Monday, June 9, 2008

Criminal Intent “Purgatory”: Goren’s New Hell?

Viewers may think they've entered Goren’s hell after watching this new episode of Law & Order Criminal Intent. It seems in Goren’s attempt to redeem his past transgressions, he’s found himself in a larger pickle.

The story opens with an apparently despondent Detective Robert Goren (Vincent D’Onofrio) sitting alone in a bar. He’s flashing back to his unauthorized undercover operation (which was covered in the previous episode, Untethered”). He is approached by former Detective Patrick Copa (Holt McClanay), who clearly is angered with Goren’s presence at a “10-13” party being held at the bar for Copa's benefit. Goren caused this detective to lose his job and retirement (covered in a previous episode. “Amends”) where Goren uncovered the detective’s vision problems and caused the detective’s work to be questioned. A scuffle ensues, and another man, suspended cop Mike Stoat (Dean Winters) steps in to help break it up. Stoat tells Goren he knows who he is, and that he’s respected Goren for a long time. He wants to help Goren in his time of need. Since Goren has been suspended from his job for 6 months for the unauthorized undercover operation, Stoat offers Goren a job, and when Stoat leaves, Goren sees he left a gun on the bar counter, wrapped in a newspaper. Goren takes the gun.

Meanwhile, back at One Police Plaza, Eames (Kathryn Erbe) is given an assignment by Captain Danny Ross (Eric Bogosian), and clearly Eames misses her partner. But, she grudgingly goes to the scene of a murder of what appears to be a drug dealer and two innocent witnesses, who happened to be English tourists. At the scene, Eames is assisted by Detective Daniels (Seth Gilliam) who later Ross assigns to help Eames on the case, which Eames emphases should be temporary until Goren returns.

While Eames works the murder case, Goren is doing target practice at the firing range with his newly acquired weapon. Goren leaves the gun at the range, wrapped in the newspaper, and we see someone pick it up.

Goren places a call to Stoat, telling him he’ll take the job, which happens to be working security at the door of some sort of club. He stops someone trying to enter the club who was carrying a gun, only to find it was his new boss, Mr. Testarosa (Danny Mastrogiorgio).

Eames continues to work the case with Daniels, and Ross believes that the drug dealers in the area where the latest murder occurred may be “unintended consequences” from a turf war caused by the Feds locking up the area’s “career criminals.” They connect one person, Keyshawn Powell, to the action. Since he is required to see a court appointed doctor, they realize they can get some information from the doctor.

Later, we see Goren leaving the office of Dr. Elizabeth Olivet, and Stoat is there to greet him and give Goren a ride. Stoat seems to think he knows what Olivet had to say to Goren – that he has anger issues. Stoat also tells him their next job is working at a private party at a strip club, and Goren asks if it’s run by the same man who ran the club from the night before. Stoat shuts Goren down by telling him he doesn’t know who runs what, and “neither do you.”

Eames, meanwhile, continues to investigate the murders, and when she and Daniels come to Dr. Lorna Lane’s office, they hear what they think are sounds of distress coming out of the office and break in. They find Dr. Lane and Keyshawn Powell in the throes of passion. At One PP, they question Powell and ask for his whereabouts at the time of the murders, telling him his partner was murdered at that time. The doctor alibis Keyshawn. But, they find that the gun that was involved in the latest murder (Crawford) was one that was supposed to be in NYPD evidence.

Goren pays another visit to Dr. Olivet, and instead of Olivet, we seen Goren having a meeting with his boss, Capt. Ross. They are discussing what is Goren’s new, apparently sanctioned undercover operation (which he said “fell into his lap”). Ross tells him he checked out the gun from Stoat and it was clean, but that the gun used to kill the drug dealer and the tourist was not, so the property clerks may not be clean. The Chief of Detectives may want Goren to continue the undercover operation, but Goren wonders for how long. Goren is concerned about continuing; while he hopes he can return to his real job, he is also worried that he will get killed in the process. He expresses he’s concerned that higher ups on the force would be happy if he got killed, maybe to the point of tipping off his undercover work. While Ross agrees with Goren's concern about getting killed, he thinks Goren is being paranoid by worrying about people on the force having it out for him.

While working his new job at the strip club, Goren tips off Testarosa to two cops trying to entrap the owner into a drug deal. When he thanks Goren for the tip off, he rewards him by offering him some cocaine. Goren is unconformable but Stoat, who is also there, doesn’t seem to be bothered by it. As Goren makes what seems to be an unwilling move to participate, he is saved by a knock at the door. Stoat, however, goes ahead and takes a hit.

Later, as Goren is leaving a diner, we see Eames chasing after him. She seems concerned he hasn’t returned her calls, he says he’s been busy. She tries to tell him of her latest case, but he blows her off. Getting into a car with Stoat, they meet a cop, who Stoat describes as his “old partner” Lois Melago (Lauren Velez) from the 6-4 precinct, who is in a squad car with another cop. They get a call and they have to leave. Stoat tells Goren they will do something different that day and will go after Eddie Jones, a person with a record who owes “a friend” some money. Goren tries to warn Stoat that Testarosa is on police radar, but Stoat seems confident that Bobby has his back.

Eames and Daniels are at the property clerk, and when they find a gun missing from evidence, Eames threatens the clerk with Internal Affairs. The clerk must give them some information, as the Major Case detectives check out officers who had access to the property clerk area, Ross asks if any were from the 6-4, but won’t tip off why he has this hunch. The discover Lois Melago did have access, and she was suspended along with Mike Stoat. Although Melago is back on as a street cop, Stoat is not.

Eames and Daniels question Melago about the missing gun, and Melago says all she did was check IDs for the property area. When Eames asks about her ex-partner (Stoat), Melago retorts, “What about yours?” Melago says she has Stoat’s back, Eames says he hopes she has hers.

Goren and Stoat are still chasing down Eddie Jones, and, at his home, Goren tries the front door while Stoat goes around back. Jones goes out the back, and Stoat catches up with him and beats him while Goren tries to stop it. Stoat takes what money he can get and leaves. After giving the money to Testarosa, he says he has to leave, but Testarosa asks Goren to stay. We find that Stoat has gone to see Eames at One PP and says he knows nothing about the stolen gun. Meanwhile, Goren is witness to a drug deal with Testarosa, who latter calls in and tips off Melago to the buy She arrests the drug buyer, who turns out to be a cop Hector Santana, who already has a few strikes against him. Santana says that he has information on the murders of the tourists, telling the detectives that word is Testarosa's crew was involved and the gun used had another body attached to it. He wants protection but Eames wants a name, it’s either that or prison for life. Santana complains about getting prison for a lousy 10 ounces. Eames is alarmed, knowing that all that was turned in was 4 ounces at Santana’s arrest, and she questions him about the discrepancy. Santana also says he thinks Testarosa tipped off the cops. When Santana is told only 4 ounces were logged in, he becomes even more concerned for his own safety. He tells them that there are two ex-cops on Testarosa's payroll. Ross thinks this needs more investigation, and they convince Santana to wear a wire.

Goren is back to working the door at Arcadia with Stoat, and Melago approached Stoat, saying she wants to talk to him alone. When she tells Stoat that Santana is out on bail, Stoat is stunned. Later, Stoat and Goren break in to Santana's place and force Santana out of bed. Testarosa is also there and questions Santana while Stoat beats him. Santana denies everything, but Stoat finds Santana’s lighter wired. Since Goren already said that Santana was clean, Testarosa tells Goren to kill Santana there and now. When Goren pulls out a gun and points it at Santana’s head, the police burst in. We see Goren with his gun pointed at the police, with a stunned Eames pointing one right back at him.

Later, Goren is in holding with Stoat, who wonders how Bobby missed the wire. As Stoat is feeding Bobby what should be their excuse for their behavior, Stoat is taken out of holding. While Goren is left there to face Ross and Eames, Eames asks what’s going on when Goren seems to already have details. She is stunned when she realizes that Goren has been working undercover, and while Ross explains why she could not be told, she looks stunned and hurt. Ross asks her to see if she can get Melago to deal, seeing that they have a past history,

Eames tries to get Melago to talk, and throws out the issue of the missing drugs. Melago doesn’t bite, and asks for a lawyer. Daniels, though, said the rookie riding with Melago said Melago kept the drugs. Stoat, however, is really pissed at Goren for turning on him. Still, despite all Goren’s attempts, Stoat refused to admit to anything. As Ross gets a phone call from the Chief of Ds, Goren starts to talk with Eames, and says he’s sorry. Eames is steamed that Goren never bothered to contact her but he says he wanted to get his shield back. Eames explodes:

Eames: I get it. You’re the genius, and I just carry the water, right? Do you have any idea of how many times I’ve lied for you? Covered your ass?

Goren: I was in a deep hole here

Eames And whose fault is that? All your wounds are self-inflicted.

Eames reminds Goren that had it not been her coming through that door, he could have been dead. Clearly, she is not only deeply hurt by Goren, she’s infuriated at him.

As Ross, Goren and Eames are told that Melago took a plea deal and linked the gun to Testarosa and the murders, they also find that Stoat hasn’t bitten on anything. When they’re commended for their good work, Ross says he assumes Goren will be back with them ASAP, and Goren’s shield and gun are returned to him. Goren gets back to his desk, Eames bids him a flat “good night.” Goren opens his desk drawer, only to find a dead rat in it, and takes an uncomfortable look around the squad room.

This episode had so much packed into it, that it almost detracted from the overall story. It could have been better told over a two hour episode. Possibly a little too convenient was Eames and Goren's cases being tied together, and the fact that Stoat happened to even touch the lighter and realized it was wired. Also, while at times it had so many players that it got hard to follow, it very clearly set up the upcoming trouble for Bobby Goren, who in essence sold out his friendship with Eames in order to get his job back. At the same time, he’s now perceived as a traitor and rat by a person – or persons – close enough to him to get a dead rat in his desk. It seems that Goren may have burned the last remaining bridge he had by getting involved in this case – Eames. Finally, though, she lets out a rant to Goren that she has probably been holding in for a long, long time. And while I don’t see Eames as a person who will let it get in the way of her doing her job with Bobby, it defiantly won’t be the same relationship they had before. Will we see a more troubled, conflicted Goren for the remainder of this season from his near banishment from the good graces of his peers? And will Eames refuse to be second banana to her partner?

As far as the case was concerned with the murder of the drug dealer and tourists, while it connected back to the case which Goren was working, it seemed almost incidental to the overall show. Again, a two hour episode may have allowed them to dig further into that crime, possibly even bringing in someone from the DA’s office to cover a trial. Law & Order Criminal Intent has been sorely lacking any legal treatment for any crimes since ADA Ron Carver (Courtney B. Vance) left the show.

Now the question becomes – can Mike Logan (Chris Noth) and Wheeler (Julianne Nicholson) be able to follow up with an equally intense episode? This one wil be a hard act to follow. One thing for sure, Goren will need a lot of repentance to get out of his new personal purgatory, or will it become his new hell?

NOTE: A link to a video clip from this episode can be found here.

Here is a separate clip you can view right here:

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CaroleClay said...

Thank you for the great summary. I haven't yet watched my tape of it but think it would have been too confusing without reading that first. I love Bobby Goren.

alicia woods said...

does anyone know who the actor playing melagos (lauren velez) rookie partner was? hinkamp?

Anonymous said...

Officer Hinkamp was played by Major Dodge. Imdb hasnt updated the episodes cast yet, but i found this on Heres the link to his page.