Monday, June 30, 2008

Criminal Intent “Assassin” A Confusing Plot

The one thing I dreaded about writing this review was the word “assassin.” You see, I lost the title for my school spelling bee when I was in the 5th grade on that word. We had to write out the words on a blackboard rather than recite the spelling, and for a 5th grader, it was hard to write out the word “ass” twice for all to see. Seriously now, I won’t be able to do a full recap on this episode because of some time constraints. So I’ll provide a brief summary and spend a little more time on the review.

It appears that an assassination attempt was made a foreign politician named Bela Khan (Indira Varma). During one attempt, her assistant is killed, and Khan’s bodyguard then kills the apparent assassin. Later, her bodyguard is killed during transport to a hearing, and her bother is killed while Bela is giving a speech. The subsequent probe leads detectives to believe she was behind the attacks, which of course, she was.

I’m not a real fan of “Ripped from the Headlines” and this show managed rip off two, maybe three real life situations. Logan (Chris Noth) only specifically mentioned one of them – the shooting of Bobby Kennedy, who was assassinated in a hotel kitchen after a speech. What Logan failed to acknowledge is that the main character – the apparent target – was based on Benazir Bhutto. I suppose the show didn’t think it could get away with mentioning two real life stories in one episode, and one that was so glaringly obvious. The detectives also make an issue of Bela wearing a pink suit when her brother was shot, so his blood that she got on it would look better on photographs. Jackie Kennedy also wore a bright pink suit the day President Kennedy was assassinated; I doubt that she wore that color suit anticipating that shooting. After mentioning Bobby getting shot, and now this more subtle reference to Jackie’s pink suit, I found these parallels cheap and frankly, offensive.

As with the Mike Logan episodes of late, this episode seemed a little uneven. There were some glimmers of the real Mikey that showed through – his pointed interrogation, the tinge of sarcasm, and the plaid-looking tie. Those hints of the old Logan were great and I think that if the Criminal Intent writers had a better clue of who Mike Logan was when he was with the 27th precinct, they could have made him seem a little more edgy now. Instead, Logan just seems tired. This could be the way the show wants to portray him after his banishment to Staten Island, but for me, well, I would have taken a different approach. Still, he was better presented in this episode than in the previous episode, "Contract."

Detective Wheeler (Julianne Nicholson) seemed to be a little in the background at first, but then had a little more to offer to the investigation. What I didn’t like about this episode is that both detectives seem to be a little too low key, and their personalities a little buried. Unlike Goren (Vincent D’Onofrio) and Eames (Kathryn Erbe) who seem to have very distinct styles and behaviors, Logan and Wheeler both seem too low key. After all the time that Logan has been at Major Case, and now with Wheeler’s return to Major Case, it seems we still don’t know much about what makes these people tick. Wheeler seems even more of a blank slate than before. One funny comment was when she acknowledge that Logan had become “quite the diplomat” while she was gone. It’s more like someone sucked the life force out of him instead.

And while I didn’t dislike this episode, I found it incredibly hard to follow with all the people involved in the story and the complex chain of events surrounding the shootings. I think I’m glad I didn’t have time to do a full recap because I was having a hard time following all the players. I also didn’t like the preachiness interspersed within the storyline. Sometimes the Law & Order franchise goes a little overboard on the social commentary. If they did it more subtly maybe it would seem more interesting. I did, however, like Indira Varma in her role, she was a perfect fit.

So all in all, this episode was OK, but it does take some work to follow all the players. One still can see a peek at some of the old Mike Logan – get it while you can!

Check out my blog home page for the latest Law & Order information,

Also, see my companion Law & Order site,These Are Their Stories.


Music Wench said...

I saw it at the midnight showing since I somehow managed to miss the 9 p.m. one. Chalk it up to my stepson's birthday and the cleaning up in the aftermath.

I also found it somewhat confusing to follow the storyline. However, I do tend to like more complex storylines sometimes. That's been lacking on pretty much all Goren/Eames episodes. Will have to re-watch this one when I'm ore awake.

I do know what you mean about the Logan character being more low-key. I think it's a realistic portrayal, however. An older, more pensive Logan is believable. I can also appreciate wanting to see the more fired-up Logan of the past. However, maybe it's because I can relate to the older, more pensive Logan that I don't mind the transition.

I also think we need to learn more about Wheeler. Her absence in the first half of this season didn't help much.

I do think we've seen a bit more of Logan and what makes him tick. But then we have more knowledge of him from the mothership days so it could be all the things I know I know from there.

Will watch again and see what happens. Overall I still like Logan episodes more than Goren/Eames this season. They don't leave me feeling depressed.

Anonymous said...

I am a big Law and Order fan but this episode was confusing and not well thought out at all with too many flaws in it. It seemed to hint at benazir bhutto but they decided to go with sri lanka as the country.. none of the characters looked sri lankan at all. Even in the clip showing children and poverty wasnt sri lanka. The children didnt even look south asian!!!

John K. said...

Did the episode crammed as many stories in as "Bottomless"? Bottomless had good dialogue and spotlight on Anita and all, but was incoherent, story-wise.

As for the hammering social commentary, CI is probably the worst of the three, as the writers -- brilliant as they are -- can't be objective with their liberal views. Which is why I was not thrilled with their crossing over onto the Mothership's writing staff for Season 18. The worst, in my opinion, are "Scared Crazy" and "Stress Position," to a degree. For more recent wankery, "30" should do it, particularly as Logan had no reason/motivation to be anti-Semitic.

As for him being low-key, that's natural, and music wench summed it perfectly, so I won't. I'm more concerned as Wheeler, considering she'll be part of his current legacy, whenever Noth leaves.

And I can related about the spelling of assassin. Heh.

Daffyd K Jones said...

This was a rather poor episode. I agree with the point about Logan being subdued and low-key - both him and Wheeler are very anonymous and have no distinctive personality (unlike Goren/Eames/Nichols), they are very bland and interchangeable. This was even more noticeable after the earlier Logan episodes in the season with Alicia Witts, who was a very quirky and interesting character. The old Logan from the original L&O was fiery, the new incarnation wasn't just older and more mature, it had nothing in common with the original

Plus the core plot of this episode was ridiculous, the names were not Sri Lankan and none of the cast looked anywhere near dark enough to be from that country. It's like getting a hispanic to play a black character because it looks close enough. So silly.