Monday, April 20, 2009

Law & Order CI "Playing Dead” (Recap & Review)

All Photos from USA
Season 8 of Law & Order Criminal Intent (USA) gave us the return of the show that we all know and love – where it’s about the crimes, the criminals, and the skills of the detectives. It also brought back the return of the more grounded Robert Goren (Vincent D’Onofrio), who seems more focused than he has in the last few seasons. It was also great to see a bit of a twinkle in his eyes when he made the crack to the wine merchant using a fake French accent, and when he needled the councilman’s mother Camille (Kathy Baker) on hitting a raw nerve. It was also great to see Eames (Kathryn Erbe) getting to push a few buttons as well.

The episode itself, however, was very complex, the first few minutes almost a little too confusing. As viewers were taken farther in to the disgusting life of Councilman Neil Hayes-Fitzgerald (Scott Cohen), the case seemed much clearer and much easier to follow. Scott Cohen did a fantastic job as the creepy, perverted, depraved (did I leave anything out?) councilman. Die-hard Law & Order fans will recognize Scott as being a Law & Order “repeat offender.” He guest starred in the rare, 3 episode storyline of Law & Order titled “Showtime,” “Turnaround,” and “D-Girl” and also starred in the short-lived Law & Order Trial By Jury as Detective Chris Ravell.
Despite the drama of the final interrogation, I chuckled at the line from Stacy that Sofie was Stacy’s sister and her daughter. Anyone who has ever seen the movie “Chinatown” with Faye Dunaway and Jack Nicholson will recall the scene where Fay’s character goes through the “she’s my sister, she’s my daughter, she’s my sister AND my daughter” lines amid slaps from Nicholson’s character. In this episode of Criminal Intent, it seemed like a very lame parody, making what should have been a tense scene almost seem funny. I think I would have found another way for Stacy to bring that tidbit to the forefront. Kathy Baker and Scott Cohen both did a fantastic job in the interrogation scenes.

All in all, an excellent episode, probably the best I have seen from this show in a long time. I think the new writers are doing a great job at getting back to the basics with this show, and I am looking forward more than ever to see how the rest of the season plays out.

Here is the recap:
The episode opens outside the Courthouse on 60 Centre Street, with Councilman Neil Hayes-Fitzgerald (Scott Cohen) and his mother Camille (Kathy Baker), standing by a plaque of a former NYC mayor and talking about the councilman having his own plaque someday. Councilman Hayes-Fitzgerald says he has to get over his current bump in the road, and he reminds his mother that she always said that today’s headlines wrap tomorrow’s fish. As reporters begin to gather around, Camille sees Chris Palerno (Stephen Gevedon) arrive, and she wonders aloud who invited him. Neil says he did, they have nothing to hide. Camille reminds him that she is his campaign manager and he should have told him. As the councilman hands off his umbrella to someone else to hold over his mother, he moves over to greet Palerno, who has his arms open wide in welcome. Reporters ask if Palerno remodeled the councilman’s house in exchange for city projects, and another asks if it was a bribe. The councilman says no on is hiding from a full explanation as to why a tabloid made headlines of some accounting errors.

Meanwhile, watching all this on television is Councilman Neil Hayes-Fitzgerald’s daughter Stacy (Betty Gilpin) who is in her apartment, lighting up a crack pipe. Her boyfriend Rick Siebert is on the phone, telling someone that the bribery scandal is just the sizzle, next comes the steak unless he is made happy. He demands 50 G’s by tomorrow, and there is no way he lies his way out of the next headline. He throws down the tabloid, which has the headline “The Councilman and the Contractor.” He tells the caller he wants his money now. Stacy says she thought they said no more, and he says they gotta bluff him. They hear knocking at the door, with someone yelling for them in Spanish to open the door.

Back in the councilman’s office, Palerno is also there, telling Neil he turned the heat down with one press conference, and a couple more and it’s gone. Palerno point back at him, saying he still gets his big meaty projects, but he adds that whoever hacked into his emails is stealing money out of his pocket and he doesn’t like it. Both Neil and Camille reassure him there will be other things in the private sector, and remind him to do nothing rash.

Back at the home of Councilman Hayes- Fitzgerald, his wife Josie is getting ready for a night out, the babysitter also there. Josie worries that he daughter hasn’t called in days. Stacy is at her apartment, and she says she can’t believe that they are going to get the cash. They are removing their clothes, and she says she is so glad they didn’t have to do the “other thing.” There is a knock at the door, and when Rick opens it, a masked person with a gun pushed the door open, knocking Rick down. Both Rick and Stacy move to run, but the intruder shoots Rick, and the bullet passes through him and also hits Rick. They both go down, and it appears both are dead.

It seems many hours have passed, and Josie arrives at Stacy’s apartment, and when she finds the door open, enters and is shocked to see her daughter on the floor, with her boyfriend lying on top of her, both appearing dead. But as Josie approaches, she sees he daughter move her head and open her eyes – she is alive.

Later, a detective on the scene is telling Detectives Goren (Vincent D’Onofrio) and Eames (Kathryn Erbe) that she called Major Case when she realized the injured girl was the councilman’s stepdaughter. The boyfriend was Richard Siebert, 25 and unemployed. The apartment belongs to Stacy and her parents pay the rent. Eames notices the crack pipe, and Goren tells them to take the computer they find in to be downloaded. Eames asks if Stacy talked to anyone before being taken to Bellevue, and the detective said Stacy was already in the ambulance. Goren also finds newspaper clippings about the councilman and comments that it looks like they were interested in her stepfather’s problems. One article had a note written in the margin that says “screw the bastard!” and Goren thinks it looks like they enjoyed them. ME Rodgers (Leslie Hendrix) is on the scene, and tells them that she spoke with the ER and as the bullet passed through Rick first and then to Stacy, it was deformed. Goren notices the deadbolt is not broken but the jamb is splintered, so Goren walks through what he thinks happened – that the door was kicked open and Rick may have moved to protected her and they both got shot. They are also told that Rick’s body had been moved because Stacy was pinned underneath him, possibly for three to four hours. Rodgers speculates she may have saved herself by playing dead – but Goren wonders if maybe the killer only wanted Rick. Goren says they will do a vehicle canvas of the area.

At the hospital, Stacy is upset because they will not give her any painkillers, and her mother Josie said they were told no more pain medication. Goren tells her she is experiencing withdrawal, and they need her to remember what happened while it is fresh in her mind. She says she doesn’t remember anything. But when Eames continues to press, Stacy adds that after she was shot she still heard the intruder in the room so she “went away”, like she was watching it but she wasn’t. She insists she is in real pain now.

Back at the Major Case squad, Goren and Eames tells Captain Ross (Eric Bogosian) what they have found. Ross hopes for quick resolution that doesn’t antagonize a powerful politician over an errant family member. He also tells them the Chief of Ds is coming. Eames said it could be a drug deal gone bad, they were packed for a flight to Aruba with new clothes and new luggage, maybe they stiffed the wrong dealer.

At a diner, Goren and Eames are talking to the man who we earlier saw banging on Stacy’s door. They tell him the landlord said that he was seen banging on Rick Siebert’s door, screaming threats. Eames asks if that was for drugs, money, or both. He says he’s got nothing to say, but Goren asks if he’s not worried about threatening a murder victim, he whispers, “Guys, I’m on the job.” He tells them to check with OCCD, his name is Ruiz (Otto Sanchez ). Goren thinks about it, and then tells Ruiz to give him a shove. Ruiz pushes him, saying that he’s out of here, but Goren forces him to sit down, and says he wants to talk about Rick Siebert? Ruiz says he bought Siebert’s debt, and they put him into play in this neighborhood. But Eames counters that he wouldn’t buy a debt knowing it was bad, that would make him look stupid. Ruiz says he’s a dumb kid from Jersey hooked on drugs, always skimming but they fronted him because he said family money was coming. But Eames comments this was from her family, and Ruiz says everyone knew who she was and the Seibert side of the family owed them - whatever that means. Eames looks questioningly at Gore.

Back at Major Case, Eames has been looking over the computers, and found that Rick had Hayes-Fitzgerald’s personal emails on them. Rick had hacked in and got emails between the councilman and his contractor Palerno, the story that fed the tabloids. Was the killing revenge, or did Rick threaten something bigger?

At the office of Councilman Neil Hayes-Fitzgerald, Neil tells Goren and Eames that Rick Siebert wasn’t welcome in his home, unfortunately, and that meant they didn’t see much of Stacy. Eames noted that he paid her rent. He responds that they knew he was going to sponge off of her, but it kept her from sleeping in the streets. Goren comments that even with Siebert’s failings, he was a computer whiz, and hacked into his emails. Neil seems surprised, and questions that Siebert sold that stuff to the tabloids? Eames asks if Siebert ever made demands on him – for a bigger payday than what he got at The Ledger? Neil says these stories were fabricated from accounting errors and he would have never given them anything anyway. Goren states that Rick told people he had more money coming, maybe from material of an even greater value. Neil says he’s a delusional cracked, why would they listen to him? Goren asks “And Stacy? “ Neil says to leave Stacy out of it, he doesn’t think she had anything to do with it. Goren challenges, “And you honestly believe that?” Neil asks if Goren can prove otherwise, and is met with silence from Goren and Eames. He comments, “I didn’t think so” and gets up to leave, saying he has a meeting.

As Goren and Eames leave, Eames comments that Neil is very forgiving to a stepdaughter who nearly got him knocked out of a mayoral race. Goren adds they should talk to the contractor who stood to lose millions from the city project.

They question Chris Palerno, and he says he has an alibi, and he would have no reason to kill Rick, saying the stories were “sticks and stones.”. Eames reminds him that he told the reporters that he would find who did this and deal with him, but Palerno he said he was mad, maybe he meant it a few days ago but providence stepped in. Eames suggested that providence was the man he hired to kill Siebert, but Palerno still denies it all. Why would he compound his problem by ordering a hit?

Back at the hospital, Stacy is getting ready to leave the hospital and her mother tells her she is coming to stay with them, and not go back to her apartment. Stacy says she can do what she pleases, but Neil’s mother Camille steps in, and continues to pressure him to come home, telling her that Sophie is doing a hunger strike, and her mother says she misses her, both kids want her home. Camille says there could be drug charges, and she will need them, just like before. She nods her head in agreement.

Neil is being questioned again by reporters, as Ross, Goren, and Eames watch on TV. Eames says he is slick, the way he tap danced to the tune of Siebert’s death. Goren tells him he’s like his great grandfather, and Tammany Ward Healer, who was made building commissioner when his predecessor was found floating under the 59th Street Bridge. When Eames asks about Neil’s “fancy hyphenate”, Goren tells her that the name Hayes comes from his mother’s side of the family, and they have run city hall on three occasions. Eames looks at the files that Siebert hacked into, they were the councilman’s emails on a chat room for rare wines. Eames doesn’t think oenophiles would be of any use to the Ledger, but Goren thinks they way Rick put his files together, that he had something of real value.

Goren and Eames go to the councilman’s home to speak with Stacy, with Camille present. Goren questions her about the articles and the note in the margin on one of them saying to “screw the bastard.” She says she is home now and won’t talk about that, and Camille supports her. Camille says Stacy went through a rebellious phase but they are all back together now. Goren asks about information on the shooter, and she says he had on a hat but his sleeves were pulled up and he had tattoos – snakes or barbed wire. She says he just shot, looked them over, and left.

Later, Goren and Eames think this is not about a drug debt, as they would have both been killed, and the place would have been torn apart looking for drugs or money. Goren speculates that the wine chat sounds like old mob code, so Eames said they will check on the councilman’s “true passion for the grape.”

At a wine shop, they talk with the snooty proprietor, who tells them that the councilman leaves the wine selection to him. Goren tells him about a wine that the councilman keeps going on about, but the wine dealer says the councilman wouldn’t order that wine now. When Eames asks why, Goren tells her that the wine is best enjoyed in its youth. Goren says they would like to look at the councilman’s purchases for the last 6 months, and when the man balks, saying it is confidential, Eames threatens shutting him down for a forensic audit. Goren says in a fake French accent, and smirking, “A printout would do, ah?”

Back at Major Case, they look over the wine records, and find many of the wines mentioned were never purchased. Goren says it is a code. Eames gets a message saying the vehicle canvas paid off, and they found a black van that was ticketed for blocking a driveway in the area of the shooting that also later made an illegal port entry nearby, probably to dump the gun in the river. They decide to send out a search team for the gun. The van is registered to a Toscano Trucking.

Goren and Eames head to Toscano Trucking, and find it on the third floor of a building, which is empty except for a porta-potty, a desk and a man – Mr. Duraga (Brian Tarantina) sitting at it. They bring him in for questioning. In interrogation with his attorney, they question him about a boat he bought, and where he got the cash for it. He says it was a token of appreciation. Goren brings in a evidence box with a gun in it and asks to see Duraga’s hand. He sees a cut on one of his fingers, and comments that it was likely made by loading the clip in gun they recovered from the river, nearby his van where he made an illegal entry. The attorney ends the interrogation, but Eames asks for him to pull up he sleeves. He shows his arms – no tattoos. After he leaves, they speculate the tattoos were temporaries, used to distract the victims from the shooter’s face.
Back at Neil’s residence, Neil and his mother talk about Stacy. Camille says Stacy needs and anchor and there is only one person who can do that. Josie enters and She asks if he is coming up, and he asks her if she has taken her pill, and she says yes. He says he will be up in a minute. When Josie leaves, Camille asks why Neil picked her and not the girl from the upstate family. He says Josie has been very accepting. Camille laughs and they smile at each other.

Later, we see Neil enter the bathroom where Stacy is bathing. He says she should not be there alone, she is on medication. She says she will get out, but he makes no move to leave. She says she needs a towel, but instead he approaches her and grabs a sponge, and reaching deep into the water, he gets it wet and squeezes the water onto her back. He asks if she remembers when she liked that, and she says, “Please don’t.” He touches her hair and moves closer, whispering, ‘You will always be my girl.” He continues to whisper if and moves in closer. Later, we see Stacy wiping the steam off the mirror, and, opening a drawer, finds scissors and cuts her wrists, blood dripping to the floor. The next we see of Stacy, she is being rushed to the hospital, with Josie, and Neil and his mother, close behind.

Later, as a nurse tells Stacy she is on suicide watch, Goren enters to question her. He thanks her for the information about Rick, saying it was helpful. He asks her to look over some photos. As Goren lays out the photos, Neil moves into the room, Stacy’s monitor indicating her pulse is racing. Goren notices that this coincides with Neil’s entry, and he asks Neil to go back over to the waiting area. As he leaves, her pulse drops back down, and she tells Goren she is not ready to do this. He sits down, saying that it must be tough to be in that situation at home. She says he doesn’t know anything about that, but he says that is not true, he came from a bad home. He reminds he she say when bad things are happening, she needs to “take yourself away to another place”: and that is what he used to do, so he can see things from somewhere else. She says maybe it was just the crack, but he says they both know that is not true. She says she knows what he is thinking, and he’s wrong. He nods his head, but looks out to Neil in the waiting area.

In the waiting area, Josie talks about her life being about saving Stacy from herself. She home schooled her in the ninth grade, and Neil said they were all in Europe that year. Josie takes Sofie away from Neil, and Neil’s mother comments that they can’t hold Stacy to anything she’s said after what she has been through, and she will be home soon and part of the family again, like their time in Sienna – that was real happiness. But Josie looks far from happy.

Back at the Major Case squad, Ross says that the move to Europe was an odd choice for a politician with a hot career. Goren informs him the subpoenaed her records from the high school, and she had been acting out, they recommended therapy put her parents pulled her out for home schooling. Goren thinks there is a bigger reason- sexual abuse by her stepfather. Ross comments that would be a headline to die for of Siebert knew about it. Goren says they don’t have direct evidence but they think Rick was on to it. Josie may be covering. They also have Camille’s laptop, and there are cryptic messages about a volatile situation, and Ross tells them to use it, and find the raw nerve that breaks through the family wall.

Back at the councilman’s home, they speak with Camille about her laptop. And they tell her about the volatile situation, and she says they are a daily thing in politics. Eames tells her they found that she raised money for the Hayes-Fitzgerald Library, the beautification of Van Cortland Park, and St. Leoba’s – a shelter for runaway teens, the shelter getting three times what the others got. Camille wonders why this should be of interest, and when they tell her that her giving to St. Leoba’s occurred after Stacy left high school, Camille ends the questioning, acting insulted, and saying she is calling the commissioner. As Eames and Goren moved to leave, Goren turns back and smiles at her, commenting “It’s a…raw nerve.”

Later, Camille is telling Neil that they have nothing but they are fishing. Neil seems to think if he took a job in the private sector he would be immune to their grief, but she says that is not who he is, or who they are. She thinks he is in a position to grab real power.

Back at the hospital, Neil tells everyone that Stacy is coming home. Neil tells Sofie to tell her how she feels, and Stacy tells Sofie she loves her. Goren and Eames enter, and Neil complains that this is becoming harassment. Goren says they are looking for the man who shot Stacy, why would that be a problem? Neil picks up Sofie and tells Stacy they will be in the hall, and as he touches Stacy, she recoils. Goren moves in to question her. She said she saw Neil touch her and her response, she doesn’t wan him touching her? He begins to talk about Rick being on to what happened with her and Neil, and she admits it. She says he didn’t know at first, but he asked her a lot of stuff, like why she ran away and what the shelter was like. Goren states that Rick may have threatened blackmail far beyond any political scandal, which could have meant jail time for her stepfather, Eames says that is why Rick was killed.

Back at Neil’s home, he brings the babysitter, Jessica into his wine cellar. She seems amazed by it, like it is his own private club. When she appears cold, Neil strokes her shoulder and apologizes, saying he keeps it that way for the wine. He asks to “do her up” and moves to button her sweater. Later, as Stacy comes down the stairs, she hears Jessica thanking Neil for the tour. He says he will talk to someone at City Hall about a summer internship. Stacy looks on as Sofie runs to Neil, and he asks “Who is my girl?” When Sofie replies “me,” he adds, “My girl and no one else’s!” Stacy sits down on the steps with a mixture of concern and horror.

Later, Neil is telling Camille that Stacy has taken off. Camille is worried about what Stacy will say to the police. She says he went to far, always been lead around by your…. (not finishing the sentence). Neil says why assumes that he…and she cuts him off, saying “because I know you.”

Back at the Hayes- Fitzgerald residence, Goren and Eames talk with Josie. They continue to pressure her about Stacy and bring up Neil, and Josie indicates Stacy makes things up. But Eames says, “At what point do you stop lying?” They keep the heat on Josie, and she breaks down and seems to admit to knowing what was going on. She says it just happened, and when Josie says Neil loved her, Eames said she paid for that with access to her daughter. Josie says it is not just her, Stacy is unstable and Rick was her hero. Josie breaks down, and says it is true, she was afraid of losing everything. When Eames asks her when she ran away before, where did she go. Josie says to Rick, always to Rick.

Goren finds Stacy at Rick’s grave. They talk about Rick, and Stacy tells him she had to get away. Goren reminds her about Sofie, and she said Neil wouldn’t/ Goren says people with his sickness, they have patterns and they don’t change and he will molest other girls and he will hurt her. She says Sofie is his blood, but Goren asks if she wants to take that chance, and abandon Sofie like her mother abandoned her? She asks Goren, “You know?” and he nods his head.

Back at Major Case in interrogation, Camille is brought into the room, Neil is already there. They seem shocked to see each other. Camille seems unphased. Goren tells Neil about Rick being interested in Neil’s conversations with his wine pals, and they bring out the whole story of the wine talk being code for young girls. He mentions one of the codes is the birth year for his babysitter, Jessica, and that he brags to his buddies that he would have sex with her. Neil says Stacy’s brain is damaged by drugs and they couldn’t make a case with her testimony. Goren opens the door, and Stacy enters. Neil seems incensed, saying she lied to them. Stacy tells them she told them what he did to her in the wine seller, and Camille says they took her from nothing, fatherless and said she would turn on them with these disgusting fantasies. Eames states that the teen shelter didn’t think they were fantasies, especially when they found out she was pregnant. Goren says this is why they took her to Europe. Stacy drops the bomb that Sofie is her proof, she is her daughter…her sister and her daughter. Neil stands up and makes a move to her, Goren stopping her. He blames Stacy, saying she should accept blame for what she did. Stacy leaves the room, saying she can’t, leaving Neil and Camille in there with Eames. Outside the room, Stacy says she can’t do it, but Goren tells her the shame will be Neil’s, and Ross says she can trust them.

When Goren returns and Neil says he guesses the interview is over, Eames says he can go but he will be back, the next time in handcuffs on a perp walk. Goren begins to work on Camille, saying that all this work she put into him has been cursed by this weakness of his. Neil becomes more agitated, and says they are out of this. Goren says “You’re not out of this. All the dreams that your mother had for your future, that’s all gone. You just threw all that away. You're not outta this.” Neil continues to beg to Camille, and Goren taunts him over this. He continues to work on Camille, that her sacrifice has been wasted. When Neil reaches for her arm and asks what sacrifice, she recoils and stands up. Goren tells her that her phone records show calls back and forth to Rick Siebert on his disposable cell phone, she did all she could to meet his demands. She said she only made calls to determine Stacy’s well being, but Eames tells her about her doubling back charity contributions to get the payoff money for Mr. Duraga – that she did for her son. Camille says, “You’re better than I thought.” Neil shouts, “Better at what? Meaningless allegations? Mom?” He says he will go to the right people and get this turned around, he’s always been able to do that. But she counters that he didn’t deal with Rick Siebert. When he seems confused, Goren tells him that Camille hired Durago to kill Siebert, and when he still doesn’t believe it, Camille says he thinks he got lucky and that one more time, everything just worked out for him. As Neil continues to deny any involvement, but Camille comments how quickly he scrambles to distance himself. She says his life is blessed because of him, she dared to hope and dream he’d have the stones to go the distance but she was wrong. AS Neil wails out at his mother, he begs her not to say these things in front of them. He sobs as she reminds him she had to repeatedly cover for him and there is nothing more she can do for him. As he continues to sob, she screams at him to stop crying, but she strokes his hair, and says she still loves him. Goren looks to the reflective glass window with Stacy on the other side, with a relieved look on her face, as we fade to black.

Clip from “Playing Dead”

All Text Content (Recaps, Review, Commentary) © unless otherwise noted

Check out my blog home page for the latest Law & Order information, on All Things Law And Order, here.

Also, see my companion Law & Order site,These Are Their Stories.

No comments: