impairment. Dr. Huang (B.D. Wong) examines Haver and confirms Haver is impaired. Still, Casey moves ahead and gets in a bind when Haver mentions on the stand that he was married to the victim. By the way, I found myself incredibly distracted by Diane Neal and her inability to stand without wiggling. She seemed to have the look that she was being tickled.

Casey gets dealt another blow when she finds Elliot has been called for the defense. The defense attorney wants to use Elliot’s interrogation of Haver while Haver was just out of the hospital to indicate that Stabler may have encouraged Haver to confess by suggesting the facts of the crime. Balthus makes a mistake, though, and during questioning opens the door for Casey to show that even before the beating Haver had rage issues while he was on the football team. Of course, the jury convicts Haver based on this flimsy evidence.

We get a twist at the end, where, during a televised press conference, agent Gary Lesley makes a comment to his new star football player which makes Benson and Stabler suspect him as the murder. Of course, they search his home, find the murder weapon, and he confesses at light speed. Haver is released equally quickly. This is another case where sloppy detective work caused them to prosecute the wrong person. I don’t think they did a good enough job in ruling out all the people that were with the murder victim the night he was murdered. Seeing the rampant homophobia that ensued when it was made public that Haver was gay, I thought they should have looked much harder at that angle. It seems that the SVU detectives are getting a little lazy in their detective work. And I was also disappointed that there seems to be disregard for the health of a patient, regardless if he is a suspect. Really now, Benson, Stabler, and Cragen should know that someone who has literally just come out of a coma may not give a reliable account of what happened. In a way, for being a “special victims” unit, they sometimes have blinders on and sometimes treat victims as criminals.

Oh, Olivia dumps Moss. Personally, Bill Pullman’s appearance was horribly wasted and frankly for such a short appearance, the show gave it way too much build up. So Olivia was seeing a man? So what if he worked for the Ledger? You would think that with all the build up this received that somehow maybe she would have accidentally leaked the story to Moss during “pillow talk.” That scenario would have been more interesting for the show and for Olivia’s character. No, instead, we find that Olivia is still pure as the driven snow, but that’s about it. They tried to tease with Moss’ questioning Olivia about why she won’t move in and then…nothing. But why were supposed to be shocked that Olivia was dating someone? I just don’t get it.

So while Closet wasn’t horrible, it just wasn’t anything special. And what a waste of Bill Pullman.

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Eponine3108 said...

I'd say some writer at L&O, if not Dick Wolf himself, has it in for Tom Brady. The similarities between the Pats QB and the fictional Haver were blatant. Hilarious,but blatant. The downside- I guess the producers couldn't find a Brazilian supermodel and had to settle for your average sorority girl. Too bad- I would've have liked to have seen "Gisele's" hissyfit.

Anonymous said...

This show has deteriorated into a hopeless mess. I still watch hoping that it will improve or regain some of it's former glory. But the actors are starting to believe the hype that they are the s**t. They aren't and after last weeks debacle and this weeks mistep, they stepped into it big time.

Next weeks ep looks scary bad.

Anonymous said...

This show has become complete and utter shit. I remember when it used to be about the cases and the detectives second. Now it's all about Olivia and Elliot's relationship and it's beyond ridiculous. Save the sexual tension for Give us some real cases and some realistic detective work. If this had been a real story, I'm sure the football player would have sued the fictional SVU department.