Monday, May 4, 2009

Law & Order CI ‘Identity Crisis” Recap & Review

All Photos from USA Network

Sunday night’s new episode of Law & Order Criminal Intent (USA) “Identity Crisis” was a simple case that seemed easily solved. Seeing that we saw the murder right up front, there really was no mystery about who did it. While this episode was much easier to follow that the previous week’s episode with Jeff Goldblum, “Rock Star”, it was almost too simple, which drained any drama from the episode.

The case itself seemed to hit home with Goren, as it involved two brothers with a schizophrenic mother. Unlike Goren’s life, this mother was abusive to her children and the boys become separated by foster homes after her death. Still, Goren seems to be able to relate to how her illness could have damaged a family over time.

I was slightly amused at the sudden appearance of and ADA in the show, seeing that the show seems to have been completely devoid of any legal involvement since Courtney Vance’s departure years ago. What amused me is that it seemed they had to get a Courtney Vance look-alike to replace him. I had to do a double take. It didn't really add much to the episode, however.
While Goren and Eames still make a great partnership. I have to comment on what I perceive as a loss of energy in Bobby Goren. We used to have a very nimble and cat-like Goren, who often intimidated suspects with his exaggerated motions and movements and just getting up close and personal with people. Now, he seems just plain tired and almost going through the motions. I hate to comment on D’Onofrio’s personal appearance, but I cannot be quiet about it any longer. I worry for his health. I believe that his weight is preventing him from moving comfortably; in fact he seems to be having difficulty walking at times. For some reason I though he looked like he had lost some weight in his first episode we saw this season so maybe they are not showing these episodes in the order they were filmed and he has since lost some weight. Vincent D’Onofrio is an accomplished actor and over the years has created in Bobby Goren a character that was agile of mind and body. Now that his body doesn’t move as fast, it looks like it is slowing down the character as well.

Here’s the recap:

Two young brothers are at home, the ceiling is leaking. It seems their mother, who is dressed up and sitting in an overflowing bathtub, is acting weirdly. One of the boys has burns on his arm. As the older brother goes upstairs to his mother, he sees an electric space heater sitting above the bathtub at the end, and you can see the gears turning in his head just thinking about what would happen if the space heater just happened to fall in. As the younger brother tries to treat the burns on his arm, we hear his mother scream upstairs, and the lights begin to flash on and off. When he runs up to see what is going on, he sees this mother flailing in the bathtub being electrocuted from the space heater, his older brother standing outside the bathroom door, his hands covering his face.

Fast forward many years, and we see Gray Vanderhoven (Sam Trammell) with his wife Lukie (Jenny Powers), getting ready for a formal night out. She’s telling him about his college reunion and saying she raised hell with the alumni association and now they know how to reach them. But he’s not thrilled at this news. She tells him she booked a suite for them in Princeton. But Gray gets a phone call, from another man who asks to see him at his home, saying it means everything to him right now. But Gray says he will meet him elsewhere, and Gray makes an excuse to Lukie that an alarm went off at his business and he has to check it out. She says she won’t miss the reception over it, and he tells her to go ahead and he'll handle the problem. She complains about it being her most important social event, but he says it could be a break in. We later see him going into a drawer with a false bottom and he pulls out a wallet.

Lukie is at her reception, and we find out that she has been married to Gray for almost two years, and Gray is a Vanderhoven from New Pulse. Meanwhile, Gray meets the man near Radio City Music hall and the man reminds Gray it’s been 20 years since they last saw each other. Gray tells him he will take him somewhere for dinner. Meanwhile, back at Lukie’s event, she is being recognized for her fundraising, and she is checking her phone for any messages from Gray. Walking in a darkened street, Gray walks with the man – Anthony (Patrick Arnheim)– and Gray asks him what he wants. He says he does not want money, and says what he is trying to tell him is coming out badly. He recalls their mother – clearly this is Gray’s brother – and recalls a German phrase his mother used to call them. Gray suggests they cut through an alley because it is shorter. But as Anthony walks on, suddenly Gray is not at his side. When Anthony stops and turns around, Gray tells him he is sorry but he is not going back. He shoots Anthony, killing him.
Later, Detectives Goren (Vincent D’Onofrio) and Eames (Kathryn Erbe) are on the scene. It appears the man was shot with a .22, and he has no money, credit cards, or watch on him. Some cardboard was placed over his face, and Goren thinks this is an odd gesture for a street crime. ME Rodgers (Leslie Hendrix) says there is no visible exit wound and the single shot took out his heart. Goren calls the .22 a hit man’s favorite. Eames finds a Penn Station locker key in his sock and tells another policeman to retrieve the contents. Goren finds a Brooks Brother’s wallet with a social security card with the name Victor Lustig, but there is not photo ID. He wonders why a guy in a Kmart suit would have a Brooks Brothers wallet.

Back at the Major Case Squad, Goren tells Captain Danny Ross (Eric Bogosian) that the identity is suspect because the social security card is the only ID they found. He also says the name Victor Lustig is also the name of a 19th century con man. Ross says the name could also be an auto mechanic from Bayonne who got shot on the lower east side. Goren thinks the wallet and card were planted by the killer to throw them off. Eames has the contents of the locker and it included a prescription for Compazine for nausea for an Anthony Burris. They also find photos of two boys with their mother, apparently dressed up in some sort of costumes but Goren does not think it’s for Halloween. Goren finds information to where Anthony’s mail is sent in Philadelphia, and Ross sends them off there to check it out.

When they get to the address, they find the man lived there for six months, he worked as a mechanic but does not know where. He also owes the landlord money. They enter his room and find is very sparse. Eames finds a letter from someone telling Burris that they have no information on the man he is looking for and to stop contacting them. The letter is from someone named Mavis and she is in New Canaan, CT. They head to that location and speak with Mavis, who tells them that a 3 years ago she was engaged to a man named Richard Phelps and she received the letter from Anthony says he say a photo of them from a charity event and he wrote to her wanting to know about Richard, he thought he knew him and wanted to re-establish contact. But Phelps denied knowing Burris, and at first she believed him. She said Richard was Princeton 1995 and so was she, but when she showed him the letter his behavior changed, accusing her of checking up on his past. This raised a red flag so she hired a former police officer to check out his computer and found research on his computer on other women who were divorced, widowed, and well off. She confronted Richard, they had a nice dinner and were very close that night, but in the morning he was gone. When Goren asked if he had access to her money, she says she did not think he was after that, his money was all tied up and she let him a little pocket money and bought him a few nice gifts. Eames asks, “A Brooks Brothers Wallet?” Mavis nods yes. Later outside Mavis home, Eames comments the cop she hired was very thorough and so was Phelps, his research on the women goes back to kindergarten. She also says lonely woman are a common mark for con men, but Goren says there is a twist, he didn’t grab her money before he left. Eames wonders if Burris ruined the other man’s plans with Mavis, maybe he ruined a more recent one with someone else.

Elsewhere, the man we know as Gray is driving to a beachside home in Nantucket with a woman, and he is looking to rent it. They seem to be hitting it off. He says his name is Tyler Chisholm, and her name is Juliana (Mireille Enos). He says he is from New Mexico and Arizona, but he says he went to Princeton, and so did she. He says he is a writer, and has books published under different names but the new one will be under his own. He agrees to rent the place.

Back at the ME’s, Rodgers has examined Burris’s body and tells the detectives that the bullet tumbled after entry which caused instant death. Goren notices the burn on his arm, and Rodgers says they are old, probably from a steam iron. They assume he was an abused child. His anti-nausea medication was probably from chemo, Rodgers thinks he had a blood disease.

Back at the house, “Tyler” is renting the home with cash, and Juliana says this makes him seem mysterious. She said her father insisted on Googling him, but found a birder with that name, but he was 84 years old.

Back at Major Case, Eames said she called the doctor who prescribed the Compazine and Burris was being treated for lymphoma, 6 moths to live. But Goren thinks that he doubts the killer knew that – why would he kill a dying man and why would a dying man extort money? His next of kin was listed a Patricia Lumet who worked at a supermarket.. Goren and Eames later head to speak to Lumet, who tells them nothing went right for Anthony and he was damaged goods, he just couldn’t hold things together – jobs, night school. She was not aware he was ill, and he had no one else, his mother was “schizo.” Goren seems to relate. She tells them his mother had died, she didn’t know if she killed herself but there was something weird and Anthony would not talk about it. He and his brother Thomas went into foster care, and he went looking for his brother but never found him. This piques the detectives’ curiosity. Eames gets a call, telling them that Burris’ last call was to an Upper East Side residential phone with the name Vanderhoven.

They head there, and speak with Lukie who asks if he (Gray) is dead or what has he done. She tells him he signed an armored pre-nup with no objections. He left on Thursday night when she was honored at a charity even, she tells them about the phone call and they had an argument. When she came home the place was torn apart and he was gone. Goren asks how they met, and she said he was going to rent on of her homes but they hit it off instead - they are also both Princeton. She tells him he was annoyed about signing him up for the reunion, and he new all the right Princeton names and even knew the Occidental Club secret recipe for boneless shad. She tells him that when he tore the pace up nothing valuable was stolen, but she thinks he was looking for a family crest that she was having framed for him as a surprise. It had an inscription that implied it was the crest of East Prussian royalty.

Back at the home in Nantucket, Tyler is in a small boat on the water, looking at a gun. He throws it in the water, and unbeknownst to him, Juliana sees him throw it.

Back at Major Case, they recap the case with Ross. They don’t think the false identities were for the money, but Ross is skeptical. Goren thinks it is more of the lifestyle that matches the vision he has for himself. Eames reminds Ross that he tore the place apart looking for the crest and took nothing of value. Goren says the title he claimed was the Count of Haugwitz, but his mother was Amish, so his noble heritage was a delusion. He also seemed fixated on Princeton, and the Occidental Club was limited to a very select membership.

Goren and Eames go to the club and find that their mystery man – Tommy Burris - worked in the kitchen. He was a smart kid and sat in on some classes but never registered for school there. They also see a plaque on the wall for 5 students who died in a climbing accident: Jeff Walters, George Gifford, Tyler Chisholm, Richard Phelps, Gray Vanderhoven. They check out the student records and find that Tommy was hired there but there were problems, Tommy threatened a Russian profession who questioned his claim of royal lineage.

Elsewhere, they speak to a social worker about the Burris boys. She says the cops made Anthony testify against his brother for his mother’s murder, saying Tommy killed his mom.

Later, we see Juliana talking with her father Cam Morgan (Michael Hobbs), who is questioning Tyler’s stories, saying their credit check gave his birthplace as Wyoming, not Arizona. But Tyler walks in, hearing this, and says that he was born in Arizona, and said he worked in Wyoming at his uncle’s address and signed up for the social security card there since it was his first job and he needed the card in order to work there. Mr. Morgan tells him they ran a credit check on him, and Tyler says he uses cash. Juliana seems oblivious.

Back at Major Case, Goren, Eames, and Ross look over the original video from Anthony’s and Tommy’s interrogations on their mother’s death. It seems clear that the police used tactics to get the kids to talk. Goren seems reflective as he looks at the video and the picture of the boys with their mother. Tommy has his mother’s tiara in his hands during his questioning. Someone brings in information on the check they did on the students who died in the climbing accident and finds that someone just ran a credit check on Tyler Chisholm, someone leasing a house in Nantucket.

Back at the house in Nantucket, Juliana and Tyler are having some wine and discussing his book, and he tells her the story will be about two children whose mother is a remarkable woman who knows the classics but uses fantasies to help the kids cope with their hard life. She thinks it would make the children very close, and asks how it ends. He says if she likes a happy ending he can’t disappoint her.

Goren and Eames arrive at the business of Mr. Morgan, and ask him about Tyler Chisholm and the credit check. As he tells them he rented a house from them, Juliana walks in. They show him the picture, and he asks who is he – really. Eames said they cannot answer that and they need directions to that house. When Juliana asks what it is about, her father tells her to stay out of it. Goren talks the photo from her and says that she obviously knows him, and Eames tells her that calling to warn him would be a felony. As they race to the house, Tyler sees them approaching in the window, and he attempts to flee on foot, but the police catch up with him and he is arrested. Goren calls out to Thomas Burris but he says they have the wrong guy, that is not his name. When Eames tells him his fingerprints will prove him wrong, he says that is all they will prove.

In the interrogation room, Lukie sees him in the observation room and confirms that was her husband. Goren tells him his real name is Thomas Burris from Hershey, PA. Juliana is also there in another room with Eames, still oblivious about him. Lukie says he got a half million dollars for a pet project for her, but all the money is accounted for.

Meanwhile, Ross and an ADA Carver look-alike ADA Damon Whitney (Wole Parks) are talking with Burris. He and Ross seem to try to pin his brother’s murder on him but Burris denies involvement. He says the wallet was a Christmas present and asked what the crime for regifting is. Whitney tells him that they will establish he had motive, means, and opportunity. He tells them to be careful about putting Lukie on the stand, she will help him more than hurt.

Later, in Ross’ office, Goren says he is right that Lukie would be more of a help to him, it will make him sound wholesome to avoid appearing like a fool. Eames says Juliana is still smitten and they wouldn’t want a grand jury hearing anything they have to say. Whitney says he has been very smart, and Ross says “Don’t tell me that sonovabitch is gonna walk.” Goren says if they release him he will change his identity and vanish. Ross tells them to start pushing the woman on anything that he has done or said that could be potentially incriminating.

Eames speaks with Juliana, and when she presses her for anything that seemed odd that made her raise a flag just for a moment, she recalls seeing him throw something into the water.

Goren comes in to interrogate Thomas, and Thomas calls him “the big gun.” Goren brings out a file, and call it “his life.” He questions him about the wallet. He also brings up the original case with his mother and the fact that Thomas couldn’t tolerate his mother burning his brother. He also mentions his mother’s illness, and Thomas says she was schizophrenic and there are no solutions in that. Goren mentions Thomas’ delusions of grandeur that he was a noble, Count Haugwitz. When Goren says something to him in German, Thomas asks is he now his shrink? Goren plays back some of Thomas original interrogation recordings, and shows him the pictures of him with his mother and brother, Thomas wearing a crown, his mother and her tiara, Anthony not in costume. Goren comments that Anthony was not part of their shared delusion. He asks if he was more painful - her death, or Anthony’s betrayal? Thomas says he doesn’t distinguish between them. He asks if he remembers killing her, but Goren also mentions that Thomas was barefoot, and had he walked into the bathroom to put the heater in, he would have also been electrocuted or shocked Goren says he doesn’t think he touched the heater, he thinks that was his brother’s lie. He thinks Thomas thought about it, but he didn’t do it. Thomas said his mother flew into rage because she wanted Anthony in the shower to wipe away the places she burned. He arm hit the cord and pulled the heater in. He says Anthony was part of a life he wanted no part of anymore, and Goren mentions that he didn’t want Anthony ruining his new life. Thomas says his psycho chatter babble isn’t working. He says he was tyranny of the week but he didn’t kill him. Goren hits on this, asking wasn’t Anthony all he had left in the world – and shows him pictures of them as children where it looks like Anthony trusted his brother. He also shows him an autopsy report for Anthony which shows that he had only a few months to live at most. He doesn’t think he came back to destroy his life, he came back for atonement of forgiveness. He trusted him and he loved him. Thomas seems to be breaking, and said “He loved me.” Goren asks him, “And did you feel that before you…” and Thomas says, “Yes.” As Goren looks at a remorseful Thomas, we fade to black.

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Amy29 said...

This episode was done in the manner that Criminal Intent was originally meant to be. The CRIMINAL intent, therefore we see the killer's side of the story. Not a "whodunnit" show with lots of twists. Although there did appear to be a twist at the end about how exactly the mother died.

And yes, these are all out of order for some strange reason. Next week should be the true first episode that was filmed for this season.

The first episode aired where he had much shorter hair was filmed after the winter holiday break where Goren was a bit further along in his recovery after the events in Frame.

I don't think that Goren was meant to bounce back completely right away in the next episode filmed after Frame and USA has screwed that up by showing the eps out of order.

fuzzytweetie said...

Unfortunately, the episodes are not being shown in the order that they were filmed.

Remember, this was one of the first epis filmed late last fall. The storyline was that Gage had just set Bobby "free". So, it's reasonable to think that Goren is still numb and dumbstruck by what has happened to his life.

Tess said...

The very nimble and cat-like Goren has been gone since season 3. Vincent has been playing the same character for 8 years (I don't think that's an easy task for him) of course he would want Goren to change, age, move in a different direction.

I don't think Goren was 'slow' last night, I think he was trying to be a good detective working on a case that hit very close to home. One brother kills the other brother...Hello! You know Bobby must feel guilty about Franks death, it was his mentor, his friend who set the death in motion. I don't know how else Goren could have reacted to this case.

REDEEMER said...

I have to say that you hit the nail on the head in describing the loss of energy in Goren- it was that quirkiness of the character that drew me to the show. Goren IS Law & Order CI... So I hope to see the antics of Bobby in CI's earlier days come back, for it's what made the character (and show) special to me.

Anonymous said...

Season 8 offered even more of a puzzle than previous seasons since the episodes were presented in what seemed to be random order. Perhaps it didn't matter that much – Goren's getting old, he's lost everyone he ever had any personal connection to, even his relationship with Eames has withered: he no longer needs her to provide the emotional support he did when he was dealing with his mother, brother, Nicole, Gage or to run interference with their superiors, since he's no longer interested enough in his work to risk insubordination. The partners plod through their cases, doing their job, with no special sense of excitement or enthusiasm.

In "Identity Crisis" we revisit the theme of abandonment of the weaker by the stronger that was explored in "Silencer." There the deaf community feared that children who were able to function in the hearing world or deaf members who obtained cochlear implants would leave them. Goren feared being abandoned by the stronger and more capable Eames, who remains with him mainly out of a sense of responsibility by this time – it's been years since he's been either fun or interesting to work with. (He's no longer her universal expert – his knowledge of sign language is not good enough for interviews and she sends for an interpreter.) He knows she believes her career may be being affected by her association with him, and in "Silencer" she sees that finding someone to love with Goren unhappy in the background will not be simple. To reinforce the connection between the two levels of the story - the deaf community and the relationship between the two partners - the picture of a smiling older girl with blond hair standing protectively behind a younger boy, solemn, with dark curly hair – the "adored older sister" with the younger brother she left behind – is shown twice, once by Goren in persuading the boy to confess to a shooting intended to prevent his girl friend from abandoning him as his sister had done, and then again at the very end, apparently to emphasize their resemblance to Goren and Eames.

The older brother in "Identity Crisis" refers to the situation in his own case as the "tyranny of the weak." He shoots his younger brother whom "nothing had ever worked out," in order to protect himself from his neediness, although Goren manages to get him to admit that at the end he realized that it was love and the desire for forgiveness and not greed that made his brother seek him out. Goren has to ask himself, too, if his partner sees him as a hindrance, the weak member of the team who might lose his spot in the MCS if she requested a new partner. He's a good detective, but then, so is the new guy they're bringing in, and Eames has been shown to be able to work with anyone she's partnered with. Fewer black marks in her jacket for covering up for Goren might even open the way to a promotion to captain.

So Goren is faced with an "identity crisis" of his own – whoever he is, he is no longer the brilliant, energetic, self-confident if not arrogant young detective of those early years at the MCS. Even if he's not a tyrant controlling his partner through his weakness, he's alone and growing older and not even she can help him any more.

sleepygiant said...

Boneless Shad??? I have watched this epi 4 times and made my daughter watch it twice. It was a recipe for " Bol-Me-Shev". What is that? And please don't tell me boneless shad.

All Things Law and Order said...

Sleepygiant - I can't find any dish even close to what you describe, but I did find tons of recipes for boneless shad (shad is a fish). You may want to do a search on boneless shad and you will see. I can't for the life of me think of what else they could have said...any one have any other clues?

D L Bray said...

Oh my goodness! Vincent in Jurrasic World was sad. I have liked his acting since Dying Young, but he has allowed himself to get out of shape. It took away from the movie for me.