Thursday, April 30, 2009

Law & Order “Promote This” Mis-titled But Excellent (Recap & Review)

All Photos from NBC

This episode of Law & Order was tagged with the name “Promote This!” but I contend that was only the moniker they gave the episode when NBC moved it up on the schedule. That name clearly doesn’t fit this episode, which covered bigotry, hate crimes, and Jack’s political issues as he runs for re-election as District Attorney.

We got a few tidbits in this episode about Jack's past. One of his wives names was Ellen, and while they were going through their separation in 1991, she unwittingly hired an illegal housekeeper. Clearly, someone is really trying to dig into Jack’s personal life and find any dirt that they can.

I found the evidence in the case very weak, however, and thought that they really didn’t have much to tie the suspects to the actual crime. There seemed to be no real talk about forensics, with the exception of ME Rodgers being able to match the brand mark on both victims. Still, the only thing that they seemed to have on the assault case was the broken glass on the victim and the car. It is no surprise to me that they were found not guilty of all except the assault charge.

But, with the concern over illegals, it was a perfect backdrop for them to bring out Jack’s past problem. He had a rational explanation for it all of course, because we all know that Jack McCoy is the original Teflon Man – nothing sticks. I wonder if/when his drinking will ever come in to play. After all, Jack McCoy probably single handedly accounted for the majority of New York City’s scotch consumption for many years.

At the end of the episode, when Connie wonders if someone tipped off Morales’ mother that additional charges could be filed upon Morales’ death, I wondered if maybe somehow Jack was the one to tip her off, either directly or indirectly. I wouldn’t put it past him.

On a side note, I found some of the camera work and lighting in this episode excellent. Some of the camera angles were different and I enjoyed the way that it featured the main characters, especially while they were in Jack’s office. I swear at one point Sam Waterston looked like he was glowing. Since McCoy has no halo, I had to assume it was good lighting.

Here is the recap:

Detectives Lupo (Jeremy Sisto) and Bernard (Anthony Anderson) are called to the scene of what looks like a hit and run. The man is barely alive and may not be for long. There is auto glass on the scene but also in the man’s pant leg. There is no ID on him

The trial of broken glass is 20 feet long, and thinks that he may have been dropped out or thrown from a moving car.

At the hospital, they are told the man is in a coma and not likely to come out of it. He has fractured arms and ribs and bruises and scratches that appear to have been caused by when he hit the roadway. He has a burn on his cheek the size of quarter. There is also auto glass embedded in his shoe. He has a can of juice and smoked sturgeon in a bag that was found with him. They think he works in the kitchen at Irv & Sons Deli, the name on the bag containing his food.

They head to Irv & Sons Deli and are told the man is their dishwasher, Oswaldo Morales (Hector Javier Munoz). His frienf who works there last saw him in the morning, he got him up to go to get some day work, he waits under Highway 155 and waits for the cars to come to give him a job.
They head over to that area with soem food, and ask the waiting workers for help in finding who had hurt Oswaldo. One person says he saw him, and said Oswaldo went into a dark green Toyota with three white kids, which he thought was odd because they only wanted on man for their job. One of the kids took a picture of them with his phone. Bernard suspects the pictures may end up on the web.

Back at the 2-7, they talk to Lt. Van Buren (S. Epatha Merkerson) about what they know. It seems that the burn on Oswaldo’s face was some sort of branding. Bernard has found a video on line called “beaner hunt – taking back America one street at a time.” They can hear the voices of three boys, and they also see them shoot at someone with what seem like a BB gun. They see a mail truck in the video and Van Buren suggests they check with the lab to see if they can pick up the ID on the mail truck to find out where the video had been taken.

At the Peconic Police Department, Lupo and Bernard tell them that the mail truck came from their town. They are also told that the town had nine bias incidents in town in the last month. After talking to a local auto glass dealer about someone who brought in a car for a window repair, he says he has no records as the person didn't have the money for the work. They take the repair guy down to the high school – he’s not happy about it - to see if he can ID the kid who brought the car in for repair. He identifies the boy as Tony Stratton.

The detectives head to the Stratton residence, and Lupo sees a green car in the garage with plastic over the window. They go to the house and a woman answers the door and she seems to not speak much English and she doesn’t know Tony Stratton. As they walk away, the detectives note that her shoes don’t look like ones that a housekeeper wouldn’t wear. Lupo gets information that the car is registered to a Juanita Stratton (Rosa Arredondo), likely the woman they just spoke to, and she must be Tony’s mother. They wait in their car until she makes a move to leave, and when she does so, they stop her and indicate they know she’s trying to fake them out. They tell her that interfering with a criminal investigation is a felony and she denies interfering with anything. She said the window form her car got broken at the Tastee Freeze on Hempstead Turnpike. Tony opens the front door and calls out to his mother and she tells him to go back inside, which he does.

The detectives head over to a local judge to get a warrant for the car, but he calls them on the fact they picked him to get the warrant because he is Hispanic and that he won’t give them the warrant. He thinks the case is too important and he doesn’t want any perceived bias or impropriety to hurt it.

Back at the 2-7, Van Buren agreed what the judge did was the right thing. Lupo looks through the yearbook trying to identify anyone that could be friends of Tony Stratton, and they are able to pick out a blond basketball player on the same team as Tony, someone named Timothy Moore.

At the Moore residence, the detectives speak with Tim’s mother. He is not there, he is upstate visiting colleges with his father. They ask him about a BB gun that they heard he had owned but sold to someone else. She tries to cover for her son as far as his whereabouts the night of the crime. She tells them she and her husband were visiting friends in Maryland for the weekend, and she will write down his number and from now on they should talk to him. As she walks off, the detectives decide to head over to the high school as the video was uploaded from a computer there. It seems that the computer belonged to the basketball coach, and they find that the video had been deleted but there the AVI footprint shows that video was in fact on that computer. The coach says he does not tolerate any racial stuff and makes the kids do laps if they talk that way. He tells then that his team manager Kyle Chase also has access to the computer, he uses it to keep the kid’s stats.

At arraignment court, the three boys involved are arraigned and held on $150,000 bail each, the courtroom crowd protesting. Afterwards, the defense attorney Mosley (Josh Pais) serves ADA Connie Rubirosa (Alana De La Garza) with a motion to suppress the video. Later, she breaks the bad news to the detectives that the video was suppressed because it would be prejudicial to the defendants. This would hurt their hate crime charge, so they need better evidence. While she is talking to the detectives they both get a call – another body has been found having similarities to Oswaldo Morales. This time, however, it is an American man, an unemployed autoworker from Detroit, with a Hispanic background. He also has the same burn on his cheek, but Lupo has found the branding iron on the scene – a metal rod with a Mexican Peso on the end.
In the office of DA Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston), he and Rubirosa and EADA Michael Cutter (Linus Roache) are watching a new conference featuring Joe Chappell (Tom Galantich), McCoy’s opponent for the DA spot. Chappell goes on about how badly McCoy’s office is handling the case and that he has made the city a sanctuary for illegals. McCoy turns off the TV and asks for an update on “these deplorable events.” They tell him the out of work autoworker as living with his sister and since found a job as a night watchman. He seems to have been killed 24 hours after Morales. The kids seem to be escalating. There are no witnesses and no forensics. Cutter thinks they have a better case for the assault, but McCoy wants the to enjoin the two cases and prove the victims were burned by the same device. But Cutter worries the murder case may tank the other and wants to proceed with the assault case and hold off on the murder and see what the police turn up. McCoy says, sarcastically, “I say we prosecute the assault of an illegal alien while we backburner the murder of an American citizen...I can write the editorials myself.” When Cutter argues that political image trumps legal reality, McCoy responds, “Here’s the legal reality. We’re joining the two cases. Clear?”

When Cutter and Rubirosa try to get the cases enjoined, the judge turns them down until they can show her that both cases involved the same branding device. Later, when Rubirosa, along with ME Rodgers (Leslie Hendrix) try to get access to Morales in the hospital, they are told that the hospital medi-vacked Morales out of the hospital and back to Honduras.

Back at McCoy’s office, he is amazed the hospital would just send Morales back in this way, but Rubirosa explains is was cheaper for the hospital to medi-vac him home than keep him on life support. McCoy tells them to bring him back and they will cover the costs. Cutter thinks McCoy will take a political hit for paying for an illegal's medical bills while many American taxpayers can’t afford care, and McCoy asks “Since when are you worried about my political image?” Cutter tells him he wants him to win the election.

At the health clinic at Puerto Lempira, Honduras, Bernard, Rubirosa and Rodgers convince Morales’s mother and wife that they should allow him to return, and Rubirosa tells his mother they will even pay for her to come back. She agrees to let them take Oswaldo back to the US.

At the motion hearing, Rodgers testifies that the burns from both victims were created by the same tool and that an indentation on the coin lines up perfectly with both victims. The judge grants the people’s motion to consolidate the indictment for the assault of Morales and the murder of Mr. Alvarez.

On the courthouse steps, the parents of the defendants are talking to the press. As McCoy, Cutter, and Rubirosa leave the courthouse, a reporter confronts Jack and asks him about a complaint that was filed with the Attorney General about him using public funds to fly in an illegal. He tells them that Morales’ presence serves the defendants’ rights to confront his the witnesses against them. The reporter makes and argument about the expense and most people in the city can’t afford that kind of medical care, and McCoy says that bothers him too. The reporter also asks him about a Ledger report which claims that McCoy hired an undocumented alien as a household worker for his children, and would he care to comment? McCoy responds he will comment after he reads the story, he is here to talk about the case. He intends to make justice available to everyone in his jurisdiction. If it is given to one, it does not mean it will be denied to another. But if it is denied to one, it is denied to all. As he walks off, Cutter complements him on his answer, and then asks “What about this nanny?” McCoy looks at him and doesn’t answer, and Cutter says, “Oh great.”

Later, in his office, McCoy is watching a news report with Chappell talking about the report of McCoy’s undocumented worker, and Cutter walks in. McCoy tells him when he was going through his divorce in 1991, he and Ellen were separated and she hired a nanny. She was also very stressed out and overwhelmed by everything, she never thought to check the woman’s papers. They didn’t find out until a year later, they let the woman go and paid her taxes. When Cutter says someone is going through his divorce records, McCoy says his problems are his problems, the work here goes on regardless. Cutter gets a message saying that Kyle Chase, the kid that uploaded the video, wants to talk and he has a new lawyer.

Later, Kyle Chase tells them he won’t go to prison for a murder he did not do. He tells Cutter and Rubirosa he did not want to go with the guys that night because of what they wanted to do so he stayed away. His attorney says he will plead to the assault and testify against Moore and Stratton, if the offer is good. But Cutter says they only have his word, but he has to testify first before the sentence recommendation.

Chase testifies about the assault, and then implicates the other two for the murder. The defense attorney Mosley, however, picks his testimony apart, saying that he is just saying all these things for a lighter sentence. But under redirect, Kyle confirms that he did tell the truth about what happened to Morales.

Later, they bring in another Hispanic witness who identifies the Moore and Stratton as people who had also attacked him, but the defense says that he is a liar because he is in the country illegally and not paying taxes. As he leaves the stand, Immigration arrests him, much to the outrage of Cutter.

Mosley calls his first witness, who is Juanita Stratton. During the cross examination with Cutter, she uses a derogatory term “grancho” used by upper class people which refers to a poor, unemployed person. He tries to portray her also as a bigot who taught her son how to be a bigot.

Back In McCoy’s office, he is getting off the phone with his ex, Ellen, trying to calm her on the recent press accusations, telling her to just tell the truth and he is apologizing for her getting dragged into this mess. Cutter enters and tells him the jury is still out, four hours and counting. Rubirosa arrives and says that the jurors where caught watching a Len Pewl special on illegal immigration – on someone's iPhone. In the judges chambers, the judge watches the video, confronts the juror and dismisses him, refusing to allow a mistrial, saying the jurors swore to maintain their impartiality, despite what they heard from that “race-baiting gas bag.”

The verdict is later read – they are found not guilty of the murder of Alvarez, not guilty of attempted murder of Morales, but just guilty of assault on Morales. Cutter, along with Morales’ mother, are dismayed.

Later, at Morales beside, Cutter tells him the boys will only get 6 years. She is distraught, and Rubirosa suggests a possible a civil case. But she wants her son to wake up, not the money. Afterwards, in McCoy’s office, Cutter gets a call from someone who tells him that Morales was taken off life support by his mother and he died shortly thereafter. McCoy tells them to send Mrs. Morales their condolences, and they can recharge Stratton and Moore with first-degree bias murder. Cutter adds that since they were found guilty of his assault, they should convict him of his murder. Rubirosa asks if someone tipped off Oswaldo’s mother that his death gave them a new cause of action. McCoy says, “Why not? Everyone games the system.” As they all go back to work, we fade to black.

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samfan said...

Loved this episode! I thought it was a great episode, with an awesome story! I loved the Jack tidbits,too!!!

Shelly said...

Who creates the episode titles? Is it the production staff or NBC? I'm asking because if it's the production staff, I'm wondering if this ep title was a dig at NBC, as in saying, here's a strong episode, so promote it. Because you're right, the title had nothing to do with the the storyline. And isn't next week's episode called "All new" or something like that? It sorta makes me wonder.

But this was a strong episode, though I'm not sure it was the landmark episode as described by NBC. And I agree about the different camera angles and such. I didn't look to see who the director was. But a good solid episode, and I hope the ratings end up being good.

John K. said...

You may be right, Shelly. Anything is possible.

I particularly liked the Teflon Man crack, as it may be true. Frankly, I think Jack not knowing about the nanny, that's stupid. He's smart enough to know better. So, I'm going to exercise my "ignore stupid canon" policy.

I may be asking for transcripts (and a lot of them), so watch out for that. Bats eyes.

Meanwhile, this episode dumped facts and half-truths about illegals, I'll have to do research and verify. I'll share whenever I'm done.

Ernie said...

Was that Mary Beth Hurt playing the judge? If so it is a reunion of sorts. She and Sam Waterston were in Woody Allen's "Interiors" in 1979.

All Things Law and Order said...

Ernie - yes, that was her, I saw her name in the episode credits. In "Interiors", I think she was Sam's character's live-in girlfriend (I am not sure if they were married in the movie - it's been while since I've seen it!).

Anonymous said...

Sorry off topic but can you please put the preview for L&O SVU's episode to air on May 5..named Crush. I went onto the NBC website but can't view it because I live in Canada and you have to live in the States to view it. Please please...thank you.

All Things Law and Order said...

Stay tuned - episode info and vids will be up here on Friday, probably sometime in the early morning!

Lisa R. said...

Did anyone notice that Cutter was slyly looking at Connie's long legs when they were first shown in Jack's office? Or was it just me? I have to get my Connie and Mike fix somehow!

Episode wise, I thought it was very well done. I agree with your astute observations about the camera and the lighting. Made the episode that much more fun to watch.

John K. said...

Diane Keaton played Sam's neurotic girlfriend in Interiors (it's only worth it for Sam). Although, I thought the judge was familiar.

I didn't catch Mike peeking at her legs, but it's no surprise.

Shelly said...

Mary Beth was the wife of Henry Winkler's character in Greed, from SVU's third season. She had the stroke after she was attacked, and it turned out Henry's character had another wife and it was all a scam to get her money (I'm doing this from memory so I may not have it 100 percent accurate). I didn't recognize her with the big glasses, but I did recognize her voice. lol...

She was also in a season 6 ep of L&O called Deceit. I'm not remembering the ep just by the title.

John K. said...

No, Shelly, you got it. I forgot she was in Greed. I didn't recognize her there, plus the hairstyles were different (I sometimes go by that).

Yeah, I believe she was the wife in Deceit, now that you're jogging my memory.

I don't think she's been on CI, or she will, sooner or later.

DrBobert said...

Just to say that the omnipresent journalist/pundit character is played by Jason Jones. Seems to me to be based on Glen Beck, especially on the podcast thing.

Kind of fitting to have a Daily Show correspondent playing the character.

John K. said...

I thought the simulacrum was familiar. And the "race-baiting gasbag" remark, okay, I'm not a fan of Beck, but I don't like that, at all.

Actually, coming from the Daily Show, it's definitely fitting.

(At least, they didn't mock Limbaugh? Heh.)

John K. said...

I wrote on the Glenn Beck simulacrum. I was inspired. Heh.

Admittedly, I'm not familiar with Beck, or I probably would have caught it (props to you that did). At least, I caught the Bill O'Reilly version with Obsession, which had lesbians for some reason. Heh.