Thursday, February 19, 2009

Law & Order “Rapture” Leaves Viewers Behind (Recap & Review)

Photo from NBC

This episode of Law & Order (NBC), "Rapture," was somewhat of a mess. If it wasn’t for the occasional tensions involving Jack McCoy, this episode would have almost been a waste. The story itself seemed to be overly complicated and hard to follow, and I felt that I was the one being “left behind.” If I followed things correctly, the first body in the freezer was just a red herring, just a vehicle to somehow get them to look into the whole "rapture" issue and what triggered the rapture letters...which led them to this whole other scam and murder.

I have to admit, though, that series continues to make good use of the entire cast, blurring the line of demarcation between the detective half of the show and the prosecutor half. It always seems to make the show more interesting when all parties have more interaction throughout the entire case. It was interesting to see Lupo use his contacts and his experience to work out a scenario where they could get their man. What I didn’t quite get was the whole point of having to nab Darvey right at the embassy while he was still at the open gate. While he was in the embassy he was protected, and while he was in the car he was protected, but why couldn’t they just trail the car to the airport? After all, the complete airport could not be considered Iranian terrotory and Darvey had to get out of the car at some point to get on the plane. I suppose that it was easier for them to just have Darvey leave their custody on his own to make for fewer problems with the diplomats, but it still would have made more sense for them to wait until that car actually got on the street, rather stopping right outside of the gate, which could have allowed them the chance to back up and go right behind the gate again. It was fun to see Cutter work the situation with the diplomats and seem so gleeful that he pulled off his deception.

Is it really true that one can't take photographs of landmarks in New York City? I thought that this whole matter was losened up quite some time ago, and that they only focus on people who seem to be staked out to photograph at places like bridges, tunnels, or other areas for long periods, as if they are casing an area. If one can't take a simple picture or snapshot in New York City, why even go there as a tourist? If someone can explain that whole thing to me, I would be grateful.

It was made clear that Jack is not Governor Shalvoy’s man for the long haul, based on Chappell’s comments to Jack at the debate. It does seem trite, however, that there always has to be a case in progress that the opposing candidate tries to use against the sitting DA. Personally, I would like to see Jack be a little more proactive and start hurling something back at Chappell, but in a subtle way that gets his point across but makes Jack out to be the saint that we all think he is (wink).

Here is the recap:

A man is arguing with his daughter over phone – calling her a rude thoughtless little pig (subtle dig to Alec Baldwin). He is looking at his computer and sees an email. He takes the email to Detectives Bernard (Anthony Anderson0 and Lupo (Jeremy Sisto), saying he thinks the sender of the email - his Uncle Larry – has been murdered, as it says he is with Jesus and that he killed his wife so he could be in heaven together. When they get to Larry’s home, they gain entry from a landlord, and while scanning the home, they see a very large freezer, too large for someone who lives alone. They look in and find a frozen body. Suddenly Larry enters, very much alive, and when he hears that the emails notifying everyone of this rapture have gone out, he cries out “Lord! Why have I been left behind?” and seems oblivious to the fact the detectives found a body in the freezer. (I assume it was the body of his wife?)

Later at the 2-7, Bernard has Larry in interrogation, telling him not to worry because the Rapture had not occurred. Lupo and Lt. Van Buren (S. Epatha Merkerson) watch from behind the mirror, and Lupo says that Larry believes Jesus will get him out. They later go to the web site that generated the emails – – that was supposed to send messages to those left behind. It cost $5 a month, and 3 Christian men living in various states were supposed to log in daily. If two did not log in, the web site assumed the rapture occurred and it automatically sent the emails to the people that the members listed.

The detectives track down the owner of the web site, Sam Burwell, and find him dead on the floor of his home. He appears to be shot, and also has many bruises. There were signs of a struggle, but not forced entry. They think maybe an unhappy web subscriber may have killed him.

They question another owner of the web site, who thought he was left behind as well. It appears that Keith, the third web site owner, was in Colorado and lost his Internet connection due to a storm and could not log in for a while. He adds that Burwell really believed they were nearing the times of the rapture. When they asked if Sam had another source of income, he says that Sam was broke. He did hear that Sam got into a fight with someone at Rapture-Con.

Lupo and Bernard head to Rapture-Con, and talking to someone who is running the convention, they are shown a security video of Sam fighting with another man, while a “good Samaritan” seems to intervene. Sam also had a booth at the convention. They talk with the Good Samaritan, a Reverend Nathan Reeves (Jason Butler Harner) who had a booth there for “Sacred Exodus”, and who helps Jews get back to Israel. He says he saw the man named Corliss fight with Sam, who the reverend knew because Sam a booth at the convention. The reverend also says Sam made a donation to his cause to the tune of $100,000. But, the detectives find this odd, since Sam’s partner said Sam was broke.

They check Sam’s web site to see if Corliss is a member, and find a member Steve Corliss. His brother Evan was a recipient of Steve’s rapture letter. As it appears Steve was dead, Sam was deleting his account, and read the letter from Steve to Evan telling him that Evan could go to a desk at his home and retrieve 200 gold coins that he could put to good use. They assume this is where Sam got the $100,000. When the detectives go to the home, the coins apparently are gone. The detectives conclude that Sam read the email and went to retrieve the coins for himself.
Back at the 2-7, Bernard and Lupo are bringing Van Buren up to speed, and Van Buren says there are too many “somehows” in their speculation of how this all went down. Evan Corliss also has a criminal record. They also find he had called a gold broker that day. Van Buren questions that Corliss got some of the coins back from Burwell, and Bernard quips, “Yeah. Somehow.”

The detectives head to the Gold Exchange to see a broker. He offers Bernard $11 for his badge. They show a broker a picture of Evan and ask him if he brought in some gold. The broker says he brought in 12 Kruggerands for $10,000, and Evan said he would come back for more but did not. He has his cell phone number to call if the price of gold rises, and they ask him to call him and tell him he is in luck, gold is up. Afterwards, in the car waiting outside the broker’s, Bernard comments about his badge being worth only $11, and Lupo reminds him it is not from Tiffany’s. Bernard says it doesn’t seem right. They see Evan (Joshua Burrow) approach, and they pick him up to take him to the 2-7. In interrogation, Evan admits to an altercation with Sam and getting the 12 coins Sam had left, but didn’t kill him, as Sam said he was going to get the rest of his money back which he had given to a charity.

The detectives go back to Nathan at Sacred Exodus. He said he did not see Sam after the Rapture-Con, and introduces them to his business partner George Darvey (John Sharian). They ask him if Sam asked him for his donation to be returned and he said no. Sam only asked where his money was used for, and they said they used it to pay a tax to the Uzbekistan government.

At the Mission of the Republic of Uzbekistan, they are told that Burwell did call, and he wanted to know if there was any way to refund the immigration tax on a group of Jewish émigrés. He told them he could not help as there was no such tax, Burwell had been misinformed. The detectives give each other a questioning look.

Back at the 2-7, they tell Van Buren what they found, and they believe that Darvey is charging $1,000 tax per person, but really keeping the money for himself and it is a scam. When Burwell asked for his donation back and Darvey gave him the story, he probably decided to check it out for himself. They also find that Darvey is ex-military, other than honorable discharge, and worked for Blackwater, and had his own security firm in Beirut. Apparently on his last return flight, he declared an unloaded 9mm pistol. Van Buren says he will call patrol to keep and eye on Darvey, and sends the detectives to his hotel and sit him down for a chat.

But, the detectives get caught in rush hour traffic and Bernard is annoyed about it. They hear on the police radio that Darvey just walked out of the hotel and he got into a cab, carrying luggage. The police also think they were spotted, and Lupo and Bernard put on the flashers to get moving. They arrive at a building as Darvey is walking up to the door, but they are blocked be security. It is not a home Darvey is entering, but the Iranian Mission, which is Iranian sovereign territory. They are told they can’t go in, and Bernard says it looks like they got left behind. Later, with Van Buren at the mission with the detectives, they are still refused entry.

At the DA’s office, Van Buren, Lupo, Bernard, ADA Rubirosa (Alana De La Garza), EADA Cutter (Linus Roache) are reviewing the situation. DA Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) had brought in someone names Miss Barcette (Veanne Cox) from the state department, who tells them despite what she is being told about Darvey and the fact that the gun he left in the cab is a near perfect match to the murder weapon, he is protected by treaty and they cannot go in there and get him.

Later, Lupo, Bernard, and Rubirosa are standing by at a press conference with Joe Chappell (Tom Galantich), McCoy’s opposing candidate for District Attorney, which is being held outside the Iranian Mission. He is expressing his outrage over the matter and implies that if he is elected DA, he won’t take no in a situation like this. In the background, Rubirosa says if he gets elected, she is resigning and then burning down her office on the way out. Lupo mentions a previous matter where Iranians suspected as spies had been forced to leave the country much to the dismay of the Iranians, and Bernard wonders if they could use that as leverage.

Later, outside a restaurant, two women ask two Iranian men to take their pictures, plus a few more pictures just to be safe. Lupo and Bernard walk up and demand to see the men’s cameras. He denies it is his, and one of the women says they have never seen that camera in their life, clearly being set up by the detectives to get the camera in the man’s hand. They tell the men that since the cameras also has pictures of landmarks of places like the Empire State Building and Penn Station, it could mean they are terrorists. The Iranian man knows that this is all a set up and it’s all about Darvey. Bernard tell them to call their people and see what they think.

As Lupo, Bernard, and Rubirosa wait at the pizzeria with the men for word from the embassy, and a black SVU pulls up with Barcette coming out. They realize the embassy called her. She is livid with the detectives, and said they should just take the names of the Iranians and report it to the FBI and let them go, and not to do anything else without telling her. When she leaves Lupo says he is going to do something else.

Later, at the West Side Stadium, Lupo and Rubirosa talk to a friend of Lupo’s who has connection and knows that Darvey is going to be moved out of the country the next day. He says he knows the Iranians have listening gear and monitor communications, likewise as do the Israelis and knows the frequency the Israelis broadcast on for their secure stuff. They ask for his help.

Back at the DA’s office, Cutter and Rubirosa tell McCoy that Lupo arranged for a little radio transmission by NYPD pretending to be Israeli, on an Israeli channel that they know the Iranians monitor. They are sending a message that an Agent “Loudmouth” has penetrated his target. They tell McCoy they made all this up, and Cutter tells him with a smirk not to tell anyone. When Cutter says they are moving Darvey out at 6:00 AM, McCoy says “God help us” but seems to go along with it.

The next morning as the car with Darvey is leaving, the police stop the car right outside the gate. The Iranian tells Cutter that the car is also Iranian territory, but Cutter says he just wants to tell Darvey that they know he is a spy for Israel and is Mossad, and shows the Iranian a file showing Darvey is “Agent Loudmouth.’ The Iranians glare at him, while Cutter warns Darvey that he may have to face Iranian justice. Darvey forces his way out of the car, and is arrested. Cutter happily confirms to the Iranians that this was all a trick.

McCoy and Cutter watch Chappell in another press conference on TV, where his is complaining about how this whole matter was handled. McCoy is concerned about backlash from the many Jewish voters in the area, and when Cutter asks if this is a prosecutor’s office or a campaign headquarters, McCoy snaps, “Don’t give me that.” He then tells Cutter to just “convict the son of a bitch.”

At the trial, Evan is on the stand, saying he told Sam to get his money back or else, and put a good scare into him. Because of that, Sam was highly motivated to get the money back. Under cross, he says the death threat was a bluff but admits he did beat him up. Later, with Reese on the stand, he said that Darvey just told him that Sam stopped by to get information about their work, not that he wanted the money back. Cutter outlines the whole problem with Darvey’s tax story and scheme, but Reese indicates that these were bribes, not taxes, as you can’t very well put “bribes” anywhere in writing. Rubirosa is concerned about their case, but Cutter says it is a cover up. Cutter presses Reese to confirm whether that money was spent legally on his project, and Reese says Darvey said it was and he believed him. Cutter also draws out that donations are down since Darvey was arrested, and ask if they would go back up if he was acquitted, and Reese thinks they might. Cutter asks what the effects on his work would be if Darvey was convicted, and Reese admits it would be bad. Cutter is trying to imply that Reese is lying to further his own cause, but he says it is the truth.

Meanwhile, at the State Suite of the Roosevelt Hotel while they wait to debate, Chappell needles McCoy, saying he should have Cutter on his own campaign staff because his actions seems to be hurting McCoy. McCoy reminds him that Cutter is prosecuting a murder, and since Chappell is running for DA he should understand that fact, and not use it for political gain. Chappell says, “The Governor told me you were too high minded to run a decent campaign, but really I had no idea.” McCoy stares at him, then walks off.

Back at the DA’s office, McCoy tell Cutter things did not go well. Cutter and Rubirosa say they need to go at Reese a lot harder. They want to shut down his charity entirely as Reese admitted to the bribes, and then they could seize his assets as well. McCoy says shutting down a Christian charity will not look good for his campaign, and “maybe I can still get the Buddhist vote.” Cutter reminds him this is not about religion, and McCoy suggests to see if just the threat of shutting it down will suffice.

At a church, Cutter and Rubirosa find Reese, and make the threat to shut down his charity. Reese asks them why they are here – on earth. Cutter says it is not relevant but Reese thinks it is. Cutter reminds him that “thou shalt not kill” but Reese says he knows he himself is here to help to bring the Jews back to the holy land and the trial is an impediment. But Rubirosa disagrees with him, and begins to quote scripture which says that no one but “The Father” knows the truth about the second coming. Reese caves, and says that Sam was a real believer, and admits this is very difficult. Rubirosa asks him what he does when things get difficult, and she reaches out with her hand. Reese stands up and takes it, and reaches out for Cutter’s hand, and Reese seems to pray.

Back at court, Reese testifies that Sam did call him and that he wanted his money back but he told him they could not get it back from the embassy. Sam said he was desperate and he was going to call the embassy. He called Darvey and told him what Sam was going to do, and he said Darvey was concerned and they could not let that happen. He didn’t ask what that meant, but he should have asked, especially after Sam was murdered. He thinks he inadvertently caused Sam’s death. He hopes God can forgive him.

Back at the DA’s offices, Cutter tells McCoy the jury took less than a day to return a guilty verdict. McCoy asks, “Because God told Reverend Reeves to tell the truth?” Cutter responds, ‘God and Connie. (looking at Rubirosa) Matthew Chapter 24? You study the Bible?” She answers, “I prepare for court, I prepare for church.” McCoy says this is good, maybe he can help prepare for him. The Interfaith Council asked him and Chappell to a panel discussion on religion and the law. When Cutter makes a sarcastic comment that it sounds fascinating, McCoy moans that he thinks he feels the flu coming on. As the elevator doors close on all of them, we fade to back.

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Clip from “Rapture”

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samfan said...

Okay I loved this episode, except that Jack was not standing up for himself. I thought the detectives were great, in this one!
ATL&O the whole photograph thing is as follows, in my opinion, the men were Iranian, maybe even worked for the Embassy? They were holding the camera which had planted photographs of major business buildings and landmarks, which the police had planted on the camera. So it would look like that they were terrorists. Especially since there were no photographs of themselves of other people, except the two women police officers that handed them the camera, then the police officers denied it.
The photographs most likely would have been thrown out of court, but it was a way to arrest them, and trade them for Darvey. And I believe that the men were from the Embassy, but I am not a 100% sure.
Oh, I didn't like the state department lady, I thought that she was going to be throughout the episode and I didn't think that she was that great.
I have got to get back to work-

jayson said...

I liked this episode okay, but where is the old McCoy. The one that kicks some butt? Just my opinion, but okay episode, nice review.

Anonymous said...

If you look it up, what the dad says to his daughter is word-for-word what Alec Balwin said to his daughter! Not in the same order, and not the whole speech, but everything he said Alec said! Brilliant!