Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Law & Order SVU “Lead” Alex Cabot Returns! (Recap and Review)

All photos from NBC

This episode of Law & Order SVU (NBC) “Lead” was definitely worth the wait. The return of ADA Alexandra Cabot (Stephanie March) brought the fire back into the law side of the show. They never explained Cabot’s work when the character appeared in the short-lived series ‘Conviction”. They did touch on the fact that although she had been out of witness protection for a while, she just couldn’t bring herself to return calls to Benson and Stabler, the memories of her shooting apparently too great for her to reconnect with those two. Still, it is a little hard to believe that if she had been working for the DA’s office during her “Conviction” stint that they wouldn’t have bumped into each other in the courthouse area.

Alex brought back with her the “take no prisoners” approach to prosecution, but unlike the cold and unfeeling ADA Greyleck, Cabot didn’t seem to need to learn compassion, or when to dig deeper into a case. The fact that Greyleck never fit in was made evident by her last line in the episode – hopefully her last line with the series - “What the hell did you people do?” Her reference to “you people” was reflective of the fact that she never believed she was part of the team. Good riddance, I say.

I chuckled when Alex had to face Judge Petrovsky and was amused when the judge welcomed her back, with the added scolding for Alex not being prepared.

As far as the story, it was very well done. It was an interesting case and it managed to showcase all the main cast members – with the exception of ME Warner (Tamara Tunie). I also enjoy seeing the smarmy lawyer Lionel Granger, who was particularly nasty in this episode. He did, however, seem to show some unusual glee when he and Alex paired up at the end to trap the president of the toy company. This brings me to the issue of Pica., a disease where people try to eat items that are not food. I have a nephew that has Pica, and I was surprised that parent would let a disorder like that go on so long. I think it is something very easy for a parent to spot, since the child usually is stuffing anything and everything into their mouth. The parents should have discussed this with the doctor, or at least should not have allowed their kid to lick any paint off a toy, regardless of what is, or isn’t, in the paint.

All in all, a fantastic episode, and I hope this means that Alex Cabot will be here to stay for more than the six episode arc.

Here is the recap:

The episode opens with a jury reads a verdict of guilty on four counts if sexual abuse against a Dr. Gilbert Keppler (Lawrence Arancio), while families, mostly with young boys, and ADA Grayleck (Michaela McManus) look on. Gilbert tells the court he didn’t mean any harm to the young men. The defense attorney Lionel Granger (David Thornton) makes a motion to extend bail, and the judge allows it, but insists on an electronic device and be confined to his home until sentencing.

Outside the courthouse, ADA Greyleck, with Capt. Cragen (Dann Florek) and Detectives Elliot Stabler (Chris Meloni) and Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) at her side, makes a statement to the press, saying Keppler abused his position as a pediatrician. Granger steps up and informs them they should consider themselves served, they are being sued, claiming that Cragen and his detectives knew about the problems with Keppler long before they took action to stop them. As the press jumps all over the group, they leave the area, and Greyleck says, “What the hell did you people do?”

At the station, Stabler, Benson, and Cragen discuss the matter. Cragen says Granger is a sore loser, but Benson wonders if they did take too long to address Keppler. When they enter Cragen’s office, they are greeted by Tucker (Robert John Burke) from Internal Affairs. He is not happy with how they handled the case, and the Cragen wonders why One PP is taking the side of Gilbert and his “media whore” lawyer. He says Keppler’s last victim is on them. He says that a 14 year old kid walked in and told them he was being abused by his doctor but they waited three weeks to collar him. Stabler says they needed the time to build his case, and Tucker says they were dragging their ass. Stabler says they had no DNA because Keppler never raped his victims, and they didn’t want him lawyering up before they had enough to charge him. Tucker said Justin McTeague gave them enough information but Stabler argues that it was just Justin’s word and he had come in a year before claiming his math teacher abused him, and they brought the teacher, Kevin Sammers, in for questioning. Sammers had denied everything, but the detectives wouldn’t give him any details so he could tell them his alibi.
Now with Olivia being questioned, she tells Tucker that it is normal to hold back details. They interrogated Sammers for 18 hours, but when they have him the name of the abuser, Sammers was able to provide a solid alibi proving Justin was lying, and also that Sammers busted Justin for smoking weed outside the same day Justin claimed the abuse took place. Later, under questioning, Cragen tells Tucker that Sammers quit teaching over the problem. He also said if they arrested Keppler only on Justin’s say so the defense would attack Justin’s credibility. He told Benson and Stabler to find another victim, and it took them three weeks to find Bradley Hicks. Hicks had told them that Hick’s story of the abuse was the same as Justin’s so Cragen told them to arrest Keppler. When they went to arrest Keppler, he was doing a procedure on a young boy, Chuck Paisley. Tucker wonders why Paisley thought the procedure Keppler was doing was legit, and Stabler says the other boys thought it was legit as well, but he only came forward when he saw Keppler on TV. It made the case against Keppler a lock.

Later, Cragen tells the group that Tucker apologized but asked that they keep IAB in the loop and that anything else needs to go through Cragen. Munch (Richard Belzer) tells Cragen that while he was entertaining the “rat squad” that Fin (Ice-T) and him were working, they found that Keppler’s and his lawyer alleges that Denslow Hospital knew one year before they did that Keppler was abusing boys. They find this hard to believe, and Cragen tells them to go to the hospital and check it out.

At Denslow Medical Center, the attempt to talk to the hospital attorney Mr. Coldwell (Tim Ransom) but he won’t give them any information. He assures them nothing happened there and walks off. Stabler asks how you know when a lawyer is lying, and Benson says when his lips are moving. They believe he is covering, and they decide to go ask Keppler, but Stabler says they can’t go near him. Benson disagrees, saying that if the hospital committed a crime, then Keppler is a material witness.

When they get to the residence of Gilbert Keppler, Benson sees blood on the doorstep, and Stabler sees the door open. When they enter, they find Keppler’s dead body, next to a golf club, with blood spattered all over the room. Benson calls in the homicide, and Stabler calls Cragen, saying one PP and the press will be all over this.

Later, with police and forensics on the scene, ME Warner is held up with a crane collapse with six dead, and they think that waiting for Greyleck is delaying their entry back into the scene. They are shocked when they see Cragen walk up with Alexandra Cabot (Stephanie March). When Benson, stunned, says “Alex,” Cabot responds with “What have we got?”

At the scene, Stabler asks Cabot where Greyleck is, and she tells him the new administration called her back to the justice department. (Pause for loud cheering from viewers!) The DA let her leave immediately, and Coy asked her to fill in only an hour before. She apologizes for not calling them back, remembering that they were there when she was shot. Benson said they heard Valez died in prison and Conners was extradited to Ireland and Cabot has been out of witness protection for three years. The forensics guy calls them over, he tells them the nine gunshots didn’t kill him, it was “Big Betty” the golf club. The perp was a lousy shot, he missed eight times, likely running out of ammo. The perp also left a pair of gloves. Cabot thinks this was overkill, but Stabler speculates that Keppler knew his killer because they were let in to his home. The wonder if it was someone that he knew, maybe someone he abused or a family member of someone he abused. Cabot is going to ask Judge Moredock to unseal the files of the previous victims.

Stabler meets with Justin McTeague’s mother. She tells them she and Justin were at her sister’s on Staten Island at the time of the murder. They didn’t want Keppler dead, they wanted his money, seeing that they weren’t going to get anything from the hospital. She signed arbitration papers, an agreement not to sue the hospital, and that his head nurse, Lillian, also signed an agreement, and then she suddenly disappeared. Later, Munch approaches Lillian (Ann Dowd), and she wonders why they are asking her now about this. He says they never heard about her until now, and she says they must have erased the records. She looks around uncomfortably, worried she will be seen talking to him. Later, in the squad, she tells them they threatened to take away her job and pension. She identifies Coldwell as the man who made those threats. She felt she should have done more. She said that Keppler always had the nurse present when examining a female patient, but on one day she walked into a room and saw Keppler with Dale Overton, one of the boys from the trial and she saw him molest the boy. She brought the matter to HR, and Coldwell said Keppler would deny everything. She said Coldwell did believe her allegations, but would not think the jury would. When she threatened to come to SVU, Coldwell threatened to take away her job and health insurance, and her husband is sick. Watching from behind the window, Cabot comments to Cragen that Denslow Hospital didn’t care about the boys, just in protecting themselves. Cragen said Logan Coldwell was just the plumber, plugging the leaks. He wants to go after him for obstruction, but Cabot says that they can’t, since he was the hospital’s attorney, Keppler was also his client. He is not obligated to break privilege, but she can get him for obstruction for buying Lillian’s silence. She will have the arrest drawn up in the morning. Fin tells them so far the families seem to have alibis, the autopsy says Keppler died at about 1:00 AM and ME Warner found traces of gold plating in his head wounds. Benson says CSU got skin cells off the gloves, there was a lot of DNA with a lot of hits, only one of them who is not in jail Clive Lynwood - who has a registered hand gun.

Benson and Stabler go to the Lynwood residence, and Jeffrey (John Gallagher Jr.) answers the door. He says his dad and mom just went out, and they give him the warrant. He almost seems excited about it, asking if he can help. They ask to see his gun, and he shows them right away where it is. The box is empty, and Jeffrey seems surprised. When Stabler asks him the color of the gun, Jeffrey says it is gold and his dad says it is real. The Lynwoods enter, and Jeffrey’s father Clive (Fredric Lehne) asks where is his gun. They arrest Clive, as Jeffrey gets upset.

Later in interrogation, Lynwood’s lawyer Lorna Scarry (Mariette Hartley) is surprised to see Alex, who says she is “just a temp”. Lorna tells her client is innocent, and they tell her his DNA was on the gloves. She says his DNA was in the file from a bogus menacing charge, but Stabler says it was because he blew a 2.2 into the Breathalyzer. Lynwood says that the cop saw a knife in the car and upped the charges to menacing. Cabot wants to know how his DNA got in Keppler’s brownstone, and Lorna says she doesn't have to explain anything.

At arraignment, Scarry argues that the DNA is unreliable as it only matched a few DNA markers. Cabot argues that the court has never ruled against law enforcement in this issue. But Judge Petrovsky (Joanna Merlin) disagrees, saying they have been burned before, and charges are dismissed. After she orders a 10 minute recess, Petrovsky motions for Cabot to approach, telling her she is glad she is back, but try to show up prepared next time. Afterwards, Benson says she will try to find some other evidence.

Later, tech Ryan O'Halloran (Mike Doyle) tells them that he found a fingerprint on the casing, the perp was not wearing gloves when he loaded the gun. But the print is not in the system. He clarifies that the print left the corroded mark on the bullet because the persons body secreted lot of salt, so the person either eats a lot of salt, or works around it. Benson wonders if it could be from working in a fast food restaurant. Clive’s son was wearing a fast food uniform when they arrested Clive, and he would also share some of the DNA.

Back at the squad, they brought Jeffrey in after his work. He said it was fun riding in the police car. He has a drink with him, and when he asks to get rid of it, Benson takes it. Stabler talks with Jeffrey about his job, and why he is there, while we see forensics check out his prints. Jeffrey tells them his dad lets him put the bullets in the gun and takes him to the shooting range. He tells Stabler that his father keeps the bullets in the closet with his socks. Benson enters and tells Jeffrey he does not have to talk to them if he doesn’t want, and says he can get a lawyer, but he says he wants to talk to her because she is pretty. She asks if he knows a Dr. Keppler, and he says no, but he seems uncomfortable. Stabler says if he lies to them they have to punish him, and they don’t want to do that. He admits that he went to Keppler when he was little but he told his mom he wanted another doctor. When Benson asks why, he said they learned in school that no one is supposed to touch you “down there.” Keppler had rubbed him and said it was OK because he was a doctor. He saw him going to jail, so he knew Keppler had lied to him, so he took his dad’s gun and pointed it at him, saying he lied to him. He said Keppler tried to hit him with the golf club but it hit the gun, it went off, and shot Keppler in the knee. Then, he called him stupid, and that is a bad name that the bullies called him, so he got angry again and shot and shot and shot but none of the bullets hit him. Keppler called him an idiot, but there were no bullets left. So, he hit him with his father’s gun again and again and again but the gun got all red and slippery, so he hit him with the gold club and he didn’t call him names any more.

Cragen and Cabot are watching the interrogation from behind the window. Cragen asks her if she is at all concerned that he is slow, and she says that is the defense’s problem, not hers, and to arrest him. She then walks out to see Lionel Granger there with Jeffrey’s mother Virginia (Laura Leigh Hughes) Granger is going to represent Jeffrey, and Cabot is stunned as Granger represented Jeffrey’s abuser and sees a whopping conflict. Granger says the abuser is dead and he as a waiver from his estate. As they bring Jeffrey out, he tells his mother he told the truth. Granger says Jeffrey is an abuse victim and Cabot should talk to him and he will see he is a victim. She says if he believes that, he will allow their shrink to interview them. He agrees.

Later, talking to Huang (B.D. Wong), Huang asks Jeffrey if he has any nightmare about Keppler. Jeffrey says he sees Keppler as a monster. When Huang asks Jeffrey if he can read his identification Jeffrey asks if he is a doctor and he begins to get upset, trying to flee. Asking for his mom. He pushes Huang down, who hit his head. He yells Huang is a bad man and picked up a chair to hit him as Stabler tries to restrain him. Jeffrey continues to yell “doctors are bad” as Stabler continues to restrain him, Huang lying on the floor.

Later, Huang is being treated, and he says he didn’t black out and he feels fine, he won’t go to the hospital. He says he is OK. Huang tells Cabot something is really wrong with Jeffrey, thinking he is developmentally disabled. He can’t control his temper or emotions. Cabot said he still is competent to plan to kill Keppler, but Huang says he killed only because he was being called names. He is an eight year old in a man’s body. Cabot bluntly asks him if he is saying she can’t try him because he is retarded., and Huang reluctantly says no.

At trial, Jeffrey is on the stand. Granger asks about his interrogation, and he says they were mean. He said Stabler touched him on the shoulder and he got scared, and this is why he said he killed Keppler. Cabot cross examines him, asking him if he knows a boy named Chad Smith. He says he is a bully, but admits he beat Chad up after Chad called him a moron. When Cabot presses him hard, Jeffrey asks why she is being so mean but she says he lied. He shouts for her to stop yelling at him and he puts a pencil in his mouth, biting it off and eating it, which piques Huang’s interest. Judge Moredock calls for a recess.

In the Judge Moredock’s (John Cullum)chambers, Granger and Cabot argue with each other in front of the judge. Moredock tells Granger that Jeffrey has no business being on a witness stand, only a horse’s ass would ignore Jeffrey’s diminished capacity. Granger tells Moredock he is out of order, but Moredock says Granger is a disgrace, and if he doesn’t get his act in line, he’ll grant Cabot’s motion to have him removed and will report him to the disciplinary committee. When Granger leaves, he says Cabot is not blameless in this either, Jeffrey has the mind of a child, and that violating his rights is not justice. She counters that they are not in his constitutional law class anymore, this is the real world. He says it took guts for her to come back and he is glad she did, but she can’t forget why she became and ADA in the first place. The Cabot he remembers would not have considered railroading this man.

Later, In Huang’s office, she admitted to him she was out for blood. But he tells her he thinks he knows what is wrong with Jeffrey. Huang and Cabot got to talk to Mrs. Lynwood, and asks him when Jeffrey was a baby if he hit all his developmental milestones. She says yes, he was fine until he was five. He had a seizure and his brain swelled and they thought he was going to die. When he recovered he was not the same, and Dr. Keppler said it was a miracle that he survived. Keppler said the seizure was epilepsy. Huang said that Keppler missed Jeffrey’s Pica, a disorder where people eat objects other than food. She says that’s why they couldn’t stop making him put things in his mouth. Cabot asked if there is any chance they kept something that he used to put into his mouth, and she shows them his little toy cars. Jeffrey lad licked the paint off of them, saying it tasted like sweet and sour candy. Clive Lynwood enters, surprised Virginia let them in there. Virginia tells him to wake up about Jeffrey, he is developmentally delayed and will never be the perfect child. Huang tells him Jeffrey was not born that way, and he can prove it.

At Cabot’s office, Huang tells the Lynwoods and Grainer, that when he saw Jeffrey eat the pencil in court, he knew something was wrong and asked for a brain scan. He found that Jeffrey is missing brain matter from chronic lead poisoning, kids with Pica are at high risk. Studies have shown that kids with lead poisoning become violent as adults. Grainer asks if this excuses what Jeffrey did, and Huang tells him Jeffrey’s decision making center of his brain is badly damaged. Cabot says it explains why Jeffrey became so angry when Keppler called him names. Clive is angry that Keppler never tested his son, now saying that Keppler victimized his son twice.

Later, Jeffrey is still held in jail, with his father coming to visit. Clive is in tears, saying he is sorry he didn’t help Jeffrey enough. Jeffrey said it is OK, he did a bad thing. Granger asks if this means they are not going to trial, and Cabot says, “ Oh yes we are.”

At trial, Cabot has Michael Rowan on the stand, president of Rowan Toys, who says he was asked to appear as an expert witness on his product – toy mini-ice cream trucks. They haven’t used lead paint in toys since 1978. She asked why was it then that the NYPD found that they paint on the toys contained 50% lead? He gets upset, saying he was brought there under false pretenses. She says he lied to the whole world, he knowingly poisoned children over decades. She shows him emails with his Chinese manufacturers showing he has been poisoning kids with lead paint, and he flings them off, saying he is done answering her questions. Granger smirks, and Rowan asks if the defense was in on her little set up, and Moredock tells him to sit down, he is out of order. Rowan says the judge is out of order, along with his corrupt DA and his joke of a court. The judge tells the officers to remove the witness from the courtroom, and Stabler and Benson happily take over, saying they have it. They arrest Rowan for reckless endangerment. As they walk past Cabot, Rowan says he will have her ass for this. She says she already has his, and it’s on the record.

Later, Moredock finds Jeffrey not guilty by reasons of mental defect and per the plea agreement, he will surrender to the commissioner of health to be hospitalized until he is determined not to be a threat. Cabot tells the Lynwoods he will be evaluated in a month, and that Rowan Toys has agreed to support Jeffrey financially for the rest of his life. When Stabler questions whether Rowan Toys really voluntarily pledged this, Cabot says that after the feds recalled his toys, Rowan offered her the deal so she wouldn’t charge him, and after he signed, she said to shove it. Benson says “You really are back, aren’t you?” Cabot offers a happy face as we fade to black .

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samfan said...

Woo Hoo!!!!! I loved this episode! I am so glad Cabot is back. I thought the episode was really good this time, great job!

John K. said...

Is it possible to transcribe the exchange between the Detectives and Cabot, from Greylek's reason for departure to the McCoy mention? If so, I'd really appreciate it. If not, you left plenty. Thanks for the recap, as always.

All Things Law and Order said...

John, here is the whole piece:

Stabler: Where’s Greyleck?

Cabot: New administration called her back to the Justice Department. DA let her leave immediately.

Benson: And McCoy drafted you to fill in.

Cabot: I wasn’t drafted, Jack asked me.

Benson: No one told us about it.

Cabot: I only accepted an hour ago.

Stabler: We never thought we’d see you again

Cabot: I got your messages, and I’d pick up the phone and call you and remember…

Stabler: That we were there when you were shot?

Benson: We heard Valez died in prison and Connors was extradited to Ireland. You’ve been out of witness protection for three years.

Tech O’Halloran: You guys wanna get started?

Cabot: Let’s go!

Anonymous said...

It was great, and sad, to see March returning as ADA Cabot. Great cause she's just wonderful at the role. And sad because it just shows what a huge contrast she is to Greylek. Both Cabot and Novak may not have been instantly likable from the onset, but the show was always quick to establish that they at least had something resembling a soul.

In the episode "Transitions", Greylek's later interaction with Stabler and Benson, particularly referring to SVU's empathetic approach to their cases, tells me Greylek doesn't respect what the squad does at all. And it's pretty obvious nobody in the squad (much less fans of the show) actually like her.

Unrelated to Greylek, it comes across as unbelievable to me, as a male, that any of that doctor's victims would think his "urinary tract" procedure was a legit procedure.

Anonymous said...

I loved that they acknowledged that it had been 3 years since Cabot was out of Witness Protection.

Have they made any official announcements about Michaela McManus and if Greyleck is gone for good?

John K. said...

Thank you, much. Extra huggles for you. Heh.

Also, can you transcribe the part where Stabler's at the crime scene, saying they have to wait for Greylek. Up to when Munch said on his "gotta be at the crime scene crusades" line? Thank you, again.

samfan said...

Thanks for the transcript ATL&O. Great job! I am so glad Alex is back!!!!!

Laura said...

good recap :)

so happy cabot's back.. but i didnt mind Kim.

i love your site.. i check it for SVU news every couple of days :)

anyway thought i'd show you this..

Question: Got any good gossip on Law & Order: SVU? --Laura
Ausiello: The best: Mariska Hargitay is expected to make a complete recovery and will (hopefully) be back to work at the end of the month. The news isn't so rosy for one of her co-stars, however. Exec producer Neal Baer tells me that "someone bites the dust" this May.

that sucks. now that casey is gone svu have the perfect team. minus Huang.. he's annoying ha!

All Things Law and Order said...

John, here's the other dialog you wanted:

Tech O’Halloran: Hey Benson, what’s the hold up? I gotta set up the scan station.

Benson: Just hang tight till we give the OK. (on phone) Alright, well just get here as fast as you can (hangs up).

Stabler: Where’s Warner?

Benson: Crane collapse in the Bronx. Six dead. Says she’s at least 2 hours out.

Munch: I hear Dr. Keppler came down with a case of “justice prevails”

Fin: More like someone saved the state a couple million bucks and a prison cell. What are we waiting on?

Stabler: Cragen. Says we don’t touch the place until Greyleck sees it just in case AIB wants to screw with us again.

Munch: You sure Greyleck’s not on one of her “I gotta be at the crime scene” crusades?

Fin: (looking at Alex walk up with Cragen) It’s not Greyleck.

All Things Law and Order said...

Laura, thanks for the info. He could be referring to anybody but I assume it may be someone that they think is expendable. I hope it's not someone like Alex Cabot, who they just added back for her six-episode arc. That would be a shame and a waste!

John K. said...

Perfect. Thank you. Huggles.

As for the story, I didn't like the ending, as "yes, it's always the evil company." Just too deus ex machina for me, and old hat ('Manic' did a better job at it). Be interesting if they'll pull that in the next few years.

Also, did Alex do a legal no-no, when the exec said he was testifying under false pretenses? Generally, in a public trial, you get the general idea of what you're testifying on. With specifics later, as the prosecutor sets the trap. And not to mention, what about the judge, as he wasn't in on it?

I dunno. But I'm not a legal expert, so I could be wrong.

wealtz said...

To the blogger: Thanks and good job!! :)

I'm a fan of SVU but unfortunately, I only get to watch these shows whenever I have time to catch them.

What episode(s) was it specifically when Cabot was shot (refered to in the dialogues)?

Thank you in advance!

All Things Law and Order said...

Wealtz, Cabot was shot in the episode titled "Loss", which was during the show's fifth season.

wealtz said...

Thank you!! :)

Anonymous said...

Haha. Thanks this article is great. I love the part when Odafin says he forgot what it was like having their a** kicked by alex...and when captain cragen says that alexs foot is the least they have to worry about. cracked me up. Thanks for the recap tho!

ieysha ramos said...

At the end of this episode..there is a dedication to the memory of someone. Who Was he? And did he die fromPICA as well.