Thursday, January 22, 2009

Law & Order “Pledge”: I Promise It’s Good (Recap and Review)

Again, the Law & Order franchise comes through with another solid episode. While it didn’t have the excitement of week’s past, it still presented a solid story with great acting to back it up.

I have to admit that I thought the ending was a little predictable, but I didn’t mind. It was great to see Cutter find a creative way to win his case. I guess Jack’s comment that if Cutter was going to try to drag the case out by other means would have meant he’d get fired for prosecutorial misconduct, and with Connie’s lucky find of the fate of the real Susan, really lit the creative light for Cutter. But I did wonder why it took them so long to find the real Susan to begin with. I guess in this day and age of virtual instant information and detailed record keeping that maybe it wasn’t so easy for them to go back all those years, when records may not be so quickly accessed, to find her.

It was interesting to hear Jack warn Cutter about the repercussions he may have to face if he used the law in the wrong way to keep Lasky locked up. I wonder what Cutter would have done if Connie hadn’t brought in that important piece of information? I guess we will never know – at least, not in this case.

And what’s the deal with Lupo's reference to the “two kids” in his car? And really, does anyone believe the real Jack McCoy would say they had a “mud sandwich?’ I can think of a better descriptive word, but I guess it isn’t appropriate for network TV.

Here is my recap:
Two young boys walk into a house, and they want to play video games. Their housekeeper tells them to remove their shoes. The boy's friend then leaves and tells the other one that he will see him at school.

Later, with police on the same scene, Detectives Lupo (Jeremy Sisto) and Bernard (Anthony Anderson) question a delivery man who said he got no answer at the home and found blood seeping under the door. He also saw someone leaving the home that rushed by him, a white man in a business suit with a brown briefcase. It appears the housekeeper and the young boy have been murdered, someone cutting off some of the boy’s hair, maybe taking it as a souvenir.

At the 2-7, the detectives, along with Lt. Van Buren (S. Epatha Merkerson) interview the boy’s parents, Harold and Joyce Foley (Stephen Kunken and Erin Dilly). They are both neurologists, conducting research in pain management at Hudson University. No one has threatened them. No drugs are kept in the house, everything is at the lab. The parents were in their offices all day. The housekeeper had been a schoolteacher in Poland, her husband is dead and she lived alone in Brooklyn. She wasn’t supposed to be there that day, she was supposed to be taking care of another family. But she called them and said she had to switch days. Normally their son would have been home alone.

Outside the room, they assume the Foley boy was the target and Van Buren tells them to check with the school. At Crest Point School, Lupo and Bernard talk to Eric's friend. He says he was only at the house for about two minutes and saw nothing. He wonders what would have happened if he hadn’t left the house. He tells them they were going to play video games, but they didn't because the maid was there and was going to tell Eric’s parents if they did. He says Eric worried about letting down his parents, and he looked up to them, Eric saying they were genius mad scientists and did top secret stuff, experimenting on people’s brains, and said it was “totally psycho.”

At the lab, the detectives talk to the Foley's boss who says there is nothing pyscho about what they are doing. The university is putting up a reward. The Foleys do drug trials, and he has no knowledge of problems with any of the subjects. They speak with Foleys’ assistant, who says that the test studies are all students with chronic pain. One was a writer for Contemporary Science named Ned Lasky (Matt Malloy) who had been bugging Joyce for an interview for the last month. She says the magazine is like “Science for Dummies” and Joyce and Harold are very busy. The assistant says she went on the interview as Dr. Voss but the squeeze on Joyce to show up, and Joyce sent her. Ned nearly had a fit when she showed up in place of Joyce.

At Ned Lasky’s office, Lasky tells the detectives he was insulted when the intern showed up. He thinks the Foleys are stonewalling about a study and thinks the study went wrong and they are burying the results. But he is speculating. He hasn’t written the article.

Later, talking with Joyce, she says they aren’t hiding anything and the man was a pest, a “gotcha” journalist. As far as the study, the drug did not perform better than s the placebo, and the pharma company owns the results and it is up tot hem to publish them. As they are talking, Joyce opens an envelope and card and they find hair inside – Eric’s. The detectives tell her not to move and grab up the evidence. Bernard reads from the card, ‘In your time of loss, here’s something to remember your son by. His pain is over. Yours has just begun.”

Later at the 2-7, they discuss the case with Van Buren. Forensics confirmed it is Eric’s hair. Since the card was addressed to Joyce, they now suspect she may be the target. The card was postmarked in Amherst Massachusetts, and they Foleys have no ties there. Van Buren, suspecting they are dealing with a sadist, tells them to stay close to Joyce Foley, and that they go to the service for Eric being held that day.

At the service, Lupo and Bernard observe Lasky grab hold of Joyce's hand, talking to her about the pain that no one can soothe. When she tells him to let go, they pull him aside. He apologizes for losing control. The detectives ask Lasky what is going there and where he was when Eric was murdered. He says he was at his office or home working, he doesn’t recall. When asked if he has been to Amherst Massachusetts lately, he says he won't answer anymore questions. The detectives let him go, telling him to stay far away from the Foleys.

At the offices of the magazine, the detectives find that Lasky was a fact checker, not a writer, and the Foley article was Ned's first assignment. His boss says Lasky went to college at Amherst, he has a degree in chemistry. They get Lasky’s home address. Later, at the home of Ned and Nora Lasky, they talk with Ned's wife Nora (Julia Gibson) and his daughter Molly, under the premise of investigating a fender bender in Amherst involving Ned's car. When Bernard mentions Amherst, both mother and daughter seem to give pause. Nora said this must be a mistake, they never really drive much. She tells them she has to go and shuts the door abruptly. Outside, they look at Ned’s car. When Lupo says he wishes his car were this clean, Bernard comments that Lupo has two kids riding around with him now. He said “Jenny” keeps letting them eat skittles and every time he gets out of the car he has skittles attached to his ass. They notice that the car’s last inspection was three weeks ago, and they get the mileage. Back at the 2-7, Bernard finds that there was 400 miles put on the car since the inspection. There are no forensics on the card mailed to Joyce. They decide to talk to Molly Lasky (Brooke Bloom), Ned’s daughter.

Molly tells them she knows the detectives lied about the accident, and they tell her they are investigating two murders. They tell her about the mileage on the car, but she says they are just picking on her dad because he never fights back. He sees a shrink, Dr. Doland, for depression. Bernard gives her his card, and tells her there is a $100,000 reward on the case, adding it would be a shame if they arrested the murderer, but no one got the money. As she leaves, Lupo said Bernard just offered her a bribe. But Bernard says no, that’s what a reward is, but if Lupo feels guilty about it, to talk it over with Lasky’s shrink.

At the office of Dr. Arlene Doland, she stands on doctor/patient confidentiality. They show her pictures from the murder and mention the reward. Doland then admits that Ned missed his session and they had a phone session instead, circumstances indicating a phone session would be more “suitable.” Speaking hypothetically, she confirms she didn’t want to be in the same room with a man who just slit two people’s throats.

Back talking with Molly, they thank her for the tip, and they tell her Doland explained a lot. She says she is already in enough trouble with her dad. Because of his depression he is always criticizing her, saying she is not pretty enough for acting classes and that she is plain. They dangle the fact that the therapist may be able to claim the reward, so she tells them he took the car Tuesday. He left really early and she found a receipt in the car for gas in Massachusetts. When she read about the murders, her father matched a witness description, she saw a brown briefcase in the trunk of her father’s car and hasn’t seen it since. Later, the detectives arrest Ned outside his home. Lupo opens Lasky’s shoulder bag and Ned says they can’t do that. Lupo finds driving directions to Vermont, all college towns. Ned says they are going to be sorry, he says he is a journalist and has rights.

At arraignment, Lasky pleads not guilty and says he has freedom of the press. He is remanded anyway. His lawyer asks to allow his client to keep his writing materials in custody so he can continue his writing, and the judge allows it, providing he doesn't contact the Foleys.

ADA Connie Rubirosa (Alana De La Garza) and EADA Michael Cutter (Linus Roache) talk with the Foleys about Ned to determine if there was a connection with Amherst. They don’t recall meeting him. Molly Lasky went to Seldon College but they don’t know her either. Joyce Foley went to Dartmouth, but her roommate’s brother played football for Amherst and she went there for the games. She doesn’t think she ever met Lasky. They didn’t mix with kids from the state school.

Later, Cutter tells Rubirosa that there must be something wrong with him, he went to state school. Cutter thinks that once he hears his daughter will testify against him, he may reach out for a plea. Rubirosa, looking at her desk, sees a pro se motion from Lasky, but she can hardly read the handwriting. It looks like a motion for dismissal, alleging a conspiracy between Hudson University, the AMA, and the DA’s office. He is also asking for Rubirosa’ college records.

At the motion hearing, the judge tells Lasky to have his lawyers write his motions in the future. But his lawyer wouldn’t do this one. Lasky says the medical establishment is paying witnesses $100,000 to frame him, and now they have the DA in on it. She denies the motion, and when she moves to dismiss the information on Rubirosa’s college records, he tells her he is amending it to include the judge’s college records as well. When she asks how this is relevant, he says he will not reveal his strategy. She denies his request anyway, and Cutter and Rubirosa wonder what is the root of Lasky’s obsession with colleges. When Lasky was arrested he had college directions on them, but Lasky seems only concerned with the college backgrounds of the women involved in the case.

Later, Rubirosa talks with Molly who is upset. When Rubirosa tells her she will get her reward if her father is convicted, Molly seems upset at the “conviction” part, and Rubirosa hopes Molly did not lie about her father for the reward. She also asks why her father is obsessed about women and colleges. Molly is silent at first, and then says she doesn’t know and tells Rubirosa to leave her alone.

In Jack McCoy’s (Sam Waterston) office, Cutter suggests they amend the reward but McCoy says that would make the reward a bribe, and he worries that it already looks like they are trying to buy Molly's testimony. He wants to know who dangled the money in front of her in the first place, and Rubirosa says it was the cops. McCoy mutters, “What a mud sandwich this is turning in to.” Rubirosa sees a message from Van Buren; Lasky had sent another condolence card.

At the 2-7, Van Buren tells Cutter and Rubirosa who tells them Lasky sent a card to a woman, the mother of a coed at Duke University who was killed in a bus crash in Spain last week. The woman does not know Lasky. Rubirosa recognizes the phrase “hearts and hands in service” that Lasky wrote. Looking it up on the computer, she finds it is the Kappa Delta Alpha motto. Mrs. Foley belonged to the same sorority at Dartmouth.
In checking the sorority's website, they found the site was frozen by the administrator due to vandalism. Someone has been posting false information about them. All the postings are from the same IP address, which is Lasky’s. Van Buren tells him they have Lasky’s credit card charges for 5 years, and find charges in all college towns with Kappa sorority locations. They think this is why he wanted the women’s college information, but Rubirosa said they didn’t have sororities at her college.

Talking with Lasky’s college roommate, he tells Rubirosa and Cutter that Lasky and women really wasn’t a happening thing. Lasky went to a party once. He went out and bought a blue blazer with gold buttons, but Lasky wouldn’t talk about the party, and his roommate found the jacket in the trash. Lasky never came back junior year, and he think Lasky went back to Pittsfield. Cutter and Rubirosa go to Lasky’s parents home - Saul and Lana Lasky in Pittsfield. Lana says that one day when she came home, Ned was on the phone in his room, running up a huge phone bill to hundreds of calls to places in Illinois – all college towns. Lana listened at his door one night; every time he called he was asking for a girl – Susan.

Later, Rubirosa is asking Joyce Foley who doesn’t place anyone by the name of Susan. Cutter tells her that Ned was looking for someone by that name, maybe as a result of a party at Dartmouth that didn’t go well. But that triggers something with Joyce, she recalls a boy that she made leave a sorority mixer, and she recalls the blue blazer with the gold buttons. A sorority sister, she can’t recall who, had met him at a football game at Amherst, and invited him to the mixer but never thought he would show up. Joyce was the president of the sorority and the girl asked her if she could squash a bug for her – their code for getting rid of somebody. They show her a picture of a young Ned, and she says it looks like him. They were trying to meet boys they wanted to marry, and when Cutter seems to show disdain for this, Joyce adds that it would have been worse to encourage him.

Later, Cutter and Rubirosa review what they know with McCoy. Rubirosa said it was “blue collar versus cashmere sweater”. McCoy knows the territory well. Cutter thinks the murder is revenge for Lasky being hurt years ago. McCoy thinks they should withdraw for now until they get better evidence. But after McCoy walks out, he says they aren’t withdrawing anything.

Cutter and Rubirosa go back to Molly, asking if she was trying to join Kappa Delta Alpha. They explain that her father killed the son of a mother who went to the same sorority and who once threw him out of a party. They tell her what he wrote about the sorority on their Wikipedia page. Rubirosa begs her to help.

Later on the stand at a preliminary hearing, Molly testifies that her father made her take ballet and French lessons and volunteer so she could pledge Kappa Delta Alpha. He said their motto was “hearts and hands in service” and that she’d better learn it. Molly said she wasn't good at being sophisticated and was a B- student in a public school. She wasn’t tall and graceful, and her father was disappointed, and said she was too plain to pledge. He said Kappa Delta Alpha girls were the best, but that he had to settle on marrying her mother. He called her a second rate choice who gave him a third rate daughter.

Under cross, the defense attorney Mr. Olson (Jefferson Mays) asks about the gas receipt from Amherst and the briefcase in her father’s car, but she doesn’t know what happened to it. He questions her about the $100,000 reward, but she contends she is telling the truth. He says the witness has nothing to offer but greed and spite. The judge tells him he can finish arguing his point after Cutter finishes presenting his evidence.

Joyce Foley takes the stand and tells the story about the sorority party and the part about “squashing a bug”. Lasky calls her a liar and is told to be quiet. She was sure she asked Lasky to leave politely, but when she asked him to leave, he turned red and sputtered, but just stood there, playing with the buttons on his blazer. She said if he wouldn’t leave she would call campus police. She thought he was going to cry, but he called her a name and ran out. She recognized his younger picture and now knows he is the same man who tried to interview her and frightened her at her son’s funeral.

Under cross examination, Lasky’s attorney reminds her she told the police she never met Lasky before and she only had her “epiphany” when the prosecutors showed her the old photo. He challenges her that she would recall an encounter of 60 seconds from 30 years ago where the cocktails were flowing. She says she knows it sound snobby and she’s sorry feelings were hurt but that these were girls from good families, and tells Lasky “You didn’t stand a chance.” Lasky jumps up, and says that was not true. His attorney gets him to sit back down. But Cutter looks at Lasky with a questioning face, and requests an adjournment until the morning to prepare their arguments. Judge Cates (Deborah Offner) says, “If you think it will make a difference, we are adjourned.” Lasky looks stunned at the comment.

Back in his office, Cutter expresses concern to McCoy that this judge is not buying their evidence. He wants to keep Lasky locked up until he can convict him at trial. But McCoy has some concerns – the testimony can’t be corroborated. He thinks Cutter doesn’t have much, and if plays hardball and keeps Lasky tied up in appeals and the like, he would eventually have to fire Cutter for prosecutorial misconduct. When McCoy leaves, Rubirosa enters and said they found Susan. It’s Susan Walden, a Kappa Delta Alpha from Dartmouth, until she transferred. When Cutter asks where she is now, she hands him a piece of paper and asks what he wants to do. He says there is only one thing to do – put Susan on the stand.

Back at the preliminary hearing, Cutter is arguing to be able to present a witness, Mrs. Susan Grayson (Lara Harris). Lasky looks stunned, but he says he wants to hear what she has to say, instructing his lawyer to withdraw his objection. The judge agrees. On the stand, she says she does not recognize Lasky. She recalls going to Amherst for football games, and does not recall inviting him to a mixer. She said it was a “thing” to see who could invite the most. Sometimes the snobby girls asked some of the girls asked the boys to leave. When Cutter states that wasn’t she also being elitist by belonging to the sorority, and she said she joined because her mother was a member, but she wasn’t hung up on money or junior league stuff. She said she would have thought Lasky not having money and having to hitchhike all the way to the mixer would have been sweet. She would have dated a blue-collar boy. She said she married one. Her husband is a truck driver and they have been married over 20 years and have three kids and a great life. Lasky stands up, angry, and points to Joyce Foley, saying he knew it was her who wanted him thrown out of the party. He calls her a bitch and leaps over the seats into the gallery at Joyce. He is restrained as he continues his rant. He said he showed her what it’s like to lose someone she loves. They get him seated back down and cuff him. Cutter makes a motion that he has sufficient evidence to proceed with the trial, and the judge agrees. As the judge excuses Susan, Lasky says pitifully that he loves her; he never blamed her and still wants her. Cutter tells Lasky for the record, the witness’ maiden name was Susan Laramie and she was at Dartmouth two years AFTER that party. His Susan – Susan Walden - she was murdered 8 years ago in the Bahamas by her trust fund husband during a drug fueled argument on their yacht. As Lasky looks devastated and shocked, Cutter turns coldly to Lasky’s attorney and says, “If you want to talk plea, call us.”

Later, walking in the halls at the DA’s office, Rubirosa mentions the 30 to life plea agreement to McCoy. He says he read the transcript, saying it was very “elegant” that they kept Susan Grayson just this side of perjury. Cutter says, “That was the easy part, the hard part was finding a Kappa Delta Alpha who married a bug instead of squashing it” as they fade to black.

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samfan said...

Good review, I liked this episode, but I have to wonder why #1 he killed the child, insted of the mother, and #2 why he waited so long? But I thought the episode was good, I thought everybody did a good job, nice review. Why no pictures, I don't mind, I was just wondering.

All Things Law and Order said...

NBC rarely makes pics available, so I have to rely many times on a "screen capture" to get a still picture. But I think I am having techincal difficulties with my software because everything that I tried to capture looked a little distorted. I may add some later if I can get the problem figured out!

Crescent said...

Why did Lashky assume the wrong Susan on the stand was the Susan he loved? If the guy was obsessed with her for 30 years, he would have a clue what she looked like.

Anonymous said...

First, wanted to say I love your reviews and blogs. A great way to keep in touch with the L&O franchise. Thanks!

A quick comment on Lupo and the kids. He was referring to Jenny, his brother's widow, and her kids, when he made the comment about the Skittles in the car. I'm not sure though why they brought her up after all this time. I don't recall hearing about her or seeing her since the "Bogeyman" ep of last season.

Thanks again for the blogs!

John K. said...

I think 'crap sandwich' would have been in character. Though, it's a disgusting term.

I'm amazed Jenny was referenced, again, too, as well, she wasn't popular with the fandom. Heh.

As for Lasky mistaking Susan for someone else. People age and can end up looking different. Plus, he hadn't seen her in what, 20-30 years? I dunno, but it's an excellent point Crescent made, anyway.

Lisa R. said...

Thanks for the great recap! I loved the twist ending that Cutter did; I didn't see that coming. I'm so glad I found your blog! And I'm just itching to see any pictures of Linus Roache at that awards ceremony.

Anonymous said...

What a fabulous episode. Both sides were right on the ball. How lucky we are as viewers to have this team. Sisto and Roache are truly reasons to make this must see tv.

The episode itself was really well written. The twist at the end is vinatage Jack. The fact that Lasky's hate was so encompassing that he really did forget what "Susan" even looked like. Most excellent indeed.

As for Jack...I love and relish those few minutes of screen time. Linus Roach and Alana de la Garza are just a wonderful team and work seemlessly together.

Here's hoping that NBC realizes that they still have a consistent drama in Law and Order and keep it around for a while.


Anonymous said...

I'm from Pittsfield and we're in far western Massachusetts. We don't talk with Boston accents like Lasky's parents did!