Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Law & Order SVU “Snatched” Defeat From Victory

The episode of Law & Order SVU, “Snatched” seemed to have a lot of things going on. We had a kidnapping, an old jewel heist, a man with dementia, and con artists. This was all over one special victim, a little girl by the name of Rosie who was kidnapped for one reason, and then abandoned by her mother and stepfather over a con they managed to work in with the kidnapping, which happened at the hands of someone else. Whew! They had lots of things going on, maybe too many things, which I think cause the episode to suffer a bit, creating an overly complicated storyline that seemed filled with cliches and contrivances.

The kidnapping was the result of someone trying to recover jewels from a previous heist that the person holding the jewels – Frank, played by Dabney Coleman – forgot where he stashed them, likely because of his increasing problem with sundowners syndrome. But in an odd twist, the mother and step father of the kidnapped girl, who were so desperate to get their daughter back, decided to use the whole situation in order to fake their own ransom call so they can take off and avoid some gambling debts. I am not sure why they felt that they needed to throw this in there, when they could have very easily made an interesting case without it. I also wonder why the detectives didn’t realize that the stepfather was so deep in debt from gambling. It almost seems as if they did no deep background check on him, and one would think that in a kidnapping they would have done so.

The episode takes a corny turn when Stabler works with Geno, the girl’s father, in order to crack a code given to them by someone who had connections with people who steal for a living. This would work well if it were a movie like the DaVinci Code, but cracking codes just doesn’t fit with Law & Order SVU. I suppose it was their excuse to bring in Ron Eldard for more screen time, but it seemed very lame to me.

Also in and out of the episode was Mariska Hargitay, making the episode feel choppy, and completely out was Munch (Richard Belzer). Also absent was Michaela McManus, and I am already considering her gone from the show permanently. Even though he may have one more episode coming up where she may be included, I think the writing is already on the wall. This makes me very happy as she was so completely wrong for the role of ADA Greyleck.

But the guest stars – Ron Eldard and Dabney Coleman – both did very well in their roles, although I thought that we saw a little too much of Eldard’s character than I would have expected. It seemed like his character worked the case with Stabler more than the other detectives. Of course, I just knew the minute that Stabler gave Geno some money for a hotel room that Stabler was setting himself up for certain defeat. And did anyone else notice that this show had the nicest bunch of criminals? Everyone seemed so harmless and likeable, even though they had long criminal records.

On a side note, I always wonder when the police are trying to apprehend someone, that they always say “police” when they are still too far from the person. If Stabler had walked a few feet more before he said "police", Geno would not have had the chance to run. Is there a rule that they have to announce themselves within so many feet of a person? I would think they could have walked right up to Geno and then held up his badge and announced who he was. I suppose that they need the chase for the added drama, but it seems more like sloppy detective work to me.

Here is the recap:
A babysitter, Amy, tells a little girl named Rosie goodnight and turns out the bedroom light. Her boyfriend walks in and pulls her into the living room where they begin to make out on the couch. They hear a knock on the door, the person knocking identifying himself as the police. The boy looks through the peephole and sees the man is wearing a badge, so he opens the door. He is punched by a masked man, who also punches Amy and knocks her out, and then he looks to Rosie (Daisy Tahan).

Later, Detectives Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Stabler (Chris Meloni) are at the scene, where they find Rosie has been abducted by someone in a mask with a fake police badge. The parents are out for dinner and a movie.

Benson tells Capt. Cragen (Dann Florek) that an APB is out for Rosie Rinaldi. Amber alert has been issued. Liz Rinaldi (Michelle Ray Smith), Rosie’s mother, arrives on the scene and is frantic. Her husband Pete (Michael C. Williams) is with her, and he wants to know why the detectives aren’t out looking for Rosie, but Cragen says they are doing all they can to find her. Peter tells them that Liz’s ex-husband Geno Parnell, is the one who took Rosie. He has a record including robbery and rape, and he also took their divorce very badly and he beat her in front of Rosie. Liz tells Stabler that Geno told her he would make her life a living hell if she tries to take Rosie away. Fin (Ice-T) enters and shows them a surveillance tape of Geno meeting Rosie outside the apartment. But Geno was not supposed to be coming within 200 years of her. Cragen tells them to meet with Parnell’s parole officer.

Later, Fin and Stabler meet with Geno’s parole officer, and then they go to Jehovah House, where Geno is staying, but there is no answer at the door. His landlord tells them he won’t open the door without a warrant, but the parole officer says he doesn’t need one, and breaks through the door. They find a wall full of pictures of Rosie, most of them taken from a distance, and Fin finds tokens for The Nut Hut, an adult entertainment business. The parole officer said that he set Geno up in a job at a gas station, not this place.

Later, Fin and Stabler are at the Nut Hut Theatre talking with the owner. They tell him they know he is paying Geno off the books, and the owner says that Geno is in the back. As they walk down a hall with many doors, Stabler says, “It’s like "Let’s Make A Deal" in hell.” When they head to the back, they find Geno (Ron Eldard) there, mopping. He runs, but Fin and Stabler catch up. He says “I didn’t do nothing.” Geno has a girl’s barrette on him.

With Geno now in interrogation, he tells them he took the pictures of Rosie from a distance to comply with his restraining order. He says he has a right to see his kid, but Stabler shows him the picture of Geno at the apartment from the surveillance camera. Stabler challenges him about his rape charge, and Geno says he thought the girl was 20 years old, as he met her in a bar and the bartender had been serving her drinks. He said he was pushed into a guilty plea. All he wanted to do was to see Rosie on her birthday. When Stabler asks him if he took Rosie, Geno says he did not know she was missing. He said he worked all night. Geno becomes agitated and says he needs to find Rosie and moves to run. He scuffles with Stabler, and Fin enters to help restrain Geno. Stabler says to Fin, ‘I had him” and Fin replies, “Yeah, like Custer had the Indians.”

In the holding cell, Geno is yelling to get out. Stabler tells him is he wants out he has to answer his questions. Stabler asks if he took Rosie, and he says no, that the only person who has a grudge against him is his ex-wife Liz, and he thinks she set him up. She is a con artist, and the daughter of Frank Hager, also con artist who has a lot of enemies.

Later, Cragen says that Hager (Dabney Coleman) was one of the best thieves the city for over 40 years. Cragen collared himself once. In Frank’s last heist, he stole TVs but he walked and Geno took the rap. Cragen speculates that Hager may have made someone angry and they wanted revenge.

Stabler and Fin meet with Liz at her home. They tell her Geno did not take Rosie. They ask the whereabouts of Hager, because his rap sheet says he is supposed to be living with Liz. She doesn’t know, he moved out after her mom died and he gave her the apartment. He lives in the apartment above his store, he runs a pawnshop that is licensed under his dead brother's name.

Fin and Elliot go to the pawn show and find it has been ransacked. While Fin goes to check upstairs, someone takes a swipe at Stabler and they miss, Stabler knocking them to the ground. The man thought Stabler was a robber. He does not know Frank’s whereabouts. He tells them is name is Eddy (Burt Young) and he is a friend of Frank’s. He has coffee with Frank every day but has not seen him for two days. Stabler tells Eddy to call him if he sees Frank. Fin tells Stabler the upstairs looked like a tornado hit it and there is no sign of Frank. Stabler asks Fin if he smells something, and Fin asks if he stepped in something. Stabler says it is coming from underneath the floor, and he finds a trap door. They open it and they find a panic room, and see Frank is there. He tells them to take it easy, he has the money. He hands them a bag full of cash. They take him in.

At the squad, Frank is interrogation alone, rambling. Cragen tells Stabler that many years ago, Frank ate his shoe – the whole thing - and went to the “funny farm” instead of prison. Two weeks later he walked out the door and laughed at them all. Stabler noted that when they found Frank, his place had been trashed and he was genuinely scared. He wants to question Frank. Stabler talks with him, and Frank continues to ramble. Stabler ask him for Rosie’s whereabouts, and Frank says he has no kids or grandchildren. Dr. Huang (B.D.Wong), who was observing, says Cragen that Frank is sundowning, a form of dementia. He is lucid in the morning and becomes more irritable as the day progresses. He doesn’t think they can get answers from Frank. He goes in an out of reality, and sometimes a friend or family member can trigger lucidity.

Later, Geno walks in, and Frank says he hasn’t seen him since a bank job went south, Geno says that was in 1999. Geno asks Frank where Rosie is, and Frank doesn’t know who she is. He tells Geno he will get him his jewels back and they will let her go. He asks who Frank is talking about, and he says Rosie. He says to let her go. Geno presses, asking who should let her go. Stabler also begins to press him, and Frank gets angry with him, starting to push Stabler. Geno gets Frank off Stabler and begs him to tell him what happened with Rosie. Franks becomes confused again. But when Stabler presses on the $100 grand, Frank says he had to pay the guy as he lost his jewels, and he’s pissed off and him and said he would hurt Rosie. He adds has to find a girl as he only has two more nights in port.

Later, Cragen says there was only one big jewel theft in the last few tears, and they suspect the same person who took those jewels took Rosie. He probably gave the jewels to Frank, who can’t remember where he stashed them. Maybe Frank got a ransom call, which is why he was hiding with the money. Cragen thinks they need to crack the jewel heist in order to find the kidnapper. He tells them to call Frank’s daughter to tell her what happened, maybe she can help find out how Frank manages to get the $100 grand. There is a knock heard, and its’ Frank knocking on the interrogation room window, saying he needs to take a leak.

As Geno takes Frank off to the men’s room, while Stabler talks with Huang, Liz enters. She sees her father there with Geno and becomes upset and she and Geno begin to argue. They manage to get Geno and Frank away, and Stabler asks Liz why she came. She plays back a ransom call that asks her to bring one hundred thousand dollars to him within one hour or he will kill Rosie slowly and painfully. He tells her to meet at the tunnel off West 90th and Central Park. She got the call 20 minutes ago. She says she doesn’t have that kind of money, but Frank walks up and says he does. They decide to go ahead with the drop. Liz hugs her father, who looks confused.

Later, Benson is wiring Liz for the drop. She tells her if anything goes wrong, to scratch her ear with her right hand and they will come rushing in.

Liz is waiting at the drop point, with the detectives also there. They see a person in a hooded jacket arrive. She tells Liz to stay calm and head into the tunnel. Cragen sees the suspect coming out on the other side of the tunnel, but no Liz. They ask Liz to acknowledge, but get no response. Cragen decides to grab the suspect, while Benson and Stabler head into the tunnel. Cragen catches up with the suspect, who is a blonde woman. He asks where is the money, and the woman says she got only $20 to go into the tunnel and she’s keeping it.

Benson and Stabler get into the tunnel, and they find Liz in a storm drain, with a locked grate. As Stabler runs to get bolt cutters, Liz tells Benson she has to run, she found the jewels and used them to pay Pete’s gambling debt or they would kill him but it wasn’t enough, she needed more so she made the ransom call. If she goes to prison, she won’t see Rosie until she is 30, and to tell her that she loves her. Benson begs her not to do this, yelling for her to come back.

Back at the squad, Fin says they got a hit on the Amber alert, a sighting of Rosie at a mall upstate. Benson goes to check it out. Geno, still in holding, asks what is going on, and Stabler tells him the drop was a set up , and the Liz disappeared down a storm drain. Geno says that Pete works for the sewer department. Stabler tells him that the kidnapping was real, as Liz apparently stole the jewels and the original thief took Rosie to get them back. Stabler recalls the old timer at the pawnshop named Eddy, and Geno recognizes the name. He says Eddy is no friend, he’s the competition, a retired thief who tips off guys about easy jobs. He thinks Eddy would know who did the original jewel heist. But, he says Eddy won’t tell Stabler anything.

At the Galactica Bar, Geno and Stabler meet with Eddy, and Geno tell him about Rosie and that Frank is sick and screwed up. Eddy says he can’t help him. Eddy points out and article in the newspaper to a man sitting beside him, about a black senator from Illinois who was a professor that only drinks from glasses. He looks at them angrily, and Stabler says to Geno “Let’s go.” As they leave the bar, they agree that Eddy just gave them a message in code. Later, back at he squad, Geno is looking over pictures from the original heist, and when Geno sees a picture of a Mosley safe that is uncrackable, they figure Eddy was talking about Illinois Senator Mosley Braun. Stabler doesn’t get the comment about the professor, but Geno says Eddy probably meant Roy Batters, who teaches engineering at Hudson, and he’s the number one safecracker in the country. But, they are stumped by the “only drink from a glass” clue. Stabler decides to go ask the professor.

Fin and Stabler go to see Batters (Wallace Shawn) at the university. They show him a picture of the safe. He says that Mosley safe does not come with glass panels. He says the safe is modified and that there are only three people in the world who can crack it, and he can't get involved. They press him, saying a girl’s may die. Batters says he can crack it, his mentor can but he’s dead. His mentor's son, Jake might know how to crack it. Later, Elliot and a team break into Jake's apartment, Jake is there, and they find Rosie in a locked closet. Stabler tells her she is safe.

Back at the squad, Rosie sees Geno and runs to him, happy. Frank seems more lucid, and tells her he wants to take her to a movie. Dr. Huang tells Geno that Frank is moving in to an adult care facility. Stabler tells Geno that the parole officer will waive the violation and let him free tonight. Geno tells Rosie that her mom and Pete went away on a trip. He tells her he needs to talk to the policeman for a minute. He then tells Stabler he doesn’t want to take Rosie to his dump of an apartment. Stabler gives him some money to stay at the Howard Johnson’s on Broadway for the night and take a few days to figure it out. Geno asks him if he is sure he is a cop.

Later, Fin tells Stabler that something happened at the hotel. Stabler heads over there and finds that Geno tried to rob them. Geno is being held by the police in the lobby. Stabler ask Geno what happened and why he did this. Geno tells him to go to hell. Stabler looks stunned, and tells the police to get him out of there. Benson tells Stabler that Geno’s gun was empty. They head to the hotel room and see Rosie there watching the TV. She asks where is daddy, and they tell him he had to go away.

Back at the squad, Benson is telling Stabler not to beat himself up over this. She tried to reassure him that at least the Connecticut State Troopers picked up Liz and Pete. Eddy Mack arrives, and he said he wanted to see about Rosie. Stabler tells him she was put into a foster home. He hands Stabler a box, saying maybe this would help. Inside the box is a lot of money. He said he owed Geno, and when Benson asks for what, he says “None of your business.” He said he went to the hotel to pay it, and Geno told him to bring it to the detectives. There was also a note from Geno to Rosie, which said, “Please forgive me. Love, Dad.” Stabler thinks Geno robbed the hotel on purpose and he wanted to go back to prison, maybe thinking Rosie would be batter off without him. Eddy says that maybe if you want something real bad, maybe you shouldn’t have it. Stabler nods his head. Eddy says he is going to see Frank, and if they need anything in the future, to please send Benson. Stabler smiles as they fade to black.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i thought he said "maybe even if you want something real bad, sometimes you shouldn’t have it"
Basically, Geno realized that even if had his daughter, he wouldn't have been able to make any money to give her a good life, due to his past convictions.
The ending actually made me really upset, seeing Geno almost redeem himself, and then throw it all away because he thought he wasn't good enough for his Rosie.