In this episode of Law & Order Criminal Intent, "Neighborhood Watch, " we saw a little bit of the old Mike Logan (Chris Noth), his dry humor, his sarcasm, his temper, and his plaid tie. It’s a shame that they took so long to bring some of his spark back, seeing that the next episode is his last with the series.
This episode opens with several people in a neighborhood posting photos of a sex offender that resides and works there. It seems everyone wants him out, and everyone seems quite verbal about it. Later, when a body turns up in the river, stabbed, missing his head, and with his fingerprints burned and almost melted off, Major Case detectives Logan and Wheeler (Julianne Nicholson) are called out because it’s initially believed to be a mob hit. Logan is skeptical, but says:
Logan: My interest is piqued.
Logan: It’s my new word for the week.
After Logan asks ME Rogers (Leslie Hendrix) to works some forensics slight of hand (so to speak) to help identify the body, they learn it’s none other than Kyle Jones (Darrin James Malone), the sex offender target by the Neighborhood Watch. Kyle had been found guilty of second-degree rape of a 15 year old girl, Nancy Williams (Halley Wegryn Gross). But is he really a sex offender? In going back and researching the rape charge in order to flush out a murder, Logan isn’t so sure and thinks that there was consent involved.
They also discover that Jones’ car appears to have been tampered with, and that he was possibly being harassed by Sergeant Whelan (Scott Sowers) in the form of repeated parking tickets. Jones’ employer, a video rental store owner and cousin of Kyle’s mother, says he was getting ready to let Kyle go because it was hurting his business. They talk with Bob Goodman (Victor Verhaeghe), store owner and driving force behind Neighborhood Watch, and he says he was working with Sgt. Whelan to help drive out Jones. When Sgt. Whelan I questioned, he said he saw Jones leave the video store early, and then he left as well.
But when they find that the ADA classed Jones’ crime as rape, Wheeler and Logan split up to talk to Nancy Williams and her father. The father is still angry over the rape but says he wouldn’t murder anyone, and the daughter admits a secret relationship with Jones. But, her parents were angry when they were told by Nancy’s doctor that she was not a virgin, and they moved ahead with the rape charge. Nancy also implies that from the questioning by the ADA, that it sounded like rape, and she agreed it must be.
Complicating matters is an appearance at One PP of Clete Dixon (Skip Sudduth), an old colleague of Captain Ross (Eric Bogosian), who seems to think that Kyle Jones’ murder is part of a suspected serial killer he’d been trailing as part of some cold cases. When ME Rogers examines Dixon’s files, she finds no evidence of a serial killer, and Logan and Wheeler deliver the news to Dixon. While he seems to accept their conclusions, Dixon is later seen on a TV talk show spouting that he was told by Major Case that it IS a serial killer. Ross fumes over it, and later is also seen talking on camera to a reporter debunking Dixon’s report. This doesn’t help much, as Dixon appears again on the Faith Yancy’s (Geneva Carr) talk show, this time with ADA Driver (Leslie Hope), who worked Nancy Williams’ case. ADA Driver appears to be only inflaming the situation by her comments. Ross asks the detectives to talk to her, be diplomatic, but get her to “dial it down.”
When Logan and Wheeler tell ADA Driver this was not the work of a serial killer, she says she is relieved. But when asked to issue a statement to deplore vigilante justice, she thinks that’s what she’s been doing, and refuses to minimize Jones’ crime. Logan, however, shows his annoyance with Driver by bluntly telling her that Jones got involved with the wrong girl, served his time in prison, and when he gets out he’s labeled as a sex offender, hounded, harassed, and murdered. Driver says he’s so angry, she’ll take his comments with a grain of salt.
Logan admits to Wheeler that he is frustrated, and decides that while they are in the neighborhood, they will investigate outstanding petty warrants to see what they can flush out. The find that a group of kids were talking big about the murder, as if they knew who did it, and a bar owner says one of them came in trying to use someone else’s ID. It point them back to Jake Lally, who finds that his ID was taken while these kids were in his house for a party his sister Brenda (Dreama Walker) had while his parents were out of town. Brenda says it was “Jamie, Ricky, and Lew” but it was Jamie (Michael Drayer) that she saw coming out of Jake’s room. They question Jamie, who insists he refused to help them disable Jones’ car, but was just supposed to be a lookout. He says Ricky and Lew bragged that “the deed is done” and that they’d be heroes.
In questioning Ricky (David Call), his mother says he was home with him all night – and Ricky emphasizes: every night. But when they look at Ricky’s and Lew’s (Lucas Papaelias) records, and find Ricky has a 1998 minivan, they decide to find a reason to get the van on a traffic violation so they can search it. They do so, and find that the van has luminol present, Logan giving them the bad news that the luminol can even show that bleach was used. They find luminol on Ricky and Lew’s shoes as well, with what looks like traces of stains. They take the two in for questioning, and search the garage at Ricky’s mother’s home. They decide to check the garage drain for blood, and suspect a hacksaw is missing, but a locked freezer turns up nothing but a large pot roast.
At One PP, Lew buckles under questioning, and says that it was Ricky’s idea because he wanted to impress Brenda Lally. Brenda, now also at One PP, says that Ricky and Lew hinted that they had killed Kyle, and had been talking about killing someone since junior high school, and that Ricky would even show her the head.
Wheeler puts the pressure on Ricky, getting him to admit that they brought Kyle to his house, gave him some beer (Kyle cut his hand on the bottle) and they smoked dope and popped some pills. She also tells him they checked his computer and found he’d looked up driving directions to where the body was dumped. Logan enters, and tells Ricky that Lew said Ricky did it, and told him where the hacksaw was put, but not the head. Wheeler continues to taunt Ricky, by saying the Brenda didn’t believe him, that he was a loser, and "all talk". But after Logan hits him with one final insult, Ricky folds and says he’d already murdered before Kyle, that he’d done the other sex offenders in the reports. Logan and Wheeler appear stunned, but they question Ricky further to flush out that Ricky is only talking big, and that he only killed Kyle. Ricky admits it, and after his bluff that he did it in self defense fails, he seems disappointed that the one murder won’t make him famous. But Logan still has some doubts about parts of the crime when Logan asks Ricky if he knows where the fuse box is on a Civic, and Ricky shrugs as if he doesn’t know or care. Logan goes back and questions Sgt. Whelan, who, after some cop-to-cop banter, seems to admit he took out the fuse, but didn’t know that Kyle’s time was up.
Back at One PP, Logan asks Wheeler to join him for a drink, but she begs off and introduces Logan to her fiancé, Colin (Nicholson’s real-life spouse, Jonathan Cake). So Logan joins Ross in his office, watching ADA Driver seemingly taking credit for cracking the case, while they sip drinks. Logan commiserates over his first case, and Ross over the current crime. As Logan reflects that Ricky “didn’t even enjoy it,” the episode closes.
I really enjoyed this episode primarily because it appeared that we got to see more of the “old” Mike Logan persona than we saw all season. He seemed brighter and more energetic, yet he also seemed to be less resistant to showing his annoyance when needed. Mike Logan finally seems to have come back, but I’m sad that they finally have gotten it right with him right, before his final episode.
The case also had the right amount of red herrings that actually added to the drama. The most interesting was when Ross’s colleague Dixon decides to make a name for himself and go on a talk show with his version of the case, and later Kyle’s killer Ricky uses that information in his attempt for serial killer fame. For a minute, he almost had me going, especially with the look of surprise on Logan and Wheeler’s faces. But their surprise was probably more indicative of how stupid they thought that Ricky was when they tore apart his claim.
I also thought that we saw some glimpses into Mike with his reaction to the rape accusation. This seemed like the Mike we knew from his early seasons on Law & Order, where he expressed his concern that if what Kyle did was really a crime, or it was just a case of a kid meeting up with the wrong girl with the wrong parents.
It was also amusing when Wheeler introduces her fiancé, and it’s none other than her real life husband. It was a funny touch that may have been missed by the casual Criminal Intent viewer. I also liked that they seemed to give Bogosian some better dialog which allowed him to emote more. This is the second week in a row that I actually enjoyed Bogosian - a world record for me.
The case itself was interesting, showing very well how sometimes labeling someone as a sex offender can have on a neighborhood. Personally, I always think it’s good to know when someone who is a registered sex offender moves in to my area, but I don’t always agree that zealous persecution of them by a neighborhood is the right answer.
This episode left me wanting to see much more of the Mike Logan that worked this case, sadly, it won’t be happening.
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