Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Law & Order SVU “Wildlife” A Wild Turkey

OK, how about this for a recap. Pretty twins come to the big city to be models. One gets hit by a car, gets a scar and can’t model, the other helps smuggle endangered animals to make money. Smuggler twin is killed, pointing them to hip hop boy who likes wild animals. He gets eaten by a hyena that vomits his bling. Stabler goes undercover, makes wife angry. Benson plays hooker and she and Stabler appear semi-clothed. Stabler gets made as a cop, gets shot by bad-aiming smuggler, recovers, wife never seen at his side while he is in hospital. A million dollar primate is smuggled in via basketball and Cragen saves it and gets a hug, while Stabler gets one bad guy and Benson finds out the other bad guy is really not a bad guy but also working undercover to catch the real smugglers who are in prison, so she decides to save him from falling off a building. Elliot goes home to a crying baby.

Did I miss anything? Now really, if you saw this episode and tried to put it into a paragraph, it would sound just as silly as what I wrote above. All kidding aside, I really did do a recap, and I also have my review at the end of this train wreck, so stay with me.

The episode opens with a group of people standing over someone. We are seeing the scene through the person’s eyes as they lay on the ground. We see, from that person’s eyes, as they are rushed into the hospital for treatment. We see Benson at the door of the hospital room, whispering, “I’m his partner” as the camera pans to show Stabler on the gurney, being tended to.

Go back one week earlier, Detectives Stabler (Chris Meloni) and Benson (Mariska Hargitay) arrive at a crime scene. A woman has been shot dead, but she also has strange slash wounds. ME Warner (Tamara Tunie) finds saliva in the cuts, which she sends to DNA. They find photo head shots of the victim and assume she may be a model. They find a dead bird in the victim’s purse. Is it a mob message, as Stabler says “Dead birds don’t sing?”

At the morgue, Warner tells Stabler and Benson that some of the saliva appears to be from a dog bite, but the other can’t be identified so she sent it off for further identification. She also shows them a club stamp on the victim’s body, a circle with an S, which is for a club called “Supple”, a nightclub owned by mobster Michael Solano. Stabler will take Fin to the club since he knows the club scene; Benson will show the victims head shots to modeling agencies to help identify her.

Stabler and Fin (Ice-T) arrive at the Supple Nightclub, and after the owner makes a derogatory comment about police, they show him the victim’s picture. He denies seeing her, but thinks his “wrangler” who keeps the place packed, knows her. He points them to Oscar Assadorian (played by Carlos Leon, in the probably quickest appearance of a Law & Order franchise “repeat offender”, as Leon played a murder victim in the previous weeks Law & Order episode ”Challenged” ).

When Stabler and Fin question Assadorian, he identifies the victim as Natalie Bleer, and he takes them to her apartment, where many of the girls share a place to crash. When one of the girls who lives there finds out Natalie is dead, she makes a move to claim her clothes, and tries to take a large duffel type bag. Fin stops her, saying it’s evidence. But Stabler sees a cell phone, and said they already found one at the scene. They assume Natalie had one cell phone for personal use, and one for “business.” One number is repeatedly dialed on the cell phone, and Stabler calls it but when it’s answered, no one speaks and they hang up when Stabler says hello. Since they can track the cell phone while it’s in use. They go back to the squad and it’s discovered the phone has stopped at the Pounding Ezra Café.

Arriving at the café, they come upon a weird looking blond guy chatting on a phone outside the café. They show him a picture of Natalie and he says he just saw her. When the detectives look skeptical and ask where, he points inside the café, and a Natalie look-alike. They stop her, and discover she is Natalie’s sister, Anna Bleer (Caitlin Fitzgerald).

Later, at the squad, they talk to Anna about her and her sister, It seems they came to New York to be models, but Anna was hit by someone who ran a red light and got a scar on her face, so they decided Natalie would model and Anna wound manager her. The wrote out checks to themselves for a million dollars as a reminder of how successful they wanted to be. But Natalie was hanging with a hip-hop artist called “Gots Money” who scared Anna. In fact, Anna hung up when Stabler called because she thought it was Gots calling. Natalie said, though, that a big payday would be coming to them. Anna breaks down, and she thinks Gots killed Natalie.

Stabler and Fin head to the recording studio where they break up a session with Gots Money (Big Boi, AKA Antwan André Patton). He says he only sings about the life, he doesn’t live it any more. When he asks the group of people in the studio “What do Gots got?” they reply in unison “Gots Money!” Stabler, showing a picture of Natalie, says “Yo YO! How about Natalie Bleer? You gots her?” Gots knows Natalie, she’s just one of the girls he has for every day of the week. He says he has no gun, he says Natalie had "more nuts than a can of Planter’s” and that he “hit it and quit it” and kicked Natalie to the curb. Stabler, who just got a phone call, tells Fin that Warner has something for them.

At the morgue, Warner tells them that the foreign saliva belonged to a tiger. Back at the squad, the detectives discuss the “Scarface” movie posters that they saw in Gots’ recording studio, and that in the movie Scarface, after he struck it right, Scarface got a tiger. They think Gots has a tiger, and they suggest needing a warrant to get into Gots’ apartment. But ADA Greyleck says a judge won’t see being a movie buff as probable cause. Warner comes in; she identified the bird that Natalie was carrying as an exotic macaw, extinct in the wild. Could Natalie have been involved in animal smuggling with Gots? Cragen (Dann Florek) says as long as they’re on the outside they can’t do much. Greyleck suddenly gets helpful and says maybe a judge will issue a warrant as there could be a public health risk.

With warrant in hand, Stabler and Fin enter Gots apartment and ask to see the tiger. Gots enters a room and says the tiger must have gone for a walk. Stabler cautiously looks around the door, but must have been blind, as he walks in and is faced with a tiger, who, despite being restrained, leaps up at him, They arrest Gots.

At the squad, Gots said Rocco (the tiger) is his pet. Fin has Gots CD and Fin remarks that he listened to it, and Gots sang of being in a drug ring in Brooklyn. Fin worked narcotics and said he never heard of Gots. Gots admits that he had two career options, either take an office job or play the role. He says Natalie helped get him the tiger. Benson interrupts the questioning, much to Stabler’s dismay since he thought he was close to getting information from Gots. Benson says that Gots is on the level. Rocco’s saliva apparently does not match the saliva found on Natalie’s body. Fin asks them to hold on a minute, he needs to get something off his desk.

Back in interrogation with Gots, Fin takes out the dice and asks Gots if he knows how to play “Getting’ the Dice.” Fin rolls a nine, and tells Gots that his cellmate will roll the dice and what comes up is how many days Gots gets to play his “friend.” Gots doesn’t seem interested in cooperating, and Stabler rolls the dice, and says, “I gots an eleven!” This gets Gots to talk, and he says that a man by the name of Bushido is who gets the animals, and he’ll make the call but he won’t go in with a cop. Stabler says he won’t be one.

We then see what looks like a warehouse of various wild animals. Gots introduces Stabler to Bushido (Andrew Divoff) and Tybor (Reg E. Cathey) as Mike, a US customs agent from JFK. Stabler/Mike says he’s currently into smuggling extasy but looking for his next move. Bushido says his next move is to get out of his face. While Stabler sees a caged tiger and Bushido is distracted, he takes what looks like some hair off the tiger’s cage, Bushido tells Gots that he doesn’t trust him and punches him. Stabler calls out in order to break it up, and says if they want the access he has, to just give him a call.

Back at the squad, Cragen chastises Stabler for posing as a customs agent without getting clearance from him. But Stabler tells him that the DNA he got off the cage matches the DNA on Natalie’s body. Olivia breaks in, telling Stabler he has a call from Kathy, she’s been calling her line and his, she wants to know when he will be back. He tells Benson to tell Kathy he is in the field. While Cragen verbally spanks Stabler, an agent from Fish and Wildlife (Vanessa Aspillaga) walks in and interrupts. She tells Cragen that Stabler has to back off, their agents have already been working Bushido crew for almost a year. Stabler says he’s already in there, but the agent said says he’s in like a bull in a china shop. Benson, concerned, asks how she made Stabler. She said “a little birdie told me.” Cragen says murder trumps smuggling, but the agent says 14 murders trumps one. That’s how many Bushido has killed.

Cragen asks what she can give them. She said Bushido is Russian/Italian, and he used to traffic young women but switched to wild animals because the money is just a good and the penalties half as bad. Tybor is an American-born Kenyan, former enforcer for the Albanian crime syndicate, and before he hooked up with Bushido was smuggling nuclear parts. The agent thinks they killed Natalie because she wanted a little extra on the side so they took her out. Benson informs them that a call just came in from Gots Money’s neighbor, there are dogs fighting in the apartment, animal control is on the way. Stabler leaves to check it out, with the Fish and Wildlife agent saying she will join him.

At Gots place, a caged hyena is being removed, covered with blood. Stabler and the agent enter the room, which is covered in blood. They assume Gots was killed by Bushido when they find Gots “bling” in hyena vomit. Stabler gets a message in his cell, it’s from Bushido and he wants to meet him in an hour.

At Bushido’s warehouse, Stabler claims traffic as a reason he’s late, and when Tybor questions it, he said Tybor must have just missed the jackknifed 18-wheeler. Bushido motions for Stabler to join him (he’s eating). He tells him that Gots is “all good now.” A woman comes in wrapped in irradiated turtle eggs worth $5,000 each. Stabler asks if that’s how Bushido does it – uses beautiful women to smuggle. Bushido says the problem comes when they get stupid, he said the girl he replaced opened the tiger cage the other day to pet the tiger. The tiger tore her apart in two seconds, and he’d never seen so much blood before. When Stabler asks what happened to the tiger, he is surprised to find out that they are eating it as they speak.

Bushido tells Stabler they want him to help smuggle out a white-breasted highland gibbon; they will get a million dollars for it. When Stabler asks why someone would pay a million for a pet, Bushido tells him that they kill the monkey and its breastbone makes expensive chopsticks for the man who has everything.

Stabler seems eager to help, and he says he’ll walk the guy through holding his hand if they want. But Bushido says it is not that easy. Stabler asks what they want him to do, and Tybor says he can start by handing over his wallet and cell phone, slowly. They must have dummied up some credentials for him because Tybor only notices that his driver’s license says he lives in Queens. Bushido says, “Let’s go on a play date.”

Meanwhile, Kathy (Isabel Gillies) is at home with Eli, trying to call Elliot. She looks out the window, and thinks she sees Elliot exiting a car, and she seems happy. Meanwhile, Stabler is apparently in another location, and now Bushido and Tybor both have guns on him, and he’s opening an unlocked door. Viewers were apparently made to think initially that Elliot was arriving home, but when Kathy opens the door, she sees Benson, and when Kathy asks her “where’s Elliott”” Benson replies, “he’s not with me, Kathy.” Kathy asks, “did something happen?”

Elsewhere, Stabler is entering the home with Bushido and Tybor, and they check the place out. When Stabler tells them to relax and Bushido indicates the place is a mess, it’s clear that this is just a place set up for Stabler to use for his “undercover” identity. Bushido wonders how stupid the government is to employ someone like Stabler, and then says they will check him out, then talk money.

Back at the Stabler household, Benson tells Kathy that Elliot is undercover, and it happened very fast. Kathy is clearly angry that even though it happened fast that Elliot did not call his family.

At “Mike’s” place, Bushido and Tybor are still checking things out. While things seem to check out, Tybor warns him that he should be worried if Mike is not who he says he is. Tybor opens up a case, and as Bushido tells "Mike" he can get 5% off the top, Tybor is clamping on a watch on Stabler’s wrist with a GPS tracker in it, and if he takes it off, he’s dead. They also give him a phone and to only use it to make calls. Stabler jokes “you guys want to give me a special toothbrush too? “ They tell him they will be getting the gibbon soon, and to go to work, come home, and do nothing else.

Back at the Stabler household, Kathy is packing to leave. Benson tries to convince her to stay, and tells her that Elliot would call if he could. She promised she will have him call her. Kathy seems to decide to stay put.

Even this can't save "Wildlife"
At “Mike’s” place, Stabler, in bed, gets a knock at the door. It is Olivia. (What part of working undercover does she not understand???) He rushes her inside and tells her they could be watching. She is concerned because they lost contact with him, and he is not answering his cell phone. He explains they took it away from him, along with his wallet. She gives him her cell phone and he hides it, and he tells her to tell Kathy he has it. She says that Kathy is mad, but Stabler doesn’t know what he was supposed to do. She tells him if he goes undercover again and doesn’t tell Kathy, he’ll be safer here than home.

Suddenly, they hear rattling at the door. It’s Tybor, yelling for them to let him in. Benson runs to hide, and he lets Tybor and Bushido in. They look annoyed. They ask who he was talking too, and he denies taking to anyone. Tybor picks up Benson’s jacket, and asks Stabler if he’s wearing ladies panties too. They hear a toilet flush, and move toward the bedroom. They push Stabler down on the bed, and Benson, wearing just her bra and panties, steps out of the bathroom, saying “Are you ready for me daddy?” And when she sees more people there, says that it will cost more if they want to have a party. As she wraps herself around Stabler, he says, “guys gotta eat, huh?” Tybor complements him on his good taste, but Bushido says to get her out of there. Benson says they still have to pay, but she shown a gun and is ushered out. Bushido gets the call, everything’s ready, and tells Stabler he will be coming with him.

In the car, Bushido asks “Mike” what gives, after being told no visitors he still brings over a bimbo. Stabler says he just has needs. Bushido tells him you can never be too careful and pay more attention. Stabler asks why Bushido stopped the car, and he tells him to go inside and get a cage. He says to knock twice. As Stabler steps out of the car, Bushido says, “Oh, and Mike? Take this with you.” He shoots Stabler twice, and Stabler drops to the ground. Bushido speed away as Stabler lies there.

As Stabler lies there, not moving, you can hear voices and a man stops his car and gets out, and tells him to hold on, an ambulance is coming. We also hear a siren, and Benson pulls up in her car, shouting on the phone that there is an office down, running to Stabler. He talks to him, but he doesn’t respond.

Now, at the hospital Benson is waiting outside his room and stops the doctor and asks how he is doing. He tells her one bullet was a through-and-through, missing vital organs. The other was in his bicep and it was removed. She asks if he will make a full recovery, and the doctor says he has already asked to go home, twice. She enters his room, and , we see Stabler sitting up in bed, his arm in a sling. He asks how they are going to play it and she says Cragen released a story saying a customs agent was shot and killed by his house, probably a robbery. When he asks what will happen to Bushido and Tybor, she tells him they are about to pay them a visit.

The police are entering the warehouse, guns drawn. Cragen and Fin are with them. The animals are all gone and there is no sign of Bushido and Tybor. When they try to figure out where they have the animals, the realize the animals need food, and Fin, overturning a cooler, finds the name Bifero Stock and Feed.

At Bifero Stock and Feed, they are told that Bushido and Tybor were his best customers. They paid be credit card, and he has a receipt. Back at the squad, the credit card has a charge for a one way ticket from Jakarta, which lands in JFK in a couple of hours. Cragen has clearance for TSA and customer to grab the smugglers when they get off the plane. When Stabler arrives, they are shocked he’s shown up to work, but he wants to finish this. (So do I.)

At the airport, Fin is working at ground level with his eyes open, Cragen and Stabler have their eyes on binoculars, scanning from higher above. They look for any indication someone has something like a bag that is “squirming.” They spot a guy with a “magic basketball” that seems to roll funny. Stabler alerts Benson, also working at ground level, to the guy with the basketball. She and Fin follow.

They are lead to the Kuan Tool and Die Factory. We hear Bushido and Tybor making the 1 million dollar deal for the gibbon, and they hand over the basketball. Stabler yells “Police! Don’t move!” Bushido pushed down Tybor, and throws the basketball at Cragen, who catches it. Stabler chases Bushido, Benson chases Tybor, and Fin holds a gun on Mr. Kuan, saying, “Please run. Please.”

Cragen opens up the basketball and out comes the gibbon, and it embraces Cragen. Stablr and Benson give chase. Benson struggles with Tybor on the roof, Bushido gets his leg trapped in a conveyor. Tybor swings at Benson, misses, and falls over the edge, hanging from the ledge. Bushido eggs Stabler on to shoot him. Stabler says ‘I’d rather see you in a cage.” Bushido is enraged, and says when he gets out, Stabler’s family is dead. Stabler tells Bushido he’s never getting out.

With Tybor still hanging on the ledge, Benson calls for a bus and a jump team. When he comments that she was the hooker, she says she is a cop. Tybor says he is a cop too, but she doesn’t believe him. He says he has been working undercover for a year, and that he told the Fish and Wildlife agent about Stabler. He say he has a wire, to pull him up he will show her. She pulls him back onto the roof. He shows her the wire in his belt buckle, and apologizes for not being there for her partner. When she says it’s over, he says not for him, the real target is a prison gang who is running the smuggling ring, and he needs a high profile conviction to infiltrate. He turns around and let her cuff him.

Back on the ground, Bushido is still threatening Stabler, who says “yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah, you already killed me once.” Benson tells Stabler Tybor is a cop, undercover. Tybor is in the back seat of the police car. He asks Tybor if he wants him to call his family. Tybor says his family is gone, the life proved too much for them. As the car pulls away, Stabler gazes off, with a concerned, troubled look.

Back at the Stabler house, the clock says it’s 12:42. Eli is crying. Kathy wakes up, and when she turns on the light, Elliot grabs her arm and says he’ll get it. She looks surprised to see him as he moves too take care of the baby. Kathy turns out the light, and Elliot gazes out the window as he tries to calm Eli.

Ok, here’s my review. This is another “kitchen sink” episode, meaning that the writers threw just about everything in there BUT the kitchen sink when they wrote this.

My first question – how do they rationalize this case being handled by special victims? They were called in at first because it looked like a sexual assault, but when it was determined it was not, why did they continue with it? Are animals now special victims? I also don’t understand why Stabler seemed so intent on going in undercover as a customs agent. Did he think that he world just waltz right in with Gots and crack the case? When you think about it, Stabler is the one who got Gots killed, because they seemed to have lost trust in Gots. And I don’t understand why he didn’t pass this back to Fish and Wildlife when it was clear they already had someone working it on the inside for a YEAR? I suppose Stabler thinks he’s so good he can crack it in a day?

Which brings me to the whole undercover operation. Doesn’t Olivia understand what it means to be working undercover? She should, since she did it herself. Still, she didn’t seem to think twice about possibly blowing her partner’s cover by showing up at the front door of the house. I guess they needed an excuse to get her caught in Stabler’s undercover lair so she could remover her clothes and she and Elliot could touch skin-to-skin, probably exciting SVU shippers all over the country. It seems like we are seeing these two in a state of undress more often, and it’s a little sad that the show needs to stoop to this to attract viewers. I found the whole scene funny because it was just so contrived. Even Stabler in just his little black undies couldn’t save this episode. But let’s be honest here. Benson’s visit to the apartment while he was undercover is probably one of the dumbest things she’s ever done.

And can someone explain to me, how does one get a monkey inside a basketball – and allow it to breathe? And how can someone carry a basketball through customs without someone noticing it was squirming?

Why do these detectives never seem to go in with backup, or when they do, the backup seems to disappear? It would have made more sense had they had more backup in the area when they went to arrest Bushido and Tybor, otherwise there wouldn’t have been a chase. But, I suppose that Bushido throwing the monkey ball distracted them so much that they just couldn’t shoot? Why exactly do these detectives carry guns for?

Now really, who didn’t figure out early on that Tybor was the guy that Fish and Wildlife already had in there. It seemed obvious to me the minute the agent mentioned they had someone inside. Don’t undercover people have a way of communicating, and couldn't they tell Elliot who it was right away? Clearly, Tybor was able to tip off his agent of Elliot poking around, so he knew Stabler was a cop. Why couldn’t they tip off Stabler? I don’t get it.

You would also think that with Kathy being married to Elliot for so long that she would understand what “undercover” means and wouldn’t be so quick to leave him. Sure, he should have called her and I am sure he could have made the time. But she knows what he’s like and that work is important. For some reason though – I guess it’s a fussy baby – she has no tolerance for him again. Please will they just make Kathy go away once and for all?

We should all be grateful that Bushido is such a viscous criminal who seems to have killed so many people, but he can’t apparently aim a gun well, and doesn’t deal any fatal shots to Stabler. I guess Bushido didn’t have his killer hyena handy, which is probably a better shot than he.

I could go on and on, but frankly, I don’t want to. As a matter of fact, I may do more abbreviated recaps of SVU in the future because full recaps don’t seem to be a good use of my time.

The bottom line is “Wildlife” certainly was wild – a wild turkey, that is!

Two Minute Replay


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Anonymous said...

I didn't watch the ep but from just watching the 2 minute clip with Elliot and Liv in their undies made me gag a little bit. I'm just glad it isn't me alone that finds this a bit too much. I guess I'll have to play catch up with this show once my other show goes to series finale heaven.

Maybe I should just wait to read your recaps and then watch the show. Alas, I think this show has gone way past it shelf life.

I say bring on more Munch and Fin. These two never get old for me.


Anonymous said...

I think that the person making these comments about SVU is just too demanding. After the series aims to have fun, it is an entertainment. And the fact that the authors put Cris and Mariska with little clothing ótimo.Mostra I think that is really beautiful Mariska well as talented. And that is exactly what the fans want to see: Olivia and Elliot together and making it possible sexo.Quanto more I watch more I like. The 10th season sensational act.

Anonymous said...

I loved the episode. Mariska And with little clothing was too much. That woman is sexy, very sexy. It will be pretty well on my bed. said...

Thank you for this amusing recap. Although I agree with you that the entire episode was a little out there, I kinda liked it. Then again I've been a SVU fan for a while now... I forgive them for this episode. Probably only because they showed Elliot in his undies. (I'm shallow I know) They shouldn't do that every week though. :)

And in response to the second anonymous poster: Trust me, Olivia and Elliot are never going to be together. Olivia is an intelligent woman, and why would she possibly want to be with a cheating, lying, married guy? If the woman is really after him, she would have gotten him by now. After this episode it should be clear that Elliot chooses to remain with his family.

It was fun reading your recap. From a SVU fan's standpoint it would be shame if you would write smaller recaps. :(

I'm looking forward to your recap about L&O's Lost Boys. I've already seen the episode, and it was pretty intense to watch... Colm Meaney can be so....

Greetings, Patricia

Anonymous said...

I can understand your not wanting to devote time to SVU review since it has regressed in the last 2 seasons. However, I hope you will continue to do lengthy recaps for the mothership which seems to be having another good season. Also, please do recaps for L&O:CI if it ever graces our TV screens again.

All Things Law and Order said...

Sorry, I had a weak moment today. I will surely continue to do the full recaps for SVU and the rest! I am a hopeless L&O franchise addict and I just can't help myself.

John K. said...

I understand about not doing the extensive recap, but I do find it immensely helpful whenever I have to do my own, and I can't tape/TIVO it. So, yeah, but I understand why.

It's the same as last season's "Harm" -- forsaking logic to hammer home a point. Surprised? Nah, but it's frustrating.

You said it all, so I don't have to.

Ron Bailey said...

Hello! I've been trying to contact you regarding one of your other blogs. I was unable to post a comment on the Cleveland blog.

I would like to use some of your images from the Cuyahoga County court house.

Please contact me as soon as you can.

Ron Bailey

Anonymous said...

RE SVU episode "Wildlife": I dissent from the blogs. The twists and turns were consistent with the archotypes, and true forensics. The short shot of Cragen's rescue of the gibbon was priceless. Also the time sequence of each SVU team member during the chase was well-crafted. Am looking for a still of Florek with the gibbon, whom he cradled like a mother.

Anonymous said...

The picture of Florek and the gibbon is here:

Laura said...

I completely agree with the majority opinion that this episode wasn't very good; however, I did get a good chuckle out of Warner asking if the perp "whacked the parakeet too" and Fin placing $50 on Stabler refusing to take a day off.